Changes to the Town of Vidalia’s employee handbook were approved by aldermen but not before one member aired his concerns.
Discussions were made and the action was taken at the aldermen’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday, March 15 at Town Hall.
Alderman Robert Gardner voiced objections over wording in the employee handbook that would put social media restrictions on elected officials.
“I don’t agree about the social media restrictions by elected officials,” said Gardner. “Everybody needs to be informed. We can put rules and regulations for an actual employee, but we can’t put some things in place for an elected official. I don’t think that we should say that an elected official can not use social media to get information out there.”
Gardner made a motion to approve the handbook with the elected officials not using the social media clause deleted. The motion died for a lack of second.
“We don’t need to air the town’s dirty laundry on social media,” said Alderman Brent Smith. “We are supposed to be grown adults.”
Alderwoman Rose Demby questioned why the elected officials clause was included.
“If this book is not for elected officials, then why is it in there,” asked Demby.
Gardner accused Mayor Buz Craft, who was absent from the meeting, of putting the clause in the handbook.
The revisions to the handbook were passed, including prohibiting elected officials from posting negative comments on social media. Alderman Tommy Probst made the motion and Smith seconded it. Gardner was the only alderman voting against the motion.
Additionally, aldermen gave permission for Vidalia to research a Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality revolving account program that provides low interest loans to improve sewer systems.
If Vidalia decides to move forward and they are approved for the loan, funds would be used to upgrade the Azalea Street Lift Station and the town’s sewer lagoons aerators.
The loans are less than one percent with a 20-year payout, according to Jay Lasyone, town manager.
“This resolution just says we are willing to look at the program,” Lasyone said. “You are not obligating the town.”
Meanwhile, aldermen discussed transferring a 46-acre tract of land to Syrah Plus for Phase III of the company’s expansion.
The company has applied for a federal grant. If approved, funding for the grant would bankroll the expansion of the facility’s complex to three times larger than it is now. The expansion could lead to hiring 120 additional people.
Meanwhile, aldermen approved occupational license applications to Leslie-Anne’s Vintage Emporium, Finders Relics & Resale and Vintage Souls Market & Boutique.
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