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Wilcox 4H, FFA supporters confront commission about ag center

By Lucas C. Allison – Wilcox County Correspondent

The Wilcox Board of Commissioners held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night. Mr. Tracy Terry a, Wilcox County 4H volunteer addressed the commission with concerns about the BB shooting team having access to and use of the Newt Hudson Ag Center. Terry stated he wished to determine who is responsible for banishing 4H, specifically the BB shooting team, and FFA from the Ag Center, adding that it appears to him to be an agenda by someone in county leadership to prohibit these two organizations from using the facility.

Terry presented commissioners with a copy of an agreement stating the Ag Center was designed and constructed specifically for the children of Wilcox County. He said it was not his desire to bring any negative stigma to the county or create a public uproar through social media but that he wished to work with county leadership to avoid any embarrassment and get resolution.

Several parents of 4H and FFA students gave their support to Terry. Board Chairman Lanier Keene stated he personally had no problem with 4H using the building, but explained the problems related to BBs found in the center by an insurance inspector and the county being written up for them as a safety hazard; it was noted the BBs were located in a closet.

Several suggestions to prevent this from happening in the future were given by commissioners. Mr. Terry stated the current plan of using the ROTC building is not feasible due to the number of participants and safety concerns. Wilcox FFA Teacher Ira Tucker addressed the commission in regard to Ag Awareness Day and use of the facility for those events and that he wished to move the pens and animals back inside of the facility in February 2020 for the event. Chairman Keene reminded all that the AG Center is now a election polling location and used for other events. Michael Pomirko stated he had no problems with use of facility by 4H/FFA but only that they be mindful of other events scheduled and timely cleanup of facility to maximize the facility’s use by all citizens.

On a motion by Commissioner Jowan Johnson seconded by Commissioner Clay Reid approved the use of AG Center by 4H/FFA for events with a Memorandum of Understanding to be executed between the groups and commissioners to outline duties and responsibilities of each regarding reservation, use and cleaning of the facility to avoid any future misunderstanding. It was noted that 60 events/practices totaling 263 hours of use at a cost of $10,000.00 to the county had been held at the AG Center by 4H/FFA this year.

Commissioners vote to submit Killdeer Road for paving to GDOT for 2023-2033 TSPLOST project #1

Mrs. Jo Pittman, speaking on behalf of approximately 15 residents and homeowners on Killdeer and Hatley road, requested that Killdeer Road be submitted and placed on the list of projects for the 2023-2033 TSPLOST projects which voters will vote on next year. She gave a history of the attempts since 2005 to get the road paved and make it safe for travel. Mrs. Pittman was very passionate in her presentation noting that 33 residents are serviceable on the road and that all homeowners have agreed to give up right of way property if needed.

Her husband, Julian Pittman, also addressed the commission regarding the criteria for picking the roads to be paved. The Pittmans were presented with copies of the criteria for upcoming TSPLOST roads as dictated by GDOT and Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission.

Pittman did not have kind words for the originator of the document, calling it ‘typical government gibberish.’

Other residents of Killdeer also spoke in support of the placing of the road on the list. After much spirited conversation on a motion by Commissioner Johnson seconded by Commissioner Reid, Killdeer Road was approved to be placed on the list to be submitted to GDOT and the Regional Commission for approval to be a 2023-2033 TSPLOST project. Mrs. Pittman and residents all clapped and erupted in cheers thanking the commissioners.

Department Head Reports

Larry Brown, EMA/FIRE Director advised commissioners that all the trucks have been retrofitted with the dump tank racks which will enable them to have 30,000 gallons of water available at a fire scene in addition to the water in the pumpers. He stated there were 24 volunteers who attended training Monday night.

NEW BUSINESS:

Commissioners adopted the 2020 fiscal year Official Budget, also approved 2020 Budgets for Miscellaneous Accounts (Jail Fund, E911, Cedar Creek Fire, Drug Abuse, Juvenile Services, TSPLOST, 2018 SPLOST and Special Projects.

Commissioners tabled a request by resident Scotty Owens to close Taylor Wood Lane, until commissioners can consult with Adam Dowdy Road Superintendent.

Approved the low bid of Reeves Construction of $128, 638.00 for paving of Thistle Road TSPLOST project. Commissioners also signed the contracts for GDOT to proceed with the Walker Road TSPLOST project.

Agreed to extend the current lease on the FSA office for three years at current terms.

OLD BUSINESS:

Commissioners after much discussion and hearing from Recreation Director Michael Pomirko declined to execute the Quit-Claim Deed to the old High School Gym and ROTC buildings and to

not enter into a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Wilcox School Board regarding use of the buildings.

County Manager Paula Jones Ball reported that the Public Defenders Office had sent a letter regarding the recalculation of Wilcox County’s contribution for the court circuit, in which they requested their budget be increased from $11, 206.00 to $26, 209.97. No action was taken as the 2020 Public Defenders Budget has been already been approved. Mrs. Ball also reported that she had received a letter from GEMA advising the county application for the Safe Room was moving on to the next level. She also reported that USDA Grants for a Road Mowing Tractor for the Recreation Dept., Chest Compression Devices for EMS, a Rescue Truck and a Truck and Trailer have all been approved with USDA paying 55 percent of cost up to $25,000.00 and the county being responsible for 45 percent of the cost.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned. The Wilcox Commission meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm in the Commissioners office at the Courthouse in Abbeville.