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Agencies update progress of SPLOST projects
 tcooper  / 

Representatives from local government agencies reported on their progress in completing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016 projects on Monday.

Frederica Road has been repaved, and all that’s left to do is paint stripes, said Glynn County Public Works Director Dave Austin. He added that contractors will do the work at night and should start tonight.

Other repaving projects that the county has finished include Demere Road, East Beach Causeway and sections of Norwich Street the county owns. Old Jesup Highway near Everett, however, has been something of a challenge, he said.

Austin said contractors started Monday on a full-depth reclamation of the road. They should finish digging up and rebuilding the roadbed this week and start paving shortly after.

A major project to expand the intersection at Kings Way and Frederica Road needs a right-of-way acquisition to progress. Another right-of-way issue is standing in the way of replacing East Beach Causeway’s intersection at Demere Road with a roundabout, while regulatory problems have slowed a similar project at East Beach Causeway and Ocean Boulevard, Austin explained.

Early plans for improvements to the Altama Connector to improve traffic flow near the Ga. 25 Spur will be presented to the county commission next month, Austin explained. He added that Public Works doesn’t plan to start at any particular time of year, as no matter when they start working it’s going to be tough on traffic.

A project to improve drainage in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island is also facing difficulty but is progressing, he said.

A new Glynn County Animal Control shelter is still on hold due to a lack of funds, Austin said.

Committee member Jane Fraser asked if the county could use its own funds to make up the difference. Austin said that would be a decision for the Glynn County Commission to make.

He added that, before construction can begin on the new shelter, the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission needs to upgrade a sewer pump station. Austin said county officials are working with the JWSC on how best to get that done.

Finally, he said a new veterans memorial park slated for downtown Brunswick is very close to being advertised for construction.

Next, Brunswick City Manager Jim Drumm spoke to the committee.

“The first (SPLOST) project is to mill and pave various streets, and we’re paving all over the city,” Drumm said.

Brunswick has completed a lot of repaving on the south end of the city, he explained, and it’s working on other parts.

A project to repave L Street, which currently has a section of the road shut down, started this month. As the city was stripping the pavement, he said workers found bricks. City officials hope to use them to replace missing bricks in downtown.

A cooperative endeavor between the city, county and Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau to install new way-finding and gateway signs in on hold. All three are still hoping to find an organization or multiple organization to partner with them on the project.

Moving on to parks, Drumm said installation of a splash pad in Mary Ross Waterfront Park is scheduled for April while an effort to close George Street and reunite the two halves of Wright Square is currently on hold pending right-of-way abandonment by the Glynn County School Board.

The city also came in under budget on the purchase of 15 new police cars with SPLOST funds.

JWSC Engineering Director Todd Kline gave the committee updates on the utility’s two projects.

The utility is preparing to start designing the final phase of a major north mainland sewer rerouting project, and expects to put construction out to bid in early 2020, Kline said.

The second project, to overhaul and upgrade a sewer pump station in downtown Brunswick, will likely be designed in the fall with construction beginning in October.

Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks said all of the authority’s SPLOST items are repaving projects, and the authority currently has a request for proposal on 1.4 miles of repaving waiting for bids.

Jekyll Island has spent a total of $850,429 of it’s allotted $2.3 million. Hooks said the authority has been staggering its projects to it can get multiple competitive bids on each one.

The committee also discussed its SPLOST 2016 progress report.

Ron Perry said the cover to the report was misleading, as it listed a number of projects as ‘in-progress’ when there hadn’t been any dirt turned on them.

“It’s misleading to the public … If you have 15 projects that, for 2020, are undetermined, that’s not in-progress, really,” Perry said. “I don’t think the public considers the design stage ‘in-progress.’”

He asked if the county’s SPLOST projects list could be updated to differentiate between projects that are in construction and those that are still in the planning or design phases. County spokesperson Matthew Kent said it could be done.

Committee members agreed to schedule their next two meetings for June 25 and Aug. 28.

Project aims to help students fall in love with math
 lmcdonald  / 

Controlled chaos reigned outside the makeshift classroom in the Roosevelt Lawrence Community Center, where a small group of fourth-graders were focused intently on a math lesson.

Throughout the center Monday afternoon, students played games and let out some of the pent-up energy from the school day. In the center’s reading room, though, a group of elementary school students put their brain power to work. They answered math formula questions and matched math terms to pictures and definitions.

The activities were led by two College of Coastal Georgia students and their instructor Courtenay Miller, an assistant professor of mathematics.

Miller has been bringing the nearly 30 students in her service-learning course to the center since February. The college students, who are teacher candidates, come to the center in pairs to teach pre-planned lessons to participants in the center’s after-school program.

The overall goal, Miller said, is to help the young students fall in love with math.

“My purpose is to champion and fight for the underserved minority students and give them a chance,” Miller said. “I wanted my teacher candidates to be exposed to this population, so they can see that this population of students matters and that they can learn and they can achieve, when given the opportunity to do so.”

