Americus City Council Meeting Honors Veterans and Discusses Cycling, Lawn Care, and the Definition of a Church

Published 9:34 pm Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Americus City Council honored several veterans in attendance, many of whom were members of Post 558. Council member Nelson Brown made a statement honoring their accomplishments and saluted them.
President of the Georgia non-profit Sumter Cycling Ryan Iafigliola addressed the council regarding a recreational trail. Iafigliola stated that Sumter Cycling was willing to talk to landowners about potential sites and start looking for grants on behalf of the City. He asked for up to 40,000 dollars for a cost and feasibility study out of the Splost money designated for the trail. Mayor Lee Kinnamon encouraged him to set up a meeting with staff.
Kinnamon also addressed a letter from the Sumter Humane Society.
“Their proposal is that they act as a third-party contractor to fill the need of an animal shelter.”
As a third party contractor, the Sumter Humane Society would seek $325,000 dollars. The mayor gave the current amount given to the shelter.
“$80,000 from our budget and $50,000 from the County’s budget.”
Brown addressed the Board concerning the 3-minute limit allotted for each citizen during citizens comments.
“We should be able to listen to our citizens. That’s who we are working for.”
Council member Nicole Smith commented.
“I agree partially with councilmember Nelson. We want to hear the concerns of our citizens. But my concern is we don’t want to make it a bashing against any of the council. The actions that we take, sometimes our citizens cannot know the process or procedure.”
Council member Daryl Dowdell commented.
“I remember back when this ordinance was prepared, I was stern on not going to three minutes.
Charles Christmas commented.
“We can get into a situation in where we get a meeting and that’s all there is. I don’t disagree that hearing from the public is important, and it’s important to hear concerns, but it doesn’t seem like we’ve had a huge issue with people going past the three-minute mark.”
Nelson made another comment addressing the former five citizen, five minutes apiece rule.
“What is 25 minutes for us to listen to our citizens?”
Nelson then made a motion to instruct the city attorney to draw up an ordinance amending the time from three to five minutes.
Dowdell seconded the motion which passed with Smith and Kinnamon for it and Christmas, Kelvin Pless, and Juanita Wilson against.
The Council then discussed the cost and quality of lawn maintenance contractors. Dowdell addressed problems with the contractors.
“They are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
Christmas addressed the Council.
“Why don’t we have someone managing our contractors out there every week?”
Smith asked for a checklist.
After the discussion of lawn maintenance, the council voted unanimously to accept the grant from the State for lead and copper inspection.
The council received a request to amend the alcoholic beverage license ordinance to allow an event center to serve alcoholic beverages along the premises during events, despite it’s proximity to an unoccupied church building.
Juanita Wilson commented.
“It doesn’t matter that that church is not occupied. It is a church.”
Jimmey Skipper gave the definition of a church in the alcoholic beverages license.
“It’s a permanent building where persons regularly assemble for religious service. . .”
Councilmember Smith questioned City Attorney Jimmy Skipper about the unoccupied property.
“It’s for sale now. If we change our ordinance, and a church purchases it, hypothetically, would we have to change our ordinance?”
Skipper clarified, mentioning the main problem would be getting a renewal.
“The licenses are issued annually. When they came around for a new license, it would be a problem.”
Smith questioned Skipper.
“Even if we changed our ordinance locally, we won’t comply State wise because it’s still a building?”
Skipper responded.
“Under State law, it says that no distilled spirits can be sold or for sale in one hundred yards of any church building.”
Kinnamon clarified.
“Under the state law, beer and wine would be acceptable, but distilled Spirits not acceptable, under the terms of the State law?”
Skipper mentioned that alcoholic beverages are all lumped together in the city code but considered separately at the State level. Skipper further clarified.
“Beer and wine is not what’s being asked for, because that’s not mixed drinks.”
Dowdell made a motion for the city attorney to draft changes for acceptable beverages, which was seconded by Smith, passing with only Wilson opposed.
The City Manager announced that the police department was recently CALEA accredited. Afterward the Council adjourned without executive session.