Albany City Commission member to be recognized for city beautification efforts

Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard, second from left, helps display a banner during an Arbor Day event in which he helped plant 20 crepe myrtle trees along Blaylock Street.

ALBANY – Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard will be honored Dec. 5 during a Keep Georgia Beautiful 2019 awards ceremony with a statewide award recognizing his efforts in cleaning up the city.

Howard, who represents the city of Albany’s Ward I, will receive the award for Elected Official of the Year during the luncheon in Atlanta.

“I’m excited,” said Howard, who was nominated by Judy Bowles, executive director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful. “I thank Judy for putting my name in the box to be considered for a statewide award.”

Howard has been one of the more vocal commission members when it comes to the city’s work in cleaning up blighted properties. A good number of those properties are in Howard’s ward, which encompasses much of east Albany.

Earlier this year, commissioners approved hiring private title search companies to speed up the process of taking owners of substandard and dilapidated properties to Albany Municipal Court for disposition. In those cases, the owner is given an opportunity to correct problems or the judge can condemn it for demolition by the city.

That move will allow the city to double the cases taken to court from about 10 a month to about 20 and help the city tackle a backlog of some 100 cases.

In addition to moving big projects, such as the demolition of the former Heritage House hotel, forward, Howard personally takes part in smaller projects, Bowles said.

“Whether it’s joining me in Municipal Court to hear the case so the judge knows we are there and are interested in how the case comes out, or helping paint over graffiti (Howard is readily available),” she said. “Jon is not on the city Tree Board, but he joins them every quarter to trim the trees.”

When there is an electronics recycling day, Howard is on hand unloading those items, Bowles said, as he is when the city collects shredded documents. The same is true for events such as Stash the Trash and riverside cleanups with Rivers Alive.

“He is in touch with Code Enforcement to report things like illegal dumps,” Bowles said. “One time he saw a swimming pool in his ward that was filled with black water, no tenants (living there). Within one day, he had already arranged to have that water drained and to make it safer for the children who live in his neighborhood.”

Howard doesn’t limit his efforts to his ward, however, she said.

“He genuinely cares about the entire community,” Bowles said. “He has dedicated his time and his talents to the Albany community for the past 25 years. It’s an awesome award for an awesome person.”

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