These stories are from the past month. I will leave stories that will have a follow-up here until the story is complete and all other stories will remain for a month or so until I update the home page and past stories page.
BARNESVILLE - The Board of Regents has requested Gordon’s input on altering its name from ‘Gordon College’ to ‘Gordon State College’ to recognize its state college status.
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ZEBULON - Commissioner Collins asked that the metal roof for the Courthouse be placed back onto the agenda. Motion was made and it was approved. In reviewing the minutes from the past meeting, there was a discussion about House Bill 386 and its affect on Special Purpose Local Option Tax (SPLOST) and Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) collection.
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Update 5.3.12: This meeting is complete.
ZEBULON - Project Achievement was held March 2-4 at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton. The 4-H'ers had to submit a portfolio in January for judging then were judged on their demonstration on March 3. They combined the scores from the portfolio and demonstration to place the 4-H'ers.
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ZEBULON - Facing a "Must Win" game, the Pike County Lady Pirates showed up with the drive and desire to get the job done. When they traveled to Madison, GA to face the Morgan County Lady Bulldogs on Friday, April 20th, the fate of the Lady Pirates' playoff future literally hung in the balance. With an inspired and gritty performance, Pike County took everything thrown at them and turned it into a thrilling Overtime victory.
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ZEBULON - The Friends of Pike County Animals Humane Society Inc. will be meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at the J. Joel Edwards Public Library. The public is encouraged to attend.
For more info contact 770-468-8726 or email email@example.com.
Mr. Ira William Bowen, age 67, of Molena, passed away April 20, 2012 at his residence. He was a truck driver for Southwestern/Hinkle and enjoyed fishing and camping. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife: Frances Bowen; daughter: Sandra Carter of Griffin; grandchildren: Billy Hatchett and wife Tina, Brandy Moore and friend James Thompson, Daniel Boyle and friend Ashley Ward and Joshua Moore all of Griffin; great-grandchildren: Jonathan Moore, Logan Thompson, Austin Dempsey and Kaytlin Boyle; brother: Larry Bowen of Sugar Hill; sisters and brothers-in-law: Glenda and Tommy VanDegriek of Cornelia, Brenda and Bob Webber of Missouri and Rachel and Steve Ledford of Danielsville. A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 23 at 3 p.m. in the Pike County Assembly of God Church, 4990 Hwy. 19 S., Zebulon. Rev. Tommy Smith will officiate. Friends may visit the family on Monday from 2-3 p.m. at the church.
2:00PM to 3:00PM on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at Pike County Assembly of God Church
3:00PM at Pike County Assembly of God Church on Monday, April 23rd, 2012
For more information, directions or sign the guestbook at Moody Funeral Home.
Mrs. Sheree Jacqueline “Jackie” Roark, age 54, of Concord, passed away April 20, 2012 at her residence. She was a wonderful Wife, Mom and MawMaw who loved flowers, birds and playing board games. She is survived by her husband of 35 years: Mike Roark; children and their spouses: Bobby and Mariana Roark of Sharpsburg, Linda and Jeremy Mines of Zebulon, Heather Roark of Concord and Andrew and Kayla Roark of Concord; grandchildren: Kaleb Mines, Jaxson Mines, Victoria Roark, Bob Rad, and soon to arrive, Andrew “A.J.” Roark Jr.; brother and sister-in-law: Kenny and Marie Woods of Cumming; sister: Barbara Woods of Berlin, Germany; nieces and a nephew: Michael Woods, Carla Rhodes, Stephanie Woods-Prieto and Ellie Jo Cleghorn; several aunts and uncles.
7:00PM to 9:00PM on Friday, April 27th, 2012 at Moody Funeral Home (map/driving directions)
2:00PM at Moody Funeral Home Chapel on Saturday, April 28th, 2012
For more information, directions or sign the guestbook at Moody Funeral Home.
Pike County Times is undergoing maintenance this evening. With the help of CGA Comp, Pike County Times now looks more like a regular newspaper.
After the changeover, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org whenever you click on a link that is broken.
Thank you for your patience as we show off a whole, new look. Thanks for reading Pike County Times.com.
[Note from the Editor: If you are still seeing the old Pike County Times, clear out your cookies/cache (do a disc clean up) and the new pages should show up for the entire website.]
According to a press release issued from the Pike County Sheriff's Office: On Saturday April 14, 2012 at approximately 12:18 am, Pike County Sheriff’s Office received a medical call on Hwy 19 south in reference to an unresponsive person. Sergeant Goldston and Deputy Hutto arrived on scene to find a subject lying on the floor not breathing and without a pulse.
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The J. Joel Edwards Public Library will be closed from Monday, April 30, through Wednesday, May 2, 2012 to allow for paving of the parking lot.
Pike County has a new All-Star Cheerleading and tumbling gym. The Mid-GA Hurricanes opened for business on April 14. The business is located at 2810 Carver Road, Griffin, GA. The gym, which is owned by Ron and April Byrd, will feature new equipment and state of the art technology as well as certified instructors.
Click here for more.
According to a press release from the Pike County School System: The State Department of Education released the new cohort graduation rates; and, while many Districts witnessed significant declines, we maintained our graduation rate.
This is due to several reasons: 1) excellence in teaching and learning; 2) a commitment to RtI; 3) accurate student records. To put this in perspective, we rank 15th out of 183 school districts, and Pike County High School ranks 41st out of 365 high schools (special, alternative, magnet, and charter schools have been filtered out).
Dr. Michael Duncan, Superintendent of the Pike County School District commended those working within the Pike County School System: "I thank each of you for your continued efforts in our journey to become the highest academically achieving small school district in Georgia."
MOLENA - Some believed that it would never happen, but the Molena Fire and Police Station is being built from the ground up right now in the pecan orchard across from the Molena Outreach Center. The groundbreaking for this project took place on April 9, 2012. When the building is complete, it will be an asset to the City of Molena as well as all of Pike County.
Click here for more.
According to Thomaston Radio WTGA Fun 101: Quad Graphics, located out of The Rock, won the medium manufacturer of the year for the entire state of Georgia. This was for businesses with 150 to 500 employees.
Governor Deal announced the winners at the Convention Center at the Atlanta Airport today. A delegation of Quad Graphics executives and employees were there to accept the award.
BARNESVILLE - Photos are now online from the fifth annual Dolly Goodpuppy Society “Just for Fun Spring Fling” dog show. If you missed out on the fun this year, make sure you come out next year!
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[Note from the Editor: Send your pictures from this event to email@example.com.]
Bill Sawyer has tendered his resignation as County Manager of Pike County.
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Update added 4.19.12.
Zebulon - After a week that saw the Pike County Lady Pirates easily handle two Region opponents, Monday night was not as nice.
On Tuesday, April 10th, the Lady Pirates traveled to Lamar County for a rematch with the Lady Trojans. Despite a slow start, Pike County held a 2-1 lead at half time after two goals by Freshman Abbey Thompson. Following the break, the Lady Pirates turned up the heat and pulled away for an 8-1 victory as Thompson added a third tally, to complete a Hat Trick, and Freshman Bailey Rawlins added two goals while Junior Jessi Johnson and Freshmen Ashley York and Kristen Beckham added one goal each.
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A new (and first!) chapter of Georgia Nature Photographers’ Association www.gnpa.org was officially launched this past January and currently meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday in each month at the J. Joel Edwards Public Library, located at 7077 S. Highway 19, about one mile south of the courthouse square in Zebulon. To find out what’s coming up each month, log onto the GNPA site and then click on the REGIONS tab. (The speaker for the April 17th meeting will be Phyllis Burchett, whose beautiful images may be viewed on www.phyllisburchettphoto.com.)
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An Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Group called “Jeremiah’s Promise” meets at Rock Springs Church on the third Thursday of each month at 7:00pm.
Meetings are held in The Chapel which is the building located to the left of the Rock Springs Church Sanctuary. Participation is open to everyone and church membership is not required. Child care is now provided!
To reserve a space in child care or for more information please call Kelly Leger at 404-861-6341.
ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law legislation that requires drug testing for welfare benefits and cracks down on the spreading problem of metal theft.
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Alexis de Tocqueville saw the writing on the wall. Luckily for us, he wrote it all down. An aristocrat, lawyer, and member of the French government, he journeyed to America at age 25 to study the American prison system. And study he did. A prodigious note taker, he wrote down everything – everything he saw, everything he heard, everything he read. Along with his compatriot and travelling partner, Gustav de Beaumont, he wrote a treatise on the American penal institution which won literary acclaim in his native France.
Click here to read more Conservative Commentaries.
ZEBULON - On March 9, 2012, the Pike County Parks & Recreation Authority hosted their first St. Patrick’s Daddy/Daughter Dance at the Pike County Senior Center.
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BARNESVILLE - Thirty-eight year old Ryan Christopher announces his candidacy for the district 127 Georgia House seat. Ryan is a lifelong resident of this district made up of Upson, Pike, and Lamar Counties. He is married to Lamar County Kindergarten teacher Amy Christopher and has three children- Tyler, Maryana, and Knox. After attending Georgia Southern and Mercer University, he started a small construction contracting business. Ryan is a deacon, choir member, and Sunday School teacher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Ministry and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Divinity degree.
“I have a passion for active leadership. Representatives should make it their calling to not only represent but respond to voters. I want to move Washington right out of the issues that belong to our state. Education is being dismantled by a new federal replacement of NCLB. Sustainable agriculture is a tragic program aimed at limiting farmers’ land use and productivity. The state of Georgia needs to be bold in nullifying NDAA and all of the other out of control federal laws.”
“Friends, there is much more we can do besides ‘business as usual.’ Together, we can ensure that Georgia never goes the way of the federal government.” “As your representative, I will make the effort to communicate with local leaders and fight for conservative values at the state level. Energy, taxes, schools, abortion, and gun rights are all critical areas. Let’s send a message to Washington…No more business as usual!”
Visit Ryan’s website www.ryanchristopherforstaterep.com and find him on Facebook- “Ryan Christopher for GA State Representative” www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Christopher-for-GA-State-Representative/160701204039508.
[Note from the Editor: I am publishing press releases on those who are running for various offices in local, state, and national offices for reader information regardless of political party. The press release needs to be under 350 words. Those wishing to send their press releases to Pike County Times should send their information to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
The Pike County Middle School Relay for Life team will host a live auction, with auctioneer Richard Smith, to benefit the American Cancer Society on Friday, May 11th. This exciting event will be held in the gym and will begin promptly at 7:00 pm.
Click here to read this article.
“Mirror, Mirror” (Relativity)
Julia Roberts takes on the role of the evil Queen in the Snow White fairy tale and puts her own spin on her in the new movie “Mirror, Mirror.” Along with Roberts portrayal, the film adds some distinctive touches all its own and creates a family friendly film that is both comedic and romantic. It hits all the marks for success but never takes it to that next level where it would have been a smash.
Click here to read the rest of this review.
©2012 Jackie K. Cooper. Jackie has many movie reviews on his website at www.jackiekcooper.com. [Note from the Editor: This website looks better on Firefox.] Jackie also has reviews of the latest books, DVDs, television shows as well as columns on life and living in the South.
“Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way, you will follow Christ’s teachings.” Galations 6:2
On March 29, 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions announced new data for autism. The new ratio for children having autism is now 1 in 88, a 23 percent increase in two years, and a 78 percent increase since 2000, when the ratio was 1 in 110 children being diagnosed with autism. When I got the news, I wept for our sons and daughters. Someone told me not too long ago that the new quote for autism was, “If you don’t know someone with autism, you soon will.” As the mother of a child with autism, and an advocate for special needs children of all kinds, this is heartbreaking. More children are being diagnosed, and after millions of dollars in research, there is still no known cure. This information was released two days before Autism Awareness Month began.
Click here to read this and other articles that Deborah has written.
Mr. James Benjamin “Benny” Hawkins, age 75, of Zebulon, passed away April 11, 2012 at his residence. He was born in Zebulon to the late Hilton and Evelyn Hawkins. He served in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict and was a heavy equipment operator. Benny was a life-long resident of Pike County and enjoyed fishing and farming. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his son, Brent Hawkins, brother, Bill Hawkins and sister, Angie Nichols. He is survived by his sons and daughters-in-law: Eddie and Liz Hawkins of Zebulon and James and Patrice Hawkins of Acworth; sisters and a brother-in-law: Sue and Olin Perkins of Milner and Doodle Hambrick of Griffin; four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Friends may visit the family on Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home. Funeral services will be held on Friday, April 13, at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Moody Funeral Home with Dr. Randy Harris officiating. Interment will follow in Moody Memorial Gardens.
For more information, service times, directions or to sign the guestbook at Moody Funeral Home.
This meeting was attended by all five commissioners, County Clerk Teresa Watson to take the minutes, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and County Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton.
A complete revamp on AC and ductwork in the Courthouse with a composite roof instead of metal on the courthouse, an upcoming work session for whether county should take over Recreation, and whether Sunday alcohol sales should go on a voter referendum are just a few of the things that were discussed in today's BOC meeting. Click on the link below and watch as this meeting goes online.
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Update 4.18.12: This meeting is complete.
BARNESVILLE - On April 11, 2012 at 9:00AM, Mid Georgia Ambulance (MGA), in cooperation with Lamar County Fire Department, Police Department and other local Public Safety agencies will host a Ghost Out at Lamar County High School. The Ghost Out is a program which simulates a drunk-driving scenario where local high school students are the victims.
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s net tax collections for March 2012 totaled $1.16 billion, an increase of $55 million or 5 percent compared to March 2011. At the close of the third quarter, net revenue collections totaled $11.7 billion for an increase of $525 million or 4.7 percent compared to the same period last year.
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MEANSVILLE - On March 30th and 31st, between 1600 and 1700 people gathered at Chestnut Oak for the 2nd annual Bull Bash. (The attendance was good, though less than expected due to heavy rains on Friday night and Saturday morning.) Summer White, who co-produced the event with her husband, Wayne White, reports that 32 brave young men, most under the age of 30, rode the bulls in the slippery, mud-filled arena.
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ZEBULON - Spending time with friends and family. Hunting eggs. Attending a Sonrise Service. There are many ways to celebrate this Easter.
Please take the time with friends and family this weekend. Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us.
Happy Easter from Pike County Times!
Zebulon - The Pike County Lady Pirates continued to improve on their current level of play as they traveled to Monticello to face the Lady Hurricanes in Region competition this week.
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GRIFFIN, Ga - A Griffin soldier who planned to come home a new father instead returned to a grieving hometown.
Click here for coverage from 11 Alive News.
Condolences to the friends and family of PFC Jonathan Davis from Pike County Times. May the condolences of your community let you know that your loved one will never be forgotten. God bless our soldiers and their families and bring comfort to this family in their time of grief.
ZEBULON - The Pike County 4-H held the MilkMake contest on February 28 at the 4-H office.
