Vidalia City Council Swears In New Officials
The Vidalia City Council approved several appointments and swore in a new attorney, municipal judge, and city clerk during its first regular meeting of the year on Monday, January 8.
Council members agreed to appoint Daniel O’Connor as the City Attorney to fill the role previously held by Justin Franklin. O’Connor previously served as the city’s Municipal Judge; thus, the City had to fill this new vacancy. The Council selected Paul Cook to step into this new role.
Former Administrative Assistant to the City Manager Kellie Murray, who has been acting as the City Clerk for several months since the resignation of former City Clerk Amy Murray, was formally appointed and sworn into the role at the January 8 meeting.
Paul Calhoun was elected to continue his role as City Prosecutor while Johnny Vines was reappointed as the city’s Public Defender. Newly reelected City Councilmen John Raymond Turner, Loyd Mobley, and Bob Dixon were also formally sworn in for their new terms.
The City’s 2024 Operating Budget was approved during the meeting. The budget has been available for public review for several weeks, and a formal public hearing regarding the document was held at 6 p.m. prior to the Council meeting. No questions or concerns were presented during the hearing.
The Short-Term Vacation Rentals ordinance draft was turned over to City Attorney O’Connor for legal review. Last month, the Council voted to place a 60-day moratorium on business licenses for short-term rentals to allow for the drafting of an ordinance to regulate these businesses.
With the addition of the Ohoopee River Brewing Co., which is set to open in the future along Georgia Highway 280 East, the Council set up a fee structure for brewer and manufacturing fees for alcohol licensing. The fees are as follows: Growler Sales Fee, $250; Brewer, Manufacturer of Malt Beverage License, $1,500; Retail Liquor, Beer, and Wine (in-room mini-bar sales only), $1,800.
Because of it being the first meeting of the year, several appointments were made to a variety of Boards and Authorities, including: Carol Hansley Planning & Zoning Board Julia McKenzie Downtown Vidalia Association Board Terri Humphrey Downtown Vidalia Association Board Carol Rice Toombs County Library Board of Trustees Lisa Chesser Toombs County Library Board of Trustees Pat Mitchell Vida lia Convention & Visitors Bureau Demondrea Wallace – Recreation Board Blake Brown Vida lia Development Authority Kareem Owens Sweet Onion Golf Authority Jacob Woodn Sweet Onion Golf Authority Council members agreed to contract Hofstadter & Associates to resurface Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive from its intersection with Morris Street until it crosses Epstein Street. The project will cost $71,393.40, and will be funded through Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenues.
During the meeting, the Council also adopted the Downtown Vidalia Master Plan, which will be used to help apply for grants in the future, and several alcohol, coin-operated gaming, and taxi licenses were approved for renewal for 2024.
Gardens of Hope Recovery Community Organization (RCO) Director Craig George spoke to the Council on the work completed by the organization during the public participation portion of the meeting.
During his address, George provided an overview of the operations completed in one month alone by the RCO. To read the complete list of these operations, see the article on the Lyons City Council.
“Simply put, we are an addiction recovery source center that is now located in Lyons,” George explained. “We launched these services in September 2022 under a grant that was an opioid response grant. Basically, within year 1 of the 4-year grant, we got picked up by the state. Our numbers were extremely high last year, and we did a lot of work in this community So, now, we are included in the state budget this year. That is a huge win for our community, and hopefully, year after year, we are able to continue this work.”