I am very embarrassed to admit that although I have been on the city council some 13 years, I had never visited our animal control shelter. A few weeks ago, our office cat went missing so my wife Vonnie went to the shelter to see if Butch Chafin (our animal control officer) had picked him up. He had not but Vonnie came home upset about the number of animals at our shelter. Butch does a good job but we (the city and county) have not given him the tools, resources, knowledge, or facilities to run that shelter in a first class manner. There are too many dogs for the number of cages, cats are in the same building, adoption procedures need to be improved, and some animals were reaching end of their allotted “time.”.
So this put Vonnie on a mission. And when Vonnie is on a mission, guess what? Shelly is on a mission. I visited the facility and then visited a great facility in Cochran in order to compare. We have LOTS of room for improvement. However, I want to let everyone know that improvements have already started – things work SLOWLY in government but great things ARE going to happen.
- Vonnie got a great home for one of the dogs and then posted pictures of the other dogs and that got re-posted on Facebook. Now several of the dogs have been adopted.
- Fencing is being donated to the city and our workers will install the fencing at the facility in order to give the dogs a place to run and provide a holding pen.
- We are taking a large portable building there and will convert it to the cat facility in order to separate the dogs and cats. (Update: We are adding to the existing structure rather than moving this portable building)
- We have pronounced our facility as a NO KILL shelter.
- One of my fellow commissioners has gone and visited the facility in Perry. We plan on having ALL commissioners visit our facility as a group in January.
- We plan on working with groups such as the one in Cochran to get plans and procedures in place to get all animals adopted and cared for.
- All animals will be posted on a city maintained animal control Facebook page to help adoptions and lost pets.
- We will find some training for our animal control officer to attend.
- I plan on putting in next year’s budget (July 2018 – June 2019) enough money to renovate/expand our facility and make it TOP NOTCH. We will improve the conditions.
Hawkinsville is a first class community and even our feline and canine citizens deserve first class care.
As a Real Estate Appraiser, I am keenly attuned to the upturns and downturns in the Real Estate Market. Especially as it affects Pulaski County. I thought I’d give a brief overview on the current and historical sales information for homes in our area. I found it interesting, I hope you do also:
The Median home values for homes in Pulaski County is $86,800. (National median home value is $185,800). The county is currently experiencing a 0.2% appreciation rate compared to the national average of 3.7%.
The Median age of homes for Pulaski county is 35 years (National average is 37 years).
53.3% of Pulaski Citizens own their own home compared to 56.3% nationally.
31% of our homes are rented with 15.7% of them vacant. The average rental cost is slightly over $600/month.
Our unemployment rate is 6.0% which is down from 9% in 2011. We have also gone from a -6% job growth rate to a +2.0% job grown rate in this same time period.
We sold about 49 homes last year in Pulaski County, with a median sales price of around $105,000. Homes tend to sale at about 95% of their listing price. Homes tend to sit on the market for about 45-80 days. 3 homes sold last month for an average price of $135,500 but they sat on the market for an average of 164 days.
*This data was compiled from Central Ga. MLS. Not all home sales go through this MLS. Many are owner sold directly without a Realtor. Not all Realtors report to Central Ga. MLS. Therefore, this information is incomplete, but it does serve as a trend analysis.
One day, several years ago, I saw or heard something that amused me. For whatever reason, I decided to post that funny on Facebook. Well, both of my kids went ballistic! “Daddy, NO! You are embarrassing us. Don’t you dare post something like that on Facebook!” Well, all that did was put fuel to my fire. I thought, “I’ll show them.” So, I started posting some silliness every day. It was just my way to bug my kids.
But after a while, it seemed to catch on. If I failed to post for a day, people would call or text or email saying, “Where’s my Shellyism today?” So, the journey began. Now for more than six years, I have been posting a funny to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. (Yes, some of us still use Google Plus. All six of us enjoy it.)
