The city council during Thursday’s meeting approved Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier’s request to purchase and train a new law-enforcement dog to replace one of their aging canines.
Council member Kenneth Shaw told the council he supported Stagmeier’s request and said the city should do “whatever it takes” to pay for the new dog.
Stagmeier told the council the typical cost for buying and training a new police dog is between $9,000 and $11,000. City Manager Billy Edwards said the funds to pay for the new dog would come from what he called HPD’s “asset-forfeiture” account. Stagmeier said money in the account is from the sale of property seized from drug busts and leftover funds from the dissolved MACE unit.
“I’d like to ask if there are enough funds in that account to pay for a new dog,” said Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier.
Edwards said the current balance in that account is about $49,000, a figure that Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Ryon said is “about right.”
Councilman Jason Floyd then asked what would happen to the dog they were retiring. Stagmeier said the dog’s handler has asked to take care of it. Mayor Jim Thomas said the city wanted to ensure that the retiring dog goes to a good home.
Stagmeier also reported that the city saw an increase in burglaries during March, as well as several auto thefts. Frasier asked whether the cars had been recovered, and Stagmeier said they were.
The council also approved a revision of a city ordinance regarding the language used to describe hotels and motels. The new language excludes mobile-home parks. City Attorney Linnie Darden III said the new language meets legal requirements.
The council meeting began with a presentation by Holly Stevens of the human resources department, who noted two city employees were recognized for their participation in the Healthy Hinesville Spring Wellness Challenge. City Inspections Director Steve Welborn was the mid-point winner, and HPD Officer James Williams was the “biggest loser.”
As the mayor and council members surrounded the men, who received gift certificates as prizes, Welborn joked that Williams skewed his weight-loss numbers by wearing all of his law-enforcement gear at the first weigh-in but not at the last one. He told Williams they could use their gift certificates to buy two large orders of fries.
The council approved a request for design review recommendation by the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission for a residence on Bradwell Street.
A fire-prevention grant application for $41,148 was approved for Hinesville Fire Department to buy a new fire-safety house to replace their old one.
Another request was approved for a $163,208 emergency-solutions grant to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The funds would be used to prevent homelessness.
“I don’t quite understand the city’s non-cash contribution to match funds for this grant,” Floyd told grant writer Michelle Lane. “Are you using our current contributions levels as a baseline?”
Lane said the city’s current “in-kind” matching funds for homeless prevention, supportive housing and administrative costs were the baseline, with $7,000 actual cash contributions.
Darden told the council he would present a new ordinance regarding Internet gaming and sweepstakes at the next council meeting that would be in accordance with newly passed state legislation. The city currently is under an eight-month moratorium for Internet gambling.
During public comments, Wayne Stewart invited the council and community members to join him for “The History Workshop” at the new Liberty Independent Troop Museum on May 4 at 100 Commerce St. The National Guard museum shares the building with the Hinesville Area Arts Council.
In his opening and closing statements, Thomas encouraged council members and the public to take part in the listening session at 1 p.m. Monday at Club Stewart. The session is intended to allow the community to offer input about possible strength changes on Fort Stewart.
Thomas also asked the council to remember the victims of recent tragedies.
“I would also ask you to keep in mind the people who were hurt in Monday’s bombing in Boston and the folks who were hurt in the explosion in West, Texas,” Thomas said. “And let’s remember the family members of those eight soldiers who were memorialized at Warriors Walk this morning.”