Top 10 news stories: Leadership changes top stories

Published 8:01 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No. 5 – Perdue launches mega-ramps

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visited Bainbridge on Oct. 6 to launch from the new mega-ramps installed at Bainbridge’s Earle May Boat Basin.

In 2007, Bainbridge was chosen by Governor Perdue as one of 10 sites to receive funding to build mega ramps as part of his Go Fish Georgia initiative. The purpose of the Go Fish Georgia Initiative is to promote and improve boating and fishing tourism and to boost economic development in communities. Bainbridge celebrated the completion of the mega ramps just in time to host three large bass tournaments in October.

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In addition to economic development and tourism, the mega-ramps can be used by recreational boaters from the surrounding area for enjoyment of the water and nature, Perdue said.

At the close of the ceremony, Bainbridge Public Works Director Tommy King launched the first motor boat from the new mega-ramps, which feature three double-laned ramps. Each ramp lane is 14 feet wide by 95 feet long.

Adjacent to the ramps will be 700 feet of floating dock that is currently being put into the water. There is a landscaped parking lot with room for 225 trucks and trailers. A 1,000-square-foot restroom facility will be available for boaters and the ramps are well-lit to accommodate safe boat launching and return around the clock, Mayor Edward Reynolds said. In addition, the entire facility, which sits on approximately 11 acres, complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

No. 6 – Governments have tight budgets

Local governments really felt the shrinking economy in 2010.

The Decatur County Board of Education felt it most as it had to overcome an estimated $3.9 million shortfall in the 2011 budget. It had to work with an 8 percent drop in state and local funding from the 2010 budget, and it was forced to try to work with less money and hold on to the personnel it had so there would be no layoffs. Through attrition, the system will have to operate with 24 less staff members this year than last.

BOE employees were forced to take furlough days as well to help ease the budget restraints.

For the city, revenues fell as well. Bainbridge’s expenditures were cut and employee pay raises are on hold to see if revenues grow. The city was forced to increase its mileage

Decatur County government was able to pass a budget that went smoother than anticipated.

Even Bainbridge College was under tight financial strains as the legislature threatened to drastically cut the budgets of the state’s universities and colleges. Those cuts never passed, but the stark economic picture played havoc with the area’s local governments.

No. 7 – Retail has ‘iffy’ year

The Bainbridge retail climate suffered a big chill in 2010 when the local Kmart closed in May, followed closely by the Bainbridge Mall Cinemas, which shut their doors and removed all their equipment and furnishings in June.

The Bainbridge Kmart was one of 13 Kmart stores out of 1,300 nationwide to close at that time.

Restaurant and food establishments took a bit hit in 2010. Cinda’s on the Square, Holly Cakes on Water Street, Sandy’s Restaurant on Dothan Road, Allen’s Pizza in the Kmart plaza, Paw Paws on the square, It’s Cuisine on Shotwell Street, Coots Barbecue on Water Street and Movie Gallery all closed in 2010, while Bonnie Blue House opened in 2010 in the space formerly occupied by Big Daddy’s in The Avenues.

Inland Propane closed on East Shotwell, was bought out by Plantation Propane, and relocated to Spring Creek Road. South Georgia Sports located on the square also closed its doors in 2010.

On a positive note, the long-awaited Holiday Inn Express opened at Douglas Plaza on U.S. 27 South in September. A bit of a boost came by way of the opening of Fashion Metro, which filled the spot at Bainbridge Mall that had been vacant since the March 2009 closing of Goody’s. Bella’s Boutique opened on Shotwell Street where the travel agency had been located.

Business remained good for the major retailers operating in the city, such as Belk, Sears, Reeves Linan and Gifts and Godwin Jewelers, all of which reported surprisingly positive pre-holiday sales following the Christmas kickoff on Black Friday, and Wal-Mart has retained its place in the Bainbridge retail market.