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Americus Mayor and City Council Make Recommendations on First Fridays and Trick or Treating

BY: Tracy K. Hall

The Mayor and the City Council of Americus held their agenda setting meeting for October on Thursday, 10/15/2020. The meeting was lengthy and ran close to 3 hours. Topics related to COVID-19 were discussed. Charles Christmas presented the idea of continuing First Friday and Christmas Open House as both are big draws for our downtown businesses and he has received calls from business owners indicating they are working at only a limited capacity as compared to previous years. At the last meeting, in response to the council recommending that trick or treating should be limited, Daryl Dowdell suggested if that was the case then First Fridays should also be eliminated. The council ultimately asked Qaijuan Willis to cancel the event. As a result, the city did not endorse an official First Friday, however businesses extended the hours and served the community anyway. Mayor Barry Blount made the point that our residents and shop keepers must make their own personal decisions and he endorsed allowing us the opportunity to do so. Nelson Brown was not as quick to endorse and wished the council to seek counsel of our medical professionals to establish if the events should go forward with the council’s approval. Mayor Blount welcomed Mr. Brown to seek the advice of those professionals and report his findings back at the regular meeting. Brown was not eager to take on the responsibility and voiced that he rather it “come from the top.” Blount again left it in Brown’s hands to do so. Brown did not commit to do so. At the end, it was established that shop keepers as well as shoppers should practice appropriate COVID-19 related safety measures such as not gathering in large groups, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently. As for trick or treating the council recommended against it last month. Barry Blount once again stated that people have the right to make their own decisions regarding their behaviors and should personally choose if they want to participate in Halloween traditions. Again, the city recommends that citizens practice all the standards of COVID-19 safety while making these decisions.

Of further interest in the meeting, speed bumps are being analyzed as well as the best materials to make them out of. Several streets, primarily in Kelvin Pless’ district will be receiving new speed bumps. In Charles Christmas’ district, Beal Street has completed the necessary paperwork and will soon receive a speed bump. Several items, such as minutes of September meetings and contracts went to consent agenda and will be approved at the regular meeting. Of particular interest, is a project in which Charles Christmas and Kelvin Pless have been working together. With grant funds received through the Sumter Historic Trust, the city will be establishing a gateway into the historic district at the intersection of Church Street and Lee Street. The regular meeting will hold votes on typical city business. One of these votes will be on rezoning 3 parcels in the Lee St. and Columbia Ave. area. A Dollar General is slated to go on the property, however there is much dissent from residents as well as City of Americus staff. The zoning committee made up of citizens have recommended the zoning be changed.

The interim city manager also proposed the city employees receive a one-time bonus of 5% of their annual salary. With a surplus of funding and the citizens receiving a one-time mill rate cut, the council was favorable to the idea. Council mentioned their appreciation for city workers. Nelson Brown also added that bad employees should be supervised and will eventually be weeded out of their positions.

The regular meeting of city council will be held Thursday 10/22/2020 at 7pm. The meeting will be held virtually. Community involvement is encouraged.