Pike County Times
PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
DECEMBER 10, 2008
9:00 AM

     C Commissioners Report
     D. County Attorney Report

     SUB 08-04: Louise Parks has requested to subdivide 214.877 acres of land into 5 tracts. The property is located on Parks Rd & Glover Rd also know as Land Lot 95, 96, 97 & 98 of the 8th Land District of Pike County. Also identified as Tax Map 090-017.

     A. Second reading of proposed text amendments to the Pike County Zoning Ordinance to repeal sections 156.335 through 156.345 of the Zoning Code and add Chapter 157, Sections 157.1 through 157.16 entitled "Pike County Sign Ordinance", with changes as noted to Sections 157.7 E., 157.7 F., and 157.8 E. as recommended by planning staff.
     B. Second Reading of Conservation Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 158.
     C. Appoint one (1) member to the Board of Appeals
     D Status Update on Hollonville Fire Station

     A. Tom Lacey and Tommy Burnsed to discuss additions to the Water Authority’s Enabling Legislation.
     B. Annexation notice from the City of Concord
     C. David Thompson has filed a Tax Refund/Relief Application
     D. Mr. Albert Turner has requested a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer for Turner’s Grocery
     E. Mrs. Dolores Ferguson has requested a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer and Wine License for Ferguson’s Store
     F. Mr. Sadiq Nawaid has requested a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer and Wine for C.-Stores, Inc. dba Mt. View Store
     G. Mr. John Cadenhead has requested a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer and Wine For Cadies Corner
     H. Mr. Ronald Alexander has requested 2009 License for Pouring of Beer and Wine for Barnstormer’s Grill
     I. Mr. Dexter Whitlock has applied for a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer for DG&I Holdings, .LLC dba The Country Store
      J. Mr. Saifullah Bhamani has requested a 2009 License for Retail Sales of Beer and Wine for The Rock Store

     -Fire Department

[Note from the Editor: I commend the BOC, CM, and Nancy for getting this information out to the public so quickly so those who are interested in this topic of discussion can attend the meeting on Wednesday.]

XI. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)


Agenda subject to revision.

Update 12.10.08:

The meeting was attended by all five commissioners as well as Nancy to take the minutes, the CM, and both Rob and Tom Morton. The night meeting has not been cancelled as of this time, but this morning meeting is likely the only meeting this month. There was a reception to honor the outgoing commissioners and welcome the incoming commissioners after the meeting as well. Overall, this was a fairly short meeting.

A few items of interest until I can get the write up completed. Two ordinances went through that were long overdue. A citizen went through a major subdivision of land in order to give land to her children. The fund balance was discussed. Citizen background checks were discussed again. Some are satisfied with this requirement and the limited amount of people who see the results.

The Hollonville/Pedenville Fire Department has water! Discussion of natural gas in the county. Concord Annexation was discussed. Whether or not to refund a citizen monies paid to the Tax Assessor past the deadline. The new Fire Chief was voted in and introduced to the public.

Update 12.12.08: As readers who know me can tell, I am not very happy about something that occurred at the meeting on Wednesday and am cooling off before I write about it. It is the Sign Ordinance and the limitations that have been placed on the public. I understand the reasoning behind it but know that it will be a problem in two years during the election season because anyone wanting to put up more than signs equal to a 4 foot sign will have to ask permission and possibly be asked to pay for the right to display signs for the candidates of our choice. I hope that there is a way to remedy this problem before the next election season because it directly affects me and I am rebellious when it comes to civil liberties and the limitations of such. And just for the record, I don't want billboards on every piece of property in the county either. This is all that I will say right now.

Update 12.16.08:

V. REPORTS FROM COMMISSIONERS, DEPARTMENTS, COMMITTEES AND AUTHORITIES: A. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities - These were accepted. B. County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners: 1. Amount of funds left in 2007-0228 fire department budget - $5,675.25 will be rolled into the fund balance. 2. Recommendations made by staff at Planning and Development - This was on the ordinances and will be addressed later in the meeting. Biggest changes were changing maximum sign allowance on a piece of property from 100 square feet to 64 and another part from 60 to 32 square feet because they were concerned about billboards in every yard. Both Brenda Shaw and David Allen were present at the meeting. 3. Discussion of the fee charged by the Tax Commissioners office (2 ½ % for collecting taxes) - OCGA Section 48.5.404 says that a 2 1/2% commission is allowed: "Shall be entitled" is the wording. Bottom line is that this fee is charged to every entity that asks the Tax Commissioner to send out tax notices for them from the cities to the Board of Education. If this fee is not charged and the tax collected in order to take care of the time expended by the office of the Tax Commissioner to send out their notices, taxes will have to be raised in order to pay for that time through county taxes. When the details of the matter came to light through research in Georgia Code as well as asking questions through Tax Commissioner Donna Wynn who was present at the meeting, the BOC decided that this situation is fine just the way that it is. 4. Discussion of the “Logistics Forum-The East-West Corridor” meeting regarding the extension of Hwy 16 from Macon to LaGrange - County Manager Steve Marro, Commission Parrish Swift, Planning and Zoning Administrator David Allen attended a meeting on this. Missy Kendrick also attended the same meeting and was present at our meeting to discuss this from Lamar County's point of view. Bottom line: Pike County has no transportation plannning committee now. Upson has one. Pike and Lamar used to be active in a tri-county transportation planning committee but it fell through the cracks after former CM Tommy Burnsed was terminated. This could be a tremendous benefit to the counties that it goes through. If we want to be a part of this, we had better get involved now. Rob advised that the BOC can designate an advisory board to work under the BOC on this. The CM and Rob to come back with a recommendation on this. 5. Notice to Board of Commissioners that the year end audit process is under way and that some minimal overtime will be incurred. There may be some overtime incurred on this end of the year process but doing as much as possible during 40 hour week. 6. Discussion of GA Dept. of Audits & Accounts ‘Summary of Audit Review” - No items that need to be resubmitted this year or last year. CM said that this was a significant upgrade from past audit statements.

More soon.

NOVEMBER 25, 2008
6:30 PM

Tonight was a very short meeting attended by all of the commissioners--except for Jake, CM Marro, County Attorney Rob Morton, and Nancy to take the minutes. It was over--including the Executive Session--by 8:15 p.m.

The biggest item of the night was the hiring of a Department Head for Planning and Zoning. The BOC went by the CM's recommendation that David Allen of Zebulon be hired as the Director of Planning and Zoning. Approved 4-0. David is slated to begin working at Planning and Zoning on next Monday.

Update 12.1.08: Emergency Services Operations Procedures are being prepared for incidents that could occur here in Pike County including who is to be involved in each type of incident, etc. There was a Pandemic Flu meeting held in the week prior to the meeting that was very well attended. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a model for rural counties that we are using. The County Manager (CM) is going to serve on a state committee because of this FEMA model in Pike County.

The Sign Ordinance is being reviewed and will be presented to the BOC for a 2nd reading on December 10th.

Commissioner Swift brought up the fact that there were two Appeals Board position openings and only one was filled at the past meeting. Motion to replace Cherry Thomas and John Hoover stay as Chairman until a replacement is found. Approved 4-0.

There was more talk about the $80,000 that is being charged to the Board of Education for printing costs that is built into the state program used in the Tax Commissioner's Office, but no one really seems to know much about this program. The CM is suppposed to find out some information and bring it to the next commission meeting.

Judge Johnny Caldwell has put the Board of Commissioners on notice about a death penalty case that will be discussed in Pike Superior Court on January 5th at 9 a.m. [Note from the Editor: I understand that this is the Weiss case though it was not said out loud at the meeting. I have to point out that death penalty cases are expensive to the county if a pro bono attorney is involved and that is pretty much a given for most people since the cost of hiring an attorney for the hours involved in a death penalty case would be more than most of us could afford.]



A. David Brisendine III has requested that the Board approve the plate of survey of the Concord-Hollonville Fire Station using their sovereign immunity. The lot will be 1.5 acres which is less than county minimum. Tripp brought this information before the BOC at the past meeting and was following up with the BOC in order to finish final preparations for a closing that was to occur the following morning. He asked for the plat to be approved by the BOC. He was told that Planning and Zoning had that authority and not the BOC, but he asked that the BOC give their blessing so he could get the stamp of approval from P & Z in the morning. The lot is less than the county minimum and the BOC approved the motion to approve the 11.6.08 plat for 1.5 acres for the Hollonville/Pedenville (or visa versa) Fire Station with a 4-0 vote. The settlement statement was reviewed and the authority for the CM to sign off on it and cut the check for the fees (after checking to make sure that one entity had already received payment) the following morning with a 4-0 vote. No radon has been found at the site but because of the rocks at the site, radon is going to be addressed regardless with the way that the station is built.

B. David Brisendine III to talk to the Board about the old school building and what the estimated time to close the property is. Tripp asked about the old School Building (with the bus barn) on the behalf of the DDA (Downtown Development Authority). Discussion that the taxpayers have already paid for this property once and suggestions that maybe the school will declare it surplus and sell it for $1 or if there were some other way to make this work so the BOC could begin acquiring needed buildings and space that will be needed to revamp the Courthouse, county offices, and the jail. It was made clear that the BOC is NOT going to acquire this property and turn it over to the DDA to do the renovations as has been discussed in the past.

C. Request for approval of installed buffer fence for McNair Construction. The BOC reviewed the plans and asked specifically if Code Enforcement had approved the changes that have been proposed. They were advised that Sandy is satisfied. Motion to approve. 4-0.

The County Manager pointed out to the commissioners that the owner of Georgia Broadband had been asked to come to a nightly meeting so anyone with complaints could address him. This was done at the previous meeting. A motion was made to allow an update on Georgia Broadband. 4-0. The owner advised that he felt like from the past meeting that it was portrayed that Georgia Broadband isn't doing anything in Pike County and that isn't the case. Advised that they have gone from 50 channels to 68; that the other station was out of Stockbridge and now Pike County events are the only ones on the local channel; and said that they haven't raised people's bills unless customers were not being properly billed to begin with--only charging for the services that they are using. He asked that the BOC let him know specifics so he can fix problems and that if any problems are given to commissioners that they pass those problems along to the CM who could forward them to him. The concern was getting problems properly addressed. Said that Georgia Broadband redid the fiber for all of the schools and that fiber has been run throughout 1/2 of the county. He said that they are working as fast as they can to get cable to everyone who wants it. [Note from the Editor: I have been begging for them to come into my neck of the woods too. So many people want it that they have to be sure to do it right so I am waiting ever so impatiently too. I would LOVE to get something out where I live because there is nothing... I'll stop before I whine too much.] The BOC has only received 2 written complaints in the past 14 months. The BOC made it clear that they do not regulate his business and the CM will pass along any complaints that they receive. Chairman Fry said that they appreciate the job that Georgia Broadband is doing.


A. David Brisendine III is asking the Board for permission to use the Courthouse Lobby on Saturday, December 6, 2008 from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm for the children to meet Santa during the Downtown Development Authority’s Christmas on the Square. This was removed from the agenda because another suitable location had been acquired.

B. Mrs. Priscilla Hollis would like permission to use the Courthouse grounds on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at noon to release balloons in honor of John Hollis’ 60th Birthday. Mrs. Hollis would also like permission to cook hot dogs and hamburgers for those attending the ceremony. This event was approved with a 4-0 vote.

C. Lieutenant Adam Sampler, Pike County Dive Team Commander has requested that the Pike/Spalding County Underwater Evidence Recovery Team be given donation rights to use the old Williamson fire station as their headquarters for training and housing of equipment and apparatus. The Dive Team has over 40 members and needs a place in Pike County to store equipment that is currently being housed in Griffin as well as needing a place to meet. There was a lot of discussion on other places that could be fixed up to meet their needs but the bottom line is that they want the Fire Station as it is because it meets their needs now and is ready for immediate use. Motion to approve 3-0-1 with Fry abstaining.

D. Commissioners to determine which two (2) Commissioners signatures will go on payroll checks beginning January 1, 2009. Incoming commissioners Doug Mangham and Don Collins drew the short straws on this. Approved 4-0.

E. Motion to improve the entrance to the Hollonville-Pedenville Fire Station for a temporary entrance. Emphasis on investing as little as possible on this with pipe and gravel, etc. Approved 4-0.

IX. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)

A. Jim Totten to advise Commissioner and the public that 15 people passed the First Responder Class. 14 will go on for National certification with the 15th doing this when he turns 18 in the near future. There were originally 29 people signed up for the First Responder Class that was for 4 hours every Wednesday night for 15 months. They are working to get jump bags for each of these 1st Responders that will cost $100 each. They are signing up for National Certification and Jim feels confident that there will be 14 First Responders with a 15th coming soon after they pass this test. There will be a little bit better coverage and faster time in the county when a call goes out for a stroke or cardiac case. Jim said that the AED that was donated to the county a couple of months back has been used three times already. [Note from the Editor: Congratulations to all who stuck it out and graduated from this class as a First Responder. Your dedication is appreciated.]

B. Jimmy Bass to discuss “County Manager”. Jimmy asked when are we going to move this County Manager up to professional grade. Said that the CM is coming up a little short and that he (Jimmy) had asked the BOC about exercising a little discipline on several occasions. Jimmy said that he thinks it is about time that the CM gets in line about what he is supposed to be doing to earn his paycheck. Asked why the CM is not running Planning and Zoning and asked the BOC to give the CM direction to represent the county in a professional manner.

X. EXECUTIVE SESSION-PERSONNEL (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6) for Public Works, Fire Department, and Planning and Development at 7:45 p.m.

Back into Session at 8:14 p.m. Motion to accept recommendation of the CM regarding the vacancy of the Department Head in Planning and Zoning and hire David Allen as the Director of P & Z. [Note from the Editor: According to Mr. Allen's resume, "Duties at all positions included creation and permitting of construction drawings for residential, commercial, and industrial projects; creation and permitting of preliminary and final plats; creation and permitting of as-built water and sewer drawings; creation and supervision of drawings for rezoning and historic preservation hearings." He has lived in Pike County for 11 years.] Approved 4-0.

XI. ADJOURNMENT Motion to adjourn at 8:15 p.m.

Sheriff Fights Budget Cuts

The Sheriff has notified the Board of Commissioners that he intends to fight the Board of Commissioners in Court in order to obtain the funding needed to run the Sheriff's Office. In a certified letter dated November 3, 2008, Thomaston attorney Alan W. Connell notified County Attorney Rob Morton and Chief Judge of the Griffin Judicial Circuit Paschal A. English that he represents Sheriff Thomas "in connection with the recent proposed budget cuts in his office".

Sheriff Thomas states, through his attorney, that he "will be unable to make reasonable and adequate provision for the personnel and equipment necessary to perform his duties of enforcing the law and preserving the peace". According to the letter, the only solution to the problem is presenting a writ of mandamus to the Court for a hearing before the Court that could force the Board of Commissioners to provide tax payer dollars for the budget needed to run his department.

According to O.C.G.A. Section 45-9-21(e), the county attorney cannot represent both the county and the Sheriff if there is a conflict of interest between the two parties. The letter goes on to state that the letter is a request from Sheriff Thomas for the Board of Commissioners to pay for the Counsel who has been retained to represent the Sheriff in this attempt to gain adequate funding to run the Sheriff's Office.

Reasonable costs included in this request are defined as all applicable court costs, deposition costs, witness fees and compensation, as well as all other reasonable expenses and fees defined in O.C.G.A. Section 45-9-21(e) in a rate similar to that of the county attorney who will be representing the county in this matter. Expense rates could also be paid according to a schedule of rates for outside Counsel if such a schedule has been adopted by the County.

In the Wednesday morning commission meeting, The Board of Commissioners discussed this matter in Executive Session and voted 5-0 to deny the Sheriff's request for outside counsel after they returned from Executive Session.

However, this is not the first time that the Commissioners had been advised that the amount given to the Sheriff's Office was not adequate to meet the needs of the county, and it was not the first time that the Commissioners were advised of the possibility of a writ of mandamus before the Court on the matter of adequate funding for the Sheriff's Office.

The original budget for the Sheriff's Office was given to County Manager Steve Marro in March of 2008. After meeting with County Manager Marro to review the budget proposal, the Sheriff's Office budget was revised to the same budget as last year with the exceptions of the cost of fuel and salaries for employees. Most department budgets included a 5% cut across the board. The Sheriff had originally requested over $1.5 million for the Sheriff's Office budget but cut this request back to $1.4 million plus salaries and fuel after this meeting.

Sheriff Thomas and several personnel from his office attended a budget hearing on July 31, 2008. The budget for the Sheriff's Office, the Jail, and Inmate Care were presented to the Board of Commissioners and to the public at that time. The Sheriff and his personnel then answered all questions that were asked of them by the public and the Commissioners.

The Board of Commissioners held another Budget Workshop on Thursday, August 21, 2008 in which the Sheriff's Office budget proposal was cut by $350,000. Inmate care remained at $312,000, the jail was reduced from $614,548 to $500,000, and the Sheriff's Office was reduced to $1,250,000.

In a letter dated August 27, 2008, Sheriff Jimmy Thomas reminded the Board of Commissioners about the budget process with his department and advised as follows: "I have promised the citizens of Pike County that I will meet my constitutional obligation to provide the public safety needs of the county. If the board cuts the budget any less than what was presented it would compromise the level of service we currently provide to the citizens of Pike."

During the September 3, 2008 budget workshop and Special Called Meeting, the budgets for inmate care, the jail, and the Sheriff's Office were examined in depth a second time. At one point during these meetings, a citizen in the audience pointed out that there was not enough money to cover expenses in the Jail budget for this year and that the Jail would likely go over budget both this year and next if the amount remained the same. The jail budget remained the same but the Sheriff's Office budget was later changed to $1.3 million.

A writ of mandamus with legal representation for both the Sheriff and the Board of Commissioners will enable both parties to present their case before Superior Court. The Judge will hear both sides and make a final decision on this matter. If either side disagrees with this decision, that party can then present their case to the Supreme Court of Georgia, who can review the case and make a final ruling on the matter of adequate funding for the Sheriff's Office in Pike County.

NOVEMBER 12, 2008
9:00 AM

     B. Text Amendments and First Reading: Conservation Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 158.

     A. Presentation by the Dabbs regarding fire station property
     B. Don Bailey to give an update on Friends of Pike County Animals
     C. Don Bailey to give an update on the Pike County American Legion Post 197

     A. Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan Proposal. Request to authorize Pete Helms to perform the contract.
     B. Ron Alexander has applied for a beer and wine pouring license
     C. NAACP Presentation
     D. Farm Day proclamation
     E. Fill one (1) unexpired vacancy of Industrial Development Authority Board
     F. Request for approval of proposed buffer design from Double ‘P’ Grading
     G. Discussion with Georgia Broadband
     H. Request to defer forward funds from FY 2008 Budget for line item 100-17-1550-523400-000 Printing & Binding-Tax Assessor’s office.
     I. FY 2008 Budget amendment #1-Sanitation Fund #540

IX. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)

     Pending/Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)


Agenda subject to revision.

Today's meeting was interesting to say the very least. It was attended by all of the commissioners, County Manager Steve Marro (CM), Nancy Cook to take the minutes, and County Attorney Rob Morton. A lot went on in this meeting. One big items is the announcement that Pike citizens without a prescription drug plan can pick up a free prescription drug discount card at the BOC office, Sheriff's Office and other places around town. Look for the brown and white flyer that tells you about it. Click here to read about it. This is absolutely free and will reduce prescription costs by about 26%. It does not work with any other program including Medicaid.

There is much more including the 1st reading of the Sign Ordinance that was a concern of the commissioners when they passed the Beer and Wine Ordinance, the acceptance of the first Beer and Wine application, an update and action on the property donated to the county by Gene and Trisha Dabbs, discussion on county animal control and our local American Legion Post, Pre-Disaster Mitigation, the NAACP following up on a complaint with the BOC, and the filling the IDA Board vacancy. Of course, I have to mention the big item that occurred at the end of the meeting before I end for the night.

The bombshell fell after the commissioners returned from Executive Session. Jake was the spokesman for the BOC as they responded to the letter of intent sent to them by the Sheriff. The Sheriff advised in that letter that he intends to file for attorney fees in order to file a writ of mandamus against the county for money that the Sheriff needs to run the county. Repairs to buildings and the Courthouse, money for roads, and other reasons were stated as the reason for the BOC’s decision to deny this money to the Sheriff to file a writ of mandamus against the county to receive necessary funds to run the Sheriff’s Office. 5-0 [Note from the Editor: I have put in an Open Records Request for this letter since I have not seen it and cannot report exactly what it is in it until I receive it. I will probably be accused of garnering bad publicity for the BOC, but the public needs to know what is going on with this and how our taxpayer dollars will be spent if the BOC continues on this course of action.]

Discussion is still ongoing about whether or not to change our fiscal year to begin and end in the middle of the year instead of October 31st/November 1st as it is now. The CM will continue to follow up with the auditor on this. The auditor is not ready with the presentation yet but it has to be done by January 1st if we want to do this. A question was asked on the $80,000 that the BOC charges the Board of Education as a processing fee to send out their bills. The CM is going to check up on this and whether or not it can be abolished. If it is being used to fund the Tax Commissioner's Office than that may be a different case, but the CM is going to follow up on getting some answers on this procedure and where the money goes after it is collected. Question about whether or not the turbo drafts are needed for the ISO study to lower insurance rates and how many are needed.

A. Text Amendments and First Reading: Proposed text amendments to the Pike County Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 157-Sign Ordinance repealing chapter 156 of the Pike County Code of Ordinances. This was changed so that the only part of the ordinance that was repealed was that dealing with the Sign Ordinance. Since this was a public hearing, the public was allowed to speak. I spoke in favor of the Sign Ordinance but asked the Commissioners to review the part of the ordinance that dealt with only allowed 32 square feet of signage on a landowner's property. I cited the need to enforce something if we enact it and said that I have a problem with this kind of restriction on my rights. The county attorney explained that the county cannot make a distinction between campaign signs (my concern) and any other type of signs. All signs have to be treated the same. No one else spoke for or against this. Approved 1st reading with a 3-2 vote. Jake and Tommy voting against it.

More on this shortly.

Pike County Board of Commissioners
OCTOBER 28, 2008
6:30 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER………………………………Chairman Steve Fry


     (O.C.G A. 50-14-1 (e) (1))

IV. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES Minutes from Regular Monthly Meeting held October 8, 2008 at 9:00 am pursuant to
     O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(e)(2)

Minutes from Special Called Meeting held October 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm pursuant to
     (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(e)(2)

     Pending/Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

     A. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities
     B. County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners
     C Commissioners Report
     D. County Attorney Report

     A Tom Lacey, Chairman of the Pike County Water & Sewerage Authority to discuss the 41 Highway Water Service Line

     A. Mr. Larry Lynch, representing the Nelson Memorial Garden Club, will address their proposed landscaping at the Williamson Fire Station
     B. Dillon Gibson, Eagle Scout candidate, to discuss his proposed project to design the sign and brick holder for Station 6 in Williamson
     C. The family of John Hollis is requesting that something be named in his memory. Suggestions included a road or field at the Recreation complex.
     D. Discussion of re-opening West Fossett Road
     E. Appoint three (3) members to the Environmental Review Board
     F. Appoint two (2) members to the Board of Appeals
     G. Appoint one (1) member to the Library Board
     H. Appoint one (1) member to the Department of Family and Children Services
     I. Appoint six (6) members to the Citizens Advisory Task Force
     J. Reading of the October 2008 Grand Jury Presentments
     K. Discuss re-roofing of Second District Fire Station
     L Discussion of the fire departments nomination for fire chief

IX. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
     A. John Morrison to discuss fire station
     B. John Morrison to discuss Executive Session


     Agenda subject to revision.

Update 10.29.08: All of the Commissioners except for Jake Garner were at the meeting last night along with County Attorney Rob Morton, County Manager Steve Marro, and Nancy Cook to take the minutes. I am going to write first on the new policy that requires board volunteers to submit to a background check before being placed on any board in the county. This was discussed during the Town Hall Meeting after the actual meeting was concluded. If this is new information to you, please scroll down to "Pike Board of Commissioners Asks for Background Check from Volunteers" dated 10.25.08.

The background check will be required for anyone to be appointed as a volunteer to any board in Pike County now. From the minutes of the September 30, 2008 meeting: B. Discussion of rescinding DFACS appointment. County Attorney Morton stated that he was informed that the person appointed to the DFACS Board at the previous meeting did not meet their qualifications/criteria. MOTION Commissioner Powers made the motion to rescind the appointment (to the DFACS Board) made at the last meeting) and readvertise. Commissioner Garner seconded the motion. 5-0 vote. It was then discussed that the county should get the guidelines from DFACS, advertise, and then submit the applications to DFACS for their screening. It was announced at the meeting that future volunteers will apply for their background check at the Sheriff's Office instead of at the BOC office. This is a vast improvement over sensitive information sitting at the BOC office, but the BOC as a whole still supports the background check for volunteers and it will remain policy unless the policy is overturned. It was left in place last night. [Note from the Editor: The CM can put together a policy such as this at the direction of the BOC. The BOC said that something needed to be done but didn't say specifically to require a background check. I was under the impression that the form would be changed to add additional questions about immediate family members and that was a needed change. DFACS had a problem with an application that could have been handled by screening applicants or even requiring a background check if that board handles sensitive information, deals with children, etc. Essentially, this boils down to the fact that BOC members do not know everyone who applies for a board and they want to know that the citizens who volunteer are good people. The BOC is adamant that everyone applying for a board be treated equally so if one is required to a background check, everyone should be. Thank you to Parrish Swift for arguing against this policy. Thank you to Tommy Powers for arguing that the background check application should be given to volunteers who would carry it to the Sheriff's Office themselves rather than the BOC office being responsible for getting the check done. That satisfied some people who serve on boards at the meeting at least. I still say this is overkill and that one size does not fit all in life or in local politics.]

Update 10.30.08: Here is a rundown of the board appointments. Environmental Review Board: 3 openings were filled. Ken Gran was reappointed along with Charles Wade III and Thomas Rich. Board of Appeals: 1 of the 2 openings was filled. Teresa Crowe was appointed. [Note from the Editor: Both current members refused to fill out background checks. Cherry Thomas said later in the meeting that she would have filled one out if she had known that the background check would be conducted solely through the Sheriff's Office. She was concerned with this information going through the BOC office. I do not know whether that changed the mind of the other member or not. Not that it matters because one of the seats is gone and I don't know that the BOC could accept other applications unless it was readertised.] Library Board: This opening was filled by reappointing Paul Faulds after much discussion about nepotism and the personnel manual and how close of a relation one has to be before it is not allowed. The personnel manual defines this as immediate family. Citizens Advisory Task Force: There were 6 openings and only one application. Since Teresa Crowe was already appointed to a board, the BOC did not appoint anyone to the CATF. The DFACS appointment was removed from the agenda.

More shortly.

Pike Board of Commissioners Asks for Background Check from Volunteers

There is now a three page application that is required in order to serve on the boards in Pike County. The following is written in the packet. "The Pike County Board of Commissioners needs to conduct ‘background’ checks of the individuals who apply for these positions. Some of these Board positions are sensitive and controlled by background checks. Included in this packet you will find a release form that authorizes the Count Manager to conduct a confidential background check on your person."

I have not been able to ask questions of the appropriate personnel on this matter, but I will give some background on what looks like overkill on this application. There have been problems with two recent board appointments.

One included the Board of Commissioners appointing someone who turned out to be related to one person who was already on that board as well as another person who would be directly involved by decisions made by that board. This appointment had to readvertised.

Three questions were added to the board appointment form that directly relate to this problem. 1. Are you or is any member of your family currently employed by Pike County? If YES, who and in what capacity? 2. Have you ever worked for Pike County government? If YES, in what capacity and when? 3. Is any member of your family currently serving on this board? If YES, please give details and names.

These questions were necessary and I have no problem with them being added. Most people probably would not since it involves making sure that county government board positions are fair and impartial. However, filling out a background check for every board position is overkill in my opinion.

From what I have gathered at a previous meeting there was a problem with someone who had been appointed to a board position and there was no communication between that department and the BOC about the requirements. The appointment had to be rescinded and readvertised too.

My thoughts on this are that a background check being needed should apply only to appointments to that board. I am not sure why a background check would need to conducted on everyone who applies for every board in Pike County. I am on the Citizens Advisory Task Force for example and don't understand why this would be a need--or a need for this on the Planning Commission or Board of Appeals either.

Hopefully, this will be addressed at the next BOC meeting on Tuesday night. As of now, I know of two people who are not filling out a consent for the BOC to conduct a background check on them in order to be on a board for the county. My CATF appointment will be coming up pretty shortly too and I am not going to fill out a consent for a background check.

Security will have to be addressed as well as records retention and a destruction schedule before I will even think about this. And even then, the idea still doesn't set well with me. Maybe I've been involved in county politics for too long...

Board of Commissioners Hold Special Called Meeting and Animal Control Workshop

The Board of Commissioners held a Special Called Meeting on October 16, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. All commissioners were present along with County Manager Steve Marro, County Attorney Rob Morton, and Nancy Cook to take the minutes.

The Pike County Commission went into Executive Session. When they emerged, they voted to terminate the services of the contract engineer and authorized the County Managaer to investigate billing issues. 5-0.

They also approved of the Citizens Advisory Task Force Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances to make sure that proper channels are followed through Planning and Zoning with drafting of ordinances, etc. to be followed through the County Manager at the request of the BOC. There was a lot of discussion on the CATF and how it works. The BOC appeared to be interested in ensuring that work from this CATF Subcommittee goes through proper channels in a timely manner.

