RICHLAND, Ga. (WRBL) – A non-profit organization in Richland is working to restore the city and get the community back on the map. Though beautification, restoration and economic development are the main goals of Richland Better Hometown, they have now expanded their focus on community safety after a recent influx of crime in the area.
Richland Better Hometown is a non-profit that works to beautify Richland. Right now, they are preparing for their annual PigFest, which is happening Nov. 12-13. The event attracts thousands of people to the city for barbeque, music and street dancing. The money they raise from this event helps them give grants to local businesses and revamp their rural community.
Wayne Shaddinger, now a member of Richland Better Hometown, was once a grant recipient from the organization. The money from the grant helped Shaddinger remodel an old building and fulfill his dream of making a muscle car museum.
Shaddinger says he loves to see the past come back to life; this applies to his work at the car museum and his work with Richland Better Hometown. Richland was once one of the busiest railroad towns in South Georgia, but it now has a small-town feel with older buildings and historical properties.
Though revamping the city is the main goal of Richland Better Hometown, they have expanded their focus on community safety after a recent influx of crime in the area. Neighbors say theft, vandalism and gun violence have moved further Uptown and that gunshots can often be heard in the night.
“If we could slow that down, a lot of our citizens in town would feel a lot safer in their home,” Shaddinger said. “Stray bullets hitting a child, I mean it’s just too many situations where it could’ve [gone] wrong.”
Committee members say they have reached out to the city council with concerns about their safety and will continue to reach out to city and county officials to find a solution.
“I believe Richland has enough good people here that we could try to get this place straightened out,” Shaddinger said. “This is a wonderful little town. All it needs is a little bit of effort and maybe we can get everyone on board and clean this place up.”