By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hinesville citizens meet with city officials
Placeholder Image
Compliments and complaints rang the same from city hall July 23 when Hinesville residents got the opportunity to sit down in an open forum with the mayor, city manager, city inspections director and the police chief to express concerns regarding their communities.
Reserved for citizens in district 5, councilman Kenneth Shaw called the meeting to know how to most effectively service his constituents.
City manager Billy Edwards opened the meeting by updating the couple dozen citizens of the recent projects the city is undergoing since Hinesville became an "urbanized or metropolitan statistical area," in 2000.
"We have 50,000 people in the immediate Hinesville area," he said.
Edwards explained there is $500 million worth of city projects that needs to be done, with the resurfacing and widening of Frank Cochran into four-lanes going into Fort Stewart as present priority.
Federal and state grants will finance the projects, along with the Special-Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which citizens will have the opportunity to vote on again in November.
When the possibility of widening South Main came up, Edwards wholeheartedly agreed the need was "glaringly obvious," but referenced the Memorial Drive Redevelopment that would eventually help with downtown congestion.
Leo McWatt asked when manholes could be fixed, citing some roads where it is hard to dodge them. He was concerned about damage to his vehicle.
Even if driving 35 mph with minimal traffic, McWatt said, "You can not miss them."
Edwards took written notes from McWatt's comments, but also explained that there were some manholes that are out the city's jurisdiction.
Gabriele Howard was concerned about a ditch behind her property that needs to be maintained and cleaned out because of snakes have started appearing in large numbers.
She had a close call last Saturday when her two-year-old granddaughter came to visit.
The city's unfinished project is a hazard "because my baby stood in front of it, maybe eight inches away from it and wanted to reach for it (the snake)," according to Howard.
Edwards assured that the issue will be taken care of and explained how there are many projects that have no signs of visual progress but are on schedule to be addressed.
A number of questions and comments involved neighborhood police presence.
Joe Stuart, a Hinesville resident who attended the meeting, thinks the police should "see and be seen," and advocated for the reinstatement of the bicycle patrol coming through the neighborhoods.
"That was a good thing I thought," Stuart said. "And I'd like to see that being brought back."
Police chief George Stagmeier assured that his team make neighborhood patrols, are out "walking and talking."
"In the last eight months are so, under direction of the mayor and city council, they wanted us to be in neighborhoods more often...and we've been doing that," Stagmeier said.
He explained how the patrols are always documented and the officers try to make their rounds to all the neighborhoods.
He responded how the bicycle patrol was phased out to address the "rash of more violent crimes," and the Crime Suppression Unit was created to address the influx.
"Since we started that we haven't had problems with people shooting in the air or people shooting," Thomas said. "Where there is violence we put people out there to stop it."
However, McWatt is looking to prevent any future trouble and is concerned about non-residents loitering around his neighborhood and roaming about at odd hours of the night.
"When I walk out there I might as well put my gun on sometimes," he said. "Because you go out there and you don't know what that person's going to do."
Howard expressed satisfaction with the level of safety in the city and feels the officers are doing their job.
"This is really a safe town, compared to others," she said. "I have been here over 20 years and haven't felt more safer than when I come home."
Bill Goodwin also commended the officers on their professionalism, but would like to see a K-9 unit to help reduce drug activity. Stagmeier responded that another should be in place by November.
Stuart asked if an ordinance regulating baggy pants, a law recently passed in Ludowici, has a chance of being enacted in Hinesville.
"Ludowici can do it," Stuart pointed out. "Beaufort can do it. The Liberty County School System can do it. I think Hinesville can do it."
Speaking from personal experience, he thought it was "ridiculous," for the public to have to look at people wearing pants below their waists.
David Bradley appreciated the opportunity to express concerns and commended councilman Shaw for organizing the meeting, saying Shaw is "always taking care of people."

Sign up for our e-newsletters