Conyers Mayor Randy Mills, left, and Conyers Human Resources Director Dee Buggay present Donna Freeman with the Dee Buggay Award of Excellence for city employee of the year. Freeman, the city's GIS manager, was recognized for her work in assisting in the rehabilitation of the golf course that had gone into disrepair following the bankruptcy of the facility's management company in 2010.
CONYERS -- Mayor Randy Mills and the Conyers City Council recognized outgoing Councilman Marty Jones for his 23 years of service while also looking ahead to the coming year during Thursday night's annual State of the City address at the Cherokee Run Golf Course.
Mills noted the tough economic times of 2011 with the city's first millage rate increase in several years but also the work of the council and city staff to position the city for new economic development in the coming year.
"We have positive trends on bringing jobs into the community thanks to our Economic Development Council, led by Glenn Sears and Gina Hartsell, who are working overtime to continue bringing jobs, companies and economic stimulus to Conyers and Rockdale County," Mills told the large gathering inside Cherokee Run's Clubhouse.
Mills said the local community had a net gain of 231 jobs in 2011 and a significant number of economic development project inquiries that hopefully will come to fruition soon.
He explained the city's revised sign ordinance, establishment of a mixed-used "opportunity zone" between Interstate 20 and Green Street and upcoming work on a "Village Design District" for the Ga. Highway 138 corridor will help position the city attract new business and development.
Mills also recommitted on the city's plans to establish a business incubator to help new businesses in one facility that could spur job growth and development. He said a donation offer of a building from Acuity Brands was determined to be financially unfeasible for the city to manage. Mills said the city will work this year to find a suitable location for the incubator.
Each of the council members and Mills honored Jones in a roasting fashion. Jones developed a reputation as the council curmudgeon and several council members noted Jones' demeanor was just part of his dedication to the work at hand.
Councilman Cleveland Stroud noted Jones never missed a planning and zoning committee meeting he asked Jones to attend as a favor to help Stroud with a new committee assignment.
Councilman Vince Evans noted Jones always had questions concerning matters before the council. In a Top 5 list of how council meetings will change without Jones, Evans remarked, "The mayor will no longer have to say 'Are there any questions, Marty?' before council votes."
Jones was touched by the kind words but said it was bittersweet with the passing last week of Mike Medlock who was active at the state level with the Georgia Horse Council and an ardent supporter and volunteer with the Georgia International Horse Park.
Jones said Medlock seemed to know every square inch of the horse park. Jones recalled when he was growing up Medlock took him on a canoe trip in what is now the Big Haynes Nature Center.
"We called it the swamp then, now it's the nature center, but I remember carrying the canoe with him across the road and dropping it in the water," Jones said. "He was in the front and I was in the back and about every five paddles he would yell, 'Snake!' I thought I would never make it out."
Along with a lifetime pass to play golf at Cherokee Run, Jones received a red University of Georgia golf bag as a gift from the city.
New Councilman John Fountain was sworn in during the event along with Evans and Gerald Hinesley, who were returning for new terms.
Also, four individuals were recognized for their contribution to the community with the city's Spirit of Conyers Awards. Ben Bishop, Lonnie Fears Jr., the Rockdale Citizen's own Darrell Huckaby, The Rev. Aldren Sadler Sr. and Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Welch were award recipients.
The city also presented its Dee Buggay Award of Excellence for city employee of the year to Conyers GIS Director Donna Freeman for her work in assisting in the rehabilitation of the golf course that had gone into disrepair following the bankruptcy of the facility's management company.