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Council moves forward on project, honors Davis
Council Ursula
Former Richmond Hill City Clerk Ursula Lee accepts a proclamation on behalf of former Richmond Hill Mayor Davis at the city’s Feb. 2 council meeting. Photo by Jeff Whitten.

The mysterious “Project Falcon” took another step forward earlier this month when Richmond Hill City Council approved the abandonment of portions of city right of way on Thunderbird Drive and Shelby Lane in the Ford Park of Commerce.

The abandonment will apparently make room for a 140,000 square foot structure being developed by Atlanta-based TPA Group, LLC.

In a related move in January, the city agreed to combine some of the lots in the commercial park just east of I-95 at the 144 interchange. TPA representative Gene Buckley told council Feb. 2 he was excited about the project, which “will be a great investment in the community and the people here.”

Councilman Steve Scholar, a former planning and zoning director for the city, asked when more details of the project, to include “who the company is that’s coming in” will be made public.

Buckley said Project Falcon is still in the permitting stage, but it will likely be soon.

Councilman Robbie Ward had to recuse himself from the vote.

In other business: The city honored former Mayor Richard Davis with a proclamation. Davis, who served as mayor from 1989 to 2010 and spent a decade prior to that as a councilman, was unable to attend the meeting, but longtime city clerk Ursula Lee spoke fondly of her former boss.

“He was really dedicated to this city,” Lee said. “He would fight just about anybody to make sure residents had the dedicated services they deserved. And he was very honorable to his employees. He took us in as family members.”

Scholar, a former general manager and editor of what was then the Richmond HIll-Bryan County News, was hired by Davis as planning and zoning director in 1999. Scholar said he wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to serve in local government without Davis “taking a chance on me.”

“I don’t mean any offense to you, Mayor Carpenter, but when I think of Richmond Hill’s mayor, I think of Richard Davis,” Scholar said.

Carpenter agreed.

Davis was a driving force in the creation of J.F. Gregory Park and was instrumental in bringing the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival into the park in 1998. Prior to that, it had been held at the Kilkenny Fisherman’s Co-op, where it began in 1985.

The street on which city hall and other city buildings sit is named in his honor.

Carpenter read a proclamation in Davis’ honor, and read a proclamation in honor of Black History Month. This followed a recitation by Dr. Karen Boles Grant of the Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, “The Party.”

“That’s a hard act to follow,” Carpenter said.

The text of both proclamations are included below.

Richard Davis : WHEREAS, Richard Davis was first elected to the City of Richmond Hill City Council in November 1979 and then elected as its Mayor in 1989; and WHEREAS, Mr. Davis provided distinguished leadership during his thirty-one years serving as a City of Richmond Hill elected official; and WHEREAS, Mr. Davis has made invaluable contributions to the City of Richmond Hill with his passion for public service beginning with his tenure as president of the Jaycees and has influenced many lives with his positive attitude and his commitment to serve others; and WHEREAS, Mr. Davis was the driving force in J.F. Gregory Park being built on a 320-acre tract of land in the heart of the City of Richmond Hill that has become a crown jewel enjoyed by thousands of families, nature enthusiasts and recreationists; and WHEREAS, the City will forever be indebted to him for his guidance, outreach, involvement and sincere passion to making the City of Richmond Hill the best City in which to live, work and play.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Mayor Russ Carpenter, on behalf of the citizens of the City of Richmond Hill do hereby proclaim our gratitude and admiration for Richard Davis today and every day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Richmond Hill, Georgia to be affixed this 2nd day of February, 2021.

Black History Month: WHEREAS, During Black History Month, we celebrate the many achievements and contributions made by African Americans to our economic, cultural, spiritual and political development: and WHEREAS, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, noted Black scholar and son of former slaves, initiated Black History Week on February 12, 1926 and Black History Month grew out of this establishment; and WHEREAS, the observance of Black History Month calls our attention to the continued need to battle racism and build a society that lives up to its democratic ideals; and WHEREAS, Black History Month also celebrates the achievements and contributions that African Americans have made in shaping our country, society, and communities; and WHEREAS, the 2021 national theme for the observance is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity;” and explores the dynamic of African American families and their stories throughout history; and WHEREAS, those interested in participating in Black History Month are encouraged to attend online events, take virtual field trips and support Black businesses; and WHEREAS, the City of Richmond Hill continues to work toward becoming an inclusive community in which all citizens—past, present, and future—are respected and recognized for their contributions and potential contributions to our community, the state, the country, and the world; and WHEREAS, the City of Richmond Hill is proud to honor the history and contributions of African Americans in our community, throughout our state, and nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mayor Russ Carpenter, do hereby proclaim February 2021 as Black History Month in the City of Richmond Hill and urge all citizens to celebrate our diverse heritage and culture, and continue our efforts to create a world that is more just, peaceful and prosperous for all.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Richmond Hill, Georgia to be affixed this 2nd day of February, 2021.

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