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If you are accused of a crime, the only thing standing between your freedom and a verdict of "guilty" is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Thunderbolt, GA.

Those who have been arrested before know that life in the legal system is no laughing matter. Aside from the imminent ramifications of fines and jail time, any goals you have of bettering yourself and advancing your life could be compromised. Without a trusted attorney by your side, you could face a lifetime of embarrassment and poor employment prospects due to a tarnished criminal record.

The good news? Dennis O'Brien and his team of experienced lawyers in Thunderbolt are ready to clear your name. By retaining the help of a criminal defense attorney early in the legal process, you have a much better chance of securing your freedom and living a life as a productive member of society.

At O'Brien Law Firm PC, our practice was founded to fight for the rights of individuals accused of or charged with a crime. Our team of legal experts is well-equipped to take even the most difficult, contentious cases. From violent felonies to DUI, there is nothing we haven't seen and handled. As a former law enforcement officer, founding attorney Dennis O'Brien knows exactly how much a person can lose if convicted. That's why we work tirelessly to secure a verdict that is favorable for our clients.

Regardless of how serious or minor your case may be, know that we will fight fearlessly on your behalf. You deserve zealous representation - when you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, you will receive nothing less.

 Drug Lawyer Thunderbolt, GA
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The O'Brien Law Firm PC Difference

Many of our clients are surprised to discover that founding lawyer Dennis O'Brien was a police officer prior to his criminal defense career. As a former Field Training Officer for the Memphis Police Department, he has over two decades of knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system. Dennis truly understands the nuance and complexities involved in a criminal defense case. This rare experience gives Dennis a clear edge in any criminal defense case and gives clients priceless peace of mind when they need it the most. Unlike some criminal defense attorneys in Thunderbolt, Dennis O'Brien and his team believe that every client deserves effective, empathetic legal assistance. While some Thunderbolt criminal defense firms will take weekends off or pass along cases to paralegals, Dennis personally reviews each of his cases. There is no case too small or big for O'Brien Law Firm PC. When you hire our firm, you can rest easy knowing that we will be by your side when the going gets tough.

 Federal Defense Attorney Thunderbolt, GA
Here are just a few reasons why O'Brien Law Firm PC is Thunderbolt's top choice in criminal defense:
  • Vigorous Representation
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients
  • Unmatched Experience
  • Face-to-Face Counsel
  • Prompt Response to Inquiries and Questions
  • Commitment to Defending Your Rights
  • Thorough, Effective Research and Investigation
  • Contact Us or Call: 912-704-5150
 Criminal Defense Law Firms Thunderbolt, GA
Our firm has represented hundreds of criminal defense clients in Thunderbolt and is highly qualified to take your case. Some of our specialties include:

Drug Cases in Thunderbolt, GA

When you are charged with a drug crime in Thunderbolt, it can change your life forever. Georgia imposes very strict punishments for drug offenses. The truth is, it's hard to get your life back on track with a drug charge on your record. Your freedom and way of life could be in the hands of your criminal defense attorney. As such, you need a competent lawyer with years of experience handling drug cases. Leaving your fate in the hands of an incompetent attorney could have long-lasting effects on your family and may result in a conviction.

 Criminal Defense Lawyers Thunderbolt, GA

Consequences for drug crimes in Thunderbolt often include:

  • Jail
  • Prison
  • Heavy fines
  • Community service
  • Court-ordered drug and alcohol counseling
  • Probation or parole
  • Permanent criminal record

While the consequences for a drug crime in Georgia are serious, there's reason to be hopeful: O'Brien Law Firm PC is here to fight for you. Remember - being charged with a drug crime is NOT the same thing as being convicted.

Our stellar team has represented many clients facing numerous drug-related charges. While each situation varies, one constant remains the same for clients facing drug charges: a fear of what lies ahead. At O'Brien Law Firm PC our job is to help you overcome the fear of the unknown. We do so by ensuring you understand your charges, the possible outcomes associated with those charges, and the options you need to consider from a criminal defense standpoint.

