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Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
Welcome to Pike County Times.com

This online news website is owned and operated by Becky Watts. The Editor can be reached at 770-468-7583 or at editor(at)PikeCountyTimes(dot)com. Pike County Times is a website for citizens to keep up with local events and stay informed about Pike County government. It began on November 13, 2006 as a watchdog on county government and has turned into an online newspaper.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023 – 6:30 p.m.
Town Hall Meeting at 6:15 p.m.
Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, Georgia

Click here to see the documents that have been uploaded with the agenda on the Pike County government page.

Commissioners James Jenkins, Jason Proctor, Tim Guy, and Tim Daniel were present along with Chairman Briar Johnson, County Clerk Angela Blount, County Manger (CM) Brandon Rogers, and County Attorney Rob Morton.

1. CALL TO ORDER .....Chairman J. Briar Johnson

2. INVOCATION ..... Karen Brentlinger

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE ..... Chairman J. Briar Johnson

4. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (1))

CM Rogers asked to allow Jeff Massey from McGriff Insurance Services, Truist Insurance Holdings to speak as invited guest about insurance changes in the brokerage. Motion to approve the amended agenda. Approved 5-0.

5. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(e) (2))

a. Minutes of the February 8, 2023, Regular Monthly Meeting.

b. Minutes of the February 8, 2023, Executive Session.

c. Minutes of the February 20, 2023, Special Called Meeting.

Motion to approve the minutes from all 3 meetings. Approved 5-0.

6. INVITED GUEST - Jeff Massey from McGriff Insurance Services, Truist Insurance Holdings

Jeff Massey. Benefits to our county with healthcare.Said that he and Brandon have been talking about this over the past couple years to help with a cost perspective for the county and employees. Cost and structure matter with a point of contact at the company. Possibly include cities if needed. "We would love an opportunity to work with the county." Said that the county will be the client and not the carrier. Rogers said that there was a time frame when some of the board when this company was working with the county. The Board can change brokers if you want at a later point after looking over the information. Jenkins said that Jackie worked with us before. Massey said that she works for him now.


a. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities, including a Revenue/Expenditure Statement for all departments and a summary check register. There are no Department Reports as they will be provided during the first Board meeting of March. Revenue/Expenditure Statement and Detail Check Register are included.

Motion to accept the monthly reports. Approved 5-0.

b. County Manager Report

Update on County finances for the following funds/accounts:
General Fund ..... $5,954,841.78
Fire Dept. Donations $7,721.24
Cash Reserve Account .....$467,556.91
Jail Fund ..... $40,362.75
E-911 Fund ..... $480,692.44
DATE Fund ..... $39,151.69
Juvenile Court Fund ..... $13,900.29
Residential Impact Fee ..... $1,004,981.23
Commercial Impact Fees ..... $169,742.25
C.A.I.P FUND ..... $77,685.75
General Obligation SPLOST 2022-2028 ..... $620,291.85
L.M.I.G. Grant (DOT) ..... $721,757.52

c. County Manager Comment

Deadline for budgets. Office has been very busy. Fred Piper, the new finance officer, is doing a good job with this. If you want to be a part of individual meetings when this starts, please let me know.

AC unit from 2008 has quit working in a fire station. About $5,000 or so. Due to the new policy, I need to see if we can get this approved to replace. It is budgeted for Building and Grounds. They will get the proper quotes and get this replaced. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

Received and finalized the leasing info from Signature Bank for the Caterpillar equipment. We ordered it in February of 2022 and are just now getting the last 2 pieces of equipment. Yancey backed out on the lease deal so we went with Signature Bank. There are no changes but is bringing this to the commissioners because it is a different company. Then we’ll do this again in 60 months. Motion to proceed. Approved 5-0. Now that everything is here, we have a motor grader that is going in the auction, and anything over 80% goes back to the county into the general fund.

Williamson Fire Department front window. Are we going to leave the window or brick it in? It’s such a small job that it’s been hard to find a mason. Ken said that Building and Grounds is going to attempt to do this. This is where we put the rooms in for the ambulance guys.

d. Commissioner Reports

Guy. Thanked Public Works Director Todd Goolsby and the Road Department for the work that they did on roads for his citizens a couple weeks ago.

e. County Attorney Report to Commissioners

County Attorney. Assisting the CM with Service Delivery Strategy and agreements for automatic aid as well as animal control. Title work, met with Tax Assessor and Tax Commissioner, etc.



a. Consider use of Courthouse Grounds from Meredith Maddox of Pike County Chamber of Commerce on Friday, March 3, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for Pirates Go Irish and on Friday, April 7, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for an Easter themed event.