Workshop on the Animal Control Ordinance

The Board of Commissioners held a Workshop on the Animal Control on Friday, the 17th at 3 p.m. Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and County Attorney Rob Morton were present for the entire meeting. Commissioner Tommy Powers showed up for the workshop but got a call and had to leave. Commissioner Steve Fry came in about 3:35 p.m.

Citizens gathered to discuss their concerns about animal control. An ordinance was passed out at the previous BOC meeting that concerned many of the citizens who were present. The tape was running as citizens came forward and expressed their concerns about animal control. There were about 25 people present in the room, but a couple of people were dedicated enough to mark up their ordinances and send suggestions for the meeting even though they could not attend the meeting.

Funding was discussed for the facility as well as ways to help pay for the facility after it is built such as pick up fees, etc. Friends of Pike County Animals Chairman Don Bailey asked that citizens please make their concerns about animal control known to those who are in office. It was stated that the cities are willing to pay their fair share for animal control and that funding on county land would be the most cost effective. There is a possibility that the land next to the women's detention facility might be a workable option. Melinda Bailey from the Health Department advised that the soil looks ok for site sewage depending on the size of the facility.

Budgets from surrounding counties were discussed. Upson County is $98,000 and Meriwether County is $135,000. Friends of Pike County Animals has been fundraising for the facility and have asked the county to designate a piece of land for the facility to help keep the fundraising effort moving ahead.

Some citizens asked for protection for loved ones from dangerous dogs and others for their pets from dangerous dogs. It was stated that we have to have a facility to take these dogs to when the ordinance is put into place. Currently, dogs that bite humans, animals, etc. have to be quarantined on the owner's property because Pike County has no place to house these animals. Bites require notification to the Health Department and the Health Department handles rabies testing.

Emphasis was placed on keeping it simple with an ordinance that would have language for dogs at large and a way to protect citizens and animals from dogs that threaten or attack. Chairman Don Bailey asked the BOC to delineate property for the animal control facility in order to show citizens that they are committed to animal control in Pike County.

Representatives from the Sheriff's Office and the Health Department were also at the meeting. Citizens appreciate your dedication in this matter as well as that of commissioners and Rob who attended the workshop.

I have electronic copies of a couple of ordinances that Don Bailey brought to the meeting. Send me an email at the editor link at the top of the page if you need a copy.

OCTOBER 8, 2008
9:00 AM

     D. Ken Gran to discuss Agribusiness Authority milestones
Brian Cohen to review recommendations of ISO study.

VIII. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)

      -Pending/Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)


Agenda subject to revision.

Jake came in about 9:12 a.m. When he got there, all five commissioners were present for the meeting along with Nancy to take the minutes, the County Manager CM, and Rob Morton as legal representative for the county.


A. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities: Nothing unusual.

B. County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners: Signage and striping on Hwy 362 has been a problem for a while because it is a passing lane out there in front of Double P. A letter was written on August 20th of this year that was forwarded on to the Director of the Traffic Operations Division. Mr. England said that he would do the study himself and determine whether or not changes need to be made there. He said that a development doesn’t always mean that it needs to be a no-passing lane.

C. Commissioners Report: District 3 had a concern with Shackelford Road being a no thru truck road. Public Works Director Todd Goolsby said that the signs went up last week. Todd got praise for the work that is ongoing on the paved part of McKinley Road.

D. County Attorney Report: Rob advised that there is a rough draft of the Adult Entertainment Ordinance and that it is being reviewed by the Citizens Advisory Task Force CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance. Loundes County was used as a guide with other county AE ordinances being reviewed as well. Various changes to our ordinances that have been reviewed and made by the CATF Subcommittee will be brought before the Planning Commission and BOC over the next couple of months. Also advised that there is a Special Called Meeting of the Planning Commission on October 23rd where the roads and sign ordinances will be reviewed and then that will be brought before the BOC on November 12th. PR and PRD changes have been made and will be brought before the Planning Commission shortly and then on to the BOC. Said that the changes to the Conservation Use Subdivision were approved at the December 13, 2007 meeting of the Planning Commission and that the 1st reading of this Conservation Use Subdivision will be brought before the BOC on November 12th with the 2nd reading on the morning meeting in December. Brenda Shaw advised that she would prefer it this way rather than having the 2nd reading at the night BOC meeting.

At this point, Jake came in and was asked if he had any concerns from his district. Jake’s only concern was about the former Recreation Director. Rob advised that he has followed up on this with Heath English and was advised that Heath is waiting on the delivery of the last of the documents from the GBI before moving ahead with this.


A. Brian Cohen to review recommendations of ISO study: Brian Cohen was tabled until later in the meeting.

B. Discussion of changing the fiscal year from November 1 through October 31 to July 1 through June 30: The current auditoring firm is working on a presentation at no cost to the county that will let us know what areas we need to investigate before making the decision to change the fiscal year. The said that we can pretty much do anything that we want to do as a county.

C. 2nd reading of Special Revenues Budget. E-911, Juvenile Courts, Sanitation, etc. Motion to approve. 5-0.


A. First Reading of Animal Control Ordinance: Commissioner Jim Davidson had asked for a Dangerous Dog Ordinance to be written up when he was on the BOC. Meriwether and Bartow County ordinances were also reviewed and a good bit of language from State Code were included when putting together our rough draft of the ordinance. This ordinance includes vicious and dangerous dog with human and dog on animal guidelines that we don’t have now. BOC decided to put this 1st reading on the night meeting so the commissioners can review and make changes at the next meeting. It will need quite a bit of tweaking.

B. FY 2008 Budget Amendment #18 to move funds from Contingencies to Juvenile: Public Defender line item in the Court Budget.This was necessary because funds were taken out of this account to pay for guardian ad litem. Approved 5-0.

C. Barry Guest to discuss allowing his Webelos Boy Scout Troop to do a conservation project within Pike County: Barry Guest was on the agenda to ask about projects with rose bushes and landscaping around the courthouse for merit badges. He was a no-show but the BOC was open to what he wants to do. This brought up a letter about various items on the courthouse grounds that need to be addressed that was written to commissioners by Pam Thompson. Most just small items that need to be addressed. The Detention Center had a crew out on the courthouse grounds working yesterday afternoon. [Note from the Editor: The BOC was under the impression that the Crepe Myrtle Garden Club was going to take care of all the landscaping around the courthouse when it was done, but they do the landscaping at the V in front of the dry cleaners between the courthouse and the schools and that is a big job in itself. They have done some work around the courthouse but it is just too big of a job for these volunteers to handle on top of what they are already doing. Anyone who is interested in helping with this endeavor should contact the CM or BOC members. Update 10.23.08: Or better yet, contact the Crepe Myrtle Garden Club and join. Contact info will be online soon because the annual Christmas Tour of Homes is coming up. I did see members of the Crepe Myrtle Garden Club on the square working over the past week. I don't know how they get everything done that they do, but they deserve a big thank you whenever you see them working on the plants. You will know them by their safety vests. Maybe honk and wave at them!]

More soon.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2008
6:30 PM

     A. Request to purchase the building ‘kit’ for Hollonville Station
     B. Discussion of rescinding DFACS appointment.
     C. Donny Bennett has requested to use his test track on the third Saturday of each month from 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm.

    A. Discussion of bringing on an engineer to discuss the DOT bridge report.
    B. Discussion of bringing on an engineering firm to discuss reconstruction of Adams Street for the New County Complex using GDOT funds.
    C. First Reading of Special Revenue Funds (e-911, DATE, Juvenile, Law Library Law Enforcement) Confiscation Fund budgets.
    D. Ron Alexander has requested a beer and wine pouring license effective November 1, 2008.
    E. FY 2008 Budget Amendment #15 to cover invoices from Whitley Engineering.
    F. FY 2008 Budget Amendment #16 to mover from Regular Employees to Contract Services for payment to Personnel Options invoices for the remainder of the year.
    G. FY 2008 Budget Amendment #17 to increase Revenue and decrease Expenditures to balance the FY 2008 Budget
    H. Request Fire Chief Tom Tyree to issue a purchase contract for fire equipment.
    I. Towaliga Soil and Water Conservation request to fund educational programs.
    J. Discussion of air conditioner replacement contract
     K. Appoint one member to the Planning Commission

X. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
     A. Angie Stinchcomb to discuss animal control. (per Parrish Swift)
     B. Lynn Hubbard to discuss the reconsideration of the last appointment to the Library Board saying that Mr. J.A. Morrison could be a possible ‘conflict of interest’.


Last night's meeting was attended by all 5 commissioners, Nancy to take the minutes, the CM, and county attorney Rob Morton. It began with a workshop for the BOC and the Water and Sewer Authority at 5:30 p.m. and ended about 11 p.m.

Here's rundown of the big issues that were decided last night. Look for more details later on this morning.

Pike County has a new Zoning Administrator. Brenda Shaw has been working for the county since last Monday.

Pike County is looking at going to a July 1 fiscal year. Members are looking seriously at changing next year's fiscal year which would mean that we would have to start working on next year's budget now after notifying the state that this is what we want to do.

Two appointments were rescinded last night and will be readvertised. DFACS notified the BOC that the appointment made last month did not meet their criteria. The Library Board appointment was related to another member who is currently on the board as well as the Library Director. It is likely that the county questionaire will be revised in order to avoid a problem like this in the future.

Donnie Bennett was approved for running the go cart track on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The Beer and Wine Ordinance does not allow the acceptance of applications until November 1st when the ordinance goes into effect. A special meeting is planned for the end of October to hear the Sign Ordinance that the CATF Subcommittee has worked on. The Adult Entertainment Ordinance is in the works but will not be completed by the day that the Beer and Wine Ordinance goes into effect. [Note from the Editor: This wasn't said explicitly last night, but I don't see any way to get it reviewed, advertise it so it can go before the Planning Commission and then have two public hearings before the Board of Commissioners by the first of next month. It is in the works with the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance and the county attorney though. From there it will follow the procedure already mentioned. Update 10.4.08: I have been informed that CATF ordinance subcommittee will be working overtime to try to meet the BOC's November 1st deadline for the Beer and Wine Ordinance going into effect. I don't know that there is enough days to get it done by the 1st, but it will be in the works to go into effect shortly thereafter.]

The necessary items to finish equipping the fire trucks has been contracted out.

Richard Baskin has been placed on the Planning Commission in the place of David Nix.

Angie Stinchcomb discussed animal control. She was at the meeting with her husband and two children. Their dog was mauled inside of their fence on their property and had to be put to sleep. They were told that there was no recourse when a neighbor's dog was mauled just two weeks earlier. She said that her children were afraid to go outside without her accompanying them and another neighbor was afraid to let her 2 year old play outside because of three dogs running lose that are blamed for both maulings. Don Bailey advised the BOC that a special training session was given in Pike County yesterday that included the Sheriff's Office in order to deal effectively with animal control issues and that the Friends of Pike County Animals were moving forward to get funding for an animal control facility but needed a commitment from the BOC to support this since the animal control referendum did not make the November ballot. There was a lot of discussion on costs, needs, etc. Motion to bring the already written animal control ordinance before the BOC at the next meeting on the 8th as well as looking for the location of the facility and exploration of funding options.

Update 10.4.08:

V. INVITED GUEST-Brian Cohen to present the ISO survey results. (Postponed til later in the meeting.)

A. SE 08-05: Christian Fellowship Baptist Church has submitted an application for a Special Exception to allow an outdoor recreation area. The property is 15-44 acres and is located at 970 McKinley Road in Land Lots 224 and 225 of the 8th District of Pike County. The property is zoned AR and identified as Tax Map 066-44. The new Zoning Administrator, Brenda Shaw, presented this information to the BOC. The Zoning Administrator recommended 1) getting a concept drawing of the facility prior to approval and 2) outdoor lighting prohibited unless the church can show hat it will not adversely affect surrounding home owners. The Planning Commission recommended the same as #1 above and specified for #2 No outdoor lighting. Questions were asked if this church was being treated the same as Life Springs Church on Hwy 109 to Meansville. There was a concern about being consistent. No one spoke in favor or against this request. Motion to approve with stipulations as above. 5-0.

B. SE 08-06: Pike Historical Preservation. This item has been removed per recommendation of the Board Of Appeals

C. SUB-08-04: Louise Parks. This subdivision request has been postponed at the request of the property owner.

Update 10.7.08:


A. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities: A few things that stood out are that the Board of Education is reimbursing the Sheriff's Office $23,850 for the school resource officer. It was pointed out beer and wine tax money was used to pave roads in the past. Pike Clean and Beautiful has not been able to get a quorum on their board in order to hold a meeting since April 29th. Seven members is needed for a quorum. It was noted that John Hollis was so involved in committees and helping the county. John is missed very much by the county as well as his friends and family.

B. County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners: Commendation to EMA Director Mike Singleto for bringing $35,000 in grants to Pike County. The preliminary audit on ISO (fire ratings for homeowners) asked the BOC to consider freezing spending unless needed for ISO and to refrain from all unnecessary purchases. The State Dept of Transportation is reducing its workforce and is cutting everywhere possible. LARP has been stopped--this is where the state helps us get roads paved. If we are going to get state help on our bridges, we need to get a preliminary engineering study asap because we will have to have it done by December in order to even put it out for help next year and even that is not guaranteed. The county will be required to complete one road at a time from now on with much of the work being done by the county--curbing, etc. If the county decides to go with the Judicial Complex that we had drawn up for us, there are four roads that converge there so each will have to be done one at a time with drainage, curbing, sidewalks, etc. We can put in an application without any cost to the county. We can apply for a lump sum from the DOT. Dept of Corrections work crew program has been cut. Pike County Water and Sewer Authority has asked if the county can maintain their vehicle (like work currently done on vehicles from Sheriff's Office) and whether they can buy gas through the county. CM has done the background on this and said it would be very easy to give them a card and track their gasoline usage. Motion to allow WSA access to fuel car system. Approved 5-0. Motion to provide maintenance on WSA vehicle same as other entities in Pike County by Public Works. Approved 5-0.

Hollonville has a location for its new fire station and the motion was made to purchase the kit for the station. One and one-half acres is being donated by Gene and Trisha Dabbs. The acreage is 1.7 miles from Hollonville and will provide coverage for more Pike County citizens. It will be called Station 2 Hollonville-Pedenville Fire Station. This will be covered partially by SPLOST and the remaining $150,000 will come out of the budget. Kudos were given to John Morrison for his work on this project that was integral to getting it done.

C. Commissioners Report

D. County Attorney Report

More soon.

Pike Board of Commissioners Passes Budget

The BOC voted to add $81,000 to the current budget (see link at the bottom of today's budget agenda for a link to the budget prior to this addition) in a compromise to get it passed and voted 3-0 to pass it in today's meeting.

The $81,000 is for a maintence worker for Recreation as well as a Coordinator for Recreation who will be able to handle everything with the takeover of all the associations so all of the different sports--football, soccer, cheerleading, etc.-- to be handled through the Recreation Authority. This will make everything uniform.

The millage rate was set at the 1:00 p.m. The Board of Education set their millage rate in a meeting held around noon today.

All were present at the Special Called Meeting with the exception of Roosevelt Willis whose Mother-in-Law has passed away. (Please keep the Willis family in your prayers.) Both Rob and Tom Morton were present along with Sean Townsend and Tax Commissioner Donna Wynn.

The Board of Education passed their budget and millage rate in the 12:00 meeting--this meeting was at 1:00 p.m. Their total millage rate is 14.518 with 14.168 mills for the budget plus .350 mills for bonds.

The BOC passed a total budget of $9,246,789. Our millage rate will roll back from 12.79 last year to 12.746. It was approved 4-0.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2008
9:00 AM

September 13, 2008:

All were present at the Special Called Meeting with the exception of Roosevelt Willis whose Mother-in-Law has passed away. (Please keep the Willis family in your prayers.) Nancy was present to take the minutes with Sean Townsend, the CM, and County Manager Rob Morton.

CM REPORT: He began with a letter from McIntosh Trail that was received the day before the meeting advising that the regional bus system is scaling back its service due through 2009 to lack of requests. There will be more trip denials from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The number of riders who are using this system to go back and forth to work has increased dramatically. $2 per person one way to use the service. (See the bottom of the Calendar of Events page for contact information. Dr. Duncan, Pike County School Superintendent, has requested an intergovernmental agency meeting with the BOC every Wednesday at 9 a.m. to discuss working together and improving communication to improve taxpayer relations, etc. The county received a letter from the State of Georgia in reference to our bridges in the county. There are nine that need attention at this time. CM said that nothing is radical just painting, etc. and money needs to be made available as soon as possible. 2 may need to have weight reductions on them which could cause a problem with emergency response if the emergency equipment is too heavy because they will have to go an alternative route rather than the fastest route to the call. The CM remarked that the good thing is that our bridges are being inspected by federal authorities. We are also plotting our bridges on the GIS system for the county so their coordinates will be available to the county for years to come.

COMMISSIONERS REPORT: District 2 Roosevelt Willis asked if the water workshop was on the calendar yet. Discussion that every day that passes without an ordinance, we are losing revenue on Hwy 341 with industry there. That is a large part of the reason that we got water in that area. District 3 Parrish Swift asked about the Grishom case. Was advised that we are currently awaiting a court date. He asked about whether violations are being documented by the Code Enforcement Officer. Asked the CM to check whether Sandy is going down and acting on information that is given to her. Asked the CM to document Sandy's actions if needed. Asked about the 3 employees from the Recreation Department who recently were given extended unemployment benefits. Said that these employees were employed by the county and not the Recreation Authority when they were working for the Recreation Dept. Parrish was concerned about the Rec Authority paying for this and asked if this has always been paid out of the Rec Authority budget. Sean Townsend said that it had. Chairman Steve Fry said that the $500,000 grant Block Grant for Concord requires that someone attend the workshop in Savannah on the 15th and 16th to get this grant. If no one attends, the money does not go to Concord. Advised that the county as already used one of the AED's that were presented at the past meeting. Said that there may be more to come so that we can have them to go on the fire trucks. The state grant specifies that they have to be on the fire trucks to respond to emergencies. District 4 Jake Garner asked for a follow up on Shawn Shoats. Rob advised that he had called the District Attorney's Office and was advised that they are still following up with the GBI and they have received no response from the GBI. Jake wants to know if we can get a warrant and follow up on this matter ourselves.

Update 9.24.08 2ND READING OF THE 2009 BUDGET: There was no motion on the budget at this time so they went on to the next topic on the agenda. [Note from the Editor: It was no secret from previous meetings that they would have been deadlocked at 2-2.]

SECOND READING OF THE 2008 ADVISORY TASK FORCE PROCEDURES FOR RECOMMENDING PROPOSED REVISIONS AND AMENDMENTS TO THE PIKE COUNTY CODE - This is putting procedures into place that will handle documents that are reviewed by the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance in a timely manner. 3-1 Jake opposed.

DONNIE BENNETT TO DISCUSS HIS TEST TRACK - He was looking for some sort of resolution for testing go carts on Saturdays just like he had asked for before. He has C-3 zoned property and has a permit for recreation sales and service. Parrish said that Donnie had done everything that he had been asked to do and made a motion to allow Donnie Bennett to run the track on one Saturday per month from 1 - 6 p.m. Stated that Bennett must be compliant with this if it passes though. Jake 2nd for discussion. Discussion that we know where everyone stands on this and if he is non-compliant we will deal with it. Parrish mentioned making concessions by only allowing one Saturday per month. Discussion about which Saturday it would be so it would not be a code enforcement nightmare. Donnie asked what if it rains? Jake asked how many vehicles on the track on a Saturday and Donnie said 4 or 5. Questions were asked about racing and Donnie advised that there was a yellow flag in case someone had trouble. Concerns were voiced about racing and competition. At this time, Donnie Bennett is only allowed to test go carts on Mon, Wed, and Fri from 1 - 5 p.m. The code was read where it talks about recreational vehicles and comments were made that it is confusing recreational vehicle with ATV and travel trailers. MOTION TO ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENT: Tommy, Parrish. Approved 4-0. [Note from the Editor: This is a subsidiary motion that is allowed while another motion is on the floor.] Greg Mayo spoke again at this meeting as he did in the previous one about his concerns including quietness and relaxing environment. Said that if you buy parts from Donnie, you get track time. C-3 ordinance does not allow go carts because they are not recreational vehicles. Said that if automotive sales and service is allowed, they could build Atlanta Motor Speedway. Said that the definition is a camper and that this should havae been a special exception to begin with so it could have triggered public involvement. He went from there to the noise level and finished by saying that any development should fit in with its surroundings. Said that this does not fit the bill for helpful and safe living conditions and that even a mudbogging pit would not have been allowed by our ordinances. Jerry Hammond was the next person to speak. Jerry said that he owned the property until January of 1990 Said it was zoned C-3 and that Advanced Power Equipment used to sell four wheelers at the property next door. Said that the lake never had more than two feet of water in it and that the lake doesn't have anything to do with this. Said that a lake can't be drained if it doesn't have any water in it. Said C-3 zoning was there first and that people should think before building there. Said that you can't make it in small business unless you diversify and that a certain amount of noise is allowed in C-3. He went on to say that Mr. Bennett is trying to work with the community and that it is ridiculous to complain about noise in a C-3 development. He closed by saying that it was time to look after small business and urged the compromise of allowing one Saturday per month. Tony Morris said that he's heard truck noise, four wheelers and lawn mower noise at his home and that these are louder. Said that he can't even watch tv in his own house. Said that Mr. Bennett had apologized to him after the past meeting but has come back to ask for the same thing. He was angry and said that the truth has not been told completely in the BOC meetings. End of subsidiary motion.

D. Don Bailey to give an animal control update. Free training is available to our Sheriff's Office and Magistrate Court. Georgia Legal can teach how to handle animal control. Animal control is a health, safety and welfare issue to our citizens. Don said that the parcel that had once been offered to be an animal control facility is big enough to for Water and Sewer Authority storage as well as the AC facility. Sewage is a problem. Other properties may or may not work. Probably don't want it on Patton Road. If next to the Women's Detention Facility, we could probably tie on with their water and save money. Said this was supposed to be put on a referendum for the people to vote on back in January and the ball got dropped. This was the same ball with the referendum for reducing education taxes for seniors. We are unlikely to have a special session for this now and it cannot be on the November ballot. Don said that he and a few others are going to a federal grant workshop in Atlanta. Don presented some more options for animal control funding. Said that Impact fees cannot pay for start up costs, but could help pay for expanding operations at a later date. Said that it is hard for those who lose pets and livestock to recoop costs in court because it is a homeowner vs homeowner problem. Asked the BOC to send the referendum to Rep. Billy Maddox urging term of good faith with animal control options. We have Manchester and Meriwether County's facility blueprints and said that we need to start small. Discussion from the BOC included the fact that there are no elections slated for next year and one commissioner even said that he has a problem with taxpayers paying for irresponsible people.

E. Don Bailey to give a veteran’s update

     A. Chief Tom Tyree to present 4 new American LaFrance fire trucks to the Pike
     County Board of Commissioners
     B. Refund of business license fee for Brian Donaldson
     C Consideration of changing the Pike County Fiscal Year from November 1st
    thru October 31st of each year to July 1st thru June 30th of each year.
     D Presentation of a table for the courthouse made from the pecan tree removed
     for the streetscape project by Bobby Blalock
     E John Sell to discuss maintenance of courthouse grounds

     -Personnel- Countywide pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)

X. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
     A. Mike Gunnels to speak on behalf of his tax dollars


Board of Commissioners Holds Final Budget Workshop,
1st Reading and Public Hearing on 2008-2009 Budget

The budget workshop began at 4:45 p.m. today with the meeting for the 1st hearing supposed to begin at 5:30. It didn't start until after a review of the budget by the BOC to the irritation of a member or two. The BOC walked through the budget one more time and came to a compromise of sorts on some of the departments. The final number is more than what was allocated at the long Thursday night Special Called Meeting last Thursday.

The chairs in the meeting room about half full with people coming in and leaving over the next couple of hours. There were many department heads and members of boards and authorities present at this meeting. The commissioners asked them questions about their budgets at this budget workshop that the BOC was not able to ask at the previous budget workshop because many department heads and authority members did not know that it was taking place.

The final budget for this year that was finally agreed on comes to $9,165,789. This is a significant reduction from the $10,502,176 budget that we had last year. This means that tax payers will get a millage rollback with savings on our county taxes if this budget is approved during the September 10th meeting at 1 p.m.

This very difficult meeting ended at 7:24 p.m. and I think everyone was ready to go home.

Update 9.5.08: This meeting was attended by Commissioners Roosevelt Willis, Parrish Swift, Tommy Powers, Steve Fry, and Jake Garner. Nancy was there to take the minutes, Sean and the CM to answer any questions, and Rob Morton for legal representation. The discussion began with the promise to be efficient with taxpayer dollars and a talk about being able to compromise before going into the meat of the workshop. The budget number that came from the 5-6 hour workshop was $8,959,875. That is a drop from the past budget of $10.2 million or so.

[Note from the Editor: $10.5 million was stated later in the meeting but that sounds awfully high to me and several others that I have talked to since then. There is nothing in this budget for emergencies or that $10,000 and $15,000 that inevitably comes up for unforseen problems that have to be dealt with and while it sounds good to scale back in hard times, scaling back too much is not going to be a good thing later. And I have to mention that the new fire trucks came in yesterday and Hollonville doesn't even have a place to put their new truck. There are some things that have to be taken care of and some planning that needs to be done for the future. We can't do everything right now, but we can address some of those needs. This $8,959,875 would be a significant drop in the millage rate for citizens this year without planning for the future with needs like a new jail or renovations to the Courthouse that have been told to the commissioners over the years with the realization that a Judge can order the county to do this and add the needed millions of dollars to our taxes or force us to put it on an upcoming SPLOST. Plans were drawn up this year for a multimillion dollar layout that we will probably have to scale down and use in some way in the very near future. I am not one to recommend taking a whole bunch of taxes and wasting them, but I do support planning where we can get some return from our investment in something like the jail where we can house inmates for other counties--and them pay us for that service--and stop spending tax dollars on housing for inmates outside of the county and gas and employee time to transport them back and forth for court. Forgive me for preaching but I try to look at county government and expenditures from the big picture and not just a part of the picture. I lived in a nearby county when a Judge hit them with a mandamus so I know it can happen. I'm looking for the happy medium in this situation. Please feel free to email your opinion on the budget and I will be happy to upload it even if you don't agree with me.]

It started out with a bang at the budget workshop because Commissioner Parrish Swift had asked the CM to prepare a 2nd budget using last year's figures with 5% cut off the top. It came to a little over $9.4 million dollars. Discussion over a possible tax increase next year if we go over budget this year and the possibility of dipping into our fund balance that we have worked so hard to build up. Parrish argued that there would still be a millage rollback with this figure. Jake vehemently disagreed with Parrish and was angry that the work from the past budget workshop was not what they were looking at. Jake went so far as to say that all those hours we spent on the budget were for nothing.

Chairman Fry said that we have a unique opportunity to maintain our level of service and keep moving forward and still give a tax break to citizens. More discussion about the new budget numbers. Tommy feels like everybody is in a crunch and the budget needs to be cut. Parrish asked what happened to the CM getting with department heads and cutting 5% out of the budget. He was told that some departments are mandated and we have to pay for expenses like the Health Department, District Attorney's Office, etc.

The biggest concern seemed to be ensuring that each office had enough money to operate without having to dip into county reserves next year because of cutbacks this year.

AUGUST 28, 2008
2:00 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry
      A. Nominations to the Regional Water Planning Councils.

[Note from the Editor: This was to be readvertised from the motion that was made at the meeting last night, but as I understand it, the deadline to send in a county representative is before the next meeting. It takes a lot of time and coordination to get a meeting arranged and notice out to the public. Thank you to Nancy and the BOC for moving on this issue so quickly.]

Update 8.29.08: This was one of the quickest meetings that I have ever been to. Jake Garner ran the meeting in the absence of the Chairman and Tommy Powers and Parrish Swift rounded out the necessary quorum. The purpose of this Regional Water Planning Council is have representatives from the public and county governments to speak for the people in their districts. Atlanta has a lot of people and could pose a threat to smaller populations downstream if we do not have representatives in place to speak out for us.

Jake Garner had been appointed as the government representative before the election. Since he lost his primary race, Tommy Powers was appointed in his stead and Water and Sewer Authority Member Tommy Burnsed was appointed as a member of the public from Pike County in a 2-0-1 vote. Tommy abstained on this vote. (Thanks JC for keeping me straight!)

5:30 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry
     A. First Reading of FY 2009 Budget

[Note from the Editor: This will be for the public hearing and first reading of the 2008-2009 budget for the county. Citizens who attend will be given the opportunity to speak about the budget.

The five year history and projected millage rate will be given at this meeting as well though both of these items are in the Pike Journal Reporter this week so it can be reviewed prior to this meeting.

The second reading of the 2008-2009 budget is currently scheduled to be held on the same day as the Regular Called Meeting of September 10th at 9 a.m. but the BOC can only do this if the Board of Education has finalized their budget prior to this meeting.

Update 8.27.08: Please note that there will be a Budget Workshop on Wednesday, September 3rd, at 4:45 p.m. where the commissioners will revisit any portions of the budget that they choose to discuss prior to the 5:30 p.m. meeting.

AUGUST 26, 2008
6:30 PM

[Note from the Editor: This is not the first agenda that I have received on a Saturday so consider that as you read the agenda. One other note, there is no executive session on this agenda though it can be added at the meeting.]

Update 8.27.08:

All five commissioners were present at the meeting last night. County Attorney Rob Morton was also present and Nancy Cook took the minutes. The CM was out of town. There was also a transcriber at the meeting for Newton Galloway and his client, Mike Grant, owner of Centerfield.