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ZEBULON - Lamar/Pike-South Bend Substance Abuse Prevention/Drug-Free Community Coalition has united to address the Statewide Alcohol Initiative Goals.
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ZEBULON - Pike County Emergency Services (PCES) has advised that E911 is updating its database. Pike County Emergency Services Deputy Chief of Operations Randy Snyder advises that as part of this process, in cooperation with Sheriff Jimmy Thomas of the Pike County Sheriff's Office, PCES has created a page for information submissions on its website.
"Persons can go to the page as listed below, fill out the form, and submit their information directly to E911," said Snyder. "The more details people can give, the better... For example, having a detailed description of a home helps law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services reach people much quicker when they need us."
Click here to update your E911 information.
This updates coincides with the implementation of the county-wide notification system to warn residents when severe weather or other life-threatening events are occurring in our community. Read "Pike County Gets County-Wide Emergency Notification System" below for more information about this system and click on the DeltAlert link above to sign up.
ZEBULON - On Thursday, February 23, 2012, Pike County will for the first time be covered with a county-wide emergency notification system when severe weather or other life-threatening events occur in the community. Residents who currently have a valid phone number on file in the E911 data base will receive a test call announcing the system has been activated in Pike County. An internet-based system, DeltAlert, will automatically call citizens at their homes and mobile phones when a tornado warning is issued for Pike County. DeltAlert can also be used to contact citizens with other important notices, such as a boil water alert.
Click here to read the rest of this article and click on the link to sign up your email, cell phones, etc. I signed up my cell phone and email in a matter of minutes. Thanks to all who have worked to get an emergency response system here in Pike County!
This meeting was attended by all 5 commissioners, County Clerk Teresa Watson to take the minutes, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and both Rob and Tom Morton to advise the county on legal matters.
This was a 31 minute meeting that should be finished up over the next day or so.
Click here to read this completed meeting.
I am going to start from the end of the BOC meeting and work my way back to the beginning. It was fitting that Joy Walker was scheduled to speak after the failed vote to rescind the motion to appoint a sitting county commissioner as a member of the Water and Sewer Authority. Thank you to Carol for her motion and to Tamra for her 2nd. The motion ended up a 2-3 vote so Tommy retains his seat, but I applaud them for their vote. And Joy Walker did a fine job of speaking what many in the audience were thinking as the applause after her speech indicated.
Click here to read this meeting as it goes online. Look for updates in blue on this article as this is finished up.
Update added 2.2.12 and 2.3.12. Another update 2.6.12. This meeting is complete.
Links to past County Commission meetings can be found in the County Government link above.
ZEBULON - A meeting was held on January 12, 2012 to begin strategic planning for the proposed Pike County School Based Health Center. Mike Powell, Executive Director of Pike County’s You Equal Success (Y.E.S.) Team, Inc. which is part of the Georgia Family Connection Collaborative to continue discussion a School Based Health Center in Pike County Primary School brought participants together to discuss further needs assessment findings, define what team roles would be, and come up with a strategy for how to adapt this program to fit local needs. About 35 community leaders and providers from Pike and surrounding counties attended this meeting.
Click here to read the rest of this article.
Added 1.28.12: [Note from the Editor: Additions and changes have been made to this article.]
ZEBULON - The American Cancer Society is obsessed with numbers. They know, however, that every number associated with a cancer statistic represents an individual, a family, a friend, and a community affected by the diagnosis. According to www.cancer.org, fifteen years ago the Society set aggressive goals for the year 2015 to measurably reduce the impact of cancer, to decrease cancer mortality by 50 percent, to reduce cancer incidence by 25 percent, and to improve quality of life for people with the disease.
In recent years, both incidence and death rates for all cancers have decreased for both men and women. Since the early 1990’s, more than 767,000 cancer deaths have been averted. Today, we are helping to prevent 350 cancer deaths PER DAY with a goal of 1,000 per day by 2015! Five year survival rates continue to improve, from 50% in the late 1970’s to 66% today. The more than 11 million Americans who are cancer survivors – twice the number from just 20 years ago - are living proof of progress toward these goals.
Click here to read the rest of this article, see photos from last year's events, and find out upcoming dates and how you can be a part of this year's Relay for Life.
ZEBULON - It is that time again. Papers and public hearings and a 2012-2013 budget, oh my!
A 2012/2013 budget request will soon go out from the County Manager to all Department Heads, Constitutional Officers and Component Units. All Fiscal Year 2012/2013 budget requests will be due by February 17, 2012. Meetings will then be conducted between each of these entities with the County Manager, County Clerk and County Finance Officer before the notification of final recommendations to Commissioners by March 16, 2012.
The Budget Ordinance will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners on April 11, 2012 during the 9 a.m. meeting with public hearings taking place in May and the Final Adoption of the budget being scheduled to take place on June 13, 2012 at 5 p.m.
At that time, the five year history for the county portion of our local taxes will be published in the newspaper with a Special Called Meeting to Set the Tax Levy being scheduled for July 11, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.
August 1, 2012 is the deadline to submit the Pike County budget to the Georgia Department of Revenue. Click here to print out a copy of the Pike County Board of Commissioners Budget Calendar.
This meeting was attended by Commissioners Carol Bass, Tamra Jarrett, Tommy Powers, Don Collins and Chairman Doug Mangham, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, County Clerk Teresa Watson, and County Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton.
Commissioner Tommy Powers made a motion to amend the agenda to include George Norris as the invited guest. Motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Carol Bass dissenting.
Update 1.12.12: This page is complete including my investigation into the vote which replaced a long-time volunteer and member of the Water and Sewer Authority with a current County Commissioner.
Click here to read this write up.
A lengthy update to this meeting went online today. I have begun writing on the changes between the low bid project and the possible changes that commissioners will vote on in the January meeting.
Please keep in mind that nothing is in written in stone at this point. This will be discussed and voted on during the January 11, 2012 meeting.
Readers can send their thoughts on the project in a Letter to the Editor that I will place on that page through the January 2012 meeting. One letter is already online. Thanks for reading the Pike County Times.
Click here to read more from this meeting as it goes online. This article is now complete.
This meeting was attended by four out of the five commissioners, County Clerk Teresa Watson, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and County Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton. CM Sawyer advised that Commissioner Carol Bass was absent due to a death in her family.
1. CALL TO ORDER .................................................................................... Chairman Doug Mangham
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE ................................................................... Chairman Doug Mangham
3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. 50-14-1 (e) (1))
4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - (O.C.G.A.§ 50-14-1(e) (2))
Minutes of the following: Regular Monthly Meeting of November 29, 2011 and the Special Called Meeting of December 7, 2011.
Click here to read more from this meeting as it goes online. I will note updates on this article as I work to finish it out.
Update 12.21.11: I have begun writing on the changes between the low bid project and the possible changes that commissioners will vote on in the January meeting. Comments from the public will follow these updates. Readers can send their thoughts on the project in a Letter to the Editor that I will place on that page through the January 2012 meeting. One letter is already online. Thanks for reading the Pike County Times.
All five commissioners were at the meeting today as well as County Clerk Teresa Watson, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and County Attorney Tom Morton. (There was a Board of Equalization meeting scheduled at the same time as this meeting so Rob Morton attended one meeting and Tom Morton attended the other.) The meeting lasted a little over an hour. [Note from the Editor: The best part of the meeting was hearing comments from citizens about Impact Fees. Solicitation of public comment enhances our open government because commissioners care enough to hear what citizens have to say. There were some good questions and suggestions that came out of this meeting.]
Click here to read more from this article. This meeting is complete.
ZEBULON - The bids have come in on the renovation for the Courthouse and all are above the price that what was hoped for in this bidding process. Voters approved a SPLOST this past year that includes Courthouse renovation for approximately $2.5 million dollars.
Bids were as follows: John W. Spratlin & Son, LLC out of Lincolnton, Georgia was the apparent low bidder with a bid of $2,995,000. Headley Construction Corp. out of Newnan bid $3,040,000. Ricks Contractors, Inc. out of Buford bid $3,220,000. Hughes Co., Inc. out of Griffin bid $3,999,000.
County Manager Bill Sawyer advised by phone that there are three options at this point. Commissioners can refuse to accept any and all bids and readvertise the project, they can ask the architect to reduce the scope of the project and rebid it, or they can negotiate with the apparent low bidder and see if we can get the price to come down.
At the Tuesday night Regular Called Meeting, County Manager Sawyer suggested accepting the lowest bid and negotiating with the contractor for a lower cost.
County Manager Sawyer advised by phone that this matter will be discussed by the Board of Commissioners at the December 14, 2011 meeting.
ZEBULON - In a three minute hearing before Judge Stephen E. Boswell yesterday afternoon, the matter of Pike County versus Loretta Rakestraw was finally decided. Judge Boswell asked the audience in the courtroom if anyone had any objections to the Final Judgment before he made his final decision. When no one spoke, the attorneys for Pike County were allowed to file the Final Settlement which allowed Loretta Rakestraw to return to her position as Assistant Magistrate Court Judge.
According to the Consent Order and Final Judgment, Assistant Magistrate Rakestraw will return to her position on a 20 hour per week basis with full-time benefits until her current appointment expires on December 31, 2012. Rakestraw was also awarded $40,000 in attorney's fees.
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ZEBULON - After numerous Executive Sessions over the past few months, Pike County Commissioners made a motion to authorize the County Attorney to negotiate to resolve Pike County v. Loretta H. Rakestraw which was filed in Pike County Superior Court on April 14, 2010. This case will be heard before Judge Boswell in Pike County Superior Court (in the Courthouse) on November 17, 2011 at 3 p.m.
When asked about this motion, County Manager Bill Sawyer said, "It is my opinion that an agreement is forthcoming on the 17th. It has been over a year and Pike County needs to move on as well as the parties involved."
Click here for the remainder of this article.
Services offered at the Pike County Health Department:
• Immunizations available for children who meet guidelines set by the Vaccines for Children Program (18 yrs and below, Medicaid, no insurance, or insurance doesn’t pay for vaccine).
• Adult Immunizations available: Tetanus Boosters, Flu, Pneumonia, Shingles, Hepatitis A and B vaccines.
• Child Health Program (Well Child Check Up) provides early and periodic health screenings for children up to age 21.
• Hearing/Vision/Dental Screenings are available for children entering public school kindergarten or Georgia schools for the first time (Form 3300).
• BreasTEST and More Program provides clinical breast exams and mammogram screenings at reduced or no cost for low income, uninsured women ages 40-64 years. Must provide proof of household income.
Click here to find out more services that are offered right here in Pike County.
All five commissioners were present for this meeting as well as County Clerk Teresa Watson to take the minutes, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and Rob Morton and Tom Morton as legal counsel for Pike County.
District 3 Commissioner Tommy Powers was recognized with a certificate, plaque, and pin for more than 120 hours of training over the past several years to become a certified county commissioner through ACCG (Association County Commissioners of Georgia) with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA. Commissioner Powers attended classes on finance, human resources, county law, economic development and ethics as well as attending district meetings, participating in leadership activities, serving on ACCG policy committees and completing a project summary in order to earn this honor. Congratulations!
5. INVITED GUESTS
a. Proclamation declaring November 6, 2011 as Retired Educators Day in Georgia will be presented to
Mary Milner, Public Relations Chairperson of the Pike County Retired Educators Association.
Mary Milner won the Georgia Retired Educator Award this year for serving over 1,000 hours in Pike and the surrounding communities this year. She tutored, drove others to classes, and performed other volunteer work to earn this award. Bonnie Byrd Gardner is retiring this year after 4 years of service as the director. Congratulations to Mary Milner for this honor!
6. REPORTS – From Commissions, Departments, Committees, County Manager, Attorney
a. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities, including a
Revenue/Expenditure Statement for all departments, and a summary check register.
Commissioner Bass commended CM Sawyer and Commissioner Jarrett for attending Water and Sewer Authority meetings in the past several months.
b. County Manager Report
• County Manager Comments: CM Sawyer advised that the finances are changing daily in Pike County. Said that the outlook was rather bleak 2 months ago with the commissioners giving the authority to borrow $800,000 but said that through a lot of hard work and efforts from many in the county, only $400,000 has been used and that may be all that we have to use this year. "We are moving in the right direction," he said.
Update 10.18.11: This meeting is complete.
Click here to read the rest of the write up from this meeting. I will continue writing until finished and update on this page.
Have you ever wondered about your fire insurance rates? Why are some rates higher than others? Why do some companies charge different rates for homes in the same area?
“ISO ratings depend on a combination of different evaluation areas which are combined to become the actual ISO rating for the area,” said Fire Chief Mike Grant of Pike Emergency Services. Insurance companies use classifications to determine the price of fire insurance for homes and businesses in Pike County.
According to www.isomitigation.com, 50% of classification is based on the fire department, how it is dispatched to a fire, and the ability of the fire department to fight a fire based on its personnel and equipment. 40% of the classification is based on water supply in the event of a fire. The final 10% is based on the review of the fire alarm system including whether a community has 911 to dispatch fire fighters to a residence in the event of a fire and how fast that call can go out to 911 in the event of an emergency.
A large portion of the classification is based on the fire department. Since Pike County has a volunteer fire department, the ISO rating is higher than it would be compared to a county with a paid fire department. ISO reviews information such as what type of equipment is housed at a particular fire station, what kind of equipment is on the trucks, how fast and how long water can be pumped in an emergency situation, how many personnel are on the roster, and what type of training the firefighters have had in order to determine the ISO rating.
Click here to read the rest of this article.
This meeting was attended by all Commissioners except for District 2 Commissioner Tamra Jarrett who was absent due to medical reasons, County Clerk Teresa Watson, County Manager (CM) Bill Sawyer, and County Attorney Rob Morton. County Manager Sawyer read a statement from District 2 Representative Tamra Jarrett which advised that she is unable to attend tonight's meeting due to medical reasons. She advised that her surgery will require a recovery period of 4 to 6 weeks and asked the public to please continue to call or email with any issues that they would like her to address. She has asked the county manager to apprise her of all issues that should be brought to her attention as the commissioner for District 2 so she can follow up during this time. She looks forward to returning to meetings as soon as she is able.
• Update on County finances for the following funds/accounts:
CM Sawyer advised that the county transferred $100,000 from the TAN (Tax Anticipation Note) today leaving a balance of $400,000.
General Fund $12,630.83 (last meeting $4,178.87)
Jury Account $0.00
Cash Reserve Account $2,677.37 (last meeting $2,655.45)
Jail Fund $32,056.37 (last meeting $31,809.04)
E-911 Fund $9,566.36 (last meeting $4,722.55)
DATE Fund $10,596.99 (last meeting $10,790.31)
Juvenile Court Fund $28,536.68 (last meeting $27,731.82)
Residential Impact Fees $268,206.37 (last meeting $265,744.59)
Commercial Impact Fees $12,117.38 (last meeting $12,116.35)
General Obligation SPLOST Tax Bond Sinking Fund 2011 ............... $38,663.11 (last meeting $80,796.17)
Click here to read this meeting which is complete.
