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Midway Council talks tourism, convict labor
Residents get to vote on Sunday alcohol service
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The city of Midway is fairly modest in size and so is its budget, except when it comes to spending for tourism promotion, which has become an important issue for city officials.
Midway has accumulated about $11,000 from hotel/motel tax revenue and that money can only be spent on tourism-related projects. Mayor Don Emmons said he felt like the city council was behind him when he first proposed boundary signs for the town and a sign for Midway’s historic church.
Emmons and the council talked about sites, designs and colors for the signs, but when it came time to count votes at a meeting last week, the “yes” votes were noticeably absent.
Mayor Pro Tempore Clemontine Washington said she would not vote to spend money for signs, “until we have taken care of our citizens’ needs.”  
She likely was referring to security and safety concerns that have been brought up at several previous meetings.
The other council members agreed with Washington, despite Emmons’ explanation that the tourism funds could could not be spent on security lighting for residential areas.
The discussion of spending tourism funds ended when Emmons said, “I don’t want to hear any more about it.” He later vowed to keep bringing up the issue at future council meetings.

Convict labor program

Effingham County Prison sent a representative to Midway to present its program of convict labor. Warden Ronald Spears said his facility could provide a 12-man work crew for a wide variety of projects. The cost to Midway for such a crew, he said, would be about $43,000, the salary of a single correctional officer needed to supervise the crew.
“The only problem we have is the public seeing those inmates out working,” Spears said. “We have never had a problem. These are not violent criminals, not people serving long sentences.” The work crews include only inmates with three years or less remaining to serve, he said.
While the public image of inmate workers is picking up trash or cutting grass, Spears said many skilled workers  are available with experience in the building trades and small-engine repair.
“We even have an inmate who is a professional cook — we can prepare our own meals.”
The council members had no immediate projects for Spears, but seemed interested in including the program in the future.

Sunday alcohol service

The council just made the deadline to get Sunday alcohol service onto the November ballot. City Attorney Richard Braun presented an ordinance similar to those adopted by voters in other Liberty County municipalities. The council does not favor or oppose alcoholic beverages, they put the question on the ballot for voters to decide.
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