COMMUNITY NEWS CONNECTION: Free family event Saturday at Enmarket Arena

Bethesda celebrates grads in Class of 2024; CAT tabs Gloria Wesley to lead its expansion plans; Port Wentworth public hearings announced

Stay in the know about the latest activities and achievements in our local community. Each week, Connect Savannah previews the community's notable upcoming events and resident opportunities while also looking back at what you may have missed from the weekend that was.

Pittman Enterprises to host community market

On Saturday, June 8, from noon to 3pm, Pittman Enterprises will host a free family community market at the Enmarket Arena parking lot. Attendees can enjoy giveaways, free pizza for youth, games and prizes, face painting, a magic show and more.

This event will benefit The Dream Big Foundation’s Hygiene Hut, which provides toiletries and hygiene products to students within the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS).

Daughters of Mary Magdalene present Juneteenth Motorcade Parade

Daughters of Mary Magdalene present the second annual Juneteenth Motorcade Parade, scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at 9am.

After leaving the old Savannah Civic Center at 9:45am, the motorcade will arrive at the 38th Street Park between 10:15am-10:30am.
The Savannah Police Department, Soulful Riders, Pleasure Riders and the Rare Breed Club are set to lead the parade procession. If interested in participating, call Bobby Simpson at 912.428.5169 or Marilyn Jackson at 912.412.4851.

African Art Museum hosts 4th annual Juneteenth celebration

The Savannah African Art Museum will hold its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, June 15, at 201 E. 37th Street.

As is tradition, the Juneteenth celebration will reflect on honoring the past while embracing the future. This year the museum’s collection of West and Central African art will be the focus of the celebration. Guests are invited to enjoy free self-guided tours with docents available to share information and answer questions about African history and culture, and its impact on African American History and beyond.

During the celebration, guests who know where their African roots lie can be directed to galleries featuring art from their ancestral region. In addition to the docent’s availability, QR codes will be displayed on select art so guests can learn the significance of the artwork, pursue further personal research, and discover connections to African-American history, world history, and present-day motifs (e.g., Adinkra symbols, the Gullah Geechee and the Igbo people, etc.).

The celebration is multi-generational and family friendly. Children will receive sheets of art images to take home and color.

“Sankofa” is a word from the Akan people of Ghana. The literal translation is, “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what has been left behind,” or simply, “go back and get it,” meaning that it is good to honor the past and embrace the future. The term reflects Akan belief that wisdom is derived from creating a robust knowledge of the past.

“Juneteenth marks a day of acknowledging and honoring the past, celebrating progress, planting and nurturing seeds for the future,” said Savannah African Art Museum Education and Community Outreach Liaison Lisa Jackson. “We look forward to old and new friends joining us to celebrate by experiencing our African Art Collection and maybe connect some dots they were unaware of.”

The Savannah African Art Museum is a non-profit institution devoted to spreading awareness and appreciation of African culture. It houses an abundant collection of objects that hail from West and Central Africa. The museum’s collection spans more than 28 African countries and represents more than 180 cultures.

For more information about the museum, and to access virtual tours, workshops, and initiatives, please visit savannahafricanartmuseum.org or follow them on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest using the handle @SavannahAfricanArtMuseum.

Bethesda Academy Class of 2024 celebrates with reflection walk, commencement ceremony

click to enlarge COMMUNITY NEWS CONNECTION: Free family event Saturday at Enmarket Arena
Courtesy of Bethesda Academy

Bethesda Academy, the oldest child-care institution in the United States and an independent private day school for boys in grades six through twelve, culminated the Class of 2024's academic journey with a time-honored tradition – the Reflection Walk – followed by an outdoor commencement ceremony held on the school's historic campus.

Before the ceremony, graduates participated in the Reflection Walk, a cherished tradition where they strolled across campus with faculty and staff. This symbolic walk allowed them to pause at significant buildings and outdoor spaces that held special meaning during their Bethesda Academy years. It was a moment for reminiscing, sharing memories, and acknowledging the experiences that shaped their personal growth and maturity.