To bring the project to the center, Miller partnered with Delores Polite, who runs Windsward of Georgia, Inc., a local organization that works to help at-risk individuals and families.

Polite offers daily homework support to the students at the center.

“I just felt the need to help the community that I live in and give back,” Polite said.

The lessons taught by the college students focused on math and reading. Miller randomly assigned her students to specific grade levels and asked them to use the Georgia Standards of Excellence to craft lessons for the center’s students.

“I gave them a list of questions that they had to include in their lesson plan, and their lessons had to be hands-on, interactive lessons,” Miller said.

Miller said she relates on a personal level to the students at the center.

“I was one of these students — low income, African American,” she said. “… It just so happened that I fell in love with math. And if I can help somebody else fall in love with math, it’s all good.”

Members of minority groups are underrepresented in STEM fields, she said. But a quality education can help students discover their interests and pursue their passions.

“I wanted my teacher candidates to work with this population of students, so that they can see that this population of students, they are intelligent and they can achieve,” she said. “… A lot of times, they don’t get the individual attention, so I wanted to bring my teachers here so that they could know that these students matter too.”

Service-learning projects aim to allow the college students to apply what they have learned in class to real-world situations and to help address community needs.

The college will host a Service-Learning Symposium on April 22 from 3-5 p.m. at the Southeast Georgia Conference Center to showcase the wide range of service-learning projects completed this year.

County commission to consider participation in 'Emptying the Shelter' event
 tcooper  / 

On the Glynn County Commission’s Thursday meeting agenda is a request to allow Glynn County Animal Control to participate in a national adoption campaign.

“It’s an event on May 4 called ‘Emptying the Shelter.’ All dogs and cats adopted from the shelter on that day will cost a reduced fee of $25,” said Animal Control Manager Tiffani Hill.

The Bissell Pet Foundation, the organizer of the event, will award grants based on the number of pets adopted on May 4. If the commission approves the request, animal control will participate in the national event and get grant funding afterward.

According to a memo from Assistant County Manager Kathryn Downs to the commission, each adopted dog will add $100 to the grant while adopted cats increase the amount by $50.

For animal control to get credit for the adoption, adopters must fill out a survey after the paperwork is finalized, according to the memo.

Hill said the shelter would then write up and submit a report to the Bissell Pet Foundation following the event, which will then award a grant at a later date. It wouldn’t be the only one, as the Bissell Pet Foundation also provided grant funding for an ongoing free spay and neuter program at the shelter.

If approved, it would be the first year Glynn County Animal Control has participated in the event, and Hill hopes to make it a successful inaugural event.

“We want to encourage everyone the week before the event to visit the shelter and look at the pets and adopt on May 4,” Hill said.

For more information, call the shelter at 912-554-7500.

The item is on the commission’s consent agenda, meaning it’s part of a list that could be approved as a single item.

Also on the consent agenda is a request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water quality certification for improvements to two East Beach Causeway intersections.

The last time commissioners discussed the improvements at a public meeting, they gave Glynn County Public Works the go-ahead to design roundabouts at East Beach Causeway and Demere Road and at Ocean Boulevard.

Both roundabouts are still in the design phase, according to a memo to the commission from Public Works Director Dave Austin.

In other business, the commission is expected to appoint one of four candidates — AJ Berry, Jeff Kilgore, Julian Smith and Eddie Wildsmith — to the county Board of Appeals, appoint one of three candidates — Zarak Hasbrouck, Carrie Lewis and Dale Tushman — to the Coastal Regional Commission and consider denying an alcohol license to Charred Oak LLC of St. Simons Island.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

Group prepares for Washington fly-in
 gjackson  / 

A group of business leaders and elected officials are making final plans for the annual trip to Washington D.C. to meet with federal officials and staff members on a wide variety of issues and concerns.

Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, said 49 people will make the three-day trip to the nation’s capital.

The goal of the group, which represents a wide variety of business and local government issues for the past 30 years, is to show a united front.

In past years, the group has lobbied for funding to build the Sidney Lanier Bridge, deepen the Port of Brunswick and get updated maps showing federal flood zones.

The group plans to meet with U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, and Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

Meetings are also scheduled with congressional staff members of Congress.

Woodside said the group has many issues and legislation that could impact the region that they plan to discuss during the visit.

The topics for discussion include continued support for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, federal flood insurance, permitting issues, and the Port of Brunswick.

Other issues include federal opportunity zones, health care, community block grants, PaR Marine, Fort Frederica expansion funding and support for local airports.

Federal officials also explain possible or pending legislation that could affect the Golden Isles, Woodside said. Participants make their own travel plans for the visit May 1 to 3. Most of them stay at the same hotel, where activities are coordinated.

Another benefit to the trip is participants also discuss many other local issues and concerns.

“It’s good networking with each other,” he said. “It’s very convenient for our group.”