City Waives Permit Requirement for Peaceful Protest and March
Members of the Thomaston City Council voted last week to waive an “internal policy” requiring a permit to hold any event that necessitates street closure, allowing a peaceful protest and march for unity to move forward Saturday morning.
The vote for exception followed a recommendation by City Manager Russell Thompson.
“Part of the permit is to require liability insurance with the city named as second insured, but the carrier denied the request for liability insurance,” Thompson explained.
“After a conversation with [TPD] chief [Mike Richardson], our attorney [DeAnn Wheeler] and carrier, my recommendation, in light of what’s going on nationally and at the state level, is that we waive the insurance requirement for this particular protest,” Thompson continued. “The city will still be covered through our regular policy.”
Richardson supported Thompson’s request for the one-time event.
“I have met on two separate occasions with the organizers. Their intent is peaceful, and the main message is unity,” Richardson told councilmembers. “Of course, they want to have a voice about what happened to George Floyd. I don’t have any objection to that.”
“The sheriff [Dan Kilgore] and I are both very comfortable with the situation. We have security plans in place, and I think the event will go well,” Richardson continued. “Similar events in Griffin, Barnesville and Zebulon went well, so I don’t have any reservations about it. In fact, I’m very supportive of it.”
Richardson also informed council that three TPD officers are graduating from the police academy.
Councilmember Ryan Tucker commended area law enforcement for the way in which a recent standoff with gunfire was handled locally. Personnel from TPD and the Upson County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a 30-minute incident with a gunman on Springdale Drive Monday, June 15.
“You’d never know that it’s two different agencies,” Richardson said. “They work together beautifully.”
Upson County reported 290 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 35 deaths and 43 hospitalized at noon Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health website, an increase of seven from the 283 confirmed cases, an increase of one death, and no increase from 43 hospitalized at noon Tuesday one week earlier.
Upson’s infection rate is 110.4 per 10,000 residents, an increase of 2.7 from 107.7 per 10k for the same period.
Georgia grew to 52,497 cases (4,598 increase from same time last week/prior week’s increase was 4,313) as of noon Tuesday, with 8,746 hospitalized (up 444/prior week’s increase was 791) and 2,208 deaths (up 119/prior week’s increase was 236).
Confirmed cases for counties bordering Upson were Monroe with 123 (44.4 per 10k) and 11 deaths, 26 hospitalized; Meriwether with 109 (51.9 per 10k) and two deaths, 18 hospitalized; Lamar, 76 (39.3 per 10k) and three deaths, 12 hospitalized; Pike, 62 (32.9 per 10k) with three deaths and 11 hospitalized; Talbot, 41 (66.6 per 10k) with two deaths and 13 hospitalized; Crawford, 29 (23.7 per 10k) with no deaths and four hospitalized; and Taylor, 23 (28.9 per 10k) with two deaths and 10 hospitalized.
Riverside Health and Rehabilitation (63 residents) appeared for the first time on the long-term care list with one positive case among staff members, raising the total local number of positive cases among residents and staff (including Harborview and Providence) from 150 to 153 during the same one-week period, with no new resident deaths totaling 31, according to Georgia’s Long-Term Care Facility COVID-19 Report from the Georgia Department of Community Health.
The report shows Harborview (92 residents) with 32 resident cases (up one/34.8 percent infection rate), 27 resident recoveries, 28 staff cases (no increase), and 16 resident deaths (up one). Providence (75 residents) reports 64 resident cases (up one/85.3 percent infection rate), 47 resident recoveries, 28 staff cases (no increase), and 15 resident deaths (no increase) from last week.
The Centers for Disease Control now recommends the use of face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially where social distancing is difficult to maintain such as in grocery stores or pharmacies. The CDC stresses the use of masks in areas of significant community-based transmission.
For accurate and reliable information about COVID-19, log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Commission Split 3-2 to OK Beer & Wine License
By Bridge Turner
Amid community opposition, the Upson County Commission voted 3-2 in favor of approving a beer and wine package sales license for Sunnyside Beverage at 3087 Crest Highway last week.
The property, located on the corner of Sunnyside Road and Highway 74 West across from Dollar General, was previously home to Sunnyside Café. Applicant Jared Huckaby addressed concerns aired by community residents during a public hearing to open the meeting.
“I respect people’s personal opinions [regarding alcohol consumption, but this will be a store like any other store,” Huckaby told commissioners. “I’ve never gone by a store where people were drinking out in their cars in the parking lot. That won’t be allowed.”
Along with beer and wine, the location will offer pizza, wings, snacks and soft drinks among other typical convenience store items. Georgia Lottery tickets will be available for purchase, but there will be no gaming machines, according to Huckaby.
“Alcohol is across the street at Dollar General, so I’m not bringing it to the community,” he said. “What I’m bringing is a locally owned business by a person who owns property and whose family has run businesses here for [decades]. I grew up in Sunnyside myself, so I want this to be a positive addition to the community.”
Huckaby added that he plans to incorporate a drive-through option at the store, with entrance access from Sunnyside Road. He said he had spoken with Georgia Department of Transportation officials who recommended a driveway located away from Highway 74 would be safer for patrons.
In the absence of Planning Director Doug Currier, County Manager Jason Tinsley told commissioners that staff members had measured proximity to the nearest church facility, and the distance “meets or exceeds” that component of requirements. He added that Huckaby’s background check was clean.
Commissioner Paul Jones moved to approve and Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder seconded the motion, with Commissioner Benjamin Watson casting the third vote for approval. Commissioner James Ellington and Chairman Norman Allen cast the two opposing votes.
“I’ve received several calls about this, most being in opposition,” Ellington explained. “…I represent the people in my district, so I can’t vote my personal opinion tonight. I just want that to be on the record.”
“What made up my mind is when I found out Dollar General sells beer,” Jones commented. “Their door is closer to the church than this store’s door will be.”
“Several of us have had outreach from the community,” said Allen, who holds an at-large seat as chairman of the commission. “Voting against a local business is something I don’t take lightly. I appreciate the effort Mr. Huckaby has put into this project. I appreciate both sides of the issue.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a similar beer and wine package sales license for Nishaben Patel on behalf of Sai Food Mart, located at 2235 Barnesville Highway.
In other business, the commission approved renewal of an adjusted employee health insurance plan which offers a “buy up” option for county workers. The initial renewal estimate reflected a $216,600 increase, an approximate 11.2 percent hike from the previous year. A broker presented options which would increase out-of-pocket expense or increase contributions from employees, and commissioners voted for a compromise.
Tinsley told commissioners the April distribution which reflects March collection of special purpose local option sales tax was the highest ever for a month of April in Upson County. The collection, which he speculated could have been attributed to “stay home” orders related to COVID-19, was one of the highest overall for any month in Upson’s history, he added.
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