Mayor's Update 2019
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019
MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR
hese are busy times in LaGrange. With new businesses starting, existing businesses expanding, housing developments breaking ground, roads being constructed, and parks and trails opening, there’s something happening everywhere you turn. This is a sign of progress, and I anticipate these trends will continue for the foreseeable future.
We say that LaGrange is a “city inspired,” and I know that to be true. We are inspired to make a better future for all of our residents. It’s certainly not just the government that is doing this, and in fact the government should and does play a supporting role. The inspiration comes from our residents and businesses who want to make a better life for themselves and their community.
In the midst of the busyness of life, in the midst of the progress and growth, let’s not lose sight of what does inspire us. As a city and as a community, we are inspired by our trust in the future and our confidence that, working together, we can leave the city better than we found it. Thank you for allowing me to help lead our city into that better future.
Mayor Jim Thornton and his wife, Corinne, walking their dogs Pearlie, Daphne, and Julep
Mayor Jim Thornton
LAGRANGE CITY COUNCIL
The council is the legislative body; its members are the community’s decision makers. The council focuses on the community’s goals, major projects, and long-term considerations such as community growth, land use development, capital improvements, capital financing, and strategic planning. The council hires a professional manager to carry out the administrative responsibilities and supervises the manager’s performance.
City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 208 Ridley Ave. Council work sessions are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 11 a.m. in the city manager’s third floor conference room in City Hall, 200 Ridley Avenue.
The LaGrange City Council: front row (from left), Tom Gore, Mayor Jim Thornton, LeGree McCamey; back row, Willie Edmondson, Jim Arrington, Mark Mitchell, Nathan Gaskin
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LaGrange 101 is a new six-week class hosted by the City of LaGrange to give local citizens an opportunity to experience an inside look at city government. Each week participants learned about two departments of the local government.
LaGrange 101 attendees Chris Hudson, Meredith Key, Chad Cooper, and Susan Ferguson.
2018 LaGrange 101 class members: Chad Cooper, Ernest Ward, Tommy Murphy, Alonzo
Roberts, Chis Hudson, Bill Stump, Meredith Key, Alicia Hill, Carolyn Haamid, Leon Childs, Susan Ferguson, Robby Burch, Dale Jackson, Anthony Talley, Curtis Brown and Kyle Pickels.
2018-19 Youth Council: Caroline Childress, Dazia Potts, Emma Strickland, Jack DeVane, Joshua Smith, Kyla Bedingfield, Lauren Yarbrough, Libby Criswell, Lily Kamat, Lizzie Doerr, Lucy Alford, Luke Daniel, Lydia Alford, Mizya Blackmon, Olivia Smith, Robert Frick, Ruthie Kelsey, Samuel Shepherd, Sophie Myers, Sydney Anderson, Taylor Earnhart, Thomas Lawson and Ujwal Modi.
CITY OF LAGRANGE NEWSLETTER
CITY COUNCILJim Arrington, District 1 W.T. Edmondson, District 2 Nathan Gaskin, District 2 Tom Gore, District 1 LeGree McCamey, District 2 Mark Mitchell, District 1
CITY MANAGERMeg Kelsey
CITY COUNCIL MEETINGSCity council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 208 Ridley Avenue. City Council work sessions are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 11:00 a.m. in the City Manager’s Third Floor Conference Room in City Hall, 200 Ridley Avenue. These meetings are open to the public.
TRASH & YARD TRIMMING SCHEDULE:
Household garbage is collected weekly. Trash and yard trimmings is collected on alternating weeks.
LPD CITIZENS ACADEMYThe LaGrange Police Department is now accepting applications for citizens to participate in its free Citizens Police Academy starting Tuesday, February 19th, 6-8:30 p.m. The Citizens Police Academy will take place every Tuesday for ten weeks.
For more information contact LPD Sr. Officer Jim Davison at jdavison@ lagrangega,org or (706) 883-2644.
MAYOR’S UPDATE - VIEW LIVEMayor Jim Thornton will be presenting his Mayor’s Update Wednesday, February 6th, 12:00 p.m. at the Rotary Club’s weekly meeting at the Highland Country Club. The speech will be carried live on City’s Facebook page via LGTV, the city’s television station. Free copies of the Mayor’s Update for will be available to public at City Hall, 200 Ridley Avenue.
