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Riceboro to start Ricefest this year
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Despite a quorum of only three members, the Riceboro City Council had a productive meeting this week, deciding among other things to launch the first Ricefest on Nov. 3.
While the plans for the new festival drew the most comment from the audience, the three councilmen and the citizens attending were also pleased at a report from engineer Paul Simonton that an additional $200,000 had been found in Riceboro’s U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The “found money” will be placed in a single construction account and used to complete the sewage project by the end of the year.
Councilman Modibo Kadalie said, “This is too good to be true,” when told of the unexpected revenue.
Riceboro is acting immediately to compile a list of homes, such as that of Councilman Henry Relaford, where sewage installation was not completed, to finalize services to those residences.
Simonton recommended using the remainder of the grant to extend the system to serve more customers.
He said along Barrington Ferry Road or south along Highway 17 were the best areas for extension.
Wastewater treatment operator Larry Swida also brought good news to the council. He said Riceboro’s wastewater treatment plant had been operating near its maximum capacity but is now at 62 percent.
The sudden sewage surge was only temporary, Swida said, before explaining what caused the problem.
He said Chemtall, which formerly treated its own effluent, has an agreement with Riceboro to use the city's sewage treatment plant.
When Chemtall began using Riceboro's treatment plant earlier this year, it passed along its normal stream of wastewater, and the contents of numerous reservoirs and tanks that had accumulated. This caused the unexpected sudden, sharp increase in plant use.
Swida said the tanks and reservoirs are now empty and plant use has returned to normal range.
In other business, the council expressed continuing concern about a lack of parking at the recreation center in Riceboro. The members present said they hoped Mayor Gregory Richardson and County Commissioner Marion Stevens were working to get a new parking area paved.
Matt Norsworthy, Ted Harris, Sallie Richardson and Sally Dowlan gave a report on the county's cultural and historical resources committee upon which they serve. The committee is identifying historical structures in the county and collecting information on them.
Later this year, teams of college students are expected to survey the sites and do interviews to collect oral histories.
Jim Bacote of the Geechee Kunda Center was chosen to head a committee to work on Ricefest. Kadalie and Ted Harris are committee members and volunteers are needed.
Ricefest is billed as “all day, continuous entertainment and education about rice and life in Liberty County.”
A full schedule of music, crafts, demonstrations, items for sale, rice cooking and other activities is planned.
The Nov. 3 date for Ricefest is shortly before the general election, and organizers expect to see many political candidates.
Work-related scheduling problems reportedly kept the mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore Lelia Jones from attending the August council meeting.
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