Vidalia City Clerk Sworn Into Office
After being at the City Clerk and Finance Director’s desk for the City of Vidalia for a month, Amy W. Murray was officially sworn in to the position on February 8. The City Council’s regular monthly session meeting was the setting for Probate Judge Tina S. Lindsey to administer the oaths of office to Murray. The new clerk was welcomed with applause.
Retired Finance Director Bill Bedingfield was approved for an appointment as Assistant City Manager through September 30, 2021. Bedingfield and the Council are pleased and confident with Murray as his replacement, but the county tax digest process to be done in August is complex, and the budgeting process for 2022 begins in September and involves use of complicated software. These are two areas with which Murray will need assistance. The purpose of Bedingfield’s appointment is so he will be available as needed for training purposes. As a nonmerit employee, meaning he receives limited benefits, and is paid for documented hours only, his position will save the City money while Murray receives transition training.
Although the City, the Council and the citizens do not want Bedingfield to leave, he is sure of his retirement. He has earned it. “Iamretired!It’snot that I’m just jumping into a new job. This is a way to help Murray in the transition and not have such an impact on the City budget. I’m here to help in any way that I can” for the agreed upon time period, Bedingfield declared. Mayor Doug Roper expressed appreciation for Bedingfield’s service and the seamless transition in the position.
Roper stated that the Council held a planning session and retreat on January 30. “We, as elected officials, take seriously what we have been charged to do to represent the citizens of this community. We had a great planning session looking at short, mid- and long-range goals that will bring about some changes in some areas. Stay tuned to future agendas.” Roper also took time to remember the loss of people with close ties to the City. In particular, Mrs. Mary McIntyre served the City as Administrative Assistant to the city manager and the mayor, and then as City Clerk, from which she retired. Roper and City Manager Nick Overstreet noted other families who serve Vidalia who have been touched by recent loss due to COVID-19.
Downtown Vidalia Association Director Tonya Parker reported that she has received many questions about the Artists Call for a mural to be placed on the Meadows Street wall at Mary’s Interiors. Renderings of the design are due by February 19 and the mural should be completed by April 1. Vidalia Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Alexa Britton will handle a separate but similar process for choosing artists to create three small murals on the wall of the alley beside the Pal Theater.
Parker announced the new Executive Committee of the DVA: President Greg Hudgins of Georgia Power, Vice President Rhonda Jones of Dermatology Associates, Secretary Valarie McLendon of Altamaha Bank, and Treasurer Amy Murray, the City of Vidalia.
Michele Johnson, Director of the Development Authority, announced that her agency has $400,000 in the Toombs County Revolving Loan program for qualifying applicants to use for their business operating in the County. “It’s all about job creation!”, Johnson said. Businesses can use the loan to buy or upgrade real estate, buy equipment, or use as operating capital. More information about the loan can be found at toombsconnect.com/connect/ news/toombs-county- revolving- loan- fundsavailable. Johnson also announced that the annual Chamber meeting will be March 18.
Overstreet presented three considerations for approval regarding equipment purchases and contractor inspections for pump station and water treatment station repairs, replacements, and upgrades, all using SPLOST funds. Roper noted that these items are the result of discussions at the planning retreat pertaining to five different issues in water, sewer and infrastructure, and the approvals given by the Council will address and resolve three of those issues. ESG works closely with the City on these projects and Roper commended everyone for the good work done. Roper also introduced Tony Hall, a new director of ESG, who was present at the Council meeting.
Council approved the purchase, with SPLOST funds, of portable temporary fencing for use at the Regional Sports Complex at Ezra Taylor Road. Recreation Department Director Matt Smith said this fencing will be used for younger players’ ball practice at the complex. Smith said the fencing, bathrooms prepared for use, and fields being cleaned and lined will allow the complex to be utilized for some practice and league play this spring after not being used for four years. The VRD and the City will seek feedback from the public about the use of this complex.
Police Commissioner Brian Scott reported that the Law Enforcement Certification program with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police is a voluntary program consisting of meeting 129 standards to become a state= certified agency. Some of the benefits of attaining this certification are the confirmation that the department uses consistent and progressive best practices, greater public confidence, greater operational effectiveness, and reduced liability potential.
The VPD first achieved this certification in 2006, and has maintained it since then. In December, it was determined that the VPD has fully demonstrated and met all standards and continues to be recognized as a certified law enforcement agency through December 2023. Of the 628 law enforcement agencies in Georgia, the VPD is one of 140 that is certified. Scott said, “I want to recognize all of the hardworking men and women of the police department who made this possible. This is no easy feat to accomplish. I especially want to thank our certification manager Lawanda Beasley for her hard work and dedication.”
City Marshall Shaun Oliver reported that a permit has been issued to remodel and expand the hospital maintenance building on Maple Drive for use as the County EMA/EMS facility. Roper said, “Citizens of the community want to see us working closely with our neighboring municipalities and this is an example, with Toombs County EMA/EMS locating inside city limits of Vidalia. We are thankful we are working closely with our neighbors in that regard.”
City Manager Overstreet announced that April 10, two weeks before the Vidalia Onion Festival, will be clean-up day around the City. This will be in partnership with Republic Services, ESG and Chickfil- A. The City of Lyons and Toombs County leadership also plan to conduct clean-ups on this day.