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Grants dominate Hinesville City Council discussions
Hinesville sign

Several grants and grant requests were approved for Hinesville departments and programs at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The council approved the allocation of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funding to five public-service agencies who submitted applications for the funding. The $30,649 total was distributed to Atlantic Area Court Appointed Special Advocates, Hineshouse Project Inc., JC Vision and Associates Inc., Mary Lou Fraser Foundation for Families Inc. and Senior Citizens Inc.

The Hinesville Police Department and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office received funding for in-vehicle recording equipment from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is part of the Department of Justice.

According to the agenda item, the grant totaled $12,996, with the Police Department using $9,068 for two recording devices. The Sheriff’s Office will receive $3,930 of the remaining funds and contribute $1,885 to purchase two recording devices, which are from a different manufacturer than the Police Department’s. The council approved a resolution approving the funding allocation.

A request to submit a grant application to the Georgia Municipal Association to purchase police and fire department equipment was approved. The Police Department requested server equipment and software for storing recording evidence, 10 camcorders and accessory equipment and 200 traffic cones, according to Erica Usher with the Hinesville Community Development Department. The Hinesville Fire Department requested a power unit for emergency tools and three multigas detectors with accessories.

The funding request was for $20,758, exceeding the GMA’s $20,000 limit, so both departments will contribute funds to cover the difference.

Medical insurance renewal

The city’s group medical insurance from Cigna expires in July and if it renewed its current plan, the premiums would increase by 17 percent, according to City Manager Billy Edwards.

Edwards said the city has had an “unusual year with extraordinarily high claims to premiums paid ratio.”

The council looked at three alternative plans and approved a new plan that would increase premiums by 13 percent.

Summer jobs

During his report, Edwards introduced for consideration a federally funded program to employ young adults ages 18-24 who have high school diplomas to work at city and privately owned job sites.

The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act would pay the program participants for working up to 120 hours and provide workers’ compensation insurance, according to the agenda item.

The agenda also states that program is meant to help youth “gain work experience, build work ethics, learning job related skills and acquiring the attitudes that will enable them to become more employable.”

Paxen Learning Service LLC would provide the training and liabilities coverage for the workers and has programs in six surrounding counties, according to Yvette Tippins, a job-placement specialist with the company. The council approved entering into a work experience agreement with Paxen.

Council meeting times

During the public comment period, Joel Feagin asked why City Council meetings are at 3 p.m. and not in the evening, when people can attend after leaving work.

Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Shaw replied that in the past, the council met at other times, including 6 p.m., yet the same people attend the meeting.

District 4 Councilman Keith Jenkins agreed and added that the council did not want to keep city employees working late into the night if meetings had long agendas.

Mayor Allen Brown concluded by saying that the council would look into this issue.

Wastewater treatment plant

The council approved a fifth change order, for $19,676, for modifications to a laboratory at the Hinesville Fort Stewart Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project’s updated cost is $14,237,851 from the original contract of $14,176,000.

Road money OK'd

Hinesville originally requested $115,754 of Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant funding from the Georgia Department of Transportation with a local matchof $49,609 for restriping streets and installing street lights at the roundabout on North Main Street and Memorial Drive. The city was awarded $80,000, sothe council approved moving $85,364 from SPLOST V funds to pay for the $165,364 project.

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