Council members Brett Ledbetter and Jacqueline Bridges were sworn back into office Monday night for another term.
Ledbetter was first elected to the Carrollton City Council in November 2019, to fill the remainder of former council member Rory Wojcik’s term.
And in the 2021 Elections, Ledbetter defeated Brent Harris with 71% of the votes.
“If I sound like a cheerleader for Carrollton, you would be right,” said Ledbetter. “I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Originally from Carrollton, Ledbetter is a member of Carrollton First United Methodist Church, where he serves on the Board of Trustees.
Ledbetter also operates Ledbetter Construction (licensed contractors in Georgia and Alabama) and holds a Georgia real estate broker’s license.
“Having been born and raised in Carrollton, I know the city well,” said Ledbetter. “I’ve spent the past 41 years running local businesses in Carrollton, and I’m proud to call this community my home.
“Together, with the help of the citizens and other community leaders, I want to enhance the quality of life for all who have chose Carrollton as their home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Together, we can keep Carrollton the best place to live in Georgia.”
On the other hand, Bridges was elected in June of 2020 to fill the unexpired term of former Ward 1 Council member Gerald Byrd.
“I won by 297 votes in the election to complete Mr. Byrd’s term, and I think since that time a lot has been accomplished — such as the renovations at the Midtown Water Park and work on the streets in Ward 1,” said Bridges. “But, there is still much to be done.”
In 2021, Bridges was appointed to serve as the Mayor Pro Tem in the absence of Mayor Betty Cason.
In addition to her business and civic work, Bridges is a motivational speaker and coaches girls basketball through the Carrollton Parks and Recreation Department.
She established her own nonprofit, Reconnecting Back with the Community, in June 2019 and graduated from the Ministry International Institute Bible College as an associate minister in March 2020.
The City of Whitesburg also held a swearing in ceremony for city officials in their first meeting of the year.
Those given the oath of offices were council members William Smolar, Chris Lewis, Donna Whitley, and Lucy Gamble as well as Mayor Amy Williford.
Living up to its name of being a “cooperative,” the Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative (CEMC) sent crews during the last several days to northern and eastern Georgia to assist sister EMCs in the restoration of power in Habersham County and Newton County where thousands of customers suffered outages.
The organization’s assistance to sister EMCs on the other side of the state came on the heels of devoting many hours of work during the past weekend in restoring power in local areas. Crews worked for three days to return electricity to customers after a tornado touched down briefly Friday afternoon in a narrow two and one-half mile corridor between Temple and Villa Rica.
“We have eight linemen traveling to Habersham EMC,” said Tommy Cook, vice president of operations for Carroll EMC, “and an additional crew went to assist the Snapping Shoals EMC after strong winds took down trees and power lines weakened from the weekend’s storms in both areas.”
Habersham County is located approximately 135 miles northeast of Carrollton, and Newton County is 85 miles east.
Frigid winds of up to 40 mph blew the warmer than usual temperatures out of the area overnight Sunday night and took power from more than 6,000 members of Snapping Shoals EMC in Newton County. Already dampened grounds and weakened trees from the storms over the New Year’s holiday combined with the winter weather caused electric structures to give way across the northern portion of the state.
According to Tommy Cook, vice president of operations for Carroll EMC, the organization assists other cooperatives approximately 2-4 times per year. During 2021, Carrol EMC sent crews to assist with power restoration in tornado ravaged Newnan, an ice storm in Kentucky, and hurricanes that hit southeastern Georgia and Louisiana.
Cook explained that assistance for co-ops in Georgia is normally coordinated through the EMCs’ statewide association, Georgia EMC.
“If we need help, we contact GEMC and they reach out to other co-ops for support,” explained Cook, “and if someone else needs help, GEMC might contact us.”
Consequently, trucks with the Carroll EMC logo are sometimes seen traveling across various highways and interstates that are miles away from their home base in Carrollton as locally based crews answer the call for assistance from fellow EMCs.
Cook said that if Georgia’s co-ops need assistance from out of state or if other states need help, GEMC coordinates efforts with the statewide organizations.
