Leesburg approves utilities extension bid

LEESBURG -- The Leesburg City Council approved Hatcher Tractor Service's $668,634.72 low bid for a water and sewer extension project that will provide utilities for a new elementary school under construction at the corner of Robert B. Lee Drive and Lover's Lane Road.

Ronny Dudley, a vice president with the Albany-based Stevenson & Palmer Engineering firm, told the council during the special called meeting that nine bids had been submitted on the project, and he recommended that Hatcher's low bid be accepted.

"This extension project will run down Robert B. Lee and take care of the new school being built," interim city Public Works Director Bill Mitchell said. "It's being financed jointly by the city and the school system."

Dudley said the extension, which will run from Peach Street to Lover's Lane along R.B. Lee, will also open the land along R.B. Lee to future development.

"The current priority is providing utilities for the school," he said. "But the city will have an opportunity to utilize the extension as it looks at future development."

City Clerk Casey Moore, who called the project a "win-win" for the city and school system, said city leaders had their eye on possible development along R.B. Lee when they OK'd the extension.

Asked by Councilwoman Debra Long when work on the project might start, Dudley said it would be soon.

"They're anxious to start on it," Dudley said. "The longest thing will be them getting their bond; that might take a couple of weeks. But if Mayor (Jim) Quinn signs off on the bid tonight, I'll get the contract to them tomorrow."

The council also unanimously threw its support behind a proclamation that will make Saturday Phillip Phillips Day in Leesburg. The local singer, who is one of three finalists on the popular Fox TV show "American Idol," will be honored at a parade Saturday. Quinn will present the city proclamation to Phillips, while Lee County commission Chairman Ed Duffy and state Rep. Ed Rynders will make similar presentations on behalf of Lee County and the state of Georgia, respectively.

City Attorney Bert Gregory told Quinn Gov. Nathan Deal could not officially make a proclamation until the city had agreed to do so.

The meeting ended with a bit of good-natured humor as council members discussed the parade honoring Phillips.

"We've already given him the key to the city, what more does he want?" Councilman Bob Wilson offered with tongue firmly planted in cheek. "I guess El Maya should probably do a proclamation, too."

Wilson's comment was in response to Phillips mentioning the Albany-based restaurant during Wednesday's "Idol" airing. Phillips was named one of three finalists on Thursday's show.

The parade will start at 2:30 p.m. at Starksville Avenue and continue down Main Street to the Lee County High School football stadium, where Phillips will perform a brief concert.

"People from all over the state are calling saying they plan to come," Councilwoman Judy Powell said.