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Going out with a big bang
Patty Leon new

By Patty Leon.

Well, if it’s time to hit the road, then it’s time to go out with a BANG!

It had become quite apparent by the many phone calls, texts and direct messages I received; folks were a bit miffed at the City of Hinesville.

At the Sept. 2, meeting the Mayor and Council voted to allow certain events to continue as they had already been permitted. An example being the Blues, Brews and BBQ event held Sept. 17, and the Big Yard Sale that took place this past Saturday as well.

But some on the Council also voted to not issue any more permits until their new Executive Order expires on Oct. 8, 2021.

What that initially meant was the Blues, Brews and BBQ would go on and the HDDA could still host their Big Yard Sale at Bryant Commons. But the monthly Hinesville Cars and Coffee, scheduled for the same day, was told to kick rocks!

There was plenty of conversation on the matter with some councilmembers noting that outdoor events were certainly safer than hosting an event indoors with limited spacing for social distancing. But after much debate, the original decision to allow permitted events and deny new permits stood firm.

I knew the minute they made this decision, and the City started rejecting permits, my phone was going to light up. And it did.

Suddenly, just days prior to their event, either via email, phone calls or whatever, the organizers of the Hinesville Cars and Coffee announced on their Facebook Page that the City had changed its mind and their event can go on as planned!

It “appears” the City had reversed course.

I am happy they made that decision but again all of this mess could have been avoided if they either stuck to their decision to shut down all, as Kenneth Howard originally suggested in a letter dated Aug. 5, or shut down NONE.

This back and forth makes it “appear” that those in charge aren’t quite in charge at all.

“Appearance,” and perception matters.

For a few days, while being denied to host their event, it “appeared” that the City okayed all the Chamber and HDDA events while their events were not being permitted or denied outright.

“Appearance,” matters, especially when the Mayor of Hinesville, Allen Brown, sits on the Board of the HDDA and their events were approved.

Of course, the public is going to assume some sort of favoritism.

I am not saying it is right or wrong I’m just saying the court of public opinion matters, folks!

These business owners noticed that high school sports kept happening and stadiums were filled with people. Walmart is always packed with customers, people are dining at restaurants, yet they were told, at first, they couldn’t offer a fun event OUTDOORS and on PRIVATE PROPERTY no less.

Most folks don’t spend their entire working hours immersed in city governance and business. Some attend Council meetings but don’t have all the information to understand the ins and outs of all the municipal codes and permit requirements.

The folks at the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority do know all the ins and outs and requirements because it’s part of their daily routine when planning their yearly events. The Chamber and the HDDA applied for their event permits early, prior to any city order. They are always on top of their events and required permits, it is part of their job functions. No one should be blaming them for being on top of their duties.

But most business owners, who are busy trying to stay afloat during COVID and likely short-staffed, were likely unaware that another permit lockdown was forthcoming. Suddenly events that were being approved and hosted, sometimes on a monthly basis, were no longer approved.

And I am by no means saying Councilmembers had an easy decision to make. These folks have a lot to think about, especially during our current situations.

It’s just my opinion that they made the wrong decision on this matter in the first place. If they were going to allow existing events to go on, they should have allowed all events to go on with the same mitigation requirements. If not, they should have cancelled all the events for the sake of “appearance.”

We are living in a time where most people are going to believe what they perceive to be true. For some it will always “appear,” that the City allowed some events to go on while temporarily denying others. It’s no wonder why I’ve often heard that Hinesville is, “a hard place to run a business.”

At least that is what it, “appears,” to be, per the information sent my way.

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