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Budget Set for Downtown Amphitheater
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

October 16--  The Vidalia City Council has approved a budget of $600,000 to build an amphitheater on the downtown lot formerly occupied by the Vidalia Police Department.

At the same time, the council was informed at its meeting Tuesday night "The Temptations" have been booked to be the first act to use the new stage.  Les Salter from the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee says the group will perform as the headliner for the Friday night Onion Festival Street Dance which is being returned to its downtown venue after a few years absence.

City leaders are hopeful the new amphitheater will be finished by the end of March.

Jason Colbert from Community Hospice thanked the council for its support of last month's Downtown Music Festival.  He said it netted $11,000 for local children battling cancer.

The council approved a 20-year lease with Hannah Solar for four acres of land near the city's Swift Creek Water Treatment Plant.  The company will pay the city $15,000 a year to locate solar panels on the property which will generate electricity for sale to Georgia Power.

City finance director Bill Bedingfield reports sales tax collections in the city are down this year compared to last year.  Local option sales tax revenue is down nearly three percent and special purpose local option sales tax collections are down almost two percent.

He reports the city has collected $67,179.42 so far this year in transportation sales taxes and that collections are up slightly in the local hotel/motel tax (+1.29%) and the alcohol sales tax (+2.12%).

An emotional Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon asked city manager Bill Torrance to read a statement on the death of former councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Chip Matheson.

"The City of Vidalia mourns the loss of John C. "Chip" Matheson.  Chip passed away on October 15, 2013 at his home.  He was a long term councilman for the City of Vidalia taking office in January, 1988 and serving until December, 2007.  Councilman Matheson held the position as Chairman of the Finance Committee and served on many other committees of the council during his five terms in office.  He was Mayor Pro Tem from 1996 through 2007.  

"Councilman Matheson was involved and instrumental in developing a business-like approach to city government.  He believed in open government and was always available and accessible to citizens of Vidalia.

"Councilman Matheson took the leadership of the Vidalia Onion Festival in 1995 and reformed the festival to insure financial strength and organization that ensured an appropriate celebration of the Vidalia Onion for our community.

"The City of Vidalia and her citizens have lost a great friend and leader.  Chip led in difficult times with integrity and honesty.  It was a great honor to serve with him.  I have lost a dear friend."


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