Continued discussion over an alley and hard-liquor sales culminated in heated words and an audience member being removed from the recent Ludowici City Council’s September meeting.
The council made no changes regarding Sean Tucker’s request to re-open a lane between his Brown Bagger business and Shad Dasher’s property. At the August meeting, Tucker said that the land, which at one time was an alley, was closed without his consent in December 2008. He said the alley’s closing caused financial difficulties in opening his business and also created congestion in the establishment.
Dasher told the council that the alley had not been used for several years, and that his children and other children played on that land. He also said that with the Brown Bagger selling alcohol, he was concerned about people driving in that area under the influence of alcohol. Mayor James Fuller said that both Tucker and Dasher had agreed to the city closing the alley, and that each of them had been allowed to purchase a portion of the land for $1 in 2008. The measure to keep the land as it is passed, 3-1, with Manning, Mark Chesser and Mary Hamilton voting in favor, and Gwen Davis voting against.
Tucker also asked the council to make a decision on whether or not to place the “hard liquor” sales option on a ballot, which he requested at the August meeting. The council took no action. Fuller and Tucker exchanged heated words until Tucker was escorted from the meeting by the police department at Fuller’s request.
Also at the meeting, Johnny Manning formally resigned from his 4th District council seat due to a change in residence. Manning said he purchased a house in Florida on Sept. 12 and would relocate there with his wife. Manning was appointed to the council in March 2010 to replace Debbie Bolick, who also resigned from the 4th District seat.
“I hope the city gets some good representation from whoever replaces me, and I continue to wish the best for all of the people in Ludowici,” he said.
No immediate replacement in the 4th District seat is planned. The board of elections has recommended a delay in a public vote to fill the seat due to issues with the city’s district map. Recently, Ludowici residents Janis Goode and Price Chapman Jr. said they would ask a superior court judge to force to the city to fill vacancies for that seat and the empty seat for the 3rd District.
Also at the September meeting, Board of Education Chairman Dempsey Golden and Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters went before the council regarding solving the issue of getting adequate water and sewage service at the new high school. According to both the city and school board’s engineers, current guidelines cannot be met due to new requirements for fire protection.
After discussing the matter, two options were presented. The first option would meet the minimum requirements for the school at an estimated cost of $355,000, while the second option would meet the requirements but also allow possible expansion in the area; the estimated cost of that option was $785,000. The council decided that attorneys and engineers for each governmental body would work out a recommendation for the body to consider, and would call a special meeting, if necessary, to decide the matter.
Fuller also reported to the council that the city had received a $500,000 check from the Community Development Block Grant Program. He said that the money from the grant will be used to make improvements to the city’s water and sewage system.
“Man, this money sure will help us,” Fuller said. “We are doing all that we can to get our water and sewage system where it needs to be, and we are making progress.”
Regarding other financial matters, Fuller reported that the city’s water and sewer bank balance is $85,319.81 and that the general fund balance is $12,119.85. He said outstanding bills totaled $594.84, and that the general fund savings balance is $311,540.42.
In other business:
• Fuller signed a resolution declaring Oct. 12 as Pink Out Day in the city, and everyone is encouraged to wear pink that day to raise breast-cancer awareness.
• Long County Code Enforcement Officer Steve Atkins told the council that the Brown Bagger beer and wine store needs to be inspected, and that he had made several attempts to schedule an appointment with Tucker during the past six months, but had not been able to conduct the inspection.
• The council approved the Long County High School homecoming parade and honored 9/11 victims with a moment of silence.