Vidalia officials celebrate inauguration, beginning another four years

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — Re-elected alderman, the police chief and the mayor of the Town of Vidalia celebrated their inauguration and the beginning of another four-year term on Monday afternoon at Vidalia City Hall.

Beginning a new term in office are Alderman Triand McCoy in the District 1 seat, Robert Gardner Jr. in District 2, Brent Smith in District 3, Tommy Probst in District 4, and Jon Betts in District 5. Joey Merrill was sworn into a third term as Chief of Police for the Town of Vidalia.

During his inaugural address, Vidalia’s mayor Buz Craft, who ran unopposed for the 2024 election, spoke of the many accomplishments Vidalia has made during his previous two terms and his desire to see good things continue. 

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“There are many things going on in Vidalia. With our ever-growing economy we hope to institute many new exciting ventures in the next four years,” Craft said during his inauguration speech. “We have maintained a robust public service team with our incredible police and fire departments and we hope to tighten on our littering, and illegal vehicle usage policies in this next term.”

In the upcoming term, Craft said his goal is to see the completion of the resurfacing of D.A. Biglane Street and to see more robust code enforcement for the town’s blighted properties and litter issues. He also aims to help with the completion of the scale replica of the war memorial wall from Washington, D.C., on the Vidalia riverfront by the nonprofit Point Man International Ministries of the Miss-Lou. Craft said funds are allocated further to safe streets and sidewalk initiatives, renovation of the town’s fire station and the Council on Aging building and the beginning phases of the Polk Park project.

Craft said leaders would continue to pursue federal and state dollars for infrastructure improvements. Most important for Vidalia’s future, Craft said, is securing the future of the Sidney A. Murray hydroelectric station that could become fully owned by the town in 2030 depending on the decisions leaders make between now and then.

The mayor also refuted the use of social media to spread false rumors and any claim that Vidalia is not a great place to live.

For example, he said that the only killing that would be done when the Vidalia Dog Pound transitions to being led by the police department is when a dog must be put down by vet recommendation for health reasons or when the dog is vicious and poses a threat to the community or officers.

“All over the state, people know who Vidalia is. They know our story,” Craft said. “I want to encourage all of us to truly work together. … What makes Vidalia special? Is it the leadership? Our churches? Our schools? Is it our civic organizations and people who plan events for our town? Or is it because we’ve found favor with God because of our praying citizens praying for the betterment of our town? Or is it that God really has given us his favor? Has he? He has. I would check the box for all of the above. It’s all of us, our community, working together and supporting one another.”