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Evans Local Government

Evans County Engages – Commission Meeting – May 2, 2017

The Evans County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday evening for their regularly scheduled meeting to discuss road constructions, state grants, FEMA reimbursements, and county board appointments, among other things.


All Commissioners were present with the exception of Brian Croft. County Attorney Jay Swindell and County Administrator Casey Burkhalter were also in attendance.


MONTHLY REPORTS

Commissioners heard reports from Tammi Hall of the Claxton-Evans Chamber of Commerce, Mary Katherine Griffin of the Economic Development Authority, and a report from the County Administrator.

Tammi Hall spoke about the successes of “Shop $10 on the 10th” encouraging businesses to shop locally in Evans County, the upcoming 2nd Annual Evans Memorial Hospital Radiothon on May 10 (6:00AM -9:00 PM – on WCOA 93.7), benefits of the Tourism development meeting, work upgrades for the relocation of the Goodwill store, and recognized May as the 15th anniversary for Hoodies Hoagies.

Of interest: A community-wide meeting on May 11 regarding the proposed housing development at the side of the old Claxton elementary. The meeting is open to the public and will be held twice – 2:30-4PM and 6-8PM.

Event: Evans County day at the Statesboro Tormento soccer game. Saturday, June 10 at 8:00 P.M. (Contact the Chamber for additional information)

Griffin detailed the construction of a new solar farm developing near the OTC firing range by SolAmerica Energy (the 2nd solar farm in the county), the status of an application for a $500,000 ONEGeorgia Equity grant for road development and water at the industrial park, and Dr. Curt Hames requested to be removed from the GSRA voting board, which will cause the Commissioners to appoint a replacement. Commissioner Shela Holland requested that Hames provide a written letter of resignation.

CASEY BURKHALTER’S REPORT: 

  • CBDG grant for La Casa is in a the process of prepping a bid package. He mentioned the difficulty of safety and time consuming for Evans County crews to get back to the development, but the project is moving along at the right pace.
  • TIA Band 2 – The Bridge Update
    • Scott’s Creek Bridge
    • Kevin Mullins from the state provided a letter to the Commissioners which permits the commissioners to obtain contracts on the projects and details on engineering work
    • The TIA office is in the process of obtaining additional funding to provide Evans with supplemental funding
    • The county has been working with Southern Concrete on the project
  • Daisy Dirt City Street Issues
    • Several complaints from inside the city limits of Daisy regarding the condition of streets
    • The problem is that the county has no documentation regarding the length and width of roads, leaving the roads to be considered undefined. The County needs legal specs before providing assistance
    • A written agreement will be drafted with the City of Daisy as to what will be maintained
  • FEMA Reimbursements
    • Evans County has 12 projects through FEMA
    • Debris removal, debris burn was an agreement with Claxton and Hagan. Both have paid their share of debris.
    • Total cost of $229,000
      • federal government is reimbursing $185,033.11
      • state is reimbursing $17,706.45
      • leaves Evans County to foot the bill of $26,559.68
    • Chairman Jill Griffin commended Burkhalter on his work seeking and collecting FEMA funds.
  • Tucker Bridge Spec Sheet
    • LMIG funds will be used, but bids have not yet been sent out
    • New construction will remove weight restrictions for the bridge
  • County Budget Reports
    • The Budget Committee has reviewed half of the reports and recommendations will be sent to the Board
    • Plans to have a budget hearing on May 17th
    • The Carl Vinson Institute will be visiting on May 17 (Wednesday) for preliminary interviews regarding consolidation
    • The Budget

Commissioner Gary Bell thanked Burkhalter for the work on Tucker Bridge. “It was long overdue,” he said. 


As a courtesy to those in attendance to appear before the Commissioners, old business was set aside and the “New Business” agenda items were addressed.

NEW BUSINESS

  • Former Commissioner Neal Hammock addressed the Commission on the La Casa project. Hammock said the road department is doing an excellent job, but the traffic flow because of the residents, Claxton Poultry shifts, and the school buses makes it all very difficult. The area has the largest concentration of unpaved roads in the County.
  • BUTLER ROAD – Paul Gillepsie of Mockingbird Lane (an 8-year resident) addressed the Commissioners about the intersection at Butler Road. He complained that, in the last 3 years especially, the road has been neglected and has not received the attention it needs. When it rains, the road washes away.
    • Additionally, a neighbor said the growth on the sides of the road needs to be sprayed or cut because “it looks like you’re going through a tunnel.”
    • Chairman Jill Griffin thanked the residents for appearing and said the information would be relayed to the road department.
  • LAKESIDE AVENUE – Residents from Daisy, some from the Innes family, appeared before the Commission concerned that a private road -Lakeside Avenue- would be made public. The road is only wide enough for one road. Chairman Jill Griffin explained that because the road is inside the city limits of Daisy, the county does not have jurisdiction, but that there were no plans to pave the road or make it public.
    • Residents said they were asked to attend by Daisy Mayor Brown, however, City Councilwoman Donna Driggers was present at the meeting and said the city has no plans to pave the road either.
    • Commissioner Del Beasley, to reiterate what Chairman Griffin said, said Evans County does not work on private property (or roads) and does not “accept” dirt roads.

