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City of Oak Park hears from county commissioner at August meeting

We here at The Crossroads Chronicle have made a pledge to begin covering all of the municipalities within Emanuel County that have city council meetings on a monthly basis. This past week, we reached out to the smaller municipalities here to request their latest minutes. We intend to start covering these meetings in-person in the coming months on a rotating basis, but until then, here’s a recap of what happened at the August meeting down in Oak Park.

Three members of council—Robert Warnock, Penny Jones, and Dennis Warren—were in attendance, as was Mayor Mickey Lindsey, although he arrived late due to a busted water line on Lindsey Road. Council’s one absence was AJ McLeod.

County Commissioner James Canady also attended the meeting and spoke twice, once expressing his support to keep polling locations (including Oak Park’s) the same and again to update mayor and council about the new tax assessments.

As it stood at the time of the meeting, the board of elections was to review the possibility of consolidating voting precincts across the county. Since the meeting, the elections board opted to not take any action at all, thus Oak Park’s polls will remain intact as in years prior.

Additionally, the tax assessor’s board is reassessing valuations for Emanuel’s some 20,000 parcels. This, he said, was the first time a reassessment has been done in totality since 2004. While on hand, Canady gave a brief overview to the Oak Park citizens about what he understood the process to include. Highlights from his address were a third-party company assisting with appraisals and taxpayers being able to appeal their assessments.

In other business, the city’s auditor, Keith Waters, stopped by Oak Park City Hall on July 15 and took the audit files for 2016, 2017, and 2018 to begin reviewing them.

The city’s leadership also heard a financial update. According to the finance reports, the General Fund balance sat at $62,031.52; the Public Works Fund checked in at $18,702.29; the SPLOST Fund was recorded at $63,630.36; and DOT Funds came in at $4,652.66.

Continued in the vein of financials, the city clerk, Courtney Soley, stated an email had been sent to Dabbs, Hickman, Cannon and Hill to discontinue their accounting services. That email was followed up with a confirmation from the company, and copies of those messages were attached to the minutes.

The City of Oak Park also selected a bid for concrete to be poured over road construction. Wiggins Construction received the project with a bid of $4,800, which was approved by council. Warren made the motion, Jones seconded, and the vote was unanimous.

Lastly, mayor and council reviewed a grant application to fix the water/well system. Information about that grant was attached to the minutes as well.

In other important news, the governing body recognized new fire chief Billy Joe Barwick and assistant fire chief Sterling Damron. Look for profiles on these two individuals in a later edition of The Chronicle.

Also related to the fire department, Barwick informed the city’s leaders that one of the vehicles at the station needed new tires. He provided a cost of $425 for one tire. No action was reported.

Sterling, wrapping up fire department agenda items, asked the department be notified about water line breaks in the future so fire personnel would know which fire hydrant/s/ would consequently be out of service.

Wrapping up the meeting’s business, mayor and council heard about the upcoming Oak Park Moonshine Festival.

Planned for Saturday, September 18, Terry Strange went before the group and asked about the Shriners being allowed to use city equipment for grass maintenance at the festival location, the old schoolhouse. He also asked about using a city employee to do the work. Strange informed Mayor Lindsey and council that the funds to pay that city employee would be taken from the Shriners’ account instead of the city’s. Hearing this, Warren motioned to allow the proposal. Jones seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.

The community is invited to come out to the festival in just over two weeks. Tentatively, there will be a car show, a 5K run, food, and arts and crafts. The event will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact Dana Strange at 912-687-1113 or Terry Strange at 912-687-2243. All proceeds will go toward restoring the 100-year-old school building inside the city limits of Oak Park.

Closing out the August meeting, the minutes indicate Mayor Lindsey was to have a meeting with Turnipseed Engineering on August 6 at 9 a.m. The report from this meeting would be read at the next council meeting or, if necessary, at a called meeting.

There being no further business, Oak Park City Council adjourned. The group will next meet Thursday, September 2, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.