VALDOSTA -- City Council unanimously approved plans for what officials described as a bigger and better Fourth of July fireworks show on Tuesday.

Last year's event, traditionally held in the Colonial Mall area, was washed out due to heavy rain. This year's show will be held on July 3, and a change in the staging area will allow a more impressive display, Purchasing Agent Greg Brown told Council.

The winning vendor, Pyrotechno, has worked for the city in the past. In an effort to generate creativity, the city issues a Request for Proposal, inviting bidders to design a show around the $15,000 budget.

Brown said the display will be shot from behind the old Kmart building on North St. Augustine Road. When Kmart closed its doors, options for the show increased, because the display will now be staged away from an active commercial business.

Brown said the shift would allow Pyrotechno to fire fireworks shells as large as 12 inches. The largest shells in past shows have been five or six inches, he said.

The contract also includes a renewal option at the same price, and states the company will handle post-show clean up. City Manager Larry Hanson assured the Council that Valdosta firefighters would be present to monitor the show. The public is still expected to gather around Colonial Mall to watch the display, which usually includes live music as well as food and drink vendors.

Council also unanimously approved a proposal to outsource operations of the Fry Street public pool to a private company -- USA Pools -- which handles similar responsibilities for several other Georgia cities.

Recreation and Parks Director Brockey Brock told Council that while the cost savings would be minimal, the change will free up staff for other duties and shift liability from the department to USA Pools.

The company will also handle hiring lifeguards and cleaning and maintenance.

Brock said the contract will save the department $6,000 off its $43,000 annual budget.

In other business Council:

Unanimously approved a resolution adopting the 2003-2006 Short Term Work Program and South Georgia Multi-Jurisdictional Solid Waste Plan as required to maintain the city's Qualified Local Government status;

Unanimously approved a request to apply for grant funds from the 2003 Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for a recycling and waste reduction program, and approved $5,000 for a 10 percent match should the grant be approved;

Unanimously approved the purchase of defibrillators for City Hall and the City Hall Annex in the amount of $5,190;

Unanimously approved the purchase of a half-ton truck to assist with mosquito spraying in the amount of $14,475;

Unanimously approved the purchase of a Lodal refuse truck to replace one lost to fire in the amount of $159,241;

Unanimously approved drainage and paving improvements for Sunset Cemetery in the amount of $45,612.55. The winning bidder was Southland Construction;

Voted 5-2 to amend the Valdosta Police Department's wrecker service contract to increase the maximum fee to $75 for service calls between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and $85 for calls between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. The contract also calls for a wrecker to be on site within 30 minutes and mandates storage fees not in excess of $10 per day. Councilmen Robert Yost and Sonny Vickers opposed the change saying they felt the fees in the previous agreement were sufficient;

Unanimously voted to approve a request dissolving the Animal Welfare Board and placing Lowndes County solely in charge of Animal Control services. Previously, Lowndes County and the Humane Society jointly handled animal control and welfare activities. Final action must still be taken by the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners;

Unanimously approved a request from the Valdosta Tree Commission to increase the number of board members to eight and to make the chairman position a non-voting position;

Unanimously approved a request from Ray Register to annex and rezone 5.297 acres along Inner Perimeter Road from Agricultural Use in the county to Single Family Residential (R-10) in the city, and

Unanimously approved a special exception request from Dinhi McFarland to operate a group daycare in a Single Family Residential zoning district along Sterling Place.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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