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RUNDOWN: Evans Commission Meeting – September 3, 2019

Here’s a rundown of what happened at the most recent Evans County Commission meeting:

This is a summary of the Evans County Commission meeting on September 3, 2019. The summary is a product of AllOnGeorgia based on attendance at the meeting and an audio recording. It is not the work of the county and should not be construed as meeting minutes. 


Every commissioner was present for the 6:30 P.M. Evans County Board of Commission meeting Tuesday night, along with County Clerk Leah Edwards and County Attorney Jay Swindell. 

Following the invocation by Commissioner Jill Griffin and the Pledge of Allegiance, Commissioners voted to approve the minutes from the August Commission meetings – one regular and one special-called meeting.

REPORTS

Tammi Hall, Director of the Claxton-Evans Chamber of Commerce presented the report from the Chamber. Hall reported that there will be a community-wide meeting on Tuesday, September 24th at 5:30 P.M. to discuss the Tourism Project Development Team Report. The first order of business will be to pick a plan to submit a grant in December. The meeting will be held at the Veterans Community Center. 

  • Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting the Eggs & Issues Breakfast with the Farm Bureau at Ray Todd’s Cabin on Highway 129 South on Wednesday, September 25. She instructed people to contact the Farm Bureau if they are interested in getting more information.
  • Hall reported that Iron Eagle in Hagan is set to open any day, as they are waiting on the final inspection from the health department.
  • 5K Run and Bike Ride information was provided to Commissioners for the upcoming Cruisin’ in the Country. Proceeds are going to Evans County CARES.

A code enforcement report was provided for informational purposes and without comment. 

During County Administrator Casey Burkhalter’s report, he offered the following updates:

  • EMA Statement → EMA officials were still in a meeting at the time of the Commissioner’s meeting, but Burkhalter read a statement on the update of Hurricane Dorian, which noted that Bulloch and Tattnall counties both closed schools for Wednesday but left government offices open. He said they would consider closing early if necessary.
  • Georgia DNR agreement →
    • Burkhalter said Commissioner Brian Croft reached out about improving the boating ramps in Evans County and that DNR also reached out to inform county officials that the 20-year lease agreement with Evans County for Brewton Bridge was set to expire. The contract states that Evans County will maintain the sites to a certain standard, but that DNR is now willing to invest in the county ramp. Burkhalter read a letter in which DNR expressed a desire to renew the lease with Evans County and to assist with the improvements of the boat ramps should the lease be executed again. Improvements include major structural repairs, bringing to current standard, regrading the parking area and covering it with fresh stone, installing ADA compliant parking places, and installing standard departmental signage for the entrances. Burkhalter recommended Commissioners renewing the lease agreement. Commissioner Jill Griffin asked county attorney Jay Swindell to review the contract because of the 20-year term. It was decided that the matter would be tabled until the end of the meeting to give Swindell time to sift through it. 
  • The Waterways Trail Program → Burkhalter explained an opportunity to apply for funding to improve the other boat ramps in the county that are outside of the DNR agreement. No action was taken as Burkhalter was informing commissioners that he plans to pursue options. Croft said that paddling and canoeing is an $11 billion industry in Georgia. 
  • Resurfacing projects →
    • Burkhalter said he is building bid packets for the remaining TIA and LMIG projects. 
    • Burkhalter reported that he has met with all of the Commissioners to discuss the next 10 years of project planning. The county is going to reach out to the GDOT bridge department to get assistance in deciding what needs to be prioritized.
  • Millage rate adoption →
    • Rollback sheets have been sent out and the school board meets September 9th, but it could be mid-October before everything is finalized. The county cannot adopt a millage rate until everything is submitted by the other governing entities.
  • Pride in Evans → Burkhalter recommended appointing 2 commissioners for a panel to bring back the Free Clean-Up Day for Evans County citizens. Cities have reached out to express interest in partnering. 
  • Edgewater Drive Project → Received confirmation from the airport that a portion of the road is under contract with the FAA so the DOT can build and pave the road in the necessary area. It will leave the county will a smaller portion of responsibility to maintain. 
  • Greenbriar Circle → Work began Tuesday, September 3, 2019.
  • Budget report → A report was given to commissioners for review but was not discussed
  • Hurricane Dorian → Burkhalter said if the storm worsens or shifts, an emergency meeting would have to be called to declare a state of emergency. He asked that commissioners be on ‘standby.’
  • Georgia DNR Contract → Swindell did not have any issues with the contract. Commissioner Wesley Jenkins said signing like the contract sounded “like a no brainer.” Croft read the resolution to be approved by the Commissioners. It was approved unanimously.