Attorney Newton Galloway had a conflict with the time of the public hearing for Centerfield so he requested that it be moved to later in the meeting. The presentation of AED's was moved to the front of new business and an Executive Session for Planning and Development Personnel was placed toward the front of the agenda. There was a discussion of why it had to be placed at this portion of the agenda and it was decided that it needed to be placed earlier in the agenda than usual but that this is not going to be a regular occurrence.

A. SE-08-04: Daniel and Stacie Sheppard have submitted an application for a Special Exception of the temporary use of a manufactured home at a construction site. The location is 13.75 acres and is located at 1241 Midway Road in Land lot 224 on the 1st District of Pike County. The property is zoned AR and identified as Tax Map 065-002.

There was some discussion of why someone with a disaster had to go through the month long process of getting permission to move in temporary housing. At one point a couple of years ago, this was discussed and some thought that it had been taken care of; however, when the review of the minutes and our ordinances was completed, this was not found in that review. So this change is going through the CATF Subcommittee and passed on through the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners so no one else will have to go through this. John Hoover spoke for the Board of Appeals and presented their recommendation for approval, refund of $200 for the fee to go through the Special Exception process, and the letter to the BOC asking the BOC to authorize Tax Assessor Jeannie Haddock to prorate the county portion of their taxes for the time that the house is unlivable. They also asked Planning and Development to fast-track a recommendation for temporary housing in the case of a hardship from tornado, fire, etc. to be included in our ordinances.

COMMISSIONER REPORTS: Roosevelt asked what the process is to revisit a department's budget. There is one that he would like to revisit though he did not say which one. Another 4:45 p.m. Special Called Meeting (SCM) is scheduled before the 5:30 p.m. SCM on September 3, 2008. He said that he had received a funding request from the Boys and Girls Clubs of West Georgia - Pike County Unit and that Mr. Harvey Booker was present to give the request. [Note from the Editor: Please read the Open House story on 8.23.08. Stories are in date order with the latest story at the top of the page to the oldest stories at the bottom.] Mr. Booker presented a $15,000 county funding request to the BOC. He advised that the yearly budget for the Boys & Girls Club - Pike County Unit is $80,000 and they have 3 part-time employees--the director, the education director, and recreation director. The rest is provided through the help of volunteers. The West Georgia Boys & Girls Club is providing 1/3 of the yearly budget and suggested asking for local government support for the rest because this is how the other Boys & Girls Clubs operate. $28,000 in community support has been received so far. Old Mount Calvary Baptist Church has agreed to pay utilities, maintenance, and insurance for the facility and this totals about $17,500 for the year. $35,000 remains to be raised. Asked if they could apply for grants through the county as well. He said that volunteers are helping with writing skills and music instruction, that 30 CPU's were donated and that they are in the process of getting monitors to go with those CPU's, and that the school is transporting the children to the facility in the afternoons. Stressed that the Boys & Girls Club of West Georgia - Pike County Unit will be tremendous asset in our community. The commissioners said that they would look into this and see what they could do. Parrish and Tommy did not have anything to report. Jake asked about what was going on with Shawn Shoates and the motion that was made at the past meeting. Rob advised that he has followed up on this with the District Attorney's Office and that they are looking into this. [Note from the Editor: This issue does not need to keep coming up in meetings. It is important and it is being followed up on but we are dealing with a state agency on this and state agencies do not move as quickly as we would like much of the time. The problem is making sure that we allow them to do the follow up needed on this and not jeopardize the case by dragging out all of the details in Open Session.]

COUNTY ATTORNEY REPORT: Rob had been asked to look into drug seizure procedure and compliance with state law at one of the budget workshops. Parrish had come across state law that brought our county compliance into question. A letter from the auditor assured that the separate accounts are in compliance as well as the monthly reporting procedures that are used to notify expenditures as well as seizures and that the seizures can only be used for particular items under the authorization of the Sheriff. Rob advised that the auditor was clear on this. A question was asked on whether a request would have to go through the county in order to purchase anything and this commissioner was advised that this was not what the BOC had asked Rob to look into. They had asked how much money was in this fund and that was all.

The City of Concord and Pike County have been awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $500,000 for water and sewer improvements in Concord. This state grant will be a tremendous help in getting improvements made to water and sewer in Concord. Congratulations to the City of Concord for obtaining this grant for improvements!


A. First Reading of the Water Ordinance: This was to be the 1st Reading of the Water Ordinance that had been drawn up by the Water and Sewer Authority to address the problem of citizen participation in the water lines. There was a misunderstanding on whether citizens would be required to tie onto the water lines if they had requested water in their area and paid a certain amount to have a tap put on the line in front of their house to tie on at a later time. Some have decided to get county water and some have not. This ordinance will require new subdivisions to tie onto county water if a line runs in front of their development. There is also a requirement that could be interpretted that all new homes would be required to tie on as well. [Note from the Editor: I have been told that this will not force current homeowners to tie on but I have not seen this ordinance and it has not been sent through the CATF Subcommittee.] The BOC decided to hold a workshop on this instead of calling this the 1st reading so they can find out exactly what is going on in this ordinance because the issue of citizen rights is important.

B. Appoint one (1) member to the Regional Water Authority: This was advertised in the newspaper and only one application was received. Jake made a motion to readvertise it.

C. Appoint one (1) member to the Board of Family and Children Services: Two applicants put in for this position. Edd Sanders was appointed to the DFACS Board.

D. Resolution related to the dedication of county roads in memory of Trooper Tony Lumley and Donnie Dickens: A resolution based on last month's meeting was drawn up to name Hwy 109 for Donnie Dickens and Hwy 18 for Trooper Tony Lumley. This was put together with the previous resolution to name Hwy 19 for Shi Gray Holmes. The commissioners had received a request to name a portion of Hwy 19 for DB Rawlins Sr. but they voted to sign the resolution as written so it can be forwarded to our State Representatives and taken care of at the beginning of the January session.


A. Billy Watson, District 4 EMS to present 6 AED’s to the Pike County Fire Department. Region Four Program Director Billy Watson was present from the State Office of EMS/Trauma to present 6 AED's. Jim Totten and Darryl Riggins had asked for these additional units and what was necessary to get them to our Fire Departments. Each unit is $1,200. The total grant is worth $14,800. Picture is on the We Are Pike County page.

Update 9.29.08:

B. Discussion of purchase/lease of copier/scanner for commissioner’s office. Two different companies responded to this request by the deadline. One company did not get their quote to the BOC on time. Cost per copy and number of copies were a deciding factor. 60 month agreement for $146.98 per month. Motion to award the bid to Federal Graphics. 5-0.

C. Discussion of hiring a file clerk for the Board of Commissioners office through a temporary service. Motion to approve the funding for hiring someone from a temporary service to file records for the Board of Commissioners Office. 5-0. [Note from the Editor: The BOC had to approve as above because the CM was not present and the CM is the only person in the county who can hire and fire employees.] A citizen voiced a concern about having a temporary person filing records that are vital for our records retention in the county because there needs to be consistency in this filing so items can be easily found in the future. BOC Chairman said that he understood this to be just the day to day filing in the BOC office.

C. Discussion of hiring and Administrative Assistant for the Planning and Development office through a temporary service. [Note from the Editor: I stepped out to take the AED picture during this time so I was not present when this motion was made, however, the voice copy of the tape sounds like this was referred to the CM because it was not for the BOC office. I have requested a post agenda to be sure.]

D. Appoint one (1) member to the Library Board. There were three applications for this position currently held by Paul Faulds including an application from Mr. Faulds to retain this position. J.A. Morrison is a student with a Concord address. Tammy Teachout (?) is a member of the clergy/missionary who has used the library's resources for her family and would like to help see other to benefit from these resources. Paul Faulds has been on the library board for the past six years and would like to finish out projects. The questionaire asks if the applicant will make a conscienscious effort to attend all meetings and whether the applicant is a legal resident of the county. Jake made a motion to appoint student J.A. Morrison with a 2nd by Tommy. It was a 3-2 decision. Roosevelt and Parrish opposed this. There was discussion after the vote on exactly who J.A. Morrison is. John Morrison asked if this was him and advised the board that this is his son Alex who is a college student at University of Georgia in Athens. [Note from the Editor: College students often retain their home address when they are in college so they can legally vote either in their home town or by absentee ballot from their home address. This is a common practice. I have a question and a concern about this appointment. My question is whether there is a conflict of interest in this appointment because I have heard from more than one source that J.A. Morrison is related to other people currently on the library board and library staff. If this is true, I would question why this appointment was made because this could affect objectivity with decisions. I don't even know whether it's legal to have two family members on the same board. I also have a concern whether a college student will be dedicated enough to attend the scheduled library meetings. That is a long drive back and forth to Athens with gas at $4 a gallon and mandatory classwork. The BOC needs to look back at this appointment to be sure that it is not a conflict of interest. It is on the agenda for the September night meeting.]

E. Discussion of proposed annexation by the City of Concord. This was simply the official notice from the City of Concord as required by law.

F. Discussion of the 2008 Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) Procedures For Recommending Proposed Revisions and Amendments to the Pike County Code. 1st reading of this ordinance that simply provides a format to follow with CATF recommendations on revisions, etc. to county ordinances. This ordinance was passed in the hope that it will expedite getting revisions and recommendations to the BOC in a timely manner. Approved 4-1 with Jake opposed. Jake said that he thinks that too many boards and authorities have too much authority now. Parrish stated that the CATF is an advisory board.

G. FY 2008 Financial Budget Resolution #5. This was done by the recommendation from the auditor to be in compliance. $32,378 was moved from the Transfer Station/recycling account to account #540 to end this account because it is now operated by a private entity and does not require county funds. Approved 5-0.

H. Karen Brown, IDA Executive Director to discuss proposed industrial expansion. Karen requested that $20,000 in permit fees be waived for Yancey since they are adding 26 jobs, over $2 million in capital improvements, and are willing to pay taxes from day one. Karen said that Yancey has another expansion in the works for 2-3 years from now. The BOC advised that they can waive some fees and can't waive others--Health Dept, EPD, etc. BOC made a motion to waive #1 and #3 ($451 and $300) on the sheet and said that they will try to help with getting other fees waived. Approved 5-0. A citizen asked if Yancey had hooked in with county water yet. There is a possibility that Yancey may hook in sometime in the future, but Karen said that she was not sure. The water ordinance will discussed before the September night meeting at 5:30 p.m.

J. Discussion of taking bids for the inmate work detail. Lamar County is in the process of getting a mobile construction crew. Spalding Women's Prison, etc. Get a comparable bid on this. There is a long waiting list on the work crew from the State Board of Corrections. The CM did follow up on the previous request. Motion to take bids for inmate work detail. Approved 5-0.

K. Request from Matt Bidwell for 85/15 split on county health insurance. Motion to approve 85%/15% with 15% of the costs being paid by the employee and 85% by the county with United Healthcare. 5-0. Also ask Matt what is commission on this and would he consider reduce his commission.

Update 8.26.08: PUBLIC HEARING: Centerfield Sports and Fitness rezoning. The Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on Mike Grant's application for rezoning of 6.19 acres of land from C-1 Neighborhood Commercial and R-15 Single Family Residential to C-2 General Commercial. This property has been a point of contention between the commissioners and Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. for the past several years.

I will walk through the meeting and what transpired before the commissioners came to their decision tomorrow. There were recommendations from the Planning Commission and recommendations from Mark Whitley's office that were to be considered along with the citizen comments both for and against this rezoning.

The hearing and subsequent discussion took about an hour and 45 minutes including a 25 minute Executive Session. The commissioners returned from that Executive Session with one carefully worded recommendation.

The motion was made to rezone the entire parcel submitted with the application as C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) and that the outdoor recreation use be deemed as an accessory use previously determined by our former Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker. It was approved in a 4-1 decision with Chairman Fry opposed. [Note from the Editor: Mr. Fry told me afterwards that he had some questions on this and that is why he voted against approval.]

The turn of the discussion toward settling this tonight was unexpected but welcomed by a large portion of the audience. There was applause from the audience during the very short Town Hall Meeting from citizens to the Board of Commissioners for making this decision tonight.

Update 8.27.08:

Newton Galloway opened it up and spoke very briefly in favor of simply rezoning this C-2 and letting the fight be during the rezoning for Special Exception. Said this is the way that the BOC had indicated that it wanted to handle this two year controversy and Mike is fine with rezoning to C-2 with a Special Exception for Outdoor Recreation.

Update 8.28.08:

Parrish asked if Newton's client would be ok with C-1 with no contingencies/conditions on the property. Newton said that Mike is interested in resolving this matter and yes, that would be fine. Discussion of lighting after dark, etc. There is a private covenant that governs this. A question about the release of all claims accompanied this. [Note from the Editor: The release of all claims against the county is an important one because a significant amount of money has been spent by this Pike County business owner defending his Pike County business against the Pike County Commission who decided that it did not like the decision of Pike County's former Zoning Administrator to allow outdoor recreation as an accessory use--specifically baseball--as an extension of this Pike County business owner's indoor baseball training and the Zoning Administrator was authorized to speak for the county at that time. I am not going to mince words here because I believe that the county did not have a leg to stand on with Centerfield. However, since then, the powers of the Zoning Administrator have been removed and the Board of Commissioners makes decisions about accessory uses based on our Code of Ordinances which has been changed to ensure that another situation like this does not happen again. I believe that a court of law would stand behind the county for not allowing outdoor recreation in a C-1 facility if this were to take place today because our ordinances do not allow outdoor activity in C-1. The rules were different when Mike Grant was allowed to build the baseball field at Centerfield and the rules cannot be changed after the application has been put in and permits paid and certainly not after the business had been given the business license--which included outdoor recreation--for a year before the BOC decided to put a stop to it. End of rant.

The Board of Commissioners did what they had to do with this situation and I believe that they made the right decision. All too often, the commissioners get beat up on for making the best of situations that are often brought about by the actions of those who were elected before them. I said thank you to several of the commissioners the other night for handling this the way that they did--seriously, they did not have a choice when the case was laid out in front of them--and I want to say thank you publicly now because you never hear the good stuff when you're involved in politics. You only hear the bad because that is what sells air and print time.]

Several people spoke in favor of this zoning. Margie Trammell said that she has asked the BOC to compromise on this in the past and she was still speaking toward that tonight. Urged them to go with C-1 and if not, then go with C-2. Gerald Floyd is not a resident of the county but his parents live here, his parents live here, and he commutes an hour here because Centerfield has a program to learn and play baseball that he wants his son to continue to be involved in. He wanted the commissioners to hear about this baseball program from a kid's perspective. Planning Commission (PC) member John Morrison said that the PC recommended C-1 rather than C-2 because this would allow spot zoning in this area of the county. [Note from the Editor: Having a C-2 in front of a neighborhood with no other C-2 around is not a good thing. Go to the county website on my links page and look at what all can be brought into C-2 zoning. Noise comes into play with a piece of C-2 property and that is not neighborhood friendly. And once a piece of property is C-2, it is C-2 unless it is changed with a rezoning.] Brent Taylor asked the BOC to resolve this situation and I did as well. I urged the BOC to go with C-1 zoning but asked them to give some sort of verbal ok if they decided to go with C-2 because it's not right to approve this with the attitude that they were not going to allow Centerfield to get a Special Exception at the next step.

Those who were against Centerfield's rezoning were then allowed to speak. Billy Paul is a resident in the subdivision behind Centerfield. He spoke at the Board of Appeals hearing last month as someone fighting for other residents in Brookstone Subdivision. Billy read from letters written in 2004 and asked about Centerfield owner, Mike Grant: "What are your intentions?" He said that Mike was asked that with the Planning Commission earlier this month and he told them whatever C-2 allows. He urged the BOC to be careful because Mike was laying the groundwork for field number two. Billy asked that not allowing field number two be a top priority for the BOC. He then asked how many feet should a baseball field be from an R property and said that he wanted specifics from Mike Grant. Jim Rail lives on Woodard Road which runs alongside of Centerfield Sports. His property is 200-300 yards from Centerfield and he was opposed to changing zoning. He talked about broken covenants and said that he moved to Pike County for peace and quiet and that if Centerfield was allowed to expand, there would be higher traffic and a flag lot with an entrance on Woodard Road would be dangerous because there are accidents on the road now. He had questions about ordinances and enforcement and also asked what Mike's intentions were. He went on to say that C-2 would allow noisy businesses. Ann Pitts is a 3 year Brookstone resident and said that she also had medical issues (Jim Rail did too) and that she was opposed to rezoning from C-1 to C-2. Vernon Gray used to live in Brookstone Subdivision and had sold his house for $15,000 more than he paid for it but stated emphatically that he did not make any money from that sale because of different things that had to be done to the property before it could be sold. [Note from the Editor: The sale of his house was mentioned in a previous meeting and Vernon was following up on that comment.] Vernon went on to say that one person in the subdivision signed the agreement to allowing Centerfield to build the ballfield when it was his wife that owned the land and not him specifically and that one property owner told Vernon that his (the property owner's) name appeared on the document and he did not sign the document.

The public hearing portion of the meeting was then closed. Recommendations from Whitley and the Planning Commission included R-15 having to be rezoned, land swap be included with condition of no access of Woodard Road, no loud noise after dark, etc. I'm not going into this more because the BOC chose not to go this route. Discussion on current restrictions and covenants and rezoning everything C-1 with the BOC upholding discretionary authority of the Zoning Administrator at that time. [Note from the Editor: This is what should have happened in the first place. I won't defend Wendell's decision and say that it was a good decision, but he did have the authority to make this decision at that time. It is not that way anymore because of a change to our ordinances that took this discretionary power from the ZA.] Parrish made a motion for the BOC to uphold the discretionry authority of the Zoning Administrator. Jake gave a 2nd for the sake of discussion. Discussion of what is allowed in C-2 including drive in businesses and even restrictions on lighting and the issue of parking which Parrish said had not been a problem from what he had seen firsthand during a tournament. More conditions on bathrooms and loud speakers. Motion to amend the motion to include 156.203(A)(43). Roosevelt Tommy. Discussion then went to allowing existing C-1 and rezoning R-15 to C-1 and only allowing the existing ballfield to not having to go through the Special Exception for zoning and at this point, Newton Galloway asked what many in the audience were asking: He said that he wanted to understand the legality of the motion because they had been told that outdoor recreation was a Special Exception. He then said that the BOC is stating that this is not a Special Exception and the reply was clarified by Parrish that the BOC, according to his motion, is upholding the decison of the Zoning Administrator. Newton stressed to the BOC and to counsel that they needed to understand the legality of what they were doing and that they were more than within their rights to do this. Motion for Executive Session. 9:20 p.m. [Note from the Editor: Newton was in disbelief with most of the audience because this is exactly what the previous BOC should have done from the beginning. To hear it said now, out loud, as even part of the discussion was shocking. During the Executive Session, one commissioner came out to speak with Centerfield Owner Mike Grant.]

Click here to read everything that is allowed in C-2 starting on page 83. Give it a few minutes to download if you're on dial up like me.

Motion to go back into session at 9:43 p.m. The motion was made to rezone the entire parcel submitted with the application as C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) and that the outdoor recreation use be deemed as an accessory use previously determined by our former Zoning Administrator Wendell Becker. It was approved in a 4-1 decision with Chairman Fry opposed. [Note from the Editor: Mr. Fry told me afterwards that he had some questions on this and that is why he voted against approval.]

The motion was then made to adjourn the meeting.

AUGUST 13, 2008
9:00 AM

     A. Re-write of the ‘logging and/or pulping ordinance’ for Pike County
     B. Matt Bidwell with MSI to discuss county insurance
     C. David Allen to discuss proposal to created four 3-way stops along Whitfield
     Walk in the Whitfield Subdivision to reduce speeding.
     D. Budget Amendment #14-receipt of check for sale of equipment
     E. Carol Tucker, Pike County Adult Education Instructor, has requested that
     September 8, 2008 be designated International Literacy Day.
     F. Todd Goolsby, Public Works Director, has suggested the relocation of the
     intersection of Hwy 362 and Blanton Mill Road
     G. Discussion of taking bids for legal services
     H. Beer license application from Cadies Corner, Inc.
IX. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
     A. Jimmy Bass to discuss homestead valuation freeze exemption and
     commercial and industrial revenue

Agenda subject to revision.

Update 8.13.08: Welcome to the roller coaster ride that we call the County Commission held this morning. The Sheriff's Office was called to escort someone out at one point and the go cart track was addressed by neighbors as well as the business owner. Dr. Duncan came to the meeting with two Board of Education members to address taxation. And the Overlay District is at the point of needing an ordinance to be written that will need to cooperation of the Industrial Development Authority, Rochester and Associates, the County Attorney, and the Citizens Advisory Task Force on Zoning and Ordinances. And nothing that would have raised my eyebrows was added to the agenda though additions were made to the agenda. Things that merit public awareness should not be slid in under the radar and I thank the BOC for doing what needed to be done today.

All commissioners were present except for Jake Garner who was running a few minutes late. Nancy took minutes and the County Manager Steve Marro and County Attorney Rob Morton were present. Motion to amend the agenda to include Dr. Duncan with the Senior Tax Exemption, Pike Historic Preservation about a house that they need to move, and Executive Session to include personnel and pending and potential litigation.

County Manager Report: The CM and Todd Goolsby met with Thomaston reps from the DOT about the striping on Hwy 362 in a dangerous place where it needs to be changed to a no passing lane. The county has been working on this for a long time but things look like they are moving for us now. The signs will be changed shortly, but someone other than the rep that they met with will have to give the go ahead on the striping. The CM advised that the way that Hughley Road was bid out by the county with the county doing all of the leg work will be the norm from now on. Deeds, prep work, etc. will have to be completed before we can put in an application to compete with other counties in our district--Troup and Fayette being two of those--for up to $750,000 per government and up to 8 projects per year from the State. LARP (road paving) and striping will be included in that allotment. Update on insurance for the fire stations: VFIS and ACCG will only give an estimate after there is a complete inventory of everything in the station so they can insure it all. Dept of Corrections work crew on ADA county work: CM has been waiting for a call for two weeks and got it this morning. He was advised that they are booked months out and since a man fell out of his wheelchair on the ramp at Planning and Development recently, it might be something that the BOC wants to look into doing sooner than that. Said that a land trust had contacted the county again about parks and recreation land of 160 acres on Bethany Church Road at $5,800 an acre with the county paying half of that amount. The CM said that was doubtful but again was a BOC decision.

Update 8.15.08: REPORT FROM COMMISSIONERS: District 1 Roosevelt Willis asked about the bill from Whitley and Associates. Two bills had recently come in together with a third that had been resubmitted because it got lost in the shuffle and had not been paid yet. Roosevelt was concerned with the BOC knowing on a weekly basis what is being paid to this firm as it works in Planning and Development. A bill will be turned in every Friday. District 2 Parrish Swift asked about the developments in the Tax Assessor's Office and the letter that had been received from attorneys Mallory and Trice in Thomaston about Reese and Associates' work with the re-evaluation that had so many problems with it. The attorneys contend that they did the work and should be paid for it. The Tax Assessor's Office contends differently and is dealing with this problem by paying a lesser amount than the entire bill and Reese and Associates is supposed to be coming back to help with the 2009 re-evaluation without an extra charge. Parrish asked if flag lots had been eliminated and was told that they have not been. Rob advised that there are changes in the road frontage for flag lots but they have not been eliminated. Parrish suggested that Sands Road in Molena be renamed because there have been some problems with E-911 due to the reservoir. Parrish also asked about the Adult Entertainment and Sign Ordinances that are supposed to be drawn up, discussed, and passed before the Beer and Wine Ordinance takes effect and was told that the CATF is on top of this. [Note from the Editor: The Citizens Advisory Task Force on Zoning and Ordinances is a small group of citizens who meet twice a month to review county ordinances. We have been meeting since November of 2007 with the help of Rob and Tom Morton and representatives from Planning and Development. The Sign Ordinance should be going before the Planning Commission next month and soon the Board of Commissioners so it will be in place by November 1st. We will soon begin working on the Adult Entertainment Ordinance that needs to be in place before any applications are taken for pouring beer and wine by the drink on November 1st.] District 4 Jake Garner gave an apology for any rumors that there were missing Keep Pike Clean and Beautiful funds saying that there was no missing money. [Note from the Editor: I don't have a clue what this is about and this was all that was said about it. All I can figure is that it came up during the budget workshop help on Monday.]


DONNIE BENNETT HAS REQUESTED THAT HE BE ALLOWED TO TEST ENGINES AT HIS BUSINESS ON SATURDAYS FROM 1 TO 6 P.M. Mr. Bennett owns a business that manufacturers parts for racing go-carts and says that those who buy parts from him use the race track to test out their parts. This was added to the agenda of the past meeting and several people were there with Mr. Bennett to show support for his business at that time who returned at this meeting too. Mr. Bennett's business license is tied to only using the test track during specific hours during the week with no Saturday testing. Neighbors showed up to tell their side of the story today who would have been denied that right to speak or write a letter if this topic had not been properly advertised. Motion was made to allow public comment. Greg Mayo lives on McKinley Road on property that is adjacent to the go cart track off of Silver Dollar Road behind Hammond Storage. Greg brought a DVD of racing that was taken from his back porch on February 17, 2008. [Note from the Editor: I couldn't see the screen but he had the commissioners' full and undivided attention.] Greg was speaking a normal voice from the back porch on the DVD and the noise was pretty bad. He even went so far as to say hold on for about 20 seconds because they are running during a yellow caution flag here--and it got louder when they got the green flag. He went on to say that this is not in the best interest of the community and that this will completely destroy property values. He said it was a lake just a year ago and that he thought this property should have gone through rezoning. He closed by telling the commissioners that they could correct this. Tony Morris lives 1/4 mile away from the track. He said that he has refurbished the house next door and lost two sales because of the noise. He stated that this is not a Wal-mart go cart and that the noise is way above what he think go carts should be. Said that he is opposed to this 100%. Another neighbor also spoke who lives down the road from Greg and Tony. Mrs. Landry said that she is home all day long and got to hear the noise all of the time. Said that they have 10 grandchildren and Saturday is her husband's only day off. Said they can't enjoy Saturdays if they have to listen to the noise. Said that the go cart track wasn't a track before Mr. Bennet got there--said he had the track built there. Said that if they are testing parts on the go carts they don't need flags and don't need other carts to race with. Said that she does not know if they have governors on them or not, but children could get injured. Also stated that her peace and quiet was being disturbed by the track. Carol Bass then asked what this is zoned. C-3 commercial. Is this an allowable use? She as advised that it was not as outdoor recreation but was as a business use. Parrish asked what the status of the EPD (Environmental Protection Division) investigation is. Rob told him that there is no written report but that they investigated and found no EPD violations. There is no encroachment on streams, etc. He also said that using the track is a permitted use for business use only and not for recreation. Donnie Bennett got to speak for his business. He said that the business is zoned C-3 (commercial) for recreational sales and service and he doesn't understand how his business can be set to certain times on this. He went on to say that people run go carts all over the southeast and we let them test on our track. Said that the restrictions hurt his business because kids in school cannot test. There are 30 customers (adults buying parts for their kids) who want to test and that the track has never been a lake that he knew of. He has been there for 8 years with his regular business and it has never been a pond. Maybe a retention runoff pond from the highway but it has never been drained and when it was used for a mudbogging pit 3 years ago, they had to bring in water. Donnie bought this in February and the track was already there. Greg Mayo said that there was some kind of an explosion that caught his yard on fire when they were clearing it out and burning it off and that the Fire Dept should have records that could show when they came to his house to put out the fire to tell when it happened. Discussion of the different types of tracks around here. There are asphalt tracks in Woodbury and Lamar County and a dirt track in Coweta County. The neighbors kept saying that it was a frog and duck pond at one point but that it's dry now because we are in a drought. Donnie and Danny Hubbard insisted that nothing has been altered. Roosevelt asked where the testing was done before the track was built because the go cart part of the business is new. CM advised that Low Temp was a machine tooling shop and that he has been out to the business several times. Carol Bass said that C-3 commercial for recreational vehicle sales and service doesn't indicate that type of noise. The BOC looked at Section 156.028 of our code. The Planning Commission and BOC has to consider all this. Noise has to be considered with land use because residents can have problems with a business. Vibrations, etc. are listed specifically in industrial but not in C-3. Rob said that this is not an issue about land use. He said that the BOC is considering whether to allow this business to permit go cart track use on Saturday from 1-6 p.m. Tommy Powers made a motion not to permit use of the go cart track on Saturday at this time. There was no second so the motion died for lack of a second. The Chairman asked if anyone else wanted to make a motion and there was silence from the other commissionersso they moved on to the next subject.

The commissioners started to move on to the next subject and then came back to the go carts. Parrish said that the noise appears to be the problem. Rob said that the environmental has to be considered too. Parrish said that the environmental is pretty much a moot point and that maybe this could be revisited after we put in a noise ordinance. The go cart track is allowed to use the go cart track on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-5 p.m. Rob advised that we have not begun drafting this and that the CATF could look into it. Said it has been talked about before.

FIRST READING OF FY 2008 FINANCIAL BUDGET RESOLUTION: Dept 38's numbers were off at last meeting so they postponed this until the numbers were correct. A report was ran at the end of July. Motion to move amounts between departments. 4-0 [Note from the Editor: Parrish stepped out of the meeting for a minute and missed this motion.]

Update 8.21.08: DONNIE BENNET SITUATION READDRESSED: At this point, Commissioner Willis addressed some of the mumbling in the audience about the hours of go cart track operation. [Note from the Editor: One gentleman behind me told Donnie in a loud voice that he could run the track any time he wanted since the BOC did not vote on the Saturday hours.] A clarification was given that the operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-5 p.m. with no Saturday hours. No change was to what was previously given with business license.