ZEBULON - From the Post Agenda
5. INVITED GUESTS
a. Pike County Fire Chief Mike Grant will update the Board on first responders. Chief Grant provided an overview of Pike County Emergency Services (PCES) and its scope of services. The EMS program, which provides for a greater degree of emergency services, supplements the fine job that Mid-Georgia Ambulance Service does for the County. PCES is petitioning for a first responder license and already holds an ambulance license. A used ambulance donated to the County will be fitted for use by the EMS program which will work out of the Zebulon station. A response time of 4-6 minutes can sometimes make the difference in providing life-saving service while awaiting arrival of the ambulance. Two cardiac instances recently in Concord resulted in life-saving procedures being done by EMS trained personnel. As of this afternoon, there are 100 volunteers, 4 paramedics, 18 are EMTs, 30 are first responders, and 48 are firefighters. The current EMT class has 7 personnel, and they each pay $1500 out of their own pockets for this 18-month course. About 17% of calls are EMS related and it complements the fire calls well. Currently 52% of personnel are medically certified, which is amazing for a volunteer workforce. They are exploring repainting the converted ambulance and hopefully will roll it out by October. He thanked the Board for its support.
Also there currently exists no firefighter rehab, and with 60 lbs. of turnout gear for fire fighters in this heat this is a real need, so several officers put their heads together with support staff to rectify this situation. They obtained a trailer on a state grant four years ago and one volunteer has researched and written a standard operating procedure (SOP) for firefighter rehabilitation. They have trained at the county-owned house on Adams Street and this should work well to enhance firefighter rehab.
Fire Chief Grant reiterated he knew that finances for the County are tight; so, PCES has applied for every type grant available. For instance, they recommissioned and put into service a trailer valued at $8000 to $13,000 for only $2,000. Also, they have put PCES back into NFPA compliance. Also, they are looking into state training and certification for those who cannot afford to go the ten days straight in Forsyth.
Chief Grant said they were meeting today with a couple of chiefs to identify some projects that are in progress and need to be completed, but there are a great many people in this department with huge hearts for service.
Mr. Sawyer responded to a question that the Mayor of Meansville was reviewing the proposed agreement; they desire to add the $5,000 payment in the contract and use the same doctor that PCES uses for medical services. Dr. Cox has agreed. Once things were laid in place, Fire Chief Grant said he and Major Snyder visited with them. They will train EMS and fire personnel with the department and use Dr. Cox. Chief Grant and Chief Huckaby will get together on training.
To read the rest of this post agenda, click here. *[Note from the Editor: I did not attend this meeting.]
Members of this committee include: Mike Beres-Chairman, Tom Morton-Vice Chairman, Jim Roberts, Gayle Burden, Elizabeth Anne Barker, Steve Fry, Chuck Ledbetter, Lanier Boatwright, Doug Mangham, Parrish Swift, Bill Sawyer, David Allen, Todd Goolsby, Matt Wood, Jeff Tharpe, and Robert Hiett.
I. CALL TO ORDER
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
a. Regular Meeting of May 5, 2011.
(The Thursday, July 7, 2011 meeting was cancelled.)
III. PUBLIC COMMENTS
a. Comments by GDOT representative(s)
a. Next Meeting will be Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:30 unless otherwise stipulated
IV. REPORT OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS
a. Report by Robert Hiett, Government Services Director for Three Rivers RC
• Three Rivers Regional Commission Roundtable Update
• Pike County Transportation Investment Act (TIA) 2010 Quick Facts
b. Comments by Other Members
VI. OLD BUSINESS
VII. NEW BUSINESS
a. Next meeting will be Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. unless otherwise stipulated.
To read a copy of all information from the past meeting including minutes, click here.
Zebulon – A lawsuit filed last week in Pike County questions changes made by the board of commissioners to the salaries paid in magistrate court.
In her complaint, Chief Magistrate Marcia Callaway-Ingram asserts county manager Bill Sawyer and the Pike County Board of Commissioners violated Georgia law beginning with the 2010-2011 budget year by reducing her annual salary from $63,139 to $49,182. She also claims pay for the associate magistrate was halved to $23,108, effectively rendering it a part time position.
Callaway-Ingram maintains the changes were made over her objection and without her consent or approval. The reductions were apparently part of a larger budget-cutting effort and a central issue in the case appears to be whether reducing the salary of a judicial officer in the middle of a single term of office is legal.
The complaint asks for an evidentiary hearing, the issuance of a writ of mandamus requiring the county to restore salary funding to 2009 levels, back pay for the period beginning June 1, 2010 and for full funding of the associate magistrate position. She also seeks a permanent injunction ordering the county to refrain from interference with her governance of court personnel.
The defendants named include Pike County Manager Bill Sawyer and Commissioners Doug Mangham, Carol Bass, Tamra Jarrett, Tommy Powers, and Don Collins.
Citing O.C.G.A 15-10-23(d), the complaint states, “The county governing authority may supplement the minimum salary of the chief or other magistrate in such amount as it may fix from time to time, but no such magistrate’s compensation or supplement shall be decreased during such term of office.” It also refers to the Georgia Constitution, at Article 6, Section 7, Paragraph V, which states, “An incumbent [judge]’s salary, allowance, or supplement shall not be decreased during the incumbent’s term of office.”
Callaway-Ingram also asserts the defendants have interfered with her ability to hire qualified personnel by withholding numerous applications that were submitted to the county manager’s office.
The case was filed in Superior Court on Monday, August 1st at 2:00pm. Prior to its filing, a letter voicing similar concerns was transmitted to the board of commissioners. That communication, dated June 9, 2011, appears below. [Note from the Editor: The Barnesville Dispatch has a copy of the letter from June 9, 2011 as a part of this article for subscribers.]
It was assigned to Senior Judge Chris Edwards of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
Callaway-Ingram is represented by attorneys A. Lee Parks and James E. Radford, Jr., of Atlanta.
Becky Watts of Pike County Times contributed to this story.
Several people spoke during the Town Hall Meeting that was held at 6:15 p.m. A Town Hall Meeting is held 15 minutes prior to every Regular Called Commission Meeting.
1. CALL TO ORDER .................................................................................... Chairman Doug Mangham
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE ................................................................... Chairman Doug Mangham
3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. 50-14-1 (e) (1))
Commissioner Carol Bass added an Executive Session for the purpose of pending and potential litigation before New Business at the request of County Attorney Rob Morton made prior to the beginning of the meeting. Approved 5-0.
4. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - (O.C.G.A.§ 50-14-1(e) (2))
a. Minutes of the July 13, 2011 Regular Monthly Meeting.
5. INVITED GUESTS
a. County Manager Bill Sawyer and Robert Hiett, Governmental Services Director for Three Rivers Regional Commission, will update the Board on the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 (TSPLOST). [Note from the Editor: TSPLOST will be on the ballot next year and is a VERY important issue.]
Click here to read the remainder of this article. This is complete.
Today's meeting was attended by all five commissioners, County Manager Bill Sawyer, County Clerk Teresa Watson, and County Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton.
The meeting was about 43 minutes long and that was a welcome change. There was a lot of discussion between the commissioners and both the County Manager (CM) and County Attorneys at this meeting where there hasn't been nearly enough in past meetings.
To read more about this meeting, click here.
Update 7.16.11: This meeting is now complete.
Pike County Times confirmed on June 29, 2011 that the current Pike County Fire Department budget (2010-2011) was used to pay the City of Meansville $5,000 to maintain its fire department. This happened approximately four to six weeks ago according to County Manager Bill Sawyer. Pike County Times learned in this interview that Pike County does not have a current, written mutual aid contract with the City of Meansville for fire protection.
County Manager Bill Sawyer advised that the City of Meansville was paid $5,000 from the fire fund (the Pike County Fire Department/Pike County Emergency Services budget for the 2010-2011 year) to make sure that the City of Meansville Fire Department's equipment could pass their accreditation. "I'm disappointed that they didn't become part of the county department, but they are taxpayers and if we can do what we can to help them maintain the integrity of their equipment then we're going to do that," he said.
County Manager Sawyer said that his intent is to make sure that these funds are only used in the fire department for maintenance or integrity of their equipment, but when asked if the county has anything in writing to this effect, the answer was no. He advised that the verbiage is being worked on at this time by legal counsel. He said that the contract between Pike County and the City of Meansville will say that money specifically has to be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the equipment and stressed that accountability is needed on this. He said the contract should be tied to The Pike County Emergency Services Fire Chief going into the Meansville Fire Department to ensure that the $5,000 has been spent according to the contract.
Click here to read the rest of this article as well as the history of Pike County and the City of Meansville Fire Department.
Info from Fire Ordinance and Pike County Manager Enabling Legislation:
From the 2010 Pike County Fire Department Ordinance that was signed in December of 2010:
Section 32.02(A) says, "Pike County shall provide fire prevention, fire fighting and other fire/emergency related services within the geographical boundaries of Pike County, Georgia including within the various municipalities within Pike County as may be authorized by law and/or agreement. The services may include fire prevention, EMA, EMS fire fighting services and operations as such may be deemed necessary and reasonable including services by contract or in cooperation with any municipality located within PIke County or in cooperation with any other fire protection entity or emergency service provider."
Section 32.02(C) says, "...In addition, the Pike County Fire Department may provide fire prevention, fire fighting and other fire/emergency related services as set defined herein subject to the review of such policies, procedures, rules and/or regulations by the Board of Commissioners and County Manager." [Italics is my emphasis.]
Section 32.02(E) says, "As with any other county department, the County Manager shall have oversight of the Pike County Fire Department, including but not limited to financial, budgetary and personnel related issues."
[Note from the Editor: I had some questions on whether what was done was legal and it is, but it appears that the 32.02(C) got dropped a bit with three commissioners and the Department Head not being fully notified of this payment to the City of Meansville until several weeks after the fact--after I find out about it to be exact. Common courtesy should have demanded that the commissioners be apprised of this since it falls under policies, procedures, rules, and/or regulations with the Pike County Fire Department. I would think that common courtesy would have demanded that the County Manager apprise the commissioners of this payment, period. Maybe this could be likened to putting calcium chloride on a road in a Commissioner's District (that really will get the phone ringing with thank you's!) or dissolving an authority (or two) in order to put under the county umbrella.
It is a sign of respect to keep commissioners apprised of what is going on in something that will start their telephones ringing so they can answer to the best of their abilities. Our enabling legislation clearly states that "[the county manager] shall be responsible to the board of commissioners for the efficient administration of all of the affairs of the county over which the county manager has jurisdiction." Shall be responsible to the BOC... Am I reading too much into it to say that the county manager should let ALL FIVE of the commissioners know what is going on in something like this?
Here is hoping that changes are being made even as I type. I don't want to see Pike County go back to a place where no one trusted county government and always questioned motives behind everything. I am not looking for things to be done my way, I just want the rules to be followed and for there to be an understanding that just because something is legal doesn't always make it right. The end doesn't always justify the means and we are judged by the mess that we leave in our wake. My resume: Ten years attending Pike County Commission meetings (I also attended meetings in Upson County for several years before moving back home) and almost five years at Pike County Times as a public service making sure that citizens know what is going on in Pike County government. ]
Click on the County Government page link to find old write ups from Board of Commissioners Meetings.
On February 23, 2011, County Manager Bill Sawyer sent a letter to Georgia legislators on the behalf of the Pike County Board of Commissioners. This letter asked Representative Billy Maddox and Senator Ronnie Chance to introduce legislation regarding Pike County's Magistrate and Probate Courts.
The letter states, "Pursuant to a majority vote by the Pike County Board of Commissioners on February 22, 2011, I am requesting that [Rep. Maddox and Senator Chance] introduce legislation to effect the combining of the Pike County Probate Court and the Pike County Magistrate Court. Requested effective dates would be as soon as reasonably feasible, preferably on or about the start of our FY [fiscal year] 2011-2012 which is July 1, or as legislatively practical.
A copy of the draft minutes from the February 22, 2011 meeting signed by County Clerk Teresa Watson and Commission Chairman Doug Mangham were attached to each letter.
Neither office has issued an official statement on the request at this time.
[Note from the Editor: Crossover Day, the 30th day of the Georgia Legislative Session, is on March 16, 2011. This is the final day for bills to be given a vote of approval in the House or Senate so the bills can cross over to the other chamber of the Legislature. Even if our representatives are willing to present this bill to the Legislature on a split vote of 3-2, we are so close to Crossover Day that it may not occur.]
Are you uninsured or unable to pay your co-pay for health care? The Pike County Health Department may be able to help.
Services we provide: Vaccines for all ages, Health checks for children, Developmental screening for children, Breast and cervical cancer screening, Registered Dietician on site, Family planning – includes medical exams, lab tests, counseling, contraceptives/sterilizations, and referral for health needs, Pregnancy tests, Screening and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Hearing/Vision/Dental screenings, Tuberculosis screening and treatment, Blood pressure screening, Lab work (with doctors orders), Women, Infant, & Children nutrition program for pregnant women and children up to 5 yrs old, and Well water testing for bacteria.
Our goal is to provide low cost services. Charges for many services are based on income for people who are underinsured or uninsured.
Same day appointments are available if you call early in the morning. Phone lines open at 7 a.m. The health department is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call today and see how we can help you have a healthier future! 770-567-8972
The Meansville City Council met on February 14, 2011. During this meeting, there was discussion of whether or not to join with the Pike County Fire Department at the next meeting. There were several concerned citizens in attendance at this meeting. Council Members Melvin Colquitt, Betty Bradshaw, Sandy Mitchell, Virlon Rachels and Al Milby were present along with Mayor Gayle Burden, City Clerk Jerome Finley, and City Attorney Tom Morton.
Joy Walker spoke on the upcoming five year, $5,400,000 SPLOST with approximately one half is designated for the Courthouse and one half is designated for work on roads, streets, and bridges in Pike County. This is a one cent sales tax that would be paid on items bought in Pike County that is an effort to keep the costs of these projects off the backs of the property owners in Pike County. Subsidized 40% by people from out of our county. She said that if a person spent $100 in Pike County with this 1% SPLOST, the cost would be approximate to a cup of coffee. Said that in the last month of the past SPLOST collection, Pike County brought in between $8 and $9 million in sales which gave the county about $85,000 in SPLOST funds. She asked the Meansville City Council to encourage citizens get out and vote. Also encouraged citizens to shop in Pike County.
Other business: A public meeting on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant was to be held today at noon. Project was started in September of 2007 and is finished. Congratulations to the City of Meansville on this CDBG. Motion to approve the Easter Sonrise Service at the walking track. Approved 5-0. Other topics were addressed as well.
