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JANUARY 31, 2016





INSIDE THIS ISSUE Road construction booms in Liberty


New library branch to open in Hinesville


Name-brand retailers coming to the city


Riceboro addresses water challenges


Long Co. businesses change with times

A special supplement to the Coastal Courier

Photo provided

Downs Lumber and Supply Co. Inc. posted this photo of I.B. Downs Jr. on Facebook on his 89th birthday in December 2014. I.B. Downs founded Downs Lumber in 1957, when he purchased an existing lumber company.

This just might be your year to tap into solar energy BY PATTY LEON

Thanks to Coastal Solar, owned by local developer Clay Sikes, Coastal Electric Cooperative and Georgia Power, people in Liberty County can start tapping into the sun.

Coastal EMC According to its website, Coastal EMC developed the first community solar farm at the Midway headquarters facility on Highway 17 South. Coastal EMC members may access solar energy from the community solar farm, saving substantial money by avoiding the costs of installing

solar panels in their homes. Members who buy into the solar farm also reap the benefits of reduced energy bills. The program allows the member to purchase a set number of solar power blocks that fits their household needs based on a study of their kilowatt-hour usage. The amount of energy produced by residents’ designated solar blocks will appear on their monthly bill as if they had rooftop solar panels. Every month, the energy output of residents’ portion of the solar farm will be calculated and credited to their bill. Solar blocks cost $25 each per month. Each block is

Stock photo by Metro Creative Connection

equivalent to approximately six solar panels and may produce between 166 and 203 kilowatt-hours of solar energy monthly. Energy output varies

depending on such factors as the angle of the sun, time of year and cloudiness. Members can sign up for two solar blocks on a first

come first serve basis. Members wanting to purchase more than two blocks will be handled case by case. Coastal EMC reports that it quickly sold out of blocks from its initial offering, but more capacity has become available from their second solar farm in Hazlehurst. Only Coastal EMC members are eligible to buy into the program, and there is no commitment requirement. For more information, call 912-884-3311, or email Georgia Power Georgia Power has a sales and installation department

devoted to helping existing customers decide whether solar power is a viable option. Existing customers will be guided by experts and learn about financing options available for an installation. Experts will also help customers determine what size the solar array needs to be, depending on prior kilowatt usage. For more information, go to about-energy/energy-sources/ solar. Coastal Solar Leading solar panel technology for new and existing home installations in SOLAR continues on 5

2 — BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016

Region’s continued growth prompts widening of roads BY TIFFANY KING

There is an end in sight for the completion of the road widening projects on Airport Road and Veterans Parkway. The target end date for Airport Road improvements is May 2017, according to Liberty County Engineer Trent Long. Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said phase I for Veterans Parkway, from E.G. Miles Parkway to Fort Stewart, is scheduled for completion this spring. The second phase consists of widening the parkway on Fort Stewart. The purpose of these projects is to improve traffic safety and make the area more attractive for future development of residences and businesses. Both roads will increase from two lanes to four lanes. Veterans Parkway construction is being done by the Georgia Department of

Transportation. Edwards said improvements will increase traffic capacity now and in the future. The parkway will include a median with strategic breaks for businesses and residences along — as well as off — the road. He mentioned that there was an expectation of more troops arriving at Fort Stewart, and the improvements will allow for easier access if an incident were to occur on or near the post. Although the construction on Veterans Parkway has been a hassle for drivers with traffic being backed up at times and detours, Edwards asks that drivers remain patient. “Bear with us. We know that there is inconvenience with the construction. Once it’s complete, it will be a much nicer roadway for everyone,” Edwards said. Long believes improvements to Airport and Veterans will be positive for the city and surrounding areas.

Other road and construction projects The county has received a $266,180 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant from GDOT for improvements to Lewis Frasier Road near Midway. A bridge over Russell Swamp on E.B. Cooper Highway near Riceboro is being replaced. According to a GDOT project concept report, the bridge is in poor condition, with several pylons showing signs of rot. Construction will cost GDOT more than $3 million, with a scheduled completion date of June 2016. The Stafford Park batting cages at the Liberty County Recreation Department have been completed and are already in use. LCRD Director Jimmy Martin said the batting cages were designed for the Recreation Department’s baseball program. If an outside group or person wants to use the batting cages, reservations have to be made at the LCRD office.

Tiffany King

Traffic navigates a sea of construction cones on Veterans Parkway near E.G. Miles Parkway in Hinesville. Veterans is being widened to four lanes with a median between E.G. Miles and Fort Stewart’s gate 5.

Plans for a park in Fleming are underway. Martin said the county recently purchased the property, with cleanup

New library a push to the modern


The new $3 million Liberty County branch of Live Oak Public Libraries, located on Memorial Drive in Hinesville, will feature a massive children’s area, several study rooms, a genealogy research room and several other features for patrons to enjoy. The library system had been looking for a new Hinesville library for more than 15 years, according to Christian Kruse, Live Oak Public Libraries’ library director. “Our Hinesville Library is over 30 years old, and the building is beginning to show its age. The population of the county has nearly doubled since we opened our current building. It is far too small and crowded to adequately serve the residents of Hinesville and Liberty County,” Kruse wrote in an email. The first phase of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax-funded project is expected to be completed in the middle of March, according to Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown. The second phase will be completed sometime this summer, when the old library will be demolished to make way for a much larger parking lot than is currently available. When visitors walk in, to their left will be an open stack area with seating, and around the edges of the area will be individual study, computer, and multipur-

and site prep starting in February. The area is 8.52 acres at the corner of Beasleyville and Freedman Grove roads. It

features a fish pond, pavilion, playground, walking trail, adult-sized softball field, picnic tables and restrooms.