With more than a decade of experience as Thunderbolt drug crime attorneys, we have the experience and resources to defend you in court no matter what your charges may be, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Crack
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy

No matter what charge you are facing, our team has the experience and resources to build a comprehensive defense strategy for your drug case in Thunderbolt, GA. Without a criminal defense attorney acting as your advocate, you could be facing very harsh penalties. Here are a few punishments you could be facing for drug crimes in Thunderbolt:

  • Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession
    Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession:

    Having less than a gram (or one milliliter for liquids) of this type of drug results in a prison term of one to three years. Having four grams or milliliter carries a term of one to eight years.

  • Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession
    Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession:

    Any substance on this list is punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years.

  • Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession
    Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession:

    If you have less than two grams or milliliters of this substance, punishments can be between one year and three years. Having up to four grams or milliliters results in a prison sentence of one to eight years.

  • Possession of Marijuana
    Possession of Marijuana:

    Those who are in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana are subject to a jail sentence of up to 12 months. Fines may be no more than $1,000. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana can result in a prison term of one to 10 years.

To avoid these life-changing punishments, you must take action now. Contact O'Brien Law Firm today for a consultation about your case.

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 Defense Lawyers Thunderbolt, GA
 Criminal Defense Attorney Thunderbolt, GA

Violent Crime Cases in Thunderbolt, GA

Violent crime offenses in Thunderbolt typically involve some form of bodily harm to another individual, actions committed against an individual's will, or threatening someone with bodily harm. Aggravated violent offenses are more severe charges and often occur when a violent crime is made more serious due to circumstances like deadly weapons.

Much like serious drug cases, violent crimes create an added layer of negativity that follows the accused for the rest of their life. In these cases, even an accusation is enough to cause irreparable damage to a person's reputation. Those convicted of a violent crime face severe penalties that can include years in a correctional facility.

Common crimes of this nature include but are not limited to:
  • Murder
  • Assault with the intent to murder
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking

When you are accused of any of the above crimes, your freedom hangs in the balance. The outcome of your case will determine whether you leave the courtroom with your freedom intact or stripped away to serve time behind bars. Because the punishments for violent crimes are so extreme, you should be seeking legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney in Thunderbolt, GA, as soon as possible. As a former police officer with a long record of positive verdicts in violent crime cases, Dennis O'Brien is well equipped to represent you in court.

Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side is the best way to avoid the serious punishments associated with violent crimes. These punishments usually result in prison time if convicted and include:
Forced rape: 20 years
Armed robbery: Up to 20 years
Simple assault: Up to 12 months
Aggravated assault: 10 to 20 years
Aggravated battery: Up to 20 years
Involuntary manslaughter: One to 20 years
Vehicular homicide Up to 15 years
Murder: Life in prison or the death sentence
Zealous Representation Without Judgement

As a former police officer, Dennis O'Brien has seen the toll it takes on a person when charged with a crime. His time in law enforcement allows him to empathize with his clients who desperately need competent representation. Despite being innocent until proven guilty, accusations are scary, and conviction could be a reality. That is why you must work with a trustworthy criminal defense lawyer in Thunderbolt, GA who will work tirelessly to clear your name.

Clients choose O'Brien Law Firm because we believe in open communication, honesty, and hard work. It is not our job to act as judges for those who have been accused of crimes. Rather, our goal is to find the best defense that allows us to protect our clients' rights and freedoms.

DUI Cases in Thunderbolt, GA

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common crimes committed in Georgia. Punishments for such a crime can be severe, and for understandable reasons - when a person operates a vehicle while they are intoxicated, they're putting their life and the lives of others at risk.

While DUI is a serious crime that completely upend the accused's life, the earnest desire to end drunk driving can make police officers too eager to catch a person who they believe is under the influence.