OLD BUSINESS 

  • CONSOLIDATION – Burkhalter said the Carl Vinson Institute will be in Evans County one time per month every month through January 2018.
    • The goal is to interview and review documents to get a snapshot of the county and each of the cities
    • A report will be prepared by the end of the year, or January at the latest
    • Burkhalter said “At that point, if it’s the best fit for the county and the cities, to do anything, you make your motions and then you move forward with the committee and creating a charter.”
    • Commissioner Gary Bell requested clarification on who would be making the decision as to whether consolidation is in the best interest of the county.
    • Burkhalter said the county will review reports and “decide if they want function consolidation or full consolidation. The cities will do the same.” Then create a citizens advisory council which would draft a charter and, after approval from the legislature, would go to the citizens for a vote.
  • SOLID WASTE PLAN – This is a requirement for the county, just to prove to the state that proper procedures are in the works. The plan has been advertised to the public and just needed Commission approval. The City of Claxton approved their share of the Solid Waste Plan the evening before, on May 1.
    • Del Beasley made a motion and Shela Holland seconded. It passed unanimously.
  • FUEL SYSTEM – The School Board voted to move away from the fuel system because of liability.
    • Burkhalter asked attorney Jay Swindell if the county still had to bid the project if only one company in the county that meets the specs. Swindell said a bid is required.
      • The county needs 24-hour access, a fuel card for billing purposes, a bulk rate discount, and different fuels.
      • Griffin said one of the most important spec is the billing for the accounting
    • The plan is to drain the old tanks and place them in an inoperable state, while maintaining the certification for the county in case outsourcing becomes too expensive. There is no liability for the county at this point.
    • A Motion to move forward with the fuel system project (to place the county’s dormant and outsource) was made by Gary Bell and seconded by Shela Holland.
    • Del Beasley asked when they would discuss how to bid out the need and asked how to make it so many companies could submit a bid
    • Burkhalter said the fuel system is causing significant hassle the last month as other departments have had to abandon their jobs to assist at the fuel system

The measure passed unanimously. 

  • TASK FORCE BUILDING
    • The bidding for the Task Force building opened on May 2 (day of meeting) and no one showed
    • Burkhalter said there were 2 previous interests, but they did not show
    • The county will retain the building temporarily
  • Yarborough Lane was tabled as the requester was not able to attend the meeting
  • WILLIAMS ROAD – The road was previously requested to be closed by the Thompson family due to a considerable number of vehicles going to the end, which is their yard. The Clark family objected to this, stating their property touched the road.
    • Griffin said commissioners and the county administrative traveled out to the property to assess the property. The findings were that the Clark property does touch Williams Road.
    • In the April meeting, the Clark family indicated they would be open to closing part of the road, the portion after their property because it dead ends into the Thompson’s yard.
    • The Clark family said Tuesday that they object to the partial closure as well
    • Jay Swindell said that legally, the county “has a legal right to close a road if it is demonstrated that it is no longer needed for substantial public purpose”

No action was taken and Williams Road will remain an open public road.

AUTHORITY & BOARD APPOINTMENTS and REAPPOINTMENTS

  • AIRPORT AUTHORITY
    • John Beasley no longer wishes to serve
    • Caughey Hearn, Stuart Strickland, and Mikell Fries were nominated
    • Beasley motioned, Holland seconded, passed unanimously
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
    • Chad Heathcox and Joann Strickland (of Claxton Oil) were the names submitted
    • A motion was made by Irene Burney, Shela Holland seconded
    • Del Beasley questioned why Hub Daniel because he spoke with him and he said he was willing to serve. Beasley question why he was being removed from the authority. Chairman Griffin said Daniel had not completed his training required to serve in two years.
    • Shela Holland asked who made the decision not to allow him to serve on the authority anymore to which Griffin said it is required by the state to receive training. Beasley and Holland argued that the decision had not been made to remove Daniel and Griffin agreed that no “decision” had yet been made.
    • Holland asked that if Daniel was willing to serve he should have an opportunity to go to the training. Griffin said he had multiple opportunities to attend training and the state actually requires the training be obtained in the first year
    • Griffin called for a vote, which split.
      • Heathcox and Strickland appointments in favor were Gary Bell and Irene Burney
      • Holland and Beasley both voted no.
      • Jay Swindell advised Griffin not to vote on the issue, therefore, the motion died.
    • Del Beasley then made a new motion to appoint Hub Daniel but no one seconded, so it died as well
    • The issued will be addressed at a later date
  • HOSPITAL AUTHORITY – Shela Holland said the issue should be tabled because appointments are needed until the end of the year and Griffin said not enough names were submitted to make a decision. She requested Commissioners brainstorm potential nominees.
  • RECREATION – 2 slots are available
    • Ricky Salter’s time is up
    • Kevin Goodson’s time is up and he would be replacing his dad
    • Griffin said others had been contacted but they did not want to serve
    • Beasley made a motion to appoint Kevin Goodson and reappoint Ricky Salter. It passed unanimously
  • SUBDIVISION BOARD OF APPEALS
    • Neal Hammock recommended for 3 year term
    • Julianne Hearn recommended for 3 year term
    • Tim Waters recommended for 3 year term
    • Mike Dollar recommended for 2 year term
    • Pratt Lockwood recommended for 2 year term
      • All but Pratt agreed to serve. A motion was made for Hammock, Hearn, Waters, and Dollar.
      • The 5th slot will be addressed at another time
  • Casey Burkhalter said the next step is to create a policy and procedure plan for future appointments so everything is on an level playing field. Chairman Griffin said she spoke with a county administrator from southwest Georgia and they require applications for their boards and authorities – an idea several commissioners noted was a good idea. No formal action was taken.
  • Burkhalter closed by saying it is hard to get people to serve because of the size of the community. He said that a 911 Authority will soon be established due to an action of the state legislature in March* which means more names will be needed. “This is just another element of consolidation. We can have all these boards but getting people to serve is a challenge.”

The legislation Burkhalter is referring to is Senate Bill 222. Click here for the votes and the text of the legislation. 

The meeting adjourned after one hour and thirteen minutes – 7:43 P.M.

 

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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