Clarkston to appoint interim City Manager to permanent position

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Shawanna N. Qawiy is Clarkston’s interim city manager.

By Sara Amis

The Clarkston City Council will be formally appointing Shawanna Qawiy as the new City Manager at their next regular meeting to be held June 6. Qawiy has been serving as interim City Manager since the departure of former city manager Robin Gomez last September, while also carrying out her duties as Director of Planning and Development.

Qawiy’s appointment and other matters were discussed at the city council work session May 31.

The city council will also be making proclamations at their June regular meeting for LGBT Pride Month, World Refugee Day, and Juneteenth.

“We value all of our constituents, regardless of sexual orientation or national origin, and we also value our core African American community,” said Vice Mayor Awet Eyasu.

Mayor Beverly Burks proposed using American Rescue Plan Act funds to create a new Equity and Community Empowerment Department. The council agreed to refer the plan to the Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunity Committee for further discussion and community input.

The council discussed changes to a memorandum of understanding with Fresh Harvest for food distribution to low-income residents that was approved last December. The city’s lawyer Stephen Quinn stated that the original plan for a food truck was not a permissible use for ARPA funds. A new version of the MOU was created that was different enough from the original that city staff felt it should be brought back to the council for approval. All reference to a food truck has been removed. In the new agreement, Fresh Harvest will distribute $80,000 worth of food in the city and be reimbursed up to $40,000 by the city.

A very lengthy discussion followed, touching on how Fresh Harvest can account for the money spent and whether it was spent in Clarkston city limits. Interim city manager Shawanna Qawiy made plans to meet with Josh Deaton of Fresh Harvest on Thursday to come up with an agreement that the city council can approve at their next meeting.

The council discussed approving $125,000 for Empower Clarkston, a program that teaches green construction skills to Clarkston residents. That amount will fund training for 10 participants, including wages for trainees. The item will be placed on the agenda for discussion at the council’s June 6 meeting.

Atlanta United, LLC wants to conduct a free youth soccer program at Milam Park. Eyasu suggested waiving the facility rental fee. Council member YT Bell suggested using the rental fee to help children who might not otherwise be able to afford supplies pay for them. The program was placed on the consent agenda to be approved at the June 6 meeting.

In other news, the council discussed removal of large stones from Friendship Park. The city has used the park as a storage site for reclaimed and leftover granite from construction and landscaping projects for ten years. Several council members expressed the opinion that the stones are not aesthetically pleasing and block access to trails. The council agreed to task the Environmental Committee with the job of coming up with alternative plans.

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