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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Grants coming to reduce court backlog, curb violence, plant trees

Macon-Bibb lowers Ingleside speed limit, designates school speed zones as Al Tillman resigns seat
Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Al Tillman, flanked by his family, resigned his District 9 seat at the conclusion of the Jan. 9 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The first Macon-Bibb County Commission meeting of the year Tuesday was the last for Commissioner Al Tillman who announced he will not serve out his last year in office at the end of an agenda that included more than three-quarters of a million dollars in grants to curb crime, reduce court backlogs and plant 455 trees in the urban core.

Due to term limits instituted in consolidation, Tillman and commissioners Elaine Lucas, Virgil Watkins, Jr. and Mallory Jones cannot seek re-election this year. Tillman, a former mayor pro tem, will share more about his personal decision to step down during “Al Tillman’s Chew & Chat Red Carpet Edition” at Macon Mall at 3 p.m. Sunday.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting, the Commission accepted $483,092 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the Judicial Council of Georgia to help the courts combat backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the Accountability Court will pay for new audio-visual systems in the historic downtown courthouse.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office will receive $29,000 in a Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency for the Formulytics platform that tracks essential data in the efforts to reduce violent crimes and organized gangs.

The Georgia Forestry Commission is giving Macon-Bibb County more than a quarter-million dollars to plant 455 large trees in about seven public parks to reduce the effects of urban heat islands in underserved neighborhoods according to Census tracts.

Landscape architect Wimberly Treadwell said the Biden Administration awarded money for an initiative to plant trees across the country and Georgia.

“These are not saplings. These are trees. They have to be seven gallons, so it will be a very exciting project,” Treadwell told the Commission.

The grant also covers the fertilizer, maintenance and watering for a full year.

After community input, trees could be planted in the new East Macon Bicentennial Park, Mattie Hubbard Park, Jefferson Long Park, the Macon Housing Authority’s Davis Village, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, L.H. Williams School and Linear Park.

Georgia really dictates native trees, so most of the trees that will be planted will be hardwoods. The did include an edible forest in the grant. So, the edible forest allows for pecan trees, figs, persimmons. So, we look forward to establishing some edible forests in our parks,” Treadwell said.

The Commission also lowered the speed limit on Ingleside Avenue to 25 miles per hour from Vista Circle to Riverside Drive. Lucas suggested more neighborhoods appeal for lower speed limits in the interest of pedestrian safety.

New school speed zones were approved around Skyview Elementary, Southfield Elementary, Central High School, and Miller Middle School. Mayor Lester Miller explained that these zones had been overlooked and never formally designated school zones. The measure does not include installation of cameras, but only sets the lower speed limit at 25 mph during school hours.

Commissioners also approved William Wilson’s reappointment to the count’s Defined Contribution and Deferred Compensation Plan Administrative Board.

In his last acts as a Macon-Bibb County commissioner, Al Tillman honored the Montgomery Brothers boxing champs and provided matching funds for a community garden at Shekinah Glory Praise and Worship Center on Eisenhower Parkway.

In his final acts as a Macon-Bibb Commissioner, Tillman honored the Montgomery brothers boxing champs by redesignating Freedom Park’s Frank Ray Boxing Arena as the Frank Ray – Montgomery Brothers Boxing Arena.

Local boxing legend Bishop Frank Ray managed the Macon Boxing Club where Michael, Malik, and Mikhail Montgomery began their acclaimed boxing careers.

Tillman also secured a $15,000 matching grant for a community garden at the Shekinah Glory Praise and Worship Center at 1667 Eisenhower Parkway.

Tillman, who was elected in 2013 to the first consolidated County Commission, recognized every person on the dais. He shared personal memories of his relationships with all the commissioners, Mayor Lester Miller, Interim County Attorney Duke Groover and Clerk of Commission Janice Ross.

Tillman pledged to share more about his future plans during Sunday’s event. At the conclusion of the meeting, he released a statement through the county’s public affairs office that read in part: “I’m forever grateful to the citizens of District 9, for entrusting me to voice their interests by electing me to office. In District 9, together, we’ve been able to expand Log Cabin (Drive) to increase pedestrian safety; create Filmore Thomas Park, which provides a safe space for children, families and the community to gather for fun; and set the foundation for reigniting the economic flame for Eisenhower corridor by establishing the Eisenhower (Business) Improvement District.”

His resignation was effective immediately. Mayor Miller is expected to appoint someone to finish out the remainder of Tillman’s term which concludes at the end of the year.

All items passed in committee will come up for a final vote next week. Here are highlights of Tuesday’s meeting captured in social media posts.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-957-2829.

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