VALDOSTA -- Plans to name a public facility in honor of former Mayor James H. Rainwater will come one step closer at the Valdosta City Council meeting tonight.

The James H. Rainwater Memorial Committee, approved by the City Council on Feb. 5, will make the recommendation to the Council to honor the late mayor by renaming the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center to the James H. Rainwater Conference Center. The committee also will recommend that a lighted fountain with a statue be placed on the grounds.

According to Mayor John Fretti, the recommendation for the renaming and the recommendation for the statue and fountain will be voted on in two motions.

"I'm not sure how (Council) will vote," he said. "They could pass it, or they could send the committee back to the drawing board."

In a letter to Fretti and the City Council, Martin Miller, chairman of the committee, said the conference center was chosen as the location because of Rainwater's involvement and advocacy of the facility and because it is the "primary gathering place for both the largest community events and the largest conference and tourism events."

The committee also recommended the city provide the funding for the statue and fountain, as well as the additional costs of the lettering on the building.

Miller's letter also said the committee "intends to raise, through private donations, adequate funds to permanently endow a scholarship at Valdosta State University in the Master's of Public Administration program in Rainwater's name." Miller's letter goes on to state that about $50,000 will be raised through donations and will be given annually to a deserving student who plans to work in some area of government, public or non-profit service.

Miller's letter also said he hopes to have a cost estimate and a preliminary design concept by today's meeting.

The other members of the committee are Donald Caesar, City Manager Larry Hanson, Melissa Coleman, Henry Gosier, Wayne Veal, Joe Vallotton, William Moore, Jeanette Coody and City Councilman David Sumner.

The Clean Air Ordinance may be discussed at today's meeting, but the City Council must have a two-thirds majority vote to put the item on the agenda. At the June 24 regular meeting, the Council will need a simple majority to put the item on the agenda.

"There was a lot of confusion on whether or not the ordinance could be up for a simple majority this meeting," Hanson said. "According to our policies and procedures, the Council needs a two-thirds majority for the first six months after the ordinance is signed. The ordinance was signed Dec. 18, and if you count up the months, June 18 will be the six-month marker."

Fretti was disappointed when he learned the six months were not up until June.

"I, like many others, counted from December to May, which is six months," Fretti said. "I know a lot of businesses were waiting for this day, and now they must continue to wait."

The Council will also vote on:

An ordinance to grant a Special Exception to establish a child foster care home in an existing dwelling. The council postponed the hearing until this month, so that neighbors of the property could have a chance to ask the applicant questions. The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission recommended approval of the request. The subject property is located off Ponderosa Drive.

A request to approve a Federal Aviation Administration Grant for the Valdosta Regional Airport and authorize Fretti to execute the necessary documents. The grant is for a runway extension design and environmental assessment. The grant is in the amount of $224,494. The rest of the money for the project will come from the State of Georgia in the amount of $5,907 and the Airport Authority in the amount of $5,907.

A request to accept the low bid of $31,200 per year from All Bright All Pro for custodial services for the Georgia Department of Labor Career Center.

The Council meets in the Council chambers inside City Hall at 5:30 p.m.



To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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