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Brooklet Candidates Share Vision for City During Candidate Forum

Brooklet Council and Mayoral Candidates weigh in on a number of issues at Brooklet Kiwanis Candidate Forum

The six gentlemen vying for three open seats in local government in the City of Brooklet shared their vision for the town during a candidates forum hosted by the Brooklet Kiwanis Club Tuesday evening.

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After a prayer and invocation by Coach Fred Shaver and the Rules of Order by John Frazier, Post 1 Council candidates Nicky Gwinnett and Jason Knight, Post 2 Candidates Brad Anderson and Ed Dinello, and Mayoral candidates Joe Grooms III and Charles “Charlie” Howell were welcomed introduced to the nearly full community center building. 

Dal Cannady moderated the forum and offered each candidate two minutes to offer an opening statement. The floor was then opened up to the public to ask questions. 


Post 1 Council Candidate – Nicky Gwinnett 

“Thank you for coming out tonight. Thank you to the Kiwanis Club. Little bit about me, my

Nicky Gwinnett, Candidate for Post 1 City Council

name is Nicky Gwinnett, born here, been here all my life, graduated from Southeast Bulloch, I’ve been a business owner in this town for 35 years, two children, married, I got a lot invested in this town and I just love it with all my heart.

A few things that I’d kind of like to do here if I win the election – 

One thing that’s always bugged me, people who own property in this town don’t have a right to vote. I think that as long you own property and have to pay taxes on it, I’d love to find them a way to right to vote, especially when they’re voting on things that affect their property. 

One of the other things I’ve been thinking about is the fact that the town needs to learn how to generate revenue. Not saying we don’t already but we need to increase it. And one thing I think we may need to consider is getting back in the garbage business because it was a good way when I was on the city council prior. 

That’s another thing, I did serve a 4-year term some years back so I have a little experience there. The other thing at this time that’s become a problem is the traffic at the elementary school is out of hand. One thing I would like to see attempted is an entrance off of Highway 80 with a red light system that works during school times. I don’t know if that’s doable but it’s something I’d certainly like to do. 

One of my other ideas is the fact that this water system in this town is old, 70+ years, somewhere along the way somebody’s got to make a plan to replace this stuff because I know there are still concrete asbestos water lines in this town and we’ve got to make a plan to replace the old and aging water system. 

Post 1 Council Candidate – Jason Knight

“Good evening everyone, thanks for coming and thanks for the Kiwanis Club for putting this on. My name is Jason Knight, I was born and raised in this area. A lot of you know my

Jason Knight, Candidate for Post 1 City Council

mom and dad and my grandparents. We lived in Utah for six years and moved back to Pooler and our choice was Richmond Hill, Rincon, or Brooklet. My wife and I talked about it and we wanted the school system and I wanted my kids to be a part of that. As far as different things I would like to work on:

We need to get a budget together, we need to make sure we are spending our money and time wisely in this town. We can’t just be throwing stuff around, make sure it’s spent wisely and on what citizens need in the city.

Another big thing that I believe is that has been lost in the past two or three years is trust and respect from residents to city officials and how my biggest thing is to bring trust back as much as possible. I’m always there, anybody can call me. I’m always right here. Thank you. 

Post 2 Council Candidate – Brad Anderson

“My name is Brad Anderson, I’m running for Post 2. I would like to say  thank you to the Kiwanis CLub for hosting us and their hospitality, it’s much appreciated and a great opportunity for the community. Little bit about me, I graduated from Statesboro High School in 1990, I have seen him in class from time-to-time (referencing). I graduated from Georgia Southern University, married another Bulloch County  native and we were looking for a home that had great schools, with that small town atmosphere to raise children and Brooklet was the choice and we’re very pleased that that’s our home. 

We have a 15-year-old and a 19-year-old. The 19-year-old is going to Georgia Southern.

Brad Anderson – Candidate for City Council Post 2

The work I do, I’ve been in education for 23 years, 20 of those years have been in education administration. I also worked with DFCS for a year and a half but figured I needed to do something quick and decided to go into education. The folks at DFCS do a fabulous job, but it’ll tear your heart out. 

