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City Council takes action to make tornado recovery more efficient

Americus Mayor and City Council met for their regular meeting on August 20, 2021. To begin the meeting Brandi Lunneborg, CEO of Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC), brought a COVID-19 update. There are 31 patients at PSMC. The peak at PSMC in April of 2020 was 37 patients. However, the patient numbers in all the Phoebe systems are greater than April of 2020. The typical bed capacity at PSMC is 40, currently there are 31 beds being utilized by COVID-19 positive patients. The average age of the patient is 57 years old. Of those in the hospital, 80% are not vaccinated. Lunneborg refers to the current status as a “uncontrolled spread.” Later she stated PSMC is seeing a “pretty alarming set of statistics. There is a major cause for concern.”

A resident addressed council regarding grass growth on the lot located next to her property. After hearing her concerns, the council approved the consent agenda unanimously. The meeting then moved into voting items. Although scheduled for a vote this month, the noise ordinance associated with the use of fireworks has been tabled for the September meeting. A Watershed Protection Plan costing about $24,000 was unanimously passed. A speed bump was unanimously approved for Rose Avenue to be located between South Lee Street and Valley Drive. Americus Police Department is also working in the area to control traffic. The next three votes related to working towards getting a new business, Americus Fresh, housed in Sumter County. The city will provide utilities and work with the Sumter County Payroll Development Authority. In addition, there will be an intergovernmental agreement between the county and the city to provide water and sewer services. Although on the agenda, no council member furthered the discussion of the process to appoint a municipal court judge. The city unanimously approved a resolution establishing a state of emergency related to the August 17, 2021 tornado. Ordinance changes were also considered in an effort to make recovering from the tornado more efficient and effective. The changes, such as elimination of fees, will be effective for the affected areas and will last no longer than six months. If longer than six months is needed, the council can vote to extend the changed ordinance. The council unanimously passed the changes. In further action secondary to the tornado, the city suspended the rules and addressed the consequences for overcharging for goods and services during an emergency.

The city manager gave an update. There are steps being taken to have a tax sale in December. September’s First Friday is September 3, 2021 and will celebrate going back to school. Citywide clean-up will be September 18, 2021. City employees are working together for the betterment of the citizens as the tornado recovery continues. Powell recognized several entities who have helped in the efforts and especially highlighted how well the city and the county professionals worked together.  Mayor Blount highlighted other municipalities volunteering and vocalized our community’s responsibility to help out in-kind when we have the opportunity. Lou Chase also added her appreciation for employees’ efforts in the tornado recovery.

After executive session the council approved two appointments of citizens to authorities.