Category Archives: Uncategorized
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.
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 looking forward to 2016 being a great year for the city of Hawkinsville. A Whole lot of items are on our agenda to accomplish this year. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know some things to expect this year.
Accounting: We hope to drastically improve our accounting software. This improvement should result in the City Commissioners getting much better information to utilize in making financial decisions for the city. The improvements should also allow us to begin allowing ACH Drafts for payment of utility bills. As well as online payments and Credit Card payments.
Downtown: We hope to focus many of efforts this year on improving downtown. From revamping the Classic Main Street Program to energizing the Downtown Development Authority to concentrate on bringing business to our community. Efforts will include improving parking, clean up efforts, and offering incentives to locate in our community.
Fireworks: Last year the state legislature passed laws allowing fireworks to be used and sold in the state of Georgia. However, the law did not allow local governments to set up restrictions such as the locations of these sales, the locations of the use, and the times of the use. This year the state legislature is revisiting this issue and we are hoping that they will add code that will allow local governments to have more say in these issues.
City Hall: We hope to begin design and possibly even construction of a new city hall in Hawkinsville. Our current one is too small and is falling down around us. We have purchased the former Blount Warehouse on Broad Street and plan on building a new City Hall at that location.
SPLOST: We will begin planning the next SPLOST. SPLOST money goes toward capital projects that we could never find funding for by any other means. Road improvements, Water and Sewer improvements, Recreation Department Improvements, etc.
Audit Changes: We hope to be able to do more of our audit work in-house thus saving a small fortune that we spend with outside accounting firms. D.M. Vickers & Associates will be working with us to streamline and improve our accounting methods to accomplish this goal.
Economic Development: Working with our Chamber, United Pulaski, and the local Industrial Development Boards, we are striving hard to better the economic situation in our community. We want to attract new industry as well as work with existing industry and businesses to compel them to expand.
City / County Cooperation: We plan to continue to look for ways that our city and county can work together. Cooperation should either bring about increased savings or increased inefficiencies or an increased level of customer service.
Public/Private Developments: We are working with the new owners of the Old Taylor Regional Hospital. Helping them to apply for state funded Tax Credits in order to fund the renovation of this building.
I have to attend many meetings. Most of them are a waste of time. I just attended a meeting of a group trying to form a DMA (Downtown Merchants Association). THIS meeting was great! The energy and the momentum were obvious.
The meeting was lead by our Archway Professional, Michelle Elliott . The group is trying to do whatever it can to rejuvenate our downtown area. They are looking at Window decorations in the abandoned buildings, cleaning up the streets, repainting and adding new murals to the downtown area, adding trash receptacles and also exploring options to help beef up the Hawkinsville River Market. Donna Rickerson, our new Hawkinsville Chamber executive Director was introduced and she had lots of great ideas.
While it is still early in the process, I am excited that 20+ people care enough to meet and discuss. The City of Hawkinsville was well represented by our city manager, Tim Young . ComSouth was there, local merchants were there, the Garden Club was there, the new owners of the Butterfly Mansion B&B were there, representatives from our DDA, and Rivers Alive were there as well as simply concerned citizens.
We have lots of work to do, but it is so encouraging when a group like this gets together, not to bash what is not happening, not to wish would should be happening, but to PLAN what CAN Happen.
Let’s all support those that are trying.
It was YEARS in the making. But persistence pays off. Sitting quietly on 7 acres along the banks of the Ocmulgee river sat an old abandoned textile mill. Once a thriving business, for years now it sat empty and was fast deteriorating. Thieves were stealing the copper wiring. The environmental hazards were many: from lead paint to the residuals from the towel coloring process used years earlier. But now it is a 40+ unit residential complex, almost full, with no environmental issues and has a (soon to be) community market attached.
