Hinesville Assistant City Manager Ken Howard presented a big check to Mayor Jim Thomas and city-council members at the start of Thursday’s council meeting.
The symbolic check for $306,000 was awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs through the Community HOME Investment Program.
“Last year, you authorized the Community Development Department to apply for a grant through the Community HOME Investment Program,” Howard said. “I’m here today to present a check for $306,000 that will help us repair substandard housing in our community.”
Howard said the funds will be used to provide homeowner rehabilitation funding to eligible low-income households under the city’s CHIP-funded Owner Occupied Home Rehabilitation Program. After explaining the use of the funds, he invited the mayor and council members to come down for a formal presentation.
“This program helps folks who cannot afford to repair their homes,” Thomas said. “They cannot afford to make improvements to their homes. But through this program, they will have a chance to do that. That’s all thanks to Mr. Howard and his staff.”
In other business, the council approved amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance. According to Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Director Jeff Ricketson, some of the amendments were necessary in order to comply with federal regulations. Later, the council heard information about proposed changes to the city’s ordinance, including clarification on the qualifications for municipal court judge and creation of an associate municipal-court judge and pro tempore municipal-court judge appointments.
The council also approved a variance request by The Heritage Bank on the city’s building/structure setback for three of their ATMs located on 409 W. Gen. Screven Way, 730 W. Oglethorpe Highway and 823 E.G. Miles Parkway.
The Community Development Department requested and was given approval to submit its fiscal-year 2013 consolidated annual performance and evaluation report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Howard also used the opportunity to introduce new grant writer Ann Barton.
Engineer Matthew Barrow with P.C. Simonton and Associates presented results of bids for sidewalks, landscaping and irrigation on Central Avenue. He said only two bids were received and recommended the low bid of $255,941.27 from McLendon Enterprises. He added that the city has had other work done by McLendon Enterprises. The council agreed and approved the bid.
There were no public comments and none of the council members or City Manager Billy Edwards had any specific comments. During his remarks, however, Thomas talked about his recent trip to Washington, D.C., with other local leaders.
“We left Monday and got back yesterday,” he said. “We met with Sen. (Johnny) Isakson and several congressmen, who assured us they supported us.
“I provided them with a map that showed all the military installations from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. For us, that includes Hunter (Army Airfield), Fort Stewart and the Townsend Bombing Range. One of the things we insisted on giving to Congress, they told us to take to the Pentagon, and that’s sequestration.
“The Pentagon could see a $54 billion reduction. That would mean the Army would be reduced to 420,000, which would be the smallest Army since World War II.”
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier asked why the congressional leaders seemed to pass them to the Pentagon. Thomas explained they were advising them to take their concerns to the military because the military is part of the executive branch, which ultimately will decide on whether the military will be hurt by another round of sequestration.
He said they were “well-received” by both political and military leaders, and then added that the community needs to continue to keep their concerns “in front of them.”