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Walthourville considers switch to Ameris Bank
Walthourville seal

At their June 22, meeting the City of Walthourville listened to a presentation from Ameris Bank, Hinesville Branch President James Rogers.

Walthourville is one of what is likely to be several municipalities that are making banking decisions as the Heritage Bank transforms to a credit union.

Rogers said he spoke to Mayor Larry Baker about handling the city’s accounts when Baker was voted into office. He said the recent announcement that Heritage Bank was becoming a credit union helped expedite the matter but he promised to “efficiently manage the account,” save wasted trips to the branch office, mitigate bank fraud and look at ways to help the city save money.

Rogers said the bank would work with city clerk Shana Moss to make sure all banking processes are streamlined and efficient. He said they would help the city set up online banking and designate their authorized users. They would review the city’s accounting software to make sure it will interact with the bank’s software. He said the city would have the option setting up the use of mobile deposits. The city could also set up their merchant services through Ameris Bank. The city also has the option to use the bank’s automated payroll system.

No action was taken as it was an informational item on the agenda for the evening.

In other business the city approved a request from Liberty County Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson to allow the issuance of a homebased business license to a woman who plans to sell home-baked goods from her house. The approval is contingent on the final approval of a cottage license as required and issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The woman plans to sell her baked good at the Farmers Market and other venues.

They also approved another homebased business for a cleaning service company. The cleaning services will be conducted off-site and the home will only serve as a home-office for the business.

Mayor and Council also proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth after a brief presentation by Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Sabrina Newby. Mayor Baker signed the proclamation recognizing the new federal holiday.

Walthourville Fire Chief Anthony Burns reported to Mayor and Council saying there is a new bill which goes into effect July 1, regarding burn permits. The bill no longer requires the Department of Forestry to issue burn permits for residential yard waste burning. He said the bill does require a minimum of 25-feet of space between the fire and other trees and brushes, 50 feet of space between the fire and any building, the burning period is from sunrise to sunset, the fire must be attended by someone and reasonable precautions must be taken to control the fire if needed. He said the bill mirrors the policy the city currently has in place.

City attorney Luke Moses said the city can keep their current policy and they aren’t required to make any changes to their local ordinance. Burns said the city would continue to enforce the policy citing folks who are in violation. He said the Georgia Department of Forestry will begin to impose a fire suppression fee to violators.

Police Chief Al Hagan said he is doing what he can to improve community policing. He reported three arrests for the month and a couple of motorcyclists’ who attempted to flee from police officers within the city. His department made 59 traffic stops and issued 57 citations.

He wants the community to keep him informed of any potential problems.

“If there is an issue in the police department, please let me know,” Hagan said. “I can’t fix it if I don’t know but I can promise you I’ll fix it if I do know about it. I’ll get right on it.”

He said he is working to make sure his officers are well-trained to serve the community. He said he also wants to bring back the Neighborhood Watch programs and wellness checks on the elderly. He said the city will host a back-to-school event July 17. They plan to give children school supplies and also offer public safety information. The event will be from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Frasier Park.

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