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As 2010 winds down, outgoing SF official reflects, looks forward

As 2010 winds down, outgoing SF official reflects, looks forward

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2010 9:07 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Progress has been an ongoing process for outgoing South Fulton city manager Jeff Vowell.
During his final day on the job as city manager, he paused Wednesday to reflect on the past year in South Fulton and to consider what lies ahead for his successor.
Vowell submitted his resignation as city manager two weeks ago after accepting a job in the local banking industry. The search has begun for a new city manager and the South Fulton City Commission voted Monday to name Mayor David Crocker as interim city manager.
“So many of the projects and goals for the community are long-term in nature, so looking at one given year may or may not give the complete picture of how things are going,” Vowell told The Messenger.
He said during 2010, the City of South Fulton “stayed on course” with repairing and maintaining its infrastructure, with one neighborhood receiving a comprehensive sewer line rehabilitation. The project was funded by a Community Development Block Grant, with the city able to self-fund the matching requirements.
The city is now in the process of applying for the next phase of the project and the actual work will be done in late 2011 or 2012.
Also during the past year, South Fulton was able to replace some much-needed equipment with the purchase of a new backhoe for the city and a brush truck for the fire department — all of which has been done with no increase in utility rates or an increase in the tax rate.
“The staff did a good job in continuing to cut operating costs when possible, which will remain a key component to the operation as they move forward,” Vowell said.
He pointed to the “Let’s Paint the Town” revitalization effort as another significant accomplishment of 2010.
“I feel some strides have been made in regard to improving the appearance of the community,” he said. “Many of our residents volunteered to paint buildings in the downtown area in the Twin Cities, with properties on both sides of the state line being painted.”
Vowell said the South Fulton City Commission has taken the necessary steps to lay the groundwork for dealing with the issue of dilapidated houses in the community, adding, “I look forward to seeing that come to pass in the near future.”
He said several new businesses opened in South Fulton during the past year and the community has begun to see some restoration of commercial property located in the city’s business district, which “is always a positive sign for the community and the local government.”
The year wasn’t without some controversy, though, and South Fulton city officials withstood the heat in September when a rural fire drew national attention. It occurred Sept. 29 when a fire destroyed Gene Cranick’s home on Buddy Jones Road outside the city limits of South Fulton, where the city’s fire department could not respond because the property owners had not paid a fee for the rural fire subscription service offered to county residents by the city.
Despite a barrage of hateful correspondence and telephone calls in the fire’s aftermath, city officials tried to focus on the positive as the city prepared to move into a new year.
“One thing is for sure — South Fulton has proven to be a resilient community,” said Vowell, who served as city manager for three years. “I fully expect South Fulton to continue making steady progress in the years to come, one step at a time.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
PUBLISHED IN THE MESSENGER 12.30.10

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