Mr. Sam Way, III knew of a private development company located in Winston Salem, NC. He knew of them because they had renovated the Historic Hotel in Cordele, Ga where one of his banks is located. He called and invited them to visit Hawkinsville to see if there were any properties here they might be interested in refurbishing. They came. They looked at the Old Hawkinsville Hotel, the Old Hospital, the upstairs “apartments” in many of our downtown buildings and the old Textile Mill. While interested in all, they kept coming back to the Textile Mill. However, this was probably going to be a 10 million dollar project, so they were looking for whatever assistance the local community and/or the state could give. Brainstorming sessions between Landmark Development and the local governments were held. The Hawkinsville DDA (Downtown Development Authority) wanted one of the three buildings to utilize as a community market and set about getting grant dollars to help. Landmark was willing to develop one of the two remaining buildings and was seeing what grant dollars that the state might could help with. They first looked at Historic Tax Credits, but this did not prove viable. They finally settled on Low Income Housing Tax Credits as a means to fund this project. The City of Hawkinsville applied for and got a $500K One Georgia Grant to help with the remediation of the environmental issues. (The City also agreed to pay for the initial real estate appraisal and helped with the grant application fee. The City also committed to help with any demolition needed with in-kind contributions of city employee labor).
The DDA completed (with the help of Middle Georgia Regional Development Authority) and obtained a $500K grant as well to turn one of the buildings into a community market.
Landmark got a Feasibility study completed and was ready to submit the Low Income Housing Tax Credit application to DCA (Department of Community Affairs).
THEN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET COLLAPSED. DCA wisely ordered a NEW Feasibility study based on the CURRENT market conditions and the new study called for a much lower occupancy facility. It was back to the drawing board for all parties. But no one quit. No one gave up. Finally, a few years had gone by, but the new plans and new grant applications were submitted. DCA approved and we were on our way.
Construction began on both the Cotton Mill Lofts and the Hawkinsville River Market. In the mean time, that left one building with no use. A federal grant application for Housing was submitted to the federal government and a $1 million dollar grant was awarded there. So River Market Lofts (ten slightly more upper scale units) were now on the drawing board as well.
So what is the final outcome of much patience and persistence? We now have the completed Cotton Mill Lofts and River Market Lofts. Adding people into our downtown area to shop and live. We are in the process of trying to open the Hawkinsville River Market, to highlight and sell local produce and merchandise from middle Georgia farmers and vendors.
But at what cost? Well, the City of Hawkinsville put out around $30K in hard dollars and another $110K in matching in-kind commitments for demolition help. What did we get in return? ALOT!
A former environmental eyesore is now a thriving residential complex. The private developer is required to pay back (over 20 years) the $30K, the $110K AND the $500K grant awarded. But the great news is that the money will all go to HAWKINSVILLE, not back to the state government. So our $30K investment will reap over $600K in hard dollars in return. WOW!
AND, now we have 40+ units flushing toilets, washing dishes, and cleaning clothes on a daily basis. All of that water is being purchased from the City of Hawkinsville’s water department!
AND, all trash generated is being picked up and billed by the City of Hawkinsville’s sanitation department.
AND, now we have a multi-million dollar real estate parcel on the tax roles (paying property taxes ) rather than a couple of hundred thousand dollar depreciating abandoned textile mill.
AND, now we have proof that public-private partnerships WORK! The government can’t do it all. We don’t have the money or the resources. But we CAN assist private developers to the extent that the law allows and help everyone come out a winner.
NOTE: The Hawkinsville River Market WILL have spaces available for PEACHES TO THE BEACHES. Reserve your spot today! The Market is slated to officially open on May 1, 2014!
I am currently taking a class sponsored by GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) entitled “Making Citizen Engagement Work”. It is a very good discussion about how to bring all parties to the table. The city council should not be a dictatorship but nor should every decision be a public referendum. We have a representative government. We are elected to take the time to delve into the nitty gritty on issues that the general populace would not have the time or interest to do. Yet, some issues like consolidation, need to go to ALL the people. The challenge is to know WHERE on this spectrum to go with each issue. Which issues does the council just need to handle and which issues should the citizens be more actively involved? And when you choose to engage the population, how do you get everyone at the table? Too often the only ones that want to engage are the C.A.V.E. people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything).
Elected officials are almost universally naturally distrusted. I remember before I was elected, a city resident and myself would find ourselves thrown together about twice a year. We would spend our time together discussing what WE would do if WE were on the city council. After I ran, and was elected, I had been on the commission for only a few months when I ran into this lady at the post office. Before any words were exchanged, she just looked at me and shook her head left and right and said, “well, you are one of them now!”. I was guilty just by association. So the question is, ” how do we engage the citizenship knowing this fundamental level of distrust already exists?”.
