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Bryan County voters renew SPLOST
RH elects new council members, Pembroke too
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The special purpose local option sales tax will continue for another six years in Bryan County.
According to unofficial results from the Bryan County Voter Registration Office, voter overwhelming approved the SPLOST referendum 1,619 to 516.
“I think it’s a big win for everybody in Bryan County because the projects that are planned to be taken care of in the next six years,” Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said Tuesday night.
He also said he was “tickled to death” with the SPLOST Advisory Committee, a group of local civic and business leaders and government officials who advocated and campaigned for the fund, noting the difficulty in getting voters to the polls for just one item.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the committee and that the citizens heard, listened and responded – responded in a resoundingly positive manor.”
The 1 percent tax, which in Bryan County is funded in large part by non-Bryan County residents, is expected to rake in around $33 million. Those tax dollars are set to help pay for renovations to the county courthouse; eight ambulances and a fire station for County Emergency Services; public safety vehicles for the sheriff’s department; debt servicing on sewer/water project; roads, streets and bridge projects for the county, Richmond Hill and Pembroke; and a new public library in Richmond Hill; and more.
SPLOST has been ongoing in Bryan County for nearly 25 years and has funded such projects as Hendrix Park in North Bryan, Henderson Park in South Bryan, the County Administrative Complex, the Dixie Harn Community Center/Miller Teen Center in Pembroke and the Richmond Hill City Center to name but a few.

Richmond Hill City Council
Voters have decided that Jan Bass and John Fesperman will represent Richmond Hill as city council members according to unofficial results from the Bryan County Voter Registration Office.
It was a close margin between Fesperman and incumbent Jimmy Hires for the Post 3 seat, with only a 13 vote difference. Fesperman, who received 586 votes, defeated incumbent Jimmy Hires who had 573 votes.
Though the win was a close one, there will be no runoff for the seat because Fesperman received 50 percent plus 1 of votes, according to election officials
Bass defeated incumbent Marilyn Hodges for the Post 4 seat by nearly 100 votes, receiving 620 votes to Hodges’ 525 votes.
Bass was excited after learning of the results and attributed it to hard work and Richmond Hill residents’ wishes for change.
“How magnificent that the people got out there to have their voices heard and that they want Richmond Hill to grow properly and alleviate the tax burden on our residents,” Bass said.
Bass was also excited for Fesperman and was thankful for the teams that helped both of them during their 12 weeks of campaigning, she said.
“I am absolutely thrilled that John and I have the opportunity to make progress happen in our community,” Bass said. “This couldn’t have happened without family, residents and team members who all believed in us through these 12 grueling weeks.”
Fesperman, who said the feeling was surreal Tuesday night, was also grateful for his support during his campaign. He also wanted to thank Hires for his hard work during his time in office.
“I appreciate councilman Hires running and of course appreciate him working hard at his campaign,” Fesperman said. “I just thank him for being a nice gentleman and thank him for all he’s done for the city.”
Fesperman also said he is ready to “hit the ground running” in January.
“I just know that Richmond Hill is in store for some awesome, wonderful changes for the city – something for everybody,” he said.
Hodges and Hires could not be reached for comment by presstime.

Ernest Hamilton is back on the Pembroke City Council, and the town will have a new mayor for the first time in 12 years when the new year rolls around.
Hamilton, the Pembroke-native and former public works director, beat Doug Kangeter for the council’s at-large seat by a 256-153 margin Tuesday night, according to unofficial results from the Bryan County Voter Registration Office. Results are not considered official until certified by the Secretary of State.
Mary Warnell ran unopposed for mayor and will replace Judy Cook, who decided not to run again after serving three terms. 
Hamilton served on the council from 2000 to 2008 and worked as head of the city’s public works department for 18 years, “so I know the city like the back of my hand.”
He said he went door-to-door asking for support and thanked voters for hearing his message.
“I look forward to working with the council and the new mayor.”
Among his priorities are improving water lines in parts of the city and putting in sidewalks on Ash Branch Road and in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4.
“We’ve got kids in some parts of the city who walk in the middle of the road to get to schools because they don’t have sidewalks. It would be nice for them to have sidewalks to walk on so they won’t get run over. We haven’t had that happen and I don’t want it to happen.”
Kangeter could not be reached Tuesday night, but Hamilton praised him for running a clean campaign.”
“He ran a good race, and I congratulate him on a good race,” Hamilton said.
The other races were uncontested, meaning Johnnie Miller, Diane Moore and Tiffany Walraven return to their seats and Kim McGhee will take Doug Kangeter’s District 2 seat. Angela Reed, the current at-large council member, is not running again.
Results for Pembroke’s uncontested races were not available by presstime.
Warnell, a former two-term member of the Bryan County School Board, praised Cook.
“I feel Judy was a very dedicated mayor who did an excellent job of serving our community,” Warnell said. “I look forward to serving as mayor of this little town, which is my hometown. I look forward to working with city council on providing the best services we can for our citizens.”
Warnell, who has long been active in community and civic groups, said her priorities are economic development – she’s currently head of the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce, a role she’ll have to relinquish – and communication. And she took the fact that she ran unopposed as an endorsement from Pembroke voters.
“I do think that was a vote of confidence in me from the community,” she said. “I encourage them to let me know, let us as a council know, what their interests and issues are.”

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