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Vidalia approves grant agreement for $215K to fund part of port

Published 12:02am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to enter into a grant agreement with the Delta Regional Authority for approximately $215,000 to fund a portion of the first phase of the construction at the Vidalia Port.

Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development Director Heather Malone told the board the DRA grant initially asked for private sector investments, but no businesses were willing to sign on at the time.

That’s because the grant required the recipients to generate a certain number of jobs and, if the beneficiaries of the grant failed to do so, they would be required to pay the money back, Malone said.

“Businesses were not willing to sign an agreement saying they would make the investment and then have to pay the money back if it falls through if it is for public infrastructure,” she said.

The grant was rewritten, however, in a way that the funds could be directed to the City of Vidalia as long as Vidalia maintained at least 60 employees, a number Malone said was “very conservative.”

The city has already spent the necessary funds for match on planning fees, she said.

The board unanimously voted for the agreement.

Alderman Jon Betts was not present.

In other news:

4Mayor Hyram Copeland asked City Attorney Jack McLemore to look into drafting an ordinance requiring property owners to keep up rental property.

Copeland said he was not critizing all rental property owners, but he had received a number of calls from residents complaining about rental properties in various states of neglect.

“Even if they don’t have someone living in that house, (owners) are responsible for the upkeep of the property,” he said.

Copeland said the police department would also soon start issuing citations again for uncut grass that exceeds the city’s height limit of eight inches.

“We discuss this each and every year, and those people who own property are responsible (for the grass), and they are going to cut it,” Copeland said.

4Georganna Berry with the Vidalia Police Department gave a brief presentation about Neighborhood Watch.

The program will have an organizational meeting at the old recreation center at the corner of Locust and Alabama streets at 6 p.m. Monday, she said.