MR. MIKE BETTS, BUILDING AND GROUNDS SUPERVISOR AND THREE BIDDERS ON AUTOMATIC DOOR OPENERS FOR FIRE STATIONS TO DISCUSS THE BIDS. Mike was sick so the CM summed up what Mike had found by making phone calls to the door manufacturer to confirm what type of doors we needed in the fire stations. The CM presented a spreadsheet of the information from bids as well as updated information that had been given to the commissioners since the last meeting. All were given the chance to itemize their expenses so the commissioners could bid apples to apples because there were bids for two different door opener systems before and Mike Betts even talked to the manufacturer to ensure that the county got the right type of system to raise the doors. There was discussion because the BOC accepted sealed bids and one of the vendors had dropped his price, but was advised that the vendor who dropped their price by about $1000 dropped it down because they were changing from one door system to the kind that the fire stations needed. McLeroy had previously put in a bid for the other type of system but did not respond to numerous attempts to give an itemization with the system that we needed because of the height of the station. The commissioners chose to go with TC Doors' bid of $8,928 in a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Garner voted against it.

Public comment was allowed after the discussion of automatic door openers bid for the new fire stations. A motion was made to allow Eddie Brannon to speak on the matter. Eddie asked why the automatic door openers were not part of the SPLOST and was told that it was not part of the original SPLOST. He then asked if the county had enough money to pave with concrete in front of the fire stations and was told that we do. Fry said that the SPLOST was to get the buildings for the fire stations and then additional money would be used to finish them out. Eddie insisted that a project should be bid out at the same time with doors, windows, and everything at once--basically accused them of not having their ducks in a row. The conversation became heated as Mr. Brannon left the front of the meeting where he had addressed the BOC and returned to his seat. Steve Fry said, "We've heard enough out of you for today." To which Eddie replied, "I don't think you have." At that point, Steve said, "You're out", banged the gavel, and asked Nancy to call the Sheriff to have Mr. Brannon removed. Eddie left the room of his own accord before a deputy arrived, but took a parting jab at the Chairman as he left saying, "I'll leave but you're out of here too." To which Fry replied, "In five months." There were no further incidents. [Note from the Editor: It was childish of both participants if you ask me. This whole bid process has been tedious, but it was no excuse for the exchange that happened after the Commissioners made a decision on the automatic door openers. (Added 8.14.08: Adding so much detail from this confrontation was probably overkill, but my hope was to discourage another incident like this from occurring in the future.)]


DISCUSSION REGARDING THE PROCESS OF NAMING PIKE COUNTY ROADS FOR TROOPER TONY M. LUMLEY, SHI HOLMES, AND DONNIE DICKENS: A request came to the BOC to name a portion of Hwy 19 for Trooper Lumley. When this request was mentioned, it was said that roads were supposed to be named for Shi Holmes and Donnie Dickens since both had been previously approved by the BOC and sent to a previous representative but it hasn't happened yet. The final step is sending the approved information to the State Legislature to sign off on it. The BOC was advised that Rep. Billy Maddox has been advised that the BOC is readdressing this issue. All three will be together in the same bill to ensure that the process is completed together. [Note from the Editor: The Deputy arrived at this time only a few minutes after the call went out. Eddie had already gone. Another deputy came in and stood for a short while but when there was no more excitement, he made a call and was given the ok to go back out on the road. It's a shame that these deputies had to come to the meeting to begin with but maybe this will help everyone act like adults in future meetings.]

DISCUSS THE RESOLUTION TO ADOPT THE UPDATED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS ELEMENT: Of course this is one of those requirements that the state requires in order for the county to receive any state funds. The resolution was passed in February and, according to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), it adequately addresses requirements so the BOC is now required to pass a resolution to adopt the CIE. Approved 5-0.

KAREN BROWN, INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (IDA) AND BILL SCHMID WITH ROCHESTER AND ASSOCIATES TO DISCUSS THE OVERLAY PROJECT: This overlay will be a district with specific building requirements along Hwy 341 and Hwy 19. This overlay was approved in 2006 and extensive time and effort by community leaders and members of the community has gone into this study. Mr. Schmid recommended that the county consider available land and types of buildings as well as standards and their effect on competition along with practicality and enforcement. He recommended anything 400 feet from the centerline of the road be included in these requirements. Advised that the public has been involved through an April 19, 2008 public forum for discussion and active participation in the preference survey of what they would like to see in Pike County by a large group of citizens. Advised that the IDA would be making a formal request to draft the ordinance. Concerned with reducing time and effort from the county as well as duplication of efforts. [Note from the Editor: The CATF subcommittee on zoning and ordinance is reviewing this information as well. The Sign Ordinance should be going before the Planning Commission next month too. The Sign Ordinance is of particular concern with this overlay district.] County Attorney Rob Morton advised that Rochester and Associates is nearing the end of their work and Rob is the one who advised them to bring their project information back before the BOC for a motion of support. Jake asked how much this would cost--less than $3,000. Motion to indicate support of the continuance of the Overlay project. 4-1 Jake dissenting. Motion to allow the County Attorney’s office to work on the formatting with Bill Schmid. 4-1 Jake dissenting. The public was allowed to comment. Carol Bass, who is a member and regular attender of the CATF subcommittee referred to above said that the subcommittee has come to the completion of the Sign Ordinance and it is a vital part of this overlay. Said she would like to have seeen the Overlay District Ordinance come before the CATF Subcommittee prior to this but supports moving the project forward. Jake stated that a Sign Ordinance had been adopted in 1997 or 1998 with revisions, but Rob advised that changes to state law with signs made it necessary to revamp this ordinance. It was completed in November of 2007 but never presented to the Planning Commission and BOC. [Note from the Editor: I won't say anything to the reason it was never presented except to say that constant turnover in county government effects us all in one way or another.]

More shortly.

Four Hour Budget Workshop Held on July 31st

The Sheriff's Office, Board of Commissioners, and Planning and Development were discussed in this meeting. It was nice to see so many there for the beginning of the meeting. Most filed out after the first budget was discussed so the old timers (that's includes me) and a fairly new faces endured the remainder of the meeting. [Note from the Editor: My only complaint the Commissioners' budget was allowed to drag on forever and citizens were pretty much allowed to join in a group mauling of the County Manager that was uncalled for. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect even if you don't like them or don't agree with them.] That being said, however, citizens were allowed to ask questions and interject comments throughout the process, some good ideas came out of the meeting, and the public was shown that procedures are being put into place that show good stewardship of our taxpayer funds.

Sheriff's Budget consisted of the Sheriff's Office, Jail, and Inmate Care. Citizens found out that the County is doing much of the repair and work on Sheriff's cars that we can here in the county. It is saving a lot of taxpayer dollars too. So far, Public Works has changed out 2 engines and 3 transmissions for the Sheriff's Office. We also found out that there is a log kept of individual vehicles and their gas, etc. Connie Dallas out at the Road Department has her hands full keeping up with this, I'm sure! The county's gas usage is in check now with the key card system on the pumps that tracks who uses how much for what department so it can come out of their budget. There is also a camera there 24/7 to keep everyone honest.

The Jail is recommended to have $605,548 in next year's budget. $614,548 was requested and $580,988 has been used so far this year with October 31, 2008 being the end of the fiscal year. There are 13 employees in the jail.

Inmate Care used $364,297 in the 2006-2007 year and has requested $312,000 for this year. It costs $35 per day to house an inmate in another Jail. We only have so much bed space here anyway, but every juvenile and female inmate has to be housed elsewhere. Here is a summary of surrounding Sheriff's Office and Jail budgets. Lamar County has a $2,795,004 budget. Upson County has a $3,041,926. Spalding County has a $13,644,363 budget. Meriwether County has a $2,657,568 budget. Pike County has a budget of $2,303,485. Lamar and Meriwether are the closet to Pike in population.

Seizure funds were mentioned at the last part of this budget hearing. There are state and federal rules that regulate how these funds are spent. OCGA 16-13-49(D)(i) says: "... Proceeds received may be used for any official law enforcement purpose except for the payment of salaries or rewards to law enforcement personnel, at the discretion of the chief officer of the local law enforcement agency, or may be used to fund victim-witness assistance programs or a state law enforcement museum. Such property shall not be used to supplant any other local, state, or federal funds appropriated for staff or operations." This money can be used for vehicle purchases and used to buy items needed items that were not in the budget like providing training for officers, but it also means that the BOC can't leave a car off of the budget and just have the Sheriff pay for it with seizure funds.

The Board of Commissioners budget was next. It began at 7 p.m. and ran until 8:20 p.m. The county is still working to keep a handle on county cell phones by limiting who has them and turning off the ones that are not in use. [Note from the Editor: I was concerned about a cost to turn off phones, but I found out after the meeting that there is a flat fee for having a phone for an employee and there is no cost to turn them off for a time according to our contract.]

Travel training was a big discussion item. There is $23,283.30 (hotel rooms, gas, meals, etc,) plus $12,650 (training) in the budget for commissioner in case we end up with 3 new commissioners in upcoming elections. This can be left in or taken out depending on how the elections go. There is also money allotted for travel and training for Nancy, Martha, and Sean in the office that is needed. [Note from the Editor: Sean actually has a CFO class scheduled to become better acquainted with our finances for the county. This is being proactive and needs to be done.] The CM is trying to save stay within budget restraints by limiting his training in the upcoming year. Discussion included the fact that he is doing so much that it would be difficult for him to leave for training until we get a Department Head in Planning and Zoning anyway. The BOC even factored in funds in case of an increase in stamp costs which may be coming.

Jimmy Bass suggested that if commissioners come back to meetings and give a brief description of what they learned, citizens would be more accepting of their going off to classes because we don't know if they've gone anywhere or learned anything unless they make it public in a meeting. The CM said that participants in training are supposed to write up a written report so commissioners can have it in their packets and know that they have had necessary training and it is supposed to trickle down to employees through department meetings.

My biggest problem with the BOC budget is that there was $62,000 allotted for a Certified Financial Officer (CFO). That does not include the FICA, benefits, etc. that go along with this position which would make it a likely $100,000 expenditure in a time where we don't have this to spend. There were many in the audience that shared this opinion. The CM said that he included it because of the recommendation made by our Macon auditing firm, but most of the commissioners seemed to be against this with the exception of Commission Chairman Fry. At one point, the CM said that he thought we should change our charter and go with a County Administrator who is a CFO instead of a CM. [Note from the Editor: County Manager versus County Administrator is a complicated but not new argument for Pike County. A CM is answerable to the BOC but they can't outright tell him who to hire, fire, etc. A County Administrator would be under the direction of the BOC. This would require an ok from the State Legislature in order to do this and is not something that should be done without a lot of thought. I know it's a tough job being the CM in ANY county with frequent disagreements and power struggles between the parties, but I don't know that I want to see the BOC have more power than they already do either. I would have to do some serious study on this before I made a decision on it to make sure that the pro's outweighed con's.] The suggestion was made to put out a bid to have a CPA firm to do our monthly work and not worry about getting a CFO. Tammy's article in the Journal Reporter really put this into a new light because no county of our size has a CFO.

The county attorney contract is going to go out for bid. We probably won't find anybody else who will work for the flat rate fee of $80,000 that Morton and Morton asked for this time--a $10,000 jump from last year but still not very much for the amount of hours they put in at county meetings including the CATF subcommittee meetings where we discuss ordinances twice a month. And that does not include the work that is needed outside of meetings to get things done.

On a closing note for this portion of the meeting, that went on for far too long rehashing the same things over and over. All of the computers in the county have been checked for pornographic materials by an outside source and nothing else has been found on the computers in the county.

Planning and Development (Building and Zoning, Planning and Zoning, etc.) was next on the list and it went from 8:20 to 9:05 p.m. The CM began by saying that the county is saving 1/4 of a million dollars ($250,000) by contracting with a private company to run the Transfer Station. [Note from the Editor: I think this is one of the best decisions that this BOC has made over the past four years.] A new phone system is needed that can take messages with expansion for an answering service like that at the BOC office. Discussion of the number of vacancies in P&D and Whitley Engineering's role in that department. Discussion of cell phone usage with a monthly tower rate and new radios versus Verizon's fees. It would be an expensive transition. There are several positions open at P&D. One is for a County Planner. Discussion of maybe hiring an administrative assistant to handle the phones with Kim being moved up to the Office Administrator with a Zoning Specialist/Planner being hired and then maybe getting a Director for the Dept down the road. Everyone who has nibbled at these positions has backed out before getting hired. There was an emphasis on how many people can we get by with in one year with thoughts of a temporary Zoning Administrator who could run the department instead of having the CM do this as we are operating now. Big emphasis on spending our money wisely.

The BOC should be commended for allowing citizen comments at this meeting.

JULY 29, 2008
6:30 PM

     A. Appoint one person to the Board of Family and Children Services
     A. Discussion of dedicating a portion of US Highway 19 in memory of
     Trooper Tony M. Lumley
     B. Discussion of moving logging permits to Public Works
     C. Appoint one member to the Recreation Authority
     D. Discuss adopting Resolution to adopt the CIE update
     E. Discuss paving bids for fire stations
     F. Discuss ‘deeding’ the Lamar County water line over to them
     G. Discussion of Recreation Authority ADA restroom facilities
     H. Regional Water Authority appointments
     I. Discussion of reappointment of Darrell Riggins to District 4 EMS
     J. Tom Lacey to discuss proposed water ordinance
     K. ADA Projects on County-owned buildings
     L. First Reading of FY 2008 Financial Budget Resolution #1
     M. First Reading of FY 2008 Financial Budget Resolution #2
     N. First Reading of FY 2008 Financial Budget Resolution #3
     O. First Reading of FY 2008 Financial Budget Resolution #4
     P. Bid award on Fire Station garage door openers
     -Pending/Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)
X. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
     A. John Morrison to discuss Zoning
     B. John Morrison to discuss Tax Assessors
     C. Buddy Fuller to discuss the vote on beer and wine sales
     D. Buddy Fuller to discuss code violations, stating that Double P. Grading is selling
     heavy equipment
     E. Jimmy Bass to discuss tax revenue exemptions

The BOC meeting began at 6:52 p.m. after the Fire Department Budget Workshop. Chairman Steve Fry, Commissioner Tommy Powers, Commissioner Parrish Swift, Commissioner Jake Garner, and Commissioner Roosevelt Willis. Also in attendance were County Attorney Rob Morton and County Manager Steve Marro. Nancy took the minutes. Parrish commended Nancy for her work on the minutes because she took special care with the SPLOST discussion at the past meeting.

CM Report: There are new SPLOST Election Dates that the state has passed down. FYI for the commissioners. Steve Marro gave an apology to Carol Bass because her Open Records Request for Trial Balance was two days late due to a glitch with info coming from bank with no check numbers. The bank came up with a solution on this, but it was time-consuming to match everything up. [Note from the Editor: Thank you to the CM and Nancy and all those in the office who work to ensure that Open Records Requests are fulfilled in a timely fashion. It is a pain sometimes to provide open government when there is so much that needs to be done already, but it is worth the effort because it builds trust in county government. We appreciate the work that you do on this.]

Update 7.30.08: The Pike County Government website is up and running. Click here to read the June 24, 2008 minutes. The agenda for the July 29, 2008 meeting is online as well. Commissioners were concerned about whether this was online and how it could best be utilized for Pike citizens. Parrish asked about whether monthly financials could be uploaded. As soon as the Pike Code of Ordinance review process is complete, our ordinance will be uploaded onto the website as well. Click here to see the Pike County government website.

Update 8.1.08: [Note from the Editor: I attended the 4 hour Budget Workshop last night. The Sheriff's Office, Board of Commissioners, and Planning and Development were discussed in this meeting. It was nice to see so many there for the beginning of the meeting. Most filed out after the first budget was discussed so the old timers (that's includes me) and a fairly new faces endured the remainder of the meeting. I won't say much about that for now except that it the Commissioners' budget was allowed to drag on forever and citizens were pretty much allowed to join in a group mauling of the County Manager that was uncalled for. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect even if you don't like them or don't agree with them. That being said, however, citizens were allowed to ask questions and interject comments throughout the process, some good ideas came out of the meeting, and the public was shown that procedures are being put into place that show good stewardship of our taxpayer funds. More on that in a separate article soon.]

Commissioners Report: Roosevelt had a question about Whitley that would be discussed in Executive Session. Parrish asked about the status of the Grisham/Oswald case. Status is that Oswald is cooperating with Planning and Development (P&D) and has removed from the property what he has been asked to remove. He is preparing a notarized affidavit that he is not running a business on the premises. This affidavit will become part of the file. Parrish advised that he had asked another member of P&D to find a resolution between the parties, but it was pointed out that this had been an ongoing civil matter between 2 neighbors for the past 12 years. The County Attorney is working on a formal document that will go to both parties on this matter. According to Code Enforcement, Oswald is not in violation of county ordinances and this is a civil matter. Jake had a question about the Recreation Department and the former Recreation Director. Jake said that he had been told that personal items had been paid for with a county visa card. He was advised that the GBI is conducting a forensic audit of this matter. There was concern that this matter has dragged out for the past 14 months and Jake said that he does not know why we're dragging our feet on this. [Note from the Editor: This is complicated and not much can be said about the matter because it is being investigated by the GBI. The allegation of misappropriation of funds is a serious one. Just a couple of notes to help the read understand this. There was a year period when the Recreation Department was formed and the Director was under the supervision of the county rather than the Recreation Authority. This is no longer how things are laid out with the Recreation Director and the Recreation Authority.] Motion was made to prosecute. Discussion after that motion before the final vote included the fact that it was given to the Sheriff's Office and turned over to the GBI with the intent of the GBI being to handle this with the District Attorney's Office after the completion of the forensic audit. Approved 5-0. Roosevelt mentioned a boat ramp in the Shoals subdivision that is being investigated by the EPD and the worry that this will impact the county. He was advised that this is an ongoing investigation and there was no further discussion.

County Attorney Report-Status of animal control efforts: Attorney Gene Dabbs is assisting Friends of Pike County Animals to gain non-profit status. There is expectation of a county non-binding referendum [Note from the Editor: Basically, citizens will vote on this but the BOC has to make the final vote on animal control if it is put on a referendum. Why we can vote on animal control in a straw poll but not on sale of beer and wine by the drink has been a hotly contested issue of late.] Update on the Code of Ordinances is that the paralegal has finished her painstaking review of the official minutes from current meetings all of the way back to 2002 to find out what was voted into law and what was included with our Code book and what wasn't. There are some conflicts that will have to be resolved. The county is currently up to the Land Use portion of our Code of Ordinances which is the largest portion of our code and has the most changes in it. Rob said that he hopes to finish Title 15 by the next CATF Subcommittee of Zoning and Ordinance Meeting. The object is to get the Code Book together and get it codified. Then we will have to appoint someone to keep the book current. Rob said that this project is nearing completion.

More later.

JULY 9, 2008
9:00 AM

    A. Second Reading of Beer and Wine ordinance
    B. Tripp Brisendine with a Downtown Development update
    C. Discussion of the ISO survey
    D. Update the Planning and Development Director’s position

    A. Discussion of moving driveway permits from Planning and Development to the Road Department
    B. Discuss the letter received from ACCG pertaining to the interest level of Any Pike County Commissioner volunteering to serve on a local panel to the Public Defender.

    -Pending/Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

X. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)


All commissioners were present with CM Marro and Nancy to take the minutes. [Note from the Editor: I am extremely agitated about this meeting and it showed in my original writeup on this meeting. I am revising my writeup to have a little less opinion in it.] The minutes from the last meeting were a source of contention. Discussion centered around a paragraph where Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) Chairman Don Collins presented the CATF Subcommittee on SPLOST minutes which said that the county has overspent on the fire stations part of the SPLOST. Fry said that we have not overspent SPLOST because there is $1.6 million to be spent, that none of those funds have left our accounts or been encumbered. He emphasized that the BOC does not have the authority to spend more than $1.6 million on this. Any further funds will have to come from another source. It was also said that the report was presented and said what it said and that the minutes reflected what happened in the meeting. [Note from the Editor: The June 24, 2008 CATF Subcommittee minutes say: "The costs to complete the project of building and funding the fire stations (departments) has not yet been fully realized. The cost of actual expenditures and encumbered expenses has exceeded the allotted amount." $40,680 for Dalmation fire equipment, $162,650.00 for two 4,000 gallon tankers and $1,072.36 for a fire plug, etc. to Diversified Fabricators expenditures will be reimbursed by Impact Fee Expenditures now instead of coming out of SPLOST fees. And technically Fry is correct that the actual expenditures haven't been made, but we know what is going to be bought with the money--or what was originally going to be bought with the money. 30 minutes of this discussion was not a good way for this night owl to sit through the beginning of a meeting with my coffee.] Fry even gavelled down the room 5 minutes into the meeting because people in the audience had begun to whisper and talk about the BOC discussion. About 20 minutes into the discussion, the BOC voted to remove a paragraph from the past minutes until it could be further discussed and approved the rest of the minutes. 3-2 with Jake and Parrish opposed. [Note from the Editor: Thank you for taking that stand Jake and Parrish.] Another 10 minutes of discussion began when Attorney Tom Morton directed the BOC to readdress this matter with a point of information saying that he did not think it was appropriate to strike a section of the minutes because the minutes reflected what happened in the meeting: Chairman Collins provided the CATF Subcommittee on SPLOST findings to the BOC and the statement in the minutes reflected what was said in the prior meeting. [Note from the Editor: Thank you Tom for readdressing this matter and the BOC for listening and doing what was proper on this.] The prior motion was rescinded and the minutes from the past meeting were adopted as they were written in a 3-2 vote with Steve Fry and Roosevelt Willis opposed. The minutes from today's meeting will reflect the disagreement so anyone researching the issue can read the discussion of the matter and see Chairman Fry's disagreement and why he disagreed as well as the rest of the discussion that took place at this meeting.

CM Report: Contractor rules have changed in the state of Georgia. Beginning July 1st, the Planning and Development Office will be required by the State of Georgia to check for a valid General Contractor license for those who do work in Pike County. Permits cannot be issued unless there is a valid, state-approved license on file for the main contractor as well as any subcontractors who are working on a job. Notices were run in the newspaper earlier this year to notify the public. Click here for more information on what is required and how to obtain a license. From the Secretary of State website: Pursuant to Georgia law, the following types of contractors must obtain a license from the State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors by July 1, 2008: Residential-Basic Contractor (Contractor work relative to detached one-family and two-family residences and one-family townhouses not over three stories in height); Residential-Light Commercial Contractor (Contractor work or activity related to multifamily and multiuse light commercial buildings and structures); and General Contractor (Contractor work or activity that is unlimited in scope regarding any residential or commercial projects). Those who are exempt from this requirement are listed on the website as well. There is a $100 fee associated with this too if I understood this correctly in the meeting. Call or go by Planning and Development with your questions. They have an information sheet that they are giving out to the public. [Note from the Editor: Please keep in mind that this a State of Georgia requirement and our county employees have no control over this.] Fire Chief Tom Tyree advised that one of the fire trucks will be ready this month but that we will not pick it up until all of the fire trucks are ready. Budget workshops are scheduled for the 14th and 17th. The workshop for the 15th will be rescheduled tentatively for the 22nd. The Water and Sewer Authority Ordinance from 2006 that was never approved by the BOC is going back through the process. The WSA is reviewing it and will send it to the BOC for approval in the near future.

BOC concerns: District 1: none. District 2: Asked about the written report from the Code Enforcement officer on the Grisham case. The CE officer is out on leave until at least the 17th. Mark Whitley had offered to do it but the BOC had asked the CE officer to write up the formal report. Concern about cost from Willis. Whitley said that he would look at it and write it up if it was not going to be too time-consuming. If it looked too long, he would advised the CM. Parrish said that he would like to see a copy of the minutes and the spreadsheet for expenditures and revenues attached after every meeting on the county website as soon as it is up and running. The CM said that Nancy doesn't have time to do this. [Note from the Editor: It isn't that hard to upload a file to the website. Debby did this for citizens when she was here and it was very much appreciated. I'm running a website completely from scratch and it doesn't take as much time as you would think to do a simple story or upload a PDF file. When I have DSL to upload from anyway. I think that the county needs to find someone to do this and get them trained on this. It is necessary.] District 4: Said that citizens let him know that they were pleased with the ditch work done on dirt roads in their area. Asked about the County Vehicle Policy that has been discussed in recent meetings. Jake asked at what point does this include parades. Was advised that a waiver had to be signed for anyone on a fire truck in the parade. The policy says county employees only. What about prisoners? Consensus that some things need to be reviewed and maybe tweaked for later. Maybe including a special exception for parades.

2nd Reading of the Beer and Wine Ordinance was next on the agenda. Christmas Day sales was a concern to some of the commissioners. The requirement that at least 50% of gross sales be from food is in this ordinance. The question was asked whether this was standard. Regulation of businesses and the definition of lewd entertainment was brought up. The question was asked how the county can enforce this ordinance when definitions of "lewd" and "immoral" might be different for different people. Parrish asked if this had been given to the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance to review and was told no. Parrish asked if it had been given to legal and the answer was yes. Mr. Morton advised that the matter had been very thoroughly researched. Steve Fry expressed a concern about signs for alcohol both within and outside of the establishments. Discussion centered around the City of Zebulon because it allows beer and wine sales by the glass and allows sales on Election Day and holidays including Christmas. Christmas was a point of contention with the BOC and ended up being excluded in the final approval. [Note from the Editor: It is important to note that the City of Zebulon has enacted both a sign ordinance and an Adult Entertainment ordinance. An Adult Entertainment ordinance will spell out the definitions of lewd and immoral to ensure that there is no abuse.] A citizen held her hand up and was recognized by the BOC who voted to allow public comment. Margie Trammell is the Chairman of the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance. She advised that the subcommittee has completed a Sign Ordinance that will be sent to the BOC shortly that will address flashing signs, etc. Advised that the subcommittee sent out several Adult Entertainment Ordinances to review at upcoming meetings. She asked why this was not handled according to Zoning Procedure Laws. She was advised that attorney Rob Morton told the BOC that this was a policy issue and not a zoning issue. Margie said this was a double standard because some items are advertised with public hearings even when it is not necessary just to be safe and this one wasn't. She said that it was very important to get citizen input on beer and wine by the glass. I spoke next. [Note from the Editor: I am the Secretary of the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinance. This committee is comprised of members from the community from different viewpoints who are appointed by the BOC and meet twice a month for 2 hour meetings to discuss our ordinances.] I asked the BOC to spend some time reviewing this ordinance because of the questions that were asked in the meeting. I said that it was unwise to pass an ordinance and then work to amend it later and get other necessary ordinances passed after the fact. Stressed that it was unwise to pass this ordinance without an Adult Entertainment ordinance. Business owner Ron Alexander presented written arguments in support of the sale of beer and wine by the glass. Said that it would bring in sales tax and allow him to compete with restaurants in Upson and Spalding and allow him to create 15 new jobs. He stressed the difference between a bar and a restaurant. The owner from Mountain View Store on Hwy 19 asked the BOC to allow his store to sell beer and wine on Christmas to allow him the opportunity to compete with stores in Zebulon who are allowed to sell on Christmas. Several citizens spoke in favor of and against the measure. Some spoke toward Ron's character saying that he would run a respectable establishment. Citizen Jimmy Bass expressed concerns that have been expressed in earlier meetings that liquor would follow this vote and that a pouring license will not reduce taxes but will give government more money to spend. Several people expressed thanks to the BOC for letting them speak. Public comment was ended and the motion was put on the table to approve this as the 2nd reading excluding sales on Christmas Day. It was approved 3-2 with Tommy and Jake opposed. A second motion was approved with the same vote approving this measure to begin on November 1, 2008. [Note from the Editor: The issue should not have been about a particular business owner. It is about allowing the pouring of beer and wine in the county when we don't have adequate protection from abuse. And the concern about citizen input is valid. This is an important standard that has been set and citizen input should have been asked for regardless of whether it went on the ballot. (I lived in another county where a nude dancing establishment came in and it took some time to shut it down. The establishment even went to bring your own beer to try to stay open.) This is an issue that I am passionate about and have brought up continuously over the past five or six years. And while the BOC has instructed Rob to look into this, it is not law on the books yet and the clock has started ticking to make sure that it is in place before beer and wine sales take place in the county.]

More later.

JULY 3, 2008
9:00 AM

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry



A. Clifton, Lipford, Hardison and Parker presentation of the 2007 audit.


This meeting was held this morning with all five commissioners in attendance for most of the meeting. I don't know what time Tommy stepped out but he was not there at the conclusion of the meeting at 10:20. Attorney Tom Morton, CM Steve Marro and Nancy Cook were also present.

As it is almost 5:00 p.m. and I have still haven't written anything about this meeting, readers can tell that I am not very happy with what I heard. It is good to know that we have our audits in order, but I believe it was orchestrated to try to bring in a Chief Financial Officer in the Board of Commissioner's Office and I don't support that. I don't think that we can afford it and as a property owner who pays taxes every year, I believe I have a say in that. (I have been told that I goofed with the 72% figure that was on earlier because some of two year's worth of taxes is mixed together. I trust the source as much more knowledgeable on budgets than I am and I do not have the PDF of the presentation yet so I'm making a correction. I've been told that on a normal year, about 50-55% of funding for our county government budget comes from property owners. And I don't care if a Super Walmart would bring that number down as Fry said in the meeting, there are other options that are not so drastic that could bring that number down.)

I also saw a lot of fingerpointing going on at the past auditor and I don't go along with that. Anyone would be able to pick apart the work of those that came before them if they wanted to. Making suggestions for improvements is ok and suggesting that some training be done to bring those in our employment up to the level that they need to be is ok too, but I felt like there was some justifying going on for what Pike citizens are going to end up paying for this 3 year contract with a Macon accounting firm. (Of course, that is just my opinion and I'll be more than happy to consider other opinions and reserve the right to change my mind if someone proves me wrong.)

