Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

December 20, 2012

Officials begin process of increasing hotel/motel tax

Cordele — City commissioners here approved a 1% increase in the hotel/motel tax during their Tuesday meeting. This extra money will be used to pay for bonds needed to fund the "Quiet Community" project.

Acting City Manager Edward Beach said the tax will increase from 5% to 6%, and the project scope will include Midway Rd. and Greer St. railway crossing changeouts to accommodate trains not using horns as warning devices at these intersections.

Now that city officials have okayed the increase, state legislators also must give their approval. Once the actual dollar amount has been determined, bonds will be issued through the Cordele Office Building Authority, according to Beach.

In addition, Beach said the Tourism Committee will have to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the Building Authority guaranteeing that the 1% generated will be used to make the yearly bond debt service.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners approved the rehabilitation of 11 homes in the Gillespie-Selden neighborhood and made two appointments to the Housing Authority board.

The city has received a federal USDA housing grant totaling $125,000. Homeowners in the Gillespie-Selden area were invited to submit applications for combination loans/grants to repair/renovate their homes from those funds. "We hoped to be able to complete work on 10 homes, but we think we will be able to do 11," Beach said.

"This will mean a lot to that community as the homes are improved with various repairs ranging from new roofs and porches to replacement of electrical and plumbing hazards," he added.

The applications were rated, he explained, based on historical integrity, the age of the applicants and the condition of the homes, according to Beach. Each applicant will receive approximately $12,000 with a portion of that to be repaid into a revolving fund.

Appointed as new Housing Authority commissioners are Mary Beal who will serve a five-year term from September, 2012 through September, 2017 and Margaret A. Mumphery who will serve one year from September, 2012 through September, 2013.

Benny Wade briefed city governors on plans for a running event to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the construction of the Blackshear Trail which passes through Crisp County. Wade said General David Blackshear was given property in Laurens County after the Revolutionary War, and he is responsible for building a number of roads.

The trail which is named for him started at Fort Hawkins in Bibb County, came down the Ocmulgee River to Hawkinsville, then crossed what is now Hwy. 257 and passed through Crisp County to Fort Early, Wade said.

"I did not want to let the 200th anniversary pass without some kind of celebration," he added.  Numerous people have volunteered to run a leg of the relay which Wade says will not be a race. One of those is City Commissioner Jamie Fernandez, and most of his leg will be through the city.

The approximately 20 mile run will start at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 28 on Hwy. 257 at the Crisp/Dooly county line, according to Wade. The runners will carry an 1812 flag which is the only one in the country's history that had 15 stripes. It also has 15 stars.

From Hwy. 257, Wade said the runners will turn right onto Farmers Market Rd., then left on Airport Rd. and right onto Blackshear Trail Rd. They will come to 3rd St., turn on 8th Ave., 7th St., 16th Ave., then travel along Hwy. 280 to the 300 connector. The relay will travel along Hwy. 300 to Lakeshore Dr. where it will turn right and go about .8 mile to the former location of Fort Early.

"We expect to arrive at Lakeshore Dr. about 12 noon, and walkers in the community are invited to join us there and walk the remaining less than a mile to the Fort Early location. We will have a meal and present the flag to government officials."

Everyone who runs in the relay will sign the flag which will be kept for future generations. All participants also will get a T-shirt. There is no cost to participate. "We're not raising money. We just want to honor the man who contributed so much to this area of Georgia," Wade said.

He indicated that Sheriff's Col. Billy Hancock is handling the logistics of the run. In case of bad weather, the run will be postponed a day or two, just so it happens in 2012, Wade added.

In other business:

• Beach reported that the city's Housing Authority has submitted a payment in lieu of tax of $41,826.15 for fiscal year 2011.

• For the holidays, the acting manager said, City Hall will be closed Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1.

• Commissioners decided to postpone their first meeting of the month of January to Thursday, Jan. 3 since the first Tuesday falls on New Year's Day.

• Commissioner Curtis Lucas Jr. asked that the police department make a more concerted effort to slow down log truck and tractor trailer traffic on 16th Ave. He said he had received several complaints.


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