Fire Fighter Ron Snowden spoke to the City Council about his conversation with County Manager Bill Sawyer on Monday morning prior to the evening meeting. He said that they discussed the possibility of a six month and a year long intergovernmental agreement that could be renewed yearly and either side could back out of the agreement during that time. Said that the city will not lose its charter and could still get insurance rollback money but would be required to spend that money on certain things. This will give better and more training, more calls for the fire fighters to respond to because all have been trained with extensive schooling but not been able to use it, the county carries a higher level of Worker's Comp than the City, the county can help bring up roster numbers, better benefits for the fire fighters, and it will help the ISO rating around the city. Said that it could be written in there that nothing moves or changes and said that an agreement with the county could be a win-win agreement for all involved, but said that without Meansville being a part of the County Fire Department, the county will be forced to build another station real soon. Also said that if an engine went out on one of the trucks or a major equipment purchase was required or there was a liability accident, it would break the city. Said that if it doesn't work out, then tell them and no losses.
Several citizens spoke during the public comment part of the meeting and encouraged the City Council members to join the County Fire Department. Margie Trammell said that not joining will hurt everyone in the county and encouraged the members to get past what has happened in the past in order to help citizens in the city and outside of the city limits. Tommy Burnsed also encouraged Council members to join and Don Bailey said that he thought it would be a great idea for fire support.
Executive Session began at 7:28 p.m. and the meeting was called back to order at 8 p.m. Motion was made by the Meansville City Council to authorize the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the County Manager to draw up an agreement with the county on joining the fire department. Approved 5-0.
Meansville City Council met on January 18, 2011 with County Manager Bill Sawyer, Interim Fire Chief Randy Snyder, District 3 Commissioner Tommy Powers, and Pike County Commission Doug Mangham. This is a contination of meetingsfrom 2009 discussing whether the City of Meansville would join the Pike County Fire Department. At the time, there was a mutual aid agreement between the City of Meansville and Pike County. That agreement expired on December 31, 2009 and has not been renewed.
Notes from those 2009 meetings are contained on the "click here" link below. Many of these same issues were rehashed at this January 2011 meeting: whether the county would give Meansville $5,000 to run its own stand alone fire department, whether the new fire truck bought with SPLOST dollars would leave the City Limits of Meansville, will the City lose its charter if it joins the County Fire Department, will ISO rating and level of protection change, what are the benefits of joining a large group versus standing alone, will the City of Meansville provide mutual aid to the County Fire Department at all, and how will citizens who live outside of the City Limits of Meansville be affected by the choice to stay out of the County Fire Department.
Click here to read the remainder of this article.
The Meansville City Council will be discussing whether or not to join with the Pike County Fire Department at the next meeting. At the heart of this matter is whether citizens are going to have to pay to build a new fire station in the southeast portion of the county to ensure adequate fire protection for citizens who live both inside of and outside of the Meansville City Limits. Some of the things that might be be affected include ISO ratings and the cost of homeowners' insurance.
Update 2.11.11: This article has been updated today. It also contains a letter with a list of concerns from council members, firemen, and citizens as well as the response from Interim Chief Snyder.
The public is invited to attend the next meeting of the Meansville City Council to be held on Monday, February 14, 2011 at 7 p.m. at City Hall in Meansville.
Update 2.14.11: Joy Walker spoke on SPLOST tonight. Ron Snowden spoke to the City Council about his conversation with County Manager Bill Sawyer today. Said that an agreement with the county could be a win-win agreement for all involved but said that without Meansville being a part of the County Fire Department, the county will be forced to build another station real soon. Also said that if an engine went out on one of the trucks or a major equipment purchase was required or there was a liability accident, it would break the city. Said that the city would still get insurance rollback money but would be required to spend that money on certain things. This could be a six month or even one year agreement and if it doesn't work out, then no losses. It would be a written intergovernmental agreement. More on the specifics of this tomorrow.
Motion was made by the Meansville City Council to authorize the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the County Manager to draw up an agreement with the county on joining the fire department. Approved 5-0.
The first public hearing on the Board of Education tax increase was scheduled for August 12, 2010 at 6 PM at the new Pike County Middle School Cafeteria. All Board of Education members were present along with School Superintendent Dr. Duncan.
Finance Director for Pike County Schools, Kenneth Carter gave a very detailed explanation of the tax increase and some very good questions were answered at this meeting. There were about 50 people in the audience. [Note from the Editor: I commend the Superintendent's Office for getting the word out about the change of meeting places for this meeting. Phone calls were made, it was in the print newspaper, and Fun 101 WTGA out of Thomaston was notified as well. News spread from the by diligent citizens. The Superintendent's Secretary, Karen Davis, even stayed at her office to direct citizens to the new meeting place on the night of the meeting to be sure that everyone was given the opportunity to attend this meeting. Thank you to Jane Gaulding for calling me!]
All who attended were given an 8 page hand out so we could follow along as Kenneth Carter explained the changes in detail. The proposed Maintenance and Operations millage rate is going to be the same as it was last year: $6,595,553.
The proposed Bond millage rate is for a smaller amount and is separate from the Maintenance and Operations millage rate. It will be going up by 108.63% to 2.417 mills for a total of $1,193,541. Last year's millage rate was 1.127 for a total of $572,077.
Bond millage and SPLOST collections are repaying the amounts that were needed to build both the High School and Middle School. The 2006 voter approved sales tax for the Middle School is helping to repay some of this debt but it was not enough to pay off the total amount that was needed this year. The current 2.417 mills is what is needed to pay this amount.
Kenneth Carter showed in the Tax Digest and Levy where the Board of Education did not tax citizens on the true value of the school bonds over the past three years because the Board was concerned about keeping taxes low for property owners during that time. In 2007, only .35 mills was levied in citizen taxes to pay for the interest on the bond which was what was required that year. In 2008, .35 mills was levied on citizen taxes but SPLOST brought in enough money to pay this. Last year, the millage rate was raised to 1.127 mills which was half of the amount needed to pay for the bonds on the schools. The other half of the money needed to make the bond payment came from general fund reserves last year.
Dr. Duncan said that SPLOST projected a 5% increase per year when it was voted in, but that the unpredicted, immediate economic downturn resulted in a decrease in the SPLOST. Dr. Duncan also said that in hindsight, keeping the taxes low probably was not the best decision since the decreasing SPLOST amounts and state funding cuts have resulted in the raising of the millage rate for citizens.
The good news is that the Middle School will be paid off in the next 3 years. The projected date of the current total bond repayment is scheduled to end around February of 2015. And if there is no further debt at that time, then the bond millage rate will be 0 with no levy against citizens taxes. However, Mr. Carter did say that with the growth that our county has seen in the past, there is no guarantee of not needing another school. [Note from the Editor: The school system has state and federal mandates that must be met with our schools. This cannot be planned for and I appreciate Mr. Carter being up front about this to citizens.]
The current interest rate on the bond is 4 1/2%. Citizens were informed that, by state law, the school system can only tax when debt is incurred. However, future construction money is earned through the state. The current Middle School was paid for by 60% state funds and 40% local funds.
I will continue writing on this meeting next week because the questions that citizens asked at the meeting were very interesting and will help give insight into the plan that is in place for our school system.
Click on this link http://pikecountytimes.com/boe8.3.10.jpg to see the Five Year M&O Tax Digest Levy History - 2010 Tax Digest and Tax Levy for FY11 Budget. The proposed budget can be reviewed at:
pikecountytimes.com/2011SchoolBudget.pdf. It should be on the school website soon too.
Press Release from the Board of Education:
The Pike County Board of Education today announces its intention to increase the property taxes it will levy this year for Maintenance and Operations by 2.25 percent over the rollback millage rate. Additionally, the Board also announces its intention to increase the property taxes it will levy this year for School Bond repayment by 114.27 percent over the rollback millage rate. Therefore, before the Board of Education may set a final millage rate, Georgia Law requires that three public hearings be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on this increase.
For the past three fiscal years, the Board of Education has levied a School Bond repayment millage which was significantly lower than that required to repay annual Bond debt. The result was tax savings to the local property taxpayer for three consecutive years. The tentatively adopted millage rate for fiscal year 2011 accurately reflects the total amount, coupled with SPLOST sales tax revenues, needed to fully fund School Bond debt payments. Those bonds being repaid were sold for the construction of our current High and Middle School facilities.
The tentative Maintenance and Operations millage rate will collect no new property tax dollars but calls for slight millage rate increase due to a 2.29% drop in the total value of our local property tax digest. To provide historical perspective, the Maintenance and Operations millage proposed for the current fiscal year is just slightly higher than that levied in fiscal 2005. Couple this with the fact that State funding for school operations has decreased due to “austerity reductions” in a drastic way during that five year period. In this light, the relatively steady millage rate for maintenance and operations during this time of economic downturn and State funding loss reflects the Board to Education’s philosophy to operate our schools in a prudent and fiscally conservative manner - all the while seeking the highest level of student achievement.
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held on August 12, 2010 at 6:00 PM in the new Pike County Middle School Cafeteria on Hughley Road.
Click on this link http://pikecountytimes.com/boe8.3.10.jpg to see the Five Year M&O Tax Digest Levy History - 2010 Tax Digest and Tax Levy for FY11 Budget.
Note from the Editor: The proposed budget can be reviewed at:
pikecountytimes.com/2011SchoolBudget.pdf. It should be on the school website soon too.
Update 8.4.10: The protest that had been planned on the day of this meeting has been cancelled.
ATLANTA – Have you ever been eating at your favorite local restaurant and wondered what their score was on their last health inspection? Well, wonder no more! The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) is pleased to announce the launching of Georgia’s statewide health inspection search tool. The tool was created to provide Georgians with accurate health inspection records.
“The food inspection process for restaurants, carry-out facilities, mobile food service operations and temporary food service operations ensures that food is handled, stored and prepared safely for human consumption. These critical steps help to minimize food–borne related illnesses,” said Scott Uhlich, DCH’s Director of Environmental Health. “This tool will allow Georgians the opportunity to make informed decisions when dining out.”
To search for health inspection records, visit the Environmental Health Web site at www.georgiaeh.us, click on the food service inspections online link and select a county to start your search for the latest inspections of food service and tourist accommodations. Searches can be conducted by:
• Using a specific date range;
• Entering keywords;
• Choosing an establishment’s name,
• Address, city or zip code;
• Choosing a letter grade; or
• Choosing the first letter of an establishment’s name
Counties that have made their scores and inspections available through DCH’s statewide system will have food AND tourist inspection records online. Counties that have made their inspection record available through their local county system will ONLY have food inspection records listed. All inspections should be available online, but please contact your local health department about any questions or concerns about any missing or specific inspections.
To learn more information about environmental health regulations, food service permitting and other services, call your local health department or visit www.georgiaeh.us.
Tamra Jarrett - 38
Parrish Swift - 18
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 175
Spencer Price - 69
Tamra Jarrett - Not in this voting district.
Parrish Swift - Not in this voting district.
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 152
Spencer Price - 82
Tamra Jarrett - 33
Parrish Swift - 16
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 134
Spencer Price - 93
Tamra Jarrett - 96
Parrish Swift - 83
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 126
Spencer Price - 62
Tamra Jarrett - Not in this district.
Parrish Swift - Not in this district.
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 259
Spencer Price - 100
Tamra Jarrett - 27
Parrish Swift - 19
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 153
Spencer Price - 70
Tamra Jarrett - 70
Parrish Swift - 65
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 125
Spencer Price - 73
Tamra Jarrett - 57
Parrish Swift - 45
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 244
Spencer Price - 125
Tamra Jarrett - Not in this district.
Parrish Swift - Not in this district.
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 149
Spencer Price - 45
Tamra Jarrett - 3
Parrish Swift - 6
State House District 127
Billy Maddox - 50
Spencer Price - 24
County Commission District 2
Tamra Jarrett (Republican) - 324 votes - 56.25%
Parrish Swift (Republican)(Incumbent) - 252 votes - 43.75%
Congratulations to Tamra Jarrett. She will take office in January. Thank you to Parrish Swift for your service over the past 3 1/2 years.
State House District 127 - Pike
Billy Maddox (Republican)(Incumbent) - 1,567 votes - 67.84%
Spencer Price (Republican) - 743 votes - 32.16%
State House District 127 - District Total (from the SOS website)
Billy Maddox (Republican)(Incumbent) - 3,356 votes - 61.2%
Spencer Price (Republican) - 2,126 votes - 38.8%
Congratulations to Billy Maddox. Thank you to Spencer Price for being willing to be a public servant.
The State Election Results can be viewed here.
I have received repeated complaints from someone--who I am not going to name--about the wording of the following paragraph in the write up of the meeting by Guest Columnist Margie Trammell. I note my opinions by placing them in blue as a Note from the Editor but did not require the Guest Columnist to do this with following paragraph:
"It should be noted the Overlay Ordinance as referred to by the members and Director of Community Development disallows mandatory buffering on properties developed prior to the adoption of the Overlay Ordinance unless they are being rezoned therefore making it illegal to require buffering of this property."
There is a reason why I did not require a notation of opinion.
First, the agenda for this meeting plainly states that this is a modification of zoning and NOT a rezoning. This piece of property was rezoned to C-3 in 2006 with a restriction on the use of the property that would require the owner to come back before the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners in order to use this property for any other use/business.
Second, I made a couple of phone calls to confirm that Community Development Director David Allen did inform the members of Planning Commission about the requirements of the Overlay District Ordinance and the fact that this property is exempt from the Overlay Distict Process which was passed on March 31, 2009
In the May 13, 2010 meeting, the Planning Commission recommended approval on this modification of zoning with a stipulation that landscape buffering be required in accordance to the Commercial Overlay Ordinance prior to a business license being issued.
If our ordinances are followed by the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission, this piece of property is exempt from the Overlay District Ordinance as is stated on page 4 of the Overlay District Ordinance below:
" ...Section 159.03 Applicability of Regulations
The standards of the US Highway 19 and US Highway 41 overlay district shall apply to all developments except as follows: ...(5) Development approved prior to the adoption of this ordinance provided the property is not rezoned. If rezoning occurs, the requirements of this ordinance shall take full effect on the parcel or lot to the extent parcel dimensions will allow..."
[Note from the Editor: The proper way to rezone a piece of property is to allow C-3 zoning and disallow some uses in C-3 if this is what the Commissioners desire to do. This property was rezoned for a single use in C-3 by a prior Board of Commissioners. This required the owner to come back to the BOC for approval of any other uses--even those allowed in C-3 zoning. I will state plainly that if prior Board of Commissioners had followed our ordinances, this property would not even be going through modification of zoning process and buffering would not be an issue at all. Following our ordinances is important and one of the reasons that Pike County Times came into being in the first place.]
Is it a statement of fact or is it a statement of opinion? I have moved Margie's entire article below this article and include a link to the Overlay District Ordinance that was approved by the Board of Commissioners on 3.31.09. Please review her article and then read the Overlay District Ordinance Section 159.03 located on pages 3 and 4 of this document to make up your mind.
