Gregory Carswell is Waynesboro’s mayor no more.
Fifteen months after being indicted on four felony counts and not quite a year since he quickly stepped down as mayor – to beat a coming suspension by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp – Carswell pled guilty to three of those charges in a Bulloch County courtroom last week.
While he avoided any jail time, according to a True Citizen story in last week’s paper, Carswell was sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to pay $11,920 in restitution and a $1,000 fine.
Carswell initially claimed he was the victim of identity theft and that the cops had the wrong guy. He vowed to fight the charges and prove his innocence. Unfortunately, for himself and the people of Waynesboro, this turned out to be untrue.
Carswell was a good talker and, at first, it seemed he was going to make a good mayor, as well. Then came the “misuse” of his city vehicle and credit card. In hindsight, Carswell, a part-time preacher, was nothing but talk.
He had already proven himself to be a conman and a thief. Last week, he finally publicly admitted it.
So, Waynesboro is without an official mayor. At Monday’s regular city council meeting, city attorney Randolph Frails told council that by his interpretation of the law, the earliest date for an election to choose Carswell’s replacement would be Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
Vice-Mayor James “Chick” Jones has been serving in the position of mayor in Carswell’s absence. There is no official word yet whether Jones or any other current city council member is planning to throw their hat in the ring to be Waynesboro’s next mayor.
Monday’s meeting also had an update regarding the city’s first licenses for a “package store” to sell liquor by the bottle. According to assistant city manager Trinetta Skinner, there are currently four applicants vying to open four different stores.
Some in attendance immediately questioned whether Waynesboro needs or can support four liquor stores.
The public will have the chance to voice their opinions regarding the four applications at a public hearing during city council’s next regular meeting on Monday, May 16, at 6 p.m.
Council also voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve a resolution to apply for a 2022 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the state’s Department of Community Affairs.
The resolution calls for Waynesboro to commit to spend $550,000 on a “community center” to be built adjacent to the city’s 6th Street Park. According to a cost breakdown included in the agenda packet, the total cost of the project is estimated to be just over $1.5 million with one million being awarded through the CDBG.
Interestingly, the resolution says the city “provided citizens an adequate opportunity to participate in the development of the application by holding a public hearing …” The main notification for that public hearing appears to have been a flyer included in city water bills in February announcing the city’s intentions to “build a youth community center.”
There was also a committee meeting held at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday in March where the project was discussed but the minutes provide few details about the project or its exact purpose.
I suppose we should ask one of our council members since they all voted in support of the project Monday night.
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