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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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Wednesday, March 8, 2023 – 9:00 a.m.
Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, Georgia
Town Hall Meeting at 8:45 a.m.

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

In attendance were all five commissioners, the county clerk, county manager, and county attorney.

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

2. INVOCATION………………………………………………………………………Carson Whiteside

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

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

CM added Executive Session. After Item e but before Item f. Germane to personnel. Approved 5-0.

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

Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

a. Minutes of the February 28, 2023, Regular Monthly Meeting.

b. Minutes of the February 28, 2023, Executive Session.

Motion to approve both. Approved 5-0.


a. Employee Recognition for service to Pike County.

• Jestin Burden – Sheriff’s Department

Jestin Burden. 5 years. School Resource Officer. Sheriff Thomas said that he came in on the ground floor. Worked the road and the jail. He usually has a smile on his face is more about helping people than arresting people, but he handles business.


a. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities, including a Revenue/Expenditure Statement for all departments and a summary check register.

b. County Manager Report
Update on County finances for the following funds/accounts:
General Fund ..... $5,770,581.39
Fire Dept. Donations ..... $7,721.24
Cash Reserve Account ..... $467,556.91
Jail Fund ..... $28,824.22
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

Talk about animal control and animal shelter. Thanked Tanya and Scott for their work on the Pike for Paws event this week. More than 100 applicants. Thank you for all your hard work. Hopefully do more of this in the future. McGriff Insurance Broker. Have you researched them and MSI and have any suggestions for him? Stay or change as far as brokers for insurance? Insurance renewal is coming up quickly. His suggestion is to change to McGriff Truist. Looking at the cities and possibly combining to maybe do some joint insurance plans for those who can’t offer insurance to their employees.

Daniel. Cost and quality matter. Jenkins agreed that what he remembers was good. Daniel pointed out that if we leave ACCG, you can’t go back for a year. CM Rogers said that being in the pool isn’t as big of a benefit as they say because the claim goes against the county rather than against the large pool. McGriff implemented policies and procedures with audits, etc. last go around with HR so they didn’t do just insurance. They had us with BCBS in the beginning which is what most of our employees were happy with. Many are not happy with what we have now. Rogers asked for commissioners’ approval through a motion on this rather than it look like he is making this decision. Johnson asked about the past when we swapped from McGriff. MSI does a lot of legwork with filing reports so we don’t have to. McGriff asks us to fill some of the sheets out ourselves, but the product at the end is worth the effort at the end. It wasn’t a board decision either. Brooke Gaddy was included in this discussion when McGriff met with him last go around. Rogers said that everyone in the office believes that this a good thing. Motion to swap brokers. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: I like this being done as a vote. It is much easier to track in the history later on. It also shows that the commissioners are aware of what is going on because a decision like this affects all of the employees.]

Meeting this week with Ray Grizzard. He asked about waiving a fee that would go to the Planning and Zoning Board on a variance for an overlay. North side of Zebulon. About 160 width. With 500 foot buffer on each side will give him a 60 foot strip of usuable property. He is concerned because he owned this property prior to the overlay, and this is a hardship. He asked for a waiver of the $300 fee and was advised that the BOC needed to vote on this. Rogers said that he is probably one of a few who owned this prior to the overlay. Jenkins. The overlay is to improve Pike County. Rogers. This will still apply. All he is asking for is the waiver of the fee. There is no decision about the buffers, etc. to be done today. Guy. Recommendation to waive the application fee. Motion dies for lack of a second. [Note from the Editor: It never hurts to ask, but I think that the commissioners are trying to make a good decision on this because precedent is set every time someone is allowed to go outside of BOC policy.]

We are making some good headway on our roads. The dry weather is helping. Thanked Todd Goolsby and the guys at Pike County Public Works for their hard work. The walking track at the Senior Center is being worked on. Our project for the shotgun team is behind because of the weather. Trying to hold off until it dries out enough to get the heavy equipment in there without bogging down.

Guy. Back to his failed motion. What happens next? Rogers. If he wants to go to Planning and Zoning, he has to pay the fee and go before them. There will be no other fees on top of the $300.