Name-brand retail stores proposed for new shopping center BY CAITLIN KENNEY

Continuing coverage

Caitlin Kenney

A view of the under-construction Liberty County branch of Live Oak Public Libraries on Memorial Drive in Hinesville.

pose rooms. The library will have WiFi, according to Brown. “For improvements, we have integrated technology into the building from the moment you enter,” Kruse wrote. “There will be an automated return system so you can easily return your books and get a receipt instantly. You’ll also be able to pick up items you have placed on hold and check them out yourself so that if you’re in a hurry you don’t have to wait.” The main reception area will be partially under the skylight, bringing in a large amount of natural lighting, making the space feel large and airy. Around the corner from the reception desk will be the children’s area. “Everything really on this side and extending

along a little bit in the back that you see, will be dedicated to children’s reading area, children’s study areas, and all the book stacks and stuff are related to kids and all are basically on this side,” Brown said. The children’s section features a large circular window that faces towards the old library. The area also has a large side-reading room, featuring a tiered seating setup where children can come to read, play games or listen to story time. “So it’s an activity zone area, basically,” Brown said. The library also has several administrative offices, a book-sorting room and space outside for patrons to read, with tables and chairs for when the weather is nice. The differences between the new and old library are

big, including three times the space at about 30,000 square feet, more general study area and flexible space to grow. Brown said that once the new library is complete, Fort Stewart might possibly close its own library branch, making the new library even more vital to everyone in the community. The location of the new library in the downtown area and directly across the street from the new Armstrong Liberty Center — as well as being close to Bradwell Institute — will mean that there will be a lot of foot traffic coming to Memorial Drive. Libraries not only provide a learning environment for the community, Brown said, but they also function LIBRARY continues on 6

Watch for updates on the shopping center as they become available on and in the Coastal Courier.

A new shopping center coming to Hinesville may feature several nationally known retail brands when it is completed — possibly by the end of 2016. The new 21.6-acre development will be located next to the Wal-Mart Supercenter just off Highway 84. The anticipated cost for the project currently is $21 million. During the Nov. 5 Hinesville City Council meeting, Gabriele Hartage, zoning administrator with the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, said the shopping center will have about 130,000 square feet of floor space. Jeff Ricketson, the executive director of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, would not confirm specific stores for the location but did say that a sit-down restaurant, a fastfood restaurant and a prominent national coffee shop are proposed for the center. “I think the next two stages is they need to actually acquire the property because they’ve just been doing a lot of planning up to this point,” Ricketson said. “And then once they acquire the property, then they’ll get their development permit. “We’ve already got the plans for the shopping center, so we’re reviewing those now,” he continued. “So by the time

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they acquire the property, we will have approved their plans, and they’ll be ready to start construction.” The developer, The Hutton Company, would not discuss the development after requests for interviews by the Coastal Courier. “I truly believe that some of these anchors, as it was reported to me, would like to be in there by the back of the Christmas season,” Ricketson said. “This would be completed this year.” He said the completion date would need to be confirmed by Hutton, but Ricketson was optimistic because Hutton is the same company that developed the two new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets in only a matter of months. The new shopping center will be a dynamic addition to an already bustling area, with neighbors like Lowe’s Home Improvement, Tractor Supply Co., Wal-Mart and, possibly, Kroger Marketplace. “Kroger is not moving this fast. I think this will be open before the Kroger is open because … we haven’t gotten any construction drawings,” Ricketson said. “I RETAIL continues on 6


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BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016 — 3

Riceboro addresses water challenges BY TIFFANY KING

Riceboro’s water issues may be solved with a new well in McIntosh County. Before the November election, which re-elected Bill Austin as mayor and all the incumbent City Council members, residents expressed their concerns over water service to mayoral candidates Gregory Richardson, Joe Harris and Austin. Austin listed water service as his top issue, and he said his administration has found a way to provide more water service that will contribute to Riceboro’s eco-

nomic growth. Riceboro is currently permitted by the Environmental Protection Division to draw about 525,000 gallons of water per day from the upper Floridan aquifer. The EPD discovered a cone of depression in the upper Floridan and has implemented new limits on parts of South Carolina, Chatham, Bryan and Liberty counties. Austin said areas are classified as red, yellow or green. Those classified as “red” have the most effect on the aquifer, “yellow” some effect, and “green” little to no effect. Liberty County is designated “yellow.” “They’ve mandated that

we reduce the amount of water coming out of the Floridan aquifer,” Austin said. “We’re pulling out more than we’re permitted to pull out to support (SNF) Chemtall and their products.” In an email, Austin said Riceboro will be required to reduce its daily usage from 525,000 to 506,000 gallons by 2020. To bring in more water, Austin said, “We’ve negotiated an agreement with McIntosh County, which is a green county, to allow us to put a well over in that county.” He added that the water will travel about 3 miles to connect to Riceboro’s water lines. McIntosh County

doesn’t have restrictions on the amount of water it withdraws, and the McIntosh County commissioners have approved the plan, according to Austin. It will be a $5.6 million project. Austin said the city has received conditional approval for a $2.6 million low interest, four-year loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. He hopes that with the well, Riceboro will become a “green” area. The well project will also include building a water tower in the Briar Bay area. Efforts to raise the rest of the funding include pursuing at least $1.2 million in

