The regular city council meeting opened with multiple presentations providing council with updates on Team Hinesville’s athletes and the Main Street program.
Ryan Burke, the head coach for Team Hinesville Weightlifting, gave an update on the team and the Get Excited and Move program offered. The GEM team has averaged about 3-5 athletes in each class since October, according to Burke. The classes are offered Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays.
“Two of our lifters, one youth and one Masters lifter, competed in Savannah in October,” Burke said. “Both of the lifters took gold in their respective classes. They competed again in December and both took silver.”
The Masters lifter, Monica, qualified for the 2019 Masters Weightlifting National Championships, which takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah the end of March, Burke continued.
“After lifting at Nationals, we expect her to be qualified to compete at her first level of International Masters competition, which is the Pan American Championships in Orland, Florida,” Burke added. “She’ll be representing Hinesville on a national and international stage.”
The youth lifter, Nile is close to qualifying for her first level of national competition, Burke continued. The next local meet for all lifters in the program is Saturday, Feb. 23.
Burke also introduced two new lifters who have great potential for competition. Tysheen is the newest youth lifter, and cousin of lifter Nile. He participated in the 2018 youth summer camp, and wanted to get back into weightlifting, Burke said.
“We are pushing for him to compete in the February meet as well,” Burke said.
Lastly, Chance, a Hinesville firefighter and avid fitness lover, had been working out by himself and wanted to try his hand at powerlifting, according to Burke.
“We’re training hard for his first competition in April,” Burke said. “He’s made incredible strength gains in a short time.”
Team Hinesville plans to expand into strength sports with Chance as their first competitive powerlifter, Burke concluded.
Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Director Michelle Ricketson and Main Street Program Manager Jeffery Porter briefed council on the Main Street program. The presentation began with a highlight of what the Main Street district offers.
“Downtown offers a plethora of activities, including parks, museums, an art gallery, and numerous boutiques and specialty shops,” Porter said. “There are several historic and cultural sites, nature trails, and opportunities for family recreation and sporting endeavors. Enjoy concerts, a multitude of community festivals, and our regionally renowned Farmers Market.”
HDDA’s board of directors are active within the organization and the community, Ricketson said. All members are supporters of the arts and events, and many even own businesses within the downtown boundaries, she continued.
As the organization continues to grow and develop, HDDA must have community transformation strategies, Ricketson said. Those are: assisting businesses and becoming sustainable partners in the community and decrease the vacancy rate throughout downtown; create the “place to be” in the community where agri-businesses and healthy lifestyles are encouraged; help establish a vibrancy in downtown during evenings and weekends; offer a safe park experience with multiple amenities; and monitor the historic resources, promote local historic resources, and preserve the integrity of those resources.
HDDA’s plan for each of the respective strategies include updating print materials and the website, Ricketson said. They will also celebrate the 10th annual Farmers Market season this year, she added. HDDA is planning more events in downtown, and preparing for more development to increase the vibrancy. Bryant Commons will get a new disc golf course, and there will be irrigation work done at Cisco’s Dog Park, Ricketson said.
The program’s biggest accomplishment is that the HDDA is fully staffed again, after suffering a staff shortage in 2018, Ricketson said.
“The City of Hinesville was designated as a Renaissance community by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute,” Ricketson added. “We also worked with a developer who will soon announce a $20 million dollar project on Memorial Drive, and we’re super excited for that.”
Porter wrapped up the entire presentation with HDDA’s 2019 goal— to make sure that downtown is in a state of readiness to become and remain “the place to be.”
“Preparing lots and buildings for redevelopment, completing the Downtown Redevelopment Plan, attracting and retaining restaurants, retail and entertainment, and establishing that vibrancy into the evening and weekend is the goal,” Porter said.
In other council business, council approved the Hinesville Youth Council Advisory Board’s bylaws, the Department of Community Affairs CHIP (Community Home Investment Program) underwriting policy, multiple ESG bids for equipment, a bid for seven new patrol cars for the Hinesville Police Department, and a new technology fee.
The HYCAB bylaws currently grant the board the power to review applications and conduct interviews, according to Community Development Department Director Donita Gaulden. However, she said, the bylaws are written to allow more involvement if needed.
The DCA’s CHIP underwriting policy is a required set of guidelines that are followed to allow the City of Hinesville to provide two low-income houses in the Azalea Street redevelopment, Gaulden said.
“The city was awarded $260,338 to construct two new homes that will be sold to low and moderate income individuals,” she said. In order to access the money, the policy had to be adopted by March 1, she continued. The policy outlines eligibility and other necessary requirements for those interested buyers.
ESG held a bid opening on Feb. 13 to purchase a walking excavator, rotary mower and rotating grapple, City Manager Ken Howard said. The bids received for the three pieces of equipment came from GSE Equipment Management Company in Tampa, Fl. Council approved the bids of $356,737 for the walking excavator, $17,200 for the rotary mower, and $22,954 for the rotating grapple. All bids were within the expected and budgeted amount, Howard said in response to council’s questions.
At the beginning of February, HPD held a bid opening for the purchase of seven 2019 Dodge Chargers, budgeting $168,000 for the purchase, Howard said. The city received three bids from: Southern Motors in Springfield, Ga.; Butler Chrysler Dodge Jeep, LLC in Beaufort, SC; and Woody Folsom Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Vidalia, Ga.
Southern Motors’ bid was $159,222 for seven Dodge Chargers, and Howard recommended council approve the bid. Council agreed unanimously.
At the Feb. 7 council meeting, HPD chief Bill Kirkendall presented a proposal to increase the technology fee assessed on traffic citations by $20. The $4 fee, currently used by the municipal court, helps pay for a records management system. By increasing the technology fee, Kirkendall said, it will allow HPD to implement a new records management system within the department, putting them on the same system that the municipal court uses.
The fee will be assessed on most traffic citations written, except for a select few, Kirkendall continued. Traffic citation fees for Hinesville remain lower than surrounding agencies, including Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and Richmond Hill Police Department, he said.
Council approved the fee increase unanimously.