I was often asked, “Why don’t you write a book – these are hilarious.” So, I finally decided to do just that! I have taken 365 posts and published them in one collection. The result is “Shellyisms”. My first book! (Bucket list item – CHECKED!) It is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. http://www.amazon.com/author/shellyberryhill
I would love for you to check it out. If you like it, please leave a review on Amazon!
Things are looking GOOD in Hawkinsville. A new day is dawning. For many years we at the city have been working to improve our tax base, our quality of life, and our economic outlook. We are now seeing the fruits of those efforts. I’d like to spend a little time with you highlighting some of the results….. Here is my TOP TEN items that I am excited about with our little town!
- H&V: Hollingsworth and Vose has announced a MAJOR expansion. They are investing MILLIONS dollars on a new building along with new equipment (AND LOTS OF NEW EMPLOYEES). The city worked on this project for about 2 years. Many late night discussions and even a trip to Boston. It ultimately came down to between us and a Northwestern US city. The city and state stepped up to the plate with a $1.5 MILLION dollar cash incentive ($1 Million city, Half a million state). The county and school board stepped up to the plate with a 10 year declining tax abatement on the new project. These incentives were enough to tip the scale in Hawkinsville’s favor. And we got it. $1 Million is ALOT for a small town like Hawkinsville. But supporting one of our largest private industries and largest employers was important. Also H&V is single handily our LARGEST natural gas buyer from the city. And the expansion will VASTLY increase the amount of gas that they purchase from us. We are paying for this incentive through the increased gas sales and utilizing the money that we WERE paying toward our spec building (The spec building was paid off this summer), and using the increased city property tax payments from H&V (the city did not offer a tax abatement on this project). This expansion is a HUGE WIN for our small community and proves that when we all work together, we can accomplish great things.
- Cherokee Brick: WE SOLD OUR SPEC BUILDING. Cherokee brick is a great company located in Macon, Georgia. They are a huge company. But at their current location in Macon, they really have no room to expand. Hawkinsville native Michael Peavy is the president of Cherokee Brick. We went to Macon. Cherokee leadership came here. Ultimately they decided to expand in Hawkinsville. Brickyard Solutions will be the name of their Hawkinsville facility. They purchased our Spec building on Highway 247 for a cash purchase. This puts the building on the tax rolls. This facility will eventually create some 40-70 jobs. This gives us some money to put toward additional economic development. Brickyard solutions will purchase utilities, including natural gas, from the city as well as pay property taxes. But the main benefit is JOBS! I have been saying since first getting on city council that our primary need is JOBS! They hope to begin production as early as January!
- TAYLOR VILLAGE: Our old Hospital is falling down. It’s dilapidated. It’s an eyesore. It’s sad to drive by and see a facility that so many of us Hawkinsville Natives were born in, cared for in, and many even died there. Its a local landmark. But it is falling down. Previous efforts, from both local groups and outside groups have failed. It seemed to be a lost cause. TBG Residential from Atlanta saw the potential. We worked with TBG on grant issues, zoning issues, parking issues – everything. We eventually came up with a plan utilizing both low income housing tax credits and historic tax credits. And just last week, DCA (Ga Department of Community Affairs) approved the plan and will issue the tax credits. The total project will be an 11.2 MILLION DOLLAR investment into Hawkinsville. There will be a total of 68 units in the Taylor Village development consisting of a mix of unit choices and styles for residents. The historic former hospital will be converted into 34 units which will be a mix of 24 one bedroom units and 10 two bedroom units. Across Warren street, they will build 4 additional buildings that will house 34 additional units of two and three bedroom units. Both portions of the development will be designed to be energy efficient and sustainable with the long-term operation and maintenance of the community in mind. The development will include a clubhouse with community space, a laundry center, and a computer area. There will be an outdoor playground with a covered pavilion. They hope to close all of the funding rounds by April of 2017, construction will last a little over a year. They hope to start leasing units by July of 2018. 11.2 MILLION investment. That’s what I’m talking about!