Tiffany King

Water is pumped into a canal near Interstate Paper in Riceboro.

federal money. There were also preliminary discussions in 2014 with the Liberty County Development Authority about the idea of

a potential tax abatement between SNF Chemtall and the LCDA. An abatement RICEBORO continues on 6

Long County businesses making changes to accommodate growth BY MIKE RIDDLE Coastal Courier correspondent

Since 2000, the population in Long County has almost doubled. In 2013, census figures showed the county as the fifth fastest growing county in the nation, and as recently as 2014 the county, was the fifth fastest growing in the state. With this sustained growth, many businesses in Ludowici and elsewhere in the county also have had to grow to provide quality service for their customers. Recently, four established businesses have made upgrades for this purpose.

Celebration Castle adds Roundhouse Restaurant Long County is one of the few places in the nation that has a castle — more specifically, a Celebration Castle. Built in 2007 by Annette and Chuck Abbey, the castle has become a venue for host-

Photos by Mike Riddle

Recent changes to Long County businesses, from left: Celebration Castle added Roundhouse Restaurant; Dairy Queen added outdoor seating; Ludowici Trading Co. expanded; and Long Auto Parts remodeled both inside and out.

ing weddings, high school proms, birthday parties, military change-of-command ceremonies, Easter egg hunts and more. Built on 10 acres off Lee Place Road, the castle has become one of the county’s biggest draws. Recently, the Abbeys added the Roundhouse Restaurant to the castle, which they define as a fine-dining establishment. The restaurant can seat up to 100 customers and serves meals such as prime rib and T-bone dinners. It is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Dairy Queen adds outside seating area The Dairy Queen in Ludowici has become a fixture in the community. Owned and operated since 2006 by Sam Malik, the Grill and Chill restaurant serves meals to local workers, students and travelers passing through on Highway 84. It is routine to see a full restaurant after a baseball, basketball or football game. Recently, to accommodate growth and to provide an option for his customers, Malik added an outside seating area. Malik said support-

ing the community is important to him, and he plans to serve his customers for a long time. DQ is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Ludowici Trading Co. adds 2,250 square feet Ludowici Trading Co. is one of those hidden gems, where nearly everyone can find something to like. Whether you are looking for an antique bicycle, a nostalgic metal business sign from another time or a dated

newspaper, you can probably find it at the trading company. Since owner and operator Dusty Keetch opened the new shop on Highway 84 in 2014, he has seen a need to increase its size. Currently, he is installing a 2,250 square foot addition to the back of the business. He also repainted the exterior of the shop to make it more attractive. Keetch said that if you like “neat stuff,” you should stop by for a visit. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Long Auto Parts remodels inside and outside Long Auto Parts has been in business in Ludowici since 1965. Owned by Justin Anderson, and managed by Bobby Nelson, the local shop has always tried to put the customer first. Recently, the shop was remodeled on the inside and the outside. Nelson said he added new tool lines and a suspended ceiling inside. Outside, he said, he had the building repainted, landscaping added and a new sign installed. Nelson said that with the changes to the inside, customers now should have an easier time finding the items they need. He said that making the outside of the shop more attractive was a way to show the people of Ludowici how important they are to his business. The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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4 — BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016

Niche markets help Liberty County businesses’ longevity BY PATTY LEON

on Fort Stewart. As a young man, he got a position The city of Hinesville and with Union Bag Liberty County have gone and Paper Corp. through significant changes of Savannah as a throughout the years, yet a timber estimator few local businesses seem to and surveyor. be unaffected by newer deDowns said velopment and growth. Patty Leon he purchased an What makes these busiexisting lumber nesses thrive in an ev- Downs Lumber has been family owned business around er-changing environment is since it started in 1957. 1957. that they provide unique serDowns’ grandvices to the community that Square in the center of son John Downs said the have yet to be replaced by a Hinesville. original business site was beconglomerate or chain store. “I’ve been operating the hind the former Coca-Cola There are several ex- business myself for 71 years. building, which was on Main amples that can be found … I still work three days a Street in Hinesville. throughout the county. Only week, but my son actually He said his grandfather a handful are highlighted operates the dealership these was going to run the store as here. days,” he said. a hardware and lumber yard Hinesville Ford He offered the dealership’s but city ordinance back then According to Fred Min- secret to its success. didn’t allow for that type of gledorff Jr., Hinesville Ford “We take good care of our business within the city limstarted in 1914. While the customers no matter wheth- its. dealership has changed loca- er they buy a new car or a I.B. Downs went ahead tions a few times in the past used car.” and purchased land at 213 102 years, it is among the Find more information Deal St., which was just oldest continuously running about Hinesville Ford at down the street from where companies within the city. his family lived at that time, Mingledorff said Hinesand the business has been ville Ford has been at its curDowns Lumber there ever since. rent Oglethorpe Highway I.B. Downs Jr., was born “Every store in Hinesville location for roughly 50 years in McIntosh County and- has either changed names or and is operated by his son was only 5 years old when moved locations or someFred Mingledorff III. his family moved to Liberty thing,” said John Downs, “My uncle started the County. As a child, he worked who currently manages his business,” said Mingledorff on the family farm, sold grandfather’s business. “But Jr. noting that the original peanuts and later delivered I do believe we are the oldlocation was in Courthouse early morning newspapers est business to be in the same place.” John Downs said his grandfather’s work ethics and reputation as an honest and reputable business has led to its longevity. “He comes from an older generation of having that drive to better himself and not live from paycheck to paycheck. … He had the bigger picture, knowing he could do more. He put the time and effort into it,” John Patty Leon Downs said. Find out more about Hinesville Ford is one of the longest-running businesses in the city. Downs Lumber on its

