Category Archives: Travel

Rail Meeting 2 tonight in Valdosta

All aboard for the second and last rail plan meeting in Valdosta tonight. Maybe you see something missing in the current passenger rail corridor proposal pictured on the right. Maybe you’d like to suggest some changes or additions.

Stuart Taylor wrote for the VDT today, Rail plan meeting scheduled,

Georgia Department of Transportation will host a 2014 Georgia state rail plan public meeting from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, in the Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 N. Lee St.

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CSX Georgia Rail Meeting – April 17

gdot-rail.jpg Update 12:20 PM 25 March 2014: “Please note this meeting is not just about CSX, but all railroads in Georgia.” –Corey Hull

I found this on Facebook at the MPO.

Y’all come and give an opinion about rail in Georgia.


The Georgia Department of Transportation has begun work on the 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan. The Plan will serve as a statewide long-range rail planning document for passenger and freight service, providing a vision for rail throughout the state and housing comprehensive industry data.

Components of the Plan will include Continue reading

Tourism Board Meeting @ VLCCCTA 2013-01-23

Last week I went to the Rainwater Conference Center to attend the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority Board Meeting.

I had discovered the time and date of this meeting by asking at the information booth at the Conference Center one day when I was there for another event.

I arrived slightly before the 8:00 appointed time and was greated warmly by Councilman Tim Carroll and Conference Center Director Tim Riddle. Being the Conference Center, they served a hot breakfast (other morning boards have fruits and sweets but this was something that you might get up for).

As 8:00 came there was apparently not a quorum, so calls went out to missing members to see if one more could be attacted. At 8:15 it was clear that there would be no additional members coming so no formal meeting was held, no votes were taken but an informal review of the agenda was performed:

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Valdosta Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority

VLCCCTA Logo Stopped by the main desk of the Conference Center Wednesday. I asked for a list of the current members of the board and was provided a photocopy of a February 2012 list. See also LCC 2012-11-13. -gretchen

Board of Directors

February 1, 2012

Commissioner Joyce Evans
Lowndes County Board of Commissioners

Term Expires: December 31, 2014

VLCCCTA Board Page 1 Councilman Tim Carroll
Valdosta City Council

Term Expires: December 31, 2015

Andy Anderson
Lowndes County Board of Commissioner Appointment

Term Expires: December 31, 2014

Rick Williams – Vice Chairman
Valdosta City Council Lodging & RV Appointment

Term Expires: December 31, 2012
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Solar cars and charging stations: who wouldn’t?

Tired of Southern Company CEO Fanning’s maybe “next decade” for solar power? Tired of Georgia Power’s Bowers trying to push solar off for fifty years? Let’s hear from somebody who takes on big tasks and gets them done: Elon Musk, who’s already built a rocket that is resupplying the International Space Station, and who is also building all-electric cars.

Carl Hoffman wrote for Smithsonian magazine December 2012, Elon Musk, the Rocket Man With a Sweet Ride

When he’s not launching rockets, Musk is disrupting the notoriously obdurate automobile industry (see National Treasure, p. 42). While industry giants like Chevrolet and Nissan and Toyota were dithering with electric-gasoline hybrids, this upstart kid said he would design and manufacture an all-electric car that would travel hundreds of miles on a single charge. The Tesla Roadster hit the streets in 2008 with a range of 200 miles, and the far more functional Model S, starting at $57,000, was introduced in June. It’s the world’s first all-electric car that does everything my old gasoline version does, only better. The high-end model travels 300 miles on a single charge, leaps from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, slows from 60 to a dead stop in 105 feet, can seat up to five, has room for mulch bags and golf clubs, handles like a race car and its battery comes with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. If you charged it via solar panels, it would run off the sun. One hundred a week are being produced in a former Toyota factory in Fremont, California, and nearly 13,000 people have put deposits on them….

And since that story: Continue reading

Food as tourism: Buffalo now has a “brewery district”

It’s not all fracking shutdowns in Buffalo; now for some good news: food and drink as tourism. We could do that!

Don Postles wrote for WIVB yesterday, Brewery district” now open for tours,

Downtown Buffalo is looking to attract more visitors, and a new concept called the Buffalo Brewing District could be the answer.

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Why did old US 41 N increase from $8 M to $12 M? —John S. Quarterman @ SGRC 2011-09-19

I asked why the Old US 41 North widening project changed from $8 million on the unconstrained list to $12 million on the constrained list, an increase of $4 million or 50% when the description did not change? The answer indicates GDOT and local governments want to drive development north in the county, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists stranded yet having to pay.

Corey Hull responded:

Halfway through we received new cost estimates….

GDOT did the cost estimates, in cooperation with the local government that was responsible for that.

A state employee told me after the meeting that GDOT raised some estimates because it thought the local government, in this case the Lowndes County Commission and staff, didn’t put in enough to cover the project. I don’t know whether GDOT was figuring by Atlanta costs or not…. At least the cost didn’t go up further in the final project list; I just checked and it’s still $12 million.