Maybe everything wasn't done up to the standards of large counties, but we're not a large county and we shouldn't be spending our money like we are. Smaller counties can't always afford to have a CFO. I would like to see what other small counties are doing and compare it to what we've been doing and what we are doing now. And I would like to know what the alternatives are without having to pay for additional time from a CPA who was here this morning and should have been willing to answer that question head-on without an additional meeting plus the hour's worth of travel time back and forth from Macon. And that doesn't include the extra time that we'll be paying for in order to get the presentation researched and put together. Using two CPA firms is the only option that was reluctantly given this morning. We used to do that at one time and if it is needed in the place of a CFO, it would probably be cheaper in the long run. Forgive me for not having the budget at my fingertips to find out how much is being budgeted for next year for the CFO position. I'll post it shortly. I'm still not unpacked from vacation and getting in late last night.

With that said, we do need to change a few things and those changes are already being put into place. (Please keep in mind that I am trying to look at this from an outsider's point of view, but I know that this is an election year and I see certain issues being used in platforms and I do have an opinion on Pike County races so it is difficult. But I'm going to present both sides of this.)

Update 7.5.08: Here are a couple of things that people need to know about the CFO which is already in next year's budget. $62,000 is the asking price for this employee. That doesn't include another 35% or so of that salary for FICA, unemployment, and health benefits for a single person. If they have a family, the health benefits will be more. Of course, the county would not be able to ask that question--and rightly so--but the facts need to be out in the open so it can be discussed with all of the options on the table.

If we looked at this option against having a CPA firm come in and help with monthly maintenance like we used to do, it might be a better financial decision for the county. The CM has said that the BOC office is in need of another employee and knowing that Nancy has her hands full the many duties that she undertakes--I don't have contact with the rest of the office--that very well may be true. However, we could also get some extra training for those who are in employment so they can better handle the finances if that is needed even up to the CM who has hands full dealing with county matters most days but needs the financial training in order to keep on top of his job. The BOC does get monthly financials that can help them keep an eye on what is going on as well as a monthly spreadsheet on SPLOST expenditures and the amount collected and spent for Impact Fees.

The matter of CFO came up in the November 9, 2005 meeting--the same meeting that the CATF was reauthorized by the way--though it had been discussed in January of 2005 as well. (New commissioners came on board in January of 2005.) It was not on the agenda at that time though I'm certain that it was discussed ahead of time by certain members of the BOC who were backing the proposal. A former county commissioner passed out a job description with segregation of duties with a suggestion that an employee be reclassified to handle the finances for this position.

Here are the component units of Pike County government: The Dept of Public Health, the Library, Pike Clean and Beautiful, Water and Sewer Authority, Agribusiness Authority, Development Authority of Pike County, and the Recreation Authority. This CPA ended up doing the audit for the Recreation Authority for the year ending October 31, 2007 because of various problems that were encountered to get it completed. Clifton, Lipford, Hardison, and Parker LLC issued a disclaimer of opinion on this year because a former employee of the Authority--and the county under the Recreation Dept that the BOC created and then later put back under the Recreation Authority--who is under investigation by the GBI for improper use of Recreation Authority--really Recreation Dept--funds because this CPA firm is not aware of the final outcome of this investigation.

Update 7.9.08: Click here to view the Annual Audit Report for 2008 from Clifton, Lipford, Hardison, and Parker LLC. [Note from the Editor: I just received this report last night so I haven't even had the opportunity to look through it myself. There is an editorial from today on the Letters to the Editor page as well.]

[Note from the Editor: I asked some questions, dug through some old information, and found out a few things today at the meeting. (I am correcting a goof here. There are so many numbers... so many meetings... if it isn't written down, it could easily get mixed up. And I have accountability from readers who also attend these meetings to keep me straight. Thank you!) The auditor said that there was some old SPLOST money sitting in an account, but that can't be right because the left over SPLOST was supposed to be used to pay off old debts--and it was because I sat through the meetings where it was debated what could be done with that money and it was finally taken care of the right way--and the remaining amount was supposed to be put into the General Fund to reduce future property taxes. (I'm sure that I will be corrected on how I wrote that so go ahead and send the email to me so I can say it correctly.) It was not supposed to be put into contingency or anything else. State law is quite clear on what can be done with SPLOST overage.

There is $82,433,60 in a couple of accounts that were supposed to have been closed could be some monies from different accounts such as Magistrate, Juvenile Court services, jail construction, and old Sheriff's Office monies--such as drug seizures and forfeitures--somehow ended up in the General Fund. Journal entries will have to be made to adjust these accounts.

I also found out that the CSI system was set up according to state regulations a couple of years ago to ensure that monies like E-911, etc. had their own separate accounts. I don't understand how we wouldn't have those accounts separate now. We'll have to dig into the audit report and see what it says.

I'll write up some more on this meeting after I finish writing up on today's meeting. The PDF file is huge so expect for all of the pages to take a while to download. For those of us who don't have DSL, it will be a LONG time but worth it.]

Submitted 7.1.08
JUNE 24, 2008
6:30 PM

[Note from the Editor: The Town Hall Meeting is not on this agenda but there is always a Town Hall Meeting after the nightly meeting where citizens can bring their concerns before the Commissioners, County Attorney, and County Manager without getting on the agenda to speak. It is an informal question and answer session.

Chairman Fry had said that it would be moved before the meeting adjournment at the past meeting since the CM had left after the adjournment but before the Town Hall meeting at the past nightly meeting. I trust that everyone will stay at this meeting to answer questions if needed and keep our government as open to citizens as possible.]

Update 6.25.08: I will sum up last night's meeting between packing for my trip out of town. I have been fussed at by several people including my sister for taking the website and my politics with me on a vacation but it can't be helped since I am a campaign manager and I am actively working with a couple of campaigns. That's how it goes in an election year and if I have to find a restaurant to do my uploading from, that's how the chips fall. Now on to the meeting last night.

A couple of big things happened last night. One, I was corrected on something that I had forgotten about and have to apologize to readers for. The Town Hall Meetings were instituted when Chairman Steve Fry came into office about 3 1/2 years ago. Steve and I don't agree on a lot of things, but this was a good policy to keep the Board of Commissioners (BOC) accountable to the people by allowing public comment after the nightly meetings. I had forgotten that it was not a mandatory policy so I apologize to CM Marro for coming down so hard on him for leaving the mandatory portion of the meeting. That being said, the BOC and CM (and Rob of course) should feel an obligation to make county government as transparent as possible and open to the people of this county. I appreciate everyone staying last night and answering questions for that extra few minutes. Even with the Town Hall portion after the meeting, everything was done by 10 p.m.

A dept head is being hired the correct way for Planning and Development. The final 3 candidates for this position were announced last night and the 14 day period has begun. [Note from the Editor: We have had problems in the past with the BOC announcing the final candidate and then waiting for the 14 day period--which was a bad thing at the time because we almost hired someone that really did not need to be in Pike County as the CM--and the CM put out an ad to hire a dept head for Planning and Development this last time not realizing that the BOC had to approve that decision. Yes, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and see that he learned from this mistake. As a citizen activist, I cannot require that those in government positions not make any mistakes, but I can demand that they learn from past mistakes. (If we are not perfect, we can't demand it from anyone else.) I am going to get names and spellings of those names before I upload them onto the website for citizens to dig into. The CM thanked those who had participated in the hiring process by sitting in on interviews, etc. Thank you to the CM for doing this the right way so no one can complain or accuse anyone of underhanded tactics.]

Animal Control will not be on the November ballot. It just did not get followed through on. [Note from the Editor: I don't know that we have the money to institute this now anyway, but I do know that there are citizens working very hard to make animal control a reality in Pike County. They don't expect tax payers to completely fund this and are putting their money and efforts where their mouth is. Yard sale information is on the Calendar of Events page. They are still taking donations but we're getting close to the deadline. Call them quick if you have something that you would like to donate. Yes, that was a shameless plug for something that I support. It's my website, what can I say?!]

The cap on property tax evaluation is being looked at in a serious way. If Pike County wants to go with this, it will have to go before the state legislature next year and then go to voters at some point in a special election. [Note from the Editor: A special election is not cool for taxpayer dollars but that is how the chips fall on this. I think some serious digging needs to go into this cap on property taxes before people just endorse it out of a need for tax relief. If the BOC adopts this and voters vote it in, it will only affect the county portion of property taxes. It will not affect the school portion of taxes. The BOE could adopt this, but I am not sure that is a wise idea. The state and federal government are notorious for passing down mandatory rules without any funds to take care of those things that the schools must do. An overhaul of the state and federal government would be great! Billy Maddox, Ronnie Chance and Lynn Westmoreland have shown their beliefs in smaller state and federal government with their votes. I am not happy with the US Senate right now on a number of issues so I won't go there, but I do appeciate our representatives that are looking out for Pike County. And I do support tax relief for our seniors for the school and county taxes.]

Pike County is in the process of approving a beer and wine ordinance. This would allow pouring of beer and wine in restaurant establishments and not liquor, but I questioned this because we do not have an adult entertainment ordinance in place. Margie Trammell questioned whether Zoning Procedures Law had been followed as well. [Note from the Editor: My concern here is two-fold. First, there was not public hearings on this. We were told that it wasn't required. I am going to look into that. Public hearings are required for changes to our ordinances. My second and main concern is that we do not have an adult entertainment (strip club) ordinance in place at this time. The directive was given to CM and county attorney to devise ordinance on Adult Entertainment at the morning meeting and I know that they are working on this and I was told when I addressed this last night that there is a large percentage of food sales that would be required for this, but I still don't think it's a good idea to do this without the adult entertainment ordinance in place.] This was just a first reading and there will be second reading at the next meeting so citizens have the opportunity to put in an Open Records Request for this information from the BOC office or you can ask to review the ordinance in the office. Keep in mind that Nancy has her hands full and it will not be handed to you immediately. It would be nice if the county website could post information like this so she would not have to stop handling county matters to take care of an open records request for information that could be easily uploaded onto the county website. [Note from the Editor: I do not have the time or capacity to upload an ordinance for the county because everything on my website is uploaded from scratch. That means that every place there is a blank space between paragraphs, I inserted code to tell the page to skip a line. Just in case anyone was wondering, it is a definite no.]

Update 7.1.08: John Morrison was on the agenda to discuss "unanswered questions" and the fire stations. He read a prepared statement to the BOC as he has at the previous two meetings when he was on the agenda. He asked for the names of the people who gave recommendations to hire Planner and Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickerson. He said that CM Marro had said that he talked with people at the state and Chairman Fry had said that he talked with builders and others that they had worked with. John asked again who these people were. He then went on to address the fire stations by saying that the problems with the fire station bids were blamed on bad communication with Fire Chief Tom Tyree at the past meeting, but that he (John) maintains that the last round of bids was after CM Marro "met privately and individually" with the bidders. John said that was the cause of the two bidders putting in bids with the rear doors included and the one bidder putting in a bid without the rear doors. He asked why Tom Tyree was being blamed for this. The CM reiterated that the October 25th bid addendum said no rear doors. Parrish mentioned that electric door openers were left out as well and that the Williamson upstairs had been stubbed out and that Lifsey Springs had not. BOC consensus on bottom line on the fire stations is that we got these fire stations to take care of the stations that needed it the most before renovations were done to the other stations. There are some things that were not included in the initial building of the fire stations that will have to be done later because the SPLOSt does not have enough money to cover all of the extra items, but the buildings are still being built and the rest can be added later. Then the first question was addressed by Chairman Fry who was obviously agitated because he said that if members talked to other people about hiring Dawn Dickerson, "I don't know what business it is of yours." Steve went on to say that BOC members talk to a lot of people in the course of doing county business and they don't write down who all they talk to and that he specifically did not remember who all he had spoken to about Dawn Dickerson. Chairman Fry then went on to chastise John for continuing to bring these same issues before the board because he was wasting their time. [Note from the Editor: My thoughts on this are that the point has been made and it is not going to help matters to keep bringing it up. Mistakes have been made in the past as I said at the beginning of the meeting and mistakes have not been repeated. At some point, we have to move on. I'm not saying to forget the past, but we need to learn from the past and live in the present without making the same mistakes over and over.]

Go to the Pike County Government website to read the minutes from this meeting by clicking here.

JUNE 11, 2008

    D. County Attorney Report

    A. Beer and wine sales on Election Day
    B. Don Bailey to give an animal control update
    C. Precision Planning to give an update

    A. CSI presentation on software and hardware changes at Planning and Development
    B. Appoint one (1) member to the Board of Assessors
    C. Appoint one (1) member to the Library Board
    D. Presentation of the 2008/2009 draft budget
    E. Audit Presentation by Clifton, Lipford, Hardison and Parker
    F. First Reading of an ordinance imposing a wireless enhanced 9-1-1 charge for
    Phase II Service

    -Pending Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)

X. PUBLIC COMMENT- (Limited to 5 minutes per person)
    A. John Morrison to discuss Planning and Zoning
    B. John Morrison to discuss ‘unanswered questions’
    C. Margie Trammell to discuss committees and commissions
    D. Jimmy Bass to discuss property taxes
    E. Jimmy Bass to discuss Planning and Development
    F. Brent Taylor to discuss support for animal control


CM REPORT: Everyone was present at the BOC meeting including both Rob and Tom Morton with the exception of Tommy Powers. Tommy is getting a pacemaker put in. Please keep him and his family in your prayers for a quick and healthy recovery.

The charge on our cell phones will soon go from $1.00 to $1.50 as E-911 moves into Phase II. (Not $100. Sorry!) This will allow 911 Dispatch to see the location of an emergency call within 50 feet of where the phone is located. People are abandoning land lines and going with cell phones. The $4,800 is budgeted and E-011 will generate probably at least half of that back in fees. Motion to approve. 4-0.

Hughley-Huckaby Road was changed to Hughley Road by an official action of the BOC on March 8, 2000 in a 4-0 decision. Therefore, the sign will say Hughley Road when it is completed. A claim for damages in car repairs has been made to the county by a newspaper carrier whose car slid on red mud that was covering a culdesac in Fawnbrook. There is an exist erosion problem in this location on a piece of property that the owner has seeded repeatedly and it refuses to take root. It busted a tire and broke an axle so it was a pretty hard hit. Rob advised the BOC to have the CM submit the police report and claim to the insurance carrier and let them say yes or no. An issue like this will not come before the BOC again now that the CM has been given direction with it. The CM is looking to put reserve monies into higher yielding accounts. He will give local banks the opportunity to match the out of state bank's rates before he just moves it over.

Business licensing in Pike County is looking at a revision. I did not realize that everyone pays $35 plus $1 for each employee from a small business owner all of the way up to the major businesses in this county. Apparently this is the way it has always been done. The CM was talking about making some changes to this and that is not a bad thing, but if we are looking at ordinances to change it, I hope we don't go so big that we overburden business the way that property owners are being taxed. On the lines of finding more money to stop the burden on property owners (I hope so anyway) some company offered to do an audit of our worker's comp. I don't understand what it was all about but I did understand that they wanted 50% of what they found no matter how high it was. The BOC acknowledged that we need additional revenues but said this was not a good way to find it. Two pieces of equipment that the road dept does not use are going to be taken to an auction in Florida with a minimum bid on them. It will cost taxpayers nothing for it to go down and if minimum bids are not met, they will come back to Pike County. BOC approved this 4-0.

Employee badges were discussed but not the lovely No Pets signs that adorn the BOC office and meeting room. (Please click on the We Are Pike County page to see this sign.) Employees in all county offices except for those working for elected officials are required to have these badges on them at all times to prove that they work for Pike County if a question is asked. [Note from the Editor: I can see how the Tax Assessor's Office would need them as they visit properties around the county. I can see where it would be warranted in some cases for the rest of the employees. Each card has a bar code that can be swiped somewhere I'm sure. Maybe they are used to clock in and out, who knows? I left a message for the CM to call me about the pet signs and the badges and will report on them when I receive this return call.]

COMMISSIONERS REPORT: District 1 Roosevelt Willis: He has been asking about the fire stations. Why the doors weren't put in, etc. Said that he doesn't think it is the CM. Said he thought it was a lack of communication with the fire chief not attending some meetings. He went from there to Mickel and Becker getting fired and asked why they were fired so the public would know. Rob said that he did not have a copy of the separation notices in front of him but failure to abide by certain provisions of the county ordinance by presence of sexually explicit materials on their computer and dissemination of sexually explicit materials to other employees. Also allegations of personal use of county property including phones and computers during work hours for personal benefit. Failure to perform duties as assigned. Allegations related to former duties based on discriminatory factors being done for some citizens and not others so citizens not being treated equally. Checks that were found that were not processed for over a year. Main allegation was creating a hostile environment in this department. [Note from the Editor: It came to light toward the end of the meeting that George Mickel had not received his official dismissal letter that was sent to him by certified mail. It was returned to the BOC office unopened because it was unclaimed. (That letter was in his file, but he did receive a copy of it when he challenged his Worker's Compensation Denial and won his appeal against the county.) This letter was sent while George was handling his Father's affairs out of town so this could have been the reason that he did not get it according to the CM. I have a copy of information from the dismissal with pay notice but not official dismissal notice. It is available at the BOC office for review without payment unless someone wants a copy of it.] It was stressed that this information is available to the public in its entirety with the exception of personal information and other redacted information that would be in violation of the Open Records Act to divulge.

Update 6.19.08: District 2 Parrish Swift: Asked about the fire stations. The projected finish date for the fire stations is the end of June according to the CM. Asked if we had a bill from Mark Whitley yet. CM advised that bids have been opened but that the new dept head for Planning and Development will be making this decision and not him. Mark was preparing a bill in line with lin items on the RFP. Discussion that we don't know what we are being charged for his services and that of his staff over the past several months. Motion to cease using service until we receive a bill to kno what we are being charged. Approved 4-0.

District 4 Jake Garner: Said that the CM needs to be present for Town Hall meetings. These are part of the meeting. Chairman Fry said that was easily fixed by making the Town Hall part of the official meeting and calling adjournment until after the Town Hall meeting. [Note from the Editor: I don't understand why the meeting has to be changed around to ensure that the CM stay for the entire meeting including the Town Hall. All that was required to ensure that the CM stay for the Town Hall was for the BOC to advise the CM that he needs to stay for the Town Hall because it is part of the meeting. The BOC has had the Town Hall meeting policy since before the current CM was hired. It should not be a problem now and I'm sure his contract would accommodate that request. Accountability to the citizens is important and we appreciate the fact that the BOC and the CM want our county government to be as easily accessible and transparent as possible.]

Update 6.21.08: Discussion of property tax re-evaluations. [Note from the Editor: I'm not writing on this because it is a moot point. Thank you to the Board of Assessors for realizing the problem with re-evaluations and voting to go back to the 2007 property tax values.] Discussion went from there to the property tax freeze that Rob had been asked to look into. Said that he had obtained legislation from another county to review. [Note from the Editor: While I was at the school board budget meeting, I heard some information about property tax freezes that made me stop and think about whether this property tax freeze is such a good thing after all. Property owners need some relief in a big way, but the schools get their funding from taxes too. We need to check this thing out before we jump on board. I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly before I make a decision.]

More on the fire trucks that were supposed to be delivered in mid-June. Now looking at mid-July. American La France is in bankruptcy and the bankruptcy court rejected the contract on May 28th. Discussion about warranty concerns with different warranties on different parts. City of Meansville is handling their own truck. Specs look the same as they were but warranties are a concern.

Rob gave an update on the ordinances. Said that they are compiled in a folder from the extensive review. The contract has been conpleted for the paralegal doing this work. All work by paralegal has ceased. Land use had most changes and discrepencies. Will meet with several citizens who have kept up with changes to compare what the county has.

More later.

MAY 27, 2008
6:30 PM

ZEBULON, GA - Last night's meeting was attended by all of the commissioners with the exception of Chairman Steve Fry. Also present were County Manager (CM) Steve Marro, Nancy Cook to take the minutes, and Attorney Rob Morton.

It was a good meeting with a short town hall meeting after the meeting where citizens were allowed to ask questions including getting a verification that no numbers have been given to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) from the engineering firm that is helping get the Planning and Zoning Dept (P & Z) back up to speed.

The exceptions to this rule were finding out that a $9,000 check has been tacked to a board and not cashed for a year down at P & Z--the owner of that check has given assurance that he will give a check to the county to replace the year old check--and the early exit of the CM from the meeting room before the Town Hall meeting began. The CM stayed for the end of the meeting itself but left without telling the BOC that he was doing so.

It was too bad that the CM did not have the grace to stay and answer questions as did the others in our county government. Issues needed to be addressed and the air needed to be cleared about issues from Mark Whitley's invoice to the county and a citizen being told that he needed to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to view the amount bid for services that were opened in the open meeting last night along with 16 other bids to budget numbers that are all over the board. Kudos were given to Mark Whitley and his associates for the job performed up to now by citizens during this town hall meeting time.

The entire meeting was over by 10 p.m. which was a nice change. More in an hour or so.

The first item on the agenda was the public hearing for Michael and Taunya Smith on Old Zebulon Road. It involves a land application facility that would have 10 trucks per day maximum going in at this time. This was a Special Exception rather than rezoning and is tied to the current owner. [Note from the Editor: Thank you to the boards and the BOC for taking this as a special exception rather than as a rezoning to manufacturing. You listened to citizen and board member suggestions and protected property owners in that area from spot zoning.] The following is what was presented from P & Z.

"The Board of Appeals recommended approval with the Staff's recommendations stipulated as follows: 1) DRI approval and recommendation from the Environmental Review Board; 2) Submittal, review and approval by the EPD of the proposed facility plan; 3) Health Dept as well as hte County Engineer should be involved with the review and monitoring process; 4) Stipulated that the financial component of this facility be addressed as part of the Land Disturbance Permit from the County if the EPD does not address this issue to assure that this facility is properly maintained, operated and closed at the proper time; 5) The applicant will still need a Land Disturbance Permit from the County if the EPD approves the plan; and 6) Any variation from the current request by the applicant should void approval of the Special Exception. The staff recommends approval with stipulations #2, #3, #5, and #6. Approvals from Item #1 have already been obtained as well as from the Board of Appeals. Item #4 will be addressed in the applicant's review and approval process to the EPD."

#1 has already been done and #4 is a condition of the EPD. Motion to approve with the Special Exception to be for this owner only with the inclusion of the stipulations #2, #3, #5, and #6. 4-0.

The second public hearing was for Woodland Homes subdivision of property. 80 feet is now required for right of way for subdivisions in Pike County. Our environmental ordinances will be followed including the buffer zones around the pond and along the river. This subdivision of property was approved with a stipulation for crossdrains and pond.

Reports from Commissioners, Depts, Committees and Authorities were approved. A lawnmower was bought in Pike County instead of going elsewhere. Commissioner Parrish Swift commented on being happy to see a lawnmower bought here.

Pike County will soon be part of a 10 county region which will include Newnan and LaGrange because of recent legislative changes. McIntosh Trail is our current RDC and has about 1 year of operating reserves. The Chat-Flint region that we are now merging with does not have this reserve or per capita spent per person. Waiting to find out where the office will be relocated. RDC helps counties out with various tasks such as the Comprehensive Plan, etc. so this directly affects Pike County.

The budget process is underway. CM Marro commented about budget shortfall innuendo and tried to make it sound like it was not a concern. [Note from the Editor: I am concerned when both Tommy Burnsed and Carol Bass are talking about this and have the numbers in front of them to back up what they're saying. Tommy caught the million dollar error in this year's budget. I think they ought to be heard out. The county is spending money for this and that and I'm not sure we have it to be throwing around. We need to keep some built up in our fund balance (not contingency-thanks Carol!) from year to year and not spend it all. More is coming on this at the Town Hall meeting.] Cash flow analysis is underway. The audit is not quite complete. The new firm is checking line items. [Note from the Editor: The more I think about what is going on with the new auditing firm, the more I am not happy with it because it sounds like the new firm is doing exactly what the past auditor was doing that got her disqualified from placing a much lower bid to do our auditing this year. To borrow a phrase from another activist, it don't smell good.]

The zoning moratorium for lack of qualified personnel died on Saturday. Nothing was done with it at this meeting. The CM is not worried about staffing at this time. There are applications in for the head position at P & Z and that will stay open until filled.

Update 5.29.08 District 1 concerns: Roosevelt asked the CM to check with Albritton to find out why the doors were omitted. The CM advised that Chief Tyree had specified a row of glass windows that were also omitted from the final. Albritton thinks that there may have been a miscommunication and that is why the back doors were left off of the final bid. Said that we should have paid someone to walk us through this process. District 2 concerns: Parrish is upset that the buck is getting passed on the fire station doors. They were never bid as back in bays and he has been told by two bidders that they never bid as back in bays--always drive through bays. CM advised that the final addendum says no drive through bays. District 4: Jake thanked the road dept for work on mowing and right of way. CM explained that there are two different crews that go out to work the mowing and ditches. One is set up to do dirt roads and the other set up for paved roads so this will explain why work is done on some roads at one time and not on some of the surrounding roads.

5.30.08 County Attorney's Report: Rob said that he had spoken with Albritton about the fire stations. Albritton was paid to do the architectural drawings but not to do the bid or contract administration. He was told that one of the fire stations had a slope that would have eliminated the pull through doors, but that Albritton would not have removed the back doors unilaterally without instruction.

Update 6.2.08 Commissioner Willis asked why the Tax Assessor's Office would tell a citizen to call their commissioner about their reassessment. The CM advised that this is the response to those who are irate about their property assessments is to talk to their commissioner and the CM. Discussion about reevaluation and that the BOC has the right to lower the milleage rate and that state law requires a reevaluation every 3 years. There is a penalty if this isn't done according to state specifications. Commissioner Powers advised that no one has been to his property to view it because his wife is home 24/7. He doesn't believe that we should have increases when the price of everything is going down every day. Motion to allow public comment. 4-0.

Margie Trammell advised that she had gone to the website for the software that is being used for Pike County property reevaluation and she learned on that website is that they do everything from software without visiting the property. http://wingap.com/ She was told that this was on land and not houses. She told the BOC, "You don't make the rules but this county is fixing to blow up." There are fallacies in a system that is set up like this. We have enough problems without this. John Morrison said that he went to file an appeal this morning (the day of the meeting). Said that there was an attempt in the office to discuss this with him, but he only wanted to discuss it with the person he was setting up an appointment to see. Doug Rounds has had a problem with the Tax Assessor's Office already because of his CUVA situation. He said that his tax assessment went up 100% even with streams and wetlands that he cannot build on. Said that no one came to look at his property. Also said that the one acre parcel with the abandoned house across the road went up too. "I am a millionaire on paper," he said.

The question was asked how much would a reassessment be by Commissioner Swift. The CM said that the BOC could call the Board of Assessors before them to give an explanation. Carol Bass said that Pike County paid $16,000 for help with the assessment and that she did not think that the reassessment was a requirement from the state this year. Parrish made a motion for the County Attorney to check into whether reassessment was needed this year and how many appeals are needed for a mandatory reassessment. 4-0.

Juvenile Court Judge amount that Pike County has been asked to pay into is prorated at $1,576 per quarter and not $6,000. Chief Juvenile Judge would be happy to meet with the BOC if needed. Motion to approve the prorated share of this budget to combine 2 part-time positions into 1 full-time position. 4-0.

Update 6.5.08: The Chamber of Commerce requested the BOC to adopt a resolution to allow for the closure of Twin Oaks Road for the 4th of July Pride of Pike Celebration. Motion to approve 4-0.

Opening of the request for bids for Engineering Services for Pike County. There were a total of 17 bids that were opened at the meeting. Bids ran from a low of $40 to $95 per hour (depending on the service provided) for Whitney Engineering (currently working with Planning and Zoning) to a high of $85 to $195 (depending on the service provided) from an Atlanta firm. Motion to receive the bids as submitted. 4-0

Motion to allow public comment. 4-0. Tommy Burnsed asked what is the push to hire an engineer? He said that he is concerned about an open -ended checking account because department heads may get lazy and use the engineer when there are things that they are capable of doing without the help of an engineer. Consensus that we need to put limits on this. Margie Trammell said that she was told that once there is a dept head in P&Z that they would have the opportunity to bring in an engineer whenever necessary. She asked if all dept heads will use the engineer. 3 of the BOC members were outspoken that this would not be open-ended--Jake, Parrish, and Tommy. Roosevelt was listening and I expect that he will chime in on this before it is all said and done as well. Plan review was the big thing that was talked about.

McIntosh Trail RDC contract for the 2009 Public Transportation program. This is the little bus that travels all over a 5 county area taking passengers on a one-way trip for $2. The program has grown because of the cost of gas with people using this service to travel back and forth to work. Fuel is currently $20,000 per month. Currently, the RDC is looking at a 5 county fuel contract to try to get some bargaining power for the cost of fuel. This is their 2009 budget information and it was approved 4-0. (See story dated 6.7.08.) Budget Amendment #8: District 4 Health Services (GEMA) and maintain public health trailer of supplies and equipment. This was voted in at the last meeting and is not taking any taxpayer funds. The $1,500 check was taken into one account but has to be moved into another. It will carry over from year to year unless the funds are spent. Whichever county uses the trailer has to be the one to request funds from GEMA to restock the trailer.

