Pike County Times
The Pike County Times, PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. 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. 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's only free online newspaper!

Election Day Is Today Until 7 p.m. -- In Depth ESPLOST Info Is Included

ZEBULON - Early/advance voting has already begun here in Pike County and will continue through Friday, November 3, 2017 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Voter Registrar's Office located at 81 Jackson Street in Zebulon. It is beside the Sheriff's Office and marked with signs and banners.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bring a photo ID with you. Please note that the last day to early vote is Friday, November 3 and there will be NO early voting on the Monday before Election Day.

In order to vote in this election, you had to have been registered by October 10, 2017,

Click here to log onto My Voter Page offered through the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

E-SPLOST is a county-wide vote, and there is indepth information at the bottom of this updated page.

Here is information from each of the cities including the contested Mayoral race in Molena.

No Contested Races in Concord

CONCORD - Qualifying was recently held for the upcoming election. Those who qualified were John Strickland for Mayor (Incumbent), Tim Brown for Post 1 (Incumbent), and Larry Young for Post 2 which was previously held by Jacob Clay. Thank you for being willing to serve your city!

No Contested Races in Williamson

WILLIAMSON - Qualifying was recently held for the upcoming election. Those who qualified were Incumbents Melissa Kelsey for Post 2 and Donna "Bunny" Scoggins for Post 3. Neither have opposition and will go into office in January. Posts 1 and Post 5 remain open and will require a special election at some point to fill those seats. Thank you for being willing to serve your city!

One Contested Race in Molena November Election

MOLENA - Qualifying was recently held for the upcoming election. Those who qualified were Incumbent Damon Riggins for Post 2 and Elise Anthony for Post 1. Neither have opposition and will go into office in January. The Mayor race had two qualifiers: Incumbent Jennifer Riggins and Challenger George Ingram. The winner of this race will go into office in January. Thank you for being willing to serve your city!


Jennifer Riggins, Incumbent

I am Jennifer Riggins, Mayor of Molena.

I am humbly asking the citizens of Molena to allow me to continue to be your Mayor and vote for me this election day.

Being a proud citizen of Molena for some years now I have come to care tremendously for our community. This is what lead me to run for Mayor last year of which I eagerly would love to continue to serve. I have the flexibility to be available to our community on a regular daily basis.

This has been a learning experience for me as well. I have attended newly-elected official classes, Georgia Municipal Association meetings on revitalization and new development in communities. I have become apart of our Molena Civic Club and have begun attending Pike Co. Tourism meetings.

My goals are to keep Molena moving forward by continuing to create transparent city government and improve city infrastructure for a better future. I would also like to have our community recognized for the gem it is when people visit Pike Co. Please know that as a weak mayoral system my goals and our accomplishments will come from effective teamwork by our City Clerk, City Council and our Chief of Police.

It has truly been an honor to serve you and Lord-willing I am able to continue serving as your Mayor.

Jennifer Riggins
Mayor of Molena


George E. Ingram, Challenger

I am George E. Ingram, candidate for Mayor of Molena. Upon returning to my wife’s home town of Molena in 2003, I was asked by then Mayor Betty McCrary to serve on the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) committee. In that role I worked with other Pike County Citizens to prioritize SPLOST projects. For Molena, the SPLOST meant a new fire station. We saw that station built in 2012.

From the SPLOST committee, I was asked by then Mayor Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Baker to serve as a city council member. I served on the council for over a decade. In that role, I worked with other council members and various mayors to filter uranium from Molena water, maintain the Police Department, rebuild the damaged community pavilion, and on numerous occasions, search out water piping breaks. I am proud of the work we accomplished in Molena.

In my professional career, I applied my MBA to the commercial insurance industry. Starting as a claim representative handling small commercial losses, I was promoted to branch manager handling complicated million dollar claims involving property damage and business interruption. I also worked as Vice President of Underwriting for a large Multinational insurance carrier managing millions of dollars of commercial premium. Today I operate an insurance consulting company.

This year I was asked to run for Mayor by several Molena citizens. After careful consideration, I humbly offer to serve the citizens of Molena as mayor. I am asking for your vote and support.

George E. Ingram

E-SPLOST Is a County-Wide Vote

There is only one race that citizens from every precinct in the county can vote on in this election. That is for the Education-SPLOST (E-SPLOST) for the schools. This is a one cent tax that will be used to pay for certain projects in the Pike County School System.

