4. Lowndes County solid waste woes
The Lowndes County Commission voted in 2012 to award a contract to Advanced Disposal for solid waste collection in the unincorporated areas of the county in exchange for low rates.
At the same time, commissioners closed the solid waste and recycling centers throughout the county, angering residents who still have no place to take yard waste, certain recyclables, and bulk trash.
The contract went into effect on Feb. 1 amidst much confusion, with a number of issues in the initial months as residents adapted to the change.
The county and Advanced Disposal sued Deep South Sanitation for continuing to operate past Feb. 1 in the unincorporated areas of the county. The litigation is ongoing and is in the hands of the Georgia Supreme Court.
5. Explosion and fire at Perma-Fix
Three employees were severely injured in an explosion at the Perma-Fix of South Georgia chemical plant in Valdosta in August.
Black smoke billowing from the massive fire which followed the explosion could be seen for miles, as first responders poured onto the scene to battle the blaze. The entire plant was engulfed and destroyed, but nearby businesses were saved. The area was cordoned off and evacuated until firefighters could ensure it was safe to return.
The plant in the Azalea East Industrial Park has been located in Valdosta since 1974. Perma-Fix handles a variety of chemical waste, which is processed and disposed of in accordance with federal regulations.
6. SGMC opens new patient tower
South Georgia Medical Center’s new Dasher Memorial Heart Center and Patient Tower opened in August following nearly two years of construction. The $64 million, five-story building holds state-of-the-art medical facilities, including new heart cath labs, high-tech monitoring stations for nurses, and 96 modern patient care rooms.
Several areas of the original SGMC building, dating back decades, were moved into the new facility, freeing up space for additional patients and overflow as needed.