Photo provided

People attend a plant-based cooking class at Farmers Natural Foods in Hinesville.

book page, www.facebook. c o m / D o w n s Lu m b e r a n d Supply. Farmers Natural Foods A one-stop shop for all things healthy, organic and natural, Farmer’s Natural Foods turns 33 years old this year. Farmer’s Natural Foods started in a smaller location just across Veterans Parkway in what now is the Hinesville Western Store. The building was an old, country-style home that Jerry Poppell started. Poppell ran the store solo for seven years as a bachelor. Along the way, Poppell met his wife, Roberta, through the wellness industry, and they ran the store together in its original location for two more years. Eventually, the Poppells decided they needed more square footage to meet customers’ needs and make room for a growing line of wellness products. The couple built a new

structure at the store’s current location on E.G. Miles Parkway. It was about half the size it is now. After several more years, they expanded again to add a kitchen and smoothie bar, more shelf space and more floor space so they could host special events. Farmer’s Natural Foods hosts several speakers covering a variety of topics related to health, nutrition, diet and supplements. Its events are listed on its website, www. Ranger Joe’s Ranger Joe’s opened its Hinesville location in 1996, marking 20 years serving the local military, law enforcement and community, according to Vice President Tracey Rolon. The original Ranger Joe’s in Columbus was opened in 1963 and is also still in operation. LONGEVIT Y continues on 6

Patty Leon

Ranger Joe’s will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Hinesville this year.

We’re all about Liberty... Long Co. Librar y receives grant to buy new books

Community news , page




Serving Liberty County and Coa stal Georgia sinc e 1871 WWW.COAS TALCOURIER .COM

SUNBURYY/ISLAND S MEETING IS JAN. 22 The sixth of 12 community-plann ing meetings will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursd ay, Jan. 22, at Dorche ster Village Civic Center, 1804 Islands Highway in Midwa y. The meeting, hosted by the Liberty Consol idated Planning Comm ission, will let area residen ts offer input on the next comprehensive plan. The information gathered during these meetings, which are every other month, will be used to formul ate the 2040 Liberty County Comprehensiv e Plan, a guide for the develo pment of Liberty County and its commu nities during the next 25 years. The Liberty County Consolidated Planning Commission staff Above: Long will County’s first-ev present maps Photos by Mike er Dr. Martin in Ludowici. of landRiddle Luther King Jr. The procession use and transpo Day parade went boasted 32 entries during a cerem rtation off without a ony held in Long . Below: Parade plans for the Sunbur hitch Saturday County Middle grand marsh leaders and clergy y/ al Mildred Elder School’s cafeter attended and Islands commu speaks ia. Several elected spoke at the nity, commemora officials, comm which include tion. unity s the coastal area of unincorporated Liberty BY MIKE RIDDLE County just southe Coastal Courier ast of On the web: correspondent Tradeport East Industrial More parade Park, encompassing Long County celebra pictures at approximately ted its first Dr. Martin 69,884 www.coastalLuther acres of land. King Jr. Day parade and For more inform program Saturd ation, ay in Ludocall 912-408-2033 the route, cheere wici. The festivit d and colies began lected or email jrickets at 10 a.m. when on@ candy thrown the pro- those by cession on floats.

Long County holds first MLK Jr. Day celebration

LIBERTY’S ONLINE GATHERING PLACE... e’re proud to serve Liberty and Long County readers with local news and information that matters to you. We’ve been serving Liberty County and coastal Georgia since 1871. We’re YOUR newspaper for YOUR community.


Parade, ceremo ny draw

 Volume 146 •

Issue 4


‘Dance off ’ to help CASA



DANCE continu es on 8A A

to feed hungry

Rotary Club lear ns about founde mission to hel r’s p needy in Afr B R ica C. M

children “

“I do all my own fundraising, Ahern said. “It’s ” sad to say it, but ANDY not everything that URRA RAY We asked our goes to charity Kenya, Zimbabwe gets and South Africa. to the people who need it.” local pastors to Without direct Since starting her church or govministry in 2005, Members of Hinesv ernment suppor she’s learned not think of a viab t, ille’s Maure to have Rotary en food, shoes, Ahern Club on Tuesda le founded and still y heard about directs Our Jour- clothes or blankets sent to the business that the ney Inc., ministry of a villages where which would local nonprofit she’s helping the raises awareness orga- funds poor unless nization dedica and she’s there help support their to help people ted to feeding to receive and in AIDS-torn and Africa to helping women distribute the supplie meet and children s, thus guaran own ministry. in clothing, educat their need for food, teeing ion and work. Our Journey MINISTRY continu founder Mauree Y


Local artist’s wo

Exhibit availab le for viewing through end of the month B J M A

es on 8A

rk on display at

n Ahern

gallery Artist Ashley Kukula


merce Street. jmcabee@coasta Cuevas — who teaches studio The Hinesville Area Arts numer classes and heads up Council opened ous other 2015 with a artistic endeavors for the reception for local arts council artist Ash- — ley Kukula said she has been Cuevas last making art her entire Thursday at life, and her the downtown gallery HAAC’s on ComARTIST continu

