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The planned painting of a 360 square foot mural on the south side of the Grady County Museum and History Center building downtown has prompted the Cairo City Council to fast-track a mural ordinance that has been in its infant stages.
Museum director Don Nickerson appeared before the council Monday night seeking the blessings of city fathers to go forward with the mural project, which is being funded by a generous, anonymous benefactor.
Councilman Jerry Cox complimented Nickerson and the Grady County Historical Society for their plan to have a mural painted on the side of the building, but suggested the city should adopt a mural ordinance first.
Main Street director Alyssa Blakley briefed the council on just such an ordinance that she and a committee of the Downtown Development Authority have been crafting. The document has yet to go before the city manager or city attorney, but Blakley said she could get it to them quickly.
“I just need to tie up some loose ends,” she said.
Under the proposed ordinance, a committee would make judgements on applications for murals in the city and would make recommendations to the mayor and council to prevent anything offensive to the community from being painted on a building and put on display.
Nickerson said that prior to the painting of the mural, some existing windows must be bricked up and the wall pressure washed and allow time for drying before actual painting could begin.
City attorney Thomas L. Lehman said the quickest the city could adopt a new ordinance would be March 8.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas agreed with Councilman Cox that the city should adopt an ordinance prior to approving work to begin on the Historical Society project. He warned that to do otherwise could “open the door for anyone to put anything anywhere.”
Nickerson agreed that he had work to do and between now and March 8 he could do what was needed to prepare for the project to begin once the council has adopted the new ordinance. The museum director asked if he could proceed with having the windows bricked up and wall cleaned, which the council said would not be an issue at all.
In other business Monday night, the council:
‰Approved the recommendation of city manager Chris Addleton to permit the city’s forestry consultant, Flint River Timber, to solicit bids for the harvesting of timber on 78 acres of the former Land Application Sewer system off Wight Road. The city thinned timber at the LAS site in 2006 and clear cut 227 acres in 2014. Consultant Russell Folwer is recommending harvesting the remaining 78 acres of merchandisable timber and replanting the timber. Proceeds will be used for the replanting and the balance will be applied toward the city’s 2004 Consolidated Utility Bonds.
‰Reappointed Larry Simmons to another term on the Cairo Planning Commission and also appointed Tim Gurley to fill a vacancy on the commission.
‰Heard a request for review of the number of medical assist calls answered by the Cairo Fire Department in support of the Grady County Emergency Medical Service from Councilman Douglas. “I’d like more clarification. I’m thinking they are using our manpower to assist them, but it’s at city expense,” Douglas said.
‰Witnessed the presentation of special awards from Councilman Demario Byrden on behalf of residents of District 2. Byrden presented awards to Quick Buys Food Store, the local group Organizing for Grady County, and former mayor, Booker Gainor. The District 2 councilman also acknowledged the generosity of Casa Grande restaurant for sponsoring the awards.
‰Heard a report from Mayor Howard Thrower III, that an information session held for the Cairo Fire and Police Department had convinced several first responders to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Councilman Cox reported that he had had both of his vaccination shots and encouraged local residents to get theirs if they are currently eligible. Councilman Douglas expressed his concern that such meetings as the recent one with an official from Archbold Medical Center making a presentation on the vaccine could be interpreted as the city requiring its employees to be vaccinated. He said it was a “fine line” that had to be observed and that he knew the mayor’s intent in arranging the meeting was to share information, but some took it as the city requiring employees to be vaccinated. “Our employees have to make that decision, not us,” Douglas said. Mayor Thrower said that the talk was presented as encouraging the vaccine, not as a mandate.