Bids are needed for Transfer Station, etc. In the paper and on the website. www.pikecoga.com

d. Commissioner Reports

Jenkins. Question about exemption from the school tax. It looked clear before and people voted for it, but there has been some confusion. Rogers. There have been a lot of questions about this. We still haven’t gotten a lot of clarity on this. Need more info from the Board of Education on this. This was not a Board of Commissioners decision because it was on their portion of the taxes and not on the BOC. Going to try to get some clarification on this. Jenkins. Citizens look to us on this. Graduated scales are not clear. [Note from the Editor: I've been getting phone calls too. Here is my article from last year: pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSseniors9.13.22.html]

UPDATE 7.5.23: If you are a Pike County Homeowner that is 70 years old or older and had the L4 (school) exemption in 2022, but did not apply for the new exemption that was passed last year by April 1st, please go by the Tax Assessor's office and apply for the new exemption. Read "BREAKING NEWS: L7 School Tax Exemption Deadline Extended for Many Age 70 and Older Who Received L4 School Exemption in 2022" at pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSexemption6.29.23.html.

Johnson. Several calls about a House Bill where the state would take over our zoning. It did not pass before Crossover Day so it died for this legislative year.

e. County Attorney Report to Commissioners

No report.



a. Consider use of Courthouse Grounds from Meredith Maddox of Pike County Chamber of Commerce on Friday, March 17, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for Pirates Go Irish.

This is a reschedule from inclement weather. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

b. Consider one appointment to the Pike County Water and Sewerage Authority to fill an unexpired five-year term, set to expire December 31, 2025. Applicant has met criteria.

Applicants are James “Jim” McNair, Keven Sasser, and James Nicholas Adams. Chairman Johnson made a request for Jim McNair. CM Rogers said that he thought McNair would be a better fit on Planning and Zoning and Nick Adams on Water and Sewer Authority because of Adams’s experience with sewer. Some items over the past few years that involved sewer like the schools and Pike Plaza.

Motion to approve Nick Adams. Discussion. Johnson. Nothing against Mr. Adams, but he is going to go with the Chairman of the Water and Sewer Authority's recommendation on this for McNair. Stated that he is on that board and wants to support the Chairman’s request on this so not personal when he votes in opposition. Approved 4-1 with Johnson opposed.

c. Consider one appointment to the Pike Zoning Board to fill an unexpired term, representing the At-Large District of Pike County, set to expire December 31, 2024. Applicant has met criteria.

Applicants are James ‘Jim’ McNair, Chad Proctor, and Cassandra Sharpe. [Note from the Editor: First and foremost, this is an At-Large District Seat which means that each of the other commissioners were allowed to make recommendations for their choice in each seat in the July 26, 2002 meeting, and the commissioners honored their fellow commissioner's recommendation with a 5-0 yes vote on each of the five appointments. (They didn't have to vote yes, but it was a matter of respect that each showed to their fellow commissioners.) CM Rogers did not participate in the other appointments because that was the responsibility of each commissioner to make their own nomination. However, Rogers not only spoke, but he made a recommendation that went directly against Chairman Johnson's recommendation for this Pike Zoning Board seat. I haven't seen this kind of disrespect directed at any of the other commissioners yet, but if it happens with one, it is bound to happen with others later.]

CM Rogers asked commissioners to put McNair on the Pike Zoning Board. Chairman Johnson said that he supports Cassandra and asked to postpone this vote because she is in a conference today and could not attend. Said that it is nothing against McNair, but with her policy and experience, he thinks she would be a better fit. Motion to postpone. 4-1 with Proctor opposed.

d. Consider one appointment to the Agribusiness Authority Board to fill an unexpired three-year term, set to expire December 31, 2024. Applicant has met criteria.

Motion to approve Reggie Blount. Approved 5-0.

e. Approve/deny issuance of alcohol license (Retail Sales – beer and/or wine) for Mark McKernan, Grey Wolf Inc d/b/a Hunters Corner, 12471 Highway 18, Williamson, GA. Applicant has met criteria.

Rogers needs to confirm that the business license was obtained. Reidsboro and Hwy 18. Motion to approve as long as he has a business license. Approved 5-0.

Motion to go into Executive Session Re: Personnel for Interim Planning and Zoning. 9:35 a.m.

Back in session. 9:49 a.m.

Rogers. Conferring with Jeremy Gilbert after he had been offered a job at another county. In order for him to stay, he asked for a second week of vacation. The county manager cannot do this; commissioners must do this. So he asked the Board to approve a second week of vacation for Gilbert. Motion to approve 5-0.

