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Vidalia Council Updated On Library Construction

Ohoopee Regional Library Director Cameron Asbell and Library Construction Committee Member Gary Campbell updated the Vidalia City Council on construction of the new library at the City’s regular meeting on March 14. Campbell emphasized to the council members that he had discovered the significance of the library to the community throughout the construction process. “Since joining this project, I have really gotten an image of how much the library means to this community,” he stressed. “Knowing that, the timing of this remodel is excellent – it was high time to move the facility into the 21st Century.” He also shared a message from one of the driving forces of the project, Library Board Member Howard Holman, who could not attend the meeting because of health issues. Campbell explained that when Senator Blake Tillery (R-19) came to Holman and told him that state money may be available, there was still a lot of funding needed – that is, until Holman came to the Vidalia City Council. “When he was coming in to speak with you all, [Holman] said he was very nervous,” Coleman told Council. “Asking for $50,000 is a big ask. But he met with City Manager Nick Overstreet and former Finance Director Bill Bedingfield, and eventually came to the City Council, and you all supported the project willingly. Thank you for that.” Asbell told Council members that originally, the project was not scheduled to begin for 3 years; yet, upon gaining $685,000 of locally raised funds within 3 months, the library was immediately awarded funding by the state. “The large amount of local support is why we were able to receive that state money so quickly,” she emphasized.

Currently, the renovation has completed 90% of the necessary demolition. Once the demolition is complete, renovations will begin, and the library will be slowly restored to normalcy.

“The target completion date for construction is November,” Asbell said. “So starting in November, we will begin slowly moving things back into the library. The Ladson Genealogical Library will be the first thing moved into the building, and once it is set up, everything else will follow.”

The library will have a grand reopening at the beginning of the year in 2023; until then, library resources may be found at the Vidalia-Toombs County Public Library at 166 West Liberty Avenue in Lyons.


City Manager Nick Overstreet informed the Council that the City’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant application scored second best in the state out of over 500 applications. The City of Vidalia received $4 million for a brown water and metering project, which totals $6 million. The City had already planned to use $2 million of previously received ARPA money, which will be added to this new grant. Overstreet also reassured the Council that all current construction/ renovation projects – the annex expansion, the TIA Band 3, the Airport Apron repaving, the Airport Runway improvement, the Pal Theatre renovation, etc. – were all moving along despite the challenge of a materials shortage.

Fire Chief Brian Sikes gave Council members an update on Fire Station 1, which was damaged by a tornado in January. The fire station continues to be repaired. The ceiling tiles have been replaced in the living quarters, the painting has begun, sheetrock is being replaced in the bay.

Firefighters will travel to inspect Fire Engine 5 on Monday and Tuesday to ensure that all desired resources are on the truck. If approved by the firefighters, the Engine will be delivered this week. This new Engine serves as a replacement for an older fire engine which has been removed from service.

Sikes also shared that the fire station had taken a part in their Community Partnership Program with Toombs County Family Connection, and he has been able to talk to 400 eighth graders through the Teen Maze events. These students from Toombs County Middle School and J.R. Trippe Middle School were educated on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and sexting. “To be able to reach 400 eighth graders is an amazing opportunity to make a good impact on our kids,” he remarked.

Also, DOT Foods has donated $6,000 to the Vidalia Fire Department for supplies for the Hazmat program. The Fire Department and DOT Foods have had a longstanding relationship, as DOT Foods facilities were used to train annually with their supply of ammonia. Sikes publicly spoke of his gratitude toward the company for their donation.

Police Chief James Jermon told the Council that he had given the 6-10 students who walk to school in the neighborhood near Sally D. Meadows Elementary School lightup bracelets that will allow the youth to be seen while walking in the dark hours of the morning. “This is an awesome opportunity to make contact with these kids and to be able to give them a positive image of police officers,” Jermon commented. Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Alexa Britton informed Council that several members of the community had traveled to the State Capitol for the official Vidalia Onion Proclamation on February 28 in preparation for the upcoming pack date, April 12, and Vidalia Onion Festival, April 21– 24.

Onion Festival

Preparations for the Vidalia Onion Festival continue, as the permit for the onsite consumption of beer and wine was approved for Friday, April 22, Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24. Also, the Council agreed to close necessary roads for Onion Festival Activities during the weekend of April 22.

On Thursday, April 21, there will be the following closures: Durden Street (280 East to 280 West) – 2:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., Jackson Street (280 East to 280 West) – 2:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., Church Street (280 East to 280 West) – 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., Meadows Street (Leader Street to Jackson Street) 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., and the City Stage Fenced Area – 2:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. On Friday, April 22, there will be the following road closures: Industrial Lane (from Harris Industrial to McNatt Street) – 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., Harris Industrial Bouoevard (from Maple Drive to Mc-Natt Street) – 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., and Mathews Industrial Circle at Harris Industrial Boulevard (Mathews Industrial Circle on way from Tumi) – 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Road closures on Saturday, April 23 are: Industrial Lane (from Harris Industrial to McNatt Street) – 8 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., Harris Industrial Boulevard. (from Maple Drive to McNatt Street) – 8 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., Mathews Industrial Circle at Harris Industrial Blvd. (Mathews Industrial Circle on way from Tumi) – 8 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., and Church Street – 6 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Road closures on Sunday, April 24, include: Industrial Lane (from Harris Industrial to McNatt Street) – 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Harris Industrial Boulevard (from Maple Drive to McNatt Street)– 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Mathews Industrial Circle at Harris Industrial Blvd. (Mathews Industrial Circle on way from Tumi) – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mutual Aid Agreement, Vehicles

Council members also approved the mutual aid agreement between Vidalia Fire Department and Lyons Fire Department. This agreement ensures that either party will receive compensation for their help when called upon based upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) schedule.

The City will purchase four vehicles for the Street and Public Works Departments from Paul Thigpen Chevrolet and Woody Folsom Ford. Paul Thigpen Chevrolet currently has one 2022 GMC Canyon in stock, which will cost $28,640 total. This vehicle will be purchased for the Street Department, which will use Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds. Three 2022 Ford Rangers will be purchased from Woody Folsom Ford at $26,325 each; these vehicles have a three months lead time, and will be purchased through the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) low interest Lease/Purchase Program. Through this program, the vehicles will be paid for over a three-year period with funds from the Water and Sewer Fund.


The demolition of the former Econo Inn began on Monday, March 21. Equipment was brought in throughout the prior week and the project is planned to be completed by April 15. The Sweeten Your Ride fundraiser will be held on Friday, March 25, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the old Walgreen’s parking lot. Decals are $10 and will benefit the Sally D. Meadows Elementary School and J.R. Trippe Middle School Gentlemen’s Clubs. The Pal Theatre will host a Wine and Paint event on Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 each, and include the painting and dinner. Only 22 seats are available. Call The Pal Office to check for availability. Two similar events will be hosted during the week of the Vidalia Onion Festival, as the Pal will offer two Wine and Paint events that will feature Onion Art; more information about those events is to come in the future. The theatre will also be sharing its documentary during the Thursday and Friday of the Festival. The Greater Vidalia Chamber will be presenting an informative address on the upcoming special election regarding Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) at the Rotary meeting on Thursday, March 24. The Chamber will also host its women’s conference, ConnectHER on Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m.

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