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Mayor makes plea for SPEA comments
City council chooses new municipal-court prosecutor
Jim Thomas
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas

Mayor Jim Thomas talked Thursday about the importance of everyone in Hinesville and Liberty County relaying their thoughts on the potential loss of troops from Fort Stewart.

During the city council meeting, Thomas said decisions made from the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Army’s 2020 force structure could lead to Fort Stewart losing up to 16,000 soldiers. He urged the public to email their comments to the Army.

"To fight this particular possibility, we’ve had our own economic-impact analysis done by the University of Georgia," he said. "I’m asking our citizens at large to let the Army know they don’t want to lose those people. I’ve also asked all 10 regional counties to write the Army about how the effects of losing 16,000 people would hurt this region."

He said citizens can email their comments to Thomas added that the Army must receive community comments by Monday.

Also Thursday, the city council voted on a new prosecutor for municipal court.

Assistant City Attorney Richard Braun was nominated and approved by council members following an executive session at the end of the council meeting.

When council members returned from executive session and voted to resume the public meeting, Thomas said that current prosecutor Cris Schneider had decided to resign. He said city leaders had discussed a possible replacement and decided to nominate Braun as the new solicitor.

The council voted unanimously to approve Braun for the job, effective Sept. 1.

Thomas also talked about the upcoming referendum on the Special Local Option Sales Tax and asked citizens to support the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to talk about it in town-hall meetings starting next month. He called SPLOST a fair tax that benefits everyone and asked voters to support it.

In other business, the council approved a resolution to amend the fiscal year 2014 budget for contributions to the Homeless Prevention Program, authorization to use Revolving Loan Funds to repair Azalea Street townhomes and receipt of the 2014 Department of Justice Ed Byrne grant.

The council also approved three resolutions involving construction of the Liberty campus for Armstrong State University, including an agreement for land transfer to the ASU Board of Regents, a resolution that would make the parking spaces on the new campus only for faculty and students, and an intergovernmental agreement. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus is Sept. 10.

Council members approved the purchase of two F-150 pickups from Hinesville Ford for CH2MHILL/OMI’s Lift Station Department. According to OMI’s Bobby Ryon, the budgeted amount for the two vehicles was $39,000. The approved bids came about $18 under budget, he said. Hinesville Ford had the lowest of four bids submitted.

Also Thursday, Gabrielle Hartage with the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission told the council they hope to have the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance ready for their review by the second meeting in September.

City Manager Billy Edwards said the state Environmental Protection Division water samples taken of the city’s drinking water are in compliance with state standards for asbestos, making the water safe for drinking.

He also asked council members to put together an updated list for sidewalk projects for their districts.

One agenda item that was postponed was a proposal to make Brittany Lane a one-way street. Councilman Keith Jenkins said several residents in that neighborhood did not support making the street one-way. Council agreed with his request to take the proposal off the agenda.

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