Posted on

Lyons City Council Honors Law Enforcement

Lyons City Council Honors Law Enforcement
HONORING LAW ENFORCEMENT – The Council honored the Lyons Police Department by issuing an official proclamation regarding Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was celebrated on January 9. L to R: Councilman John Moore, Jr., Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., Councilwoman Cathy Benton, Lieutenant Kevin Mathis, Mayor Willis D. Ne-Smith, Captain Geoffrey Parker, Officer Corey Bell, Officer Lindsey Redish, Councilman Drayton Oliver, and Councilman Tracy Johnson.Photo by Makaylee Randolph
Lyons City Council Honors Law Enforcement
HONORING LAW ENFORCEMENT – The Council honored the Lyons Police Department by issuing an official proclamation regarding Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was celebrated on January 9. L to R: Councilman John Moore, Jr., Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., Councilwoman Cathy Benton, Lieutenant Kevin Mathis, Mayor Willis D. Ne-Smith, Captain Geoffrey Parker, Officer Corey Bell, Officer Lindsey Redish, Councilman Drayton Oliver, and Councilman Tracy Johnson.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

The Lyons City Council and Mayor Willis Ne-Smith, Jr. honored the Lyons Police Department with an official proclamation celebrating Law Enforcement Day at the Council’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 9.

The proclamation, which was read by the Mayor, explained that January 9 was nationally recognized as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and the city desired to acknowledge the observance as well.

“Whereas, the City of Lyons, Georgia, is the proud home of dedicated law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep our community safe; and whereas, Law Enforcement Officers of every rank and file have chosen a profession that puts their life on the line every day for their communities. They’ve answered a call to public service that is demanding and often unappreciated; and whereas, these officers stand as leaders and teachers, educating the community about the importance of public safety; and whereas, the City of Lyons, Georgia, appreciates the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by officers and their family members on a daily basis in order to protect our schools, workplaces, roadways, and homes; and whereas, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is an opportunity to show our support for law enforcement. Therefore, I, Mayor Willis D. NeSmith Jr., hereby proclaim the week beginning January 9, 2024, as National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Lyons, Georgia, and urge all citizens to support and encourage the men and women of law enforcement in our community on this day and throughout the month of January,” he shared.

“We do thank y’all for all that y’all do for this city,” NeSmith added, speaking to many of the law enforcement officers present at the meeting to receive this recognition.

Also, during the meeting, the Mayor and Council issued a proclamation declaring February 12-16 as Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) week in the city in honor of the highly active Toombs County High School FCCLA Chapter in the city.

The Chapter President Grace Holt and Advisor Mallorie Corley attended the meeting, and Corley informed the Council members of some of the ways which FCCLA contributed to the community. “First off, I’d just like to say thank you for all of the support which we have gotten for our community,” she told the Council. “With FCCLA, our primary focus is community and family. It is the one organization that really focuses on family.”

She told the leaders that she was currently in her first year as the Food and Nutrition Science pathway teacher, which works closely with FCCLA, but has been employed with the school system for four years. Corley said that the chapter is currently working to reorganize its structure, as it has experienced many years of decreased participation, but has begun to thrive again this year.

“We greatly appreciate your support and hope that you will join us [in our work for the community],” she continued. “I talked to [City Manager] Jason Hall, and we will be setting up a goodie table for not only the Councilmen, but also the community, so that everyone can come enjoy a snack on behalf of the Toombs County High School FCCLA.”

NeSmith responded to Corley’s address, as he emphasized, “This program you have is excellent. If there is any way that we can help you as a city, please contact us. We will be glad to help.”

The Mayor presented a third proclamation during the meeting to recognize Lyons Code Enforcement Officer Chris Failla for his completion of the courses and assessments needed to become a Level 1 Certified Officer by the Georgia Association of Code Enforcement. (GACE).

“I’d like to personally say that Chris is doing an amazing job as our code enforcement officer,” City Manager Jason Hall commented on the achievement. “He took on the task. We had not had a code enforcement officer in our city for several years. [Once hired,] He immediately asked me about training, and took on that opportunity. I spent today in court with our solicitor, so I know [Failla] is knee-deep in this and working hard. So, it is fitting that we recognize him for this.”

Failla will formally graduate from the program on March 8 during the 2024 Spring GACE Conference.

