Barrow mayors update residents in annual addresses

STATHAM - They had just four minutes each to report on the state of their cities, but mayors and representatives from each of Barrow's six municipalities made quick work of their task.

At Tuesday's second annual State of the Cities address sponsored by the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce, Winder Mayor Buddy Ouzts reminded county residents that the city would be filling two council positions in a March 21 election.

Ouzts also updated the crowd on the construction progress of the Winder-Barrow Community Theatre space, The Light homeless shelter and efforts to keep the city of Winder clean by hiring a new code enforcement officer.

Statham Mayor Robert Bridges told the audience about plans to expand the industrial park and to add 14.5 acres of recreation space and lamented the fact that the city had been turned down for a grant that would connect The Georgia Club, where the breakfast was held, to Statham's downtown via golf cart paths.

"We'll apply again next year," he said. "Sooner or later, we'll get it. We're going to make it happen."

In Bethlehem, Mayor Wayne Ridgeway said, residents should have a 2-acre park with a gazebo by this summer. He said the town is still waiting for a new post office, and he hopes to get a traffic light on Ga. Highway 11.

"We desperately need a traffic signal in the center of Bethlehem to slow traffic down, and we'll get that soon," he said. "The sheriff's department's been working with us on our NASCAR control down 11."

Auburn Mayor Harold Money said his city took pride in being a gateway between Gwinnett and Barrow counties. He talked about the city's new library and his hopes to bring residential sewer to Auburn, and said that after being in a coma for 32 days following a car accident last January, it was a miracle that he was delivering the state of the city.

Representing Carl, Billy Banks said the town was getting a child care center and paving a walking trail, and looking forward to bigger things in the future.

"You blink your eyes and you miss Carl," he said of the small town. "We are a great little town. We have great dreams of looking ahead."

Braselton Mayor Pat Graham said the town had recently completed a 20-year master plan and revised their development codes and zoning regulations. They also adopted impact fees, and started construction on a police municipal facility and a new library.

Graham also said Braselton, the 10th-fastest growing city in the state, had experienced growth along its industrial corridor. The town is also looking to expand its water reclamation facility and construct walking trails along the Mulberry River.