SNEAK PEEK OF SKATE PARKThursday, February 14th • 4 p.m. Soft Opening of Southbend Park and Sneak Peek of the Skate Park.
MOVIE IN THE PARKThe LaGrange Youth Council is hosting a free movie in the park event at Sweetland Amphitheatre. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with the movie starting at 6:30 p.m. The movie being shown is The Proposal. Concessions and ice skating will be available. Proceeds from the concessions will be given to mental health awareness.
LEAVING LAGRANGE BETTER THAN WE FOUND IT
Saturday, February 9th • 8–10 a.m. Join us in leaving LaGrange better than we found it. We’ll meet in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, 505 South Greenwood Street. Want to host your own litter cleanup? Contact Keep Troup Beautiful (706) 884-9922 or www.keeptroupbeautiful.com
In 2015, the Mayor and Council created the LaGrange Youth Council to provide the youth of our community with a more formal role in decision making, offer real world experiences with elected bodies, provide leadership opportunities, and enhance civic education. The current Youth Council is composed of 24 junior/ seniors representing LaGrange High, Troup High, Lafayette Christian School, LaGrange Academy, and the Sound Doctrine. The mission of the 2018-2019 class is to help educate the community about mental health. The students planned a special event for teens on Valentine’s Day at Sweetland Amphitheatre where funds raised go to NAMI of West Georgia.
LGTV LaGrange Television is the city’s PEG cable television station seen on Charter Cable Channel 181 and AT&T Uverse Channel 99. LGTV carries important local events and celebrations live on television as well as its Facebook page. You can watch City Council meetings on LGTV as well as “The Active Life”, “Healthy Cooking with Chef Jeff”, “The West Point Lake Report” and “City Week with Alton West.” LGTV has been serving the citizens of LaGrange since 2002.
The City of LaGrange began distributing a new informational newsletter in January 2019. The newsletter will be included in monthly utility bills. For e-bill subscribers, there is a link listed at the bottom of the e-bill to view the newsletter. The newsletters are also available electronically on the city’s website, www.lagrangega.org.
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019 3
LEAVING LAGRANGE BETTER THAN WE FOUND IT
The city began a new campaign in 2018 to address the problem of litter in the community. In April, the City of LaGrange closed non-essential business and city employees and citizens picked up trash in the major gateways of the community. The city’s “Leaving LaGrange Better Than We Found It” campaign has evolved into monthly litter pick-up events. These litter cleanups continue with the support of Keep Troup Beautiful.
In 2018, LaGrange received the Live, Work, Play City Award presented by the Georgia Municipal Association.
The City contracted with New Line Skateparks to build a skate plaza at Southbend Park just south of Wild Leap Brewery. Construction began in September 2018 and is expected to be finished in February 2019. Construction has drawn interest from skateboarders around the region. The design, which was developed by former professional skateboarder, Kanten Russell, and the local skateboarding community, provides an opportunity for wheel-friendly activity such as scooters and bikes as well as a flexible plaza that can be used for gathering.
Callaway Foundation’s vision for a park in the south end of downtown has come to fruition with the completion of a new playground, dog park, pavilion, and passive green supported by new parking, lighting, and landscaping. Features include separated small and large dog areas within the dog park, play areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds at the playground, and a 10-foot multi-use path circulating throughout the 5-acre space to connect the various elements.
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The Thread is a trail network consisting of 29 miles of multi-use trail connecting key destinations – downtown, neighborhoods, parks, the college, and the hospital. The goal of The Thread is to enhance the health and overall quality of life for LaGrange citizens and visitors. The Granger Park “model mile” opened in July 2017.
Segment 2The second segment, 2.1 miles stretching from Eastside Park to Mike Daniel Recreation Center, was completed in April 2018. The grand opening ceremony of this second segment was held April 21st. The celebration included a 5K race and cutest dog contest.
The Thread Segment 2 Ribbon Cutting, April 21, 2018
Segment 3The third segment along Broad Street connecting the first segment to LaGrange College extends from West Haralson, North Greenwood Street, Broad Street, Panther Way to Vernon Street. was completed and included beautification of the area and planted roughly 40 trees.
Segment 3BThe LaGrange College segment, known as 3B, is underway connecting the southern side of LaGrange College’s campus to the north campus along Panther Way. It is expected to be completed by Summer 2019 and will result in connecting the “Model Mile” segment by Granger Park to LaGrange College. The city received a Recreational Trails Program grant from the Department of Natural Resources to assist in financing this segment.
