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Reidsville City Planning Session transpires with minor tensions

The Reidsville City Council met Monday for the regularly-scheduled city planning session at the Old City Hall on Tattnall Street.


Mayor Sydney Clifton commenced the meeting and asked Councilman John Wingate to say in the invocation. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Clifton made recommendations for appointments of department supervisors and for council member liaisons. The following people were recommended and/or approved:

  • Police Chief – Dianne Sapp
  • Fire Chief – Jimmy Kirkland
  • City Clerk/Manager – Kellie Murray
  • Public Works Director – Rodney DeLoach

Mayor Clifton noted that the Recreation Department is handled internally and that he and the council would not meddle in that at this time.

The following appointments were made for council members as department liaisons:

  • Carolyn Blackshear – Fire
  • Curtis Colewell – Police
  • Doug Williams – Administration and Rec. Department
  • Virgil Duckworth – Streets and Lane
  • John Wingate – Water and Sewer

Additionally, the council voted to have Curtis Colewell serve as Mayor Pro-tem and the council voted to keep Attorney Van Cheney as the city attorney.

Council discussed the need to seek bids for the new city hall to tear down the IPW building and perform renovations inside the Cheney Law Office. Van Cheney acknowledged that asbestos was cleared from the office and he issued a check, as he had previously agreed to cover those costs.

Mayor Clifton noted the old city hall (on Tattnall Street) needs a new roof and expressed intent to seek bids to start that process.

Following the appointments, City Attorney Van Cheney left the meeting with former Mayor Eddie Rewis. The council took a short break before reconvening to discuss the agenda items for the January 11 council meeting. Those items include:

  1. Review last month’s minutes
  2. Department supervisors – monthly reports
  3. Employee pay increase (discussion)
  4. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade
  5. Property Zoning pertaining to Lloyd Stanfield

The council will also meet for executive session on a “personnel issue” Monday evening.

After the official business was conducted, Mayor Clifton opened the floor for public comment.

Resident Attriss Nail expressed his dissatisfaction that the council is leaving the city for purchases and contracts, like the recent shotgun purchase for the police department, and encouraged the council to work harder to keep bids in the city limits – or at least in the county. Mr. Nail also pointed out that the Reidsville website has not been updated since 2002. He said he would like to see information available to the public via the website as soon as possible because Reidsville is one of the few cities in a 100 mile radius without one.

Finally, Mr. Nail expressed his discontent with the notion that city attorney Van Cheney is paid to attend the meetings, but left 15 minutes after the planning session began. Mr. Nail, who regularly attends meetings with his wife, brought up numerous occasions where the council has needed the counsel of Mr. Cheney  but he had already departed or was not in attendance.

Others in attendance questioned why the move was made to the new city hall before renovations were made, which Mayor Clifton said was done by the previous administration and out of his control.

Former councilwoman Susan Fountain Thomas was in attendance and asked what the protocol moving forward would be for public comment, as Reidsville has been plagued with issues deriving from when citizens can and cannot speak at council meetings. Mayor Clifton said he planned to review Georgia Municipal Association recommendations and report at the January 11 meeting while councilman John Wingate said, “The courts decided long ago that it’s just too much chaos to open the floor for the public to participate.”
(Note from the Editor: AllOnGeorgia contributor Jessica Szilagyi was present and explained to the council that planning sessions do not require public comment – though it may be permitted – but if public comment is listed on the agenda, citizens are granted time to voice concerns, even if the time is capped.)

The council will meet Monday, January 11, 2016 at the Old City Hall on Tattnall Street at 5:00 p.m.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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