People get angry and frustrated and don’t trust elected officials. Elected officials get frustrated by angry people who don’t understand what the limitations are.
There is a spectrum from simply informing the constitutes on one end to fully empowering them to make judgements / actions on the other end. Routine budget matters and day to day operations of the city need to be handled promptly and efficiently. However tax increases and major issues like consolidation need to be decided upon by a large informed audience.
I try to enter this spectrum with this blog. I use my posts to inform. I encourage the readers to post their comments, thoughts and suggestions.
The Archway Project is a shining example of engaging citizens. It all started with hundreds of people meeting and voicing concerns. Those concerns grew into several issue groups that are focusing on these issues. Citizens and general populace constitute these work groups. It works!
What are your ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?
Hardy Farms Peanut’s new website JUST WENT LIVE! We appreciate Hardy Farms trusting us with their website. www.hardyfarmspeanuts.com went live about 2 hours ago. Check it out and order your peanuts TODAY! Also, coming soon will be an app for your phone that will give you directions from your current location to the nearest stand! We at Ga WebServices are excited about working with Hardy Farms!
You go on a mission trip with the proposed purpose of making a difference in someone else’s life. You come back with the profound knowledge that it’s your life that has been changed. My recent mission trip to Kenya proved this to me – again. In 1999, I went with a group to Honduras and that trip resulted just the same. Yes, we did some good, (building homes in Honduras and helping a church to grow in Kenya). But it is the personal changes that a mission trip creates that validates us going.
As I preparing for this trip, I honestly had mixed feelings. The total cost for 14 of us going on this trip was pretty high between airfare, lodging, vehicle rentals, food, and the donations to the church and orphanage while there. I was calculating this cost and thinking – could not that money be spent here in Hawkinsville? Was this a glorified vacation with a “mission” theme so that we could all rationalize the expense in our own minds? I was leaving behind a fellow that I had just met that had not eaten in two days – would not helping him be better than me taking this trip?
But by then, the plans were made, the money was paid, and the tickets were bought. So I went. And I can conclusively say – I am glad I did! I believe the change, the focus, in me has been permanently altered. A mission trip forces you to get out of your day to day life with your day to day perceptions. We see the same thing everyday. We talk the same politics everyday. We see the same needs everyday, and we become oblivious to them all.
Let me tell you of the trip:
We arrived in Kenya, got settled in, and then immediately went to Pastor Shaddrack’s Tea Village Church. This particular Tea Village is owned by one of the tea company plantations. They provide housing (a block house with no running water) to the family for helping to harvest tea. There were several hundred houses in this village. This church is a new church and we were going to help “disciple” the 30-40 members so that the church could grow deeper in it’s knowledge of Christian ideals. Personally, I was assigned to teach a two hour lesson on Prayer.
We also planned on teaching many Bible lessons to the children of the community. The children are the key to getting the adults to show up. On the first day, dozens of children arrived and probably 6 or 7 adults. We taught Bible stories to the children. We played with the children. And we taught our discipleship lessons to the older youth and adults that showed up. Then in the afternoon, we went to help with an orphanage that serviced 54 children. Most all of these children were orphaned due to the Aids epidemic that is in the land. BesAnn, a young 24 year old woman, cares daily for these children providing 3 meals and Bible lessons. She is a remarkable lady. Her only help is from a lady who helps cook and also some help from Pastor Shaddrack and his wife.
Both the tea village and the orphanage screamed poverty. The children had next to nothing. Some had shoes, others did not. Some had decent clothes, others had ragged garments. For the most part, they seemed happy (especially with all of us strange white people there, they kept wanting to see under our shirt sleeves to see if we were really this color everywhere!). We saw poverty, we saw situations that are unthinkable – yet they exist. It changes you. It makes you thankful, grateful, and humble at your life experience compared to theirs. It shows you what the courage, faith, and willingness of one 24 year old can do – it can change lives. Am I changing lives? Am I making a difference? A Mission trip FORCES you to ask yourself these questions.
