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Road closures/law enforcement needs main topics at Wilcox meeting

The regular monthly meeting of the Wilcox County Commission was held on Tuesday May 2, 2017. The meeting was called to Order by Chairman Lanier Keene, prayer was given by Commissioner Jowan Johnson, followed by all attendees saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

The minutes from the April 4 regular meeting and April 11 workshop meeting were accepted and approved.

The next item on the agenda was guests with comments, and they were as follows: Ralph McKinney was their on behalf of Jason Conner and himself.  They were requesting that commissioners approve the closure to the public of Pintail Lane. It is a road, which connects US Hwy 129 North and Cannonville Road. McKinney and Conner each own half the land of this road.  The procedure for road closures was explained by Chairman Keene, which is a vote must be made by commissioners to proceed with closure request after which a Public Hearing is required by law to allow those opposing and in favor of closure to voice their opinions to the commission. After the public hearing, then either at a special called meeting or regular session the commission would then vote on whether closing the road would or would not be in the best interest of the public. Commissioner A. Hall made a motion, 2nd by Com. Johnson, to proceed with the process to close “Pintail Lane” and advertise Public Hearing.

Next was Mr. Ben Shivers requesting the county to close County Road 149 (Doster Road), which runs from Cedar Creek Rd. To Cannonville Rd.  He stated the reason for the request was they have a farm pivot that runs across the road, and there is a severe problem with people dumping trash and debris in the wooded areas along the road.  Also, there are pecan trees that line each side of the road and during pecan season there is a big problem with theft of the pecans.  He stated most folks only use the road between 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. to ride and get drunk.  Com Clay Ried made a motion, 2nd by Com. Huck Green, to proceed with the road closure process as outlined above.   Motion passed unanimous. Chairman Keene stated we could schedule both Public Hearings on the same day.

Final guest was Mrs. Jo T. Pittman who had previously addressed the commission at its March 7, 2017, meeting in regards to the paving of Killdeere Road, in which she presented a list of 20 homeowners on Killedeere who were in favor of paving.  She presented the commission signed letters from all property owners agreeing to give up property needed for right of way acquisitions if road is approved to be paved. She also requested a list of all the (TIA)TSPLOST projects that have been approved, which showed the bands each were in and projected completion dates in 2014 – 2023, which county manager Paula Jones Ball provided.  Mrs. Pittman then inquired as to whether if they were to close Killdeere Road and re-route if she gave the land for the new road and incurred the expense of the relocation. Chairman Keene inquired as to what would be the point to relocating the road. Mrs. Pittman requested to attend the next meeting of the Heart of GA Altamaha Regional Commission. She then inquired as to whether the road could be paved with private funds. Chairman Keene advised that he was not sure on the legality of that question, and they would have to submit it to County Attorney Toni Sawyer for research and review. Mr. Julian Pittman stated his options for resolution of the matter are: 1. Pave Killdeere Rd  2. Re-route/locate Killdeer.  3. Close Killdeere as this road is a disaster when it rains and is not safe.

Charles Futch, EMS Director, stated that STEMI possibly could fund two cardiac monitors for ambulances. They would be paid for by a grant from Tift Regional Foundation at a cost of $30,000.00. No word yet if EMS’s grant application through AFC was approved or not. EMS ran approximately 140 calls last month, which is about normal.