Update 6.7.08: Budget Amendment #9: Transfer funds from the Pike County Library Impact Fee to the Library Capital Outlay for relocation of the old United Bank building. $22,000 to move the building and dry it in. Motion to allow public comment 4-0. John Morrison asked if the amount covered the survey, drying in the building, etc. Said he had no problem with this expenditure. Motion to approve $22,000 moved from Impact Fee to Library Capital Outlay for this relocation. Discussion: Bishop Movers is doing the move. Includes site prep, drying in, move, stump removal, entrance, etc. [Note from the Editor: Commissioners say that there was a bit of representation on this because they thought that this was brought to them on the behalf of the Library Board. The CM heard complaints from some on the library board and tried to bring the project to a halt even after the BOC had voted to move forward with it. At the April 29th meeting, BOC members said that they didn't have enough information after the project had been going on since the first meeting of the year. Here's the long and the short of it. There is plans for a future facility in the 2007 Capital Improvements Element and Short-term work program. The future facility is listed at 6,400 feet and was supposed to be placed in the biggest population area, which would be Williamson around 2010- 2011. It was slated to cost $1,006,500.00 with $98.9% of that amount being available through Impact Fees. That being said, I have been told and cannot dispute the fact that just because something is in the Capital Improvements Plan doesn't mean that it has to be because things do get revised or pushed back in the Capital Improvements Plan all of the time due to lack of funds. All the same, the opportunity arose to get this done at a much lower price with financial help from United Bank. I believe that the BOC made a good financial decision with taxpayer dollars. More questions should have been asked by the BOC since there were concerns later on in the move (and I hope that the CM has learned from this experience as well) but this should be chalked up to experience and we need to go on.]

Peach State Airport has asked for an Impact Fee credit of $219,060.00. This is not in actual cash but a credit in exchange for what this business has done for the county. Included in this amount is $39,000 for the fair market appraisal of 1 acre of land for a fire station for the county and $180,000 for water lines that were extended to his development that can be used anyone who moves in along the water line. Mr. Ross, the administrator of our Impact Fee program, ok'd this credit toward future impact fees as the recreation of the old Candler Airport comes into being right here in our county. During this discussion, it was said that a $9,000 check had been thumbtacked to a board over at Planning and Development for over a year and had not been cashed for impact fees on the Peach State Airport project. The owner has said that he will write another check to the county to replace this check which is no longer any good. [Note from the Editor: Perhaps I shouldn't even chime in on this, but I cannot imagine why a check for $9,000 that is going to Impact Fees was not cashed within an acceptable period of time. All I am going to say is that I have been assured that things are being run differently over at Planning and Development now.] Motion to credit this business owner with a $219,000 credit toward future impact fees. 4-0

Executive Session for pending/potential litigation and personnel in Planning and Development began at 8:40 p.m. and ended at 9:07 p.m. No action was taken.

Deputy Fire Chief Bill Dials discuss the new fire stations and putting glass panels in the roll up bay doors. This would be $200 more per door for panels but is a safety aspect as well as cutting down on electricity costs and had been discussed since the beginning. How it got left out is still a mystery that hopefully we won't see again. Motion to approve the panels in doors with no more than $200 per door. 11 doors will be about $2,200. [Note from the Editor: I think it would be good to get this project rolling because the trucks will be here shortly. And I hope we don't ever see anything like the fiasco that has surrounded this project because of the way that the bidding was done.]

Jimmy Bass discussed putting a cap on property tax assessments in Pike County. Jimmy brought this forward and asked for a freeze for current property owners based on 2007 digest. Many counties in Georgia do this. Motion for the County Attorney to research capping property taxes at the 2007 tax assessment. 4-0. [Note from the Editor: Our current property tax situation is the reason that the State of Georgia considered getting rid of all property taxes. We need some relief and the commissioners are doing well to look into it.]

John Morrison discussed "the total Destruction of our Planning and Zoning Dept. by One Steve Marro." He called for an investigation into the hiring of Dawn Dickerson and accused the CM of creating a hostile work environment "when He sent a commissioner to obtain controversial information on his own." He complained that the BOC appointed a Grievance Board to look into the incident at Planning and Development and then turned those findings back over to the CM where harrassment continued until Wendell Becker and George Mickel were fired. Then he asked whether Dawn Dickerson was still on the county's payroll since he received an e-mail from her on April 22 after she had resigned. He asked why there were no records available on how much Mark Whitley was being paid. And he asked if Mark Whitley was referred to Mr. Marro by the same People who referred Dawn Dickerson. Then he went on to address the fire stations. John complained about the bidding process on the fire stations that the CM was in charge of. He accused the CM of revising the specs with the intent of reducing the bid price with the ending that two bidders rebid with the back doors in and the winning bidder left the rear doors out with the CM saying that the bids were apples to apples but the winning bid was not the true low bidder.

The BOC and Planning and Development addessed John's concerns. Discussion ranged from direct answers to these questions to Parrish asking if it was breaking the Interlocutory Agreement to ask questions about county business. Rob addressed Parrish's question by saying that as long as there is no quorum and the BOC member is not interfering with the day to day operations of the county, BOC members are allowed to obtain information. [Note from the Editor: The problem comes in when BOC members are directly giving orders to county employees or administering tests down at the road department to find out who is proficient at their job to determine their pay. I don't care who says it's ok, that would be the job of the CM in our form of county government. Common sense should be used and if things get heated, ask the CM to handle it to get the needed information.]

Jake advised that that the rate at which Whitley is charging the county was confidential until the bids were opened tonight. No bill has been received by the county for the services rendered by Mark Whitley since he and Joan have stepped in to help with the Planning and Development Department. Motion to get a bill for services rendered to the county with a breakdown by projects. 4-0.

Assurance was given that Dawn Dickerson is no longer on the county payroll. The email that went to John was sent out by Joan and she said that she was brand new in the office at the time and did not have her own email at that time so she used Dawn's. Joan apologized. That problem has since been remedied. Roosevelt said that the CM did not send him to obtain controversial information but that he got it of his own accord. The information on Wendell and George is open records. John alleged that the allegations changed between the firing and of late. BOC members said that they were not aware of this. Motion to adjourn at 9:32.

TOWN HALL MEETING went on until almost 10 p.m. I commend BOC members for staying and answering some tough questions. It did not reflect well on the CM to disappear as soon as the official meeting was over instead of staying with the BOC to answer questions. At the end of the night, questions were answered and I think it went well all things considered.

Joy Walker spoke first and she berated the BOC for a citizen being asked to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to obtain public records information from the county about what Mark Whitley was being paid by the county. (Jimmy Bass refused to sign that agreement by the way.) She said that citizens should not have a problem obtaining open records information from the county. [Note from the Editor: It would be a whole lot simpler (to just about quote Jimmy) if open records information was given to whoever asked it without making anyone jump through hoops or complaining that some are bugging the county to death. (Occasionally, I am in that bugging the county to death so I can understand something.) Give people what they ask for with a smile--grit your teeth if necessary--and send them on their way. It doesn't look like you're hiding anything that way.]

Carol Bass is on the CATF Subcommittee reviewing SPLOST expenditures. She asked about the $30,000 to clear fire station properties. [Note from the Editor: I don't understand what is going on with this but will bring that information forward when it is released by the SPLOST Subcommittee.] Then she went into the budget. Also said that revenues cannot be less than our expenditures. She said that the revenue was reduced to $9,423,293 at one point, but where is it now? Our original budget number on July 31st was $10,217,076 and that is not there any longer either. She said that we are required by the state to have a zero-based budget and we don't have that.

Jimmy Bass said that he was the one who was told that he would have to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to obtain open records information. He was angry that the CM walked out of the meeting when citizens want to ask him questions. Jimmy said that it is a whole lot simpler to tell people what they want to know.

Tommy Burnsed also spoke about the budget. He has been pulling the numbers on a monthly basis too. He said that after pulling out one time payments out in departments, property tax payments, etc. and dividing into 12 months said that the county is behind $160,000 to $170,000 and says we may be behind as much as $300,000. Need to be watching this carefully.

Mark Whitley spoke about his contract. He said that he wanted to jump in and try to help things because he lives in Pike County. Said his charges would be reasonable and not going to gauge the county. Said that the reason he had not submitted an amount to the county was because he would get underbid by others who were putting in to do the same services for the county as he is now. CM ok'ed him to withhold the amount. It is exactly true that I have not submitted a bill to the county.

Harold Calloway asked him to clarify that. "Did you tell Marro verbally?" Mark replied, "No." Jake said that he was told $100 per hour and Parrish said that he was told $105. Mark said that this could have been interpretted from conversations but that he never gave a firm numbers on hourly rate.

More soon.

Board of Commissioners Morning Meeting

The Board of Commissioners met on May 14, 2008 at 9 a.m. Present at the beginning of the meeting was 4 commissioners, County Attorneys Rob and Tom Morton, Nancy Cook to take the minutes, and CM Steve Marro. Commissioner Jake Garner came into the meeting at 11:40 a.m.

REPORTS FROM COMMISSIONERS, DEPARTMENTS,COMMITTEES AND AUTHORITIES: ISO Discussion: CATF ISO (Insurance Service Office) Subcommittee is working with the county to get our fire insurance rates lowered. Possibility of substantial savings based on dry hydrants, E-911, etc. Pike County has not been rated by ISO since E-911 came into being here in Pike County and the dry fire hydrants have never been rated. If ISO is lowered from a 9 to an 8, there can be savings as high as $800 or $900 on fire insurance for our homes. Dry hydrants will be flushed and maintained on a bi-yearly basis. Info that the Chairman received from a group that helps counties prepare for ISO will be turned over to this CATF subcommittee.

The CM gave a rebuttal on the library since he was not present at the past meeting. [Note from the Editor: I am still not nice enough to write on it. I may just upload the letter from Paul Faulds and the rebuttal from the CM and let the citizens make up their own minds. I'll give the background so citizens can make an informed decision.]

Pike County has an SNS/BT trailer stationed here in Pike County that will serve us and surrounding counties in a time of emergency. GEMA stocks this trailer that is filled with generators, portable heaters, dry goods, etc. If anything is used, the county that uses it will make a list of used items to go to GEMA so they can restock this trailer. There is no cost to Pike County citizens and no liability on our part for this. We just keep a watchful eye on the trailer and its contents. Thanks from CM to EMA Director Mike Singleton for getting this for us. CM advised that the BOC meeting room will be the Emergency Operations Center if there was an emergency in our county. The EMA Director is looking for some sort of funding/grants for a generator that will run the BOC meeting room in a time of emergency because our current generator will not run both the emergency trailer and the BOC meeting room as Emergency Ops Center.

Another change order on Hughley/Huckaby Road was resented to the BOC. Long and short of this is that the GA DOT did not require an engineer to sign off on these plans. More on this later in the meeting. This cross drain was buried and it would not have been seen unless an engineer went back and possibly walked the property. It will cost $3,969.84 to put in a dump box and drain into the field because the ingress/egress lane will cover the current pipe. Motion to pay this amount out of contingency. 3-1 with Swift opposed.

Commissioner Swift asked if there was some sort of resolution on noise complaints that he has been hearing for some time. Bottom line on this is that the two neighbors have been fussing for years and the neighbors simply don't get along. Without a noise ordinance, there is nothing that can be done on this other than what has been done through the county. At some point, citizens may have to take this civil matter on their own.

Update 5.23.08: There was discussion about the go-cart track that has brought forth many complaints too. Donnie Bennett had agreed to testing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1-5 p.m. but complaints about noise after those hours keep coming in. There is also an environmental complaint with this property because of land disturbance and dirt being brought in to fill an old pond prior to Bennett's acquiring the property. The EPD is involved and Bennett will have to comply with state laws. State will deal with this. A business license was supposed to be applied for because of parts being made on site but it has not been. The county attorney tried to contact Bennett unsuccessfully.

The BOC asked the county attorney to look into a noise ordinance. And the BOC is finally looking into getting an adult entertainment ordinance drawn up for Pike County!! [Note from the Editor: We can't outlaw adult entertainment, but the laws can be drawn up to make it so difficult that it would not be worth the time to have an adult entertainment establishment in Pike County. Curves Bar and Grill did not last long in Spalding, but we don't want to have to deal with that or any toy and book stores here. It has been a LONG time in the works. Thank you to the BOC for finally moving forward on this issue. We need the law for protection in this county.] Motion to give directive to CM and county attorney to devise ordinance on Adult Entertainment. 4-0. Motion to give directive to CM and county attorney to devise ordinance on noise. 4-0.

Board of Commissioners
Regular Monthly Meeting
April 29, 2008
6:30 pm

Update 4.30.08: Last night's meeting was interesting to say the least. It was attended by all five commissioners with Nancy taking the minutes and County Attorney Rob Morton. There were a few new faces at the meeting as well as a few that we had not seen in a while. Georgia Broadband sent a representative to videotape the meeting so it should be going on our cable station soon.

INVITED GUEST- Teri Totten to discuss county fundraiser information: Terri came before the Board of Commissioners (BOC) to let them know about the upcoming fundraiser for the fire departments in Pike County. Representatives will visit Pike residents on behalf of the fire departments and ask citizens to participate in this picture fundraiser for fire. Representatives will not be from the fire dept and should say that they are a company soliciting funds for Pike County Fire. $40 will get residents a sitting and free portrait at the fire depts. One half of the proceeds of this fundraiser will go to the fire depts. Citizens are welcome to make a donation over the $40 and anything over the $40 will go 100% to the fire depts. The decision to go with this type of fundraiser was made because the past picture fundraiser did not raise needed funds. Terri and other representatives from the fire depts sat at four different craft fairs so citizens would not be solicited at their homes by a picture company fundraiser, but they only raised $1,200. Compared to the $17,000-$25,000 that is normally their portion of the fundraisers, $1200 was a disappointment and did not cover needed fire costs for our volunteer fire depts. This solicitation will begin on Thursday, May 1st. Dates for pictures will be put online as soon as they are firmed up. Terri advised the BOC of the fundraiser because there had been complaints from citizens about past solicitations where the company reps said they were a part of Pike County Fire. This company will not do this and citizens are encouraged to contact their commissioners if this happens so Terri can take care of it. Support our local fire depts with this picture fundraiser and throw in some extra over the $40 that will go completely to support our volunteer fire depts. Citizens can also support Fire Auxilliary by buying the green reflective address signs. Information on that as well as a picture is on the bottom of the Calendar of Events page.


5.1.08: Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities and County Manager Report presentation to Commissioners: CM not present at meeting. Chairman Fry said that the fiscal numbers on depts look ok. Said at first glance like some look like they've been overspent but a closer look shows that some of the depts have had to make one-time yearly payment on some bills. Hopefully the county depts will keep in mind that we need to save as much as possible and not spend everything simply to justify their budgets for next year. Said that Planning and Zoning is actually working well even though short-staffed.

5.2.08: Commissioners Report: Commissioner Roosevelt Willis commended Public Works Director Todd Goolsby for a job well done at the Road Dept. Said that he has seen significant changes and improvements there. Chairman Fry gave kudos as well. Commissioners asked about Anthony Brooks, son of Scottie Brooks who is employed by Pike County Public Works. Anthony was severely injured while working as a carnival ride operator in DeKalb County on Sunday, April 27th. Keep Anthony and his family in your thoughts and prayers. A question about whether there is a way to handle noise complaints in Pike County. [Note from the Editor: Pike does not have a noise ordinance at this time, but I would think that common sense could handle at least some of this. Working on engines, riding bikes or go carts, having a loud party, etc. after a certain hour in the evening should be handled by the authorities if a complaint is given. I don't understand why authorities would have to buy a piece of equipment that measures decibles in order to give a ticket for noise. I think we are over-regulating ourselves, but then again, I am one that thinks more common sense is needed in government in general and that we ought to treat each other with respect.]

The Code Review is nearing completion by the paralegal who has been engaged to go back through everything to 2002 and figure out what we have as far as ordinances and what we're missing according to the minutes from past meetings. [Note from the Editor: Apparently, ordinances that were passed and signed into law were put into meetings packets instead of being placed with the official minutes from the meetings and some of the original ordinances were removed from the BOC office instead of making a copy of the ordinance and taking a copy down to Planning and Zoning. Just so readers know, Nancy Cook takes care of all this now and she does her job well so the "now" part of our ordinances is not a problem. The mess has been discovered over the past couple of years when original ordinances were not where they were supposed to be. It is being handled and should be finished up in the next month or so.] The forensic audit that is being conducted should be completed in the next 30 days or so. The county audit should be completed shortly as well. [Note from the Editor: I am curious as to who is doing all of the audits for the different county entities. Hopefully that information will be available when the county audit is complete.]

Update 5.7.08: There is some sort of a problem with Georgia Broadband's tax bill. The Tax Assessor based her assessment on the information that she was given by Rapid Communications, the former owner of this business. The problem seems to lie in what the business was said to be worth by the previous owner and what it was bought for and is worth now. Georgia Broadband is responsible for paying these taxes based on an agreement when the business was sold to them. Motion to leave the amount as it was on January 1, 2007. 4-1 approved. Commissioner Swift made a recommendation that the CM get together with the owner of GA Broadband since there is a possibility that an outside source can come in and mitigate this problem.

The closure of the landfill was next on the discussion. Public Works Director Todd Goolsb said that the man who actually did the landfill in 1993 is giving a quote on what it would cost to to close it.

Harold Rawlings spoke about the Veterans' Memorial on the Courthouse Square by the Country Moose Restaurant. Harold said that there has been no problems with the monument for the past 60 years and then new sidewalks were put in and a sprinkler system was installed inside the roped off area in front of the monument and now it has settled and has to be fixed. Harold wants it fixed back like it was. Don Bailey has been working with veterans to try to get a resolution to the problem of the settling of the monument as well. The veterans are not united on a solution. The older generation of veterans wants it to stay where it is and the younger veterans want to move it to a better place of honor in front of the Courthouse with lights and the ability to close the road if needed for a large ceremony or at least a place for more than 20 or 30 people to gather for a ceremony. [Note from the Editor: I was out there on the corner for the Vietnam Veterans Ceremony and it was a tight fit with the 30 or so people that were out there. There is a meeting on the 10th that will be at the Memorial and veterans need to go and vote on the matter. See the Calendar of Events page for more information.] The cost to move it and put it back will be $5,600. Talk about selling bricks to pay for the project if the memorial is moved to a new location.

The BOC voted 5-0 to approve the execution of a letter to of credit from United Bank to Georgia UST Inspections for work being done. State regulations require this.

[Note from the Editor: I am still pretty hot about the library discussion and that is the reason that it has taken so long to get this write up done. It was discussed for what seemed like an hour. I have information from Paul Faulds that will go with this write up so readers can see what is going on. I thought that moving the old bank building to the new location was a done deal and yet the CM gave some directives that put a stop to the move. And then commissioners asked some questions that really should have been asked four months ago when this project was presented to them and a couple tried to waffle on something that they had already given the green light on. I'll have to take a deep breath and just present the facts and we'll go from there.]

Update5.28.08[Note from the Editor: This is the information that Paul Faulds brought before the BOC at the meeting.]Before we discuss funding of the branch library I would like for us to review some earlier proceedings and decisions, which have directed the current course of action undertaken by the library board.

1. The county capital improvement plan calls for a new library facility and we were informed that it would be established in the Williamson area. We were also informed that the new facility would need to be established before any impact fee funds could be used toward improvements to the current Zebulon facility.

2. The opportunity was available to acquire the building currently housing the United Bank of Williamson along with potential funding from the bank to help move the building to another location. In addition, land was made available by the city of Williamson for the location of a branch library.

3. This information was presented to you at the January 9th meeting at which time you unanimously voted in favor of proceeding with the project.

4. At a subsequent meeting on Jan. 25th, County Manager Steve Morro advised that he had received some negative feedback concerning the funding of a new facility rather than devoting funds to the current library facility. At that time, you again unanimously agreed that you wanted the project to go forward.

As a result of your endorsement and support, the following things have been accomplished:

A survey of the property and site plan was completed by S. J. Reeves and Associates. (Approval is needed now for payment to them of $720 invoiced amount.)

Survey information has been given to the county attorney so that his office can complete the transfer of the property. Bids are being accepted for site preparation, establishment of the foundation, moving the building, and drying in the building at the new location. We are now under a rather urgent time constraint because the bank requires that the building be moved on or before May 19. Therefore, a firm commitment must be made now for funding in order for the library board to continue. I also respectfully request that your commitment (or lack thereof) be made a part of the minutes of these proceedings.

Please refer to the information in your packet regarding funding for the project. As you can see, I have provided a short-term budget which would allow us to take advantage of the opportunity to get this building, have it moved to the new location and dried in so that we can preserve it for future improvements as funding is available. The long-term plan includes an estimate of total cost and potential sources of funding in addition to that provided by impact fees.

Review Budget Information. (See below)

If you feel reluctant to commit to the $250,000 now, in view of current economic times, please consider the short-term budget so that we do not miss the golden opportunity to obtain the bank building. The long-term savings would be dramatic – approximately 75% of projected cost of construction of a new building.


From SJ Reeves and Associates    
Survey        $520.00
Site Plan        $200.00

Subtotal         $720.00

Footing and Block Foundation         $6,800.00
Move Building           $20,000.00
Remove and Replace Top Section of Roof
And Dry In         $3,000.00

        Subtotal      $29,800.00



ATT and GA Power Wire Bill     ?

Stump Removal (County Labor Cost)      ?

Total estimate from short term budget    $30, 520.00 +

Site Work (Sidewalks, Ramp, Asphalt, 19-space Parking Lot
And Lot Entrance         $ 40, 412.00


Remodeling          $ 35,000.00

Furnishings and Bookshelves          $25,000.00
Computers (2 staff and 4 public) and WiFi Hub          $5,000.00
Books, CD’s and Play-a-Ways          $100,000.00
Miscellaneous (Lift station, hook ups, etc.)          $19,000.00

         Estimated Total      $250,000.00

APRIL 9, 2008
9:00 AM

ZEBULON, GA - Today's meeting was interesting to say the least. Present were all 5 commissioners, Nancy Cook to take the minutes, CM Steve Marro, and County Attorneys Tom and Rob Morton. The agenda was pretty short for a BOC meeting and we were out of there by noon. Only four pages of notes front and back. I'll write on this more in a couple of hours.

As of the meeting this morning, neither Wendell Becker or George Mickel had appealed their termination by County Manager (CM) Steve Marro. I have put in an Open Records Request for the Personnel Policy and additions that are currently being worked on. I'll post it when I get it if I can get it in an electronic form. I hope that the county website can take care of requests such as this eventually. The turmoil in Planning and Development is in its own story below. Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickenson put in her formal resignation (on Friday?) and is not coming back. She had been coming in on a temporary basis as a consultant and not a department head. Planner position will be in the Journal Reporter next week. It's all over the web with ACCG, etc. Dept Head $58,000 and Planner $36,000 to $45,000.

County Attorney Rob Morton was in Superior Court for motions on the case of Pike County vs. Mike Grant d/b/a Centerfield Sports until 10 a.m. this morning. Responses to the motions that were filed today are due on April 16th with another court date on April 18th. This may be on the May 5th criminal calendar. This is where the county issued citations to Centerfield Sports and Fitness for outdoor activity in the batting cages and on the baseball field. To see a history of Centerfield, please click on the Past Stories link above and scroll down to the story dated 1.26.08.

CM Report: Discussion of Certified Financial Officer (CFO). Do we need one for Pike County government? This position was budgeted this year ($62,000) but was frozen so no one could be hired due to the tight financial budget that we are under at this time. Sean Townsend had put in his resignation that would have been effective on Friday, but rescinded that resignation. He had been offered a substantial raise ($150 per week) that did not pan out when the final numbers really came out. [Note from the Editor: That might be enough to turn just about anybody's head for a look at least. CM said that there have been a rash of Open Records Requests (ORR) hitting Sean about SPLOST expenditures. There is a CATF SPLOST oversight committee working to ensure that SPLOST expenditures are exactly what they are supposed to be. The CM said that if anyone cared to enlighten him on what the complaints were, he would listen. [Note from the Editor: The CM has listened when I've presented ideas or pointed out problems. I expect him to do no less for anyone else. If I am needed as a third party on this, give me a call.] Question was asked if Sean would be needed with a CFO in place. CM said yes. Currently, Sean is working on asset management. For the last 6 weeks, he has been going through invoices back through 2002 to put assets on audit AR and journal entries. Some of Sean's job could be done by CFO but not all.

Eppinger Dedication will be next week at the Recreation Soccer Complex. See the Calendar of Events for more information. He is benefactor to Friends of the Park. Thank you to Mr. Eppinger for investing in our children through recreation in Pike County.

CM discussed a possible long-term contract or consulting with Mark Whitley of Whitley Engineering out of Hampton. The CM is the acting head of Planning and Development because there is no Zoning Administrator or Dept Head. He said that he needs help with engineering, plat reviews, etc. until we can get someone in there to do what needs to be done. Question asked about bidding out contracting. If he is a consultant we may not have to bid out. CM said that we do have a written formula on rezoning in Pike County. Need a checklist for rezoning so standardized to include fire, sheriff, etc. Consensus that if the CM needs a consultant, then get one as long as within our ordinances.

The Williamson Library Branch is a bit of a controversy apparently. Some of the library board members keep calling the CM on this and raising doubts. The CM was told that if there is another library that the county will have to pay another $12,000 per year to the Library System and that there would need to be 2 copies of books given to Pike County when stocking the library instead of one. Meanwhile, the land is being cleared in preparation for the arrival of the Williamson United Bank building that has been donated to the library. (And United Bank is going to help pay to move the building too!) [Note from the Editor: This Williamson Branch Library is in the short-term work program for Pike County and scheduled to begin in 2010--that is about 18 months or so from now. I think this is a good thing. But we could wait and build it for over a million dollars out of taxpayer dollars if that is really what people want to do. Possibly as high as $2.5 million. Maybe I'm missing something. The story is below this one.]

Motion to turn over the Friends of the Park Account to the Rec Authority. 5-0. CM received letter asking if Pike County wants to stay in Upper Flint River District or move to Middle Ocmulgee District. Will be on the next agenda.

COMMISSIONER REPORTS: District 1: Nothing to report but CM advised that the rocks have been moved at the Shoals. Commissioner Swift said that this will bring about a forced decision by the BOC to allow or deny access to the Shoals because there will be erosion. District 2: Junk car complaint that CM thought had been resolved. Pics will be forwarded to CM and it will be addressed. ISO-asked for a group peer panel with the CATF, representative from Water and Sewer Authority, Fire Dept, and 911 so nothing falls through the cracks on this. Old Zebulon Road potholes to Road Superintendent Todd Goolsby. [Note from the Editor: If you find potholes as you're riding on Pike County roads, call Public Works/Road Department and ask them to put it on their pothole list so they can fix it.] District 3 and Chairman nothing to address. Distict 4 asked about whether the bill to Water and Sewer Authority for displaced pin for property owner has been addressed. W&SA Chairman Tom Lacey said it would be addressed.

Update 4.11.08:The Needs Assessment by Precision Planning is about 75% complete. Space needs for the next 10 years, site evaluation, and master planning with a county government site was presented to the BOC. They did 2 sites and asked for direction from the BOC. CM Marro praised the Dept Heads for being responsibe to public conern about taxpayer dollars on this. Adams Street School plot has 9 acres and uses some of the buildings that are there. The Old Zebulon Road site is 23 acres and is not close enough to the Courthouse to include it. It would be massively expensive to buy the acreage. The BOC said to go with the Old Zebulon Road site. Plenty of parking with a secure lot for judges, deputies, etc. Suggestion to include a secure space for the coroner. Questions about SPLOST dollars and discussion about how to use taxpayer dollars efficiently. Justice Center will be 33,000 sq ft and will use the shell of the old school. Emphasis on security. Discussion about rehabbing the Courthouse as well and maybe using it in the final process and the possibility of selling the land where the BOC and jail now sit. The facility will be built in pods for easy expansion at a later date. Motion to instruct Precision Planning to go with the Adams Street School site. 4-1 with Jake Garner opposed. [Note from the Editor: I don't know why Jake was opposed. I do know that there is opposition to using the Adams Street School because it takes the county business off of the Zebulon Square. I have opposed going with the Adams Street School because of the cost that is associated with rehabbing an old building. It can be done well but it is expensive. I know that there is beauty in a project that will contain our history but using taxpayer funds wisely is a major concern of mine. I think that cost efficient versus feel good should be included.]

Update 4.15.08:The obvious low bidder on Huckaby/Hughley Road was Hill Construction at $599,480. The CM got impeccable recommendations from people that he called to find out about Hill Construction. Motion to award the bid to Hill Construction. 5-0. [Note from the Editor: The road is currently closed off and there is a lot of construction traffic on the road. Thank you to the CM and the BOC for doing a simple bid award on this project. It avoided the problems that we encountered with the last project.] Discussion included adding a penalty clause into the contract if the road is not finished on time. Motion for CM to go forward with penalty clause, etc. 5-0.

Update 4.16.08:Don Collins gave an overview of the Citizens Advisory Task Force. Of particular concern is the minutes from the CATF Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances that has discontinued meeting because there is no longer a consultant from Planning and Zoning to work with the committee. This committee has met for the past 15 months. A lot of work has been done by this committee over the past 15 months and much of it is in limbo right now because several ordinances have been given suggested changes by this committee but have not been brought before the Planning Commission and BOC. Discussion that the shakeup at Planning and Development has directly affected this committee. Recommendation that a policy be made for a particular sequence of events so it can be efficient. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Ordinances, Margie Trammell, said that drafts came back before her committee but did not forward from there. Said it didn't matter who was supposed to do it--it didn't get done. Discussion on why did not go forward. Consensus that the Planner was not there for the entire 15 months so it cannot be blamed just on Dawn. Discussion then turned to the Comprehensive Plan. We are at the centerpoint of the Comp Plan with short-term and long-term plans are due. Possibility that CATF could help with this. Commissioners praised the CATF for its help with BOC matters. Guidelines for the Appeals Committee need to be spelled out. SPLOST Review Committee is working. CM asked what Sean Townsend has done wrong because hit with a deluge of Open Records Requests. [note from the Editor: I have made an offer to one person that I would be willing to act as a mediator when meeting with the CM at a future point. There is another person who would likely do the same. There are people from different sides of the fence saying that there is a problem. Maybe a meeting before the meeting is in order.]

