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Outgoing fire chief honored at West Point City Council meeting

At the West Point City Council meeting on Tuesday, outgoing Fire Chief Milton Smith was honored for his years of service.

West Point Mayor Steve Tramell said the council would dearly miss Smith and read him a retirement resolution. Smith’s retirement will become effective on Friday.

According to the resolution, Smith began working for the City of West Point on July 22, 1987, as a firefighter EMT. He steadily rose in rank throughout his career. In 1995, he was promoted to lieutenant. In 1999, he was promoted to captain. In 2004, he was promoted to assistant fire chief. On Aug. 18, 2005, Smith’s outstanding performance resulted in his promotion to fire chief.

“And, whereas during over 34 years of service, Chief Milton Smith’s sound judgement, caring spirit, and devotion to his duties has earned him the sincere respect and appreciation of his fellow firefighters, coworkers, and the public,” Tramell said. “And whereas Milton Irvin Smith has maintained the very highest standards of professional integrity as a fire chief with the City of West Point, Milton’s strong work ethic, positive attitude, and his unwavering service will always be examples for fellow employees to follow. Now it be therefore resolved by the mayor and council of the City of West Point that they wish to express their profound gratitude to Milton Irvin Smith and thank him for the leadership he has shown in the last 34 years with the West Point Fire Department. Be it further resolved that the mayor and city council wish to convey their best wishes for a long and prosperous retirement adopted this 28th day of September 2021.”

Smith expressed gratitude to the mayor, council, his coworkers and the citizens of West Point.

“It’s been an honor,” he said. “I would have never guessed 34 plus years ago… honestly, retirement wasn’t in my vocabulary. So today, it’s hard to believe that we’ve announced retirement, and we’re within two days of it. So, I thank everyone for their patience with me and encouragement and their prayers for me, and I ask that the same, [that] it will continue for the citizens of West Point, the city of West Point, and the West Point Fire Department.”

In other business at the meeting, the council discussed a Forward Fund Loan Program application from West Point Village Phase I.

“Originally, we had an application from West Point Villages, LLC for intersection improvements that were made for forward fund grant money,” City Manager Ed Moon explained.

“The council approved that in the amount of $250,000. Since that time, the scope of the project has changed. And the West Point Housing Authority, as you all are all aware, are doing a residential project in that area. So, it has changed the needed intersection improvements at that location.”

Moon said that because the scope of the project and type of intersection improvements changed, he thought the Housing Authority should reapply through the forward fund application to reallocate funds for the project.

“The staff certainly supports the West Point Housing Authority in their initiative to get this done,” he said.

“… Again, this is a reallocation of the $250,000 that was committed to the project previously.”

Moon clarified in an email that the Forward Fund money will be used to construct a portion of the intersection improvements for an entrance to the project.

Brian Thomas, a senior developer with Pennrose, a real estate development company, introduced himself.

“I represent the development team in conjunction with the West Point Housing Authority and Collaborative Housing Solutions as co-developers and co-owners of the project,” he said. “… Attention is needed to support the West Point Village Phase I and Phase II projects. These are mixed income projects that are receiving low income housing tax credits awards and [were] actually awarded a 2020 low income housing tax credit award from the state agency.”

Thomas said that the anticipated side entrance to West Point Village will also serve some of the adjacent commercial properties along the 10th Street corridor.

“And so, in totality, it would be a mixed-use project that this side entrance is serving,” he said.

“And it’s really needed to better improve the pedestrian and vehicular traffic coming in and out of the site off the 10th Street corridor. It is an acceleration and deceleration lane that we’ve put forth. It is a part of our application. We have the plans as well as a budget to kind of lay out everything that goes into not only the construction, but the design of the project, as well. We are, as Ed mentioned, respectfully requesting a funding match of $250,000 from the city, a reallocation from the previous approved application to support these site improvements.”

Thomas said the project would need review and approval from not only the city, but also the Georgia Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“A lot of planning has already been done in situating not only the side improvement but also the project as it relates to the 10th Street corridor,” he said. “The amount total of the project is $771,290. The city match also includes $225,000 from the West Point Housing Authority, as well as roughly $296,200 from the project, itself to help support this side entrance. And so, it is kind of a group effort to put together this side entrance for the benefit of this mixed use and mixed income project.”

Thomas said the project also requires HUD approval, which it will most likely get in the first quarter of 2022.

Amon Martin, southeast regional vice president of Pennrose, said that in addition to creating the side entrance, the project will involve constructing a vertical apartment unit. He said the entire project would probably take 12 to 14 months to construct and that the company hopes to be “moving dirt” by the end of next year’s first quarter.