Due to the absence of Chairman Tony Watkins the May 13, 2010 meeting was called to order at 7 pm by Vice Chairman Bennie Evans and attended by members Richard Baskin, John Morrison and Doug Rounds as well as David Allen, Director of Community Development and Kim Morris Secretary.
Following approval of the agenda and the minutes from the April 8, 2010 meeting the first item at hand was a public hearing for MOD10-01 with Tim Daniels requesting a modification of the existing C-3 with restriction on his 2 acre parcel on highway 19 south of Zebulon.
In 2006 when Mr. Daniels applied for C-3 (heavy industrial) zoning on this parcel the Pike County Board of Commissioners approved the request but restricted the property’s use to the sale of portable buildings. Mr. Daniels request to have this restriction lifted has been sent on to the current Board of Commissioner’s with a recommendation of approval with the stipulation that landscape buffering be required in accordance with the Type 1 plan as described in the Commercial Overlay ordinance of Pike County. The Type 1 plan basically requires visual enhancement by installing either a 10 ft wide and 6 ft high buffer of vegetation or an opaque fence. The stipulation if approved by the Board of Commissioner’s would require Mr. Daniel to comply with the buffering prior to any new business license being issued.
It should be noted the Overlay Ordinance as referred to by the members and Director of Community Development disallows mandatory buffering on properties developed prior to the adoption of the Overlay Ordinance unless they are being rezoned therefore making it illegal to require buffering of this property.
Next on the agenda were public hearings on Pike County initiated rezoning of all existing R-6 property to AR. R-6 zoning allows for a minimum lot size of 2 acres with a minimum 600sq ft dwelling. AR zoning allows for a minimum lot size of 3 acres with a minimum 1100sq ft dwelling. In addition R-6 zoning does not allow for certain types of agricultural use, for example the housing of swine. The other items discussed at the same time were recommendations to repeal R-6 zoning, revise the zoning map and make text amendments to the code to clarify the procedure for county initiated rezoning amendments.
In the late 1980’s many areas of Pike County were rezoned by the county from AR to R-6 apparently in an effort to provide areas where people could build smaller homes on smaller tracts of land. At that time there was little to no notification of the intent to rezone land and many land owners have found themselves living on lots that are partially zoned AR and partially R-6. It was noted the entire south side of Vega Rd has a 200 ft AR strip running parallel to the road while the remainder of the lots involved are zoned R-6 which means people in that area can keep a pig in the front yard but not in the back.
Only one of the 3 citizens attending this important rezoning meeting spoke and the board voted to send this on to the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation for approval along with a recommendation of approval to change the county zoning map as well as the procedure mentioned above.
Members had further discussion of the Commercial Overlay ordinance after which the meeting was adjourned.
Roads were at the top of their list when commissioners met last week for a strategic planning workshop at the United Bank lake house in Zebulon. Another Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the addition of another mill (nearly $500,000) to the digest, specifically for roads, were two of the funding vehicles suggested during the discussion.
During the five and a half hour session held Wednesday, Jan. 20, attended by three citizens, commissioners addressed a number of their concerns, which included capital improvements, policy and personnel - namely the hiring of a new county manager. Department heads, the county manager and the county clerk were called by commissioners during the morning session and asked to appear separately, in half hour increments, after lunch. Citizens Advisory Task Force Chairman Bobby Blalock was also questioned by the board.
Commissioner Tommy Powers first brought up the topic of roads, dissatisfied with the practice of repeatedly putting gravel on dirt roads.
Commissioner Roosevelt Willis said that practice could be avoided if roads are properly prepared and given the right base. Chairman Doug Mangham said the county would need a roller machine for packing the roads.
Commissioner Don Collins asked if the board was dealing with a lack of knowledge. "Not having an engineering study killed us on getting stimulus money," he said. In response to Willis' concern about road preparation, he suggested the board might want to hire a road consultant or expert.
Later, when discussion of another SPLOST arose, Commissioner Parrish Swift recommended roads be one of the capital improvements to benefit. Collins later said commissioners need to set a specific millage rate to accommodate roads and capital improvements.
County Manager Steve Marro, who appeared at 2 p.m., said, "Speaking strategically, we have to start putting money toward roads, whether the taxpayer likes it or not." It would also cost another million dollars to get needed road equipment and the personnel to run it, he added.
Other highlights included:
FIRE FEES. Swift said the fire fees adopted last year need to be amended. Mangham agreed, noting a landowner with a smaller tract of land should not pay as much as those with larger parcels. Swift said commercial businesses may not need to pay $650 either. Fire fees were set based on appraised values, but should be done on a flat rate system, Swift said.
"I personally feel there was some gouging done," Powers said. The board will discuss fire fees in a workshop.
Swift also agreed to look into concerns that some citizens aren't getting a reduction into their fire insurance premiums since the ISO rating was reduced effective Jan. 1.
COUNTY MANAGER ADVERTISEMENT: County Clerk Teresa Watson prepared the advertisement for the job now held by Marro. Commissioners previously decided not to renew his contract, which expires May 31. Key issues the new County Manager will face include budgetary concerns due to challenges by the current economy and its impact on revenue, as well as economic planned growth, development and diversification."
"Candidate should be a motivated individual with a degree in Public Administration and have experience working in a similar government position, preferably in a growing community. A Master’s degree in Public Administration with at least three years’ experience is preferred, but a combination of education, experience and motivation will be considered. County Official certification is preferred, but a commitment to complete such certification in a timely manner will be considered. Salary range will be $70,000 to $90,000 depending on qualifications. Excellent benefits are provided, " it states. The deadline for applications is Mar. 1. In addition to the ACCG web site, the ad will appear in papers in Pike, Spalding, Lamar and Butts counties.
Marro, who has been county manager three years, is enrolled in his last class toward (County Manager) certification, Watson said. She will take her final class toward her Clerk certification in February.
In other personnel matters, Watson said there needs to be a restructuring of job duties for Secretary Nancy Cook since most of her duties now belong to her (Watson). "Nancy's floundering," she said. When asked if there could be a reduction in staff, she said no. She said there needs to be a re-defining of job descriptions and cross-training.
LEGAL SERVICES: Collins said the board agreed to go ahead and advertise for legal services, but said the decision would have to be made in open session. Mangham noted even if he (Rob Morton) doubled his salary, his would be a lower price than many other attorneys. Powers said if the attorney wasn't satisfied with what he was getting, he already been gone.
Swift said he would rather spend $150,000 on a county manager than a county attorney. Watson was charged with the task of researching putting legal services to place it out for a bid. Currently, there is $85,000 annually budgeted for the county attorney.
Collins said he intended to ask County Technician Sean Townsend for a breakdown of all money paid for legal services. There was also mention that financial reports weren't being posted in a timely manner on the county web site, to which Swift said, "If financials aren't on the web site, someone needs to have a write-up in their file."
Mangham said the company that is supposed to manage the web site has been "dragging their feet."
GAS PIPELINE: There is to be another meeting of the pipeline committee, which includes members of the development authority, according to Collins. The basic premise is that the natural gas pipeline would come from Lamar County up Highway 41, which is about half of the pipeline. He said Lamar County has exhibited a willingness to participate in the project - without providing money. The benefit would be in Lamar County lending its name as a less prosperous county than Pike to possibly qualify for a One Georgia grant.
Collins also noted Pike County's grant writer, Bill Chamberlain, has contacted Senator Saxby Chambliss, via his staff, and is working on getting information for other funding. "We can't count on it," Collins added.
According to Collins, Atlanta Gas Light, the company that would sell the gas, wants a six inch line rather than a four inch line. "They have agreed to take off a half of a million on it, which makes it much more reasonable," he said. The county would also get a credit for anyone who ties on. The gas line is expected to cost $1.5 to $2 million.
Collins said Supreme Corporation has already committed to the pipeline (as a customer) and there are possible three more subcontractors who would "put in" facilities to utilize the pipeline, adding there are "no firm commitments." He said the committee, specifically the development authority, is to discuss bond funding with local banks.
"Before I vote for it, if it's a tie, I need some facts," Mangham said.
"It's nice to have all the facts, but the facts are hard to round up sometimes," Collins said. The development authority was to meet with AGL to get the facts, he noted.
SPLOST: The consensus of the board was that if another SPLOST proposal was to come before the voters, it should contain no more than two items. At the top of commissioners' list was roads. Collins said in the past he was in favor of renovating the courthouse. "It's time to look at bringing our judicial center to modern day standards," he said. It was noted superior court judges may demand better court facilities. A previous ballpark estimate for a new judicial center from Precision Planning was $6.1 million.
"With the economy, it's prudent to take a step back, irregardless of what judges may say," Swift said.
Mangham said a jail concerns him more than a courthouse, noting the expense of housing inmates out of the county.
Swift said he spoke with someone in Clayton County and was told it is more cost-efficient to house them out.
Before commissioners determine a capital improvements list for a SPLOST, they must determine whether or not Pike County could hold a SPLOST vote in 2010 after voters failed to pass a SPLOST renewal in a Nov. 3, 2009 election. If an election could be held in November this year, there would be just a four month gap in collections, Collins explained.
CATF: Chairman Blalock met with commissioners to answer questions they have about the number of CATF members. He supports continuation of the advisory committee, and agreed it could function with fewer members, but no less than 13. County code states membership is not to exceed 23; yet there are 28 on board.
Blalock said the CATF has been working on policy for records and retention since the failure of the SPLOST. Collins suggested the CATF could also look at the county's personnel manual, which is about 60 percent complete. There is no mention of a county clerk in it, he added. Mangham said the first order of business is to get the committee "straightened out."
OTHER COMMENTS: Marro said he would not be surprised if the county runs three-quarters of a million dollars less in revenue than last year.
Collins noted the sheriff's office was the main department to go over-budget last year because the board of commissioners didn't set enough money in his budget (for payroll).
Collins recalled Marro had preached "doom and gloom" at a regular meeting about tax collections. Powers and Mangham said they heard it's rolling in.
Swift queried whether Pike County has too many appraisers for its size. Willis contends the chief appraiser isn't getting "the most bang for her buck out of that office."
I. CALL TO ORDER………………………………Chairman Doug Mangham
IX. NEW BUSINESS
1. Strategic planning – morning session.
2. Interaction with Staff/Administration – afternoon session.
[Note from the Editor: This is a public meeting.]
Update 1.23.10: I moved the agenda to correspond with the article above. I am grateful to Tamra for her write up on this meeting because I could not attend and, as readers can see, some very important things were discussed. I do want to note that I attended the morning session of this workshop last year which was held in the same place with very little room for observers.
My biggest problem with this meeting is that the Commissioners may have violated or interfered with the duties of the County Manager. Commissioners brought two Department Heads and the County Clerk before them for questioning/discussion without the County Manager being present.
Our County Manager form of government was clarified with a Consent Interlocutory Order signed on January 21, 2004. HB 1819 incorporated these changes and was approved by the Georgia Legislature on May of 2004. Both of these documents are specifically referenced in the Employment Agreements of the past two County Managers. Section 4.1 of HB 1819 states: "...The powers and duties of the county Manager shall be: ... 4) To exercise control over all departments and divisions created therein or which may be hereafter created by the commissioners; ... 9) To supervise and direct the offical conduct of all county officers and employees except as otherwise provided in this Act (Explanation: Does not include Constitutional Officers such as the Sheriff, Magistrate, and other elected officers spelled out in Section 10)..."
This possible violation needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Commissioners should act in a manner that is above reproach. At the very least, actions like this deepen a distrust between the public and our Board of Commissioners.
Update 1.26.10: I have tried to comprehend why the Commissioners would have questioned County Clerk Teresa Watson about positions in the County Commission Office. It was totally innappropriate. And the more I think back to my attendance of last year's Strategic Workshop, the more concerns I have about the Commissioners ever having another one without proper supervision in a place that is easily accessible to the public. I realize that the Commissioners were looking for a place that was more comfortable for their discussions than the Commission Room which does not have a round table atmosphere, but there were problems with this location. First of all, citizens would have to go an extra step to find out exactly where it is located. I went last year after I called United Bank to get directions and was not comfortable driving to the location. Secondly, it is a gravel driveway which could have led to problems with someone attending who had a disability. We even had one vehicle get stuck in the mud down there last year because of the recent rain before that meeting.
Finally, the commissioners have chosen--twice in the recent past--to gather and discuss items without making any decisions. Both times, the public has raised questions about these meetings showing that there is a lack of trust between the public and the Commission. The relationship between the public and the Commissioners has been damaged over the past ten years and it takes time to build that relationship back up to what it should be. While the Commissioners cannot solve this problem with a magic wand, they can act in a manner that is above reproach. Being a public servant is a tough job that requires sacrifice and concessions. That means going the extra mile to be sure that citizens can see that the Commissioners are acting in a transparent manner so no one can accuse Commissioners of wrongdoing.
The Pike County Board of Appeals met on January 21, 2010 in the Commissioners meeting room. In attendance were Chairman John Hoover, and members Teresa Crow and Ron Snowden. Absent was member Bonnie Gardner. Representing the Department of Community Development were Department Head David Allen and Secretary Kim Morris. Also in attendance were approximately 15 interested citizens.
The meeting was called to order at 7 pm by Chairman John Hoover. The Pledge of Allegiance was followed by approval of the agenda which had been amended to include election of the 2010 Chair and Vice Chair of this Board.
John Hoover was re-elected Chairman for 2010 and Bonnie Gardner elected Vice Chair for the same term.
Following approval of the minutes from the December 17, 2009 meeting the only order of business was a revisiting of the application by American Towers, Inc requesting a special exception for a cell tower on property owned by John E Carter at the corner of Highway 19 and Gresham Rd. north of Zebulon.
American Towers was again represented by Kim Bucciero who had prepared additional information as requested by the board at the December 17, 2009 meeting. Ms. Bucciero had met with residents and conducted another balloon study which marks a visual reference to where this tower is to be sited and provided some additional study information in an effort to explain why this tower is necessary.
There was a lot of discussion about the height, location and necessity of this tower with several residents expressing concerns about the visual effect as well as the effect a cell tower would have on their property values.
After almost 1 ½ hours of discussion a motion was made by Ron Snowden to recommend this application be approved with various stipulations such as site and buffering requirements as well as a 2 year bond insuring that trees transplanted to buffer the site would remain alive after transplanting.
The motion was carried in a 2/1 vote with Chairman Hoover voting against the recommendation.
The meeting adjourned around 9pm
The Board of Tax Assessors met Tuesday night, January 19, 2010 in the Commissioners meeting room. In attendance were Chairman James Pickering, Vice Chair Carol Bass and members Glenn Rawlins and Gina Fry. Absent was member Charles Burden. Also attending were Chief Appraiser Jeannie Haddock, Secretary Melissa Connell, County Attorney Rob Morton and 12 or so interested citizens.
The meeting was called to order at 6pm and quickly moved on to approval of the Agenda as amended, approval of the January 5, 2010 minutes with correction(s).