CM said that there is a group of individuals in the downtown area who are trying to hold a downtown monthly event. One will have a closed street, and the other will not. He recommends approval on this. Johnson said that if they start setting up before 5, is that an issue? Rogers said that there hasn’t been an issue. Most of our employees are ready to leave so they won’t be hanging around. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

b. Consider use of Courthouse Grounds from Keith Ford of Christ Chapel Zebulon on Thursday, May 4, 2023, from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. for National Day of Prayer.

Rogers. This has been an all day event in the past. This is specific to a certain time period and expect a large crowd but does not see an issue with this. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

c. Consider use of Courthouse Grounds from Bryan Richardson of The Pike County American Legion Post 197 on Monday, May 29, 2023, from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for Pike County Memorial Day Observance Program.

Rogers. This is an annual event and has been a great event in the past. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

d. Approve/deny funds to purchase fence for Public Works and identify funding source.

This fence is in really bad shape. Had issue with individuals trying to sneak around the fence. Trespassers. Asked if we can look at replacing the 330 feet on the front for about $7,000 to $8,000. Then we can dig a temporary ditch on the other side to prevent traffic and possibly finish this up next year.

Still doing ok but does not want to go over the budget. Really wants to just do the front. Motion to do the front only and go with a bid from the two lowest bidders on the entire project (E4 and Fence Unlimited) and then get a new quote and go with the new price probably within $7,000 to $8,000. Will be cutting out 550 feet. Approved 5-0. We have some money set aside for this, but it is above $5,000 so it has to come before the commission anyway. We can make this happen from here on out. Impact Fees help with this? Rogers said that it does not qualify.

e. Authorize signatures and submission of the Service Delivery Strategy to the State.

Service Delivery Strategy between the cities and the county. Rogers thanked County Attorney Rob Morton for his help on this. It can be submitted in the morning. The BOC was given a copy of each section of this SDS as it was taken to the cities and approved. It will go online with the state and be available there and in the BOC Office. Motion to authorize the signature and get this sent to the state. Approved 5-0.

Chairman asked about SPLOST money. Rogers. Haven’t heard from Molena after multiple attempts, but there are other cities that need it. The county is not ready to move yet. Need to look into doing a small bond to get the cities what they need to start their projects and then a larger bond next years.

f. Consideration of request by STS Development Group for the acceptance of Right of Way Deed for Phase II of Whitehorse Subdivision.

Morton. Received a request from SDS to accept the right of way and deed transfer for Whitehorse phase 2. Issue is that policy states that we do not accept deed conveyances until after a 2 year bond period. Request is to ask to do this earlier. A bond and/or irrevocable letter of credit is required if there is a problem. If they have to do this, they ought to be able to transfer the deeds is their position. Chapter 90 and provisions under Chapter 155. He said that he thinks what the confusion is that there is a difference between transferring the ownership to the county. Then the construction comes in with a possibility that may damage the roads. The county doesn’t want ownership of the roads until the work is done. Preliminary was done and then the final plat was done later. The right of ways have been approved, but the transfer of a deed conveyance is not allowable according to our ordinances until after 2 years. We feel confident in the roads, but the ordinance specifically says to wait 2 years. There has been no construction on the road yet and policy says to wait 2 years. Accepting the dedication of the right of way allows the issuance of permits, but the transfer of ownership doesn’t happen at the same time. What did we do in phase 1? In phase 1, we followed our policy. Motion to allow a representative to speak.

Shannon Mullinax spoke. Why are you requesting this? If we build the roads to your standards and Todd (Goolsby, Director of Public Works) has inspected them, there is no reason for you to not accept ownership. If there is a bond in place, why would bond it ourselves. If we own it, and we go under, what does that do to the road? Why wouldn’t the county accept the deed? The developer has been bonding themselves in the past. Under maintenance in section b, it talks about acceptance of the roadways. It’s not really clear. Guy. Irish Hills subdivision. Everything was great, and then the developers came in and busted the road to pieces. Shannon. The 30 lots in phase 1 are completed and the streets are in great condition. Guy. It’s $63,000 for the bond. Where did we get the cost on the road? They gave it to us, but Todd checked it. What happens if there is $100,000 of damage in the next 6 months? Morton. Part of the intent behind the 2 years is to avoid an issue on this.