Cuevas talks with guests during her exhibit reception last week at the Hinesville Area Arts Council gallery.

es on 3A


The Courier’s film critic think s the “Taken” series needs to be retired. Watch his review at www.coas

Jeremy McAbee



What do you think is the top priority for this years’ state legislature to tackle? Vote at www.coas

Get connected to your community. Because it matters. For home delivery call 912-876-2566 Serving Liberty County and Coastal Georgia since 1871

Jeremy McAbee

Griffin Lotson , Justin Frasier , Karen Bell, Kathy Villafane and Donald Spencer pose for photos at the Atlantic Area CASA’s Dancing with the Stars of the Coasta l Empire kickoff Friday at the La Quinta Inn in Flemin gton. The five, along with DeLisa Espada , will compete March 7.

Area residents, business leaders and “celebrities” gathered Friday at the La Quinta Inn in Flemington for the Atlantic Area Court Appoin ted Special Advocates’ Dancing with the Stars kickoff event.

es on 3A

Area ministry aim s




, which consist Grand mared of shal Mildre 32 entries, left d Elder first had Walker Elethe idea to recogn mentary School ize King’s and its way to Long made birthday with a local celeMiddle bration School. . After the parade Despite cold weathe , a group r, a large crowd gathere d along PARADE continu



SYNC CALEN DARS Local organiz ations’ representative s met Monday with the Liberty County Chamb er of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau to coordin ate their 2015 calendar events with the chamb er’s master calend ar. Taking part in the plannin g were: the Family and Morale, Welfar e and Recreation departm ent; U.S. Army Garriso n for Stewart-Hunte r; Fort Stewart Public Affairs Office; the city of Hinesville; Liberty County; the Hinesv ille Downtown Develo pment Authority; the Hinesville Rotary Club; the Ministerial Alliance; and the Associa tion of the U.S. Army.

crowds despite cold


Weather 50 °


Full forecast, page 2B

BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016 — 5

Ludowici awaits word on much-anticipated McDonald’s STAFF REPORT

Ludowici by officials first contacted McDonald’s Corp. in April 2014 about the possibility of bringing a new restaurant to the city. Nearly two years later, the city still has no McDonald’s restaurant, and many are wondering if the project will

ever pan out. Ludowici Mayor James Fuller acknowledged recently that the project has run into a few delays. Despite the problems, however, he said the McDonald’s is still coming. “I know people are wondering about it,” he said. “I get asked about when the McDonald’s is coming every

week, and I still tell everyone the same thing: Everything we have been told leads me to believe that we are still getting a McDonald’s.” Fuller said that some of the reasons for the delay have been getting roads and easements approved and, recently, a change in ownership of the McDonald’s contract. Fuller said the contract’s

original owner was the Jones Co., which owns all of the Flash Foods convenience stores and gas stations in Georgia and Florida. He said CST Brands, which is based in San Antonio, is in the process of purchasing all of those Flash Foods locations. CST Brands is scheduled to close on the deal at the end of January, the mayor

said, and assume control of the Flash Foods businesses Feb. 1. Fuller said that on Jan. 5, he talked to a spokesperson from CST Brands about the proposed fast-food restaurant. The person told Fuller that CST was also purchasing the contract to build the McDonald’s in Ludowici. “The lady we talked to

told us that they were buying the contract for the McDonald’s and that it still would be opening, and the new Flash Foods would still be built,” Fuller said. Fuller said that as soon as CST Brands closes the deal with the Jones Co., he will contact CST about when the restaurant will begin construction.

Long, winding road to the Golden Arches on Highway 84

Here is a timeline of events so far for McDonald’s project in Ludowici: • Jan. 28, 2014: Mike Riddle is approved by Mayor James Fuller and Councilwoman Mary Hamilton to begin the process of looking into bringing a McDonald’s restaurant to Ludowici. • April 2, 2014: Riddle contacts McDonald’s Corp. Area Real Estate Manager Jason Horne about bringing a restaurant to the city. Riddle begins routinely providing information to Horne about the growth of Ludowici and Long County and why the city would be a profitable location for a restaurant. After approximately three months of dialogue with Horne, Riddle sets up a meeting be-

SOLAR Continued from page 1

Liberty County and across southeast Georgia is Coastal Solar. Sikes explained that the passage of the Solar Financing and Free Market Act of 2015 has paved the way for affordable access to solar energy for homeowners and homebuilders in Liberty County and surrounding areas. House Bill 57, which took

tween Fuller, Hamilton and Horne. • July 3, 2014: Horne meets with Fuller and Hamilton at Ludowici City Hall. Horne tells them that McDonald’s Corp. has initially approved establishing a combination restaurant and convenience store in the city. He said the business is proposed to be located at the corner of Highway 84 and Mitcham Road. • July 8, 2014: Riddle informs the other members of the City Council of his communication with Horne and the previous week’s meeting. Riddle said, “Nothing is set in stone yet because Mr. Horne still has to go through the steps that he must take, but things do look really good