We even witnessed a miracle We had bought 10 bags of 20 snicker’s bars each. (that’s 200 snickers bars for you mathmatically challenged). We gave out 161 at the tea village. A diabetic team member ate one. That left, to our counting, 38 snickers bars that should be in our bag. There were 54 children at the orphanage + two children visiting from the nearby village. We knew we had nowhere near 56 snickers bars. But someone suggested that we count. So we poured them all out on the floor of the van. And, you guessed it. There were not 55 candy bars. There were not 57 candy bars. There were exactly 56 candy bars. You could not help but think about Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000. All I can say is that God provided and taught us that HE is sufficient and provides for His children!
By the third day of visiting the church and the orphanage, interest in the community had grown. The children were showing off their Burger King crowns (we talked of sexual purity and explained that they were all princes and princesses of THE KING). We told other Bible stories. The children would go home and tell the others in their household. More children came daily. The adult participation grew. On day three, the day I was supposed to teach on Prayer, about 40-50 adults had arrvied. The pastor was excited, but said, “for the most part, these are not people of my church, they are un-churched, please do a lesson on salvation instead of prayer!”. I almost panicked. I had not prepared a lesson on salvation, I had prepared a lesson on Prayer. I was also thinking, “There are 3 full time preachers on this trip – Let them do it!”. But deep down, I knew. I knew that THIS was why I came. I knew that GOD was in control and my job was to obey! (I did grab one preacher to go with me though). So, I began sharing in a small 16 x 20 room, about Christ. About how he changed my life. About how he loves me. About how he loves each one in that room. I shared about God sending his Son to take the penalty for my choice of disobedience. Of God sending His Son so that I could have fellowship with a Just and Holy God. I shared the story of Salvation! In this church, they don’t “walk the saw dust trail” as revivals of years gone by. But many, many did raise their hand to indicate they understood and that they desired and asked Jesus to be Lord of their life. It was an awesome moment in my life that I will never forget.
By the time I finished (probably 20 minutes), another 40 or 50 had arrived. There were over 90 people in that small room. I asked the preacher that came with me, Robert Doughtery, (preacher at Antioch Baptist) to give his version of the salvation story. He did and assuredly more came to know Christ. Well, I thought it was over and I was through – but God had other plans. The pastor then asked us to “Tell them how to grow in Christ…”. So Robert and I each gave a 20 minute lesson on growing in Christ. Then the pastor said, “Question and Answer Time”. And all of this was through an interpretor – what an experience!
The interesting thing was that the questions that they ask are the same questions that we ask. “Do you HAVE to go to church?” “How does one KNOW they are saved?” “Is it a sin to get mad at my favorite football team?” “What about all the different denominations and different religions?”. We answered these and more the best that we could. Probably not 100% correct, but I believe that God honored the effort. Hopefully lives were changed, I know mine was. We TALK of missions. We send MONEY to missions. But it is so life changing to be an actual PART of missions.
At the Nairobi airport, as we prepared to come home, I met a young lady 22 years old. (the same age as my daughter). She was going home to Colorado after spending 4 months in Africa – all by herself. I talked with her for an hour and a half. She was a changed person. Her trip was not a christian mission trip, she was volunteering to teach English. But the trip had changed her as well. I asked her if she knew my Jesus, and she did. So while I did not get to share Christ with her, it was an accomplishment for me that I tried!
I tell you all this not to boast in any way. If any good was done on that trip, it was all God’s doing. Hopefully, I did not get in the way too much. But I tell you this story to encourage you. GO on a mission trip when you get the opportunity. Our own Paul Williams in this community has lead many mission trips through the Methodist Church. Dennis Phillips of the Pulaski-Bleckley Baptist Association leads yearly trips. Speak to your pastor, there ARE opportunities.
You go thinking you might change the world. But it’s YOUR world that gets changed. It’s your perspectives that are altered. It’s your attitude that is modified. It is your pre-conceived notions that get shattered. People around the world all want the same things; to be loved; to be accepted; to survive and even thrive. People attempt to fill those wants with everything imaginable, yet, only God can truly fulfill.
Hopefully all 14 of us will never be the same. Possibly it took traveling half way around the world, attempting to change their lives, that will result in us being willing to change lives back home. When asked, GO. If not asked, then ask your Pastor, and then GO.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Ga Services, the holding company for GA WebServices, GA MediaServices, and GA AppraisalServices has moved! We are now located at 94 Commerce Street in Hawkinsville. (formerly the KidStuff Building). We have more room, a better layout, AND we are supporting our struggling downtown! Come by and visit us!