Sheriff Robert Rodgers reported that the USDA has stopped funding the purchase of police vehicles. He then presented commissioners with a proposal from Brannen Ford, which would be financed through Ford Motor Co. in a 3-year lease. The lease is for three Crown Vics, fully loaded, to include lights and sirens with a cost of $36,000.00 per car.  The county would be responsible for maintenance at the end of the lease.  The sheriff’s department would own the vehicles as year one, you pay for first vehicle, year two the second, and finally at end of year three lease, we own the vehicles.  Sheriff Rodgers stated his fleet is in bad shape.  He has two vehicles being repaired in shop now, and he praised the work of the mechanic at the county shop who has tried to keep them running. He stated the two Tahoes are over 10 years old.  He has one vehicle with 260,000 miles on it. We could go with used patrol cars, but the last one former Sheriff Martin bought was in the shop getting a transmission when he took office. He stated he had three cars he didn’t believe would last till end of year.  He also stated he was not in crisis mode yet, however it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Discussion was had in regards to how to pay for the lease. Sheriff Rodgers noted in first four months his department had generated approximately $84,000.00 in citations.  Chairman Keene inquired as to what percentage would come to county. Rogers stated not exactly sure, but he believes it should be around 50%.  A question was raised as to how much was left in SPLOST Rolling Stock Fund.  County Manager advised not sure and would check as this is what the Rolling Stock Fund is for is to replace county vehicles. Chairman Keene stated they would have a Workshop meeting to work on and discuss the proposal submitted. Next item, the sheriff reported his department had answered 464 calls last month (this number includes all contacts with public) traffic stops, 911 dispatches to calls, agency assists, etc.  Eighty citations were issued estimated at $26,479.00, and 46 arrests were made. Sheriff Rodgers stated since he took office in January his department had made approximately 30 DUI arrests in the county. He reported that he didn’t have hardly any lights working in the jail and has ordered new tamper resistant lights, which should arrive in 2-4 weeks and then be installed.  He also reported that he didn’t know why anyone would ever put electrical outlets in cells as it is a danger to inmates and staff.  He is having them removed and plates put on to seal them. He stated he knows that sometimes the public gets impatient when it comes to drug investigations, but you have to build a case.  He stated he was glad to report that from Wednesday to Saturday of last week they had arrested six for narcotics violations, five of the six were coming from other counties into Wilcox to sell their drugs.  One decided to bring some to jail visitation and was arrested. We have other investigations ongoing and the public can expect more arrests. He spoke of the city of Pitts possibly purchasing a radar unit for a deputy car.  He has four deputies to run radar, but they don’t have radar as one of the unit burned up.

At this time, Mrs. Jo T Pittman inquired of the Sheriff if he had received the uniforms he requested for the deputies and staff.   He stated he did get two new uniforms for each deputy and hopes to soon purchase two more for each. He stated the new uniforms seemed to instill pride in the deputies and staff who are doing a fantastic job. We are taking it one step at a time. Mrs. Pittman inquired as to cost of uniforms. Sheriff Rodgers stated the pants cost $40, shirts $30.  She asked could citizens make donations to pay for some uniforms and other equipment his department needed, and he said he would gladly accept any donations.

He stated they had been discussing some fundraising to help purchase equipment for our deputies and staff. He wants the best looking, best trained, best equipped officers. Mrs. Jo Pittman then recommend the Sheriff put an open letter to the people of Wilcox and let them know there is a need, which would give them an opportunity to give if they so choose. Finally, the Sheriff stated he had submitted a grant application for the bullet proof vests which would require a 50% match, and it’s his understanding that possibly Woodmen of the World would be willing to pay the 50% match.

New Business: Architect proposal for Elevator design and costs related to it, possibly to be included in 2018 SPLOST projects. Motion by Com. Johnson, 2nd by Com. Ried, and motion passed unanimous.

Old Business: Judicial Budget for 2018, last year’s budget was $53.761 request is to increase it to $56,544 and increase of $2338. This budget is paid for by Wilcox 14.8%, Ben Hill 27.03%, Dooly 22.8%, and Crisp 35.9 %.. This is just information for review that we will discuss in upcoming budget hearings.

A request was made from the Tax Assessors’s office to authorize property re-evaluations at a cost of $166,000.00.  This needs to be done to keep our Tax Digest in compliance with Department of Revenue Law and policies.  We must check our sales ratio which is approximately 36% – now it needs to be at 38% – and a re evaluation is how to do it. Chairman Keene advised it we didn’t do this, then DOR would fine the county approximately $30,000 per year for three years.  That is over half the cost of the re eval. County Manager Paula Jones Ball stated by our sales ration that not being at 38%, the utilities are allowed to pay taxes at 38% and not 40%. Motion by Com. Green, 2nd by Com. Hall, motion approved unanimously.

No further business motion to adjourn by Com Reid 2nd  by Com. Green.  Meeting adjourned.