From § 36.15 SICK LEAVE, VACATION AND HOLIDAY COMPENSATION: (From Pike County's Ordinances)
“(B) Vacation pay.
(1) Each full-time employee of Pike County after completing the first 12 months of continuous employment shall accrue one week's paid vacation on the day which commences the thirteenth month of such continuous full-time employment. This date shall thereafter become the employee's anniversary date for determining vacation pay. In succeeding years, the employee shall accrue one week's vacation on the anniversary date in the same manner as in the first year, provided the employee has remained in continuous full-time employment. The one week's vacation pay shall be computed at one-half of normal bi-weekly pay based on the normal work schedule of the department in which the employee works.
(2) After a full-time employee has been continuously employed for three (3) full years, that employee shall be eligible for two (2) weeks of vacation pay on their employment anniversary date.
(3) After a full-time employee has been continuously employed for five (5) full years, that employee will be eligible for three (3) weeks of vacation pay on their employment anniversary date.
(4) After a full-time employee has been continuously employed for ten (10) full years, that employee will be eligible for four (4) weeks of vacation pay on their employment anniversary date…”

[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.

Gilbert began working in Pike County on June 11, 2021 with no vacation, insurance provided, and at a rate of $59,000 per year. On June 1, 2022, Gilbert received an 8% county wide raise which brought him up to $63,719.98 per year. Pike County Times requested "a copy of any and all documentation and emails discussing this job position, rate of pay, and Spalding County offer of employment between Gilbert and the county manager as well as the county manager and the commissioners" and was advised as follows: "No documentation per Jeremy Gilbert, County Manager and Commissioners" and that at this time, Gilbert's pay is still set at $63,719.98 per year."]

Becky Watts, Editor of Pike County Times, spoke at the March 28 County Commission meeting during Public Comment at the end of the meeting. The topic was Brandon Rogers’ performance as County Manager. Comments included issues with communication and leadership as well as questions about the recent introduction of Jeremy Gilbert as the Assistant County Manager for Pike County, which is not a job position listed in Pike County’s Code of Ordinances. This article continues with items of note and links to articles since Rogers has been hired to be the county manager in Pike County. It also contains verbatim what was said by Watts with comments that included issues with communication and leadership as well as questions about the recent introduction of Jeremy Gilbert as the Assistant County Manager for Pike County, which is not a job position listed in Pike County’s Code of Ordinances and has not been voted on by the Pike County Board of Commissioners.

This article can be read at pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSrogers3.29.23.html. The end of this article tells about the grievance against CM Brandon Rogers by Library Manager Rosemary Bunn for hostile work environment. Former county employee Kay Landers is also suing the county for sexual discrimination and retaliation with the demand for a jury trial. This article can be read at pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSlawsuit5.22.23.html.

On April 3, 2023, Pike County Times received the answer to an open records request that has been sent more than once. How much is Jeremy Gilbert being paid? On March 27, 2023, almost three weeks after the county commission meeting in which this was approved, CM Brandon Rogers filled out the Employee Wage Information Sheet for Jeremy Gilbert which says Gilbert is being paid $85,000 annually, he is salaried, and he is the Planning and Development Director. The paperwork also shows that this amount of pay was effective on March 13, 2023 which means that there is back pay involved.

So the proper paperwork for reinstatement has been completed at this time even though it was filled out about 3 weeks after Gilbert was hired. Click here to view a copy of this Employee Wage Sheet. Click here to read "BREAKING NEWS: Pike Planning and Zoning Director Making $85,000 Annually."

This is not good business practice that protects our employees or this county, but if the commissioners as a whole allow this to continue unchecked, CM Rogers is going to continue to do what he is doing even when he practices unsafe business practices for out county and breaks state law (the fireworks check) and is not written up for it. Note of Importance: It takes 3 commissioners to make a majority vote on anything including someone besides Chairman Briar Johnson to make a second for Commissioner Jenkins' proposed motions to keep CM Rogers accountable for his actions. ]

f. Appointment of an Interim Planning and Zoning Director.

No need for Item F. No need to appoint a zoning director because the current zoning director will be staying with us.

g. Discussion of Animal Shelter.