Why am I doing this? Why am I interested in this position? Communities and businesses have a lot in common. In the business world,  obviously, you’ve got to make sure your product is marketable, you’ve got to make sure your product appeals to the customer base that you have – communities are similar. You’ve got to meet the needs of your community and one of the things that we all know is that in the business world, you’re either moving forward or falling back. There’s no such thing as staying status quo and what I want is to be apart of Brooklet moving forward, but moving forward and keeping that small town charm, which is obviously essential. Be, obviously, a great place for people to raise families, that people want to live, and that’s m y goal in terms of helping to ensure that. 

Post 2 Council Candidate – Ed DiNello

“Tough to follow that, Brad, good job. Thank you everyone for coming out and also Kiwanis for hosting this event. I’m a first time candidate for any office. A little bit about me – my name is Ed Dinello. My family has been here since the late 70s. Moved here when I was three, I’ve been in Bulloch County most of my life. Been in Brooklet city for the last 13

Ed DiNello — Candidate for City Council Post 2

years and it’s been a great experience. I love this community, I love this town. I graduated from Statesboro High, don’t hold that against me. Then graduated from Georgia Southern, about me – my first job was RJ’s Steakhouse so Randy NeSmith taught me a lot about work ethic and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I went to work for U.S. Foods and I have been with them for 20 years, sales manager with them, so I’m used to handling a lot of drama. You wouldn’t think food service would be as….aggressive as it sounds.

Couple things I would like to address, priority – definitely water. I think our water system is in dire need of some upgrades. Another big thing is I would like to make council more accessible to citizens. I think everyone is going to have a grievance from time to time or have a dust up with a decision or maybe there’s a decision by the city council that goes against what the citizens wants. I think a lot of our issues could be handled a lot better with an open door policy, not rush to drama. All it does is tarnishes our great city. We can do better. That’s me. 

Mayoral Candidate – Joe Grooms III

“My name is Joe Grooms, you’ve probably seen my signs as “Joey Grooms III,” let me explain this. My nickname is Joe-Joe. I had three Joes in the house – my daddy was Joe, my granddaddy was Joe, and I was Joe so when somebody got in trouble and they hollered ‘Joe,’ we all came. My grandaddy’s name was Joe, daddy was RT, and I got stuck with Joe-Joe. Don’t mind it, it’s been my name and I love it.

I’m running for mayor. Brother Hendrix, which is a good friend of mine as well as a friend in

Joe Grooms III – Mayoral Candidate

Christ, told me he wasn’t going to run for city mayor again and I felt the urge in my heart to do what is right, to not change but present. Present Brooklet as it should be. I love this town. 53 ½ years. My roots run deep in this town. I was a young boy running bicycles and skateboards up and down the roads and I’m sure it was where we weren’t supposed to be. But the beauty of it was that everybody knew everybody. If something happened, mom and daddy knew about it before you got home. Today, I want this community to be the same way. Yes, we’ve got different faces. Yes we got different families coming in, but it should never change. Brooklet is a great, great city to be grown up in, to raise kids up in, we have award winning schools, we have a beautiful, beautiful town. 

Let me tell you what I’m planning on doing. Working with these people who are going to be on city council to make the changes that we need for Brooklet. There are some things – you’ve already heard water. We’ve got some drainage issues, right now with all the rain we’re getting. There’s no reason to point fingers and say somebody hasn’t done anything, but there is a time when somebody says, ‘You know what, if you’ve got a complaint, do something about it.’ That’s why I’m running for City Council as Mayor. I appreciate your time. 

Mayoral Candidate – Charles “Charlie” Howell

“I started with 8 pages. John’s pretty tough, I had to dump 7 of them….Thank you for coming out in the rain tonight, thank you Kiwanis for hosting us. I’m Charlie Howell and I’m the other candidate for mayor. Little bit about me – I am a veteran, retired after 20 years in

Charles “Charlie” Howell – Mayoral Candidate

the Air Force and the Georgia Air National Guard. I’ve got experience from that in aircraft maintenance, data analysis. I currently work at Fort Stewart for the Army, which is tough, but I can do it. I have experience there in budget and finance, quality assurance, quality management, project management. My wife and I are not originally from Brooklet, we grew up in Savannah. I graduated from Benedictine Military. Later I graduated from Georgia Southern as an adult. My degree is summa cum laude and I earned that while raising 3 kids, caring for my parents, serving full-time in the military, and living here in Brooklet.

