Politics & Government

Byron council moves ahead with creating new department

BYRON -- The City Council took final steps this week to create an Economic and Community Development Department with a yet-to-be-named director.

In February, council members discussed creating the new department when Mayor Larry Collins said it would provide a more efficient and focused way to foster development.

Previously, such tasks were handled by volunteers with various committees playing different development roles, he said. The new department will take on the responsibilities and at the same time allow existing community groups to strip away development duties and focus on their appointed tasks.

The council voted unanimously Monday for the measure.

In another matter related to development, the council voted unanimously to become a voting member of a Houston and Peach County group meeting to foster economic development along Interstate 75.

Though Byron has been involved with the group, which initially was organized by Flint Energies, Councilman Michael Chidester told council members that Byron was not an official voting member. He said a resolution needed to be passed by the council to join. Members did so unanimously.

At the same time, the council approved a resolution allowing Collins to send a letter asking the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to provide support for the effort.

The council selected Chidester and Councilman Ryan Adams to serve as its representatives on the I-75 corridor council.

Also Monday, the council:

Voted to double financial support for two local events. The city will give $3,000 to the Battle of Byron and $2,000 to the Peach Festival;

Agreed to enter a mutual aid agreement with Robins Air Force Base regarding fire departments and firefighting emergencies. Adams, a retired firefighter from Robins, suggested the agreement, which is to be called into play for significant and catastrophic events. He also said it might pave the way for Byron firefighters to receive training at the base;

Heard from Trey Gavin of Carter & Sloope Inc. of Macon regarding the start of sewer system analysis and infiltration studies for the city.

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.