The Reflection Walk preceded the official graduation ceremony, where the Class of 2024 was recognized for their achievements. This momentous occasion signified the culmination of graduates' academic journey at Bethesda Academy and their transition to the exciting possibilities that lay ahead. This year's graduating class was a diverse and accomplished group, with members pursuing their academic dreams at a variety of colleges and universities across the country.

From Alabama A&M University to the University of West Georgia, these young men were prepared to excel in their chosen fields. A complete list of colleges and universities is available upon request.

The school also bid farewell to beloved leader, Dr. Michael Hughes, who retired after serving as President of Bethesda Academy for eight years. Dr. Hughes reflected on the momentous occasion.

"It is with a mix of emotions that I witness the graduating Class of 2024. These young men have grown tremendously during their time at Bethesda Academy, and I am incredibly proud of their achievements," he said. "This ceremony also marks the end of my own tenure as President. It has been an honor to lead this exceptional institution and witness the positive impact we have on these young minds."

FUSE Executive Fellow Gloria Wesley to lead CAT's plans for expansion

click to enlarge COMMUNITY NEWS CONNECTION: Free family event Saturday at Enmarket Arena
Courtesy of Chatham Area Transit
FUSE Executive Fellow Gloria Wesley

Chatham Area Transit (CAT) is proud to announce a new collaboration with FUSE, a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing the capacity of local governments to build more equitable communities. This partnership aims to revolutionize public transportation in Savannah through the implementation of the CAT SMART (Strengthening Mobility & Revolutionizing Transportation) microtransit project.

FUSE Executive Fellow Gloria Wesley has been appointed to lead the transformative initiative. Supported by a $1.2 million SMART Grant, CAT SMART introduces on-demand transportation service that use dynamically routed vehicles to respond to real-time passenger requests. This innovative approach combines fixed routes with on-demand shuttles, enhancing the adaptability and resilience of transit services in Savannah.

KEY OBJECTIVES

  • Digital Transformation of Transit Services: Transitioning legacy systems into the digital age to improve service efficiency and user experience

  • Inclusivity and Diversity: Supporting a one-year internship program with Savannah State University, an HBCU, to foster diversity in the transportation sector

  • Sustainable Urban Mobility: Integrating electric vehicles (EVs) with advanced charging algorithms to optimize energy efficiency and promote eco-friendly transportation options

  • Comprehensive Travel Experience: Seamlessly blending on-demand and fixed-route segments to minimize waiting times and enhance user satisfaction

Wesley, a seasoned leader with strong commitment to advancing equity, will focus on expanding electrified public transit that connects affordable housing areas. This will hopefully ensure the benefits stemming from the improved transportation methods will reach all residents, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.

“We are thrilled to partner with Chatham Area Transit and the City of Savannah on this groundbreaking project,” said James Weinberg, CEO of FUSE. “Gloria Wesley’s expertise and dedication to equity will be instrumental in driving this initiative forward, creating a more inclusive and efficient transit system for Savannah.”

“The CAT SMART microtransit project represents a significant step towards modernizing our public transportation infrastructure,” said Faye DiMassimo, CEO/Executive Director of Chatham Area Transit. “With the support of FUSE and the leadership of Gloria Wesley, we are confident that this project will greatly enhance mobility and accessibility for all residents.”

City of Port Wentworth announces proposed property tax increase

The City of Port Wentworth announces its intention to increase the 2024 property taxes it will levy this year by 34.36 percent over the rollback millage rate. Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county.

When the trend of prices on properties that have recently sold in the county indicate there has been an increase in the fair market value of any specific property, the board of tax assessors is required by law to re-determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment.
When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

The budget tentatively adopted by City Council requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate; therefore, before the City of Port Wentworth finalizes the tentative budget to set a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to allow public opinions to be heard on the topic. All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings at City of Port Wentworth City Hall (7224 Highway 21) on June 10 (9am); June 13 (7pm); and June 20 (7pm).

For more information, visit cityofportwentworth.com.

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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