The meeting also featured issuance of official oaths of office to reelected leaders Mayor NeSmith and Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., and newly-elected Councilman Drayton Oliver, who will take over the seat formerly held by Rick Hartley, as well as two addresses by citizens during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Gardens of Hope Recovery Community Organization (RCO) Representative Amy Cruz spoke to the Council about the operations of the organization and requested assistance from the City in getting grant funding.

“Gardens of Hope did not start now – it has been in the works for over a year. We used to be in Vidalia; it was housed in the same building as the Toombs County Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Center because we did not have enough funding to get our own space,” she told the Council. “Because of the hard work which our staff has done, we were able to get our own grant through the Department of Health that pays for employees, rental space, utilities, and office supplies.”

Cruz said that after receiving this grant, the organization moved to its current location, 145 S.W. Broad Street in Lyons. “My purpose here is to really explain to you what it is that we do – I want to share with you the numbers and what we have done in December alone. Also, we are here seeking funding. There is an opioid settlement that has been awarded to the states, and with that, it has been trickling down to the cities. So, our City officials have the ability to request some of that settlement to help with the opioid epidemic here in our community because we all know there is one. If we are not affected by it through our family, we are affected through our families, we are affected through our friends, coworkers, or neighbors,” she continued. “I have been to several City Council meetings where that has been presented, and the problem of homelessness has been presented so, we took on that call to action and we are doing something about it.”

She described Gardens of Hope RCO has a walk-in facility for anyone who is seeking recovery and wanting to find what their next steps are, as well as serving to educate parents on how to support and help their children who may be battling addiction.

“I am a certified peer specialist for parents. What that means is I have a child who is in recovery,” Cruz explained. “My child started using substances when he was a junior here at Toombs County High School. That continued for six years, which were the worst six years of my life. During that time, I had no one to ask [for help or guidance]. There is so much stigma around addiction, and I had a small business here in Lyons. We worked with health and fitness and wellness, so, you can just imagine how hard it was for me to even accept the fact that I had a child who was struggling with substances, and it was harder because there was no one that was publicly advertising where we could go and look for resources.

“I had nowhere to go. So now, I became part of this initiative because I want to be that place. I want to be where parents can come and look for resources; where they can come if they don’t know what to do with their child, and I can walk alongside of them,” she emphasized. “Not only that. Our employees at Gardens of Hope are people in recovery. They are people that have walked the walk and come out on the other side, so those are the kind of people that can teach others to do the same. We know what we’re doing, we’re glad we’re doing it, we have a passion for it, and we’re getting things done.”

According to Cruz, during the month of December, Gardens of Hope completed several operations, including: • Hosting a health fair with Imagine Hope to provide free Hepatitis C and HIV testing to 21 individuals • Connected two indi viduals who tested positive for Hepatitis C and/or HIV with the Mercy Ministries Clinic to receive proper free treatment • O-ered parenting classes for those in danger of losing or who have lost their children due to substance use • Helped 30 individu als gain identification cards and birth certificates • Transported 296 indi viduals in Toombs County needing to go to recoveryrelated appointments • Conducted 18 one- on-one forensic peer support meetings at the nearby prisons • Performed 23 one- on-one youth peer support meetings for at-risk youth in the Vidalia City and Toombs County alternative schools • Held 163 one-on-one peer support sessions with those in the community • Connected and fund ed six people to enter in-patient recovery facilities • Referred and trans ported two peers to detox facilities • Contacted three in dividuals referred to the organization by Memorial Health Meadows Hospital • Welcomed 33 new members to the organization.

In addition to this, Cruz spoke on the work which Gardens of Hope is doing to help with the issue of homelessness in the city. “When it comes to the epidemic of homelessness, there’s a lot of things that we don’t understand. It’s easy for us to say, ‘Well, people just need to get jobs.’ So, when people are coming from the prison or jail system, or from recovery, a lot of people do not have IDs. To even enroll in a staffing agency or to go get a job, you need identification,” she told the audience.

Cruz continued, “We’re starting a Work Life program where people can come in who want to work. I’m not saying everyone out there wants it, but for those that do, it is available and it is free. It is a 30-day program where they can come in, and we’re doing classes for them. The first thing we do is help them get an ID. Some of that means they need a birth certificate. Guess what? You need an ID to get a birth certificate, but you need a birth certificate to get an ID. So, now, we’ve teamed up with the prison system where they are now providing face sheets so they may have some form of identification to get that birth certificate. We’re helping them get social security cards and their IDs and guess what? Now, you can get a job.”

