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Bus company picked
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Veolia Transportation, a French-based company that reportedly is Europe and North America's largest private transportation provider, has been contracted to set up the county's first public transit system, mostly in Hinesville, by the end of the year.
The project's selection committee recommended Veolia on July 11 and presented their suggestion to Mayor Jim Thomas and Hinesville City Council last week. The recommendation was approved.
Peter Bruno, regional business development manager, presented Hinesville resident Theodis Jackson as the general manager.
Jackson thanked the committees and said he is looking forward to working with the city.
"I'm pretty excited about it," he said. "I think it's going to work well."
Flemington Mayor Sandra Martin and Hinesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Chairman John McIver, who is also chairman of the county commission, sat on the selection committee.
He called the Veolia presentation impressive.
"I feel comfortable that we are making the right recommendation to you all for selection for the transit operator," McIver said.
"As the service comes on line, we're looking to participate, from the county side, in the future," the commissioner chairman said.
Martin, who works for The Heritage Bank, mainly oversaw the financial portion during of proposals.
Martin said she and the committee were especially impressed with Veolia's initiative in arranging with a local company to perform future services on the buses to help stimulate the area economy.
"With this particular firm, they had the best qualified manager that we felt could do the job at this time," Martin said. "They had a lot of other relationships where they could help us in other areas if we needed it and as we grow."
Whitney Shepherd, an employee of RS&H, the facilities and infrastructure firm that has been working with LCPC to draft the operations plan, also addressed council members.
"You have quite a few decisions coming up in order to get service ready for December," she said.
She outlined items in marketing, equipment, materials and logo construction that will need to be put in place during the next five months.
"Marketing, marketing, marketing," Shepherd said. "I can't say enough how important that will be to begin that as soon as possible."
Thomas said the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority will possibly help with marketing the transit system.
Brandon Wescott with LCPC was selected as the city transit coordinator.
In other business, council OKed the community development department applying for a safety and liability grant through the Georgia Municipal Association.
The $5,000 matching grant would help buy three digital video camera for police cars.
Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard said the cameras would help prevent abuse of officer authority while reducing false accusations of abuse.
Police Chief George Stagmeier reported the many patrol cars still have videotape cameras and approximately 25 do not have cameras at all.
Through the same grant, the city will apply for the funds to buy a thermal imaging camera for the Hinesville Fire Department.
The heat-sensing camera would go to the HFD Rapid Intervention Team for rescues.
Matching funds from the city for both departments' cameras is in the city budget.

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