for us getting a McDonald’s.” • Aug. 10, 2014: Ludowici City Council approves exercising the power of eminent domain to transfer the title of property located adjacent to Mitcham Road back to the original property owners. The measure was approved after local real-estate agent Jimmy Shanken went before the panel on behalf of a buyer who was planning to purchase the land to build a McDonald’s restaurant. The measure was only approved after Shanken contacted the potential buyer, and they agreed to provide a goodfaith letter stating that construction on the restaurant would begin within one year of the closing on the property. Hamilton said, “This is

effect July 1, will help homeowners finance some of the cost of having solar-power systems installed in their homes. Coastal Solar provides a one-stop shop for anyone looking to tap into the sun’s energy potential. Company engineers will determine whether there is enough land to place the arrays in the ground or if roof-mounted panels are the better option. They will determine the energy needs of the home, roof angles, whether

tree canopy is a factor and inspect every detail to determine the best installation option. Coastal Solar also helps customers find financing. Sikes says HB 57 has also made solar power extremely attractive and viable for commercial, industrial and agricultural consumers. The new law gives local and state agencies, school systems and industrial companies the opportunity to tap into huge savings with little or no upfront fees or costs.

Photo provided

This Google Maps image shows the intersection of Highway 84 and Mitcham Road in Ludowici, which is slated to get a McDonald’s and new Flash Foods.

one more step in the right direction to getting this McDonald’s in Ludowici.” • Jan. 22, 2015: The Jones Co., based in Waycross, purchased the final tract of land where the proposed restau-

Read more about Coastal Solar, including solar power’s tax benefits, financing options and untapped use, in the February/March 2016 issue of Liberty Life Magazine. HB 57 allows the purchase of solar power through a Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA. Coastal Solar currently works with Origis Energy and EDT Engineering for educational and industrial clients.

rant and convenience store would be built. The property was a 1.79-acre parcel at the corner of Highway 84 and Mitcham Road. • March 18, 2015: The Georgia Department of Transportation approved a final easement that was required for the project to proceed. • July 2, 2015: Horne informs Ludowici officials that the proposed combination restaurant and convenience store had been changed. He said instead of a combination business, the McDonald’s would be a standalone restaurant. Fuller said that in addition to the restaurant being built, a new convenience store would also be constructed at the site. Fuller

said, “Now, it looks like we’ll be getting a new McDonald’s and a Flash Foods.” • Sept. 18, 2015: Officials from Ludowici and Long County meet with representatives from the Jones Co. and GDOT about modifying the roads where the new McDonald’s and Flash Foods is to be built. • Jan. 5, 2016: Officials from Ludowici are informed that the contract for the McDonald’s and new Flash Foods was being sold from the Jones Co. to CST Brands, which is based in San Antonio. Fuller said, “I can guarantee you this. We will keep doing all that we can to make sure this McDonald’s gets here.” — Staff report

The engineers develop the site plan after researching the facility. The PPA would procure, install, operate and maintain the solar-power system. The client enters into a long-term agreement with the PPA to purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated from the system. An incentive for the client is a lower and more-predictable cost of electricity over the length of the contract. The client doesn’t need to deal with permitting or design issues

because those are handled by the power-system owner. The owner of the system, not the client, is responsible for operating and maintaining the system. Coastal Solar is the first solar power company in the southeast Georgia area, according to Sikes, that is adding solar arrays to newly constructed homes. A model of a new home construction with solar power mounted on the roof is on display in the Oak Crest Subdivision.

to our NEW office

in Richmond Hill! (Highway 17 next door to Food Lion) Lobby and Drive-thru Hours:

Register Today (and every day)

To Win One Month Free Electricity. One entry per visit, per day for Coastal Electric’s residential accounts only.

Loans that

Fit Your Needs Personal • Auto • Mortgage Get pre-approved today at

Drawing is February 1st. One month free electricity will be awarded to a residential account only and applied to the February, 2016 bill. You must be a member of Coastal Electric Cooperative to enter. May not be redeemed for cash.

Please come by for a visit! Serving Fort Stewart & Hunter AAF, and residents of Liberty, Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham Counties.


6 — BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016


Who benefits from states’ higher minimum wages?

Amazon forces retailers to adjust BY SAM TURNER Deseret News

Wal-Mart announced this month that it will be closing 269 stores in the U.S. and internationally. About 10,000 jobs will be lost in the process. According to its statement, Wal-Mart will focus on “growing the e-commerce business” in lieu of these closures. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company by revenue, has been too slow in adapting to online shopping trends, reports the New York Times. Even though Wal-Mart has already made significant investments in its online presence, it simply has not been able to catch up with online-only retailers like Amazon. Wal-Mart is not the only one shutting down its bricksand-mortar superstores. Macy’s also announced that it will be laying off 2,500 employees and closing down five stores, reported Time. J.C. Penney will be closing 47 stores, eliminating almost 5,500 jobs, says ABC News. The problem is that traditional retail locations are weighed down by the expensive overhead costs of employees and buildings, reports CNBC. Where traditional retailers have the advantage of a physical network for sales and distribution, online retailers have the edge when it comes

RICEBORO Continued from page 3

could allow SNF Chemtall to contribute those funds to Riceboro’s water system. No agreement was finalized. The city continues to work on getting other economic incentive grants. “But all in all we think we’re on track to pull the program together in the next couple of months. And if we do, it would be a sig-

