At Monday’s Pembroke City Council Meeting, PPD Chief Bill Collins, who attended last week’s Governor’s Hurricane Conference, advised the mayor and council of the importance of hurricane preparedness.
"According to the experts, this is going to be one of the most active years for hurricanes in recent history," said Collins.
Collins and members of council said they were impressed with how smooth the recent forest fire evacuation went which is a good indication, but that there should be a stronger awareness as to the probability of a hurricane and the evacuation routes.
Councilman Johnny Miller talked about how the evacuation prompted the City of Pembroke to be discussed on CNN.
"A friend of mine from New York brought it to my attention when he called to see if I was OK," said Miller. Miller also said he would like there to be meetings organized to take place in numerous locations of the city in order to relay pertinent information about hurricane preparedness.
The suggested hurricane evacuation route for Pembroke is Highway 280 through Reidsville to 341 to I-75.
Collins also gave an update on the brand new Pembroke Police Department sub-station which is located at 392 South Main Street in a renovated 3,000-square foot building in front of the Frank O. Miller housing project. He said a ribbon cutting ceremony is forthcoming.
The city of Claxton, which owns the land and building, has agreed to provide the housing and utilities for the PPD with council approving the lease agreement this night.
"This is a huge commitment from the city of Claxton to donate this space that we so very much need," said Collins. He added that the building will have additional office space for officers and other facilities for the growing department.
On another topic, Collins said the crime and accident rates are currently a bit high, but told council there is no need to panic as it usually is up this time of year due to more tourists traveling through and kids being out of school.Finally, Collins spoke of a $15,000 donation from Old Castle Precast which was approved by council for acceptance. The money will go toward a replacement trailer for the Fatal Vision equipment, which is utilized for teen alcohol awareness. Collins said Old Castle has committed to match these funds annually in order to help the department out in other areas as well. This is stemming from a power point presentation Collins conducted to the company’s corporate office in Atlanta where he explained all of the different programs the PPD conducts to enhance the community.
In other business:
• A resolution was approved for application of the 2008-2009 D.O.T. Transportation Enhancement Fund which would be applied toward the third phase of the downtown streetscape project. Mayor Judy Cook explained that the previously approved funding for the second phase is going through the standardized process in Atlanta in order to differentiate the two. Phase two is structured to continue the streetlights on the strip in front of BP and the telephone company and connect the sidewalk on Camelia to the downtown area for school traffic. Phase three will construct sidewalks from the caboose area to the city park.
• Accountant Paine Bacon reported that the city’s audit for fiscal year 2006 came back with a "clean opinion" which means a good bill of health for all governmental accounts.
• Council approved funding $7,000 in funding for the local YMCA summer camp program to go toward funding a coordinator and counselor. The already-approved amount was originally scheduled to go toward a lifeguard, but the pool can not be used by the organization while construction of the nearby community center is ongoing.
• Mayor Cook proclaimed June "Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month" which was initiated by a local resident who is suffering from the rare disease.
• The contract with the Georgia Department of Corrections Women’s Detention Center was renewed. The contract entails 12 supervised inmates doing miscellaneous city work for an annual $37,000 fee.
• Pembroke resident and avid bicyclist Angela Reed was appointed as a citizen representative for coastal Georgia’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
• Parcels of land on Benton and Harn Street were approved for condemnation into city property as there are no listed owners on the tax digest.
• The height requirement for city buildings was adjusted from 60 feet to 35 feet. This was brought to the table by residents who were concerned about potential large apartment projects coming to town. 60 feet is also in violation of local fire codes.
• City planner Wynn Carney detailed some of the work he has done on the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan is a mandatory requirement by the state and is due by July of next year. Carney said he plans on doing a public survey to "see how residents want the city to grow. There’s a lot of growth here, and we want to make sure it is smart growth."