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Ricketson returns to HDDA post
Michelle Ricketson
After an extensive search, the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors selected Michelle Ricketson as the agencys new executive director. - photo by Photo provided.

Michelle Ricketson has returned as the Executive Director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority. Former Director Karen Durham, who joined the HDDA last August, decided to retire.

Ricketson had served as the Executive Director for the HDDA for five years prior to accepting another opportunity out of state.

Ricketson said the Board of the HDDA offered her a chance to return to the position and she immediately said yes.

“Downtown Hinesville is where my heart is invested,” Ricketson said. “I will be able to complete some projects that began during my first five years at the HDDA. The fence restoration around the Old Jail, development along Memorial Drive and the redesign of Bradwell Park.”

She said she was thrilled to rejoin the team who are already working on the projects. 

“Plus we’re planning a belated birthday party for the Army (September 17), the annual Downtown Supplies Teachers, and special twist on the annual peanut butter and jelly drive for the Manna House in conjunction with Hinesville Rotary.

She said this year’s theme for the PB&J Drive is “Spread Love, Not Germs.”

Ricketson hit the ground running facilitating a Zoom meeting Monday night on the redesign of Bradwell Park, along with Board Chair John Baker.

Ricketson briefly reviewed the plans for the main portion of Bradwell Park that includes a possible splash park for kids, outdoor seating for eateries and a small stage for musicians. The design portion on this phase is roughly 80 percent complete.

City of Hinesville Engineer Paul Simonton of Simonton and Associates said the focus of this meeting’s discussion was the restructuring the service alleyway that currently serves as the rear of the Main Street businesses. They want to develop a plan that allows the alleyway to serve as a second store front. 

Simonton said the alley is primarily being used for deliveries to Main Street businesses and for the storage of trash carts and some parking. He said the businesses would benefit greatly from having a second storefront that directly faces the park. He said some of the challenges in accomplishing this goal include relocating the utilities from above ground to below ground, finding a location to house all the trash carts and redirect delivery traffic. He said they plan to redesign that lane to make room for outdoor seating. He said the city is seeking façade grants to help pay for this portion of the project. Simonton said the alley would be reconfigured in a way to allow for deliveries and services as needed. He said the plans include landscape designs to beautify the area. The group plans to host another Stakeholders meeting July 29 and present a final plan to the City Council on Aug. 6. If approved they plan to complete the design by Aug. 20, set up project bids by Oct. 15 and start construction. If all goes as planned the park redesign will be complete by spring of 2021.

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