Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. 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.

If you enjoy reading Pike County Times, consider buying an advertisement for your business or sending a donation to support the only free online newspaper in Pike County. Donations can be sent to: The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Thanks for supporting Pike County Times.com!

Department Head Retreat
Tuesday, April 5, 2022 – 8:00 a.m.
Pike County Chamber of Commerce, 416 Thomaston Street, Zebulon, Georgia

Commissioners Jason Proctor, Tim Daniel, Tim Guy, and James Jenkins were present along with Chairman Briar Johnson, County Clerk Angela Blount, and County Attorney Rob Morton were in attendence at this meeting along with Pike County Times Editor Becky Watts and Citizen Teri Totten. Blount and Morton left for parts of the meeting but were there for at least half of the meeting.

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

2. INVOCATION…………………………………………………………………..Silent Invocation

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

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

(10-15 minutes each) Start time 8:15 a.m.
• Marie Broder – District Attorney

DA Marie Broder advised that her office is dealing with a child abuse case. It has been indicted and will be heard in the fall. They will retry the bank case in the fall. She is bringing in people to try specialty cases and aAsking for another attorney to help with cases because she has now does everything. She said that sh warned commissioners about this last year, and it needs to happen now. This is needed to make sure that we have enough people to send a message that we don't tolerate crime here. We have a part-time investigator who helps with cases.

Anita is retiring this year. She will be missed. An admin from Fayette who lives here in Pike will be stepping into her shoes. Pike County has only 5% of the overall caseload. 48%-Spalding. Fayette-28%. Upson-21%. Increase in crime from Upson and Spalding is coming into Pike.

Their duties and responsibilities go from trying murder cases to expungement, restitution, and more. They need space in the courthouse. Grand Jury is interupted for people to go to Magistrate Court and needs to be addressed. Asked for additional security in their office because there have been some issues. Maybe even a ring camera to record incidents. It is open to the public, but some people have abused this. Asking for a full-time investigator to adequately prepare for trials. With the bank robber mistrial, the jurors needed more information. She thought that the case was well presented, but there were some issues. We have an investigator/victim advocate but need someone from here. Property crimes are increasing. Some gang crime here too. This is the state of the DA's office.

QUESTIONS? Discussion about security. Upson and Spalding County have a way for the receptionist to see the person before allowing them in. Fayette has been locked down for a long time. She hates to ask for this, but it is what it is. Please let her know if she is needed for anything.

Motion for an executive session. Briar Johnson said that he was just made aware of a situation that needs immediate attention.

County Manager requests Executive Session for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6) germane to personnel.

Motion to go into Executive Session at 8:25 a.m.

Back in session at 8:48 a.m. No votes were taken in the Executive Session.

[Note from the Editor: I do not know for certain, but this is a chance that the morning Executive Session and the afternoon Executive Session were tied together. I can't say for sure but little comments here and there County Attorney Rob Morton leaving this meeting to go to the Tax Assessor meeting and not returning to the budget discussion meeting until lunchtime lead me in this direction.]

Department Head Presentations
(10 minutes each) Start time 8:45 a.m.

• Todd Goolsby – Public Works

25 of 26 positions filled. Hopefully the open position will be filled soon.

LMIG update. Twin Oaks Place, McDaniel, Country Brown, Vega, Blanton Mill section though it will likely be with the SPLOST if the SPLOST passes. Doing ditching. Made a lot of cross drain replacements because of heavy rain damage. Maintenance and repairs in the road budget is currently overbudget due to growth and rain.

Peachstate Airport pipes for water are done. Reidsboro is ready for water. Been a lot more involved with the cities. We do the labor and equipment and they pay for the materials. Concord and Williamson especially.

QUESTIONS: Ward Road. They are asking if we can go into the intersection with our work. They will be doing the apron at the intersection. Dunbar will have the drop raised. Patching on Brazier. Tanyard needs some funding so it can be fixed up. Vulcan has given us a number for our materials. Everything is going up. Fuel surcharge too.

Thanks for keeping my employees last year with the raise. Briar: Thanks to helping with the Water Authority. Suggestion to Todd: Would like to see us work with Zebulon on County Line Road. We did ask them at the time, but they didn't have the money to do it then. It will have to done at some point.

