The Hinesville city council Thursday heard an unusual request to restrict fundraising efforts by non-local veterans groups.
When Mayor Jim Thomas called for public comments, three representatives from the Disabled American Veterans asked the council to consider a new city ordinance that would restrict fundraising efforts to local veterans groups only.
DAV Southeast District Commander Cort Nordeoff, DAV Chapter 46 Commander Walter Helmick and Chapter 46 Senior Vice Commander Donald Spencer told the council a non-local and otherwise unknown group claiming to support veterans was collecting money at Walmart on Sept. 14.
They had received a city permit to solicit donations at the same time and location the local DAV was conducting a membership drive, Nordeoff said.
“We asked their representative where his organization was from, and he said Snellville, Ga.,” Nordeoff said. “I asked him how much money they were raising for veterans in our area, and he admitted ‘none.’ But the money we raise in Hinesville stays in Hinesville.”
Nordeoff, who had never heard of their organization before, said even if it is a legitimate veterans group, the money they raised in Hinesville went back to the Atlanta area. It was not used to help veterans right here, he said.
Local veterans organizations include the DAV, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion and Association of the United States Army.
“I thought veterans included everybody, not just veterans in Liberty County,” council member Kenneth Shaw said, suggesting it doesn’t matter where the veterans are when they receive help from local or non-local groups.
Councilmen Keith Jenkins and David Anderson suggested the city first seek legal advice from City Attorney Linnie Darden before considering the proposal. Thomas agreed.
“Please send us an official letter with your request,” Thomas said. “We’ll have the city attorney look at it, then we’ll see what we can do.”
Other business conducted by the council included an approval to rezone about .8 acres from C-3 (highway commercial district) and R-3 (single-family dwelling district) to C-2 (general commercial district) in order to accommodate a commercial retail store.
The property is on the south corner of Veterans and E.G. Miles parkways.
The council also approved the final plat for Liberty Park’s block 7, and they were advised the annual revisions to the city’s official zoning map will be an action item at a November council meeting.
Two special, one-day alcohol permits were approved by the council, including a request by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority for a Nov. 10 fundraiser, and a request by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce for its annual Lowcountry boil, which will take place Oct. 12 at Bryant Commons.
The council approved a peddler’s license for Comcast Cable, which requested to send representatives door-to-door to solicit sales for cable service.
The council granted approval to grant writer Michelle Lane to submit the fiscal year 2011 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Final business included approval of a bid for a 60 kilowatt generator for OH2MHILL/OMI for $34,585, and selecting an underwriter for city bonds and refinancing.
The council agreed to an amendment to the city’s short-term disability plan called a sick leave pool, changing the qualifications for the benefit to include coverage for an employee who has used all vacation and sick leave days but still needs time off to take care of a spouse or child.
The council concluded the meeting by approving the hours for observing Halloween. This year, trick-or-treating will be observed from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31.