 Criminal Defense Law Firm Thunderbolt, GA

The city of Thunderbolt, Georgia, has implemented severe punishments for DUI, even for first-time offenders. Individuals charged with DUI in Thunderbolt could face:

  • Very expensive fines and fees
  • Loss of license
  • Incarceration

Fortunately, if you or someone you love has been charged with DUI, there is hope. This is particularly true when the accused is administered a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve a breath and/or blood test are beaten daily. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, we will dive deep into your DUI case in Thunderbolt and examine every angle possible for your case to be dismissed. Here are just a few questions our team will investigate:

  • Was the stop legal? If not, your case could be dismissed
  • Is there enough evidence or probable cause to arrest you? If not, Dennis O'Brien will file a pre-trial motion and will fight hard to have your case dismissed before trial.
  • Did the police read you your implied consent rights? If not, your case could be thrown out. Failure to read implied consent rights to the accused is one of the most common police errors.
  • Were your blood testing records and breathalyzer results maintained? Breath testing comes with inherent weaknesses that can create doubt in a juror's mind.

There are numerous ways to beat a DUI case in Georgia, from unreliable field sobriety tests to inaccurate state-administered breath tests. As a veteran criminal defense lawyer in Thunderbolt, GA, Dennis O'Brien has the knowledge and experience to expose the state's mistakes and fight for your rights. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC your chances of dismissal are greatly increased. When your case is dismissed, you can continue living life without the burden of a criminal record.

 Criminal Justice Attorney Thunderbolt, GA

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime in Thunderbolt, GA, don't leave fate up to the prosecution. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family before it's too late.

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Latest News in Thunderbolt, GA

Gallery: Town of Thunderbolt and Savannah Philharmonic host Phil the Neighborhoods

THUNDERBOLT, Ga. (WSAV) — The town of Thunderbolt and Savannah Philharmonic hosted Phil the Neighborhoods on Sunday.Check out the photos!1 / 98Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Body discovered in Savannah River ...

'It was a labor of love': For first time in 20 years, Thunderbolt revives Blessing of the Fleet

Anna Maria Thomas remembers dancing the night away on River Drive as brass bands played along the Wilmington River. It’s been decades since the Town of Thunderbolt hosted its Blessing of the Fleet festival, a three-day affair that paid homage to the city’s shrimping history.Shrimping and fishing boats would fill the marsh-lined river, waiting to be blessed by the Catholic bishop before heading out to sea.“Our help is in the name of the Lord,” were the priest’s first words before wish...

Anna Maria Thomas remembers dancing the night away on River Drive as brass bands played along the Wilmington River. It’s been decades since the Town of Thunderbolt hosted its Blessing of the Fleet festival, a three-day affair that paid homage to the city’s shrimping history.

Shrimping and fishing boats would fill the marsh-lined river, waiting to be blessed by the Catholic bishop before heading out to sea.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,” were the priest’s first words before wishing the fisherman a bountiful catch. That’s according to the 1998 brochure of the last celebration that took place. Thomas keeps the paper pamphlet in her car.

Latest in Thunderbolt:Thunderbolt passes its first short-term vacation rental ordinance and hotel/motel tax

Thunderbolt Mayor Dana Williams:'We don't want to lose our sense of community'

According to Thomas, the Blessing of the Fleet, which began in 1949, was "hard work, but a lot of fun." It was the culmination of the sweat and effort of a small group of dedicated Thunderbolt residents.

“It was just fantastic. Both sides of the River Drive block was filled, vendors were everywhere,” Thomas recalled.

For more than 20 years, the town, including Thomas who served as mayor in the early 2000s, had tried to bring some semblance of the ritual back, but it never quite gathered enough momentum. This year, after a two-month sprint of preparation and planning, Thunderbolt is reviving the Blessing of the Fleet.

The event will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along the original stomping grounds, River Drive. Live music, entertainment, a beer garden and vendors of all kinds will be present.

The parade, which will feature local businesses, nonprofits and public service groups, will kick off the celebration. The blessing by Bishop Parkes of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist will take place at 4 p.m.

“We’re paying homage to the people who paved the way for us to have the town that we have today," said Mayor Dana Williams, "And also to preserve and promote our history and our heritage of being tied to the water."

First City Progress:'Village on the Bluff' development to add retail, housing to Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt’s origins hearken back to the height of the local shrimping and fishing industry. The community grew along the Wilmington River’s banks. Traditional fishing cottages are still the dominant architectural style in its neighborhoods.

