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City manager changes forthcoming in Porterdale
porterdale feb.
Porterdale’s city council met for its Feb. 5 meeting, where Lance Jones was appointed interim city manager. - photo by Chip Matthews

PORTERDALE, Ga. — A motion passed unanimously at the Feb. 5 city of Porterdale meeting to appoint Lance Jones to serve as the interim city manager. 

Jones is set to take the place of current city manager Frank Etheridge, who accepted the assistant city manager job in Lula last month. Etheridge’s last day as Porterdale city manager will be Wednesday, Feb. 28.

While the city is set to make a change at city manager, the city wants to ensure its history does not fade.

With this, the council unanimously appointed Kay Piper as the city historian.  

In her new role, Piper will work to preserve and maintain the history of one of Georgia’s oldest mill communities. 

Piper was born and raised in Porterdale and says her family has been in the community since the 1800’s. Prior to her appointment she served two terms on the Porterdale city council. 

Following her second term, Porterdale mayor Michael Patterson approached her with the opportunity to serve as the city’s historian, which she accepted. 

Piper emphasized her new role with the city.

“Those of my generation will pass one day and if we don’t write this down and keep it alive it will be lost forever,” Piper said.

While the city looks to keep its history intact, a new bit of history will soon be created.

Porterdale will have a new option for food and drinks, as the city council granted the application for Yellow River Ale House for onsite consumption of alcohol. The motion passed 4-0 with Post 1 representative Bekah Sewell abstaining. 

The owners – who were present at the meeting – are optimistic that their business will start a chain reaction. 

“What we want is to be the catapult that brings other businesses,” said Yellow River Ale House owner Julie Freeman

Yellow River Ale House is scheduled to open in spring  2024 at 2001 Main St. in Porterdale.

During the Feb. 5 meeting, the 2024 holiday schedule was approved unanimously. This year’s schedule includes Juneteenth National Independence Day, taking the total number of holidays recognized to 11. Last year the city observed 10 days. 

The full list of upcoming holiday dates include: 

Monday, May 27 Memorial Day

Wednesday, June 19 Juneteenth

Thursday, July 4 Independence Day

Monday, Sept. 2 Labor Day

Monday, Nov. 11 Veterans Day

Thursday, Nov. 28 Thanksgiving

Friday, Nov. 29 Day after Thanksgiving

Tuesday, Dec. 24 Christmas Eve

Wednesday, Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Following the approval of the holiday schedule, council members motioned to table the appointments of the zoning commission and the historic preservation commission due to a lack of applicants. 

According to Etheridge, there are four applicants for the zoning commission and two for the historic preservation commission.

Patterson stated that the time is not yet right to move on a motion.

“It would be of no benefit if we appointed people tonight and then still not meet because we did not have a quorum,” Patterson said.

Citizens can apply at city hall if they want to join either committee.

The council also unanimously passed a motion to enter into a contract with CivicPlus Ultimate Design and Archiving. The company will potentially host, design and manage the city’s website and social media pages. CivicPlus will also archive the city’s social media pages, which is a state requirement.

The motion also gave Patterson the authorization to sign the contract once complete. 

After passing the motion for the contract with CivicPlus, Etheridge presented the proposed 2024 budget to the council. There will be two public meetings to discuss the budget on Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, both at 6:30 p.m. The budget also will be adopted on Feb. 22. 

The public is welcome to view the proposed budget, copies being made available at city hall.

During the meeting, Patterson also acknowledged Black History Month and shared his insight on the month-long celebration. 

“I believe we are called to stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters,” Patterson said. “To listen to their stories, to learn from their experiences and to work alongside them in their ongoing pursuit of justice, equality and reconciliation. Now is the time to commit ourselves to a more equitable and just society for all.” 

During the citizen comment portion of the meeting, citizen Hugh Burnett thanked the council for completing phase 1 of a lighting project at the ballfield. 

A new switch allows park patrons to turn on the field lights for an hour. The lights cut off automatically when the timer expires or at  9:30 p.m – whichever comes first. Patterson said the city plans to upgrade the switch to allow for a long duration. Phase 2 of the project will include updating the streetlights near city hall. 

One of the last topics of discussion during the council meeting was the staff report. Porterdale police chief Jason Cripps reported the department received 17 Panasonic Toughbook laptops from the Tybee Island chief of police. 

According to Cripps, new Toughbooks cost around $6,000. The donation from Tybee Island Police Department saved the city thousands and gave the department a much-needed upgrade.