There are some specific reasons that I am running. One, for those who know me and keep up with the council, I’ve been pretty vocal the last couple of years about things I wasn’t happy about. It’s my belief that if I’m going to be unhappy and vocal, when the time comes, I should step up and try to do something about it myself …so here I am.

Secondly, I believe that the best local government is a government that focuses on government things: law enforcement, water, trash collection, recordkeeping, tax administration. The town should not be a burden in anyway on the citizens. We should maintain order, discipline, you know, there’s got to be rules and laws and ordinances, but we shouldn’t be a burden. I believe that the government’s first and foremost duty is to its citizens. If somebody’s going to get a break on their taxes, on their water, on their tax collection, citizens first. 

Lastly, I believe city government has a responsibility to lead, govern, and be responsive to the citizens. If you have a question or concern, I will answer you. If the answer is ugly, well, it’s just ugly. But I owe you an answer. Thank you for your time. 

QUESTION 1: “I heard some questions about city finances. What is the financial situation of the city as y’all understand it as candidates and what do you see the issues are in terms of revenue and spending ?”

(Note: The City approved the FY 2020 budget and the 2019 millage rate in the month of October and the city budget information was dispersed to those who attended meetings at that time)

Nicky Gwinnett: I don’t know exactly how to answer that because I haven’t really studied exactly what’s going on. I think the town is probably in…certainly good shape. But with rising costs and things, we probably need a plan to take in more than we were at one time. My idea is to try to do it without raising taxes, but honestly I can’t answer that without studying it. 

Jason Knight: I really haven’t looked at the finances that closely. Brooklet seems to be OK. I think a lot of it has to do with the management of what is prioritized and what is done first and what is being pushed off a bit and I think we need to look at it as what benefits the city more, what needs to come first.

Brad Anderson: First, I have to say until I can look at the financial statements, I can’t answer that. I do know that the city tax digest has grown by $10.5 million and the city has actualized an additional $103,000 in terms of tax collections. I am a fiscal conservative and very much an advocate of that we have a strong plan in terms of addressing issues whether we need municipal bonds or whatever it is to accomplish that – grants or whatever, we need to develop a long-term plan to address those issues. But in terms of ‘Is the city in dire straights?’ It does not appear to be. 

Ed Dinello: You know, I haven’t been privy to that information, but the city council meetings that I’ve attended recently in the past six months, I really don’t know what a good balance is for a city our size. From what I gather, I think our water fund is the most stressed and that needs to be addressed. As far as that question, is the city in trouble, no I can’t answer that.

Joe Grooms III: Brooklet is not broke. Like any small town, there is a growing need for money to get things done. The only reason I say that is maintenance always costs money. One thing I can say is that more money will come back in Brooklet if we cut costs. Cut costs in all areas that we possibly can. Not to take away from the safety of our citizens, or the things that they need, but there are sometimes ways to cut spending that some people can see and work toward lowering that cost and put more money back in the budget. As far as number wise, I’m like the rest of the guys, I don’t know exactly the numbers, but we’re not broke. 

Charlie Howell: I’ve had the opportunity to attend more council meetings as Chairman of Planning & Zoning. I know that we have $1.4 million in SPLOST funds, but we’re limited in how we can use those funds. So that’s kind of a set aside. The other funds are all solvent, probably aggregate $200,000…which sounds like a lot until you have to meet payroll and cover citywide utilities and stuff like that. Offhand, I think that we are one really bad water catastrophe from being in a serious problem. We need to address that, we do need to prioritize, and we need to do it right now. 

QUESTION 2: “Obviously one of the main budget lines for the city is the police department and it’s also been a problem area. Do you think we should maintain our police department or go with the county?”