I haven’t had the time to dig into the ESPLOST like I should have, but I asked some very pointed questions today and pointed out that I’ve heard comments from some who are angry about the school side of our county taxes going up. I live here and am a taxpayer too so this matters to me just like it does you.

First of all, I don’t have the time to attend both county commission meetings and school meetings too which is why this information has not been available long before now.

Here is an article from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute that gives some background on how state cuts directly impact our county school system: https://gbpi.org/2017/school-district-funding-squeeze-continues/ There are some suggestions in this article to fix things, but I don’t know the politics behind it and can’t say anything to that one way or another. I am digging for information quickly because people are asking for it.

If you would like to look at the State of Georgia’s Budget, here it is: https://opb.georgia.gov/sites/opb.georgia.gov/files/related_files/site_page/FY%202017%20Governor's%20Budget%20Report.pdf Go to the Department of Education for specifics.

ESPLOST Specifics

This ESPLOST is for $6 million or for 5 years--whichever comes first. New computers and software, heating and cooling systems, kitchen equipment, asphalt for roads and parking lots, auditorium renovations, and buses are on this ESLOST. More information can be found about this on the school’s website link which is at the bottom of this article as well as their Twitter page.

ESPLOST is a 1 cent sales tax on anything sold in our county that goes directly to specific needs on this education SPLOST ballot. It does not come from school taxes, but from anyone who buys anything here in Pike County from gas to Freshway to items at any of our stores and restaurants. This is separate from the county SPLOST that is funding work on our roads at this time.

Thoughts on ESPLOST

I was not able to contact all of our school board members in a very short time today as I was preparing this article, but I talked to several by Facebook and they agreed to let me print this information for my article on the ESPLOST.

Ryan Edge explained it to me like this: “I would just say that for the past 7 years, the board absorbed all the cuts through the avenues listed earlier while other districts kept raising taxes. After exhausting them all, we had to raise to cover the basics. No frills. 84%, if not more of our budget, is in salaries which are mandated by state salary schedules. It leaves no room for maintenance and renovations. We are needing the ESPLOST which is the fairest tax possible in hopes of tackling the pressing facility needs for our children.”

Emily Green O’Steen told me, “It is not fair to have to fund the schools on the backs of our tax payers and/or teachers and employees but the unfunded mandates placed on our School by the state have forced us into this situation that has our hands tied. We’ve cut and cut and don’t know where else to find the money needed to properly run the schools. ESPLOST is the most fair tax that does not affect each of us as much as tax increases and furloughs do. I would like to be hopeful that our government will do what’s right in the future. I am not for these increases either but do not know what else to do. The money will be used for necessities such as heating and cooling systems, roofs, technology, pavement, nothing fancy or unnecessary.”

Beth Camp explained it like this: “The long and the short of it is through the state of Georgia attrition formula over the past 10 years Pike County has been shorted $16 million in funds that should have been sent to pay for education including what is being requested on the ESPLOST. Our state representatives have not aided us in getting these funds. We have sought legal guidance in this matter and there is little we can do. We are the gap in the system-not poor enough to get more funding on need and not affluent enough to have funding through industry and commerce. I hate that the millage rate increased because I live here too, but compared to the surrounding counties are valuations and millage rates are below our neighbors. The millage rate was increased because the State of Georgia added $900k in mandates (teacher salary increase, pension funding increase, cost of medical insurance premiums) that we did not have money to pay. Irony is that the State of Georgia has shorted us $16 million. The ESPLOST has specific limitations of what it can pay for which is primarily buildings, buses, facilities, etc. While you do not have children in the school system, the quality of the schools directly impacts your property value. People will leave the county if their kids have to go to school without air conditioning or our best teachers decide to leave because the buildings are not maintained. If we have a mass exodus because of the school system, it could be harder on all property owners in the long run as property values would significantly decline.”


Click here to go to the school website for a more indepth look at items on the ESPLOST.

You can find more on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/PikeGASD.

The polls remain open until 7 p.m. tonight. I hope that this has given readers more information than you had before, and that it helps you to make an educated vote on the ESPLOST. It has certainly helped me.

UPDATED 11.7.17