Motion to allow a citizen to speak? Cherry Thomas. No motion.

Johnson said that we are being told that we need to go by our policy. Can we look at this in the future and maybe go with a percentage of buildout rather than an amount of time in the future? If we go against our policy… Morton said that if you approve something against our policy, there is something that says that they will be responsible for up to 2 years with a 20% road provision. Is there a contract on this? He hasn’t seen one. He suggests a development contract. We will have to enforce our contract if something happens in the future, but it could be a problem in the future. Jenkins. They do quality work, but what happens if someone else comes in that does not do quality work? If we make this exception, what happens later with someone else?

Further discussion. To follow our policy or not follow our policy. Guy said that he thinks we need to go by our policy for now but need to look this over for later. Thinks that 24 months is not a long time to keep it like it is with a bond. Motion to deny the request and go by our policy unless we change in the future. 4-1 with Jenkins opposed. Morton says that accepting right of ways is different than accepting ownership. Consensus that commissioners would like more information on this.

[Note from the Editor: I was very happy to see our commissioners going by our ordinances and looking for more information to change this in the future if needed. Too many times, we have made a precedent by not following our own rules because what is good for this one may not be for that one, and that opens us up to possible litigation. Very good job, y'all!]

g. PUBLIC HEARING: To receive public input regarding SE -22-07 Lori Blount, Carin Clark and Sherri Smith owners and Lori Blount applicant request a special exception to allow a travel trailer to be used for temporary housing for a certified hardship for property located at 991 Short Cut Road, Molena, GA 30258 in Land Lots 159 & 160 of the 9th District, further identified as Parcel ID 035 020. The property consists of 38.04 +/- acres. Commission District 2, Commissioner Tim Guy.

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Gilbert. This is a temporary use for hardship according to our ordinance. All of the information has been provided for a medical hardship to take care of a family member. This is limited to one year and will have to come back in a year to continue this. Staff recommends approval. Planning and Zoning Board recommends approval with 2 conditions: renewed annually and temporary living quarters may not be used as a rental. No one spoke in the public hearing. Motion to go with the staff’s recommendation on this with conditions. Daniel said that he appreciates them doing this the right way and going through P&Z. Approved 4-0-1. [Note from the Editor: Jenkins stepped out right before that vote but reentered the meeting shortly thereafter.]

h. PUBLIC HEARING: To receive public input regarding SE-22-08 David and Heather Bell owners and applicant request a special exception to allow livestock on property located at 1271 Rose Hill Road, Meansville, GA 30256 in Land Lot 214 of the 8th District, further identified as Parcel ID 071 059E. The property consists of 10.01 +/- acres. Commission District 3, Commissioner Jason Proctor.

Gilbert said that this would allow livestock on the 10 acres. According to our ordinances, this is in a named subdivision so it is in a major subdivision, and this is considered an accessory use which has to be approved by the Commission. Asking to have miniature goats, cows, chickens, mini donkey and will have the appropriate pastureland. They meet the requirements. P&Z and staff recommends approval with no conditions. No one spoke in the public hearing. Motion to approve with no conditions. Approved 5-0.

10. PUBLIC COMMENT (limited to 5 minutes)

a. Ruth Chandler to address the Board regarding the Animal Shelter.

[Note from the Editor: This section is added verbatim from the article entitled, “Chandler Confronts Commissioners on Animal Shelter Donation; Calls $225,000 a Failed Donation” that tells the history of animal control in Pike County since 2007: www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSanimalshelter3.6.23.html.]

“Ruth Chandler spoke to commissioners during the Public Comment portion of Tuesday night’s meeting. She started out by addressing the delay in opening the animal shelter and said that in February of last year, she personally delivered an Animal Control Ordinance to the county attorney’s office and that neither she nor any of the Animal Shelter Board Members have heard any comments or alternative proposals to this document. She said that she assumed that all were working for the county’s best interests so she came to them to offer them three options on the $225,000 donation that built the Pike County Animal Shelter in 2021.

First, have the shelter open by the end of year by passing the “much reduced and streamlined” Animal Control ordinance that the Animal Shelter Board has written for the Board of Commissioners, consulting with the State Department of Agriculture to obtain the minimum standards to run the shelter, and allocating the monetary resources needed to make the animal shelter a legal shelter that can take in at least dogs found or surrendered by Pike County citizens where dogs can be adopted by Pike County citizens. “Yes, this is expensive,” she said. “However, when you accepted the check you committed to this.”