- DOWNTOWN: Our Hawkinsville DDA (Downtown Development Authority) has been very busy of late. The city (through the DDA) has funded 25 facade grants totaling a $55,000.00 investment into our downtown. These facade grants are restoring the look of our downtown. It’s looking better than it has looked in DECADES! Just ride through and take a look. MANY MORE are coming in 2017!
- CABERO PARK: Speaking of downtown, take a gander at our new and improved CABERO PARK. A total renovation thanks to our Master Gardner Program!
- AIRPORT: We are looking at ways to improve / expand our airport. If we want to be serious about economic development, we need a way for the potential investors to come into our community. Often they prefer to fly from city to city. It is not a great first impression if they must land in Perry and then drive here. So, we are in the process of acquiring the land needed to expand our runway to some 5,000 feet. This not only will accommodate most planes, but will also qualify us for FEDERAL aviation dollars to help maintain the airport.
- INDUSTRIAL PARK: Now that we have sold the spec building, we continue to look for ways to highlight our industrial park. We are not ready to invest in another spec building, but we are contemplating having two or three PAD READY spots available. These are locations within our park that are already graded and have utility infrastructure placed and ready. We hope to have a 10,000 sf pad, a 50,000 sf pad, and possibly a 100,000 sf pad ready for potential developments. We want to be PROACTIVE!
- BRIDGES: Although it is going to be a major aggravation for a couple of years, our bridges are finally being replaced! They were almost getting to the point of being DANGEROUS! I love our bridges and I love the fact that the river crossing is RIGHT AT OUR DOWNTOWN. Many towns are being BYPASSED, but due to the location of our bridges, Hawkinsville should never be bypassed.
- City Hall: Our current city hall is too small and really showing it’s age. We have put money in the previous SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and our upcoming SPLOST to help us pay for a new City Hall. This will not only give us the room that we need but will also provide additional space for our Chamber and Economic Development Efforts. We hope to have new announcements coming soon in this area.
- UTILITY SOFTWARE: FOR YEARS, I have been wanting a system that will allow CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS (for a reasonable rate) and ACH Payments and Automatic Drafts. We want to make it easier for our customers to pay their utility bills. New software is going online this year that will accomplish these goals.
I am in the “internet industry (www.gawebservices.com)”, and therefore, I often embrace new trends and technologies rather quickly. Sometimes this helps me better service my customers, sometimes, I get burned!
The Iphone was an example of getting burned. Yes, I stood in line when the Iphone first came out and purchased one of the first. But AT&T does NOT work well in Hawkinsville so the experience was not good. Plus, all my friends and family were on Verizon, so my cell phone bill went through the roof! (Now that the Iphone is on Verizon – I have come back.)
With Facebook, I fought it. I have enough to do each day without being sucked into the mesmerizing facebook. I finally decided I wanted to look up Kenny Reach, my college roommate, so I got on facebook. I connected with Kenny in about 30 minutes – awesome! But yes, I have become addicted to Facebook. I love keeping up with family and friends and learning so much more about mere acquaintances than ever before. There are people now that I really really like, that honestly, I have probably never had a full 10 minute conversation with before. Facebook is now an integral part of my business and we daily help our clients master this beast!
But Twitter was my hold out. I kept saying, that I did not want to share with the world what I was doing every 5 minutes of the day. But I really had it backwards. I thought Twitter was supposed to be about ME. But Twitter truly became alive and relevant for me when I realized Twitter was about others! (Alot like life……).
You see, once I started “following” people with similar interests but broader world experiences, I began learning. As I follow Entrepreneurs that have been very successful, I have garnered ideas and suggestions that hopefully have made my company more successful. As I follow the tweets of Godly men and women, hopefully, their witness has helped to shape my life into a better representation of Christ. As I follow my friends and family, I am more aware of the everyday pains and feelings that they experience which hopefully, makes me a better friend.
