June 6th – City Commission Meeting

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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The Cordele City Commission met on Tuesday June 6, 2023 at 9am at the Cordele City Hall Courtroom with Chairman Joshua Deriso, Commissioner Vest Beal Shepard, Commissioner Isaac H. Owens, Commissioner Royce Reeves, Sr., Commissioner Wesley Rainey and City attorney, Tommy Coleman in attendance. The meeting started with a public hearing regarding Article VI. Use provisions by district: Section 620.3 Conditional Uses, Harmon Beal, at 812 West 23rd Avenue, Cordele, GA. Harmon Beal is requesting a variance to locate a new double-wide (28’x56’) Manufactured Home at 812 West 23rd Avenue, City of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia. The Zoning Classification of this property is (R-7.5), One & Two Family Residential District. There was no one present to speak on this public hearing, the hearing was adjourned and the meeting continued. We then heard from our Department Heads starting with the Finance Director, Rusty Bridgers, with not much to update. We then heard from the Fire Chief Todd Alligood with updates from the reporting period April 27th through May 31st with a total of 74 calls for service. Some of the major ones include 4 structure fires, 10 grass fires and other fires and 12 motor vehicle accidents. Department news, they completed PMs on engine 4, 9 and 5, ladder 3 is getting prepared from pump testing. They had one promotion to sergeant and 2 new hires that have started. Alligood also mentioned that they are partnering with Red Cross to do a smoke detector blitz in town on Thursday June 15, 2023 start at 10:00am on the block of 17th Ave west to 21st Ave west, bordered by 8th street south and 13th street south. The fire department will be knocking on doors in this area to check your smoke detector and ensure that they are working properly, if there is a need for replacement the Red Cross is supplying 50 new detectors to put in. We then heard from the Housing and Urban Development Director, there is lost going on with the sewer improvements project is moving smoothly, historic preservation had 3 hearings on May 24, 2023. There were requests to repair a rental house from a fire, one request to save columns; the historic committee approved this request, and the last request was to build a front porch wood and metal event sign, approval on this is pending. We heard from the Codes Department, Chief of Codes was not there; he was represented by another employee. They did not have much to update except that many projects that are currently underway to getting finished. The Quik Trip being built on east 16th across from Pilot will be breaking ground this month. We heard from the Municipal Court with an update, there were 242 Traffic cases, 31 criminal, 273 total for the month. 40 license suspension, bonds, probation fees, etc total of $41849.32. There was 0 defendants and 0 jail days. We heard from Police Chief the Cordele Police Department Commission Report for April 26th through May 30th 2023 shows, Part 1 crimes had a total of 50 incidents reported, these incidents included one rape, 6 motor vehicle thefts, four of which were recovered and one with a warrant. Ten aggravated assault with one arrest made. 19 larceny, with nine entering autos, seven shoplifting with three arrests, and three other thefts. 14 burglaries, ten of which were residential and four businesses, with four warrants issued. Number of Part 2 crimes reports was 133. Number of Incidents reported was 206. Number of Community Contacts was 62. Number of Citations issued was 173. Number of Warnings issued was 84. Total calls for service from dispatch was 1,597. Departmental News:They currently have 2 cadets that are in the police academy. We have 2 that are in field training and 1 in the hiring process. The department held and Appreciation/Awards Dinner on May 17th. They presented Mrs. Willie Mae Crapp a certificate for her 13 years of dedicated service as a school crossing guard. Over the years, she only missed one day of work. Sgt. Michael Middleton, Sgt. Amy Stokes, Officer Austin wells and Officer Joshua Stubbs were recognized for their life saving actions in two separate incidents. Also, Sgt. Amy Stokes was promoted from Corporal to Detective Sergeant. Some members of out department played bingo with some of the residents at Woodvale on May 19th. The department partnered with Hatley Baptist Church and McClains Food Services. We provided a meal for members that attended Celebrate Recovery on Tuesday. May 23rd. We then heard from the Public Works Director that the new dump sight is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Finally we heard from UC&T director that said that they treated half as many gallons in May as they have been treating due to it being so dry. Lots of repairs are currently being done as well. They want to remind the public that there are water restrictions in place, if you have built in irrigation or any irrigation system that it must be done between 4pm and 10am.

Agenda item number one was the proclamation of the Georgia Municipal Court Clerks Week. The proclamation was presented by City Commissioner Isaac Owens to the Municipal Court Clerks.