No report was given by Public Works Director Kenny Hicks. Burkhalter reported he and his department had been working on storm preparation.

OLD BUSINESS

Chamber of Commerce Funding Request → 

    • Burkhalter asked if anyone was interested in speaking on the topic. Tammi Hall said, “We just respectfully request your consideration to fund the Chamber.” Swindell said he made some revisions to the contract, which is for a term of one year and can be canceled or renewed on an annual basis. The Chamber was requested to provide an annual budget.
    • Griffin asked the issue be tabled until the Commissioners could review the contract. Croft said, “We will have to discuss it sometime.” Burkhalter suggested calling a meeting mid-month to revisit the issue and that a workshop be held to have the Board members from the Chamber present to answer questions of Commissioners. A meeting was set for Tuesday, September 10 at 5:00 P.M. at the Commissioner’s Office. 

LVAP Funding → Burkhalter said he wanted to look into what other counties were doing for the split to share funds for victim assistance programs and how they get information on where the money is going. Burkhalter said he would ask what the agreements look like in other counties. Griffin said if Burkhalter got the information, they could vote on it at the next meeting. Burkhalter is also going to look into how the agreement should be drafted for reporting.

Deer Run Trail → Commissioner Wesley Jenkins said he had a meeting with Kenny Hicks and Burkhalter during the previous week to get an update on the road. Jenkins also reported that all of the property owners involved in the road paving and easement process have signed off to begin the project. Only two with a maximum of 3 trees will be removed in the process. Jenkins said he would like to see a motion and a vote to start the acquisition of the property, but noted that the project tops $500,000 in costs. SPLOST money could be a revenue stream, but the project could take two years to be finished. “It’s going to be done as funding is available,” Jenkins said. A motion was made by Jenkins and seconded by Griffin. It passed unanimously.
Croft commended Hicks for designing the road to get everyone on the same page.

NEW BUSINESS

Magistrate Court → Magistrate Judge Genie Miller was present to make a presentation to commissioners on what is needed as a result of the ransomware attack on the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). 20+ courts lost all information and Evans County was among them, so the county subsequently needs to purchase new software. 

  • MicroPact will be the new data management system – which is the same software the Clerk’s Office uses – with a price tag of $28,154 this year and $9,000 in any year after the first. 
  • A little of $10,000 of the $28,154 is to pay an Evans County employee to manually back up the documents on file at the Magistrate court in the interim. 
  • The new program will also allow for additional backup of servers and information. 
  • It could be January before the software will be live due to the waiting period and set up.

A motion was made by Commissioner Shela Holland and seconded by Jenkins. It passed unanimously. 

OTC Adult Education Program → Samantha Smith from Ogeechee Technical College’s Adult Education Program was present to inform Commissioners about the work of the Adult Literacy Program. 

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

Commissioners went into executive session for the purposes of personnel at 7:22 p.m. Judge Darin McCoy was present in the executive session.

Commissioners resumed the regular session at 7:56 p.m. Croft announced that a request for assistance in the Election office had been made by Judge McCoy and asked that someone make a motion to create a job description and start the hiring process to fill that position. The motion was made by Irene Burney, it was seconded, and approved unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.

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

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