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News briefs
DeRenne Boulevard Strategy

Another step forward for DeRenne Project

At last week’s meeting, City Council voted on a resolution to move forward with what’s known as the Boulevard concept for Project DeRenne, which is aimed at remedying traffic delays along the corridor.

According to information provided at public meetings in December of last year, the Boulevard solution is expected to reduce delays by as much as 80 seconds.

The project will build a new road west of Mildred Street and widen Hampstead Avenue to be a four lane with a landscaped median. The changes are intended to re–route motorists with destinations south of DeRenne by connecting them directly to White Bluff Road, reducing the total amount of traffic headed east bound on DeRenne.

Work will now begin on developing engineering documents for the project. The City must still secure additional funds for the project as well. Currently, there are SPLOST funds available to cover about one third of the total expected cost.

Alderman Larry Stuber said that he is “100 percent” in support of the Boulevard option, but expressed some concern that the language of the resolution implied that all the funds would need to be raised in order to begin work, rather than starting on some smaller pieces of the project during the next two years.

Early voting begins

The democratic process is a little more schedule-friendly now thanks to some changes to the early voting process. This is the first time Georgians will be able to vote early without having to declare an official reason for doing so, or bringing a doctor’s note.

The Early Voting period for the upcoming general primary elections began June 7 and lasts 45 days. If you’ve got a bad case of democracy fever and would rather not wait until July 20, when the actual primary takes place, you can drop by the Chatham County Voter Registration Office during business hours to make your voice heard ahead of schedule.

Officials are expecting an above average turnout for the primaries this year due to “the mixture of candidate competition combined with the current political atmosphere,” according to a statement from Pete Nichols, Chatham County’s Public Information Officer.

There are seven candidates competing for the Governor’s seat, as well as dozens trying to reach November’s general election for various Congressional seats.

Fun fact: In Georgia, you don’t have to vote based on your party affiliation and can actually decide which party’s primary interests you most when you arrive at your polling place.

If you’re not already registered, the deadline to do so and still vote in the primary is June 21.

Bank On turns 1; meets goal

The Bank On initiative created by Step Up Savannah in conjunction with local government and several financial institutions celebrated its one year anniversary at the end of last month. The goal of the program was to help local citizens who did not currently have banks, but who often relied on check cashing facilities charging exorbitant fees, to join banks and start saving money.

According to the program’s annual report, Bank On Savannah has been a success and surpassed all of the goals set for the program. Over 1,000 people opened new accounts, and over 3,000 people attended financial education classes offered as part of the program.

Estimates from local research showed that there were approximately 10,000 unbanked individuals living in the city’s most poverty–stricken neighborhoods.

In 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported “over a lifetime, the average full–time, unbanked worker will spend more than $40,000 just to turn his or her salary into cash.”