Attorney Mike Strickland will serve as the city judge for the Town of Bethlehem effective immediately.
After a 45-minute closed session to discuss potential/pending litigation and personnel, hiring a city judge, at Monday’s monthly council meeting, Mayor Sandy McNab announced that Strickland would serve the town as city judge.
“We agreed that Mike Strickland will serve as our city judge,” McNab said.
Strickland is an attorney with the law firm of Strickland, Chestnut and Lindsay in Winder.
Strickland will be paid $175 per hour on an as-needed basis with no retainer fee.
In other business at Monday’s council meeting:
•the council unanimously approved spending $3,600 for a new sign for the city hall and community center. Tim Wallace, Mastercraft Signs, Winder, presented the plans for the new sign. Wallace advised the new sign should be completed in four weeks from the time of the order. The design will maintain the look of the fencing that is already in place around the square, park and pavilion areas in the town.
•the council also approved spending an additional $400 to Mastercraft Signs to construct a planter at the base of the new sign.
•the council unanimously approved planting a tree in town in memory of the late Tom Bell. Boy Scout Leader Chris Brooks said, “Tom Bell did a lot for scouting in Bethlehem.” The Boy Scouts of America are celebrating 100 years of scouting this year and scouts are planting oak trees in communities in recognition of this. Council member Wayne Ridgeway said, “I would like to see us pick a location that is lasting and do this. I would like to see the town do a marker.” Wallace told the council members that he would donate a marker to place at the site of the tree.
•the council learned that Jane K. Eikenberry, Lawrenceville, has applied for a business license to operate a catering business, Cornbread & Caviar, in the former location of Taste of Class on West Star Street.
•the council gave unanimous approval for McNab to sign a resolution to adopt the Barrow County Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan.
•McNab reported on the clean-up violations. Letters were recently sent out to property owners in violation. “Everyone is making good progress, better than expected some,” McNab said.
•city clerk Kathy Bridges reported 28 households took advantage of the curbside pick-up event recently in town.
•the council discussed the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design of intersection improvements and signalization of the intersection of State Route 11 and Carl-Bethlehem Road. The RFP was presented by Guy Herring, director of planning at McFarland Dyer & Associates, Suwanee. McNab said, “We might need to hold off sending out the RFP until the new traffic count is done.”
•McNab advised the council that Pastor Jerry Hewatt had requested to rent the community center every Sunday for church services at a reduced rate. McNab said he advised Hewatt that the policy on the use of the center currently doesn’t allow for this, but he would bring it before the council. Ridgeway said, “I think we have to be careful about setting a precedent of committing to someone on too long a time.” Council member Tommy Buchanan said, “I don’t think we could cut the rent just for him.” The council agreed to continue with the current policy in place.
•the council held a lengthy discussion on property located on Gifton Thomas Road. The property owner Louis Liu wants to annex the 43 acres into the city, but he is concerned with whether or not there is a county road located on this property. The council agreed Liu needs to furnish the town with a current plat survey when he applies for the annexation. Town attorney Ron Bennett said in regard to the questionable road, “If it is a road there should be some legal documentation.”
•Bennett reported that he is trying to contact Todd McDuffie, acting regional director, with the Georgia Department of Transportation in regard to the old house that GDOT owns in the town.
•the council unanimously approved spending $700 to contract with Joey Watkins, River Street Band, to play two one-hour sets at the town’s fall event. Watkins will also provide the public address system for the entire day’s event.
The next regularly scheduled Town of Bethlehem council meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 7, at city hall.