More later.

Board of Commissioners
Regular Monthly Meeting
March 25, 2008
6:30 p.m.

ZEBULON, GA - I walked into a packed out house last night. The crowd trickled out last night until the core group was there to wait out the Executive Session. It was nice to see people interested in county government even if it was only for one issue that directly affected them. All of the commissioners except for Commissioner Swift were present last night. He was at a training session of some sort.

We started out with Public Hearings on several issues.

SUB 08-01 AUSTIN EPPINGER, has requested subdivision of 76.05 acres into 2 tracts no less than 3 acre lots. The property is located along the northern right-of-way of Highway 109 in Land Lot 234 of the 8th District of Pike County and found on Tax Map 47-009. Mr. Eppinger has been put through the wringer because he wanted to give land to his family, but Pike County no longer has a way to give land to family members without being classified as minor or major subdivisions. The BOC insisted on treating everyone exactly alike when the Subdivision Ordinance was drafted because there were a few people who had gone around our ordinances to make major subdivisions by dividing up land into smaller and smaller parcels so they didn't have to follow subdivision rules. It was said at the time that there would be some who would suffer with the new rules but the vote went through anyway. [Note from the Editor: It's pretty easy to tell what side of the argument I was on in this case, isn't it? I understand why it was done, but still don't agree with no exceptions for family divison of property.] This was the 2nd division of property within a 3 year time period which meant paying a $500 fee and going through the Planning Commission and BOC in order to get approval. Approved 4-0.

SE 08-01: CLARENCE AND GLENN HATCHETT, application for a Special Exception for a General Home Occupation (trophy assembly and homemade arts & crafts) in an AR zoning district. The subject property is located along the southern right-of-way of Calvary Road and the eastern right-of-way of Highway 18 in Land Lot 151 of the 9th District of Pike County. Said property contains 5.54 acres and is identified as Tax Map 031-013. This was a General Home Occupation because customers may actually visit the property. The Board of Appeals had no problem with this application and neither did the BOC. Approved 4-0.

SE 08-02: FINCHER UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, application for a Special Exception for a church/community center in an AR zoning district. The property is located at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 19 and Highway 109 in Land Lot 234 of the 8th District of Pike County. Said property contains 38.30 acres and identified as Tax Map 70-031. This piece of property was approved for a community center only when it was under ownership of the Julian Danielly Foundation. The Foundation has deeded the land over to Fincher United Methodist Church now and they want to have a church in A-R as a special exception as well as the community center. A copy of the deed was presented to the BOC. Motion to approve with stipulations to follow the concept plan with parking 50% of parking in the rear of the buildings and minimum 50 foot setback from property lines. Approved 4-0.

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW, KEN PALMER, review of the site development plan for a concrete batch plant proposed for Lot 7 of the Liberty Park Industrial subdivision. The property is zoned M-2B and contains 5.54 acres of land and is located in Land Lot 154 and 155 of 2nd District of Pike County. Property is further identified as a part of Tax Map 86-107. This concrete batch plant has been considered at a couple of other locations in the county, but Liberty Park Industrial Subdivision is out on Hwy 341, is zoned manufacturing already, and is a good place to allow them to set up shop. The Chairman of the Environmental Review Committee (ERC) was there to answer questions about the review. Said that neighbor concerns such as noise, dust, stream and wetlands, etc. have been addressed. There is a fan system that catches the dust and this company is going over and above EPA standards on this business. The rezoning had been held on this piece of property already, but the BOC required that it come back before them when a business was going to move onto the property. Motion to approve the environmental development as submitted contingent upon strict adherence to the specifications from the Planning Commission and ERC including dust collection, noise, monitoring runoff, etc. Approved 4-0.

Update 3.27.08: ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW, PHILLIP M. SMITH AND TAUNYA G. SMITH, review of the application to rezone 13.60 acres of land from AR, Agricultural to M-2A, Manufacturing-Light for the proposed use of a land application facility. The property is located on the northern right-of-way of Old Zebulon Road in Land Lot 12 of the 9th District of Pike County and identified as a part of Tax Map 68-005. This has been discussed for a long time in the county because a bill was going through the State House that would have required counties to build their own facility to dispose of waste within the county. Mike was told to apply for a manufacturing rezoning designation because there is no place in our ordinances that specifically address this type of facility. However, this was just a public hearing on the environmental review and not on the rezoning itself. ERC met and saw no environmental issues. Mike described it as basically a large septic system. The EPD is the next step in this process. There was a lot of discussion on this. One doesn't trust the EPA to come in and do necessary testing--suggested the Water and Sewer Authority do the testing. Objections to the M rezoning in an AR district. Some said this is agricultural because farmers make money on crops and animals, why can't Mike make money on his business and still stay AR. This was supposed to be on the environmental review and not the rezoning, but it kept coming up anyway because this is how the application has been put into the system under the direction of Planning and Development since there was no place to put it. [Note from the Editor: The Planning Commission can make a recommendation that this be kept as AR instead of changing it and the BOC can do what it wants with this. Spot zoning--putting a manufacturing parcel in the middle of an AR district--is not a wise thing to do.] Worries were addressed about wells and streams too. Special exception in AR was suggested as an alternative to Manufacturing. One neighbor spoke against the facility. Motion to approve environmental review process. Approved 4-0.

Paul Faulds addressed a concern that Steve Marro brought to the BOC about a branch library in Williamson. We can get a library for a fraction of what building one from scratch will cost. Thanks to everyone who has put work in on this!

CM advised that he accepted resignation of Dawn Dickerson (on Tuesday). Said that the depts are doing well with 70% or so remaining in their budgets for the rest of the year. Doing better than expected with gas and diesel--probably becaues of the new pumps that were put in to track the usage. Said that LOST sales tax was only $70,000 for January. This is not a good sign Feb and March will be any better than that. Impact Fees brought in $26,000 this month. Gave kudos to the CATF SPLOST Oversight Committee.

Update 4.1.08: The Hankins Lake Dam had been mentioned in a prior meeting. They are lowering the level of the lake and the valve is open. There is no problems with this dam.

County Attorney Report: Charter owes $1,539 to the county from franchise fees and are sending a check to reconcile this amount. Motion to authorize CM and Chair to execute agreement with Charter. 4-0. According to ACCG, these fees are also owed by Rapid Communications who bought the cable franchise in Pike from Charter. Georgia Broadband is collecting these 5% franchise fees. The contract with Georgia Broadband is being worked on. Update on inert landfill behind the Public Works building: The survey has been conducted and the affidavit of notice that this is an inert landfill will be filed at the Courthouse. Approved 4-0. NIMS Resolution 2nd Reading: Approved 4-0. $3,971 GEMA matching funds are available to the county. Dollar for dollar match. Motion to transfer funds by budget amendment 4-0.

Hughley/Huckaby Road Project. Bids were opened one by one. They will be reviewed by the CM and a vote will be taken at the next meeting. [Note from the Editor: I sincerely hope that the BOC simply awards to the lowest bidder instead of going through the mess that we did last time trying to renegotiate lower bids amidst the threat of lawsuits and a process that looked unfair to many sitting in the audience listening. The process needs to be transparent and fair.] Bids ranged from a low bid of $599,480.55 and the rest of the bids ranging from $712,752.39 to $809,779.45. [Note from the Editor: Yes, there is a low bid that is much lower than everyone else's. Hopefully we'll be able to find out why that one bid is so low at the upcoming meeting. Perhaps I am just overly suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true.] The CM thanked the contractors for bidding on this project. Motion to accept bids and for Goolsby, legal, and the CM to review the bids for the next meeting. Approved 4-0.

Update 4.8.08: A gentleman came to discuss ISO fire ratings. A lot of improvements have been made to the county over the past 5 years including water in limited places and tankers that meet minimum pumper requirements. Our volunteer firemen attend training each year on their own time that will help, along with other needed items, to get our ISO ratings reduced so our insurance can go down as well. 12 hours of firefighter training--2 hours every other month--is all that is required for our volunteer firefighters. 140 is what they strive to attend. We are looking at a 3-5 month process that will be started ASAP. And the new fire trucks are slated to arrive in mid July.

3 Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) vacancies were also filled. Bobby Harrison, Jeff Kennerly, and Brad Armistead volunteered to be on this County Advisory Committee. I think there is is one more slot yet to be filled. Applications are available at the BOC Office. Motion to award the waterline up to Ranew's to the Water and Sewer Authority. 4-0.

Tommy Hurd spoke about the Flat Shoals River Access. Said he isn't opposed to river access but in the past it was a bad area for alcohol abuse, etc. because it was not controlled. Thinks it is a bad idea to reopen access with possibility of DUI's, trash, etc. Said that was why he closed his side of the bridge. He was told that there was no intent to open as a county access-not giving permission to use this, just moving obstruction on county right of way. Mr. Hurd responded by saying that "No one wants to take responsibility for this." This is going to open up a floodgate for a problem that was taken care of. Thinks this is a bad move.

Vietnam proclamation was read in support of Vietnam Veterans. March 29th is 35 years since the US pulled out of Vietnam. Pictures are on the We are Pike County page. Story is dated 3.29.08.

Executive Session from 9:10 to 10:02 p.m. A motion was made to advertise for another Director of Planning and Development and a 60 day moratorium on receiving new zoning-related applications including amendments, special exceptions and variances. It was stated later in the meeting that the reason for this is because there is no Zoning Administrator now that Mrs. Dickerson has put in her resignation, but it was not included as part of the motion.

Public Comment: Mike Hall's story was on the front of the Griffin Daily News with a horrible dog attack on his cattle. Said he appreciates the BOC allowing the public to vote on animal control. He told the story to the BOC of how he was told that the dog attack would be a civil matter by a Sheriff's deputy and when he took it to civil court, he lost because he did not have the needed evidence to show that a neighbor's dogs had attacked his cattle. Said that he found the dogs that attacked his cattle because of the blood on them but did not have pictures so it was his word against the dog owner's word. Said that he has talked with 4 dozen people since then that have been in the same situation. "We have got to have something done."

Buddy Fuller said that he needs representation out where he lives. We've been stepped on-stomped on. This is on the Marie's Restaurant now another business that the neighborhood opposed. "We were never renotified and I think we should have had that". Complained that there is no turn radius and that there is now a lowboy, etc. out there on the property. Commissioner Garner said that the BOC has tried repeatedly to get the GDOT to stripe a double yellow line out there but they still haven't done it leaving a dangerous situation for drivers. Mr. Fuller said that this business was also supposed to put up a buffer and haven't yet.

Motion to adjourn at 10:36 p.m.

MARCH 12, 2008
9:00 am

Update 3.12.08: I went to the meeting today, but I am too disgusted to write about it. I'm going to sleep on my bad attitude because I refuse to share it with readers tonight.

Update 3.13.08: I'm still disgusted, but I'll start writing about it. All 5 commissioners were present at the meeting. Nancy took the minutes, the CM was present as well as County Attorneys Tom and Rob Morton. The maps on the wall of the Lifsey Spring Fire Station and two sites for the Williamson Fire Station looked great on the wall.

Helen Carter from the Extension Office and Lois McDaniel from the Pike County YES Team brought the Youth Leadership Pike Class to the BOC meeting (as well as the Board of Education meeting last night) to observe leadership in action. These High School students are the future leaders in Pike County and we were glad to have them at the BOC meeting for a while before they had to go back to class.

The County Manager's Report: The CM gave a run down of the fire stations. Steve Reeves was there to answer any questions because he did the cost analysis that was asked for in a prior meeting by the BOC so they could make a decision. Old Fayette Road site is 1.31 acres with the opportunity to expand if needed with .94 acre. It needs the hydrant moved, not as much of a cut needed as the other site, and has more paving because the road would be relocated so longer driveway. Could gravel the parking lot but the driveway needs to be paved. No excavation of rock. $41,500 cost analysis. Brown Station site is .77 acre with no expansion. Saw no rock outcroppings. Soil maps do not indicate rock. Tyree is adamant that Brown Station will cost more because the further down the cut is to make it level--about 6 feet or so--the more likely it is to hit rock. A couple of lots had rock. Todd Goolsby and CM rode by it and saw rock on the surface but not necessarily an indication of rock. Could do $3,500-$4,000 for bores but really don't need the added expense. $32,500 cost analysis.

City of Williamson thought that locating fire station outside of city limits would affect ISO rating but it will not. If moved, it covers more citizens with fire protection. It was pointed out that the Pike County Fire Dept. does not have a place for extrication, a burn site or extension for a training facility--the Old Fayette Road site has that capability. City of Williamson and Fire Chief Tyree want it to remain in Williamson. Problem with the donated land at Brown Station is that there is a reversion clause if the land is not used for a fire station, it reverts back to the owner. BOC members do not think that should have been written that way but it is filed at the Courthouse that way. No time limit for the reversion. Building will be the same size regardless of the property. Problem is that it takes 6-8 weeks to get the kit for the fire station in. Recommendation was made to have the CM get input from the Fire Chief and Captain on what to do. Commissioner Jake Garner made a motion to choose the Brown Station site for the fire station base on cost savings. Approved 3-1-1. Powers, Garner, & Fry for; Willis opposed; Swift abstained citing lack of communication--said that he hadn't seen enough to choose between the two sites.

Hughley Road is out for bid now. Approximately 1/2 dozen bids already. Going to be a tight turn around with completion about 2 weeks before school starts if we don't run into a bad hurrican season. Bid deadline is the 24th with opening of bids on the 25th. Construction could begin as soon as April 24th. Friday the CM found out that there is a water line that goes to the Old Mill facility on the road that will have to be dealt with as well. Some of the Southern Rivers power poles may need to be moved. We are looking at a 90 day construction period where public traffic will not be allowed on Hughley Road. There is City of Zebulon property on both sides of the road because of recent annexation. There is some county property on the Old Zebulon Road side but most belongs to Zebulon. Discussion that the county needs to make sure that another situation like this does not occur because the county is footing the cost for this road and the project has been around for about 9 years so there isn't as much money to pave it as we started with. On a side note, there was discussion on whether to continue maintenance on the road until the construction starts or to leave it alone because it is in bad shape--fishtailing because of the washboard on the Hwy 19 side, lack of gravel, and just general washboard on the entire road. The CM said to take care of the problems because it is the county's responsibility to do that. [Note from the Editor: I drive that road on a regular basis at least a couple of times a week as a cut through to the library and my children's cookie addiction over at Crumb Crazy. I drove the road today and was amazed that gravel had been put out and there was dirt in the giant mud hole. Thank you to the Road Dept for taking care of those problems so quickly!]

The Fire Dept needs a grant writer to write a Homeland Defense Grant for them with an April 4th deadline. Legal is working on language for animal control on the November ballot.

Update 3.15.08: ISO would like to provide a representative to the BOC to discuss the fire rating process before calling them into the county to review the ISO ratings in each area. ISO ratings can go down as well as up so we need to be careful before calling them in. For those rated a 9, I don't guess it could get any worse, but those rated a 7 or 8 would not want to be rated any higher than necessary because house insurance would go up too. Water, analysis of the fire dept, E911 countywide, etc. all factor into this. CM to instruct Fire Chief to get this rolling as a joint BOC/Fire Dept project.

A SPLOST (1% sales tax) was passed in Pike County with specific items for Fire including the new fire departments that are being constructed. Bids were put out fire trucks and the winning bid for fire trucks was won by America LaFrance. This company has been in business since 1832 and while no one expects them to go under, America LaFrance is currently under bankruptcy protection. Their intent is to reorganize under bankruptcy protection. The Chairman said that he has seen pictures of the trucks in production and advised that the numbers for our trucks are already stamped on the chassis of the trucks. However, the formal bidding process required a written contract and formal award of the winning bid to this company, and this did not happen. America LaFrance accepted a verbal confirmation by telephone from Fire Chief Tom Tyree and began work on the trucks. No deposit has been made, but procedures were not followed. Their winning bid required a written confirmation of winning the bid and yet they accepted a verbal confirmation. Since then, there are emails and pictures of the trucks that have gone back and forth that could be argued in court as a contract of sorts. [Note from the Editor: Chief Tyree has negotiated modifications to compensate for delays on the trucks that we could not have gotten otherwise; however, operating without a written contract is not wise. The contract is protection for both the seller and buyer. And fun part is that attorneys on both sides would argue that their client is in the right because of oral communications and emails so terminating the agreement is not necessarily a good idea. The fact remains that the fire stations are not completed at this time so we would have had to pay for storage on at least some of the trucks because we do not have a place to protect them from the elements.] The City of Meansville is concerned about their fire truck and asked for a copy of the non-existent contract. They are concerned with warrantees and guarantees. Discussion around this how this happened basically centered around who was CM at that time as if some of the blame for most of this mess could be placed anywhere but on the past BOC and the Fire Chief who should have known better. [Note from the Editor: The past interim CM was not experienced at handling county matters and should not have been asked to step into this position in the first place. He should have said no, but felt pressured to say yes so he did. Certain commissioners were dead set at getting rid of CM Tommy Burnsed in any way possible including a last minute not-so-emergency meeting--with one hour's notice--in which Tommy was fired with much pomp and circumstance. (In case you were wondering: Chairman Fry called the meeting. Commissioners Davidson and King rounded out the quorum. Commissioners Garner and Powers were absent.) And then it took 7 months and more than one letter from the Office of the State Attorney General in order to force the BOC to release this information to the public--some of which has been recanted by individuals who gave the information to the District Attorney's Office during the investigation. I am starting to rant because there are some who would like to continue this never-ending-circle of CM's and interim CM's even now without looking at the long-term consequences of their words and actions... I hope that the current BOC as a whole shows more common sense than the past one in that regard.]

On a better note, the recent training attended by the CM has paid off in a big way for Pike County. There is a county discount prescription card program that will provide 20-35% savings on prescriptions at no cost to taxpayers and all citizens can get it. Those who will benefit the most are those who have no insurance or are underinsured. 1.7 million customers and 1,400 counties belong to this. Fill out an application and marketing program and, then receive the cards about 80 days after that to start passing them out. Motion for CM to move forward with this. Approved 5-0. Click here for more information about this National Association of Counties (NACo) program. Commissioner Willis asked if the coverage plan on our insurance changed after the close of bids last year. It did not. BCBS was $1 million higher and refused to negotiate with us so we went with United Health. ACCG sent out a reminder that the BOC has to discuss raising BOC salaries today if they were looking at doing that because it has to be done prior to qualifying and would need to be advertised with public hearings and all that jazz. The question was asked how Pike County salaries stacked up against neighboring counties and counties of the same size, but the CM did not have information on that. The BOC said that the CM could pull info on how we stack up against surrounding counties but they really did not want to touch this.

Commissioners Reports: Commissioner Willis asked where we are on Flat Shoals river access. Said it keeps coming up and heard nothing else about it lately. People want the rock unpiled. Thinks it needs to be done. Motion to remove the large rock. 2nd by Commissioner Powers. Discussion: Chairman Fry asked about the EPD and whether we are liable if we move it and it causes erosion. Carmen said the rock was not part of the erosion and sedimentation plan. But if we remove the rock and people start using this access, there will be erosion so other methods of protection must be taken. Who will remove it and who will pay for removing it? Discussion included Dawn and Wendell from Planning and Zoning. Question whether can use the ripp rapp there for erosion control. Chairman Fry brought up the Corps of Engineers and the buffer for a county boat ramp. Clarification that the county is NOT putting in a boat ramp but only removing the large rock so citizens can walk canoes down to the river. County does not allow parking there so no parking will be enforced there. Motion to remove the rock at county expense and repair the sod in conjuction with Planning and Zoning looking to see if the current ripp rapp can be used for erosion control. Approved 5-0.

More later.

MARCH 5, 2008
5:00 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER …………………………………..Chairman Steve Fry




A. Pike County Board of Education Resolution for extending the Homestead Exemption.


[Note from the Editor: Here is the wording from the resolution.]



WHEREAS, the Board of Education of Pike County desires to amend the homestead exemption from Pike County School District ad valorem taxes for education purposes for certain residents of the Pike County School. District; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education desires to increase the homestead exemption from School District ad valorem taxes for citizens who are 65 years of age and older to $50,000; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education desires to provide a total exemption from ad valorem taxes for education purposes for residents of the Pike County School District who are 70 years of age or older; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education, requests that the Pike County Board of Commissioners join the Board of Education in increasing the homestead exemption for certain residents of Pike County and in introducing this legislation in the General Assembly; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education, through its Superintendent, has prepared and attached to this Resolution a local act to be introduced into the General Assembly setting forth the above described increase in homestead exemptions from Pike County School District ad valorem taxes; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education requests that the legislative delegation representing the Pike County area introduce and sponsor the attached local act in the 2008 session of the General Assembly; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Pike County Board of Education approves this Resolution and the attached local act for introduction and sponsorship by the Pike County Board of Commissioners and the Pike County legislative delegation in the 2008 session of the General Assembly; and

BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that the Superintendent is hereby authorized to take all appropriate action necessary to proceed with the introduction and sponsorship of this local act.

[Note from the Editor: It ends with a place to be signed by the Secretary for the Pike County Board of Education and the Chairman of the Pike County Board of Commissioners.]

Update 3.5.08: This meeting lasted less than 5 minutes. Chairman Fry made a clarification that there are other exemptions that can be combined to lessen the taxes for taxpayers who are over 65 but that this a totally new exemption. He said that this is simply a letter of support to the General Assembly to put this on the ballot in November and that was not clear to a lot of people from the past meeting.

Commissioner Parrish Swift thanked the other members of the BOC (with the exception of Commissioner Tommy Powers who was absent) for coming to the meeting and Dr. Duncan for coming to answer any questions.

Motion to approve resolution as amended 4-0.

Added 3.6.08: I spoke to Dr. Duncan about this specifics of this legislation after the meeting was over. There are several outside factors that will have a direct bearing on whether or not this legislation goes onto the ballot for Pike citizens to vote on in November. The Board of Education is watching these factors to ensure that the measure is fair and does not pass along a substantial increase to Pike citizens.

I asked Dr. Duncan about some of the specifics on this legislation and whether we would have time to get this through the legislature because they are pretty close to the end of the Legislative Session.

Dr. Duncan told me that he talked to Representative Billy Maddox on Sunday. "He [Rep. Maddox] that they did a lot of calendar up front and that they were going to have to slow the calendar down a little bit," said Dr. Duncan. "He felt pretty confident that we'd be able to get it in."

Dr. Duncan told me that there are still some things that could happen at the General Assembly that could make this a bad piece of local legislation and gave me some examples. If 2007 assessments would be what we would have to use to determine this exemption, this would be a poor piece of legislation because it would pass on a significant milleage increase to the remaining citizens.

"If we can do it based on the 2008 digest where we'll have some growth and some new evaluations, the impact will be mitigated substantially," he said. Dr. Duncan stressed that for this to be a good piece of local legislation, it needs to be based on the 2008 assessment--not the 2007 assessment.

Dr. Duncan also advised that the Board of Education is watching what the General Assembly is doing about capping the increase in the digest at 3% annually--that would almost make this piece of legislation impossible to do. I asked him why. "If the digest can only grow at 3%, that limits the revenue stream, and if we were to take all of those people off the digest, it would mean that we would be passing on a much greater taxation to the remaining citizens," he said. "And that would simply be unfair."

"We have a very unique window of time to make this happen," said Dr. Duncan.

[Note from the Editor: Commissioner Swift went over and above what he is called to do as a commissioner to ensure that the misunderstanding from the past meeting on this resolution was corrected and taken care of. Commissioners Fry and Willis, who voted against this measure at the past meeting, graciously voted to allow the letter to go through since they had the rest of the information on this resolution.

Thank you to our Board of Commissioners for acting in a prompt and efficient manner on this resolution.

It would be a good idea for those asking for BOC support on any matter to make sure that there is a representative present at the meeting to answer any questions and avoid the confusion that was encountered at the past meeting.

Added 3.6.08: It has been pointed out to me that the comment above looks like I am pointing a finger at Dr. Duncan and the Board of Education for there not being a representative at the BOC meeting.

I have been advised that there were several communications between Dr. Duncan and the CM as well as commissioners both verbal and in writing. While it should have been a simple matter to get clarification from Dr. Duncan on this matter, it is obvious that no one contacted him for that clarification.

I am not pointing fingers on this but simply stating the obvious that something did not go smoothly and pointing out a way to avoid a situation such as this in the future. Attending this meeting and not leaving anything to chance is my first way of avoiding a situation like this.

Another way to avoid miscommunication would be with a workshop. That point is well-taken because both parties would be there for discussion and there would be no miscommunication.

For the record, I support a monthly workshop with two regular (short) meetings.]

February 26, 2008
6:30 PM

ZEBULON, GA - The meeting tonight was attended by all 5 commissioners, Nancy Cook, County Manager (CM) Steve Marro, and County Attorney Tom Morton. There were many citizens in attendance. Three members of the Appeals Board were there as well. It was tense at times with discussion of the Appeals Board Ruling, but it was addressed and I think that the BOC acted appropriately. The best part of the meeting is that business was discussed, a town hall meeting was held, and I was at home by 9:30 p.m.

Copies of the Capital Improvement Element Annual Update were provided to the public upon entering the meeting room. This is a yearly procedure that has not been done before now but the county is required to update our Capital Improvements Short Term Work Program every year and transmit this plan to McIntosh Trail Regional Development Center. This is required in order to keep our Local Qualified Government Status. The public hearing was held and no one spoke. Motion for resolution to send this to the McIntosh Trail. Approved 5-0.

Public Hearing for proposed text amendment to Chapter 156. Planning Commission recommended approval with a recommendation that gas stations be removed from permitted uses and also be included as a Special Exception in C-2. Outdoor activity and gasoline service stations could be allowed as Special Exceptions. It will have to go before the Board of Appeals for a public hearing and have a final hearing before the BOC as well. Approved 5-0.

LARP List was announced tonight. The State of Georgia was previously given a list of roads for the county and the State picked the roads. Shackelford Road 2.77 miles, Harris Street in Concord .5 mile, Watson Road in Molena .11 mile, Banks Street in Zebulon .26 mile, and Howard Street in Williamson .14 mile. These will be paved by the State very shortly.

District 1 Rep Roosevelt Willis wants to hold a workshop on junk cars. Said ordinance was vague. Asked the CM to check into a complaint from a citizen told him that they had been told that a tag and insurance on a vehicle did not make a vehicle compliant but that the Code Enforcement Officer had to be able to reach in and turn it on. [Note from the Editor: Code Enforcement Office Sandy Danielson vehemently denied this statement as she was sitting in the audience with her husband and her immediate superior Wendell Becker was in the audience as well awaiting the BOC's discussion about the Appeals Committee decision later in the meeting. However, it is to Commissioner Willis' credit that he brought the complaint to the CM instead of handling it himself.]

Commissioner Willis complained that people are still receiving letters when they are not violating our ordinances. One man told him that his church got a letter of non-compliance. [Note from the Editor: I would be remiss if I did not point out the fact that a few mistakes were made out of 100 plus letters that were sent out by Code Enforcement. Apologies were made and the file that had been opened on Roosevelt's daughter was closed out when she called the office. This is not personal even though it is being made to sound this way. Yes, some mistakes were made and I'm sure that there will be a few more mistakes made as complaints come in and junk cars are cleaned up all over the county. Junk cars are junk cars regardless of whose property they are on. (Correction 2.28.08: The church received a letter from Code Enforcement for a problem that they have since resolved and the case was closed out exactly one month ago today.)]

Chairman Fry asked the Director of the Planning and Development Dept Dawn Dickerson if she was aware of letters going out. Dawn said that some follow up letters had gone out and that Mrs. Danielson could answer questions if he would like to ask her. Mrs. Danielson was allowed to respond and said that no new letters have been sent out in the Hilltop District since February 4th. [Clarification 2.28.08: Follow up letters such as closing the case or extension letters have gone out but no new cases have been opened.] She said, "My job has been halted." Chairman Fry asked her point-blank if she was told not to issue citations for violations or what did she mean by that statement. She said that she was told not to touch the Hilltop area because of Commissioner Willis, but that it was business as usual in other areas. [Note from the Editor: I have a problem with this. I think that the Code Enforcement needs to finish closing out files in Hilltop as they begin work in another concentrated area of Pike County. This should not be a "black and white" issue as far as race goes. This should be about applying the rules equally to everyone. If one commissioner is allowed to halt this process because of race, the amount of money someone has, or anything else, we as a county will have problems in other situations in the county that should be strictly about following the rules.

I apologize if my opinion seems overly blunt, but I do not want anyone to misunderstand where I stand on this issue. Everyone has to follow the rules if we are going to have a Code Enforcement in Pike County. We cannot make up the rules as we go and there cannot be any special favors for anyone based on race, sex, religion or the amount of money in their wallet. Nobody likes to be told what they can and can't do on their property, but the rules are the rules. If the commissioners don't like the choice that has been with Code Enforcement then they need to decide now that we as a county don't want Code Enforcement. However, as I say that, the public needs to know that Pike County has been here before. If the BOC decides to get rid of Code Enforcement, it doesn't need to be discussed in another 5 or 6 years as a possibility. The people in this county want a long-term plan for our county that is going to be followed regardless of who is in office. Now, I'm done with that rant.]

