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Vidalia City Council Sets Millage Rate

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The rollback millage rate was accepted and unanimously approved by the Vidalia City Council at its regular monthly session on September 13, making public hearings unnecessary. This rollback makes the millage rate for inhabitants of the Toombs County portion of Vidalia a total of 4.160 mills, while those who live in the Montgomery County portion of the city will pay a rate of 3.602 mills.

Elections Agreement

The City of Vidalia has officially renewed its election agreement with the Toombs County Commission for the provision of election services; yet, unlike the previous agreements, the Council has been officially contracted for ethics-filings of election winners. These ethics filings are required for all elected officials to ensure their acknowl- continued from page

edgement of and compliance to each office’s Code of Ethics.

This new election agreement is in place for the 2021, 2022, and 2023 elections. Through this contract, the Toombs County Board of Elections Supervisor will be responsible for overseeing the qualifying of candidates for city elections; qualification fees will be split between Vidalia and Toombs County governments. As usual, the Toombs County Election Superintendent will also oversee the publication of election notices.

Also, the county will file ethics disclosures for all elected officials within the City government; however, the City will be responsible for legal services regarding these actions.

Each election will cost the City $12,000, which will be paid to the Toombs County Commission for supplies and compensation for workers.

Engineering Firm Approved f or Water Project

ESG Engineering was selected by the Council to conduct all brown water solutions projects within the City in the future. City Manager Nick Overstreet said details of these projects would be provided within the next month.

The Council received a total of three qualification proposals through the Georgia Procurement Registry from the following companies: ESG Engineering, Hofstadter and Associates, and J. Ben Turnipseed Engineering. Of these companies, ESG Engineering scored the highest on the Council and City Manager’s rating of qualifications.

Widening and Resurfacing of Streets

During a called meeting on September 17, the Council awarded the bid for the resurfacing and widening of several streets to Sikes Brothers. This project will cost $960,992.92, which will be funded through the Transportation Investment Act funding. This funding originates from the one cent sales tax the city of Vidalia charges during retail transactions.

Rudell Road and a portion of Currie Street will undergo repaving, while Semco Road, Truman Street, and Lowrie Place all are repaved along with the gutter and curbs surrounding them. Pete Phillips Drive and Brinson Road will both be repaved and widened.

The City of Vidalia tentatively plans for the Notice to Proceed to be issued by October 15; after this issuance, Sikes Brothers will have 210 days to complete the task. Purchase of Captain’s Corner Property The Council approved the City’s purchase of the property at 201 Stockyard Road, which has been the location for the Captain’s Corner restaurant for many years. This purchase will occur through the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Brick and Mortar Program. Gray Pannell & Woodward law firm has overseen the purchase, and during a public workshop prior to the official Council meeting on September 13, law firm Associate Stephen Swinson explained what this program entails. According to Swinson, upon this purchase, the GMA will become the owner of the property, and the title will be placed in the organization’s name. With the title in the GMA’s name, the City may begin work on the area. The GMA will sell the property back to the City over the time of the financing, which the City establishes with a bank.

Council members also unanimously approved the project’s financing with Altamaha Bank and Trust, which had the best interest rate bid of 1.21%. The cost of the property totals $650,000, but the additional cost of issuance and other necessary measures adds $50,000 to this expense. Payments will be made quarterly to the bank for five years before the City gains full ownership. Swinson said the targeted closing date is the week of October 11.

Sweet Onion Citizen Award

The presentation of the monthly “Sweet Onion Citizen” Award had a unique twist. Rather than being presented to a singular individual, the Council presented the staff of Memorial Health Meadows Hospital with this honor.

Vidalia Mayor Doug Roper informed Memorial Health Meadows Hospital CEO Matt Hasbrouck of the origin and purpose of the award. “Up until now, this award has been presented to a single individual. The idea is to shine a light and recognize those individuals in our community that are doing great things.”

Roper continued, “In light of what we’ve been experiencing over the last 18 to 24 months, we felt like it would be the right thing to do to recognize your staff. Our desire is that you would take this back to the staff at Meadows as a thank you for what they do every single day,” he explained.

Hasbrouck, along with Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden and Vice President of Human Resources Hillary Tapley, accepted the award on behalf of the employees of the hospital. “I am so blessed to be in Toombs County and Vidalia with these amazing fellow colleagues and coworkers,” Hasbrouck said. “We accept this honor with great thanks on behalf of the entire staff at Memorial Health Meadows Hospital. We are committed to this community and this region, to our fellow patients, community members, and loved ones.” Tapley added, “We appreciate your support so much. This community has been so supportive of our hospital always, but even more so over the last three months throughout all of this.” “Not only that,” Harden commented, “but because we have partnered with HCA, we have amazing leadership like Matt, and have been able to retrieve any resources we need. All I have had to do is call and within 24 hours, whatever I have needed has been sitting on the back dock. I cannot tell you how much that means to me compared to the last surge, where I did not know if we were going to have everything that we needed.” He concluded, “Those provisions by the HCA and the support from the community have truly given us everything we needed to get through this.”

City Updates

Vidalia Police Department Captain James Jermon shared a message of encouragement and excitement regarding several new potential hires for the department during the regular meeting. “We had interviews this morning (September 13), and I truly believe we are going to get at least three out of the four that we interviewed this morning.”

He informed the Council that the selection procedure for the police department is a 14step process to aid in the search for the “best officer that [they] can put on the street.” City Marshal Shaun Oliver said that a few new permits have been obtained throughout the previous months, including permits for a building renovation, duplex, and triplex. The Ladson Library roof has been repaired completely and has passed inspection.

Community Events

The Savor Vidalia event that was scheduled to be held at The Pal on October 7 has been cancelled and is expected to be rescheduled in February.

The Greater Vidalia Chamber REACH program is underway until November 20. Downtown Vidalia Association (DVA) Executive Director Tonya Parker said that this year’s theme for the Vidalia Christmas Parade will be “Inside Santa’s Workshop.” Also, this year, the parade entry will feature a $20 entrance fee and a $40 late entrance fee to ensure participants remain ambitious to accomplish the theme and/or create a memorable experience for attendees.

Alcohol and Game Room License

Alcohol and game room licenses were awarded to Kokilaben Uttambha Patel for the Lotto Mart Lottery Junction 115 LLC, which is located at 115 West Pine Street. Councilman Thompson abstained from voting on the alcohol license, but the game room license was unanimously approved.

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