A pink flip-flop.
That’s what Bibb County Commissioner Elmo Richardson gave Commissioner Joe Allen on Friday, a day after Allen reversed his stance on funding for The Medical Center of Central Georgia. Allen ultimately agreed to a 10-percent cut after discussing eliminating it entirely on Thursday.
The pink flip-flop, attached by two screws to something resembling a fly swatter handle, spent much of Friday’s budget hearings hidden behind a table leg. Allen, who often speaks, was unusually quiet about the “gift.”
Richardson said a neighbor gave him the flip-flop.
The color’s unusually fitting, however. Allen has discussed getting pink uniforms for inmates at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Complex, following the path of an Arizona sheriff.
Are Lucas and Cranford the new Abbott and Costello?
Macon Councilwoman Elaine Lucas is a self-proclaimed big fan of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and is often out for walks in the morning on the trail that runs alongside the Ocmulgee River.
When representatives from NewTown Macon presented their budget request for fiscal 2011, Lucas took the time to praise the work the organization has done, specifically pointing out the river trail.
She did have one request: a restroom at the riverwalk’s Spring Street entrance.
“For us old folks, that trail can be awfully long,” Lucas said.
Apparently Councilman Mike Cranford wanted to amend her request with his own.
“It’d be cheaper and easier to just install a Depends dispenser out there,” he said, drawing somewhat stunned laughter.
Lucas, with a smile, shot back: “I’m sure you know of which you speak, but I do not.”
Moments later, Lucas clarified that the restroom need not be anything fancy, that something “rustic” would do.
Cranford said, “There’s nothing more rustic than going behind a tree.”
Rebuilding city councilmen’s egos
Even in the largely boring budget review of agencies funded by Macon, City Council members have taken the time to lob a few friendly insults at each other.
During a presentation about Rebuilding Macon, an organization the uses volunteer labor to renovate houses for the elderly and disabled, Director Debra Rollins said something about the council members who have donated their time to the cause.
When she mentioned Councilman James Timley, Councilman Charles Jones — who has maintained a friendly feud with Timley for some time — exclaimed, “What? Timley worked?”
Rollins also took the time to rib Councilman Mike Cranford, who heads the Appropriations Committee, saying repeatedly that she wanted him to ride along with her on the next big volunteer day. Last year, the Appropriations Committee made sharp cuts to Rebuilding Macon’s budget request.
Animal Control not controlled
Through several budget hearings, Bibb County commissioners kept hearing about the county’s Animal Control operations. They were supposed to have been consolidated under Macon’s control late last year, then in March, now perhaps in July.
Bibb County Chief Deputy David Davis said he’s waiting to be paid before he turns over the county’s animal control vehicles and equipment.
“No check-y, no truck-y,” he quipped.
In another hearing, Councilman Elmo Richardson poked fun at Macon: “I don’t see why they can’t issue the check. They increased taxes.”
County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson offered tact. “We’re being cooperative, and we’re trying to assist any way we can to make it happen,” he said.
With just two county employees involved, Animal Control was supposed to have been the easiest way for Macon and Bibb County to begin consolidating services and, eventually, the entire governments. That’s on a 10-year plan, of course. We’ll note again that consolidation has been discussed since at least 1923.
Bus to the future?
Mass transit may be coming to Warner Robins after all.
Albeit in baby steps.
City Councilman John Williams said during Thursday’s Vision 2020 meeting that Mayor Chuck Shaheen had been instrumental in securing grant money that will allow bus services to bring workers to Robins Air Force Base from various cities in Middle Georgia.
Shaheen said the plan, in its early stages, will see buses funneled through a particular gate at the base, helping ease pollution levels by lowering the number of cars that come into the base daily.
From there, Shaheen said, he hopes to see the venture grow.
“We’re pooling some outside resources … so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Shaheen said Friday, declining to offer up too many details of the venture. “We have to take baby steps. This part is just to get people in and out of Robins. The second would be transit within the city.”
Shaheen said he’s working on developing a task force including local experts to see how to mold a program that would meet the needs of residents in the city, as well as those from other counties who work here.
Local officials are facing tough budget decisions, but that doesn’t stop some humor from breaking out.
At the beginning of Bibb County budget sessions this week, Davis started speaking for the sheriff’s office. “We always look forward to this every year,” Davis began.
Sheriff Modena interrupted: “We’re going to shut him down right now.”
The National Guard didn’t request any county funding this year, and in previous years had to be pushed to cash the county’s check.
“Let’s give them what they asked for,” Chairman Sam Hart said.
Separately, it’s a tough time to be in typewriter maintenance. As budgets get squeezed, county agencies that still use typewriters are dropping contracts that keep them in good health.
For a meeting with county commissioners, the Museum of Arts and Sciences left behind Daisy, the 10-foot snake who made an appearance at a recent City Council meeting. Commissioners were ever so grateful.
Music for a one-man band
When the Warner Robins City Council, moonlighting as the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency, called for a closed session to discuss a personnel matter during Monday’s meeting, the subject matter of the meeting was obvious: Gary Lee.
Lee, the executive director of the RDA, initially was brought into the city as executive director of the once-disbanded Downtown Development Authority in 2007, and began as the RDA’s one-man band shortly after.
In the time he’s been with the city, Lee has overseen the construction of a downtown redevelopment plan for the city, which includes upgrading Commercial Circle and bringing more commercial business into the city’s designated downtown, among other things. Recently, he was charged with getting the Georgia-Robins Aerospace Maintenance Partnership off the ground.
After years of sitting, the project is finally gaining momentum. An environmental assessment of the land designated for the project should be complete by the end of the year. Don Jarzynka, a logistics consultant leading the city’s G-RAMP Committee, says the first phase of the project, which includes a hangar for aircraft maintenance, could be complete some time in 2011.
Members of the council won’t go into detail about the closed session. Councilman John Williams said Lee is up for review, and concerns after a recent break-in at his offices have them considering relocating him somewhere inside City Hall.
Worried about traffic coming into Hartley Bridge Road, Bibb County’s government asked the Bibb County school system to close a gate on George Thomas Lane.
Instead, the gate was taken down, and it now serves as a parent drop-off lane and school bus route to Rutland middle and high schools.
County officials want school officials to chip in for a left turn lane and other improvements at George Thomas Lane since it clearly won’t be closed, but they hear school officials won’t want to pay for improvements off school ground. School officials say they’re prohibited from spending money off school grounds.
On the other side of the schools is Skipper Road. County officials say they want to take the blinking lights that slowed traffic outside the Burke School, inside the city limits, before it closed. Those lights could protect the Rutland schools, which serves many students from Macon. They expect city officials will want to keep the lights at the empty school.
Did we mention consolidation’s been talked about since at least 1923? County officials say they need to improve communication with other boards. This might be a good starting point.
Telegraph writers Marlon A. Walker, Julie Hubbard, Mike Stucka and Chris Horne contributed to this report.