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Vidalia Onion Festival to Be Held Downtown This Year

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At the regular monthly meeting of the Vidalia City Council, 2023 Vidalia Onion Festival Chairman Jake Cleghorn informed the Council that all activities of the annual festival would be held in the downtown Vidalia area this year, rather than spread out across the city.

Cleghorn told Council members that not only would the festival be held in this new location, but it would also last longer, as festivities will occur from Thursday, April 20, to Sunday, April 23. According to him, the annual street dance and fireworks show will be held on Thursday night, April 20, while concerts fill the area with music on Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22. The festival will wrap up on Sunday, April 23, and will feature a new community worship service with two Christian concert artists.

“The City and Downtown are looking forward to the event being moved,” he commented.

Information on concert artists will be announced soon, as Cleghorn said he is awaiting written contracts from the performers before going public. He also said road closures will be announced at a later date.

Sweet Onion Golf Authority Budget

The Sweet Onion Golf Authority presented the Council with its $3.789 million budget, which covers all cost to build the course and install an irrigation system.

This budget does not include the cost of the construction of a Pro Shop or Equipment Shed, which the group said will be funded through a recreation grant and partnerships with private investors.

The Council also approved the Authority’s financial policies for purchases and payment with these stipulations: if the purchase is lower than $10,000, it does not have to be voted on by any party; if the purchase is between $10,001 and $249,999, it must have a formal vote by the Sweet Onion Golf Authority; if the purchase is over $250,000, it must be approved by the Vidalia City Council. The Golf Authority members do not anticipate having many purchases over $250,000, especially after construction.

Clearing Bid

The City Council approved the Sweet Onion Golf Authority’s contracting of McLendon Enterprises to complete the golf course land clearing and begin the construction process. McLendon is the only business to submit a bid for the project, and will be paid $316,525 through Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Recreational Funds.

Appointments

The appointments of Council members to the various committees were approved as the representatives remained in their previously assigned committees. The following city judicial officials were also appointed: City Attorney Justin Franklin, Municipal Court Judge Daniel O’Connor, City Prosecutor Paul Calhoun, and Public Defender Johnny Vines.

Pam Langston, Brian McDaniel, and Billy Snell were reappointed to the Planning & Zoning Board, while Ruff Bell was appointed to the Board for a term that will end in 2026. Matt Oxley, Jackie Moses, and Carol Hansley were also appointed to the Board to fill unexpired terms of members who have since vacated their seats.

Dustin Booth was appointed to a three-year term with the Toombs County Library Board of Trustees, while Shannon Hart was reappointed to the Toombs County Board of Health for a six-year term, and Garrett Wilcox was reappointed to the Vidalia Development Authority for a five-year term. Robert Toole and Craig Adams were appointed to serve five-year terms on the Recreation Department Committee.

Senecca Underwood was reappointed to serve for four more years on the Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau, alongside continued from page

Curtis McMichael, whose term also ends in 2026, and Amanda Moore, whose term ends in 2025.

Sadia Ajohda, Brandi Anthony, and Gray Meredith were also reappointed to the Downtown Development Authority.

Pinecrest Cemetery

Pinecrest Cemetery will have some new street names, as the Council approved the recommended map by the cemetery officials. These new street names will reflect the history of the cemetery, as well as help to gain fundraising, as individuals have donated to have the streets renamed. For more information, contact the Vidalia City Hall.

The City also agreed to not seek back taxes on the cemetery, after the parcel was misclassified by the county as exempt from these payments. The property has since been returned to the Tax Digest and reclassified correctly for 2023 taxes; however, the agreement was necessary for the previously approved execution of quitclaims deed for a portion of the area.

Purchases

The Council agreed to pay HUB Electronics for the digital radio systems installed in the Vidalia Fire Department trucks. This purchase was previously approved for purchase using $45,000 of Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds in 2022, but the company just finished the project, which cost $45,160.50 total. Passero Engineering will complete the engineering design and bid phase for Phase 2 of the Runway 7/25 Slab Replacement at the Vidalia Regional Airport. The total cost of this project is variable depending on the inclusion or absence of federal funding. If the project is federally funded, the local government is only responsible for 5% of the total $69,700 price tag, meaning the City will only pay $3,485; but if the project is only state funded, the City is responsible for 25% of the total cost, bringing the local match for the project to $17,425. Either way, these remaining costs will be covered by the Airport Fund and/or SPLOST Funds.

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