Williams acknowledged that the small town has lost that sense of community over the years. The population has gradually dwindled to its current 2,500. Once-active neighborhood associations have aged out or were stamped out by the pandemic.

But the decline had begun decades before, with the dissipation of the Blessing of the Fleet being one of its biggest indicators. A combination of an aging community; development along River Drive, where the festival was held; and an overall decline in the local shrimping industry had all contributed to the fading of tradition.

But Williams, as well as other city officials and residents, have been striving to thread the once close-knit community back together again.

Also:Black gill parasite causes fall harvest declines in Georgia White Shrimp

"It falls into what was my biggest platform, and council as well: getting out and meeting your neighbors, knowing them and being there for them when they need you," said Williams.

The other day, Williams said he witnessed several residents picking up scraps of trash off the streets. They were anticipating the return of the Blessing of the Fleet, he said, and wanted to help beautify the town.

Michael Smith, who had grown up in Thunderbolt from the ‘50s to ‘90s, helped organize the Blessing of the Fleet as part of the city's volunteer firefighter crew. He remembers setting up arts and crafts booths and standing in the river to help regulate the boat parade. Every year, they’d host different events such as foot races and dunking booths.

But just like Thomas, he cherished memories of dancing on the street during a summery Friday evening the most, and listening to the bands he helped pick out in the weeks before as an event organizer.

Smith describes the event as being a labor of love.

"It would take months to get everything organized, there was a lot of people involved in making it happened," said Smith.

Read more:Leigh Ebberwein finds the 'power' of words in first novel, 'Blessing of the Celtic Curse'

After 22 years, the Blessing of the Fleet’s celebrations will look different. The river won’t hold the 50 or so boats as it once had. There’s maybe half a dozen pontoons and other recreational vessels docked along the banks now. Anyone sailing in the river is welcome to receive their blessing, though, said Williams.

What’s important, Williams notes, is that the Thunderbolt is bringing back its most beloved tradition after decades of pleas from residents. The mayor credits city staff and Simply Savannah Marketing for the expedited preparations.

“We’re rekindling that sense of community,” said Williams. "This is just the start, this is the beginning.”

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

Thunderbolt Mayor-Elect Dana Williams: 'We don't want to lose our sense of community'

Looking ahead to next year, Williams said he wants to focus on transparency, preserving Thunderbolt's history and infrastructure.0:000:57ADDecades ago, the Town of Thunderbolt operated one of the busiest shrimping hubs on the east coast. In fact, so many shrimp boats lined the waterfront that one could walk to the middle of the Wilmington River on them, said Dana Williams, the town's new mayor-elect.“There were piers going out and buildings out that water from one end to the other,” said Williams, &...

Looking ahead to next year, Williams said he wants to focus on transparency, preserving Thunderbolt's history and infrastructure.

Decades ago, the Town of Thunderbolt operated one of the busiest shrimping hubs on the east coast. In fact, so many shrimp boats lined the waterfront that one could walk to the middle of the Wilmington River on them, said Dana Williams, the town's new mayor-elect.

“There were piers going out and buildings out that water from one end to the other,” said Williams, “This river was what made Thunderbolt.”

Today, only remnants of that vibrant fishing industry and boastful fleet exist. The town of about 2,500 is home to the Thunderbolt Marina, which services some of the largest boats and yachts on the east coast, and a local shrimp shack, Thunderbolt Fisherman’s Seafood, continues to sell fresh shrimp by the river.

But time has eroded some of the town’s most impressive origins, histories that Williams said he wants to pay homage to in his term as mayor. In order to do so, establishing communication with residents and between residents is central, said Williams.

More:Black gill parasite causes fall harvest declines in Georgia White Shrimp

Communicating with residents

Prior to winning the mayoral seat against two-term incumbent Beth Goette, Williams served a term on council and on the ad hoc water committee. He credits his win to constant communication with the public, frequently posting on social media about council discussions and employing an on-the-ground approach to his campaign.

