For almost two years, Warner Robins City Council chambers have been packed, as residents swarmed City Hall to see a rowdy council in action.
This week’s meeting featured more city employees than residents, however, and those city employees and their families left almost immediately after employee of the year awards were handed out. By the end of the meeting, the remaining audience included meeting regulars such as reporters and former political leaders.
“I can look out and see our popularity is going down,” Councilman Daron Lee observed during his council comments.
Since three new council members were sworn in Dec. 29, there hasn’t been a controversy.
Of course, it’s only January.
The costs of campaigning
Bibb County commissioners formally set the cost of political campaign qualifying fees as 3 percent of the salary of the particular job. That’s as much as a $3,685.87 qualifying fee to run for the $122,862.24 State Court solicitor general post.
Notably, though, the cost to run for county commission chairman remains $600, because the base salary remains $20,000. Some commissioners had sought to increase that salary to $100,000 and make the position a full-time gig, but the commission earlier split evenly on the change, leaving the vote to fail.
Costs for district commissioners remain $300 for a base salary of $10,000.
Forest Hill Road revisited
Lindsay “Doc” Holliday brought a revitalized push for reconsideration of Forest Hill Road work to commissioners, citing an earlier Telegraph item about his previous talk. The widening of the northern portion, from Wimbish Road to Northside Drive, could start as early as this summer. The northern segment is slated to become three lanes. The southern portion, to Vineville Avenue, is planned to become four lanes, but construction on that segment isn’t imminent.
Holliday said it isn’t too late to change the plans. Then he said a majority of commissioners owed their fleeting power to the work of Martin Luther King Jr., who listened to people. Holliday said the county hasn’t listened to residents.
Commissioner Bert Bivins interrupted: “I don’t need your lectures about Martin Luther King, and I don’t need your lectures about being fair and equitable.” Bivins went on to say that he’d pushed for people to listen to Holliday -- but Holliday needs to listen back.
“That calls for both sides being willing to listen to each other, and I really haven’t seen that,” Bivins said.
Holliday called again for the county to bring down a consulting engineer to help with mediation talks that were called off years ago. He said the county hasn’t changed its Forest Hill Road plans since it began.
County Engineer Ken Sheets said Holliday needed to be under oath when he made such claims: “Doc, you mislead the commissioners when you come in here. You tell about that much of the truth.”
The next morning, Holliday demanded a written apology from Sheets, saying his comment “was slanderous, and it was publicly insulting and demeaning to me.”
In with the new, old
Ken McCall, the new chairman of the Warner Robins Downtown Authority, called on the former board chairman this month to make sure things run smoothly.
At the board’s first meeting of the year, McCall solicited former Chairman Tony Robbins to be parliamentarian and historian.
“If you see us going the wrong way on these procedures, could you just let me know?” McCall asked Robbins.
Robbins, who has served on the board for 12 years, accepted the positions.
McCall also appointed Richard “Chef” Weldon as the board’s sergeant at arms.
Fort Valley pet registrations
Fort Valley Mayor John Stumbo reminded residents Thursday to register their pets.
“It’s an ordinance that’s been on the books, but we are enforcing so that we can keep track of our animals,” Stumbo said during the regular monthly council meeting.
Applications to register pets can be picked up at the police department, Stumbo said.
Scott on SOPA
The proposed Stop Online Privacy Act got lots more attention this week, spurred by website blackouts.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican from Ashburn who represents much of Middle Georgia, posted to his Facebook wall: “In its current form, I would vote NO on SOPA.”
The news nonprofit ProPublica reported Wednesday that its tally on SOPA in Congress showed 80 supporters and 31 opponents. A day later, that had moved to 65 supporters and 101 opponents.
Macon man to join tax assessors
Russell C. Poss II is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday at 3:30 p.m. as a member of the Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors. Superior Court Judge Phillip Brown will administer the oath in the Bibb County commissioners’ boardroom in the courthouse in downtown Macon.
Morrill named to state board
Thomas E. Morrill of Fort Valley was appointed this month to the State Workforce Investment Board by Gov. Nathan Deal. Morrill is a former senior product manager with Varian Medical Systems, is chairman of the board of directors for the Peach County Chamber of Commerce and is chairman of the Peach County Republican Party. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Campbell University.
Writers Mike Stucka and Christina M. Wright contributed to this report.