Charlie Howell: A couple years ago, the town actually did look at eliminating the police department and contracting through the county. Some problems that we had with that as citizens was one, they were actually more expensive. Two, when we’re talking about a response time, county sheriff’s could be anywhere from Portal to Stilson. Our police department is here within the city limits and our response time is around, I think, two to three minutes. The payroll is really not that bad. We have had some turmoil, I think it’s stabilized. I think the right sized police force for us is 4 or 5 full time officers, 2 to 3 part time officers because you need to give them adequate time off and you also have to figure all their court, all their training – that’s time off even though they’re not off. And we need to cover that without just absolutely wearing them out. 

Joe Grooms III: I’d echo some of the same stuff as far as using Bulloch County as a part of the police force. I do have some concerns over one thing that I see – one is that Bulloch County would feel if something did happen inside the city limits of Brooklet and Brooklet PD needed help from Bulloch County, the Sheriff’s department would make sure that we have overlapping, they both feel comfortable with the situation. To take away our police force here in Brooklet, I’m like Charlie, our response is very quick. As everyone sits in this room, and if you happen to be a resident of Brooklet, you want to know that if you call 911 you have someone on the way. I do believe the police force as a town this size can’t be too big but can’t be too small. When I say by that, when we get to a point that we keep going up in salaries, these guys have got to be taken care of, they’ve got to have their training, they’ve got to make sure that they’re meeting all the specifications, so there has to be that done in consideration.

Ed Dinello: My brother actually is a deputy with Bulloch County and I strongly believe that we need to have a Brooklet Police force. I know what Bulloch County has to do every day with their jobs, it’s not only patrol, they’re doing funeral escorts, they’re doing football games, they’re stretched thin. It all sounds good on a budget, maybe eliminate this or cut back this, until you need someone knocking on the door coming to help you in Brooklet. And that’s the same thing that EMS did, they needed us to have our own station and, you know, my sister-in-law is a part-time EMT for Brooklet and the response time was 8 to 15 minutes coming from Statesboro, IF they had a truck. And we’d have the same problem if we went with the county. Another problem is patrol. It would be a launching pad for people passing through our town – it would be the Autobahn if it was not actively policed. Ther Sheriff’s department is not going to be here every day running the streets and making sure the people who don’t respect our town aren’t zipping through it so I would say absolutely have a police department. 

Brad Anderson: I would concur with the other gentlemen in that it’s always much better to have your own staff, I think that’s important. I think two things — I think you fix, one of the questions, I think you fix it in terms of training. I think the other thing is accountability, in terms of ensuring that you have accountability and really what does the police department …I would also say, when you start looking at the cost benefit of having your police force in cases of public safety – it’s paramount. And want to know that they’re going to be riding around and patrolling. We can obviously look at it, we can research it, ways that you can cut costs and streamline it and better serve the public. 

Jason Knight: I feel the same way as some of the others and their comments. Brooklet needs their own force. They need to be trained properly, make sure they get the training from the City of Brooklet. On that note, having a force of four or five people, having a couple part-timers, but we also have to have a great rapport with the Sheriff’s Office. I used to work with the Sheriff’s Office, I understand how…you don’t know where that deputy is in this county. They could be at the Effingham County line, how long til they get to Brooklet? If something happens…as far as Bulloch County they have it bad it enough…their budget is kind of pushing it right now with the deputies they do have. So keeping our own police force, make sure it’s all good, is the best thing for us.

Nicky Gwinnett: I definitely agree we need our own police force. 

QUESTION 3: Can you talk about checks and balances within the council and the police department and how you want to open it up and transparently let the citizens know what is going on and how we can be in the loop?

Nicky Gwinnett: I’m not going to try to answer that one because the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I don’t want to answer something that I haven’t thought about, if that makes any sense. The only thing I will say, being on city council before, it is always  much better when you’ve got a crowd at city council like this. In my mind, if people would just show up to the meetings, that’s one of the best ways to keep up with what’s going on, that we could be transparent.

