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West Point votes to make Juneteenth a city holiday

During Monday’s West Point City Council meeting, the council voted to make Juneteenth (June 19) a city holiday. Juneteenth is celebrated for marking the end of slavery in the United States. Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864, freeing slaves in the United States, the news did not reach Galveston, Texas until June 19, 1865.

“It’s a great item there to give everyone, I hope, a chance to reflect on the meaning of that day,” said Mayor Steve Tramell.

Also in front of the council was the appointment of a municipal public defender. The council unanimously approved the appointment of Brian Aplin as the municipal public defender. Aplin graduated from Mercer University – Walter F George School of Law in 2017 is the principal attorney at The Aplin Firm LLC and has served as Assistant Public Defender in Glynn County, Georgia.

Aplin’s dominant practice areas include business law & entity formation, contract drafting & review, wills, trusts and estates, real property law and real estate transactions, and consulting for local government and quasi-governmental entities.

There was one other potential candidate, however, that person did not submit a resume as requested by City Manager Ed Moon.

The council also unanimously approved to post nine surplus vehicles on GovDeals.com. The vehicles available for sale are as follows: a 2006 GMC 3500, 2008 Ford F-150, a 2008 Ford Crown Victorias, two 2009 Ford Crown Victorias, a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria, a 2013 Dodge Charger and a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe.

The council, again, voted unanimously to approve recreation improvements at the Sixth Ave Park and the city park discussed during the March 23 work session.

The first project involves the Sixth Avenue Park, where proposed improvements would include adding a 6-foot concrete sidewalk and walking paths, an asphalt parking lot that can accommodate 24 vehicles and a playground with sections for children ages 2-5 and another for children 6-12 years old. Also proposed is additional seating for parents or guardians that accompany children to the park. Moon said the work will be completed in two separate phases with the playground being completed in phase two.

The second recreation project is in the city park. Moon said that project would include adding six-foot, interconnected walking paths throughout most of the park. The project will also add a pedestrian bridge over the stream where the softball field connects to the parking lot. Finally, under the plans, several pedestrian crossings would be added at street crossings along Avenue C, Avenue D and the entrances to the Givorns parking lot.

“We have a lot of pedestrians that are currently walking in the streets, just making their own way on the Avenue C entrance to the park,” Moon said. “I think this will be a really important improvement for pedestrian access in the park.”

In other council business, Marshall Sapp was reappointed to the Hawkes Library board. Closing out the meeting, Tramell told the council that in light of Gov. Brian Kemp eliminating restrictions on gathering or distance requirements, he wanted to move the council meetings back to an in-person setting.

“I want to emphasize that everyone should continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID,” Tramell said. “I do feel, however, that as a public body we should meet in person beginning the next work session.”

Tramell asked the council to share their thoughts or concerns over the next two weeks before the next work session scheduled for Tuesday, April 27.