Elected Council Members sworn in at Americus City Council Regular Meeting

Published 7:38 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

AMERICUS – On Thursday, December 21, the Americus City Council (ACC) had the second of its two monthly meetings. At that meeting, newly elected Council Member Terence Clemons, along with incumbent council members Nelson Brown and Daryl Dowdell, were each sworn in to serve terms on the ACC.

Judge Rucker Smith administered the oath of office to Council Member Nelson Brown, Judge Stephanie Bennett administered the oath of office to Council Member Daryl Dowdell and Judge Crystal Cleveland administered the oath of office to newly elected Council Member Terence Clemons.

Newly elected Council Member Terence Clemons (right) is sworn in by Judge Crystal Cleveland (left).
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Clemons is taking the place of out going Council Member Juanita Wilson, who will be stepping down. Wilson was honored for her years of service by Mayor Lee Kinnamon with an official proclamation and was given several gifts, including the “Key to the City of Americus” plaque.

In other news from the meeting, the ACC had a discussion of naming Council Member Nelson Brown as the Mayor Pro Tem for 2024. Council Member Juanita Wilson made a motion to make Brown the Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member Dowdell seconded the motion. The ACC voted and the motion carried unanimously.

Council Member Daryl Dowdell (right) is sworn in for another term by Judge Stephanie Bennett (left).
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The ACC also had a discussion about the 2024 Budget Ordinance. Council Member Charles Christmas had a concern about revenues. “The only question I had about it with some of the increases that were in there. After looking over it and going through it, I’m a little concerned about the revenue that it’s going to take in order to get to where we need to go,” Christmas said. Council Member Juanita Wilson stated that being that budget adjustments can be done throughout the year, she believed that it would solve the ACC’s problem and that they could move forward with what they have. “If we could not do the budget adjustments as we go along, then that would concern me because we could not solve our problem,” Wilson said. “But because of that, we can solve our problem.” Wilson made a motion to adopt the 2024 Budget and Council Member Nicole Smith seconded the motion. The ACC voted, with all Council Members accept Council Member Dowdell, who opposed the motion.

In other news from the meeting, the ACC voted unanimously to place two temporary speed bumps on Sharon Circle for 90 days. Interim Public Works Director David Wooden told the ACC that they all should have received an email stating suggestions made by City Attorney Jimmy Skipper. “At the last meeting, Mr. Skipper was asked to take the policy that we have and go over it and look at it,” Wooden said. “You all should have received an email with the suggestions that he made. The issue with our policy now is that the policy does establish criteria as to where a traffic calming device can be placed, but it doesn’t directly address when it should be approved or authorized.” Wooden went on to say that Skipper made suggestions regarding language that should be added to the policy moving forward. “That can’t be done tonight, but based off the information that we gave you last week in regards to the data that was collected from the traffic calming device that was placed, the decision is yours as to whether or not the speed bumps get approved or not,” Wooden said.

Council Member Nelson Brown (right) is sworn in for another term by Judge Rucker Smith (left).
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Mayor Lee Kinnamon asked Council Member Dowdell if he had any questions or comments. Dowdell stated that he stands firmly and strongly about what he said at the meeting the week before. “It’s dangerous over there and I would hate to see one of my constituents get run over just by checking their mail box or sweeping up the side walk,” Dowdell said. Dowdell went on to say that he would like to see the speed bumps put in even if it was just temporary. “I question the traffic calming device that is already over there, the radar,”Dowdell said. He went on to say that he spoke to Americus Police Chief Mark Scott about it. Chief Scott, who was at the meeting, stated that if the traffic calming device isn’t working, then it has to be sent back to the company that made it. Dowdell went on to reiterate that he would like to see some type of temporary traffic calming device put in place.

Council Member Juanita Wilson asked City Attorney Jimmy Skipper if they can install a temporary speed bump with the present ordinance in place. Skipper responded by saying that there is no ordinance, just a policy. He also stated that there is nothing that says you cannot place temporary speed bumps. Council Member Kelvin Pless stated that Dowdell believes that this is a life or death and safety issue. Kinnamon then asked Wooden if it is possible to place a temporary speed bump. Wooden replied that if the council wants to do, it can be done. “I would like to mention one more thing. The only other issue with the policy that we do have in place, and Chief Scott can speak to this too, was the signatures, the actual signatures from the property owners,” Wooden said. “According to the policy, I don’t think the number of signatures was met.”

Dowdell asked Skipper and City Manager Deidra Powell what could be done to get enough signatures and to speed up the process. Attorney Skipper stated that there is a provision in the ordinance that stated that the city reserves the right to install traffic controlling devices without a resident petition, as circumstances require.

“You can wave the petition. You just can’t wave the other stuff,” Skipper said. He went on to say that it doesn’t prevent the ACC from voting that night to install speed bumps. Skipper went on to suggest to the ACC that if they were to vote to install temporary traffic controlling devices to give the staff some direction as to what they mean by temporary. Dowdell made a motion to install two temporary speed bumps on Sharon Circle and that they would remain there for 90 days. Council Member Nicole Smith seconded the motion. The ACC voted and the motion carried unanimously.

In other news from the meeting, Interim Public Works Director David Wooden told the ACC that two pumps at the Mucklee Lift Station went down. “The Mucklee Lift Station is designed to run off of four pumps and three quarters of the city’s flow goes to that lift station,” Wooden said. “What we are requesting is we would like to take the two pumps that are down and send them off to have them rebuilt.”

Wooden went on to say that he is concerned that if there is another rain event or if another pump goes down, they would have to rent a diesel bypass pump and it would cost $9,600 per month. “The rebuild cost on the pump is actually $23,723 each so if we don’t move forward and we have to rent a pump, we’re going to have half that expense tied up into something that’s temporary and we’re going to have to wind up rebuilding the pumps anyway,” Wooden said. “What we are requesting is to have the two pumps rebuilt for a total cost of $47,446 to get that lift station back up to 100 percent.”

Council Member Kelvin Pless asked Wooden how long it would take to repair the pumps. Wooden replied that it would take three to four weeks.

Council Member Daryl Dowdell asked Wooden about the other two pumps and whether or not they needed to be repaired as well. Mile Rouse Jacobs replied that they need a spare pump. “Two more pumps would put us at 100 percent at that lift station. We need a spare,” Jacobs said. “The Mill Creek Lift Station uses that exact same pump. The spare would serve both stations. If we lost a pump at Mill Creek, one pump would not hold that one. We would need one to go in immediately, or we would have to rent the diesel bypass. The same spare works for both stations. If we were at 100 percent at Mucklee and we lose one, then we are on a wing and a prayer. If we lose two, we’re in trouble like we are now.”

Mayor Kinnamon entertained a motion for an allocation of funds to repair the two damaged pumps. Council Member Charles Christmas made a motion for approval and Council Member Kelvin Pless seconded the motion. The ACC voted and the motion carried unanimously.