Hous­ing tops dis­cus­sion at Por­terdale Can­di­date Fo­rum

Res­i­dents grill coun­cil hope­fuls on the is­sues

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

The dilemma of how to ad­dress di­lap­i­dated hous­ing dom­i­nated ques­tions from au­di­ence mem­bers at Tues­day night’s Porter- dale Can­di­date Fo­rum.

Sev­eral con­cerned res­i­dents at­tend­ing the event at the Por­terdale Mill Lofts said they were con­cerned by the state of dis­re­pair of many homes in the city and asked Coun­cil Post 3 can­di­dates Jack Loyd, Ar­line Chap­man, Wayne Mad­dox and James Himes what could be done about it.

James Himes, who ran un­suc­cess­fully for mayor of Por­terdale in Novem­ber, said the city needed to work on bring­ing more home­own­ers into the city. Himes said he be­lieved 80 per­cent of the res­i­dents in Por­terdale are renters.

“I think some of the land­lords are not tak­ing pride in their prop­erty,” said Chap­man, a re­tired state of­fi­cial and guild artist at The South­ern Heart­land Art Gallery.

Mad­dox, a for­mer mayor of Por­terdale and the owner of 40 homes in the city, rushed to add that he main­tains all of his houses and was not a slum lord.

“I keep my houses up,” Mad­dox said. “Don’t be con­fused.”

Mad­dox added that he wasn’t run­ning to make the lives of ten­ants dif­fi­cult.

“I’m not up here run­ning against th­ese ten­ants,” Mad­dox said. “I couldn’t con­trol all that. I think if the city does its part, the home­own­ers will be happy to do theirs.”

Com­ments made by Loyd about the need to ad­dress drug use in the city sparked a de­bate among the can­di­dates about whether Por­terdale had a se­ri­ous drug prob­lem or not.

“This isn’t a drug-in­fested town,” Mad­dox said. “You’re go­ing to find a lit­tle drugs ev­ery­where.”

Chap­man sug­gested that the city should look into hir­ing more po­lice of­fi­cers. Ac­cord­ing to Chap­man, the city’s po­lice force has never ex­panded be­yond six of­fi­cers for the last 40 years.

“We can’t ex­pect six po­lice­men to han­dle this whole thing them­selves,” Chap­man said.

Loyd said the city needed to pri­mar­ily ad­dress three things: drugs, di­lap­i­dated hous­ing, and a lack of ac­tiv­i­ties for young peo­ple.

“Un­til you do those three things, Por­terdale’s still go­ing to have a bad name,” Loyd said.”

Cit­ing her years of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the state capi­tol Chap­man said she would work to make sure Por­terdale re­ceived its fair share of state fund­ing.

“I know how to speak their lan­guage,” said Chap­man of the of­fi­cials in At­lanta. “I will work to end the days when Por­terdale just re­ceived the crumbs from New­ton County’s ta­ble. It is time for us to get a piece of the pie.”

Chap­man pledged to do five things if elected: to strengthen city fis­cal pol­icy and make sure ev­ery penny spent was ac­counted for, to work on an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy to at­tract de­vel­op­ments sim­i­lar to Clark’s Grove in Cov­ing­ton, to pro­vide sup­port to the Friends of Por­terdale in their ef­fort to re­build the Porter Me­mo­rial Gym, to move the sig­nal­iza­tion of the Ga. High­way 81 and Crow­ell Road in­ter­sec­tion for­ward and to se­cure fund­ing from the state for a doc­u­men­tary on the his­tory of Bibb mill work­ers.

Chap­man an­nounced that she and Por­terdale Mayor Bobby Hamby would cover the costs of the first in­ter­view of the doc­u­men­tary with B.C. Crow­ell, a per­son cen­tral to the his­tory of the city, un­til state fi­nanc­ing was se­cured.

Himes said if he were elect- ed he would fo­cus on ad­dress­ing park­ing con­cerns on Main Street, seek com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment all over the city and not just in the down­town and work to bring an im­pact fee or­di­nance to the city.

High­light­ing his nearly 60 years of res­i­dency in the city, Mad­dox said he would lis­ten to the con­cerns of all cit­i­zens and would al­ways come back with an an­swer to their ques­tions. He also said he would work to stop the bick­er­ing on the coun­cil.

“The last cou­ple of years I was in of­fice, there was a lot of ha­tred and per­sonal vendet­tas,” Mad­dox said.

Af­ter 12 years as mayor, Mad­dox re­signed at the end of 2002 when the city coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for a hear­ing into al­le­ga­tions of malfea­sance (wrong­ful con­duct), mis­fea­sance (the im­proper per­for­mance of a law­ful duty) and ne­glect of duty.

De­spite an out­stand­ing court or­der that he re­im­burse the city $5,275 for un­paid in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums, Mad­dox has been deemed el­i­gi­ble to run for city of­fice as he does not owe the city any back taxes.

Vot­ing to fill the va­cant coun­cil seat will take place on Feb. 5 at the Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment. Vot­ers will also con­sider a ref­er­en­dum to al­low the sale of hard al­co­hol for on-premises con­sump­tion in the city.





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