Mutual aid from sister cooperatives, including Carroll EMC once any local outages have been restored, arrived to help restore power to the remaining members of the co-ops.
“The tornado (between Temple and Villa Rica) Friday evening caused more than 1,000 outages, and the cold front Sunday night caused widespread, small outages across the system,” Jarrod Kilgore, system engineering supervisor for Carroll EMC, said.
“Strong winds kept our crews working most of the weekend replacing broken poles and repairing damaged lines,” he added.
Carroll EMC is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity to approximately 52,000 homes and businesses. The co-op serves members in Carroll, Haralson, Heard, Paulding, Polk, Floyd and Troup counties.
The first meeting of the Carrollton City Council for 2022 was eventful, but maybe not as eventful as it could have been.
In her first orders of business after a pre-meeting swearing-in ceremony, Mayor Betty Cason appointed council member Brett Ledbetter to serve as the Mayor Pro Tem.
The Mayor Pro Tem is responsible for stepping in and performing Mayor duties in the absence of the official Mayor.
Last year, council member Jacqueline Bridges was appointed as the Mayor Pro Tem.
“Each year, we rotate that around,” said Cason. “I just want to say to councilmen Bridges, thank you for last year. She did a great job of representing the city when I was not able to.
“And this year, I’m going to appoint councilmen Ledbetter for the 2022 year. I know that he will do great and I’m looking forward to it.”
Before appointing Ledbetter as the Mayor Pro Tem, council members voted to amend their agenda to remove a rezoning request and special use permit that would be used to construct a recycling sorting center for commercial and consumer metal and concrete on the property.
According to city officials, the applicant made a similar rezoning and special use request in 2019, but withdrew his request prior to consideration by the Mayor and City Council.
A motion to amend the agenda was then carried over.
Once the agenda was amended, council members voted to approve a rezoning request at 120 Columbia Drive from M-1 (light industry) to C-2 (general commercial).
The vote was approved unanimously.
The applicant and property owner, Kinjalben Patel, is requesting a rezoning to re-establish a restaurant or commercial use at 120 Columbia Drive.
The property has historically been used as a restaurant (Rocky’s); however, it operated as a legal non-conforming use since restaurants are not permitted in the M-1 (light industry) zoning district.
With legal non-conforming uses, if the use is inactive for more than six months, it is no longer permitted to continue without rezoning.
The subject tract is 0.73 acres and is currently developed with a vacant restaurant and an associated parking lot.
The property has not been used as a restaurant since 2017.
Staff recommends that the street trees and a 10-foot landscape strip be installed along the Columbia Drive right-of-way in accordance with the landscaping requirements set forth in Section 4.07.00 of the Unified Development Ordinance.
In a letter to the Mayor and City Council, Patel said if the request is approved, the property and the existing structure will be leased to a commercial user, possibly as a restaurant.
Council members then moved into the bid awards for the 2021 Dixie Street Sewer Pipe Burst/ Rehab. This project consists of sewer rehab and pipe bursting approximately 2,250 feet of 8-inch clay sewer main.
The project requires that all of the in-service piping be replaced that is currently within the right-of-way and/or under asphalt (including mains and laterals).
A request for proposal (RFP) was issued and proposals/ bids were received and opened on Dec. 21. Compass Environmental Group bid $267,432 with a 9.70 score, RDJE, Inc. bid $445,600 with a 8.13 score, and Site Engineering, Inc. bid $688,500 with a 7.29 score.
Given that this was an RFP, price was not the sole criteria for selection. And City Staff recommend that the Mayor and Council award the 2021 Dixie Street Sewer Pipe Burst/ Rehab project to Compass Environmental Group in the amount of $267,432.
Council members voted unanimously to accept the bid going from Compass Environmental Group.
Per the food truck ordinance that was adopted in October 2020, food truck locations are subject to the review and approval of the Mayor and City Council on an annual basis.