RETAIL Continued from page 2

think they’re still waiting on Kroger corporate to sign off on that project before they can actually start construction.” The area, with or without a new Kroger, is still drawing potential commercial opportunities who want to access this growing market. “This project is a great indicator that the city of Hinesville is poised to be the retail

to convenience and ease of purchase. The front-runner in the online retail sphere is Amazon. According to Statista, Amazon’s quarterly revenues have increased by more than 300 percent since 2010, seeing third-quarter earnings of $25 billion in 2015. Dave Wendland, vice president of Hamacher Resource Group, told Forbes that “variety, reliable/predictable delivery, fair prices, and constant reach toward their next ambitious goal” have all greatly contributed to Amazon’s success. Amazon is constantly cooking up game-changing innovations. In November, Amazon announced Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery service that would allow buyers to receive their purchases within 30 minutes. The service will use drones to deliver items from an Amazon distribution center to the customer’s backyard. Small items only, though. No refrigerators just yet. This month, Amazon announced its latest creation — the Dash Replenishment Service, which can replenish items just as customers are about to run out. For example, certain Brother printers are wired to alert Amazon when they are almost out of ink, reports Mashable. The same works for detergent in


Jan. 1 rang in a new year and higher minimum wages for workers in 13 states, similar to the first day of 2015, when 20 states and the District of Columbia saw minimum wage increases, according to Quartz. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The highest state minimum rose from $9.32 to $10 Jan. 1 when California and Massachusetts raised their wages. According to a poll from Hart Research Associates, 63 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Increasing the minimum wage has traction even among some conservative voters. Another poll found that most conservative swing-state voters supported a $15 minimum wage. When adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage had its greatest purchasing power almost 50 years ago, when it reached today’s equivalent of $9.54 in 1968. Jared Pincin, an economics professor at The King’s College, told the Deseret News that the minimum wage debate misrepresents the group of Americans that it affects most. A report from the Pew Re-

Photo provided

With Wal-Mart and other major retailers closing stores and laying off employees, Amazon continues to innovate with flying packages and data-driven stores.

select GE and Whirlpool appliances. Ironically, one of Amazon’s latest projects does not appear to be innovative at all. In November, Amazon opened a bricks-and-mortar bookstore of its own in Seattle. Far from being a retrogression, however, this store may redefine how physical retail is done. According to Entreprenuer, Amazon is “leveraging online data for offline sales.” This means that Amazon will arrange and stock its physical stores based on consumer patterns observed online. “It’s data with heart,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, told Forbes.

“We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.” Amazon’s new bookstore is expected to be especially popular with millennials, says Forbes. While Amazon’s sales of Kindle e-readers are declining, 79 percent of millennials reported reading a print copy of a book in 2014. As Entrepreneur says, “Amazon knows that people still yearn for the shopping experience, the book right now, the bookseller’s recommendations, the thinking process that occurs in a bookstore.” Amazon’s new bookstore allows shoppers to do just that in a data-optimized environment.

nificant benefit to not only Liberty County but to Long County, McIntosh County and Chemtall, hiring other people from those areas too,” Austin said. The mayor mentioned that if the city cannot provide SNF Chemtall with essential raw materials — such as water — jobs could be lost. Water is necessary to provide infrastructure for any future expansions and business development, such as retail, grocery stores and entertainment venues.

The mayor talked about some other projects and improvements happening in the city. “We’re also looking to complete our neighborhood park by the end of this year and to begin working our business incubation center,” Austin said. He mentioned that the number of residents connected to the city sewer has increased from 85 to 430 since he has been in office, and 159 people who live right outside of the city lim-

its — in the areas of Briar Bay Road and Shell Road — are also connected to the sewer. They are considered to be part of Riceboro’s service delivery areas. Austin said that he and the council are going to come up with a plan for several dirt roads in the

center of this region,” said Kenneth Howard, the executive director of the Hinesville Development Authority. “I mean there’s already 30,000 cars a day on the road. That’s why these people want to be here, and that’s why they had the interest so some of these major retailers,” Ricketson said. “I know that, like the coffee shop has been looking for a number of years for an appropriate site, and I think the fast food restaurant that’s been talked about here has been looking for a loca-

tion site.” “So I think this being where it’s located and being on (Highway) 84 with the traffic count is desirable to them,” he said. “And I think … we may actually get those two businesses now after they’ve been looking at this market for a long time.” “I think this will definitely create some more dining opportunities for people, it will create some more shopping opportunities for people,” Ricketson said. “And I think that’s good for Hinesville.”

community, such as putting down gravel until the city can obtain state and federal funds to pave the road. Over the next five years, Austin said he wants Riceboro to “just be a better place to live, to work and to play, and improve family life.”

search Center last year found minimum wage earners are disproportionately young, mostly white and mostly part-time workers. In light of this research, some advocates of minimum wage increases have shifted their focus away from people earning $7.25 to a more general population of low-wage workers who could be indirectly affected by a change in the minimum wage. Paul Sonn, the legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, said to focus only on those earning $7.25 misses the true impact of the current federal minimum wage. “The correct focus is instead on the much larger and older group of workers who would receive a raise if the minimum wage were raised to a more adequate level,” he said.

LONGEVITY Continued from page 4

Rolon said the store’s product selection and impeccable customer service keep customers coming back for return business. “That is our customer base, and it is definitely important that we have what they need and offer them the best customer service,” Rolon said about serving the soldiers of Fort Stewart and local law-enforcement personnel who make up a big portion of the customers. She said the business expanded to online services to broaden its reach. For more information, go to

Liberty County School System The mission of the Liberty County School System is to provide all students an education which promotes excellence, good citizenship, and a love of learning. All students will receive a high quality education providing them the knowledge and skills to be successful, contributing members of a global society.

