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April 1950: Consolidation again up for discussion

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

A.364pril 1950 was a booming time for Albany.

.364While the census numbers hadn't officially been released, estimates were that the city's population numbers would replicate growth shown during the previous two decades of 65 percent.

As printed on April 2, 1950, permits for new residential construction topped a half-million dollars for the month of March alone.

And it would appear the specter of consolidating the city and county governments again reared its head.

Following a March 1950 presentment by the Dougherty County Grand jury recommending unification of the two governments, The Albany Herald conducted a survey of prospective voters throughout Dougherty County.

The details of the study -- how many people were surveyed, sampling data, etc. -- weren't disclosed in the story, but on April 2, The Herald reported that seven out of every 10 people polled on the issue supported the concept of consolidation.

Later in the month, Mayor Menard Peacock said publicly that he supported the idea and that the city and county governments should work toward it.

Obviously, things fell apart at some point after April 1950. While voters never had the opportunity to vote on consolidation in 1950, according to the National Association of Counties, this issue was brought to a referendum in 1954 and was voted down 71.2 percent to 28.8 percent.

The measure again was brought up for a public vote in two years later in 1956 and again failed.

Since that time, most city and county departments have merged through the use of intergovernmental agreements, leaving at present only four departments that are independent from their local government counterpart.

Other happenings making headlines in April 1950:

-- April 1: Georgia Natural Gas Co., headquartered in Albany, sought permission from the federal government to lay $4.8 million worth of natural gas pipelines throughout Southwest Georgia.

-- April 1: Mayor Menard Peacock and City Manager Donald Wolfen advise city department heads that there will be a new "wide open" press policy and that there would be regular morning press conferences to keep the media and reporters informed of city happenings.

-- April 2: Federal and state agents announced that they had destroyed 1,580 gallons of mash liquor, seized six distilleries, 10 stills and destroyed 85 gallons of "moonshine" during the month of March.

-- April 7: Future Albany Mayor Tommy Coleman was featured in a three-paragraph blurb on the paper's "Personally Speaking" page celebrating his second birthday. The brief stated that 36 of his friends had shown up to his family's house at 614 N. Slappey Blvd. and that a pink and green birthday cake was served.

-- April 9: Tuberculosis is declared by Dougherty County Health Commissioner David Wolfe to be the county's "worst health problem." Nine people died from the disease in 1949.

-- April 10: 50-60 klansmen paraded through Camilla in what some believed was a recruiting effort to drum up support for a Southwest Georgia klavern. Camilla officials said that the event was largely peaceful but that spectators booed the robed men as they drove through town.

-- April 13: Rep. Eugene Cox, D-Camilla, officially qualified to seek his 14th consecutive term in Congress. By doing so, he would square off against J.D. Cook of Tifton in the June 28 Democratic primary. In 1949, Cox had been named speaker pro-tempore of the House and was the ranking member of the House Rules Committee.

-- April 13: The state pledged up to $750,000 for the construction of a second bridge across the Flint to connect East and West Albany.

.364Heritage Albany is a weekly column looking back at events that were reported in The Albany Herald's 120 years. Contact J.D. Sumner at j.d.sumner@albanyherald.com.