Agenda item number two was to consider and approve the second reading of an Ordinance: The City Commission of the City of Cordele hereby ordains that pursuant to the Charter of the City of Cordele, as amended, and the Georgia Elections Code, as amended through the regular 2023 session of the Georgia General Assembly , the General Election for the City Commission Ward 1 and City Commission Ward 4, as provided by O.C.G.A. to fill terms expiring on December 31, 2023, shall be held under the following terms and conditions. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number three was to consider and approve an event permit: Food Truck Friday, June 9, 2023, 11:00am until at the Cordele Community Clubhouse. Organizer’s name and address: Monica Rentfrow, 105 East 9th Avenue, Cordele, GA; 105 East 9th Avenue. This has already been approved by Chief Heard on May 17, 2023. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number four was to consider and approve a parade permit: Watermelon Festival Parade, June 24, 2023 at 9:00am. The route of the parade: will start at 6th street and 15th avenue east, proceeding east on 15th avenue and ending at Pecan Street. Sponsored by Monica Simmons, Cordele Crisp Chamber of Commerce. This was reviewed and recommended by Chief Heard on May 31, 2023. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number five was to consider and approve an event permit: Juneteenth Festival, June 18, 2023, 9:20am-8:00pm at the Cordele Community Clubhouse. Organizer’s name, Cordele/Crisp NAACP unit 5188-B, Cordele, GA. Special request: Close off 15th ave. between 6th and 7th street. This was approved by Chief Heard on June 1, 2023. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number six was to consider and approve contingency fund awards for the state ARPA Grant for sewer improvements. City Manager, Angela Reading gave a brief background on this and it was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number seven was to consider and approve board reappointments:

Cordele Carnegie Library Board – 3 year term – term expiring on June 30, 2023

  1. Curtis Lucas
  2. Merilyn Guerry
  3. Cindy Jenkins

That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number eight was a resolution of the Chairman and Board of Commissioners of the City of Cordele, Georgia Authorizing the Conveyance by Quit Claim deed of all the City of Cordele’s interest in certain property to the City of Cordele/Crisp Land Bank for the purpose of aiding in the redevelopment and revitalization of the City of Cordele; Repealing all resolutions in conflict herewith; and for such other programs. City Manager, clarifies this agenda item, they had a meeting with the land bank and it went well. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number nine was a resolution declaring moratorium on permits for the location of manufactured homes in the corporate limits of the City of Cordele; Repealing all resolutions in conflict herewith and for other purposes. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number ten is the discussion of golf carts and all terrain vehicles on city streets. This was discussed, City Attorney made it clear that it is against the law for ATVs and golf carts to be on city streets. There is however a way to become a golf cart city but this would mean there would be restrictions on what the golf carts need to have. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number eleven was the discussion of SPLOST find for William Park

Project. This item was not properly moved and second.

Agenda item number twelve was the discussion of SPLOST funds use for Westside Youth Center. This item was not properly moved and second.

Agenda item number thirteen was the discussion of the Public Defender’s behavior and contract. This item was not properly moved and second.

Agenda item number fourteen was to consider and approve a request of variance to locate a new double-wide (28’x56’) manufactured home at 812 West 23rd Avenue, City of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia. The zoning classification of this property is (R-7.5), one & two family residential district. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

At the end of the meeting Chairman Joshua Deriso asked if there were any comments by the governing body. Chairman Vesta Beal Shephard and Vicd Chairman Royce Reeves, Sr. made a few comments. Chairman Joshua Dersio asked if there were any further comments by the governing body, and he proceeded to make his comments. He thanked Chairman Isaac Owens for his support in community development and understanding mandate that the people voted for when they voted for such a chairman. He also wanted to thank the other commissioners for making it so easy to prove to the community what they are willing to do and not to do in supporting a vision and funding problems in the community. Deriso mentioned that the city has a youth crime problem with no solutions and no big investments have been decided in regards to these problems. Other communities surrounding are using SPLOST funds to build infrastructure to help with issues they are having in their communities. Dersio said that, “This commission continues to show that their values are not in line with the community, as I always say, if everything was going well in the City of Cordele then I would not be sitting here as chairman. So I appreciate this body for letting people know meeting and meeting out, when we have injustice happening in our municipal court, the people watching, people listening and the people know who is coming here and doing their job representing what the majority says. So, I appreciate you all for your votesm your lack of motion and at this time I call for a motion to adjourn.” As they were about to adjourned Chairman Shephard kindly asked if she could speak, Deriso said, “No ma’am, you had your moment to speak.” He then called for a motion to adjourn which Commissioner Isaac Owens motioned, with no second. Commissioner Shephard then asked again to speak and was denied by the Chairman. A few minutes went by and Commissioner Shephard agreed to second the motion but would be addressing the audience afterwards. Once this happened, meeting was adjourned, Comissioner Shephard tried to speak and was rudely interrupted by Chairman Deriso who continually yelled into the microphone that the meeting was over, along with bashing the gavel on the table. Comissioner Shephard continue to speak whilst this was going on. We spoke with Chairman Deriso, Commissioner Shephard and Commisioner Rainey after the meeting to get their comments on how the meeting went.

