Former Bibb County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards says that state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, had nothing to do with improvements on Jeffersonville Road.
Edwards, who’s challenging Beverly for the District 143 House seat in the May 20 primary election, held a news conference Friday afternoon with Macon-Bibb County Commissioners Elaine Lucas and Scotty Shepherd.
Saying he wanted to “set the record straight on some erroneous claims,” Edwards spoke on the side of Jeffersonville Road, just around a curve from where Beverly announced an interim repaving of the Jeffersonville-Millerfield Road intersection on March 28. He called Beverly’s announcement and subsequent campaign ads a “political stunt designed to deceive people.”
“The only job he cares about is his own job, the job he holds in Atlanta,” Edwards said.
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But Beverly says it’s Edwards who’s not telling the truth.
“Unfortunately Mr. Edwards, my opponent, he’s exaggerated on so many things from saying on (WMAZ political program) “Close Up” that I wasn’t a doctor to saying that I didn’t graduate from Harvard University,” Beverly said. “He’s just not credible.”
And Mayor Robert Reichert backs up Beverly’s version, agreeing that Beverly took the initiative in getting the Macon-Bibb government to repave the intersection while waiting for more extensive state work.
Complaints about the condition of Jeffersonville Road go back more than 20 years, but improvement projects have stalled repeatedly. In December, just three weeks before city and county governments merged, Bibb commissioners announced they had signed a key right-of-way purchase agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation that removed the last hindrance. Edwards and state Sen. David Lucas -- the husband of Elaine Lucas -- joined Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart at that event.
“Rep. Beverly was in on none of those meetings,” Edwards said Friday. “Rep. Beverly did not cast the decisive vote, or a vote of any kind on this issue. Rep. Beverly did not secure the funding for the project.”
Therefore, Beverly can’t be trusted, Edwards said.
Land acquisition is underway, but it’s likely to be a couple of years before the state starts large-scale construction work.
In March, however, Macon-Bibb commissioners approved a $33,876.75 contract with Reeves Construction Co. to resurface the Jeffersonville-Millerfield intersection.
Friday afternoon, Reichert confirmed Beverly’s account: that near the start of 2014, Beverly came to him and County Engineer David Fortson to ask for a temporary fix to the worst section of Jeffersonville Road.
“That was on Rep. Beverly’s initiative,” Reichert said, noting that he and Fortson had joined Beverly at the affected intersection for a rain-soaked news conference March 28 to announce the work.
Fortson, also reached Friday, agreed with Reichert’s statement.
Additionally, Edwards said Beverly claims to have “compiled a petition, submitted it to DOT” to get the road repaved. Edwards gave out a copy of his April 17 Open Records request to the local GDOT office for any petition submitted “by or on behalf of” Beverly regarding Jeffersonville Road, along with GDOT’s April 21 reply saying there is no such record.
But that, Beverly said, is because the petition he collected was never sent to GDOT. Beverly did collect signatures calling for the road to be fixed, but he took them to Reichert upon finding out that the mayor had a discretionary fund for small-scale road projects, he said.
Reichert agreed to use some of that money for Jeffersonville Road, though there were 31 other projects he could have funded instead, Beverly said.
If Edwards truly cared about the problem instead of scoring last-minute political points, he could have done the same during his seven years as a Bibb commissioner, Beverly said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.