2009-06-11 / Front Page

City council discusses seniors, vets, DDA at regular meeting

By KIP BURKE news editor

The Washington City Council discussed a variety of subjects at Monday night's regular meeting, including the Wilkes County Senior Center, an extended outreach to veterans, and appointments to the Downtown Development Authority.

Continuing a discussion that began at a meeting last week, council members finally learned that the "Senior Center board," that one council member wanted a seat on, was in fact an advisory council. Maceo Mahoney said that the "senior center board" had not met in a year, and wanted the city to be able to appoint members to this board.

Wilkes County Senior Center Advisory Council member Cindy Bounds pointed out that there was no "board" and that the advisory council had met regularly and reported to the county.

Mayor Willie Burns said that city participation in the senior center governance would be brought up in the upcoming Service Delivery Strategy meetings with the county.

Representing the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Medical Center in Augusta, Marilynn Jones said she was visiting rural counties as part of a new strategy to enroll veterans. "There are 1.5 million veterans in Georgia not using their benefits," she said. "We want to be their primary choice for health care, not a secondary choice."

Mayor Burns made his appointments to the Downtown Development Authority after considering requests for certain minority candidates to be considered. Rejecting those requests, Burns appointed Karen Carter to an unfilled term, and Deborah Rainey and Pam Eaton were re-appointed. The council confirmed the appointments by a vote of 3-2, with Councilmen Cullars and Mahoney opposing, and Councilman Eaton abstaining.

The council approved a request for a beer and wine license for Mike's Bar and Grill, Mike Carroll owner, to be located at the former Farmers' Market on N. Allison Street. They also approved a request from Lane Thigpen to sell baked goods on the Square on June 13 and 20.

The council also approved a resolution to extend by 60 days a deadline to finish the city/county Service Delivery Strategy, and a resolution to forward the community section of the city's redevelopment plan to the RDC.

Tourism Director Ashley Barnett reminded the council that Washington and her office would be welcoming some 1,400 BRAG bicycle riders for an overnight stay Friday and helping them get downtown to shop and dine. Barnett also noted that April's hotel-motel taxes were up 27 percent compared to April 2008, and that requests for information packets on the WashingtonWilkes. org website were up 71 percent. The site logged some 2,700 visitors in just five days, she said.

Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce Board president Allan Soto reported that all the funds were raised for the July 3 fireworks celebration "in less than an hour," and that the Chamber's membership drive had gained 31 new members in the last month.

David Jenkins reported that Bruce Fitzgerald had been doing a parking survey of cars downtown for downtown merchants, and that the Rusher Street redevelopment is preparing to put out a request for proposals for homebuilders.

The meeting ended with an Executive Session for personnel in which no action was taken.

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