"I was knocking on doors and gave out my card with my personal cell phone number on it to everybody I talked to because I wanted people to know that I am available," said Williams, "I had so many people tell me that they had never had a Thunderbolt politician knock on their door."

More:Thunderbolt election: New mayor to lead town as Williams defeats Goette soundly

But Williams is breaking the silence, and he said he's bringing that same energy to the top post in the city. In addition to making himself available, Williams and Town Administrator Bob Milie said they're working on modernizing Thunderbolt's approach to communication with the public by using social media.

"We're trying to be more open and more informative (by) establishing social media channels for all the departments for the town, utilizing the press more and giving our website a revamp," said Williams.

Additionally, Williams said he wants to reconvene the Thunderbolt Improvement Association, a neighborhood group formed over 50 years ago that became a major asset especially for the African American community, but had petered off in the age of COVID.

"It was a great way for the public to host their own meetings without any influence from council … and talk about what they want," he said, "and then the president of the association would bring all those concerns, ideas and whatnot to the council."

The neighborhood association along with the other initiatives are all key to one of the many priorities of the incoming mayor— reinvigorating a sense of community and reigniting Thunderbolt’s identity.

Bringing back community and identity

Michaele Yvonne Toomer-Reyes, a lifelong resident of Thunderbolt, said she remembers the town’s most anticipated event, The Blessing of the Fleet, a festival and religious ceremony borne out of the shrimping days.

The annual celebration consisted of “vendors, dancing, arts and crafts, lots of food, live shows, and a beauty pageant. And then the shrimp boats were blessed before the start of the shrimping season,” said Toomer-Reyes.

But the Blessing of the Fleet hasn’t been celebrated in decades as the shrimping industry declined, and, with it, the camaraderie between fishermen. Apartments and condominiums now hinder the views of the river on the bluff, said Toomer-Reyes.

“There used to be community events of all kinds when I was younger,” she said, “Then boat parades were canceled due to COVID (as well).”

Williams said he’s felt the residents’ collective yearning for kinship after years of a pandemic topped off decades of slipping identity.

“It was a big giant to-do and people miss that,” said Williams, “So we would like to bring that back in some form or fashion ... and really celebrate that waterfront heritage that we still have, even if we don’t have a fleet of shrimp boats anymore.”

Thunderbolt may be a small, unassuming town, but its history spans for more than a century and a half, and like its westward neighbor, Savannah, it's full of stories of progress and tension.

“This town is chock-full of history, it's amazing,” he said, “The Yacht Club started here, there was a casino, they used to have road races here, there was a major civil war battle right here on this bluff … and then you have the Native American tribes before all of us.”

It’s also home to Georgia’s first Historically Black College, Savannah State University.

The list goes on, and so do Williams' ideas to commemorate those historical happenings. Historical markers are part of the plan and, possibly, QR codes that visitors can scan on their phones and then watch or listen to oral histories told by Thunderbolt’s oldest residents on the Thunderbolt Museum website.

“The one thing we don’t ever want to lose is our sense of community and who we are,” said Williams, “If you don’t continue to tell the story, you lose it.”

Small town, big needs

On the other side of that effort, though, is the physical upkeep of Thunderbolt — the continuous need to preserve the city’s infrastructure and economy so that residents may keep living in it.

Unlike Chatham County’s westside municipalities, Thunderbolt isn’t facing issues of industrial and commercial growth that threaten residential life — at least not at the acute level of its neighbors. With Savannah on the east and the Wilmington River and unincorporated island communities on the west, the one-time fishing village is focused on existing physically.

Thunderbolt is the only city in the county to lose population over the course of a decade, according to 2020 census data. But there are plans to grow that with residential developments and businesses.

More:Bloomingdale's new mayor helped Pooler manage its early growth. Can he do the same again?

A mixed-use residential development, Village on the Bluff, is slated for completion next fall. Council is also starting to draft regulations on short-term vacation rentals (STVRs), which bring tourism and business, but also decrease the number of permanent residents living in the city — that, in turn, affects population-based funding avenues like SPLOST.