I once read that the only difference between you NOW and you five years from now is… The books that you read and the people that you associate with… I believe that. And I am now using Twitter to “associate” with people that I want to become. People that have succeeded in areas of their life that are also important to me. While I originally thought of Twitter as a “bullhorn” for me, It has become a “stereo” of multiple personalities and traits that I aspire too become.
Yes, I tweet. @shellyb I want to contribute to this new found community that I find myself apart of. But it is not about being heard…. It’s about hearing….
If this then that. That’s a mouth full. But this online site does a lot. It basically allows you to connect different online sites and apps together. It’s really incredible.
Basically, you go to the website and make recipes. These “recipes” connect different apps and perform instructions in one app based on what transpired in another app. The best way to describe it is just to give you examples of the “recipes” that I currently have setup.
IF someone tags me in a picture on Facebook, THEN THAT picture is automatically downloaded and placed into my GOOGLE DRIVE / PICTURES folder.
IF I star an email within Gmail, THEN THAT email is automatically placed as a TO DO Item in the software TODOist.
IF I miss a phone call, then that contact and number is automatically added as a TO DO Item (return phone call) in the software TODOist.
IF my Iphone detects I am within proximity of my house, THEN THAT Phillips Hue lights will turn on and perform a rainbow dance – letting everyone know that I am home!
IF my NEST thermostat detects I am away from the house, THEN THAT Phillips Hue Lights will all be turned off – automatically (and the door locks also).
IF I say “Alexa, I’m hot” to my Amazon Echo, THEN THAT will trigger my NEST thermostat to lower by 5 degrees.
IF my Iphone detects I am in the area where we walk our dogs, THEN my wife will automatically receive a text that “Shelly is walking the dogs”.
IF my Iphone detects I have entered Harvey’s, THEN my wife will automatically receive a text that “I am in the grocery store, text me any items that you know we might need.”
IF ESPN announces a final score involving Ga. Tech, then that score will automatically be texted to me. And if Ga Tech is the winner, all the lights in the house will flash in excitement.
IF it begins to rain THEN change the light colors to blue.
IF I change my Facebook profile pic, THEN automatically change my instagram profile picture to the same.
These are just a few. You get the idea. There are hundreds and hundreds of apps that you can utilize. Check it out!
The Nest Learning Thermostat automatically adapts as your life and the seasons change. Just use it for a week and it programs itself.
If NEST learns that I wake up every morning at 5:30 and immediately hit the thermostat to raise the temp by 5 degrees, then NEST will begin AUTOMATICALLY having the temp adjusted so that it is the temperature that I desire at 5:30 am.
As NEST learns that the house is empty by 8 a.m. each day, it will automatically adjust itself so as to not run while no one is home. Sure, I can program in a schedule, but why? I let NEST learn our patterns and schedule itself to be the most energy efficient possible.
Let’s say I am leaving work on a cold cold day. Before leaving, I can use my smartphone and tell NEST to have the house at 75 degrees before I get home. It’ll do it!
Or why should I even have to tell it. I can program NEST to automatically adjust to my desired temperature whenever my car leaves my office. It knows I am on my way home, so let’s get the house comfortable.
NEST can also communicate with my other home automation systems. NEST senses when no one is home, so I can have all my lights automatically turn off when NEST senses no one is there.
If I tell my Amazon Echo that “Alexa, I’m Hot”, it will automatically lower NEST by 5 degrees. Or “Alexa, I’m Cold” will automatically raise the temp by 5 degrees.
The Nest Thermostat is just one part of my heating and cooling system. But it can keep an eye on the rest of it. I get an alert on my phone if there’s something wrong – like temperatures are so low my pipes could burst. And if it looks like my furnace is acting up, the Nest Thermostat will send me an alert.
Nest shows you how much energy you use every day in Energy History and every month in your Home Report. So you can see when you use more energy, like on weekends or Monday nights, and how to use less.
NEST not only saves me money by programming itself to be the most energy efficient possible, but it also makes my life more comfortable.