Wilcox Commission discusses Education

Published 9:22 am Monday, October 9, 2017

By Lucas Allison

Cordele Dispatch Contributor

ABBEVILLE — The Wilcox County Commission held its regular monthly meeting, Tuesday October 03, 2017.

Wilcox County Coroner Janice Brown announced to the commission she had been elected as President of the Georgia Farmers Association for one year.

In the Police Report, Sheriff Robert Rogers said there were 54 arrests, 47 citations for $17,848.00 written, six drug arrests, 16 warrants served, and two burglaries reported, one of which the door was broken but nothing taken in the month of September.

Sheriff Rogers also present the commission a check for court fines and fees of

$1,240.93. He then stated the commission is aware that he employs the services of Dr. Reuben Roberts to provide medical service for inmates. Roberts comes weekly to monitors inmates with chronic conditions and other medical complaints. Rogers said this saves the county huge expenses for ER visits and other doctors visits. Sheriff Rogers said that Dr. Roberts was requesting the county provide Malpractice Insurance for him in his capacity as jail physician; two bids were presented for the coverage — one for $11,500.00 per year and one for $3900.00 per year. On a motion by Commissioner Reid and second by Commissioner Johnson the low bid was approved for Malpractice Insurance Policy.

Larry Brown, EMA Director advised city of Rochelle had requested a Debris Site Approval. Currently, the EMA department is working with both the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency for approval.

The 2018 General Fund Budget was adopted, a public hearing was held on September 26, 2017, with no one from the public attending. The 2018 Miscellaneous Budgets were also adopted. A contract was approved and signed for ALGA, Inc to administer the CDBG Grant, which was recently awarded to Wilcox County.

Mathew Hall, representing the Wilcox County Board of Education, addressed the commission in regard to adopting a Wilcox County Compulsory Education Attendance Ordinance. Mr. Hall, explained attendance requirements and unexcused absences and how they affect the local schools.

Hall, stated currently if a parent refuses to correct the unexcused absences of their children, they currently enforce Georgia Code § 20-2-690.1, which is state law that charges the parent with the failure to comply with Compulsory Education Attendance, however as this is state law it is prosecuted through the district attorney and Wilcox Superior Courts, which it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, due to court scheduling and other more serious prosecutions. The Board of Education is proposing that the county ordinance be adopted and that is would mirror the state law, it would be prosecuted through the Wilcox Magistrate Court, Mr. Hall, stated he had spoken with Judge Shawn Rhodes and Sheriff Rogers regarding the ordinance and both are supportive of the county adopting an ordinance.

Cases would be presented monthly to a judge for prosecution. In his three years involved in the Attendance Enforcement Department, Hall said he has yet to see a case be heard at the Wilcox Superior Court.

In February and March, he scheduled 73 attendance conferences with parents for students who had seven to ten unexcused absences. A total of 30 parents did not show up. As a result, he issued a second meeting in which 14 parents did not attend.

This current school year, he has scheduled ten meetings with four parents not attending.

“The county desperately needs the ordinance for an enforcement tool,” Hall said.

On motion by Commissioner Greene seconded by Commissioner Johnson the matter will be forwarded to county attorney Toni Sawyer for drafting of a county Compulsory Education Attendance Ordinance, motion pass unanimously. The commission scheduled two workshop meetings the first on October 19, 2017 at 5pm to meet with Wilcox EMA Director and October 24, 2017 at 5pm to meet with Wilcox EMS Director.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.