CONYERS — The city of Conyers celebrated its accomplishments of the past year while looking toward the future at the annual State of the City address Wednesday night.

The first order of business for the city was to swear in two new members and one returning member of the City Council. Mayor Vince Evans administered the oath to Gerald Hinesley, who was re-elected in November. Rockdale Chief Magistrate Judge Phinia Aten performed the swearing-in honors for newly-elected council members Valyncia Smith and Connie Alsobrook.

Evans took the podium to review some of the highlights of the previous year, including:

♦ Development of a strong, sound budget

♦ Completion of the Hardin and O’Kelley streetscape project

♦ Completion of emergency repair work to Rowland Road

♦ Breaking ground for the city’s new City Hall in July

♦ Breaking ground for the new Salem Gate Market development in April

♦ Economic growth in Olde Town through new businesses and expansions of existing businesses

♦ The inaugural Red, White and Boom! event in Olde Town on July 3 that brought fireworks back to Olde Town after a 16-year absence

♦ Partnering with the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts to promote the arts

♦ The Police Department’s receipt reaccreditation with excellence by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies

♦ A 12% decrease in crime in 2019 compared to 2018, following a 16% decrease the year before.

Looking forward, Evans said the city’s leadership will continue to build for the future “through sound planning, visioning, evaluation and implementation.”

“Our city will turn 166 years old next month,” said Evans, “and while the foundation has long been in place, at times it needs reinforcement and that’s what we as the City Council, staff and employees of the city continue to do.”

The city presented two signature employee awards Wednesday night. The Dee Buggay Award of Excellence for the employee of the year was given to Melissa Staton, the city’s code enforcement supervisor.

City Manager Tony Lucas said Staton, the 23rd recipient of the annual award, holds a criminal justice degree from the University of Georgia. She joined the city of Conyers Police Department 14 years ago in communications and worked as a sergeant and detective before joining the Code Enforcement Department. She became supervisor of the department in 2019. Lucas said Staton has initiated a number of programs to enhance code compliance, safety and public awareness.

“Melissa goes to great lengths to learn everything there is to know about the duties and responsibilities associated with her position, while simultaneously learning how to improve upon the work her group does, and with a personal touch,” said Lucas.

Lucas also announced that the annual PEACH (Positive Employees are Conyers’ Heartbeat) award was given to Marie Willis, who is the communications supervisor for the Conyers Police Department. Lucas praised Willis’ positive attitude, customer service skills, and efficient completion of tasks.


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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