Fast Facts • • • • •

College & Career Academy with 12 Learning Pathways State of the Art Pre-Kindergarten Program Horizons Non-Traditional Learning Center 1:1 iPad Initiative in Grades 4-12 Charter System 2015-2020

Caitlin Kenney

Work continues at the new Liberty County branch of Live Oak Public Libraries in Hinesville. The first phase of construction is expected to be finished by mid-March, followed by the second phase, in which the current library will be demolished to make way for a parking lot.

LIBRARY Continued from page 2

as gathering places. “Obviously for young adults, as well as older adults, that’s one thing I noticed as we visited one of

the libraries … was folks go there in the morning, they read their papers, and they gather,” he said. Properties on Memorial Drive are becoming hubs, according to Brown, with the Board of Education, churches, apartments, Arm-

strong and soon with the new library. “They’re obviously all customer draws, different types of customers,” he said. “And so obviously businesses … are looking for people. So it definitely will help bring people to the area.”

LCSS Follow us on Facebook & Twitter

BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016 — 7


Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States of both men and women. Prevention and early detection are key. That’s where we come in! With a highly trained, Board Certified Cardiologist, advanced diagnostic equipment and a state of the art Cardiopulmonary Center within the hospital, you and your family can rest assured we will care for your heart as if it were ours. In addition to Comprehensive Cardiac Risk Evaluations and Emergency Conditions, our Cardiac Team are experts in: • Holter & Event Monitoring from home • EKG & Cardiac Stress Testing • Nuclear Cardiology • Echocardiography & Electrocardiography • TEE (Trans-Esophageal Echocardiography) • Arrhythmia & Pacemaker Evaluations • Pacemaker Implantations • ICD (Internal Cardioverter-Defibrillator) Implantation • Heart Catheterization & Coronary Interventions • Cardiac Rehabilitation

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FEBRUARY IS AMERICAN HEART MONTH! On February 5th we’re going to “Paint the Town” red in observance of “National Wear Red Day” Help us raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and provide an important reminder to take action today to protect our health. Let’s all commit to wearing red on February 5th in observance of this very important health and wellness initiative. Cardiovascular disease — including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure — is responsible for 1 out of every 3 deaths. It is the No. 1 killer of American women and men and a leading cause of serious illness and disability.

Schedule your Cardiovascular Risk Evaluation today! Contact Liberty Cardiology at 912-876-5620.

Need Cardiac Rehab? Contact the Liberty Regional Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at 912-369-9448.




PHYSICIANS Anesthesiology

Internal Medicine

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Keith Johnson, MD Anesthesia Medical Director Southeast Georgia Anesthesia

Calin Badea, MD Hinesville Family Care Center 502 E. General Stewart Way, Suite B, Hinesville 912-368-4169

Mark Clayton, DDS Coastal Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Assoc. 4540 E. Oglethorpe Hwy, Suite A, Hinesville 912-369-3692

Firas Bannout, MD SouthCoast Medical Group 455 S. Main St., Suite 201, Hinesville 912-877-6822


Cardiology Erasme Coly, MD Liberty Cardiology 455 S. Main St., Suite 102, Hinesville 912-876-5620

Family Medicine Martha Kitchings, MSN, FNP-BC Liberty Family Medicine 455 S. Main St., Suite 104, Hinesville 912-876-5644

General Surgery Christina B. McCain, MD, FACS Rebecca Coefield-Floyd, MD Southeast Georgia Surgery 455 S. Main St., Suite 101, Hinesville 912-876-5505

Hematology & Oncology George Negrea, MD Low Country Cancer Care Associates, PC 790 Veterans Pkwy., Suite 102, Hinesville 912-692-2000.

Hospitalists Richard Robinson, MD Hospitalist Program Medical Director Calin Badea, MD Adewunmi Sobowale, DO

Adewunmi Sobowale, DO Bryan Medical Associates 740 General Stewart Way, Suite 101, Hinesville 912-876-5452

Nephrology Nizar Eskandar, MD SouthCoast Medical Group 455 S. Main St., Suite 201, Hinesville 912-877-6822

Obstetrics & Gynecology

LaKimberly Price, MD Liberty Pediatrics 455 S. Main St., Suite 105, Hinesville 912-876-0250

Podiatry Henry Taylor, DPM All Ways Feet, PC 127 MacArthur Drive, Hinesville 912-876-8637 Kelli Ashe, DPM Ankle & Foot Associates 481 E.G. Miles Parkway, Hinesville 912-432-7236

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Seth Borquaye, MD Patrice Moore, MD Comprehensive OB/GYN Health Center 455 S. Main St., Suite 202, Hinesville 912-877-2228

Daniel Most, MD Most Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, PC, 512 S. Main St., Suite B, Hinesville, 912-209-4456


Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine

Mark Manocha, MD Georgia Eye Institute of the Southeast 741 Weeping Willow Street, Hinesville 912-368-2522

Adewumi Oguntunmibi, MD Coastal Medical Specialists in Lung & Critical Care 508 E.G. Miles Parkway, Hinesville 912-369-5864

Radiology Charles Ferris, MD Radiology Medical Director Radiology Associates of Savannah | 912-369-9400

8 — BUSINESS & PROGRESS (Hinesville, Ga.) — SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016

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What's been happening around Liberty County and what is expected to happen in the near future.