City Commissioners conduct business

Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015

By BECKY CRISSMAN
becky.crissman@cordeledispatch.com

CORDELE — City Commissioners here handled a brief agenda during their regular session Tuesday night. There were only three items on the agenda which required approval by the commission.
City Administrator Edward Beach presented those items to the board during his report. The first was a request from the Cordele Mainstreet to close the 100 block of East 9th Avenue from 4-8 PM on Friday, December 4 for the “Downtown Winter Wonderland” event. The board approved the closure unanimously. The second was another road closure request submitted by the Crisp Area Arts Alliance to close the 700 block of East 17th Avenue for their Merry Movie Night on Saturday, December 5 from 5-7 PM. The board also approved this motion unanimously.
Beach also presented a request for approval of traffic control and safety devices in the 100 block of West 18th Avenue. The request was submitted by McCay Gin. The ginning operation and warehousing are located directly across 18th Avenue West from each other and speeding vehicles have posed an extreme safety hazard when trying to move the ginned cotton from the operation side to warehousing. The board approved the request. Beach said he would have the street department contact the McCay’s Gin and work with them directly on the matter.
Commissioner Jeanie Bartee informed fellowed commissioners that she had been approached recently by a citizen that wanted to commend the actions of a city police officer. According to Bartee the citizen witnessed the officer stop his patrol vehicle and get out to help a young bicycler replace and tighten the chain on his bicycle. Bartee said that there is always so much negative talk that it is refreshing to hear positive comments from citizens. They were unsure who the officer was, but wanted it to be known that local law enforcement steps up to assist those in need.
Beach also informed the board that the 2014 Annual Stormwater Report notified the city on November 18, 2015 that the report for the Municipal Separate Storm Water Sewer System had been reviewed and accepted by the EPD. Beach wanted to thank the city’s water department staff, engineering staff, and Brandon McGirt who is the stormwater technician on staff for their efforts in meeting requirements on EPD on Stormwater compliance.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.