Jason Knight: As far as I’m concerned, the transparency – we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable. We also have got to remember as city officials that we work for y’all. So we have all the social media, sometimes people can’t get to meetings, everybody’s got a smart phone in their hands. We’ve got different ways to get in contact with people and as a city, I think we need to be smarter and use the technology we have to do that. And I don’t think that’s being done right now.

Brad Anderson: I agree with Mr. Knight on 2 points. First, the highest form of accountability is self-accountability. And then there are a host of technology that we can purchase and some of it is free in terms of that…where you can provide information. I think what’s most important would be…at least to me…making sure the minutes are truly reflective of the actual discussion and having a clear process and procedure for citizens getting involved in the process. The other things is this: complying with the open meetings act, in terms of making sure we are proving true and and accurate, honest information. I think that’s imperative. And the key, much to Alison’s comment, Erk Russell – “Do Right.” we are elected by the people to do right. 

Ed DiNello: I’d like to ask the audience, beside the zoning board and council and city officials have attended a city council meeting? See, that’s great. Myself – I’ve been very active with it, zoning board for the past six or seven months. That would be the first part. I would encourage more of citizens to come. It doesn’t have to be because you have an issue or because you’re supporting someone who might be presenting something in front of the council. There were things that came up when I addressing an issue that I was dealing with that just happened to be on the agenda with the zoning board and I was like “Oh my gosh!” and it really wakes you up to, like, things that are happening in the city. I definitely would encourage everybody to be active in the city government, whether it’s running for office or in the meetings. As far as transparency, I’m…technology is there. I think within a week, two weeks at the most…accurate notes from the meeting should be posted on the webpage or a Facebook page and says this is what was on the zoning board, this is what we handled, this is what’s coming up in city council, so there’s transparency with what’s going on. I think all city officials, you have our numbers, call any time and answer it. I do that anyways with my job, I’m always accessible. 

Joe Grooms III: First off, I’d say this. Failure is not an option when it comes to being a public servant. That means that it is my responsibility to make sure your questions are answered and your voice is heard. It is very important that everybody in this room that’s a taxpayer or citizen of the community within the city limits or even outside the city limits, this is what I say: please come to meetings. Voice your opinion. Tell us what you need because out of this room, there’s a lot of ideas and a lot of suggestions and I guarantee you that if I listen, there’s a lot of good ones. So, to be transparent, that means that nothing is done anywhere except right out in the open, right straight so you can know. Like they said, the minutes that you can look at, down to a budget, whatever happens to be the thing, whatever we’re dealing with at that moment. Because if, I myself, work out of town and I haven’t been coming to meetings like Iw as supposed to, and that’s my fault. My daddy said ‘If you want to change something, don’t gripe about it – do something about it.” In other words, come. Tell us. Let’s have a good meeting and talk to each other and find out what works and won’t don’t. And be clear about it.

Charlie Howell: First of all, we can talk about transparency but everyone needs to understand that there are limits in government to what can be discussed. For instance, personnel matters, pending litigation, real estate type stuff cannot be openly discussed until it is complete and personnel probably not even then. Other than that, I do agree that we do need some more detailed minutes in the city council and the planning and zoning. We also need to increase meeting attendance because you can read the meeting minutes, but you didn’t hear everything. Trust me. I believe, like the other candidates, that we owe the citizens an answer. When you guys ask a question, we owe you an answer and I covered that. I also think that each council meeting, I hope to implement a presentation of a financial statement – like a business balance sheet at each meeting. This is what we took in and this is what was sent out. 

QUESTION 4: In terms of police department autonomy, you talked about having a police department for the city. What do you see as your role for the city leaders and the authority it has? What is the relationship between mayor and council and the police department? Who tells who what to do?

Charlie Howell: Currently, the way the governance is that the individual council members each have an individual area of expertise, police department, streets and road, water, trash, etc. I think there needs to be two members per area so you don’t just have one opinion where maybe you could get a little tunnel vision. But, clearly the council has the authority and the council does government employees in such a way that they should be providing a good service to the community. One thing that I think that maybe needs to improve, when there is a comment on social media, it needs to be addressed to the employee. If it can’t be resolved, then there needs to be a resolution – one way or the other.

