Giving thanks and appreciation to city employees for their dedication and service during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Conyers Mayor Vince Evans expressed hope and optimism for 2021 during the annual State of the City address on Jan. 6.

Due to the pandemic and rising numbers of confirmed cases in Rockdale County, the annual event was closed to the general public and filmed for viewing.

Citizens can view the address via the city’s YouTube page by searching for City of Conyers, GA or on the city website at: https://www.conyersga.com/government/public-relations-tourism.

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Evans praised the efforts of city employees and the city council in maintaining services during the pandemic.

“The city never shut down, nor were city services ever affected by these challenging times. The city did not have to furlough any employees, a feat not many companies or governments can boast. Our first case of coronavirus did not even occur until July, and to date, we have had only 11 confirmed cases among the city’s 220 employees, something we can be proud of.

“The council took quick action, sometime ahead of the governor, to help emphasize the importance and continued importance of mitigating the spread of the virus,” said Evans.

Some of the highlights for 2020 that the mayor noted included:

♦ Finances and Construction

“Financially the city has fared well, thanks to instituting a hiring freeze, and with an increase in permitting fees and revenues, thanks to the steady growth in the construction industry,” Evans said.

“Home construction continued throughout the year with two subdivisions — the Centennial near Cherokee Rose Golf Club, and Brookstone Lakes off of Sigman Road — leading the way. On the commercial side, Pratt Industries finished their $70 million expansion, and Ashley Capital finished their latest building, a 455,000-square-foot building off of Old Covington Highway.”

♦ Tourism

“Georgia International Horse Park and tourism revenues were understandably down, and most Olde Town event were cancelled in 2020,” Evan said. “We have high hopes, however, that revenues in the events industry will begin to rebound in the second and third quarters of 2021.”

♦ New City Hall

“Perhaps the most significant accomplishment in the city’s 167-year history was the completion of this 38,000-square-foot new City Hall building we are in tonight,” Evans said. “It had been determined years ago that more office space, parking and storage was needed, and there was no feasible way to make that happen on Scott Street. This building on O’Kelley Street was completed on time, under budget, and is a magnificent building. It is not only beautiful, but functional, and a welcome addition to the heart of Conyers.”

♦ Crime Rate

“Our crime rate continues to remain low year over year thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Conyers Police Department,” the mayor said. “The crime rate in 2020 was down 28%. This is the lowest crime rate in 14 years, and the sixth out of the last seven years where the crime rate was down from the years before, and is definitely a trend we would like to see continue.”

♦ Appearance

“The continued efforts of Code Enforcement — a collaboration between the police department and the planning department — is paying big dividends in instilling pride and taking care of our community while improving its appearance,” said Evans.

“The look of Olde Town continued to improve, thanks to the efforts of the new Greetings From Conyers mural adjacent to the Olde Town pavilion on Main Street. This beautiful mural showcases many of the things our community is known for, and was spearheaded by the Conyers-Rockdale Council For the Arts, the city, the University of Georgia, Lamar Dodd School of Art students, and the Color the World Bright Art program.”

♦ Road Work

“Road surfacing projects are never glamorous, but the end result gets us from point A to point B more efficiently and smoothly. In 2020, nearly 6.5 miles of city roads and streets were resurfaced to the tune of $2.3 million, thanks to SPLOST funding.”

♦ Redevelopment

“The city council will continue to explore plans for future redevelopment, especially residential, with careful analysis of how it will affect all aspects of our community over time,” said Evans.

“The redevelopment of property surrounding City Hall is also at the top of our minds as we look to capitalize on opportunities for development to supplement the many unique stories being told in Olde Town through a variety of restaurants, specialty retail, and services our citizens are seeking.

“And the redevelopment of Salem Gate Market is back on track, with construction to begin on two of its three anchor tenants in early 2021, with others to follow.”

♦ Mindset for 2021

“Perhaps more important than completing projects and rattling off achievements is the mindset we intend to maintain in 2021, and that is one of integrity,” Evans said. “Leadership and setting the tone starts from the top, and this council has really come together in the face of adversity and made tough decisions in the midst of challenging circumstances over the past year.

“As mayor, I am committed to working collectively with our community stakeholders, including our newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, to break down barriers and bridge any gaps that divide us. The council will take a good look at the situation, determine how best to take action, and then offer assistance to those citizens in need.”

Evans also mentioned the co-responder partnership between the Conyers Police Department and Viewpoint Health, in which a licensed behavioral health clinician will be on staff and on call to assist with mental health calls our police officers receive as a significant step in the right direction.

“2020 is in our mirror now,” Evans concluded. “We have learned much in the challenges we faced in our city, community, nation and world, and has served us as a lesson as we move forward in a brighter 2021. I hope you will all join me and embrace the hope and optimism I have for Conyers in the year ahead.”

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Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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