• Bobby Wilkerson – Fire Department

Appointed back in June. Thanks to those who have worked with the FD and kept the trucks rolling. Public Works especially for working on their trucks. Morale and answering calls have been tremendous. Added 14 new firemen since he began as Chief and only lost 2. 10 of these 14 are certified, paid fire fighters. Expecting a few more. Needed gear and radios to give them, but that has worked itself out.

NEEDS: Part-time pay would be helpful. Instituting training and doing pre-fire plans for businesses. Asking for part-time positions in Zebulon so we can be manned. These individuals are professional. 2 positions. They can do everything. Thsee would be 12 hour, part-time positions.

Thank you for the support and donations from the community. Tactics have changed, and places don't burn the ground anymore. We have a great group of volunteers. He appreciates what they do. We need to keep moving forward. If a call is made to 911, he wants that truck to move. There is a 5 minute delay if someone comes from home to get a truck. We are paying for their expertise, and they will be working the equipment and the trucks while they are on call as part-time employees.

QUESTIONS: Would love to have 24/7, but this will be 12 hours now. Mon-Fri 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the first step toward that. Calls are being answered, but there is a chance that people will be working and/or a delay that we would like to avoid. This will guarantee that a truck will come from the fire department. These will be trained and crosstrained fire fighters. The commissioners praised him and the fire fighters and their work.

[Note from the Editor: An offhand comment was made in this meeting that showed me that my instincts were correct in the Special Called Called Meeting last year in which Chief O'Barr was fired and Chief Wilkerson was hired. I knew that a serious discussion had taken place before that emergency meeting was called, but I can only report what I am told or what I can find on paper. Click here to read it. In Tuesday's budget meeting, Chief Wilkerson said that CM Rogers had called him and asked if he would be interested in heading up the fire department, and he replied, "Give me the weekend to think about it." That special called meeting took place on a Tuesday afternoon with just two hours notice. When CM Rogers was asked repeatedly why this wasn't advertised and included in a regular meeting, I was told: “Because the decision was made today.” Apparently, Rogers did his homework exactly like I told him that he did. His going out on military leave for several weeks is not an emergency. However... even as I bring the fact that the county manager did not tell the truth when asked a direct question, I do not want it to reflect badly on Chief Wilkerson because I did not ask him this question, and he has done an excellent job of rallying the fire department to get out and fight fires in our county. Our volunteer department is top notch professional, and I look forward to seeing where we will go from here! Click here to read where our volunteers recently fought two fires at the same time in our county with no loss of homes though there were homes and a 150+ year old church very close to the fires.]

END 4.6.22

• Jeremy Gilbert – Planning and Development

486 new building permits issued this year. 447 last year. 629 total permits last year. On pace for 675 this year. Permit revenues are $277,654 this year compared $247,120. Impact fees are $354,260 compared to $325,178 last year. Inspections are sometimes scheduled 2 days out. Averaging 12-13 per day.

Working on an updated fee schedule. Updated in 2018 but no fees were changed. Comparing to other jurisdictions. We need to cover all of our costs. Citizens should not have to pay for individuals to build their houses. $50 application fee with 25 cents per square foot for heated 10 cents per square foot for unheated. In other places it is $200 to $400 and 25 or 35 cents per square foot depending on commercial or residential. Working to bring us in line with other counties to ensure that all costs are paid.

Comp Plan. First steering committee meeting has been held. This is the 5 year update for 20 year plan. Meeting every month. And public participation probably in May. Talk about needs and access for future land use. Has to be to the Department of Community Affairs by October 31, 2022. August or September for 30 day review. Looking at service delivery strategy too. This is tied to Qualified Local Government Status so we can get state grants.

Ordinance updates are being worked on. Proposed amendments will be coming. Consolidating BOA and Planning Commission to cut down on advertising, etc. to make it easier on citizens. He and the CM are working on this. New software purchased last year for online to allow citizens to apply online and allow credit card payments. Code Enforcement and Animal Control will be online as well. Jeremy and Brandon have access to everything. Hopefully this will be up in the next month or so. Thank you for investing in this so this can be online and easily accessible. Started in January. Everything is on the system from January to now.

