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For the first time in the City of Cairo’s 150 year history, the city will be celebrating Juneteenth, the commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
On Monday night, at the request of Councilman Demario Byrden, the council unanimously authorized Mayor Howard Thrower III, to execute a proclamation declaring June 19, 2021 as Juneteenth in Cairo.
The celebration dates back to June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were now free.
According to the proclamation, in 2011 Georgia became the thirty-seventh state to recognize Juneteenth at the state capital.
A community-wide celebration is being planned for this Saturday. See Page A7 for details.
In other business Monday night, the council:
• Approved a special event permit for a block party and road closure of a portion Second Avenue S.W. on Sunday, July 4 from noon until 9 p.m. The Cason Fun Day reunion is planned and will be held at 1220 Second Avenue S.W. Applicant is Derrick Cason.
• Denied a request for the rezoning of property on Second Street S.W. from R-1A to R-1 to permit placement of a mobile home on the property. The request was made by M. Jeanette Johnson and Charlita James. The council heard from Natasha Gee and Billy Myles who spoke in favor of the rezoning request, but ultimately the council took the recommendation of the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission and Cairo Planning Commission, both of which recommended denial.
• Approved the annexation of property located on Upper Hawthorne Trail and set the initial zoning as R-1A at the request of Chuck Thomas, who is representing Blair Enterprises LLC. Thomas said he was requesting the annexation of four building lots at this time where he intends to build single family housing to meet a demand in housing in the $200,000 price range. Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas questioned how difficult and costly it would be to run city sewer to the lots. Thomas said that city water would be available by the end of the year, but he did not have any idea when sewer would be extended to that area. However, Thomas pledged to include in deed restrictions that once city sewer is available homeowners would be required to hook up to city sewer. “I’m more than willing to do that,” Thomas said.
• Heard a request from Barbara McDuffie for the council to include groups such as Organizing for Grady County and other non-profit organizations, civil rights groups and faith-based organizations in complying with an executive order of the President to address the needs of underserved parts of the community.
• Approved the 2021-2022 operating budget of $49,177,543 on a unanimous vote. Councilman Jerry Cox was absent Monday night.
• Heard a request from Councilman Lannis Thornton for the police chief to study and make a recommendation about establishing a four-way stop at the intersection of Fourth Street S.W. and First Avenue S.W. Councilman Thornton said he has received numerous complaints about not being able to see if there is oncoming traffic unless motorists pull out into the intersection to see if traffic is coming from the east.
• Heard a report from the city manager, Chris Addleton, who said he has ordered an appraisal of the city’s building that currently houses the Georgia Department of Labor on Fifth Street S.E. The Department of Labor is vacating the space at the end of June and the city will be putting the property up for sale.