Joe Grooms III: We have a beautiful elementary school inside the city limits of Brooklet, with 5 churches inside the city limits of Brooklet, also with the midde school and the high school that’s right down the road. God forbid anything ever happen. Our police department needs to be professional because it represents Brooklet. Smoking on the campus where there shouldn’t be any smoking…I don’t believe in that. That’s my personal opinion. We can’t no longer do business like we’ve done business before because evidently some people are not proud of Brooklet because they voiced it too, that they were ashamed of how Brooklet had gotten a black eye. Well, you know, I’m not going to blame anyone because I wasn’t there to give my opinion in the meetings and to try to offer the best situation to those sitting in the seats. I promise to do the best job that I can and I’m going to tell you something, the protection of this city and the infrastructure that keeps every one of you happy and comfortable is the utmost and first and you have to know it’s being done and done right.

Ed DiNello: I agree, I think we need that police force and we all agree on but it’s got to be representative of our community. I think absolutely that should not take place. I have young children. I wouldn’t want them to see that or be exposed to that in that setting. That being said, I think it goes back to that community engagement. We’ve got to have a way for our citizens to voice things, if they want to do it anonymously, come up with a way – hey, just so we know, and I don’t want to be on the record because I don’t want to have my name out there in the small community, I don’t want to be the one ruffling any feathers, but I saw this, you all need to know….and then it needs to go to City council. And, be addressed. But I think that’s when you have that engagement with the citizens and the council and the mayor. 

Brad Anderson: Ultimately, we as council are very interested in perception and we have to understand that as public officials, I’ve been a public official for 26 years, you have to understand that you are in the public eye at all times. I think one of things is establishing a clear line of accountability, once again, in terms of whereby you have somebody who is clearly charged and those things are clearly addressed. I think, once again, you can’t negate the fact that human beings will be human beings, but I think the issue of terms of addressing it, not always ina public forum, but having those lines of accountability, organizational charts, to ensure that somebody is responsible for that and takes care of that in a timely manner.

Jason Knight: One council member over each section of the city – that’s all well, but you also need to hold hat council member accountable by using the other council members to question what’s going on. So what’s going on, as far as the cigarettes on school property, it’s already a smoke-free zone. It shouldn’t be that hard to follow the law. We need to hold hem accountable, small kids look up to them, to the police force. They know the police are there to protect them. Smoking in the patrol cars or trucks, that’s your tax dollars paying for that but they’re going to smoke up. To me, I’m not a smoker, my opinion is that they don’t need to smoke in their vehicles. 

Nicky Gwinnett: I agree with everybody up here. I don’t really know how to answer that any other way. 

QUESTION 5: If you’re running for council, why did you pick council and not mayor and if you’re running for mayor, why did you choose to run for mayor over council?

Nicky Gwinnett: Mainly, I just decided on city council because I’ve done it before and that’s where I have the most experience. I also feel like you can actually get a little more done sitting in a council position.

Jason Knight: I chose to run because, for me, the younger generation needs to step up. The older generation is getting older and y’all have done a fabulous job with this city so far, but it’s time for somebody else to step up and do it. And that’s the main reason I chose to do it. I wanted my kids to be able to look at me and say, ‘My dad’s is out there busting his butt trying to make where we live better.”

Brad Anderson: Much like when you’re trying to ease into the pool in April, you want to slowly get in there, it was my perception that city council was a better way to do that and that’s why I chose this.

Ed DiNello: I agree with all the comments mainly it was presented to me and I never thought about mayor. I looked at it as ‘let’s try council first’ and make a difference there. I’ll let these guys have the work for mayor.

Joe Grooms III: My daddy was mayor for three terms and my daddy loved what he did. He loved to serve Brooklet. Why mayor instead of council? I want to work with these guys. We’ve got some great guys sitting here. Whether or not I’m the city’s mayor, I’m still privileged to sit in front of y’all and even say that I’ve been asked to serve or that y’all would even vote for me. I want to be leader, but a leader by example. These guys are great people. I know they want to do a good job, as well as the ones that are there now. Someone has to be the one that will stand up and be the point man. I enjoy working with people, I enjoy standing up people, I enjoy standing up for this town and if I need to be the one that gets the finger pointed at, you know what, I’m happy to do it. But I guarantee you this – we’ll work through the problems of this town. I guarantee it. 

