Mayor Roper Addresses Recent Surge in Crime
The atmosphere was tense and somber as the regular January monthly meeting of the Vidalia City Council began with a heartfelt address from the city’s leader.
“We are beginning to face events that are more common to larger cities in our small town,” Mayor Doug Roper said. “In the midst of that, I want you all to know we are thankful to have the leadership that we do. I believe that we have a group of people — either elected or serving the community in another capacity — that are willing to run forth and fight to preserve the peace.”
He shared his gratitude toward community servants. “I am certainly thankful for our men and women in uniform — our fire department, police department, EMS, and first responders. They are always on call 24/7, and are willing to risk everything for their community.”
This emotional address comes after Vidalia and the surrounding areas have been plagued with crime and tragedy throughout the month, having withstood a tornado, double homicide, destruction of property, continued from page
an officer-involved shooting, and many other unfortunate events.
“I think it is going to take all of us, it is going to take a collective effort. Myself, (City Manager) Mr. (Nick) Overstreet, and (Vidalia Police Department) Chief (James) Jermon have already been meeting. We’ve realized it is going to take the faithbased community, business community, school systems — it’s going to take all of us coming together to address and formulate ways that we can solve or mitigate some of the issues that we have.”
He concluded the address with a message of hope. “Just know that we are here working hard every single day,” he reassured. “We have the best for our city in mind, and thank you to those who are on the front lines doing what you do every single day.”
Mayor Roper, Ward 1 Councilmember Cecil Thompson, Ward 2 Councilmember Jennifer Evans, and newly-appointed Vidalia Police Chief Jermon took the oath of office during the recent City Council meeting. In addition to this, Roper announced his appointment of John Raymond Turner to continue to serve as Mayor Pro-Tem, as he has for many years. Justin Franklin will remain the City Attorney, while Daniel O’Connor was appointed to serve as the Municipal Court Judge. Paul Calhoun will spend the year working as the City Prosecutor, while Johnny Vines will serve the community as Public Defender.
The Council unanimously approved the appointment of Chess Fountain to the Vidalia Development Authority for a five-year term (ending on December 31, 2026), while naming Hal Chesser to the same Authority for a six-year term (ending December 31, 2027).
Greg McKenzie, Jr., was appointed to the Vidalia Convention Visitors Bureau, and Wendi Cason, Julie Palmer, and Cindy Reddick were approved to join the Downtown Vidalia Association. These individuals will serve a four-year term on their respective boards, which will end on December 31, 2025.
Purchases and Agreements The Council approved an agreement regarding the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) between the Georgia Department of Transportation and the City of Vidalia. This agreement allows the City to be reimbursed $32,000 for the work that has been completed at the airport. This reimbursement was applied for by City Clerk Amy Murray in July 2021 and is a federal grant with no matched money required.
The Georgia Department of Transportation will use the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) Band 3 Railroad Work in Vidalia to improve the railroad crossings at Morris Street and North College Street. Council approved GDOT’s choice to contract the work to R.W. Summers Railroad Contractor, Inc. for finishing the project at a cost a total of $148,310 with state funding.