More:First City Progress: 'Village on the Bluff' development to add retail, housing to Thunderbolt

Town administrator, Milie, said Thunderbolt is also working on local policies that will streamline the process for businesses setting up in Thunderbolt. The main commercial corridors for the town are along River Drive and Victory Drive.

"We want to attract people that say, 'that's a hip upcoming community where I can see raising a family and get my cup of coffee here and walk my dog at the park...'" said Milie.

Meanwhile, Williams said the council will continue to focus on the infrastructure issues they’ve been working on this past term, which include updating the city’s water pipes and roads.

“Some of these pipes have been down there since World War II,” said Williams, “We have worked feverishly the last 12 years to locate all these valves and pipes.”

More:City of Thunderbolt brings composting, conservation efforts to residents

According to Williams, the city just finished an approximately $1.6 million pipe replacement project. Additionally, the city submitted an application for a $5.5 million state grant to address a sewage force main, as well as a smaller grant of about $50,000 for road repairs.

To maximize the town’s revenue sources, Milie said they are applying for federal and state grants when they can.

“This is a very small town with a very small tax base and you have to pick and choose. Is it going to be some parks this year or are we able to try and give raises to our dedicated employees, or is it going to be streets?,” said Milie, “We're trying to streamline through the budget process a way to identify and prioritize everything, and not be as reliant on certain other funding sources like SPLOST…”

With a full plate before the start of his new term, Williams said he's looking forward to working with the new set of council members.

"I'm really looking forward to four years of positivity and cohesiveness," said Williams, "We'll continue to build our relationships with one another and the town and just try to remove all the red tape and things that slow government down. I want to try to make it easier and smoother for not only citizens but for us as well."

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

Town of Thunderbolt launches glass recycling trial program

On Earth Day, the Town of Thunderbolt launched the trial of its glass recycling program. The move falls in line with Savannah and Tybee Island, which have recently adopted the eco-conscious initiative as well....

On Earth Day, the Town of Thunderbolt launched the trial of its glass recycling program. The move falls in line with Savannah and Tybee Island, which have recently adopted the eco-conscious initiative as well.

Like those other Chatham County municipalities, Thunderbolt is also partnering with The Upcyling Company, which formerly served as the glass collection wing under South Carolina-based GlassWRX. Upcycling now operates as an independent company, collecting glass products from communities and business partners and diverting the material away from landfills. The recycled glass is then sold and repurposed by U.S. manufacturers.

For the next three months, Thunderbolt residents can drop off their glass items at the collection bin across from the Senior Citizens' Center at 3236 Russell St. The large collection bin is marked with Upcycling’s trademark “stay glassy.”

Residents can also drop off their compost in the same area. Composting bins, managed by Code of Return (COR) Compost were set up two years ago as part of Thunderbolt’s composting initiative.

Thunderbolt City Administrator Bob Milie said at the end of the three-month trial the city will look at the collection results and decide whether or not they should extend the recycling program for at least a year. According to Upcycling’s website, communities typically see a 10% reduction of glass in landfills within a year of the program.

“In the longer run, we’re hoping that a reduction in solid waste would keep us at a better threshold for rates for sanitation, especially at a time when rates continue to go up,” said Milie.

Thunderbolt’s green initiatives

A communal spirit thrives in Thunderbolt and, according to community members, feeds an inclination to preserve the environment. The former shrimping community owes its beginnings to the Wilmington River, which runs along the town’s east side.

While shrimping and fishing are no longer the primary activities, the Thunderbolt Marina is still a symbol of the town. The annual Blessing of the Fleet celebration pays homage to that history of sailing and trawling. Residents and city officials also frequently organize cleanups of the city’s riverbanks.

In addition to the glass recycling trial, the city also recently introduced a new water rate tied closer to water usage levels in order to incentive residents and businesses to conserve water. Milie said the city is monitoring the new consumption-based billing metric and expecting positive results next year.

“I can’t say if we’re more eco-conscious than other municipalities but being so small, it's easier maybe to see the impact than a larger municipality,” said Milie. “Whether it's a cleanup along the tidal influence area … people can see the impact. We’re hoping that energy sparks energy.”

