Partly cloudy with late night showers or thunderstorms. Low 71F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%..
Partly cloudy with late night showers or thunderstorms. Low 71F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.
Updated: August 18, 2022 @ 10:22 pm
AN ARCHITECTS rendering of expansions to Polk Park in Vidalia. Hydroelectric surplus funds are planned to bankroll the project.

AN ARCHITECTS rendering of expansions to Polk Park in Vidalia. Hydroelectric surplus funds are planned to bankroll the project.
Ideas were given Monday night on how to spend surplus hydroelectric funds in Vidalia.
Mayor Buz Craft, Town Council members and concerned citizens explained their various thoughts and ideas, ranging from finishing Polk Park, improving drainage to upgrading Vidalia High School’s football field.
The meeting was the first of two public hearings. The second hearing is scheduled for Aug. 22.
“This is not going to affect your rebate,” Craft said. “This year we are going to rebate 50 percent of whatever your electricity bill was. We usually try to get those out somewhere close to the first of November.”
The hydroelectric ordinance states Town Council members will hold at least two public hearings to compose an annual project list. After the public hearings, Town Council members “shall approve the expenditures of surplus revenues for projects deemed to be in the best public interest.”
No decision was reached Monday night, but a list of proposed projects was compiled from Craft, Town Council members and residents.
Later in the meeting, Craft estimated Vidalia has $22 million in surplus but cautioned the amount was “not an open checkbook.”
“The town still has responsibilities,” Craft said. “This is not an open checkbook. There are a lot of questions we will have over the next few years that will be critical to the Town of Vidalia.”
The following were ideas for the surplus funds:
Mayor Buz Craft
1. Completion of Polk Park
The Vidalia park will be located throughout the current sports complex located on the south end. Bryant Hammett of Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC, explained park concepts to Town Council members at the meeting.
The park will feature a multi-use trail around the current baseball, softball and soccer fields. The lighted trail will be large enough for walkers and bikers and feature exercise stations.
A water feature will be located at the park along with a splash pad and large playgrounds with features for everyone.
Three pavilions will be built throughout the park, including one located near the community garden that doubles as a farmer’s market.
There will be a pavilion near the splash pad and also one serving as a centerpiece located near the tennis courts.
One tennis court will also be converted into a pickle ball court. Pickle ball is a racket/paddle sport that was created by combining elements of several other racket sports. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated hollow polymer ball over a net. The ball is much like a Wiffle ball, with 26 to 40 round holes.
Park creators are looking into a skate park and nine-hole frisbee course.
The park will also feature new bathrooms.
“We want to have something for everyone from young to old,” Hammett said.
2. Pay municipal debt
Craft would like to rid Vidalia of its debt with surplus funds.
“The town could save $500,000 a year in interest if we pay off our municipal debt,” Craft said.
Vidalia’s municipal debt is substation balance, municipal complex debt and fire truck.
3. Council On Aging and Masonic Lodge building
The building is in dire need of renovation, Craft said.
“The Council On Aging is a very used building,” he said. “it is in bad need of repair and renovations and I would like for us to put that on the list. Our senior citizens deserve a nice place to go to do their activities.”
4. Netting for baseball/softball parks
Under Craft’s proposal, safety netting would be installed over sitting areas at Vidalia’s baseball and softball parks.
“I think it is just a matter of time we get the news that somebody is very seriously injured by getting hit in the head with a ball,” Craft said.
5. $500,000 to Concordia Parish School Board to turf Vidalia High School football field
“I think that would have a profound effect not only on our high school kids but also the community,” Craft said.
Vidalia High School football field is not only used for Friday night but also on Saturdays in the fall for peewee football games.
“It is not only going to have an economic impact but a better sense of community,” Craft said.
Town Council member Brent Smith
Smith agreed with the football field improvements, and also suggested Viking Street ditch improvements and more electrical RV hookups at the complex.
“Maybe look into seeing what it would be to concrete the whole ditch,” Smith said.
Town Council member Rosa Demby
Demby suggested several community projects throughout Vidalia.
Town Council member Jon Betts
Betts was a big proponent of eliminating Vidalia’s debt.
“I don’t want to be a naysayer but this inflation might turn into a recession and the more we have our debt paid off, the better shape we will be in,” Betts said.
Betts was also for drainage improvements, ballpark safety nets and upgrades to Vidalia High School football field.
Town Council member Robert Gardner
Gardner proposed spending money for a summer youth program, insurance for Vidalia’s annual Memorial Day Parade and sidewalks on Riverside Street to Alabama Street and Spruce Street to Alabama Street.
Town Council member Tommy Probst
Probst proposed trimming trees that were possibly dangerous to Vidalia’s power grid and also drainage improvements.
Probst was not for totally financing ballpark nets and football field improvements, stating the Recreation Board and School Board should foot the bill.
After Town Council members presented their ideas, residents proposed their thoughts.
Ellen Yates, president of Vidalia Beautification Committee, said her organization had two light poles coming to dress up the town. 
Eight poles will be situated around Courthouse Square and 11 poles will be on one side of the highway toward the end of the levee. Poles will also be featured along Martin Luther King Street.
“The poles are really going to help beautify Vidalia,” Yates said.
In Vidalia Beautification Committee’s second phase, Yates proposed the town’s entrances should be “fantastic.”
The group would like more poles to be placed along Vidalia’s main thoroughfare.
“It could bring the whole town together,” she said.
Yates proposed more Christmas displays for the riverfront and a large American flag like Winnsboro.
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