Corey elaborated that some projects increased and some decreased. I asked him which ones did which. He said he’d have to go back and compare. Later he helped me produce a list of comparisons of costs of Lowndes County projects, which shows that one went down by 30% and three went up by 50% or more. One, RC11-000099 St. Augustine at Norman Intersection Improvements, went up by 131.5%.

That $12 million for widening less than 3 miles of one road is more than one item that was in the unconstrained list but cut from the constrained list: $7.5 million for a bus system, with three bus lines that would connect Wiregrass Tech, Five Points, Downtown, Moody, East Side, South Side, West Side, and the Mall. A bus system recommended by the Industrial Authority’s Community Assessment to aid in employee attendance, industry recruitment, and workforce.

You could probably even start up a substantial commuter rail system using existing freight line tracks for less than $12 million. Even though GDOT apparently only believes in roads and bridges, busses and trains are actually more cost-effective, especially for lower-income people. The same lower-income people who will be disproportionately taxed by T-SPLOST as a percentage of their income.

Instead, the description for the Old US 41 North project admits the county is driving Continue reading

3 Appointments to VLC Conference Center and Tourism Authority LCC 2012 Jan 9-10

Who is on the Tourism Authority Board, and why do they have such rapid changeover in executive directors?

The Commissioners considered Monday 9 January and made Tuesday 10 January three appointments to the Tourism Authority: Commissioner Joyce Evans (reappointment), Jerome “Andy” Anderson (reappointment), and Greg Charbeneau apparently to replace Linda Jenson (who had been appointed to fill a vacancy for ? Montgomery).

5.a. Valdosta/Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority
County Manager Joe Pritchard said at the Tuesday Regular Session that Greg Charbeneau is a Vice President at Wild Adventures. Here’s video of that session:

3 Appointments to VLC Conference Center and Tourism Authority LCC 2012 Jan 10
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 January 2012.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

According to Wild Adventures’ own press release of 29 July 2011 and the VDT 14 August 2011, Greg Charbeneau is also their general manager.

We learned a little more at the Monday Work Session, but not much. Here’s video:

3 Appointments to VLC Conference Center and Tourism Authority LCC 2012 Jan 9
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 9 January 2012.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

VLCCCTA’s own webpage has no indication that such a board even exists, much less Continue reading

$75/day Lowndes County Travel Policy @ LCC 24-25 October 2011

Commissioner Crawford Powell wanted exemptions or exceptions to Lowndes County’s travel policy for “department heads, elected officials, County Manager”. Commissioner Richard Raines just wanted the limits raised. Commissioner Joyce Evans preferred they
…make a statement that we should not exceed a certain amount per day.
Chairman Ashley Paulk said exceptions were a problem and indicated they would be a bad idea. Powell and Raines are the same Commissioners who thought accepting a federal grant for NOAA Weather Radios would be “wasteful spending” of tax dollars and who refused a federal grant for an emergency vehicle. Spending local taxes seems fine with then when it comes to their travel expenses. They finally adopted a total of $75/day for meals. I hate to agree with Frank Barnas, but GSA standard for trips to Atlanta is $56/day.

At the Monday 24 October 2011 County Commission Work Session, County Manager Pritchard said the county’s travel policy had been discussed during their retreat and during budget preparations, with changes for mileage reimbursement, meal limitations, and use of tax forms. .

This is the policy we have been acting under since the adoption of the budget. I just wanted to bring it back before you to make this adoption public.
Joyce Evans expressed a concern about it saying the County Manager or his designee could approve expenses. She seemed to want the designee part removed.

Crawford Powell said:

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Lowndes County: commuter rail hub

Look at all those other railroads converging on Valdosta in that GFRR project proposal map. Valdosta is a historical rail hub for passenger traffic to Atlanta, Savannah, Jacksonville, Orlando, Thomasville, Tallahasssee, and beyond. All the tracks are still in place and still in use for freight. With some rolling stock and a few deals with the railroads, Valdosta and Lowndes County could become again a passenger rail hub with a mass transit system for local commuting to jobs and for long distance travel.

Add a bus system and local commuting becomes very practical. People could take the train to town and catch a bus to work. Many people could walk or take a bicycle to their work from the train station. This could work the other way around, too. People could live in Valdosta and work in Ray City or Lakeland or Hahira or Lake Park or Clyattville and not have to drive to get there. That would save a lot of wasted time and wasted fuel.

This kind of mass transit would attract the knowledge-based workers we supposedly want around here. Including jobs our high school and college graduates could take, so they wouldn’t have to move elsewhere.

And upgrading the railroads, building stations, building and refurbishing houses and apartments near the stations, etc., would employ a lot of construction workers; probably as many as road projects and sprawling subdivision projects, but without the sprawl.