At the last meeting, Ruth Chandler gave 3 options on animal control. He said mentioned the timeline on animal control on Pike County Times. He wanted this on the agenda so they could give direction if needed. He and Commissioner Daniel had talked about doing a county-wide survey on this to find out what the entire county wants to do on this. Said that Mrs. Chandler gave us some time to come up with what we want to do on this. First deadline is June. If we open the shelter, it needs to be open by the end of the year. This is open for discussion.

Johnson. Asked if anyone was here for animal control? Two citizens are here for animal control; one person raised her hand. Guy said that he likes the recommendation of doing a study on this. Rogers has seen in the past where groups offered up help on this. He will try to get some information on this. Because this can be a heart-touching subject, it is going to be hard to get an unbiased opinion. Daniel said that he has not seen the shorter ordinance, wants to know how much this will cost, and wants to hear from the entire community. He needs more information. Rogers said that Perkins and he have been discussing this in regard to Meriwether and Upson. He asked for numbers on how much to adopt per dog with an option of how many dogs to have in the facility. Upson and Meriwether may have a lot more adoptions than we would. A big concern is keeping animals for months at a time. This leads him to believe that we might have a lot of animals that would be euthanized rather than adopting them out.

Timeframes, funding, space available. Johnson. A lot of this information was discussed 4 or 5 years ago. There is a lot to be discussed. Rogers. I’ll get the ordinances to you. I’ll get a better idea on how much it will cost to house an animal, adoption fees, and will work on putting a study together.

See our beautiful animal control facility and read the history of the animal shelter here: www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSanimalshelter3.6.23.html. This page also contains Ruth Chandler's confrontatin with commissioners calling the donation for the animal shelter "A Failed Donation."

Commissioners voted 3-2 in the May 10, 2023 meeting to dissolve the Animal Control Board and give the $225,000 donation for the Animal Shelter back to the Chandler Foundation. pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BOC5.10.23.html Section 8a contains the vote in the actual meeting. The Animal Shelter is also discussed in the workshop prior to the regular 9 a.m. meeting. Motion to give the money back out of ARPA funds, continue moving toward animal shelter/animal control and dissolve the Animal Control Board. Guy 2nd. 3-2 passed. Johnson, Guy, Proctor voted to give the money back. Jenkins and Daniel were opposed.

Public outcry was so bad on social media that Ruth Chandler called the media to give a response to the returned donation. Read "BREAKING NEWS: Ruth Chandler Responds to Community Reaction to the Return of $225,000 Donation" at pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSchandler5.11.23.html

h. Discussion of Tanyard Road Engineering.

Carol Southard spoke on the CDBG project. Last year, we submitted the application and it was not awarded. Contacted them for a stronger application. They want more pictures of more water. An engineer was chosen last year. With a change in engineers, we can’t make the application. She is in limbo. What do you want to do with a first Friday in June application deadline? Rogers. So after we failed on the project, we put Tanyard in with the SPLOST projects because there is a plan to get this done either way. Needed a full set of working plans for the engineer if they went to SPLOST. If awarded, it has to go to Hofstadter for the life of the project. Proctor. Does Hofstadter have to do all of the work on this? Said that Hofstadter could pay a fee and review Whitley’s plans. [Note from the Editor: I am not an engineer, but as a reporter, I could review someone else’s work without a problem. But if I am going to put my name on something, I have to do the work myself. I am sure that the same would go for something as important as engineering plans for a road.]

Southard said that in order to change engineers, we have to go through the procurement process which is 45 days, and we don’t have that. And Whitley Engineering has already started so they would have inside information so they could not bid on this project anyway. More questions about engineering on the project. This was changed in the past 4 years. What they are saying is if their funds are involved, it must be an open competitive bid for engineer. Rogers. We followed the state guidelines but not the CDBG guidelines. Will this qualify with Whitley? It has to go out with 10 and run on the Georgia Procurement Registry according to CDBG guidelines.

Rogers. Said that we still don’t have the right of way. Southard. That wasn’t an issue last year. They need more pictures and video of water in that area. More discussion. Mostly grant money would pay for Hofstadter to do the engineering on Tanyard Road. Tell Hofstadter to move forward. This way the county is covered either way. If we don’t get the grant, then we still have engineering plans to fix the road. Consensus to stay with Hofstadter for the grant.




Motion to adjourn. 10:12 a.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.]