The second option available to them is “based on the belief that mistakes are made every day and that remedying them is an honorable course of action. Chandler said that the Board of Commissioners can return the exact amount of money that was given to them by the charitable trust, CLC Foundation by June of this year. “This means that the county has received an interest free loan for over 3 years to construct a building that houses animal control,” she said. “From that point on you can proceed at your pace in this matter.”

The third option was her preferred option in which she asked the Board of Commissioners to give the refunded amount to Coco’s Cupboard which is a multi-county charity run by Pike resident Suzanne Aaron and headquartered in Meriwether County. Last year, Coco’s Cupboard found homes for 589 cats and dogs, trained 63 dogs as service dogs for veterans, and donated 12,000 pounds of pet food to families in need as well as assisting with numerous spay and neuter operations. “This charity is doing the work I envisioned this money doing to “prevent cruelty to animals,” she said. This shift in donation would put the money toward its “proper purpose no caught in what appears, at best, to be an unproductive limbo.”

She then explained her family’s charitable trust with Walker Chandler sitting behind her in the audience showing his support. She said that it is not “like those trusts you hear and read about where celebrities and politicians collect millions of dollars and spend a huge amount of it on themselves and their needs,” she said. “This trust has been perfectly run since it’s (sic) inception according to IRS guidelines and the money does not go to Ruth and Walker.” She said that they take their custodianship of this money very seriously and are “immensely proud of the idealism of the trust.”

She told commissioners that this donation to Pike County was a “failed donation” and was the only failed donation in the history of the trust. Chandler said that she argued for this donation to Pike County for an animal shelter because she believed that there was “a great consensus in Pike County to have a shelter and that the county needed help to accomplish this goal.” She told commissioners that if they believed that this was not a good option for Pike County at this time, then they needed to return the money by June of this year and that there would be no hard feelings on her part though she stressed that she would prefer that they simply gave that donation to Coco’s Cupboard.

She closed out by saying, “I want to say, gentlemen, that I believe that it is time for honest men to state their intentions openly. It is my duty to demand that this money do what it was meant to do. Walker and I are guardians of this money. It must achieve it’s (sic) designated purpose.”

Click here to read Ruth Chandler’s letter in its entirety: http://www.pikecountytimes.com/images/RuthChandler2.28.23.jpg.

b. Steve Reeves to address the Board regarding the Pike County Planning and Development Department.

Steve Reeves said that we are fixing to change our Planning and Zoning Department. Here is remind, request, whatever… You need to name an interim director according to our ordinances by the next meeting before Jeremy Gilbert leaves. We need to find a way to keep someone here. We’ve had 4 others here that have left to go elsewhere. 18 directors and different contract workers. That’s not acceptable. Find somebody and pay them so they’ll stay.

11. EXECUTIVE SESSION: 7:50 p.m.

a. County Manager Brandon Rogers requests an Executive Session to discuss the possible acquisition of real property pursuant to O.C.G.A. 50-14-3 (b)(1).

b. County Manager Brandon Rogers requests Executive Session for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee or interviewing applicants for the position of the executive head of an agency, as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(b)(2), germane to personnel.

Back in Session. 8:44 p.m.

[Note from the Editor: Pike County Times has obtained open records which advised that Pike County Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Gilbert had been offered the position of Community Development Director in Spalding County. His written offer of employment was for $82,511 per year with 40 hours of annual leave upon his employment. He had signed the offer, walked through the drug screen, and given his notice to Pike County about his final day of employment. Gilbert turned down employment with Spalding County the day before the March 8, 2023 BOC meeting, and he is now staying in Pike County. Gilbert's current rate of pay as of the March 8, 2023 is still $63,719.98 per year. More on this when I write up the March 8, 2023 meeting. (ADDED FOR CLARITY: The commissioners voted in public session after the executive session to offer Gilbert the week of vacation prior to when he would have obtained it by his employment time here in Pike County as is required by our ordinances in the March 8, 2023 meeting.) ]

Motion to adjourn. 8:45 p.m.


Agenda subject to change.

[Note from the Editor: If you appreciate being able to read information from county meetings for free on Pike County Times, please make a donation to Pike County Times through the PayPal link at the bottom of the page or by check to Pike County Times at PO Box 843, Zebulon so I can justify the amount of time that I am spending away from family. It may not seem like much but sitting in a meeting and then typing it up takes a lot more time than you might imagine! Thanks for reading Pike County's only FREE newspaper.]