Tillery Named April Sweet Onion Citizen
Senator Blake Tillery was named the Sweet Onion Citizen for the month of April, and was presented with the award at the Vidalia City Council regular monthly meeting on April 11. “We, as a community, want to present you with this award to say thank you for all that you do for us,” Mayor Doug Roper told Tillery. “Senator Tillery has called Vidalia his home his entire life. He could have chosen to go anywhere in the country to put down permanent roots, but chose to come back home, build a law firm, and live a life of public service.” Roper added, “When you look at the scope of all the work that you have done, I could not get you out of here to your next speaking engagement if I covered all the ways that you have served this community. You have a great impact here, throughout the 19th District, and even statewide – but you always remember home.” Upon receiving the award, Tillery commented on the occasion. “Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank you, Council. I have the best job – I get to represent home. My job is literally to take your good ideas and spend your money on our community. Thank you for the award, but it really is you all that create the tax dollars, and invest in the community.”
The City Council was presented with Vidalia Onion Festival t-shirts by the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee. In exchange for the shirts, Roper presented Committee Chairman Andy Woodruff with a framed photo, which commemorates the state proclamation about the festival by Governor Brian Kemp.
The Vidalia High School Cheerleading Team was recognized for its 2022 GHSA Division 1A/2A Game Day Cheerleading State Championship, which was secured last month. Through this competition, the team had to perform cheers for simulated game scenarios, including a situation in the finals where the cheerleaders must develop an impromptu cheer for either offense or defense.
The team consists of Seniors Breanna Barfield, Maggie Herin, Jadhari Jones, Brynna Wheeler, and Hayden Williamson; Juniors Amari Atkins, Heidi Barfield, Rebecca Evans, Emma NeeSmith, Tamira Spikes, and Madison Starr; Sophomores Jaelyn Briggs and Alexis Head; and Freshmen Lucy Allmond, Rebekah Bell, Reagan Burton, Braylie Davis, and AnnaBeth Martin. The team was led by Head Coach Ann Michele Toole and Assistant Coaches Julie Spivey and Harley Paradice.
Vidalia High School Wrestler Hunter Manning was also recognized for his 2022 GHSA 2A 145-Lb State Championship.
First readings of two new city ordinance amendments were completed by City Manager Nick Overstreet at the April Council Meeting. These new ordinances deal with ongoing issues within the community regarding weapons discharge and fires.
The first ordinance amendment is to specify the weapons mentioned in the current weapons discharge in residential areas and business districts ordinance. Overstreet explained that the city is seeing an uptick on the usage of airsoft guns—a air guns that shoot non-metallic projectiles—locally by teenagers at many areas, especially the recreation department. Thus, this amendment serves to expand the weapons included in this ordinance through its language to deal with this issue.
The second ordinance amendment is to add a policy on burning inside city limits to the municipal ordinances. Overstreet informed Council that he, City Attorney Justin Franklin, and Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes had worked together to draft this policy to attempt to decrease the number of “random fires” within the city.
These ordinance changes will be voted on officially at the next City Council meeting.
The Council approved the new 10-year lease agreement between the City of Vidalia and the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services. This new agreement increases the price per railcar from $75 per car to $95 per car; the price will increase to $105 per car after the fifth year of the contract, which would be 2027. This contract may be renewed during the tenth year of the contract for the same price guidelines.
Vidalia Fire Department
Sikes informed Council that the Vidalia Fire Department had assisted residents of The Refuge women’s shelter with installation of car seats in their vehicles upon their departure from the facility. Also, the chief shared his participation in a realistic event to deter students from drinking and driving, stating he felt the simulation was very successful and hopes to continue the event for years to come. Fire Engine 5 has been delivered and is now in operation with the Vidalia Fire Department, and the repairs to Station 1 have been very successful, as Sikes told Council that Captain Robert Tillman planned to host an open house of the facility in the coming month.
Airport Manager Billy Ragan informed the Council Members of the recent increase in airport operations at the Vidalia Regional Airport, as the month of March saw 142 more operations and 24 more types of aircraft than the month of February. A total of 548 operations from 70 types of aircraft were completed at the airport, and Ragan shared that a plane from Austria had visited the facility the day of the meeting. He also shared that a single plane will purchase around $13,000 of fuel for one plane while at the airport.
Strickland Cancer Center
City Marshal Shaun Oliver told Council that the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center has obtained a permit for interior remodel, and that many upcoming projects would be seeking permits.
Rec Center, The Pal, Recycling
According to Recreation Director Scott Strickland, Joe Bush has taken the Assistant Recreation Director position, and will be managing most of the girls’ sports, while Strickland continues to oversee the boys’ sports. Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Alexa Britton spoke of her excitement about the new mural being painted on the side of the Pal Theatre, which was designed by a former Theatre employee.
Greater Vidalia Chamber President Michele Johnson reminded the Council of the Earth Day Appreciation Electronic Recycling Event, which is being held on Thursday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Chick-Fil-A in Vidalia. The event is free with the exception of CRT monitor and TV disposal, which costs $10 each, and on-site hard drive data destruction, which costs $5.75 each. The Greater Vidalia Chamber asks that participants wishing to dispose of these items bring cash, as there will be no means to accept card payments.