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Holiday decorations are very merry, but not so bright

The subject of Donalsonville’s Highway 84 Christmas decorations remaining dark at night was not on the agenda or discussed at last Tuesday evening’s monthly meeting of the Donalsonville City Council. So, sadly, unless there is another Christmas miracle this year, or some type of divine intervention, those lights will remain very festive during the day, but very dark and unlit at night, for the remainder of this holiday season.

City officials commented that work is in progress and hopes are high the lights will be lit next year for the 2024 holiday season.

The City of Donalsonville has purchased Christmas decorations for Highway 84 with the assistance of the Chamber of Commerce over the past three years. In that time, the City has spent a total of $10,238.76 on the decorations: $3422.80 in 2021; $3846.29 in 2022; and $2669.67 in 2023.

However, unlike the illuminated decorations currently shining downtown along Second Street, which are installed on city–owned poles with available power connections, the 84 decorations are installed on Georgia Power owned poles – most of which do not have available connectable power outlets.

The city has been working with Georgia Power to add power to those poles that do not currently have power outlets available, and this has been a process they have been working on for several months. 

City of Donalsonville City Manager Jeffrey Hatcher commented, “Some of the poles on Highway 84 already have connections for the lights, but others do not. The process to have power connected to these poles requires engineering teams from Georgia Power to review the types of decorations, the power needed, current pole attachments, and total power usage on the system. This process takes time to complete.”

The decision was made by the city to go ahead and purchase additional decorations this year so that they could be connected easily when power becomes available. 

This year, when Christmas décor installation time rolled around, the consensus opinion of the city and the chamber was not to light any of the decorations since only a few could be illuminated. 

Hatcher added, “As these are not our poles, we cannot connect the power ourselves as we did with the ones in the downtown district. We also felt that it was better this year to go ahead with installing the decorations so that they could at least be visible during the day in those areas that did not have power.”

This year, as in the two past years, the installed decorations do provide a festive view as one drives along Highway 84 through the city of Donalsonville during the day time hours, but sadly, because of the lack of power connections, only a shadow of their festiveness is visible after dark. 

Moving forward with hope, the city and the chamber continue to work to address the issues, solve the problems, and hopefully, reach the point where next year’s holiday season will be the brightest one yet for Donalsonville’s Highway 84 corridor.

Adding additional light to this dark subject, Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Avery offered the following comments, “The first Christmas I was with the Chamber, I wondered why we no longer had Christmas decorations on 3rd St., other than because of Hurricane Michael.  That was in 2019.  I wondered the same thing Christmas of 2020.   So, I asked Public Works about it and was told that the old ones had gotten in very bad shape and had most likely been disposed of.  I met with Steve Hicks, the City Manager at that time, who requested that I get some prices together and present to the City Council in January or February.  This was 2021.  I discovered that most décor companies run very good discounts on Christmas décor early in the year.  So, in either January or February 2021, I had the costs ready and addressed the City Council regarding the lack of Christmas decorations on 3rd St.  and the cost to purchase new ones. It was agreed that the Chamber of Commerce would order eight new pieces and the City pay the invoice.  We have done the same thing for the past two years as well, ordering eight new pieces for each of the last three years. 

 For the last three years, we have also had the issue that not all of the pieces could be plugged in – that only a few of the poles, which belong to Georgia Power, have electrical outlets on them.  The City has said that there has been an ongoing conversation with Georgia Power regarding whether or not we could add these.  I was also made aware that there has to be a legal agreement with Georgia Power for the City to hang anything on their power poles.  I was also told that since this agreement was being addressed for the installation of cameras, it should be a simple thing to include the installation of Christmas décor.  Then the question of the electrical outlets became clear in 2022. 

Since that time, there have been quite a few discussions regarding this subject. I have been told that Georgia Power has to make the next move.  Their engineers have to sign off, and that although there has been significant communication between the City of Donalsonville and Georgia Power, Georgia Power has not followed through on the project.  Just last week I was made aware by someone that works for Georgia Power that there may be another way to handle this.  With the City’s blessing, since this is a joint effort, I am trying to verify the information and hopefully by Christmas 2024, we will be able to plug in all of the Christmas decorations on Highway 84 and celebrate together a very bright holiday season.”


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