QUESTIONS: Thank you to Jeremy for answering questions quickly of late. Inspectors working well? Yes. Jake and Jeff working well together. Jeff is doing certification. Everyone in the office working well together, and issues are being addressed immediately. Wiring is being addressed because we are going by what the ICC requires.

• David Neyhart – Registrar

Gone through redistricting since November. Looked at all of the addresses to ensure that in the right district. Finished around March 3. Currently in the 2022 election cycle. Federal race US Senate, 2 county races with SPLOST. May 24 election and May 2 runoff. Runoff likely on June 21. General election November 8 with possible runoff.

New voter registration system is being rolled out from the Secretary of State's office. This will make statistics and reports easier for specifics here in our county. Vacancy on the board. Karen Brentlinger resigned last month. Don't have enough space in the office. Otherwise, this is just a continuing process.

QUESTIONS: We still have Dominion machines. Yes. Will they send someone down here? We will have phone support but not paying for a person here now. We purchased another server so there is a backup server ready to go if it is needed. Zebulon precinct? Due to the renovation of the auditorium, it will be moved to the Pre-K building just for this year.

• Tanya Perkins – Animal Control

The numbers of citations and calls have increased. 2020 - 4 dangerous dog citations, 15 nuisance citations, 11 no proof of rabies vaccination citations, and 2 impounds. 8 tested for rabies in 2020 with a raccoon and a bat coming back positive.

2021 - 47 nuisance, 27 no proof rabies vaccination citations and for the City of Zebulon - 4 nuisance and 1 no rabies vaccination citation. 5 tested for rabies with one positive raccoon.

2022 so far - 1 dangerous dog, 4 nuisance dogs, and 1 cruelty to animals. 1 positive rabies on a raccoon.

Money so far. $4903.55 - 2020. $5,533.45 - 2021. $2,125.15 so far this year.

Warning letters. 2020 - 47. 2021 - 63. 2022 - 18 so far.

Scott Meyers is the part-time animal control officer. She would like to see him become a full-time employee.

Calls are increasing. Needs him to be full-time. Scott is very professional. Hiring Scott full-time is a move forward.

Talking about donations and cities paying for services for animal control to help with costs. City of Zebulon is the highest with citations for the county.

Budget. $63,897 - 2019-20. $75,743 with $86,700 added for the shelter - 2020-21. $96,333 for 2021-22. And $100,596 for 2022-2023. [Note from the Editor: My budget sheet has $107,633 requested and $99,296 recommended from the County Manager. And... the budget is going to change several times before final approval.]

Repeat offenders have to pay specific costs including fines.

QUESTIONS: How are people are about paying fines? People are paying fines. Dangerous dog fee is $250 plus court costs. Amazon driver was bitten. Hearing to determine whether the dog is dangerous or not. $50 yearly fee plus. Fine money goes back into general fund. Some funds go to animal control.

New facility? Using on a limited basis. We have not had an impounded dog yet. Dr. Kelly and Dr. Daniel Roberts donated some cat cages. $9,000 if bought new. We can't deal with cats yet.

Proctor said that someone called him today, and he passed along the complaint.

Thank you to Tanya for her work. The Animal Control Board is wanting to go full-fledged animal control, but we are looking to move forward without going full-fledged just yet. Making Scott full-time would help. We cannot have a large number of animals without the staff to take care of them. There are a number of people who want to volunteer and donate so there is a list to get on when this happens. People have donated food and toys. Treats are used in the field every day. Next step is looking for a suitable vehicle.

• Rosemary Bunn – Library

Said that there were some Covid issues last year, but the library is fully open now. The goal is to have a 21st century library. No longer just checking books in and out. Serve community and try to meet needs. Try to reach people where they are and give them what they need including reaching those who can't come to the library. Board is talking about ways to meet needs. All of the computers are now open and available. The Maker Space is going to open shortly. Her new employee began work today: Joan Berry.

Said that there has been some turnover on staff. She lost children's lead last year who had been with library system for 18 years. Said that the Assistant Manager got her degree, and we couldn't match pay that she was offered. And recently lost a member who had been there for a year who was having issue with policy, but said that the library is fully staffed now. Her staff is now strong. Her goal as a manager is to hire people who know what they are doing and allow them to do their jobs. Regular weekly programming in house as well as off-site programming. Head start, Seniors, adult DIY, and cooking with kids.

