Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

January 5, 2013

Watkins appeals for help

Cordele — CORDELE — For the first meeting of the new year, Cordele Commissioners were treated to a “show and tell,” compliments of Mrs. Rosie Watkins, representing the Family Developmental Task Force.

She pulled a jacket from a zippered suit bag and put it on. "This is our signature jacket," she explained. "It's been all over the world.

“This jacket represents what we are all about and shows what we do." She further explained that the dolls pinned on the jacket represent all of the children her organization serves in Crisp County.

Watkins then showed several photo albums that contained photographs from the past 16 years. Her motive in addressing the commissioners was to find out "what we're going to do about the Boys/Girls Club.

“The question is and has been, ‘when are we going to get in?’" she asked.

 Commissioner Zack Wade deferred to City Attorney Tommy Cotton. "There are some legal things we will need to address," he explained to Mrs. Watkins. "We are not opposed to what you are trying to do, but legally the Commission can't do what you want done right now."

He pointed out two major reasons. First, when the property was developed, a state grant for $125,000 was used. Grant monies have to be spent within specific criteria, he said.

Second, there is a long-term lease on the building. The Boys/Girls Club in Eastman holds the lease. Cotton informed her of some steps she would need to take in the matter.

Watkins then asked for an executive session with the commissioners. Cotton explained that wasn't possible except under specific circumstances due to open meeting laws. A meeting was set up with Ms. Watkins, Commissioner Jeanie Bartee, Chairman Wade and City Attorney Cotton for Friday morning to discuss her concerns.

Commissioner Curtis Lucas Jr. praised Watkins for what she has done to help the children of the Cordele community.

 In reorganizational business for the first meeting of 2013, commissioners approved retaining Judge Melton Culpepper as city judge and Tommy Cotton as city attorney. They also approved the reappointed members of some city boards, but asked for time to study the appointment of new members to the boards.

Sidewalk construction projects on 8th, 10th, and 13th St. south of 24th Ave. are moving forward, city officials were told, but environmental studies are necessary and have begun. Utility relocation plans must be approved by GDOT, then the complete engineering plan can be presented and approved.

Bartee asked whether there had been a follow-up report on a past evidence room issue in the Police Department. A report and decision has not been returned by the district attorney’s office, she was told.

Personnel Director David Wade thanked the commissioners for approving the wellness program and the health care clinic for city employees in 2012. Because of these two programs, he said, the city has saved $182,000 in health care costs.

Edward Beach, acting city manager, reported that Cordele is one of two finalists for a new industry. He also said 2012 tax notices were mailed by Dec. 14 and taxes are due by Feb. 20.

Expressions of sympathy were offered to Police Chief Bobby Hooper and his family in the loss of his sister and his mother's home by fire. His mother was injured in the fire, but is now doing better. 

Another expression of sympathy was offered to the family of Eugene Stephens, who served the city of Cordele for 45 years and was fire chief for 27 of those years.

Public works director, Steve Fulford reported that the street sweeper is down and needs repair. Because of the holidays, required parts have not been available, he said. “We will have it up and running as soon as possible.”

He also said the preliminary design for the 8th Ave. project has been finished.



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