Segment 4Construction has begun to continue The Thread 1.4 miles from the roundabout down Country Club Road to Pinetree Drive. It is expected to be completed by late Summer 2019.
Segment 5The Friends of The Thread hope to also begin Segment 4 in 2019. This trail will connect the end of Segment 2 at the corner of Daniel and Ware Street to Calumet Park.
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019 5
PUBLIC SAFETY / POLICE
LAGRANGE POLICE DEPARTMENT
The LaGrange Police Department is dedicated to fairness, compassion and excellence; providing police services in accordance with the law, while being sensitive to the needs of the public we serve. We are committed to community partnerships through which we can address crime and public safety concerns.
LEADER IN GANG VIOLENCE
The LaGrange Police Department continues to lead the way in the fight against gang violence. The LPD was recognized for understanding and employing all the tools of the gang statute which have significantly reduced gang violence in the city. LPD has made more successful gang cases than any other city in Georgia.
L-R: LPD Investigator Jarred Anderson and GGIA Board Member Ryan Foles, Foles presented Anderson with the Western Regional Gang Investigator of the Year.
According to Formulytics President Tom Ratchford, “Of the more than 400 law enforcement agencies, the LaGrange Police Department along with the District Attorney’s Office lead the way in gang statute arrests.”
In July 2018, LPD Investigator Jarred Anderson was named Western Regional Gang Investigator of the Year. He competed against officers and investigators from thirty-nine other counties to win the honor.
LPD/LFD Youth Camp
PART I CRIME 2007 2015 2016 2017
MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
TOTAL PART I CRIMES
ARRESTS MADE 2007 2015 2016 2017
CITY ORDINANCE ARREST
20185 4 41 88 162 1,263 70 0 1,633
2018699 1,127 535 465 2,826
CHIEF DEKMAR REFLECTS ON YEAR AS IACP PRESIDENT
“I appreciate the Mayor and Council’s support during my term as president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). It provided me the opportunity to represent the largest police leadership organization in the world as we face the global challenges of cybercrime, drug and human trafficking, terrorism, and building and maintaining public trust. These issues are confronted by all police agencies, large and small.”
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PUBLIC SAFETY / FIRE
NEW FIRE CHIEF
On November 11, John Brant was named the sole finalist for the position and took over the position on November 25. Brant has been with the City of LaGrange for twenty-three years and has over 14 years of management experience.
FIRE DEPARTMENT ACTIVITY 2006-2018
The LaGrange Fire Department has received Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) for meeting the criteria established through the CFAI’s voluntary self-assessment and accreditation program. Only 250 out of nearly 30,000 fire departments in the nation receive this accreditation. LaGrange is the 10th fire department in Georgia to receive the honor.
Agency accreditation is a voluntary process. According to the CFAI, accreditation shows the agency is performing to industry best practices and is holding itself accountable through an external peer review.
INCIDENTS fire and medical calls
PRE-FIRE PLANS2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018
Pictured from left to right: LaGrange City Council Member Nathan Gaskin, Deputy Chief Willie Bradfield, Deputy Chief John Brant, City Manager Meg Kelsey, Public Safety Director Lou Dekmar, Accreditation Manager Mike Webb, Deputy Chief Phillip Rice, & Deputy Chief Chad Dallas
BURN TRAINING FACILITY
Staff addressed a need for a training facility consisting of a burn building with a dual purpose rappelling and stair tower. The current burn facility, built in 2001, is in desperate need of replacement due to repeated training fires which have affected the structural integrity. Construction will begin in early 2019 and the anticipated construction schedule is six months. The facility will be paid for with SPLOST funds and be located adjacent to the Utility building on Lukken Industrial Drive.
FIRE STATION 5
Station 5 is currently under construction on Vernon Road behind Wellstar/West Georgia Health System. Principle Construction was awarded the bid and estimates completion by late Spring of 2019. Council authorized construction due to the need to address ISO rating and service delivery issues. Thanks to a land swap between the Callaway Foundation and Wellstar/ West GA Health, the City was granted property by the Foundation to build the station. The project will be funded with the use of SPLOST dollars.
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019 7
Colquitt and Ragland Streets
A new sidewalk, including new curb and gutter, was constructed on Colquitt and Ragland Streets. This sidewalk will connect the second segment of The Thread to the Greenwich, Tamarack, and Tucker Cottage communities.
