Moreland's mayor to hold office hours every Friday

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Moreland Mayor Josh Evans is going to be keeping office hours once a week -- a decision he made during the town council's first work session in years. Councilman Dick Ford suggested the council hold a work session with no items for action but time for the council members to discuss issues that are important to them. Evans and all the council members -- Allyn Bell, Carmen Brown, Jeff Burgess and Ford -- all attended this week's meeting in the Town Hall at the Moreland Mill.
During a discussion about communications, Evans made a commitment to spend much of each Friday at the Town Hall. Evans said he will be at the Town Hall each Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. If the mayor cannot be there on a given Friday, Ford volunteered to fill in. Ford said Evans is the town's de facto administrator since Moreland's only employees are part-time. Evans said he would be glad to be available to the citizens -- face-to-face -- every Friday. Ford said council members need to be vigilant about checking email and responding to messages from other council members -- as well as from constituents. Taking personal responsibility to be prepared for meetings is also needed, Ford said. "It's important we all do our homework," he said. Ford said the clerk's office needs to be straightened and suggested the town might need to pay Clerk Jimmy Haynes for extra hours or get some help for him. Haynes works three days a week for the town. Ford said storing more documents electronically is also a need. He said the town needs to access available training. "Somebody needs to go to some of these classes the state offers," he said. He said budgeting is one area where the town could use some training. "They offer these classes. Somebody can go," he said. Bell said it is important for people attending the training to make sure they are attending sessions aimed at small municipalities. Evans noted the classes are offered across the state. "They are spread out. They try to make them available for everybody," the mayor said. Evans regularly attends meetings of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce's Economic Prosperity Council. Those meetings provide connections with people from other towns as well as from businesses and banks. Ford said someone from the town also needs to attend Three Rivers Development Center meetings. "You hear about the freebies and who can help us," he said. Being collegial is important, Ford said. "It is important to work together. We don't have to all agree, but we should keep an open mind and do what's best for our community," he said. Bell indicated he thought the work session was a productive venture for the council. "I wouldn't see what would be wrong with doing this about once every three months," he said. "We all got some food for thought," Ford commented, near the end of the Monday meeting. "We can maintain a smalltown feel and still have growth and prosperity." Also during the work session: • The council discussed planned work in the two-story section of the mill. There are plans for a museum media center on the upper floor. Bell said it is imperative to determine the shape of the first floor before proceeding with plans on the upper level. He said nothing should be done "until we get close to the ground over there." He added, "I think that ought to be the first order of business. We need to get this nailed down." Ford talked about the town's opportunity to attract tourists and the role the mill building could play in that. "This thing could be a jewel, but why don't we do this right?" he asked. Ford said doing the mill restoration in a first class way will bring brides to the mill for weddings -- and can help get grants for other projects. Grants "haven't all dried up," he said. It was agreed to hold a meeting with the Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance, which is coordinating tourism activity in Moreland. There was discussion of having a written agreement between MCAA and the town. "Then we'll know what the town's responsible for and what the MCAA's responsible for," Bell said. • The council talked about future development of the Megasite, a large industrial tract that runs from Interstate 85 to Moreland's northern border. Ford said he believes there will be sewer service in Moreland in a few years as that project gets under way. "I hope it does come. I hope natural gas comes," Bell said. Ford remarked that recent recommendations from the Georgia Conservancy's Blueprints program recommended the town look at small lots in areas of the town that are likely to grow. Smaller lots will maximize the number of taxpaying properties in the city. "Even though we don't have a lot of space available, we do have some space," Ford said. • Bell said the town needs to stay in touch with Three Rivers to make sure the Transportation Enhancement Act grant project moves forward soon. • Burgess talked about the type of pipe used for city projects. "For the long range, we need to go back to the concrete pipe," he said. He said metal pipe may be cheaper but is not as durable.


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