Invited guest Mr. Jim Lester brought forward a request to have his property valued at the lowest rate possible in light of the fact the City of Zebulon has built a sewerage spray field on the land adjoining Mr. Lester’s. Apparently Mr. Lester, whose family is the only one affected by this spray field, has requested the City of Zebulon buy his land and they have refused. Mr. Lester has also approached two local realtors about selling this property and no one wants to handle it for him. All of this in light of Mr. Lester’s statement that no one ever advised them about the city’s intent to convert the land to a sewerage spray field may bring validity to the statement “government stinks”. This matter was continued pending the gathering of more information on how to proceed in a fair and just manner with this unique situation.
Old business continued with discussion about the valuation of cell towers and how to tax the property. After some discussion concerning value equaling income times the mil rate, and the cost of paying several thousand dollars to have an outside firm figure out how to tax these properties a request was made by Chairman Pickering for a motion to continue this item while the Chief Appraiser do more research to find out how this is being handled in other areas stating “there is no need to spend thousands of dollars unnecessarily”. This motion was made and carried and the item will be on the agenda in February.
There was continued discussion of taxing land per zoning vs. current use with the County Attorney having written an opinion for the Board of Tax Assessors that the variables to be taken into consideration cannot be handled in an across the board manner. Brief mention was made of a Moratorium of Application Fees to allow people who have commercially zoned property to revert it to AR. This item was continued to the February meeting.
Old business concluded with an update on Tax Assessors office Personnel Policy and job descriptions. This was also continued as the work is not complete at this time.
New Business included several CUVA applications both new and renewals as well as releases and discussion of at least one new state ruling which demands that a minimum of 10 acres of each CUVA parcel be dedicated to sustaining wildlife in it’s natural and undisturbed habitat. In addition there was discussion about state recommendations concerning land that is divided by a road not being allowed to co-join for tax reasons. (in the past the State of Georgia has allowed small parcels even in different counties to be combined for CUVA application. This reporter is not sure how this recommendation affects this law or whether this law has been changed but will follow up on this later)
This new 10 acre ruling will apparently disallow future applications for 10 acre tracts unless they are left in a natural and undeveloped state.
During the public comment portion of this meeting appreciation for the step taken in having a night meeting was made and board members responded with appreciation to citizens who attended in support of their effort to make their meetings accessible to the working public.
In addition there was public comment concerning the new 10 acre law as well as discussion about a recommendation made in 2006 by the State of Georgia to the Lamar County Board of Assessors concerning joining properties for tax reasons. Apparently the advisor to counties did not make the same recommendation to Lamar and Pike County concerning property divided by a road.
This meeting was adjourned around 8:45 pm
1.22.10 Addendum: Clarification has been made by Chief Appraiser Jeannie Haddock concerning statements she made during the meeting on the 19th relative to the 10 acres of land dedicated to wild life and left in an undisturbed state. Acreage left undisturbed and dedicated to wildlife is one of the acceptable CUVA uses and would allow qualification of a 10 acre tract as long as there were no improvements.
The October 2009 financial statement is available on Pike County Times. It has been submitted to the Pike County Government website for upload as well.
Please note that the statement of revenues and expenditures of Pike County Government Funds for the month of October 31, 2009 will change when auditors send year end adjustments back to the county.
Click here to download a PDF of this financial statement.
This statement and the update for this statement will be uploaded to the Pike County Government website and can be accessed by clicking here.
ZEBULON - The regularly scheduled meeting of the Pike County Board of Tax Assessors was held in the Commissioners meeting room and called to order at 9:00am by Chairman Glen Rawlins. Also in attendance were members Gina Fry, Carol Bass, Charles Burden and James Pickering. Chief Assessor Jeannie Haddock, Secretary Melissa Connell and County Attorney Tom Morton were in attendance as was Community Development Director David Allen, Pike County’s new Clerk of the Commission, Teresa Watson and County Manager Steve Marro. There were approximately 10 interested citizens in attendance.
The agenda was amended in order to move personnel discussion to number 5 under new business and strike it from the Executive Session portion of the meeting.
Election of the 2010 Chairman was accomplished with James Pickering being nominated by Carol Bass and receiving unanimous approval. Charles Burden was nominated by Carol Bass for the Vice Chairman position and he deferred on the basis he would like more experience with the board before accepting that duty. Carol Bass was then nominated and received unanimous approval. Melissa Connell was again nominated and approved for the position of Secretary to the Board of Tax Assessors.
The meeting progressed with invited guest Margie Trammell (this columnist) who addressed the board concerning the proper application of Georgia State Law O.C.G.A. 48-5-306 a which states “corrections, changes or equalizations” have to be made by the Board of Tax Assessors. This information was addressed because of an apparent past decision by the Board of Assessors that allowed the Chief Assessor to have responsibility for these decisions. Additionally a previous board apparently had also instructed the Chief Assessor that she was allowed to handle appeals which again is a violation of state law.
It was asked that the current board put an immediate stop to these decisions being made by the Chief Assessor.
In addition it was brought to the boards’ attention that the loaning of a Pike County owned printer to another county without proper documentation and on a permanent basis was not something that should have happened. According to Chief Assessor Haddock, former board member Terry Ross had said it was ok to loan a printer to Lamar County. This was presented to the current board as an inappropriate and unacceptable action that should not be permitted in the future unless the entire board decides to approve such a decision and follows proper protocol.
County Attorney Tom Morton addressed the appropriate manner with which to handle loaning equipment to another county should the need arise in the future.
Next on the agenda was discussion of an action requested by Mr. Keith Cochran concerning the assessment of a small parcel being taxed commercial. Apparently there is some question about size of this lot and the ability to rezone it AR and there was brief mention of Mr. Cochran’s CUVA status as concerns the consolidation of this commercial parcel with land currently in CUVA. There is also concern because record of this small commercial lot cannot be found as a plated and recorded entity.
Other regular business was handled by the board and there was opportunity for citizens to comment and discuss concerns with the board. This was very refreshing and several people commented on the necessity to tax commercial property as commercial property no matter the current use.
One major concern voiced during the public comment segment referred to the Cochran property which apparently has been brought before the Board of Commissioners in reference to the newly defined and assessed Fire Tax. According to Mr. John Morrison, a current member of the Pike County Planning Commission, Mr. Cochran wanted his commercial status changed because he did not want to pay the commercial fire tax.
The general feeling of those speaking about this issue was that if you have commercially zoned property you should have to pay the commercial tax.
This meeting adjourned around 11am.
After several months of inactivity, the Pike County Board of Appeals met tonight in the Commissioners meeting room at 7 pm. Attending were Chairman John Hoover, members Teresa Crow, Bonnie Gardner and Ron Snowden. The Pike County Department of Community Development was represented by Department Head David Allen and Secretary Kim Morris. There were approximately 25 other people in attendance.
This meeting opened with the call to order, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and quickly progressed to the only business to be taken care of which was application for a special exception to allow American Towers to build a cell tower on the property cornering Highway 19 N and Gresham Rd.
American Towers, Inc was represented by Kim Bucciero who presented a well put together packet of information for consideration by board members. In addition David Allen had put together a well organized package that contained necessary information showing the application by American Towers had met the criteria required in Pike County for a cell tower to be located on property zoned Agricultural/Residential. Appreciation was expressed by board members for the quality of both packets of information.
Ms. Bucciero presented information on the proposed 195 ft tall tower which appears similar to a telephone pole and outlined options for various numbers of antennas. Consideration had been made for the visual impact this tower would have and an outline offered buffering which is required by the county. Questions from the board at this time centered on how the location was decided upon.
The floor was opened for the public hearing portion of this meeting and citizens first asked questions concerning the height of the tower sitting Pike County’s code of ordinances which required the developer of a cell tower to provide reasonable proof that more than one user will be using the tower if it is to be over 100 ft tall. At this time the only user will be AT&T. Other questions concerned the exact location of the tower and concern about ingress/egress for maintenance. While a few citizens supported the building of the tower provided all questions are answered and regulations are met there was opposition from local home owners who cited concern about property value, future development and aesthetics. One citizen questioned putting the antennas on the water tower and allowing Pike County to profit instead of AT&T. It was however pointed out that would interfere with citizens profit gained from the lease of the land for the tower to American Towers, Inc.
After much discussion and many other questions the Board was unable to come to a majority vote and after voting 2 splits with no hope of reaching a majority decision more discussion was concluded with this hearing being deferred until the January 21, 2010 meeting at which time Ms. Bucciero will return with the information requested by the board.
The Keep Pike Beautiful Authority held a Special Called Meeting on Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. There was a quorum of six present for the meeting. The meeting was posted and the representative for the legal organ of the county was present along with the Pike County Times.
Old business included scholarships and cashing in a Certificate of Deposit to pay for them. A CD was purchased in January of 2000 using fundraising and donations. This CD has accumulated interest since that time. This CD will be cashed in and used to fund two $500 scholarships for graduating seniors for the next five years.
The next topic of discussion was continued from the past meeting. Enabling legislation for the KPBA requires that the Executive Director be a member of the Board of the KPBA. According to the county, no applications have been received for this position. There are currently three positions available.
Chairman Edd Sanders asked if any of the present members wanted to take on this position and was advised that no one wanted this position at this time. Continued discussion from the past meeting on what to do with the $16,551. Motion to turn this money back to the county commissioners with a suggestion to help with furloughs at the Health Department to help Pike County citizens. The decision was unanimous in favor of this.
Chairman Sanders will prepare a letter to County Manager Steve Marro about the $16,551 being returned from the KPBA budget and also a letter to Past Executive Director Virginia Sanford to advise her of this change. Discussion about whether to maintain an office for KPBA. Members decided not to maintain an office since turning over the remainder of their budget to the county.
A motion was made to meet quarterly with the next meeting being held on March 8th at 6 p.m. Meeting ended at 4:58 p.m.
During the November 10, 2009 Commission meeting, the Pike County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to purchase two lots on Adams Street for a future Judicial Center.
The property is located between the cemetery and the school bus barn property and is a little less than five acres. The lots are owned by Charlie Dunn and Walker Chandler.
“On September 29, 2009, we authorized moving $20,000 out of the contingency account for this purpose,” said County Manager Stephen A. Marro. That money was moved into an escrow account where a $10,000 intent to purchase was paid to each seller on these pieces of property.
Pike County offered $90,000 for each parcel of land. Both land owners accepted the offers and the county will pay a total of $180,000 for both parcels of land.
“Both acceptances were done on appraisals done by Pike County on the value of the property,” said CM Marro.
CM Marro went on to say that Mr. Dunn has at least six months to find another place to live. He will continue to pay all of the utility costs and everything else to operate that house until the closing date of November 29, 2009.
There is an agreement with Mr. Chandler that, after the sale of the property, he will lease the building on his parcel from the county for one dollar per month and continue to lease it to his tenant until the county needs that building.
“We effectively own the property between the bus barn and the cemetery,” said CM Marro. “It is intended to become a Judicial Complex Facility.”
“One of the reasons why we chose that specific piece of property was because it keeps the Judicial Complex downtown,” said CM Marro. This was done so that people who go to the Judicial Complex can still spend local dollars on the square in Zebulon.
“We haven’t done any more on the engineering side for building facility, sewer or water,” advised CM Marro.
CM Marro said that the City of Zebulon is looking at doing some projects in that area that would include widening the road, installing sidewalks, and storm drainage. CM Marro said that he intends to talk with the City of Zebulon to ask about a joint project to get the two projects on the same page.
[Note from the Editor: This is pretty much old news now, but I did the interview and wrote the story and am putting it online anyway since this will be archived on the Board of Commissioner pages for years to come.]
This meeting was called to order at 9:00am by Chairman Glenn Rawlins. Attending were members Carol Bass, Jim Pickering and Charles Burden; Chief Assessor Jeannie Haddock and Secretary Melissa Connell.
Not in attendance was member Gina Fry.
Old business discussions concerned the Policy and Procedures Manual which is being updated. The Tax Board meeting schedule which is going to include a quarterly night meeting beginning in 2010 (it is noteworthy this action is being taken so that interested citizens who work during the day will be able to attend these meetings without taking time off from work) and a transfer of surplus salary funds to computer equipment funds.
Under new business notable action was taken concerning applications for Exempt Property by the Montgomery Lodge 31, the Open Range Church, and Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. All of those applications were approved with a unanimous vote.
Other discussions included amending the agenda due to a request by Carol Bass for several reports and questions about contracts involving the Tax Assessor’s office. Apparently Carol had been told by member Gina Fry that she was not supposed to ask for information prior to meetings. The proper process apparently was supposed to be what amounted to asking permission of the entire board to ask for and receive information from the Chief Assessor.
Chairman Rawlins asked Carol why she wanted to see ledger reports and copies of contracts and Carol’s explanation amounted to a statement of being informed so that she could make an intelligent decision based on all of the facts. After taking over an hour to discuss why a board member would want to ask for information regarding upcoming applications and requests, with other new board members Jim Pickering and Charles Burden agreeing that asking for information was a proper and necessary to becoming informed it was agreed that requests by a board member for information would be honored and the requested information would be included in member packets which can be picked up for review several days prior to meetings.
Apparently in the past there were no packets of information prepared in advance and members were given briefs, a recommendation on what to do and decisions were made on the spot concerning citizen concerns, complaints and various actions.
Also on the agenda was a time allotment for Executive Session which this board did not retire to. Member Carol Bass thought the following discussion should be made in public and everyone agreed with her. Under discussion was the annual evaluation of the Chief Assessor and concern was expressed as to who does this evaluation due to the fact that the Chief Assessor does not work for the County Manager and board members really have no way to know how the day to day activity is accomplished nor do they know that she even arrives at work on time. Jim Pickering stated he had not worked with her and could not logically do an evaluation at this time. Chief Assessor Jeannie Haddock stated that her position is filled by the Board of Tax Assessors and the Chief Assessor’s actions are governed solely by that board. Interestingly and hopefully jokingly the Chief Assessor remarked it would be ok with her if she did not get her annual raise and she actually requested she be fired by the Board of Assessors so that she could pick up dead chickens with her husband on their Lamar County chicken farm. This discussion ended with a request by the attending board members that Jeannie do a self evaluation and present it to them at the next meeting.
This meeting was adjourned around 10:35 am.
[Note from the Editor: I attended the City of Meansville Council meeting held on September 14, 2009. So much has gone on since then that I have not been able to complete my write up of the minutes, but the discussion about the Pike County Fire Department and the Meansville City Council’s decision on whether or not to join the County Fire Department is important even now.]
The meeting was called to order and City business concerning the prior meeting minutes and financials were taken care of first. Then citizen Margie Trammell was on the agenda to ask questions about the Pike County Fire District.