Currently, there are seven active food truck permits for 2021. The locations are 120 North Park Street (Moore’s Chapel United Methodist Church), 401 Bankhead Highway (Pelican Snoball), 1654 Maple Street (Jill Duncan State Farm), 302 South Street (Cheers), 1101 Alabama Street (Citgo gas station), 1655 Highway 27 South (Lowe’s), and 110 North Park Street (Southern Home and Ranch).
Staff has not had any issues with any of the above-referenced locations and recommends approval of each of them for next year.
Council members approved the review unanimously.
The next item discussed was a floating holiday. The City of Carrollton currently offers the following 10 paid holidays: New Year’s Day, MLK Holiday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
City Manager David Brooks asked that the Mayor and Council add an additional holiday for the city workers as a reward for the hard work they do day in and day out.
“This floating holiday can be taken on a federal holiday that we don’t currently observe whether it be President’s Day or whatever the case may be,” said Brooks.
“It gives everyone a chance to celebrate a special holiday that we don’t offer that is very near and dear to them.”
The vote was approved unanimously.
Lastly, council members voted to approve recommended rescheduling for regular Mayor and Council meetings and monthly work session dates.
The regular meeting dates for the Mayor and Council meetings are the first Monday of each month. However, there are three meetings that will conflict with holidays and area school breaks.
The April 4, 2022 meeting will be rescheduled for April 11, 2022 due to area school spring breaks. The July 4, 2022 meeting will fall on Independence Day and needs to be rescheduled for July 11, 2022. The Sept. 5, 2022 meeting will fall on the Labor Day Holiday and needs to be rescheduled for Sept. 12, 2022.
The vote was approved unanimously.
Sometimes the worst of times brings out the worst in people.
Such is often the case even during the aftermath of natural disasters such as the tornado that carved a 2.5 mile, 50-100 yard wide path through a portion of northern Carroll County late Friday afternoon and damaged several homes.
Before affected homeowners could crank up their chainsaws many victims were getting phone calls and hearing knocks on their front doors from people offering a variety of repair and cleanup services. Some were legitimate, but many could have been “storm chase scams,” a term used in a posting on the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office website which alerts residents to be prepared to be contacted by such individuals.
“Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out contractors taking advantage of those who have already been victimized,” the post noted.
A homeowner who lives near Temple and suffered damage to his home told the Times-Georgian earlier this week that he had both unsolicited visits and calls within a few hours after the tornado hit from contractors who wanted to provide him with estimates to repair the storm damage to his home.
In such instances, citing the Better Business Bureau, the sheriff’s office warned residents of out-of-town contractors coming into the area looking to get their business on home repairs.
Even if the contractors aren’t running a scam, the sheriff’s office noted in its warning, “They may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t deliver.”
The post also noted that local contractors can unwittingly get roped into scams by “storm chasers” who offer to pay local construction companies substantial amounts of money to use the business’ established name, reputation and phone number.
“They masquerade as a local business, collect the insurance money and then move on, leaving the real business to deal with unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship, unfinished work, or unfulfilled warranties,” the post stated.
Also in its news release, the sheriff’s office provided four tips to homeowners who suffer storm damage to their home and other property:
Another suggestion, although not mentioned in the release, would be for the homeowner to get references from known sources who can verify and endorse the dependability and the quality of work provided by a contractor who may be hired to perform the work.
One homeowner who suffered storm damage, but who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons, said that he heard a knock on his door late Saturday morning following the Friday night storm.
“I had just come in from putting one of those blue tarps on my roof to patch an area where several shingles had been blown off,” he said, “and I heard a knock on my front door. It was a guy who offered to give me an estimate to fix my roof.”
“After I asked him for specific information on his business and for references, he said he had to go make a call. He didn’t come back.”
The United Way lists on its website a list of of red flags that you are dealing with a scammer and not a legitimate business:
Other suggestions noted by the United Way include:
According to Ashley Hulsey, communications director for Carroll County government, although there had been no reports of storm scams as of Monday afternoon, the purpose of the Sheriff’s Office post on its website was to serve as a “preemptive measure to let our citizens know that these things occur and to be aware.”