Glass recycling makes a comeback

Several years ago, Thunderbolt Council Member Ed Drohan, a champion of several conservation and recycling efforts over the years, launched a push for a glass recycling program. But “the market wasn’t there,” he said.

“It was cheaper to get new sand to make glass rather than recycle old glass,” said Drohan.

But recent changes to the glass recycling industry have created more incentives for communities and manufacturers to repurpose the material.

“The need is definitely there now,” said Meagan Huth, chief marketing officer for The Upcycling Company. “A lot of organizations, in general, are making sustainable moves, goals and targets and decreasing their need for raw materials and shifting to recycled content.”

Huth explains that in order to tap into this market, companies like Upcycling are starting programs to collect glass separately, which results in a cleaner process. This method is different from the single-stream collecting – where all recyclable materials are placed in one bin – that has been the primary means of recycling since the 1990s.

“There’s quite a need for that clean glass, so you may start to see a shift in the way that we collect glass,” said Huth.

When Savannah brought back their glass recycling program with Upcycling earlier this year, Drohan took notice and brought the idea to Milie.

“We try to piggyback on the good ideas that the neighbors are doing,” said Drohan.

For residents looking for more eco-friendly ways of disposing of certain materials, the county also provides recycling opportunities:

Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at nguan@gannett.com or on Twitter @nancyguann.

Thunderbolt passes resolution for first hotel/motel tax

Thunderbolt Town Council approved a resolution for the city’s first hotel/motel tax Tuesday in a special called meeting.The bed tax would allow the town to collect revenue off short term vacation rentals. Town Clerk Deatre Denion estimates that there are about 30 homes, apartment and boats available as vacation rentals.Thunderbolt is not home to hotels currently, although two bed-and-breakfasts operate in the town. B&Bs are regulated under separate rules.The excise tax, which was ...

Thunderbolt Town Council approved a resolution for the city’s first hotel/motel tax Tuesday in a special called meeting.

The bed tax would allow the town to collect revenue off short term vacation rentals. Town Clerk Deatre Denion estimates that there are about 30 homes, apartment and boats available as vacation rentals.

Thunderbolt is not home to hotels currently, although two bed-and-breakfasts operate in the town. B&Bs are regulated under separate rules.

The excise tax, which was previously marked for up to 8%, was changed to 6% after Chatham County's state legislative delegation showed weak support to a proposal to bump Savannah's hotel/motel tax from 6% to 8%. The delegation asked Thunderbolt Town Council to approve a revised resolution that would match the existing hotel/motel tax of Savannah and other Chatham County's municipalities.

All council members voted to pass the resolution.

Thunderbolt Mayor Beth E. Goette says the revised resolution is expected to pass the Georgia General Assembly.

“We’ve had a tremendous increase in people buying up homes and renovating them and renting them out,” says Goette. “A lot of people come here to visit the view, so we have a lot to offer.”

Thunderbolt’s River Drive borders the Wilmington River, once the shrimping capital of the East Coast, and is now home to several marinas plus Thunderbolt Marine, one of the country's busiest seagoing ship maintenance facilities. North of the city is Bonaventure Cemetery, a popular picnic spot listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A resolution for a hotel/motel tax has been in the works since last year and has been in discussion for even longer. It has not been met with any vocal opposition according to several councilmembers.

However, Drohan acknowledges that, in addition to the extra cost, “it makes what traditionally was a really easy process a bit more complicated.”

“Now you're doing sales tax and hotel/motel tax and you’ve got to do all the filings and all the costs that are associated with doing that,” says Drohan.

Although the extra revenue that will be generated has not been specifically earmarked, the resolution states that “such tax would benefit the Town of Thunderbolt by providing additional revenues for the promotion of tourism, conventions, tradeshows, and tourism product development.”

Typically, bed tax revenues are used for marketing to visitors.

“This was talked about in terms of having funds that would be utilized in terms of helping Thunderbolt to be a more desirable point of visitation,” says Drohan.

Bringing in more tourism would, in turn, benefit the short term rental owners as well.

An ordinance further detailing how the revenue will be used will be drafted after state approval of the resolution.

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