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Hearing sought, denied on center
Also: new members sworn in, city enlists new garbage company
Marilyn Hodges, with son Jaydon, swears in. - photo by Ross Blair


Video of RH council members getting sworn in.

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The Jan. 8 Richmond Hill City Council meeting featured the induction of a brand new member, an update on the forthcoming Richmond Hill Conference Center and a vote that will change the garbage company that picks up residential trash in Richmond Hill.

To start the meeting, outgoing councilman Billy Albritton was honored in a speech by Mayor Richard Davis. Davis thanked him for his six years of hard work and awarded him with a plaque and an engraved desk clock commemorating his years as a councilman.

Immediately following, Judge Bob Pirkle and newly elected council person Marilyn Hodges stepped to the front of the meeting hall. Pirkle asked Hodges if she wanted anyone to stand with her and she beckoned her son Jaydon, 9. Jaydon, who received the key to the city this past year for his efforts in collecting goods for Ware County firemen, even raised his right hand in synch with his mom as she was sworn in.

Jimmy Hires was also sworn in. He defeated Van Hunter in the recent city election to retain his seat. Hires has been a councilman since January of 2006.

Davis said the next meeting will include a vote among council members to decide who among them will be Mayor Pro-Tem for 2008. Floyd Hilliard currently holds that position.

City manager Mike Melton gave an update on the conference center, which along with a proposed aquatic center was initially expected to cost around $5.5 million. Officials hope it will cost less without the aquatic center.

Richmond Hill resident and land developer Gene Brogdon, who was added to the agenda at the last minute, requested a public hearing regarding the center so that the public could voice their opinions on the project.

Brogdon said city officials should look to its residents for input before embarking on a project of such magnitude. He also said he was concerned because this project "will change J.F. Gregory Park forever."

He spoke of how, several years ago, the city planned to erect a water park but scratched those plans after many residents voiced opposition to it during a public hearing.

Melton said there was a public hearing years ago, when the project was slated to be put inside Richmond Hill Plantation.

He also said that the "conference center/aquatic center" was approved by Richmond Hill residents in a SPLOST ballot item in a past election.

Brogdon requested a vote by council to have a new public hearing concerning the conference center. They complied, but unanimously voted to deny the hearing.

Melton said if all goes according to plan, construction should begin on the center, which is slated to be built at the rear of J.F. Gregory Park, by this spring.

He said six local contractors are in contention to construct the project and they will soon be presenting their proposals to the city for consideration. The contractor will ultimately be decided on via a vote from council, said Melton.

On another topic, council voted to change the city contracted garbage collector. Currently, the city uses Republic, but it will change within 30 days to Waste Management. The bid from Waste Management was slightly lower. In addition, mayor and council said they have had too many problems with Republic, whom they have contracted with for the last ten years.

"I was following a Republic truck the other day and began to realize where most of the litter in the city comes from," Davis said as he detailed one of the problems with Republic.

Melton said Waste Management is a bigger company and the city is hoping for minimal problems during the transition.

"We anticipate a few glitches in the beginning with new service, but we routinely have problems with Republic," Melton said.

The county currently uses Republic as well.

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