Statesboro City Council welcomed Olympia Gaines who is a familiar face in the County to the City of Statesboro at their bi-monthly meeting held on Tuesday, November 1, 2022.

Gaines has served as the Bulloch County Clerk for the past seven years. She moved over to the city to accept the Assistant to the City Manager position working with Charles Penny, City Manager and Jason Boyles, Assistant City Manager. Mr. Penny noted that this was the same position he stepped into decades ago in developing himself professional to become a city manager.

Gaines made her way to Statesboro as a student at Georgia Southern in the late nineties from her hometime of Macon County, Georgia. She graduated from GS in 1999 with a bachelors in Political Science. Then she completed her Masters in Public Administration in 2002. She then worked with Pineland Behavioral Health for over eleven years before joining the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners in 2014 as the County Clerk.

“I like that this opportunity with the city gives me to an opportunity to expand and grow professionally and help me reach different opportunities career wise,” said Olympia Gaines. “Working with the County and Board of Commissioners was great, but I feel this job will allow me to develop my professional goals more.”

Consent Agenda

APPROVED: Approval of Minutes
a) 10-18-2022 Work Session Minutes
b) 10-18-2022 Council Minutes
B) Consideration of grant of license for the package sale of distilled spirits, beer, and wine to LA Boyz, LLC DBA Whiskey Business located at 1410 Northside Drive

APPROVED: Second reading and consideration of a motion to approve Ordinance 2022-06: An Ordinance amending Article XXV-A of the City Code of Ordinances section 2506-Arevising amount of amenity space required and the types of outdoor areas that qualify as such.

APPROVED: Second reading and consideration of a motion to approve Ordinance 2022-07: An Ordinance amending Article XIV of Appendix A of City Code of Ordinances adding requirement of mixed use concurrency in Planned Unit Developments (PUD’s).

APPROVED: Consideration of a motion to approve commitment of funding in the amount of $3250.00 from the City of Statesboro to the Hi-Lo Trail organization for the development of a master plan of a bicycle trail from Athens to Savannah.

Hi Lo Trail
L-R: Shari Barr, Jonathan McCollar, Paulette Chavers, Carolyn Altman, Phil Boyum, Mary Charles Howard and Venus Mack Credit: Grice Connect

Mary Charles Howard with the Hi-Lo Trail and Statesboro resident Carolyn Altman of Southern Cyclists attended the meeting and is requesting $3250 in funding from the City of Statesboro toward the development of a master plan for the trail. The Hi-Lo Trail organization is a grassroots initiative to identify and develop a bicycle trail from Athens to Savannah which will be routed through 8 counties along the proposed route, which includes Bulloch County. She has been soliciting $15,000 in funds from each county along the proposed route to help create the $120,000 master plan for the trail. The total cost for each county’s share is $15,000. She states she has received a commitment of $7,500 from Morris Bank for the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners 50% share, $1,650 from the Development Authority of Bulloch County, and $1,650 from the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is seeking the remaining $3,250 from the City of Statesboro.

APPROVED: Public Hearing & Consideration of a Motion to approve application for an alcohol license in accordance with The City of Statesboro alcohol ordinance Sec. 6-13 (a):

Jay Food Mart
500 E Main St
Statesboro, Ga 30458
License Type: Package Sales – Beer and Wine only

APPROVED: Public Hearing and Consideration of a motion to approve the First Reading of Ordinance 2022-08: An Ordinance amending Chapter 2 of the Statesboro Code of Ordinances establishing the Statesboro Business Commission.

APPROVED: Consideration of a motion to approve Resolution 2022-38: A Resolution authorizing the destruction of certain Municipal Records.

APPROVED: Consideration of a motion to approve Resolution 2022-39: A resolution approving an application for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Disproportionately Impacted Communities Funding Grant Application.

Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget is receiving applications for grant funding to support Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Disproportionally Impacted Communities by providing an opportunity for local governments to invest in neighborhood features, including parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, and
healthy food access, that can work to improve physical and mental health outcomes. Allowing people access to nature, including parks, has been connected to decreased levels of mortality and illness and increased well-being. Grant awards may be made up to up to $ 2,000,000 per project. Development of or improvements/maintenance to parks or recreational facilities are eligible in Qualified Census Tracts (QCT)
in Georgia which a majority of the COTBM project is within the Statesboro QCT. The goal of the Project is the development of a linear park along the creek and tributary to provide pedestrian connectivity, create economic development opportunities, and promote recreation.