Chairman Joshua Deriso said, “In 2021, the people of Cordele elected the most readied and qualified chairperson with a vision to improve the whole of Cordele. For years, the Westside had been left out of the whole. Before I was sworn in, people began to attach because I talked about diversity and inclusion openly and boldly. Over the last year, there have been factions to try to weaken the new Black majority and remove us. They succeeded in getting Commissioners Reeves suspended. Yet, they also succeeded in getting him reinstated once they figured out that they made a mistake with him being Vice-Chair.

Since Commissioner Reeves had time out and they told him how to be a good boy, he has sided with this faction, against the vision the people voted for and the interests of the people he took an oak to represent. Commissioner Reeves sold them out to get a break for the criminal charges pinned against him. Commissioner Reeves helped racists collect recall signatures against the Chair.  He is a known criminal within the community and both law enforcement agencies are aware of his drug use and criminal activities. Currently, Commissioner Reeves manipulated the City Commission and suppressed a bid to ensure his personal friend received a City contract and also a loan for the economic revolve committee. Taking city money that is a crime. All of that and Commissioner Reeves has yet to use his power, influence, and relationship with fellow Commissioners to impact substantial change on the Westside.

Commissioner Shephard has been bought by the affection of the ill-intended racist for most of her life and certainly her time on the Commission. Commissioner Shephard has been the primary barrier to change since my tenure as Chairperson. She referred to all my plans and agenda items as “yours”, not realizing that the people provide a mandate when they elected me Citywide. She filed ethics complaints and court documents based on white lies.

Thus, today was a continuance of Commissioners Reeves and Shephard denial of the people’s mandate and the racism and oppression their constituency has experienced. They are double-handedly the reason the Westside has not progressed. Between their ego and ignorance, the people who need intervention the most will continue to be left behind. Consequently, the City as a whole will not progress.”

Commissioner Wesley Rainey said that in regards to the SPLOST funds, “There was SPLOST negotiation meetings with the county to determine the percentage the city would receive and to determine was the SPLOST funds were going to be paying for. The department heads have to submit their wish lists, which totaled to approximately $57 million. It is projected that the SPLOST is going to be $27 million so the city portion of the SPLOST is going to be 32%, Arabi gets 2% and the county gets the rest. That is the split on the $27 million they will be receiving for SPLOST, which puts the city between $8.5-9 million. That will how much the city will get over the next 6 years from SPLOST proceeds. The city manager had to narrow down the wish list of the department heads to get within that dollar figure. The $8.5-9 million has been split between the department heads for all of their wish lists, and the city commissioners have time to do an input at the same time. Once this has been done and you get all the expenditures that is all submitted into an inter-governmental agreement that has to be signed by Arabi, by the county and by the city.” Commissioner Rainey mentioned that, based on the City Managers report this agreement has already been signed and if any changes were going to be made and try to allocate the funds to put more or take way from Williams Park or the Westside community center, all the governing bodies would need to have additional meetings and re-vote on the changes and create new agreements, all of which need to get to the state within a certain time frame. Commissioner Rainey confirmed that this is the reason there were no seconds on the agenda items referring to the SPLOST funds.

Commissioner Vesta Beal Shephard said that She does not see a white Cordele and a Black Cordele, She sees a Cordele. She does not see an east side of Cordele or a west side of Cordele, she sees Cordele. Commissioner Shephard said, “I represent the whole city, the county and the state everywhere I go. I am not bashful, and when people say you don’t get mad I respond with, I know who I am, the city of Cordele know who I am. I am who my momma raised.” In regards to the solicitor, “That was his personal problem with the solicitor not the cities. No one has got any complaints from the citizens.” In regards to the SPLOST funds, Commissioner Shephard confirmed that the funds have already been designated for 2024.