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Hinesville council reports continued growth, crime down
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The Hinesville City Council during its Thursday mid-month meeting focused on revitalizing the downtown area, continued expansion and crime reduction.

Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis kicked off the meeting with an update on her office’s current work and displayed renderings associated with several ongoing and upcoming projects.

“We take a comprehensive approach, as we realize that not just one project will revitalize our downtown,” said Davis, noting that her office has been busy.

The HDDA recently partnered with design experts at the University of Georgia to complete plans and renderings for renovation projects at 122, 124 and 126 Main St. In addition, the director said, a historical renovation under way at the Old Liberty County Jail has necessitated a fair amount of 1940’s historic-photo research.

After Davis briefed council members on projects at Bryant Commons and Azalea Street, she provided an update on the status of the four-year university presence planned for city-owned property at Central Avenue and Memorial Drive.

The agenda moved on to two other informational items and two action items. Councilmen participated in a short discussion of the sale of land on Gause Street, leaving the matter to be decided in executive session.

The first action item, the resubmission of a grant application on behalf of the Hinesville Police Department to the National Rifle Association Foundation for $2,800, unanimously was approved. The funding will buy an “Eddie the Eagle” costume for use by the Crime Prevention Unit’s Gun Safety Student Education Program.

The council then unanimously voted to approve an alcohol beverage license for a new convenience store at 537 W. Oglethorpe Highway.

Only a few community members attended the meeting, and no public comments were made.

Mayor Jim Thomas noted in his report that he spoke with Gov. Nathan Deal when the state leader was in Hinesville last Wednesday. He expressed concern about coastal development and the affect the T-SPLOST referendum defeat will have on the city’s plan to move forward. The mayor also plans to speak with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., regarding how planned sequestration defense budget cuts, which are set to take effect Jan. 1, will affect Fort Stewart. The garrison commander must inform garrison employees of their employment status by Nov. 2. Thomas acknowledged additional job losses would negatively affect the community.

Councilman Jason Floyd reported an increase in city-issued permits, especially those for single-family dwellings and construction. He noted growth in several areas, including Griffin Park and Oak Crest. Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said the number of permits issued by the city has nearly doubled compared with last year.

Thomas said it’s good to see such growth in the community, adding that the U.S. Army is stationing a new unit at Fort Stewart, the 82nd Civil Affairs Battalion, which will bring 265 new soldiers to Hinesville.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier said that although the city has seen an increase in traffic citations, criminal citations are down. He said he also wants to quell the belief that military families are being targeted by the Hinesville police for traffic violations, pointing out that only 187 of the 879 July traffic violations were given to military members or relatives.

Edwards’ report contained information for fiscal year 2013 budget calendar workshops. He requested the council adjourn to executive session to discuss real-estate matters. After about 45 minutes, the council re-emerged and returned to a public session.

Thomas reported that the council made no decision on litigation matters. They did agree to authorize the city manager and city attorney to accept the property that was donated to the city as a conveyance of a deed of gift. The land will continue to be used for conservation purposes.

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