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City commission doesn't back utility audit

Tommie Postell

Tommie Postell

ALBANY — Ward VI Albany City Commissioner Tommie Postell’s call for an outside audit of the city’s Water, Gas & Light Commission finances died for lack of a second Tuesday, but that did not deter the outspoken commissioner from expressing his displeasure with the utility.

“There’s something going on over there; we all know it,” Postell said.

When Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff said he would not second the motion to call for the audit because he wanted to give newly hired interim General Manager Tom Berry “time to get his feet wet,” Postell had a prompt reply.

“That’s what happened before,” he said. “We gave (former WG&L GM) Mr. (Lemuel) Edwards time to get his feet wet, and look where we are now.”

Commissioners also approved a resolution of support for designation of the old Dixie Highway as a scenic byway sought by Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Rashelle Beasley. City/county Planning Director Paul Forgey told the commission the section of the highway that starts at the CVB downtown, goes south to Oglethorpe Boulevard, east to Radium Springs Road and south again to Thomasville, would be the state’s first designated scenic byway in Southwest Georgia.

“There are 14 recognized scenic routes in the state,” Forgey said. “This would be the first for our region. The city would not be bound to spend any money since this is a state DOT (Department of Transportation) project, and the only requirement that would impact us is that no new billboards could go up on the byway. The benefits are that (the designation) would increase tourism and give us promotional opportunities.”

Beasley said Albany and Dougherty County are the last governmental entities that must sign off on the project before it can move forward.

“This impacts Albany, Baconton, Camilla, Pelham, Meigs, Ochlocknee and Thomasville,” the CVB head said. “We think it would serve our community by promoting our heritage.”

Postell called the proposed project “innovative” before offering a motion to support the resolution. It was approved unanimously but still must be formally ratified at the city’s night meeting Oct. 22.

Commissioners also gave non-binding approval to a memorandum of understanding with GDOT that will allow the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority to move forward with installation of street lights along State Route 91/Jefferson Street. Because the thoroughfare is a state highway, Downtown Manager Aaron Blair told the commission, DOT requires a governmental entity to serve as manager of record for the project.

Blair said the lighting, which includes nine street-light structures and 15 pedestrian lights along Jefferson, is being financed through special-purpose local-option sales tax and tax allocation district funding. The downtown manager said the lighting is part of ongoing redevelopment efforts in the city’s historic district.

The commission also heard an appeal from Harriet Hollis for support of her ongoing Kellogg Foundation-funded community racial healing project. Hollis said Michael Wenger, author of the book “My Black Family, My White Privilege,” which is being used during monthly discussions, would appear at the group’s Oct. 24 meeting, planned from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Albany Civic Center.

“I think if the community sees our elected officials involved, they’ll see that we’re serious about healing Albany,” Hollis said.