Hills and Dales Farm Road
HILLS AND DALES FARM ROAD
Construction continues for Hills & Dales Farm Road connecting Vernon Street and Country Club Road. The curb and gutter, as well as half the sidewalk and the gravel base are complete. Construction of the roundabout at Country Club and Hills & Dales Farm Road will begin early 2019. This projected is expected to be completed in April 2019.
COUNTRY CLUB ROAD
Construction along Country Club Road began in January 2019 and is expected to be finished by late summer 2019. Crews are repaving the roadway while simultaneously constructing the 4th segment of The Thread. Motorists are advised to use caution and expect traffic delays especially near Hollis Hand Elementary School weekdays 2:00-2:45 p.m. The construction zone speed limit is 30 mph and passing is prohibited.
GEORGIA DOT PROJECTS
HAMILTON ROAD WIDENING
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plans to add three lanes to Hamilton Road from its intersection at Morgan Street to Auburn Avenue near Lukken Industrial Drive. GDOT representatives continue right of way acquisition and are currently finalizing utility plans.
GREENVILLE STREET BRIDGE
Construction began on the Greenville Street Bridge October 2018. Crews are currently in the process of demolishing the old bridge and building the foundation of the new bridge. The bridge crosses over the CSX railroad along a GDOT state highway. The city has been working with CSX and GDOT for more than two years on this project. Once completed, the city will be responsible for the maintenance of the bridge. The project is expected to be completed October 2019.
Hills and Dales Farm Road
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UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE AND ZONING ORDINANCE OVERHAUL
The City of LaGrange is currently working with Canvas Planning to create a more user-friendly set of development regulations, including a re-write of the zoning ordinance. This document is known as a Unified Development Ordinance and it combines traditional zoning and subdivision regulations, along with other desired city regulations, such as design guidelines and stormwater management. The City held its first public meeting in December 2018 to garner feedback from the citizenry. Questions posed to citizens include what types of development do you want to see? What types of development are missing in LaGrange? Are there any communities you think should be a model for future development in LaGrange? If you missed the first public meeting, you can provide feedback by visiting www. zoninglagrange.com . There will be future public meetings for citizens to participate in the project.
For more information contact Senior Planner Leigh Threadgill at 706-883-2088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GEORGIA INITIATIVE FOR COMMUNITY HOUSING
The City of LaGrange, The Troup County Center for Strategic Planning along with Troup County and the cities of Hogansville and West Point are participants in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH). GICH is a three-year program of collaboration and technical assistance related to housing and community development. The objective of the initiative is to help communities create and launch a locally based plan to meet their housing needs. The group is focusing on three areas related to housing: ensuring all housing needs are met, eliminating blight and raising awareness about housing issues.
This year the group began a housing market analysis and strategy with the Bleakly Advisory Group to provide a perspective on how current and future residential market trends will impact the county and its cities over the coming years and provide key inputs for making future land use, planning, and real estate development policy decisions.
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019 9
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!
Interface, an International textile manufacturer founded locally, broke ground on the first phase of a plant expansion in December of 2017. Interface will invest $85 million in its local operations which is estimated will provide an annualized cost savings of $30 million through improved efficiencies and material utilization.
Milliken, an International textile and chemical manufacturer, announced a $70 million investment in its local operations. The investment included the purchase of a 250,000 sf facility that will serve as its main distribution center, investment in upgraded equipment and technology in it four plants located locally and the renovation of the former Milliken Design Center which was renovated and reopened as the Maple Complex.
Sentury Tire, a China base International Tire manufacturer, announced plans in 2016 to build a $530 million tire factory that will serves also as its North American Headquarters facility. Members of the Development Authority of LaGrange and the Georgia Department of Economic Development leadership teams recently returned from visiting the Sentury Tire leadership team in Qingdao China to finalize and update the project timeline. The project has experienced a few delays in design as a result of the plant being increased in size and the pending public offering for the company in China. The plant is scheduled to be 100% designed by mid-February 2019 and vertical construction of the site is being scheduled to start in August of 2019. The first phase of the project will result in over 1,000 new jobs for the community.
SEWON America, a leading supplier to the automotive industry, announced that it will be expanding its North American operation. The expansion will create 100 jobs and make an investment of $16 million. New jobs will include positions in supervision, production and warehouse operations.