Charlie Howell: I’ve actually been asked that question. I’m aware that the council votes and the mayor does not have a vote, however, I feel that an effective executive can still lead and influence the council in the direction. It’s more about shared vision and direction and I think it actually results in better leadership for the town and better decisions for the town. So I actually thought about it – I can have one vote or I could try to influence five and here I sit and I’m going to try to influence five. 

QUESTION 6: Sidewalks – Especially with the new bike trail that’s coming in, I can’t even get a half of mile from my house to school. I just want to hear your thoughts on fiscal responsibility and the possibility of expanding the sidewalk system around town.

Charlie Howell: As Planning & Zoning Chair, I had the opportunity to look at this a few months back so I can go ahead and tell you that a sidewalk will cost about $50 per square foot. If you’re sidewalking in front of a house, it’s going to run you about $2,000. Once you get out on the street, it’s about $50 a square foot. To get from WinnieBrook to the school is going to take a little bit of property. I wouldn’t want to commit to one thing or another, but you bring legitimate concerns about safety and I think council needs to examine how can we get from where are to where we need to be in terms of sidewalks. 

Joe Grooms III: There’s always a cost and what it’s going to effect on the budget but at the same time, I can’t tell your children that they’re going to be in the road trying to get to a certain place…safety is No. 1 and a legitimate question when you say ‘how can I get from a point A to a point B and be safe about it?’ We need to work that out, we need  to work on getting sidewalks to where you need to be. Exactly how quickly we can get something there? That’s cost. But at the same time, the safety of your family is No. 1. What I’m trying to say, we would have to work something out, just like you’ve already said, we would work a project to get these things taken care of. Brooklet was a small town and didn’t have a whole lot of sidewalk people – today it’s changed. Our town has grown. There’s more traffic. So, now we’re a little bit behind on the ground but we’ll work to get it as safe as can be for every resident and child in this town. 

Ed DiNello: Obviously the big part of this is how we’re going to pay for that and Charlie laid out the cost. Obviously I think that sidewalks, I have kids out walking around, riding bikes, out and about, but I think that the city needs to a plan to address it. It hasn’t gone through the zoning board and council the few times that I’ve attended, whose going to pay for it? How are we going to pay for it? One bite at a time. We’re going to do ‘x’ amount a year, or six months, whatever. The sooner we start, make a plan, sooner we can have sidewalks across the city. Obviously , where we start and how do you prioritize it, that’s another battle. I think it’s something that needs to be addressed, top priority. 

Brad Anderson: I live where you’re at and in the mornings trying to get out, it will cause you some concern, wait until you get one that drives. What I was going to say is this: there are always going to be more projects that come up than the dollars. That’s why I think it’s really important for Brooklet to develop long range capital improvement plan in terms of specifics, infrastructure, drainage, the water system, sidewalks, all of which are important. What needs to happen is that we need to come together as a community and prioritize those lists and then look at financing options to do that. What does that mean? Possibly an increase in taxes to pay off the municipal bonds, that’s part of the process, but I think it’s imperative to decide what are our priorities and what are our needs. Let’s make that comprehensive list. 

Jason Knight: I’m in the same boat. I have three kids that walk to the school bus stop every morning. It’s nerve wracking and I know that anybody could come flying by and hit them. As far as, like these guys have said, we’ve got to budget stuff and prioritize safety and stuff, but we’ve also got to look at – is there a way we can get federal grants to help pay for this stuff? The federal government gives out money for safety. If people would think about it, there are other avenues besides just raising taxes. 

Nicky Gwinnett: I definitely would like to see sidewalks around town. My wife and I like to go walking, take the dogs and stuff like that. I agree with Brad – we need a long range plan to look out a few years. It might take 20 years, it might take five years. Whatever it takes, you’ve got to have a plan. 


Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th and polls will be open from 7AM to 7PM.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

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