According to Cruz, while in this program, participants will learn work skills, such as communication, rather than specific skills such as working machinery, as she said that often, employers are able to provide that training. “When most people can’t keep a job, it’s not because they don’t know how to work a machine; it’s because they have a bad attitude or they don’t know how to resolve conflict,” she explained. “We’re being proactive. We’re going to teach you how to resolve conflict, how to do an interview, and how to work as a team.”

The program currently has 12 participants who are guaranteed employment upon graduation, as two local employers have already partnered with Gardens of Hope to hire graduates from the program.

Cruz emphasized that she shared this information so that both the Council and public may know of the work which the organization does, and asked that the City use any opportunity they may have for grants and other financial help to benefit this group.

Mayor NeSmith thanked Cruz for her and the organization’s work in the community, and said that he and the City would help however they could.

Community Men in Action Representative Gerriell Craig also spoke to the Council, as he shared the numerous activities the group had planned to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. These activities included a basketball tournament, trivia event, parade, and small festival at the Ronnie A. Dixon City Park.

During the reports portion of the meeting, Lyons Main Street Executive Director Daphne Walker informed the Council that this year’s Tales from the Altamaha production would be titled “Mirths, and Muddy Water Matrimonies.” Auditions for the production will be held on January 29-30 at 6 p.m. each night at the Blue Marquee Theatre in Lyons.

City Manager Jason Hall announced that the next regular Council work session will be at noon on January 30 to allow the Council to complete some extended training, and the next regular monthly meeting will be Tuesday, February 6, at 6 p.m.

He also acknowledged the work anniversaries for the months of December and January. December honorees included Corey continued from page

Bell – 2 years, Kaitlynn Bell –2 years, Andrew Britton – 7 years, Luther Ray Corbett – 2 years, and Tena Reese – 22 years. January “workaversaries” were Ryan Brack – 3 years, Steven Becker – 5 years, Carl Furlong – 8 years, Kathy Sharpe – 25 years, and Michael Caraway – 27 years. As far as business during the meeting, the city agreed to sign a contract with the Heart of Georgia Regional Commission to provide assistance in the application for a OneGeorgia Equity Grant to run water and sewage lines to the recently-annexed industrial park on U.S. Highway 1. This assistance will come at no charge to the municipality if the grant is not awarded, and will only take a small percentage of the funding if granted.

The Council also agreed to issue a quitclaim deed to Montford Rentals LLC for four tracts of land that were previously acquired for a street extension project which was never worked on.

Council members also agreed to reelect Councilman IToole as the Mayor Pro Tempore.

CELEBRATING FAILLA – The Lyons City Council also issued a formal proclamation to celebrate Code Enforcement Officer Chris Failla’s completion of his Level 1 certification. L to R: Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., Councilwoman Cathy Benton, Councilman Tracy Johnson, Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr., Code Enforcement Officer Chris Failla, Councilman Drayton Oliver, Councilman John Moore, Jr.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

NEW COUNCILMAN – Councilman Drayton Oliver was sworn in to replace Rick Hartley on the Lyons City Council at the Council’s meeting on Tuesday, January 9.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

FCCLA WEEK – During its January 9 meeting, the Lyons City Council also issued a proclamation celebrating the Toombs County High School Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter. L to R: Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., Councilwoman Cathy Benton, Toombs County Superintendent Barry Waller, Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr., TCHS FCCLA President Grace Holt, TCHS FCCLA Advisor Mallorie Corley, Councilman Drayton Oliver, Councilman Tracy Johnson, and Councilman John Moore, Jr.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

WORKAVERSARIES – Work anniversaries for both December and January were celebrated at the Lyons City Council meeting on January 9. L to R: Councilman John Moore, Jr., Councilman Ivy Toole, Jr., Councilwoman Cathy Benton, Tena Reese, Carl Furlong, Michael Caraway, Kathy Sharpe, Mayor Willis D. NeSmith, Jr., Officer Corey Bell, Councilman Drayton Oliver, Councilman Tracy Johnson.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

Recent Death Notices