APPROVED: Consideration of a motion to accept the high bid from GT Distributors of Georgia for bloc of firearms to be sold as surplus.

APPROVED: Consideration of a motion to approve a contract with 120Water in the amount of $32,882.00 to provide lead and copper water sampling services.

Other Business from City Council

Council Lady Venus Mack brought up the issue of public restrooms being locked, especially in the new parks. She said that residents are complaining that they went to the park on Grady Street and bathroom door was locked. Mack said, “We redid the parks for the community so they can enjoy them. One of the main complaints was that the bathrooms were always locked. What can we do to make sure this does not always happens. Unless they are out of order?”

Mayor Jonathan McCollar responded that kids throwing rocks and sand into the toilets and vandalism has become an issue in the newly renovated parks. That is causing them not to work. Maybe one solution is to open and close the bathrooms at a certain time and have staff increase their periodic checks. Mayor McCollar said, “At the end of the day this is an all of us issue. We all have a responsibility to do what is necessary to have a high quality of life across the board.”

Vandalism has become an issue in new parks

Charles Penny, City Manager responded to the concerns explaining that, “Parks and Recreation through Bulloch County does a good job keeping the bathrooms open. However those bathrooms have been demolished and vandalized more than three times. We do have video cameras, but trying to determine who it was has been doing this has been difficult to determine. For some reason people think it is OK to go to Grady Street park and destroy the bathrooms. When they are vandalized and demolished it takes time to repair them. For this reason they have to be closed until we can get them repaired.”

“We have put in that community what you wanted, but you have to take care of it,” said Council Lady Chavers.

City Managers Comments

Charle Penny, city manager, welcomed the new Assistant to the City Manager, Olympia Gaines, the former County Clerk is now working in the Statesboro city manager’s office.

Mr. Penny also updated the council on a Department of Community Affairs grant application. With the Aspen Aerogels project that will create about 300 jobs there is a need to seek additional grant funds for infrastructure expansion and improvements. The city has been notified they are in the final rounds for $750,000 for the industrial project. With this notification the city can now we can begin the bidding for the project. He went on to say that they are working with the Development Authority of Bulloch County to get the funding we need to service Aspen Aerogels.

Mr. Penny announced a joint meeting will be held with the Bulloch County Commission on November 29, 2022 at 2:30 pm at a location to be determined.

Public Comments

Citizen Wayne Alexander, addressed the council about the issue of homeliness in the city. He recalled that there was a movement to place tiny homes in the city as a tool to help with homelessness. This required a zoning change and he never saw it move forward. He said there seems to be a lot of homelessness in the city. As today’s prices have risen for everyone including people living on fixed income this becomes an even more concerning issue.

Councilman Phil Boyum responded, “We are in the process of redoing our entire code so this is the time to review these options and that is the ideal place to do that.” He also thanked Mr. Alexander for bringing this forward.

Mayor McCollar reminded him that when he took over as Mayor the poverty rate in the city was above 50 percent and it is now in the low 40 percent mark. He said they are making progress, but still have a long way to go. The Mayor said, “We would love to see quick fixes to homelessness. But there is not one. We do need to look at opportunities to address homelessness. As the population explodes with all the coming growth this will bring even more urban issues that we must plan for and address.”

Council Lady Paulett Chavers said, “This is the second council meeting in a row that homelessness has been brought up to the city council. We need to get on this now. We need to see what we can do about this homeless problem.”

Mayor Jonathan McCollar then took a moment to address the violence problem. “We have a violence problem in this Country. For political leaders who are elected to have the trust of the people, the way they are behaving around our nation is disgusting. Violence at any level is not right. We are turning on our fellow man at every level and this is not right. We have to do better as a community and as a nation. It is all of our responsibility to do better. A few individuals are eating away at the core of our community. We are neighbors and we can do better.”

Executive Session to discuss real estate

No action taken in executive session.

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Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...