ANNOUNCED MORE THAN $1.35 BILLION OF INVESTMENT SINCE 2016
Sentury Tire Jindal Films Great Wolf Lodge Sewon Interface Duracell Milliken The Exchange at 1105 Apts Courtyard Marriott Caterpillar Hilton Home2Suites Hobby Lobby Wild Leap Brewery
GREAT WOLF LODGE & CONFERENCE CENTER
$530 million $205 million $170 million $160 million $85 million $75 million $70 million $28 million $12 million $10 million $7.2 million $1.9 million $1.7 million
Note: this table does not reflect all small business activity in LaGrange
Great Wolf Lodge, North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts, celebrated its grand opening May 24th in LaGrange. The celebration included GWL CEO Murray Hennessy, GWL- Georgia GM Keith Furnas, Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Christopher Nunn, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, and Disney star Meg Donnelly.
This location is the 16th Great Wolf Lodge in North America and the only one in Georgia. GWL includes 100,000-square-foot indoor water park with slides and water features for every age and adjacent 40,000-square-foot Great Wolf Adventure Park with a host of family-friendly attractions such as a ropes course and climbing wall, to a wide range of complimentary kids’ activities including arts and crafts, dance parties, and more.
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HISTORY OF CITY HALL
During the City Hall renovation, local resident Page Holle requested a meeting with City Manager Meg Kelsey to give some more history of the building. Holle’s father, George Henry Sargent, was the city engineer during the time of the dedication of City Hall in 1927. Holle was present at the dedication of the celebration and gave some insight into what is located inside the cornerstone of the building. “When they had it dedicated, where the sign is that says 1927, he put a LaGrange Reporter – that was the paper in LaGrange during that time - and a bottle of red wine. It’s still in there,” said Holle. According to an article in the LaGrange graphic from 1926 from the Troup County Archives - the following items were laid in the cornerstone of City Hall:
Contractor tabulations, three newspapers – The LaGrange Reporter, the LaGrange Shuttle, and the LaGrange Graphic, leaflets about schools churches, population, streets, and our public utilities, a bible, and a copy of the book Americanism by John Jones, all about the role of Troup County in World War 1.
L-R: Ellen Butts (Holle’s daughter), Page Holle (Former City Engineer George Henry Sargent’s daughter) & Meg Kelsey (City Manager)
In July 2018, the city held a ribbon cutting for the revitalized front of City Hall. This project was born out of the 2015 Christmas storm which flooded the basement, destroying the walls and flooring. The root cause of the flooding was a crack in the foundation walls of the historic building. After extensive repairs, the front of the building with the help of local Architect Skip Smith.
YOUR PIE OPENS
Artwork from local artist Chuck Moore can be seen in areas throughout LaGrange including Sweetland Amphitheatre, The Thread, LaGrange Art Museum, Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, and City Hall. Moore, a metal, stone, and wood sculptor, is a self-taught artist who learned how to create art growing up in the textile mill. Moore’s artwork is on permanent loan to the City of LaGrange.
One of the newest businesses to open in downtown LaGrange is the Athens-based pizza franchise Your Pie. The restaurant held its ribbon cutting June 22nd.
Your Pie Pizza opened in 2018 on Bull Street.
MAYOR’S UPDATE 2019 11
WHAT DOES IT COST? HOW DO WE PAY FOR IT?
The City’s operational and financial performance is very strong. Since 1998, municipal operations have been financed largely by sales tax and utility revenues. This allows the City to operate entirely without property taxes. Businesses and homeowners in LaGrange enjoy a lower tax burden and higher level of service than other comparable communities throughout the Southeastern United States.
The City has historically offered utility rates that are very competitive when compared to other area suppliers. Tax exempt financing and efficient operations help us maintain low rates for our customers.
2018-2019 REVENUES $110,309,442
MISC. REVENUE 1%
UTILITIES 86% charges for service
CONNECT WITH LAGRANGE
706 883 2000 • lagrangega.gov
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-NEWSLETTER lagrange-ga.ip-zone.com/ccm/subscribe
2018-2019 EXPENSES $110,241,156
CONTRACTED SERVICES 8%
lagrangegagov cityoflagrangeutility lagrangepolicedept lagrangefiredept cityoflagrangeanimalshelter lgtv.org
DEBT SERVICE 5%
OTHER COSTS 2%
CAPTIAL OUTLAYS 5%
UTILITIES 49% purchases / supplies
G E O R G I A
200 Ridley Avenue • LaGrange, GA 30240