Margie presented the Council with a copy of the ISO map, a copy of the County Fire District Ordinance, and a copy of the letter from County Manager to the City of Meansville asking whether it was going to join the County Fire District for their benefit if they did not have this information already. [Note from the Editor: Margie advised me that she had spoken with Mayor Burden and Meansville Chief Scott Huckaby. She had been advised that she had been told that they did not know what Pike County was doing with the County Fire District and this is why she brought the documents to the meeting.]
Margie started out by saying that she understood that this had been voted on in a prior meeting. She said that she does not live in the City of Meansville and cannot vote for anyone on the City Council but stated that what they have voted on affects her and everyone who lives in the Meansville Fire District.
Her first question was how the City of Meansville was going to fund its Fire Department since the City has voted not to become a part of the County Fire District. “If the county doesn’t give you money, how are you going to be buy fuel and equipment for that Fire Department…?” she asked.
She was told by one member that they would do what they did before the county started giving them money. Margie then asked specifically where that money would come from because the City of Meansville does not tax its residents. Mayor Gayle Burden said that the City of Meansville gets Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), revenue from the City’s water department, business licenses, franchise tax from Georgia Power, an ISO check, and other resources as well as donations to the Fire Department.
Mayor Burden confirmed that the City of Meansville does not collect taxes at this time but may have to in the future. She said that the City might have to go up on its water as well. She said that the City of Meansville has always matched the money that the county has given to them to run the Meansville Fire Department. [[Note from the Editor: I have been told by more than one person that water fees cannot be used for the Fire Department.]
Margie stated that she did not want to make any enemies and was not trying to be antagonistic but stated that there were several hundred people that live in the Meansville Fire District and everyone is concerned. She made a point to say that she wasn’t coming to discuss her own property because her house is so far off of a paved road that it would be gone by the time that the trucks could get there, but that she came on behalf of the citizens in the Fire District and everyone that pays the fire tax.
Margie’s second question was what the City of Meansville could do with $5,000. “How far does that $5,000 go?” She was told that specifics on how much fuel that could buy and other answers would have to come from the Meansville Fire Chief.
Margie asked if each Council person had considered the benefit of being a part of a $500,000 budget rather than a $5,000 budget. She asked how that might benefit the citizens that you serve as well as to those who live outside of the City Limits of Meansville. To support this, she said that if there were seven stations, she said that there would be $71,000 per station if that $500,000 was broken down evenly and if there were eight, it would be $62,000. She stated that Meansville could do a lot more with $62,000 than with $5,000.
Margie then asked: What is the benefit to the citizens in the Meansville Fire District for not joining the Pike County Fire District?
Update 10.10.09: Mayor Burden said that she didn't think that the county had this ironed out yet. Margie replied that was why she brought a copy of the ordinance that will be amended as cities join with the county in the Fire District so they would know what was going on. However, it was confirmed that County Manager Marro had brought a copy of this ordinance at the June 8, 2009 Meansville City Council meeting that he attended at Mayor Burden's request. Mayor Burden then advised that the City Council discussed the County Fire District at the July 14, 2009 meeting and they took a vote at that time. Everyone voted against joining the County Fire District except one person who abstained from the vote.
Council Member Al Milby then said that he was the member who abstained and that he was concerned about how the City was going to make up that $5,000 that the county gives each year. Discussion from other members included the fact that there has only been one fire within the City Limits in the past nine years and that the City of Meansville was spending money to buy gas to fight fires outside of the City Limits. However, it was pointed out that the Meansville Fire Department has a mutual aid agreement with the county until December 31, 2009.
Mayor Burden then said that the City of Meansville has to maintain so many services in order to keep their city charter. She also said that someone told her that SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax--a one cent tax on everything that is sold in the county) paid for the new fire truck. Mayor Burden disagreed with that because that money was allotted to Meansville and they chose to purchase the fire truck.
Meansville Fire Station Chief Scott Huckaby came into the meeting to answer questions around this time.
Margie Trammell then asked a question about whether comments from this meeting meant that the new fire truck only stayed within the City Limits of Meansville. Mayor Burden answered by saying the truck doesn't stay inside of the City Limits but that it does belong to the City of Meansville. Margie then commented that the new fire truck was a good expenditure of taxpayer funds and that truck is something that can benefit all of the citizens of the Meansville Fire District.
Margie then brought the discussion back to how the City of Meansville was going to fund the Fire Department if it is not a part of the County Fire District. She asked how does it benefit the average citizens in the Meansville Fire District--not those living within the City Limits--to not be a part of the County Fire District since a majority of the citizens in the Meansville Fire District live outside of the City Limits.
This question was not answered because discussion then went to the 6/9 ISO rating that the county has been given by ISO--the company that evaluated the County Fire Department for insurance purposes. [Note from the Editor: This question wasn't answered in the meeting, but in the letter from Mayor Burden to County Manager Marro which is documented in the article "Meansville City Council Says No", Mayor Burden said: “We don’t see that there will be a general benefit to our community or the southeast corner of the county by consolidating the fire departments.” This attempted to answer a question with a negative but really does not state the benefits of not joining the County Fire District for Meansville Fire District citizens who live outside of the City Limits. I don't live in the Meansville Fire District, but I have friends and family who do. And I am in disagreement with Mayor Burden's statement because pictures from a recent fire on the We Are Pike County page show members from seven departments in the County Fire District working together at a fire instead of one independent department. I saw fire fighters working together and several tanker trucks leaving to bring water to that afternoon house fire. If my house was on fire, I would want all of the help that I could get!]
Margie Trammell asked if the Meansville Fire Department would send a letter to her insurance company stating that the Meansville Fire Department will respond to her home on a first call basis if there is a fire. There has been some question on this because she does not live within the city limits of Meansville. Meansville Fire Chief Scott Huckaby advised that he would do this. [Note from the Editor: Meansville Fire Chief Huckaby did sent this letter to Margie's insurance company on the same week of the meeting. There is a letter from Margie Trammell on the Letters to the Editor page.]
It was stated again at this point in the meeting that the City of Meansville Fire Department and Pike County have a mutual aid agreement until December 31, 2009. After that, it is up to the City Council. Meansville Chief Huckaby gave a report on calls that had been responded to and then left the meeting.
Council member Al Milby asked again about how the City of Meansville was going to make up the $5,000 that the county has been giving for Meansville's Fire Department. The answer given was that the City of Meansville might have to start charging taxes. He was told that they would cross that bridge when they got to it. [Note from the Editor: Councilman Milby was cut off rather abruptly when he continued to ask this very important question. It seemed to me like the City Council as a whole had made up its mind and doesn't want to hear about any other options. If this is the case, citizens living outside of the Meansville City Limits and those in that southern tip of the county are going to be the ones who suffer the consequences. However, there may be some benefits to those citizens for the Meansville Fire Department staying independent that I haven't heard or thought of. I would be happy to upload a rebuttal in full onto the Letters to the Editor page from citizens who disagree and write an article with a reference to the entire letter if a rebuttal is given by the City of Meansville or other Meansville entity on this topic.]
City Clerk Jerome Finley was sworn in by attorney Tom Morton. An Executive Session was held on personnel matters.
It was decided that public notices will be placed on an enclosed bulletin board so notices are current for the citizens. The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.
The Pike County Fire Ordinance was passed by the Board of Commissioners on June 10, 2009. Section 103 of the Fire District Ordinance stated what services are provided: “Within the Pike County Fire District, the County shall provide fire prevention, EMA, EMS, Fire Fighting Services and Fire Fighting Operations as it may from time to time determine, including but not limited to the provision of such services by contract or in cooperation with any municipalities within the County or with any other fire protection entity.”
All of the city fire departments except for the City of Meansville have become part of the Pike County Fire District. Intergovernmental agreements have been signed and the bills have been sent out for the funding needed to operate this department.
Attempts have been made by County Officials to bring pertinent information and answer questions for all of the cities. On June 8, 2009, Pike County Manager Steve Marro attended a City of Meansville Council meeting to bring this matter to their attention and answer any questions that Council members had.
Pike County Fire Chief Danny Henderson advised that he had spoken to Meansville Mayor Gayle Burden about a month after County Manager Marro had attended the City Council Meeting. At that time, Chief Henderson offered to meet with the Meansville City Council to bring the facts about the County Fire District to them as well as answer any questions that they might have. This offer was declined. Chief Henderson advised that he has spoken with Meansville Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Ron Snowden many times but that attempts to reach Meansville Fire Chief Scott Huckaby have been unsuccessful.
Pike County Commissioners have asked many times whether the City of Meansville would join the County Fire District. Questions continued as the rest of the cities signed intergovernmental agreements that allowed the fire fee to go out with regular tax bills earlier this month.
When a question arose about mutual aid in the August 25, 2009 Board of Commissioners Meeting, Commissioners asked the County Manager to request specific, written response on the “actual intent of the city’s fire department as it pertains to the existing mutal aid agreement; especially the ‘automatic aid’ portion.”
County Manager Marro did this in a letter dated August 27, 2009. He went on to say that a prompt response would be helpful to the County Commission as it is on the verge of finalizing the Pike County Fire District and agreements pertaining to this and that the Pike County Fire Chief needs to know of these intentions as well since the mutual aid agreement with the City of Meansville is nearing renewal.
There was no notification from the City of Meansville on whether it would choose to join the County Fire Department or its intent with the mutual aid agreement with the county until a letter arrived at the Commission Office and was stamped as received on September 22, 2009. This letter was a response from Mayor Gayle Burden to a letter written on August 27, 2009 by County Manager Stephen A. Marro on the behalf of the Board of Commissioners.
The September 16, 2009 response from Mayor Burden was addressed to Chairman Doug Mangham and County Manager Marro though the letter itself was written to Chairman Mangham. Mayor Burden began the letter by saying that she was “sorry that rumors have caused Mr. Marro so much concern”. She then chastised County Manager Marro for not calling her or one of the Council members to answer questions about the fire department even though he had attended the June 8, 2009 Meansville City Council meeting.
Mayor Burden continued her letter by saying that the City of Meansville also has concerns about the consolidation of the fire departments. “We don’t see that there will be a general benefit to our community or the southeast corner of the county by consolidating the fire departments,” she said.
Mayor Burden praised the City of Meansville Volunteer Fire Department as being “dedicated and professional” and stated that it operates on a budget of $5,000 from the City of Meansville and $5,000 from the county. She said that the City of Meansville will continue to depend on its volunteers and stated that “a county of our size can not afford to have a full time paid fire department.”
County Fire Chief Danny Henderson told the Pike County Times today that a paid, county fire department “was not necessary, not a desire, and not a goal” of the Pike County Fire Department. He advised that the Pike County Fire Department was working toward a more effective, more efficient, and more professional fire department and that pay status has nothing to do with any of these things.
Mayor Burden then commented about higher taxes and reduced services and stated, “… it is our judgment that the county will not be able to provide the level of service that is currently received from the City of Meansville Volunteer Fire Department under county control” and that “It would be in the best interest of Pike County to continue to fund the Meansville Volunteer Fire Department as it is.”
The cost would be $5,000 per year for the county to fund this independent department and that the Meansville Volunteer Fire Department will continue to serve the entire county as needed as it always has. This includes operating under “any and all mutual aid agreements” and that the City of Meansville will consider any mutual aid agreements that are proposed to the City of Meansville.
Citizen Margie Trammell lives in the Meansville Fire District and attended the September 14, 2009 Meansville City Council to ask some of the same questions that were posed in the County Manager’s letter. Mrs. Trammell asked how the Meansville Fire Department would be funded funded as far as fuel and equipment and was advised the same $5,000 from the county and $5,000 from the City as Mayor Burden’s letter states. She also asked if he would provide a letter to her insurance company stating that the Meansville City Fire Department would respond on a first call basis even though she does not live within the city limits of Meansville.
Meansville Fire Chief Scott Huckaby advised during that meeting that the Meansville City Fire Department had responded to calls in the past and would continue to respond to mutual aid calls with the county. Meansville Fire Chief Huckaby said that he would provide a letter to her insurance company stating that the Meansville City Fire Department would respond on a first call basis even though she does not live within the city limits of Meansville. He has since given this letter to Mrs. Trammell’s insurance company.
During the Meansville meeting, Mrs. Trammell repeatedly asked how it would benefit the citizens in the Meansville Fire District to not be a part of the County Fire District. This question was not answered. Mrs. Trammell also asked, “Would it not be of more benefit to the Meansville Fire Department to be a part of the $500,000 budget than a $5,000 budget?” That question remains unanswered.
[Note from the Editor: I have moved this article up to be with my write up from the September 14th meeting. Councilman Al Milby asked more than once where the money was going to come from to replace that $5,000 that the county had paid in the past.]
The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has given Pike County a Public Protection Classification rating of 6/9. Yesterday Chief Danny Henderson of Pike County Emergency Services (PCES) met with ISO officials and received their inspection report. Ratings in the report likely will become effective January 1, 2010.
If improvements resulting in a lower rating are made before January 1, 2010 they would be incorporated and become effective then. This would translate into further savings for taxpayers. However, Pike County has one year from the date of the rating’s issuance to deal with problem areas. After those issues are addressed the county’s rating can be reconsidered by ISO.
“There are definitely some areas where we can make improvements,” said Chief Henderson. “Some have already been dealt with following the initial inspection. We missed a Class 5 by only a few points. We will be working diligently to lower the rating before January 1st.”
The lower the Public Protection Classification rating, the greater the savings passed onto homeowners through lower insurance charges. Split ratings such as ours are very common and are dependent upon a multitude of factors. Properties within five miles of a PCES station are eligible for the “6” classification, while those in outlying areas beyond that distance will be rated at the “9” score. For homeowners in many areas this should translate into significantly lower homeowners’ insurance rates. In fact one homeowner has already taken advantage of the new 6/9 rating, receiving a 40% discount on homeowners insurance.
In November of last year ISO representatives inspected Pike County Emergency Services. Local officials have been looking forward to the report’s completion for some time.
“Now that the consolidating of departments is final,” said newly appointed Deputy Chief Randy Snyder, “we now for the first time have the ability to combine resources to accomplish not only the lowering of ISO scores in both the cities and county, but the ability to better serve the citizens as a whole.”
The Library Board met on February 5, 2009 at the J. Joel Edwards Library. [Note from the Editor: I have tried to attend at least one of all of the county boards and authorities meetings over the past two years. This was my first Library Board meeting. If you attend any of these meetings on a regular basis and would like to send a Guest Column on the proceedings of those meetings that are not on the website, please email me using the editor link at the top of the page.]
Here is a rundown of a few things that have been going on at the library. Two local writers donated their books to the library. Dwain Penn donated a copy of "Christmas Letters from the 20th Century" and Ann W. Yearwood donated a signed copy of "Redbird Farm". The Homeschool Program had a visitor when they met last time. Most of the kids read to the 140 pound therapy dog. It was stated that homebound students appreciate the library's services. (Mary Alice does a great job with the kids!) The Library Board had to meet in the Georgia Room since this was a day when tax help is offered to Pike citizens at the library. Pat said that the line started before the library opened this morning and they cut it off at 12:30 p.m. with the tax representatives working from 1-4 p.m. and later than that today. She said that tax help representatives will be at the library every Thursday until April 9th. And there was one day where it rained a lot and a blockage was a problem with the septic system. It was taken care of though five hours without bathrooms is not something that they want to do again.
