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Tom Fox hired as new Director of Public Safety
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Tom Fox, former City Manager for Porterdale, has taken the position of public safety director for the City of Social Circle.

"I’m excited about this opportunity," Fox told the council. "I’m humbled and honored, and I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to working with everyone. I am excited to become a part of Social Circle."

Fox has more than 23 years of public service experience, including 13 years in Porterdale, where he served as police chief and later as city manager. Fox lives in Rockdale County.

Fox announced his resignation from the Porterdale city manager position on Monday, and will serve the position until Feb. 5. According to Social Circle City Manager Doug White, Fox will begin work in Social Circle shortly thereafter.

Mayor James Burgess and the other council members stated that the city was honored to have him on board.

Fox will be taking over for Steve Sheldon, who resigned from the job in late August following complaints within the department that led to the firing of another officer.

In other appointments on Tuesday night:

• Council members Traysa Price and David Keener were sworn in to their new terms, and councilwoman Anne Peppers was named vice mayor for the year of 2010. Joe Reitman and Susan Roper were also nominated and voted back into their jobs of city attorney and city clerk respectively.

• The Planning and Zoning Commission selected for 2010 year will consist of Kent Adams (Chairman), Scott Gaither, Signora Jackson, Shirley Moore, Frank Sherill and Jackie Rainwater. Jimmy Phillips declined to return to the commission

• The Downtown Development Authority will consist of Hal Dally (Chairman), Diane Hunt, John Anchors, Louis VanDyke, Debbie Smith and Grady Lemonds. The final current member, Bill Thornton, was not sure as of Tuesday if he would be returning, but the authority was accepted by the council with the proviso that if Thornton wanted to return, he would be able to.

• The tree board declined to be selected at Tuesday’s meeting, and will be selected at the city council meeting in February.

Other business at Tuesday night’s meeting:

• Doug White also spoke to the council with some zoning recommendations. Recent resident concerns involved notification about potential re-zonings and construction projects, stating that posted signage was too small and that many residents were unaware of the proposed changes. The issue came to a head in November, when many residents stated they had no knowledge of the rezoning for the proposed drag strip.

He proposed that the signs needed to be enlarged, as did the text on the signs themselves. It was also proposed that the signs be placed perpendicular to the road and not parallel with it, as they currently are, and that the signs be double-sided so they can be read from either direction.

Further, White proposed that any petitioner wanting to make the change would need to notify all neighboring properties by certified mail by the time the application was turned in. City Attorney Joe Reitman stated that while some parts of the final wording may vary, there would need to be proof in that the petitioner had "attempted in good faith to notify the neighboring properties." Any changes would need to be approved by the planning and zoning commission before they would be implemented.

• The council also passed a resolution that made the bypass a state route until the construction was completed, on which point it would become city property. Mayor James Burgess stated that the final plan was to eventually turn the bypass into a state road and turn State Highway 11, which currently runs through downtown Social Circle, into a city road.

• The City Council promised representatives from One Walton $2,500 towards the program. One Walton is a program being implemented to help give Walton County a united brand and feel. Burgess advised that he didn’t want the county brand to override Social Circle’s pre-existing brand, "The best little town in Georgia."

• The Downtown Development Authority is currently looking for potential ways to revitalize the old mill village, located south of downtown, just across the railroad tracks. The project would initially be a transportation project, beginning with roads being build through the area, and then later a mix of light commercial and residential buildings could be built. Preliminary plans also called for a man-made lake and a pedestrian footbridge over the railroad tracks.