Flint River Library System got a grant from the state for a van. The van will be wrapped and fully loaded. It will be used for future events and contain tents, chairs, internet, etc. for offsite outreach for a pop up library.

Future goals (which can be viewed on the link at the bottom of this paragraph) include striving to meet library standards. The only place still deficient is FTE: scheduling about 200 hours a week. Said that we are at 155 hours a week now. We need more rooms for business meeting on Skype, study rooms, etc. where people can talk out loud. We mentioned last year to find a way to have outdoor meeting places. We need to increase the STEAM room (this is the maker space). Joan will increase traffic in this room. Also have robots that help with coding. As county increases, we need to keep space in mind. Summer Reading Program: Did this at Zebulon Park last year because of Covid. This helped the City of Zebulon and the Library too. Will do the Summer Reading Program there again this year.

Request: Phone system needs an upgrade. If the electricity goes out or internet, there are no phones. Rosemary does not have a way to keep phone messages updated. She asked for a way to upgrade for messages to be updated so it's professional and read in a timely manner. For the past couple of years, she has been told to work with what she had. Payroll has been cut the past couple of years. $10 an hour isn't retaining people in our library. New hires are coming in at $12 an hour. $127,000 last year. Recommendation for $125,000 this year. How will this work with employee increases? She is below budget in personnel because she was short-staffed last year. She requests that the commissioners look at this again so we can keep good employees. She invited commissioners to come by any time.

QUESTIONS: Chairman Briar Johnson thanked her and the Board for providing a long-term plan. Question on the van. It will be shared between 9 libraries. Is anyone going out by themselves? When doing a children's program, there are other people who volunteer. Same goes for going out into the community, she won't be alone. Policy is also that there are always 2 people there at the library because of liability.

Click here to read the documents that were provided to commissioners.

Ended 4.19.22

• Lavetrece Walker – Senior Center

• Greg Hobbs – Tax Assessors

• Ken Lulamiere – Building and Grounds

• Brooklyn Wassel – Cooperative Extension (County Agent)

Lunch Break – 11:30 a.m.
(Lunch will be provided to the Board of Commissioners)

(10-15 minutes each) Start time 12:30 p.m.

• Beth Camp – State House Representative District 131

Continued Department Head Presentations
(10 minutes each) Start time 12:45 p.m.

• Sonny Gwyn – Development Authority of Pike County

• Mark Camp – Agribusiness Authority

• Larry Moss - Parks and Recreation

• Scott Huckaby – Water & Sewerage Authority

Presentations by Constitutional/Elected Officers
(10 minutes each) Start time 2:00 p.m.

• Sheriff Jimmy Thomas – Sheriff’s Office, Jail, Inmate Care, E-911

• Pam Thompson – Superior Court Clerk

• Judge Ginny Blakeney – Probate Court

• Donna Chapman – Tax Commissioner

• Judge Marcia Callaway-Ingram – Magistrate Court

• Terrell Moody - Coroner

Start time 3:30 p.m.

• Rob Morton – County Attorney

Commissioner’s Comments
Start Time 4:00 p.m.

• District 1 - Commissioner Daniel

• District 2 – Commissioner Guy

• District 3 – Commissioner Proctor

• District 4 – Commissioner Jenkins

• At-Large Chairman – J. Briar Johnson

Final County Manager Comments

• Brandon Rogers


Agenda subject to revision – Times are approximate.

[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.]

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 – 4:30 p.m.
Pike County Chamber of Commerce
416 Thomaston Street, Zebulon, Georgia

ZEBULON - There was a Special Called Meeting for the purpose of an Executive Session tomorrow after the Department Head Retreat which begins at 8 a.m. The agenda is shown below:

1. CALL TO ORDER ............................................................................... Chairman Briar Johnson
2. SILENT INVOCATION……………………………………………….Chairman Briar Johnson
3. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (1))
3. EXECUTIVE SESSION a. County Manager requests Executive Session for discussion or deliberation on the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a county officer or employee as provided in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6) germane to personnel.

Commissioners were in there for about an hour with three members of the Tax Assessor's Board.

[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.]

Submitted 3.28.22