The Library was mentioned in the past Board of Commissioners meeting because someone from the Historical Society had spoken to a commissioner and said that they were not going to be allowed to meet after library hours anymore for meetings in order to cut back on heating and cooling costs. The Library Board had received a letter from the County Manager Steve Marro who had been instructed by the commissioners to contact the Library Board and voice the commissioners' displeasure with this. Pat said that there had been a misunderstanding and gave an explanation of what had taken place. The Library Board as a whole basically said that if the commissioners say that they want the meeting room to be available then it will be available. Costs will be addressed at a later point if it they run overbudget. Those who want to reserve this meeting room must call the library and reserve specific dates for the room even if they have been meeting over certain times during the past year. If the meeting has been cancelled, the person in charge should call the library and notify them of this so the heating and cooling doesn't have to be turned on.
The Flint River Regional Library System has a new program for audio books. This includes Macs too. Browse at www.doc.frrls.net to check out and download popular audiobooks from the Georgia Download Destination website which is a virtual branch of the library that includes many of the same titles as the library. (See article above this for more information.)
There was discussion about improvements that need to be made at the library including the need for handicap-accessible doors. There is hope that Impact Fee money set aside for the library can be used for this. Changes will be made to the plants on the islands in front of the library when the weather is warmer. Volunteers and maybe a Boy Scout (or Girl Scout)troop could help with this. Cheryl Fulghum is the new Treasurer for the Library Board. She was elected to the position by those in attendance.
There was much discussion about Bylaws and the Constitution for the Library. There has been discussion in the past about whether to stay with just one library or go to a library system with the J. Joel Edwards Library in Zebulon being the main library with the possibility of a hub or satellite branch in Williamson where the old United Bank building was moved onto a piece of City of Williamson land last year. It has been established that the Board of Commissioners will have to approve any changes to the Bylaws and Constitution of the library. There was a great deal of discussion on whether to change to the Pike County Library System or remain as the Pike County Library. Members decided to come to an agreement and bring it before the Board of Commissioners. The first vote that was taken ended up with three members for it and three members against it with one member abstaining since she will not be on the board very much longer. After more discussion--some of it heated--another vote was taken. The final vote came out 4-2 in favor of going with the Pike County Library System. The Bylaws and Constitution will reflect this change when presented to the Board of Commissioners. On a side note, donations made toward the Williamson library building are tax deductible as they are going though the Pike Foundation. Discussion was tabled on whether to go to a 501(c)(3) for the library itself until later in the meeting.
New Business: The contract from the Board of Commissioners to the Library Board was reviewed and discussed. This contract is one that is being presented to all of the boards and authorities in the county and it addresses required yearly audits and other matters of importance. Authorization was given to the Chair of the Library Board to sign and return this contract to the County Manager.
Keith McClelland is attending grant writing classes and plans to use this new skill to get grants for the library. He has obtained a list of potential sources from this class that will be helpful. Discussion was held during the meeting about whether the library should become a 501(c)(3) so that donations could be tax deductible. This is a long-term solution for helping the library gain donations that will be on hold until the commissioners give approval about the Constitution and Bylaws of the Pike County Library System. Employee benefits and hours were discussed as well. The need for a written policy from the county was stated so that this can be properly addressed. The Library Board will begin working on the budget as soon as possible in order to meet upcoming deadlines for the short budget year that will be the transition for moving to a new year beginning and ending for the entire county.
The meeting began at 4:00 p.m. and ended about 5:45 p.m.
60 to 70 people came out to the High School Cafeteria today to show their support for animal control in Pike County. Don Bailey organized this meeting for the public after attending all of the city council meetings as well as coming to at least 3 county commission meetings to present information to officials in our county.
Don wore a t-shirt in memory of his neighbor, Dolores Smith. Dolores Smith was attacked by a pack of dogs three days in a row on her own property in January. She died from her injuries. Don says that this dog attack on his friend and neighbor is one of the reasons for his efforts to get some sort of animal control in Pike County.
"We need to protect our community," he said. The goal is public safety for Pike County and coordinating with county, state and federal levels to make the most of our local, state and federal resources. "We cannot control every situation, but we are obligated to make the situation safer," said Don. And the citizens are already paying for animal control every time the Sheriff's Office has to handle a call related to animal control--from dog bites to horses and cows in the road. The original response and any follow up on a call plus the time to do the paperwork adds up.
Commissioners Roosevelt Willis and Parrish Swift were in attendance. Their presence was welcomed and applauded by those in attendance.
Smart Web is the Director of the Upson County Animal Shelter. He has been in animal control for about 10 years. Smart said that they get calls from Pike County citizens on a regular basis, but Upson County cannot take Pike animals. Smart cautioned citizens about just shooting a biting animal. "Animals need to be quarantined for a minimum of 10 days to ensure that there is no rabies or other disease," he said. There is no place in Pike County to quarantine a biting animal.
He said that Pike County needs to start out with an ordinance. A residential leash law with fines to enforce it. Then Pike County could do fund raising and start out with a metal building with simple cages. Upson is putting in a metal slab building for an extension of their animal shelter. Upson has a secretary and 3 animal control officers.
Some of the potential costs include: average animal control officer $9.61 an hour/@ $22,000 a year, average dog cage $175, catch cage can cost as low as $39, a second hand truck from Americus can run from $2,500 to $10,000 or so (these are trucks from Georgia Power, etc. that have been retired). Some of the potential payback to the county would include fines through Magistrate Court for irresponsible pet owners and adoption fees.
Smart said that Upson County will be holding a Rabies Clinic in October. $6 for a rabies shot. More details as they become available.
Herb Bartlett, Director of the Meriwether County Animal Shelter and Code Enforcement, spoke about the facility and how citizens worked to get their state of the art facility. Two of the women who worked toward animal control in Meriwether County and are working in the Shelter also attended the meeting. Herb has been in animal control since January but he said that you get educated quick in this business. Meriwether County got a call to come to Pike County earlier this year for a case that he couldn't talk much about because it is still pending. [Note from the Editor: I can tell readers that it was the Prather animal abuse case that will soon be going to trial.] Herb said that this is how he "got his feet wet" in animal control.
Meriwether County citizens put in a lot of hard work to get their animal shelter. A group of citizens got together in 2003 with the idea for animal control and a shelter. Their Board of Commissioners had to be shown that they were willing towards a shelter. A small group of citizens did fundraisers such as bake sales, yard sales, and silent auctions to raise their goal of $225,000 for animal control. With an anonymous donation of $100,000 was made to the animal shelter, the total came to $325,000. Then in-kind donations were made through work on the animal control facility. "Long story short: Meriwether County has s $650,000 facility at a cost to taxpayers of only $140,000," said Herb.
Herb also said that their animal control ordinance has been praised by the State Department of Agriculture and other entities as one of the best in the state. He gave a copy of this ordinance to Don. Herb said "Animal control is a tough job--probably the toughest job in the county, but we do it for the love of animals."
The office manager from the Meriwether County Animal Shelter spoke to citizens as well. She advised that they have one office manager and 2 animal control and code enforcement. She said that Meriwether County cannot take our animals but that they can help in other ways. "Animal control is something that Pike County has to take care of on its own," she said, "but dealing with animal control with a 45 is not the answer."
Citizens were encouraged to "band together and stay tight." Meriwether County's fundraising committee began with 65 members and dwindled to about 15 faithful people. "We worked hard for what we have and we're very proud of ... our state of the art facility." Encouraged Pike County citizens to apply for a 501(c)3 so all donations will be tax deductible and the group can apply for grants. Citizens were encouraged to prove to the Board of Commissioners what can be done because the BOC needs to be on board.
Sandy said that Meriwether County uses 1 state inmate and 2 county inmates in the Shelter. She said that they have a 65% adoption rate and those that cannot be adopted are euthanized humanely.
Joyce Farmer from the Barnesville/Lamar County Humane Society spoke about the benefits of spaying and neutering pets. This Humane Society is also a 501(c)3 that exists on donations and fundraisers. Spay and neuter is the main focus of this group. Joyce said that with the help of S.N.A.C.S. Inc. (Spay Neuter Animal Clinic and Shelter Inc.) over 150 animals have been spayed and neutered this year and over 200 last year. [Note from the Editor: Read more about S.N.A.C.S. Inc. on the Past Stories page dated 6.16.07. Their web link is on the Links page. Don Bailey is hoping to get Dr. Giles to do a clinic here in Pike County.]
Joyce said that they have kittens in Lamar County. $25 for two kittens that are fixed. Their number is 770-358-3330.
Pat Peurifoy from the Dolly Goodpuppy Society, Inc. spoke about the long-term benefits of public education on animals and community outreach with an emphasis on spaying and neutering pets. The Dolly Goodpuppy Society educates children and adults about how to approach animals that do not belong to them, show how to prevent some pet issues, and help to understand the problem of pet overpopulation.
"Acquiring a pet should be a thoughtful decision," she said. Pat also stated that most strays start out as people's pets. "Unwanted animals is a community problem." The Dolly Goodpuppy Society is working in the schools to design good characer traits for more responsible pet owners in Lamar County through a newsletter about animals with different editions based on grade level.
Sandra Barbour is a Pike County citizen with multiple-sclerosis whose service dog was attacked in her yard by a neighboring pit bull. She is working toward a law protecting service dogs. Sampson is an Akita that she has had since 2002. It took two years of Sampson's life and a fee of $5,000 to get him trained to help Sandra.
Sampson does cool stuff that the average dog wouldn't know how to do like pulling Sandra in a wheelchair, or pushing her medic alert button if she is unconscious. "He helps me live an independent life," Sandra said.
When he was attacked in February of 2007, there was no legislation to protect him as a service dog. Sampson is considered to be just another pet by the state of Georgia; whereas, a police dog is protected is considered an officer of the law. Sandra took the owner of the pitbull to Magistrate Court but was only awarded the cost of veterinary bills. There is no leash law in Pike County or a dangerous dog ordinance that would require owners of animals that have attacked other dogs to be restrained where they cannot attack again.
Five months later, Sampson cannot perform his duties. Sandra does not want to get rid of Sampson because he has always been there. She trained him with out of pocket money and does not have another $5,000 to train a working service dog to help her life independently in her own home. Sandra said that she is working with lawmakers to change the ordinary pet status of service dogs.
The Griffin/Spalding Humane Society was in attendance at the meeting but was not prepared to make a statement. The Meriwether Animal Control truck was outside. Pictures are on the We are Pike County page. A $5,000 cage system on the back of a used Ford F150 is not out of our range. [Note from the Editor: I think that cars and trucks for all county personnel performing non-lifethreatening duties should be used vehicles. At least look down at Americus before paying for a new vehicle that is going to depreciate as soon as they drive it off of the lot. Of course the Sheriff's Office is going to be an exception to this rule. Common sense should be applied here along with a respect toward taxpayer funds.]
Don did a great job of putting together this informational session and had a sign up sheet so citizens can band together to work toward a common goal of animal control. He advised that there will be another meeting in the next month or so.
The Dolly Goodpuppy Society will also be giving a Dogbite Prevention Seminar on October 6th. The Pike County Times.com will keep
citizens posted on this as well as the Upson Rabies Clinic and any of the surrounding S.N.A.C.S. Inc. clinics.
Citizen Don Bailey has spearheaded this effort to bring some sort of animal control to Pike County. He has attended city council meetings and county commission meetings to bring information to the governments in each city and our county commission in an effort to keep them apprised of his efforts for animal control and to garner their support.
Don has gathered statistics on our county concerning animals, statewide information through the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and nationwide information through the CDC. He has presented this information to the governments to show that there is a problem that can be solved with their participation. Click on the link below to read Don's editorial and link to his statistics.
Don cites the dog attack on his neighbor, Dolores Smith, and subsequent death from her injuries as one of the reasons for his efforts to get some sort of animal control in Pike County. "My goal is to inform Pike citizens on the issues we face when we lack animal control and come up with possible solutions to this ongoing problem," Don states in his Letter to the Editor.
The Animal Control meeting will be held on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 12 noon at the Pike County High School Cafeteria. Animal Control personnel from Meriwether and Upson Counties, the Barnesville/Lamar County Humane Society, Dolly Goodpuppy, and a guest speaker who has a service dog are scheduled to attend.
This is a way for citizens to find out information about animal control. It is also a way for citizens to voice their concerns about animal
O.C.G.A. § 4-8-5 deals with cruelty to dogs and the authorized killing of dogs. (a) No person shall perform a cruel act on any dog; nor shall any person harm, maim, or kill any dog, or attempt to do so, except that a person may:
(1) Defend his person or property, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by a dog; or
(2) Kill any dog causing injury or damage to any livestock or poultry.
(b) The method used for killing the dog shall be designed to be as humane as is possible under the circumstances. A person who humanely kills a dog under the circumstances indicated in subsection (a) of this Code section shall incur no liability for such death.
(c) This Code section shall not be construed to limit in any way the authority or duty of any law enforcement officer, dog or rabies control officer, humane society, or veterinarian.
(Note from the Editor: An Animal Shelter was considered on the current SPLOST and removed from the final list of items because citizens told the SPLOST Committee that they did not want to pay the extra $500,000 that would have to be added to the county budget every year. No new taxes for anything is what the Committee was told repeatedly.
Now the citizens of Pike County are faced with the question of whether we want to pay for an Animal Shelter or not. Send me an email with your thoughts and I will put it on my Letters to the Editor page. Let me know if you have another solution to our dog problem.)
Update 7.1.07: I have passed information along to the CM and BOC that there is a possibility of working with Upson County on our animal control so we would not have to open our own shelter in order to get rid of unwanted or dangerous animals. It would require a new hire of our own animal control officer with the purchase of a truck, catch sticks, and cages, but we might be able to work out an agreement to pay by the animal similar to the agreement that the City of Williamson and the Spalding County Animal Shelter.
I was against an animal shelter because of the costs associated with it in early 2006. After the death of Mrs. Delores Smith, I believe that we are morally obligated to find a solution to the problem of animal control.
Some on the Board of Commissioners may say that the Sheriff should be responsible for Animal Control in our county, but I say that the buck stops at the feet of the BOC. It is clear that we have a problem, we need to search for a solution.
If the cities want to join in on this effort, they will need to work with the BOC to fund a portion of the costs and sign an intergovernmental agreement defining this. The cities are most in need of this because of the close proximity of people and animals.
Animal control is a problem in the county, but the county should not fund the largest portion of animal control. There should be way for everyone to participate in this endeavor as the citizens work to build an animal shelter of our own.