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Council steps toward Veterans widening
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The Hinesville City Council on Thursday dealt with 27 action and information items on a full agenda schedule during its meeting that lasted nearly three hours.
The widening of Veterans Parkway was prominent among the action items approved by the council as it was figured into the agenda twice.
Paul Simonton of P.C. Simonton & Associates presented results of a bid opening that was held Jan. 30 for the widening project’s utility relocation. He noted the Georgia Environmental Financial Authority had approved a loan for $1,422,843 for that part of the project. Of the four bids received, the lowest bid was for $1,112,689 by McLendon Enterprises. The council approved the lowest bid.
Later, City Manager Billy Edwards revisited the project by asking for a resolution allowing the city to enter into a three-party agreement to relocate the water, sewer and natural-gas utilities on Fort Stewart that are in conflict with the project. He said Stewart representatives have asked that the utilities be relocated by the roadway contractor selected by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Edwards asked to move forward with a three-party agreement but notify GDOT that the city wants to split the project into two separate contracts. One contract would be for the portion of the widening project from E.G. Miles Parkway to the gate at Fort Stewart. This section would be constructed in state fiscal year ending June 30. The second contract, which would be for the state fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, would keep the city’s portion of the project on schedule and allow Fort Stewart time to work through federal fiscal problems, he said.
Edwards said the Department of Defense has frozen all funds, pending decisions about sequestration.
“Gentlemen, I am asking for your approval to move on a parallel path,” said Edwards, explaining Fort Stewart is expecting an answer in the next two weeks if funding for the utilities relocation will be exempted from possible sequestration cuts. “I’m asking you to approve a resolution that allows us to move forward.”
Other action items approved by the council included the preliminary plat for The Reserve at Oak Crest, final plat for Griffin Park’s Phase V, public relations policy changes to its branding policy and social-media policy, a change to the city’s occupational tax ordinance and a peddler’s license for Comcast Cable to send a representative door-to-door to solicit sales of cable, Internet, phone and home security systems.
The council also approved a proposal to write a draft policy about curbside garbage containers and accepted the lowest bid for a compact excavator for the public utilities department.
Because City Attorney Linnie Darden was not present, the council agreed to hear his report regarding the city’s contract with CH2MHILL/OMI.
Allenhurst resident and former OMI employee Jackie Scott, who argued last month the city was not in compliance with the state code, spoke again during Thursday’s public-comments section. He told the council it needed to read about the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, saying that OMI had a “monopolization” on public works.
Scott referenced a Courier article that mentioned the 2011 budget workshop in which OMI’s contract was extended without a vote. He then tried to connect that 2011 workshop with another Courier article about the 2012 budget workshop in which the council approved a 1.5 percent pay increase for city employees.
Mayor Jim Thomas said Hinesville is featured in this month’s issue of Georgia Trend Magazine as one of eight Renaissance Cities. He also noted that a federal report he saw recently said Hinesville is sixth in the nation for income and population growth.
Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier asked the council to consider amending the city’s ordinance for collecting and disposing demolition debris. Councilman Keith Jenkins asked Frasier if he was asking the city to pay for this type of pick-up, which normally is the responsibility of the homeowner or contractor.
Frasier explained he mostly wanted the city to provide the public-works trucks and trailers for a fee to homeowners who are cleaning up their property. It would help clean up blight areas in the city, he said.

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