District 2 Parrish Swift brought a citizen's complaint about a water hydrant being on her property instead of the right of way before the BOC so it could be reflected in the minutes. Water and Sewer Authority Chairman Tom Lacey said that the hydrant is on the right of way and that the WSA spent $20,000 certifying these rights of way and that these certifications would be turned over to the county. Commissioner Garner said that he had this same complaint himself with a hydrant on his property. WSA paid an attorney to check the surveys and the right of ways on these properties.

Parrish also asked about the new Middle School and what happened when the county was asked to sign a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) so the power could be turned on. This is a state project with engineers who were responsible for making sure that everything was up to County Code so Pike County Building Inspectors did not do inspections on this facility. Wendell Becker was not willing to sign the CO without a letter from the engineers saying that all procedures had been followed. He requested this letter, it was delivered on Monday, and the power was turned on at the Middle School on Tuesday. [Note from the Editor: I received a call about this last week but chose not to get involved because I figured that if Pike County was not signing off on required inspections, somebody was doing those inspections and all it would take was a letter on file saying that the inspections had been done. (Don't ask who called me because I have developed a case of reporter's amnesia.) Those who were involved in this situation on all sides should have known that there are rules to followed and liability for someone to take on and if the county wasn't doing the inspections, the county should not be assuming the liability on the Middle School. From what I heard at the BOC meeting, it sounds like the situation was handled appropriately and the drama that resulted from this situation was unnecessary.]

Final issues for Commissioner Swift included questions about fire stations-- Lifsey Springs Fire Station building has been ordered and that Steve Reeves has been sick so no call back yet about Williamson--and the work on Hughley Road paving in front of the new Middle School--it has not been completed yet because of sickness in Steve's house more than likely, but needs to get a move on because school will be starting in the fall and the road HAS to be paved first.

District 3 Commissioner Powers had one call about a citation and said that the lady with the fire hydrant had sent a letter to him. He said that work on Pitts Road looked sharp and asked the CM to pass that thank you along to Public Works Director Todd Goolsby. District 4 Commissioner Jake Garner said that the lady with the fire hydrant had called him too. No County Attorney report. (Congratulations to Rob by the way!)

Unfinished business began with Animal Control. Commissioner Garner said that he had received several calls on this issue with some for animal control and some against it. He feels like the fair thing to do is for everybody to vote on it during the November Election. The CM said that it would cost a substantial amount of money to get this started--$400,000 to $500,000--and hasn't seen any donations on this yet and doesn't see this coming out of next year's budget. [Note from the Editor: This is why supporters are working to raise funds and looking for a location for the building so they can get this rolling. We don't have to go top of the line for everything and it isn't going to happen overnight either. I think the CM is looking strictly at the numbers and services without realizing that there are low cost options that are available to us. Don Bailey has done too much for people to write this off. If a kid gets attacked like Mrs. Dolores did, those who are adamant about no new taxes are going to be wishing that we had just got this thing rolling.] Click here for the stories on Animal Control from those who have been there. Motion for Animal Control to be on the November ballot for the citizens of the county to vote on. Discussion: Commissioner Swift said that he saw no problem with putting it on the ballot. He thinks it will pass if it is marketed to the public. Commissioner Fry asked the question that if it is voted down, then what if someone comes up with most of money and county only has to use $50,000? Commissioner Garner said that this will involve the creation of an entire department for animal control and the use of county funds. Motion to put on the ballot was approved 5-0.

Appointment to the Keep Pike Beautiful Board was approved for Cathy Willis. She missed the deadline to reapply for her seat, but no one else has applied. Reappointment approved 5-0. Appointments to the CATF Board were discussed. 3 applications received for 7 seats. 2 were blank except for signatures though they were asked by the cities to join the CATF and probably did not think that they needed to fill them out. A 4th person has said ok but no application yet. Chris Curry was appointed to CATF 5-0. Kathleen Birney and Bobby Blalock were approved contingent on Don getting the application back to them and getting the forms filled out since the same standard has to be applied to everyone as far as filling out this form.

Discussion on taking action on the Pike County School Board resolution for extending the Homestead Exemption to those 65 and 70 years of age. First, the CM and Commissioner Willis went to the State Capitol to oppose the State making any rules on property taxes. There were 500-700 elected officials present and the CM said that he thinks the Legislature got the message loud and clear. [Note from the Editor: I have my doubts that those in power at the State Capitol heard anything but what they wanted to hear. Speaker of the House Richardson has proposed a bad bill to stop all property taxes that continues its metamorphosis into something that he thinks will slip past the people and it continues to stink to high heaven. It sounds great that there would be no more school property taxes for citizens all over the state and just a State Sales Tax, but what citizens are not being told is that the State would take up the Sales Tax and then allocate it how they see fit. It is SUPPOSED to be distributed fairly, but I don't see Pike County getting a fair share when bigger counties in Atlanta want their fair share and part of our money too. Property taxes in Pike County help pay for the running of our schools and we don't have a Walmart to pay for our schools with sales tax dollars so where is the money going to come from? I don't support a Walmart in Pike County, but I do say no more state laws on how we can spend our money here in Pike County.] Read more about it by clicking here or click on the State Government Accountability Links on my Links page. Hiding our heads in the sand and not being concerned about State or County politics just assures that you'll be in the dark when the rules begin to affect you and your family.

The discussion then went to discussion about increasing the homestead exemption. The Board of Education wants to send a resolution to extend the Homestead Exemption--for those over 65, raise to $50,000 and completely get rid of school property taxes on those 70 and older--to the State Legislature for approval. This is contingent upon whatever the Georgia Legislature decides to do with the school portion of property taxes. Commissioner Swift made a motion to appove the introduction of this resolution to the State Legislature and there was a 2nd. 11% of the population is 65 years or older and if they don't have to pay the school portion on their property taxes, the rest of us will have to pick it up. Commissioner Steve Fry was adamantly against this resolution because he said it singles out a particular age group. The vote ended up 2-2-1. Commissioners Parrish Swift and Jake Garner voted in favor of the motion. Commissioners Steve Fry and Roosevelt Willis voted against it. And Commissioner Tommy Powers abstained saying that he was not against it, but he abstained because of his age. [Note from the Editor: Thank you to our Board of Education for being willing to give a break in school taxes to our citizens aged 65 and older and thank you to Commissioners Swift and Garner for voting for common sense legislation.]

The next item on the agenda was the discussion on the results of the Becker appeal and grievance and the Danielson grievance. Attorney Tom Morton made the suggestion that the BOC go through each decision separately one by one and address the recommendations that were included with the decision on the appeal and two grievances and suggested that Appeals Chairman Don Collins read the suggestions. Commissioner Swift objected to the reading of the findings because he "would find it hard for me not to shoot from the hip on some things". When asked what that meant, he said that he didn't know if it's really relevant to read it out loud because it is Open Records information and asked the other commissioners and attorney if they thought he was incorrect on that thought. County Attorney Tom Morton said that he had answered the question about how to handle this by saying that each decision should be handled separately and the Chairperson of the Appeals Committee could read them out loud with their recommendations since they were unanimous with their decisions. [Read "Verdict Is In from the Appeals Committee" two stories down from this article to know exactly what their decisions were.] No one was adamant that the verdict be read out loud because no one objected when the CM made the suggestion that the BOC recognize the work of the Appeals Committee, thank them for their time, and acknowledge their findings and instruct the CM to work toward carrying out those findings.

Discussion then went into some of the specifics, but not enough to let the public know what the decision of the Appeals Committee was unless they had read the Pike Journal Reporter's or the Pike County Times' synopsis of it. [Note from the Editor: I was told by members of the public before the meeting and have been told since then that they do not believe anything will change as far as county government goes. One person even went so far as to say "the board did absolutely nothing to prevent the same thing from happening again". I would like to think that the BOC learned a hard lesson in this, but I don't know that this is the case. I've been involved in politics a long time in Pike County and will say without fanfare that we have been here before. Commissioners have been involved in the Road Department in the past year and a half when they should not have been and one was a member of the BOC when Judge Edwards issued the ruling against the BOC for interfering with CM duties. I hope that the BOC as a whole and all of the individual members of the BOC will abide by the rules in the future, but I got no assurance of this last night at the meeting. Simply put, the BOC passed up an excellent opportunity to reassure the public that they intended to abide by the rules in our county by allowing the CM to do his job and not interfere in CM responsibilities.]

Chairman Fry objected to the recommendations of the Appeals Committee in Final Recommendation 9) "BOC/Code Enforcement should address most serious code violations first or establish equal numbers per district, which creates a balanced objective." Said that he was against setting up a quota in all districts though he agreed with dealing with the worst cases first. A workshop was recommended for the BOC on this again.

Commissioner Swift said that he agreed with every recommendation made by the Appeals Committee but had a question about Final Recommendation 5) "Remove suspicions of actions or meetings that may be perceived to be improper and/or illegal in the eyes of the public citizens." He asked if this was for this situation only or if it was a recommendation an innuendo punch toward other meetings. When Appeals Committee Chairman Don Collins was asked to elaborate on this, he said that there was a meeting between the attorneys and three commissioners that took place at the Appeals Hearing and that upon returning, evidence was given that the Committee was not aware of. Don said that "this gave the perception of activities happening behind closed doors that should not have been and should have been discussed in an open meeting." Commissioners Fry and Swift felt like there was an undertone there that they were not comfortable with. [Note from the Editor: It is all I can do to keep my fingers from typing the obvious here. The issue of public perception, rulings in past lawsuits, and the Sunshine Laws are addressed again in the Town Hall Meeting after this meeting is adjourned.]

Chairman Fry then went on to thank the Appeals Committee and the attorney's office. Said that we have to get beyond some of the issues that caused this Appeals process and look at the big picture of why this whole evolution came to be. Said that the intent was to help the area help itself and hopes that nobody thinks that the BOC was targetting this particular area because there were some complaints and those complaints have now been addressed. Suggestions were taken from Committee member Merritt Spier who said that job descriptions need to be brought up to date in the manual and job performance appraisals have to be done for every employee. CM said that he rated everyone in his office as well as all dept heads and assumed that dept heads are doing the same. [Note from the Editor: Even if it is being done by every dept head in the county--and I doubt that very seriously--there needs to be an evaluation form that is the same for everyone and it needs to be done the same way for every employee.] The Appeals Committee basically said that procedures were not followed and that the result was this scrap session in the Planning and Development Office. Demographics were discussed as far as race in different areas of the county with an emphasis on treating everyone fairly.

Budget Amendments could not be discussed because they are a change to our Code of Ordinances and must be advertised as a public hearing. Citizen Carol Bass pointed that out. These were postponed until they could be properly advertised.

A citizen raised their hand to speak and was not recognized by a majority of the BOC. [Note from the Editor: Thanks to Commissioner Swift for making a motion for John to speak even though a 2nd was not made--meaning that a majority of the BOC could care less what the public had to say about anything. When citizens are allowed to contribute a comment to the BOC, it is a rare event when the comment is not relevant.]

Motion to recognize the 1st Pike County Employee of the Quarter. Sandy Melton works in E-911. She will receive a check for $250 and will get recognition in the Pike Journal Reporter. Congratulations Sandy!

Discussion of department numbers. The CM is keeping an eye the numbers. Adjustments to 2007/2008 Revenues and Expenses to address the shortfall were put off until a later meeting so they can be advertised. Motion to adjourn at 8:05 p.m. Town Hall Meeting then commenced.

Update 3.1.08: Town Hall Meeting

Citizen John Morrison, who had not been allowed to speak earlier, said that he heard a lot of talk on job duties put on hold but never heard a motion from the board about the Appeals Committee findings. Chairman Steve Fry advised that the BOC had turned the matter over to the CM to handle and that the BOC does not have to make a motion for the CM to do his job. He said that the BOC was not aware of a hold on Code Enforcement. John then chastised the BOC for not making a 2nd so the public could be heard.

Citizen Carol Bass said that she appreciated the BOC staying and speaking with the citizens. Asked if the problem with the Recreation Department being said to be overbudget in a past meeting but really not had been straightened out. Was told that it had been. There was some sort of error that has since been corrected. Asked about the $4,500 in labor that the Road Department estimated had been put in for the Lifsey Springs Fire Dept. General consensus that the BOC would like to the Road Dept reimbursed for that money out of leftover SPLOST or Impact Fees. Budget Amendments were the next topic. If BOC is doing budget amendments too often, they are being reactive instead of proactive. CM said he can do enough tweaking of the budget to cover his budget mistake at the beginning but the recession is taking a toll on this too. Sales tax and ad valorem is being affected.

Citizen Ray Grizzard asked about text amendment B and whether the two adjustments spoken about earlier would be the only adjustments to C-2. Had been required earlier to come back before the BOC to advise what he was going to build on the property even though it was zoned C-2. Advised that only have to come back before BOC in case of a sale if he sold it and the new owner wanted to put in one those those two items as a Special Exception. Asked about Impact Fees. Said that he saw on a pamphlet in the past Impact Fees meeting that the Library had been given some disbursements. CM said that they had not been given any disbursements out of Impact Fees. Two of the commissioners remembered that on the pamphlet but CM said that there had been no disbursements according to the Impact Fee Schedule.

Commissioner Swift said that the BOC did not rubberstamp the BOE's attempt for legislation. Do they need our blessing? Chairman Fry said that eventually they will because the BOE will send its milleage rate to the BOC in order to get approval. In the past the BOC had always ok'd their rate.

Citizen Jimmy Bass said that past interim CM Tabitha Weaver had the dept heads come up with a list of job descriptions around 2003 or 2004. No idea what happened to all of that information. Said that the BOC was planning a few months ago to have someone come in and do job descriptions for us. Why should we have someone come in and write job descriptions when the dept heads can do it? CM said some of the employees can't write down what kind of job that they do. Chairman said that the reason that the BOC didn't spend money on that because they thought that the dept heads could do that better than an outside party coming in who doesn't know Pike County.

Said that there seems to be some disagreement about legal issues in the county. I along with a few other citizens paid to go before Judge Edwards and he had a different interpretation about open meetings than the current legal counsel. There is some disagreement about open meetings. Law looks simple to those reading the law but isn't what legal counsel is saying to the BOC. Asked if the BOC could have a workshop to explain to citizens where we are wrong and get rid of some of the discontent about open meetings. Chairman Fry advised that the Judge rendered an opinion on this, but it conflicts with what is written in the State Code of Georgia. The BOC is strictly following State Law and it is on the advice of more than just current legal counsel. State legal at ACCG and the current legal counsel have been consulted and said that the BOC is bound by OCGA (state code of Georgia). "When every one of y'all ran for commissioner, y'all wanted to know what the citizens thought. All for doing business out in the open. The citizens need to know what we do. And yet there's a decision made behind closed doors that we don't know about," Jimmy said. The Chairman said that there was not a decision made behind closed doors--no vote was taken and no illegal activity was taken and I didn't even say a word. Jimmy reiterated that there are decisions made behind closed doors that have not been made public in open session. The Chairman said that there are deliberations made in that room. Can do deliberations that are sometimes not voted on because nothing to be voted on and there are consessions for that in the Sunshine Laws and Open Records Act.

Jimmy talked about opposition about Speaker of the House Richardson's proposal on property taxes. Chairman said that the county determines budget and that determines milleage rate but that doesn't milleage rate. The Chairman talked about a property tax freeze like in California and how it would affect the taxes paid on the property for current owners and new owners with caps on property taxes. Said that he supported giving taxpayers property tax relief in the form of a value asset freeze. Locking property tax values at current values could be done at a local level through legislation. Said that sales tax legislation would hurt Pike County.

Citizen Lloyd Gayton asked what constituted a county meeting. The Chairman said that if the BOC discusses anything that requires action or discovers information then that would be inappropriate for a closed meeting. The Chairman said that in the instance of the Appeals Committee meeting, that it was not advertised as a commissioners meeting and yet there were three commissioners there. Asked if Lloyd was referring to the meeting between 3 commissioners and the county attorneys during the Appeals Committee hearing. The Chairman said that no county business was discussed. Said that the county attorney wanted to ask whether one of the commissioners wanted to testify without singling out either one of the commissioners in the case that the commissioner who overhead a remark at the Planning and Zoning Office did not want to testify at the hearing. No decision was made by the BOC. Rob just asked if Parrish wanted to state that he wanted to speak because he had not been asked to testify previous to the Appeals Committee. Jimmy said that they could have done that in front of everybody. Chairman said that there was no intent to hide anything from the citizens. Evidence was not discussed just whether or not a commissioner desired to make a statement at the hearing.

Citizen Carol Bass spoke again saying that a group of citizens fought very hard for open government and supported many of the current commissioners and now these same commissioners are "sideways with some of us". Perhaps the confusion over Open Meetings could be resolved with training so everyone get back together and pull the wagon together. Chairman Fry said that training with an outside mediator from ACCG would probably be a good idea. Commissioner Jake Garner said he can't think of a time that a decision was made in closed session that didn't come out in open session.

Citizen Doug Rounds asked if this BOC has done anything toward freezing property taxes. Asked what the objection was against the BOE resolution for extending the Homestead Exemption. Chairman Fry said that he thought it was age discrimination and that everybody ought to be treated the same. Said that he had no kids in school up until now and he has been paying for the schools. Doug pointed out that other counties do this. Chairman pointed out that everybody else's taxes would have to go up to cover the 10%. Doug said that he thought the Chairman should give this some more thought.

Citizen Harold Calloway said that that taxes would go up on everybody under 70 years of age. The $50,000 exemption now would go up to a $65,000 exemption with the school resolution. The only ones getting a free ride would be those over 70 and they would appreciate it. Commissioner Parrish Swift asked how many in the room supported the measure and most of the hands in the room went up. End of the Town Hall Meeting. And No Executive Session!

Verdict Is In from the Appeals Committee

ZEBULON, GA - The Pike County Appeals Committee rendered a ruling according to the procedure established in the 2007 Personnel Policies and Procedures Ordinance. The Committee, composed of Don Collins, Don Bailey, Merritt Spier, Doug Rounds, and Paul Harris, was appointed by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) during the February 13, 2008 regular called meeting of the BOC.

Don Collins was appointed Chairman by the members of this committee on the night of the hearing, February 14, 2008. This Committee listened to the testimony of witnesses, took in evidence, reviewed county policy and rendered a verdict on two grievances that were filed by Code Enforcement Supervisor Wendell Becker and Code Enforcement Officer Saundra Danielson against Pike County Commissioner Roosevelt Willis and an appeal of a week's suspension without pay for Code Enforcement Supervisor Wendell Becker. See article entitled "Two Planning and Zoning Employees File Complaints Against A Commissioner" dated 2.16.08 for more details. The ruling of the committee was released to the public this morning and is just 6 pages long. The following is heavily paraphrased from the original document.

Wendell Becker's grievance against Commissioner Willis alleged that a commissioner has no authority to enter into the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Department to discuss job performance issues with an employee and no authority to speak to any individual employee about their work performance and duties because both would constitute interference in the performance of duties of the County Manager (CM) as defined by the 2007 CM Contract and the 2004 Consent Interlocutory Order which is Exhibit B of the 2007 CM's Contract. Wendell also accused Commissioner Willis of creating a hostile work environment as defined in he 2007 Personnel Policies and Procedure Ordinance.

The Committee agreed with a unanimous vote of 5-0 that a County Commissioner who enters into a county department and discusses job performance issues constiutes interference in the performance of duties of the CM. They also agreed with a vote of 5-0 that a County Commissioner who speaks to any individual employee about their work performance and duties is also not authorized and constitutes interference in the performance of the duties of the CM. The Committee also agreed with 5-0 vote that the actions of this County Commissioner resulted in a Hostile Work Environment. The 2007 Personnel Policies and Procedure Ordinance Section 36.23(D)(1)(c) requires "stopping any observed acts that may be considered harassment or threatening behavior and taking appropriate steps to intervene, whether or not the involved employees are within his or her line of supervision." Mr. Harris also stated that a hostile environment may be perceived and any unprofessional behavior should not be tolerated. This Committee recommended that there be strict adherence to the chain of command as outlined in the CM Contract, the Consent Interlocutory Order, and the procedures outlined in the the Personnel Policy.

Wendell Becker also appealed his one week suspension without pay that was ordered by the County Manager (CM) after the incident at P&Z. The Committee overturned the one week suspension without pay by a unanimous vote of 5-0. Mr. Harris, recommended that Mr. Becker should forfeit one day of pay, but a majority of the Committee 4-1 disagreed with that suggestion. The Committee also unanimously agreed that all records and files pertaining to this action that resulted in the one week suspension without pay be permanently removed from Mr. Becker's personnel file. It was also agreed by a vote of 5-0 that "Mr. Becker shall be protected from any retaliation and/or adverse employment action in response to this incident, his filed grievance, his filed appeal and the information obtained during the hearing process". The Appeals Committee recommended that there be strict adherence to the chain of command as outlined in the CM Contract, the Consent Interlocutory Order, and the procedures outlined in the the Personnel Policy.

Saundra (Sandy) Danielson's grievance against Commissioner Willis alleged that a commissioner has no authority to enter into the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Department to discuss job performance issues with an employee and no authority to speak to any individual employee about their work performance and duties because both would constitute interference in the performance of duties of the County Manager (CM) as defined by the 2007 CM Contract and the 2004 Consent Interlocutory Order which is Exhibit B of the 2007 CM's Contract. Sandy accused Commissioner Willis of creating a hostile work environment as defined in the 2007 Personnel Policies and Procedure Ordinance. She also alleged racism according to "Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination" as defined in the 2007 Personnel Policy and Procedure Ordinance.

The Appeals Committee agreed with a unanimous vote of 5-0 that a County Commissioner interfered in the performance of duties of a county employee and discussed the employee's work performance. The Committee also agreed with a vote of 5-0 that a County Commissioner created a hostile work environment. Mr. Harris stated that a hostile work environment may be perceived and that any unprofessional behavior should not be tolerated. The allegation of racism could neither be affirmed nor denied by the Appeals Committee with a vote of 5-0. This Committee recommended, as with the previous allegation and appeal, that there be strict adherence to the chain of command as outlined in the CM Contract, the Consent Interlocutory Order, and the procedures outlined in the the Personnel Policy.

Final Recommendations were made by the Appeals Committee to end out the document. 1) "Follow the established Chain of Command and organizational structure." 2) "Update Job Descriptions and clarify the authorities and duties of county employees. Provide for uniform and scheduled discussions/evaluation regarding employee's job performance (i.e. quarterly, yearly): Develop job performance appraisals." 3) "Disciplinary actions must be signed in person by the employee, supervisor/manager, and witness. In the event the employee refuses to sign the action, then the employee's supervisor must sign and note the employee's refusal to sign. Strict adherence to the Grievance Procedures established in the 2007 Pike County Personnel Policy and Procedures." 4) "Eliminate the Hostile Work environment perception. Respond quickly on issues requiring immediate attnetion. Conduct equal opportunity, sexual harassment, and ethics training. These policies should enforce a "zero tolerance" policy. Training for the 2007 Pike County Personnel Policies and Procedures Ordinance should be conducted." 5) "Remove suspicions of actions or meetings that may be perceived to be improrper and/or illegal in the eyes of the public citizens." 6)"Communication is a key factor. Learn communication skills and conflict resolution in accordance with the current policies and procedures." 7) "Create suggestion boxes and create employee incentives. Recognize county employee of the month, quarter, and year. Create incentives to increase employee morale and retain employees for the future of Pike County." 8) " The content of the warning/violation letterissued by Code Enforcement is too vague. The letter should address alleged code violation, identifying the specific section allegedly violated, and include a description of the violation (i.e. junk car, trash, etc.) Photographic evidence of the violation should be collected. Send third warning/violation correspondence to the property owner/violator via certified mail." 9) "BOC/Code Enforcement should address most serious code violations first or establish equal numbers per district, which creates a balanced objective."

And it was signed "Respectfully submitted by the Appeals Committee this the 21st day of February, 2008" with a signature from each member signifying their agreement: Don Collins-Chairperson, Don Bailey, Merritt Spier, Doug Rounds, and Paul Harris.

February 13, 2008
9:00 AM


A. Mr. William McWilliams has requested a tax refund of $99.94 and $108.39

B. Second Reading of the proposed Pike County Litter Ordinance

C Second Reading of the Anti-Fraud Policy

D. Review 6 month County Manager Report

E. Create new EMA department and assign #36


A. Review and discuss, if necessary, the disbursement of S.P.L.O.S.T. funds to the cities for their projects.

B. Helen Carter to introduce Agriculture & Natural Resource agent Tommy Tyler

C. Ben Maxedon has requested permission to use the Courthouse Square on Thursday, May 1, 2008 from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm in observance of the National Day of Prayer.

D. County Manager’s issuance of provisional business licenses.

E. Web Site ‘draft’ front page

F. Resolution to ‘amend’ the 9-1-1 ordinance

G. Budget Amendment #1 for FY 2007/2008

H. Discussion of countywide beer and wine sales

I. Application for Beer and Wine License from Safdhar A. Khan/Williamson Food Mart

J. Jack Parks has requested that the Board of Commissioners authorize County Attorney Morton to draft an intergovernmental agreement between Pike County and the City of Williamson for zoning administration and building inspections.

-Personnel-Planning & Development pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-14-3(6)


A. Don Collins to give an update of CATF.

B. Saundra Danielson to discuss unprofessional behavior towards her by a county commissioner.


ZEBULON, GA - Today was one heck of a meeting from the time that it started until it's end at 2:20 p.m. Yes, I said 2:20. I'll go over the highlights tonight and add more as the week goes on. All of the commissioners were there. Both attorneys were there. And the County Manager and Nancy were the final two at the table.

The approval of the agenda presented the first problem of the meeting. There were many with most relating back to the problem that occurred on Friday of last week in the Planning and Development Office. There was a verbal altercation that ended up with Wendell Becker being suspended without pay for a week. Both Mrs. Danielson and Wendell have placed grievances against Commissioner Willis.

Saundra Danielson was on the agenda to discuss unprofessional behavior towards her by Commissioner Willis. Saundra was removed from the agenda over her own objection and those of many in the audience. Attorney Rob Morton advised that Pike County has a grievance policy with policies that need to be followed and asked that an Appeals Committee be put together to listen to this case ASAP.

This Appeals Board hearing is open to the public and will be held at the Pike County Courthouse tomorrow, February 14th, at 5 p.m. Don Collins, Don Bailey, Merritt Spier, Paul Harris, and Doug Rounds are on this Appeals Board. They will get to hear all of the evidence, listen to testimony, and then make a decision that will be available in writing within 7 days.

Commissioner Parrish Swift asked the question: Could this have been handled administratively prior to this meeting? Stressed that he was not consulted on this. Fry said that no action was taken by the BOC on this. Motion was made to remove Saundra from the agenda. 4-1 with Parrish opposed.

REZ 07-16: SUE C. BENNETT has requested to rezone 8.91 acres from AR Agricultural Residential to R-15, Single Family Residential. The property is located at the southwest intersection of Patton Road and Hunter Road in Land Lot 60 of the 2nd District of Pike County and identified as Tax Map 75-011. Planning Commission recommended approval. Motion to approve 5-0.

REZ 07-18: JBJ Developers, LLC and CAS Development have requested to rezone 4.68 acres of land from C-3, Heavy Commercial to PI, Professional Institutional for the proposed use of a church. The property is located in Land Lot 231 of the 8th District of Pike County with frontage along the western right-of-way of U.S. Highway 19 and identified as Tax Map 68-108 and a part of 68-106. Application for liquor store that was going to be on the City's property has been rescinded and fees returned by City of Zebulon last night. Owner said there was too much controversy. Steve Reeves spoke on behalf of Wings of Joy Church and advised that both applications were started without knowledge of the other. Said that he had no problem getting a DOT letter. Took him about 1 1/2 weeks. Another property owner said that he had problems getting a letter from the DOT in a previous meeting. CM voiced concern about church going in on lot next to liquor store b/c has seen cases like this fall through. Said that Pike is lacking in sales tax. Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickerson advised that this zoning falls under the reversion clause in case building is not started within a certain period of time. Citizen Carol Bass advised that building permits also have a time limit on them. Motion to approve 5-0.

TEXT AMENDMENT: Proposed text amendments to the Pike County Code. The proposal is to consider the amendment of the Pike County Code specifically, Chapter 90 County Road System. Fry still wanted to have this clear so that a homeowner who calls a tree surgeon out or cuts down just one tree isn't caught up in this ordinance. Motion to approve 5-0.

Monthly reports. Parrish went on record to correct a comment about the Recreation Authority that was made by the CM at a previous meeting. It was made clear that they are not overbudget. Said simply that if we air an error then we need to air a correction. New playground equipment will arrive next week for Recreation. Motion to approve reports with correction 5-0.

CM Report. Request from Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce for the public to help out with the overlay district. Read "Invitation to participate in the Overlay District Project (US 19 north of the city limits of Zebulon to US 41)" dated 2.11.08 below. This is a picture of how the community will develop. They want as much participation from the public as possible. Deadline to apply is 2.15.08. Chamber Director Karen Brown advised guarantee that this will be completed by June. There will be a public presentation of the participants.

The next controversy concerned the fire departments. Brown Station on .7 acres or City of Williamson on 1.3 acres? Big discussion on page 2 of my 10 page summary of the meeting. There was a map of Brown Station on the wall and maps of the plot in the City of Williamson were given out to the crowd. The problem with the Brown Station lot is that there is not a clear deed giving it to the county. The minutes from that meeting do not reflect the same information as the deed stating that the property is for a county fire station. The City of Zebulon had representatives at this meeting--Carol Berry and Ryan Edge--to speak on behalf of the City Council who does not want the fire station to be moved out of the City of Williamson. This piece of property is larger to accommodate future growth, but there will need to be some work done on the intersection in front of the station. Brown Station is in the county.

Simply put, there was not enough money put into SPLOST to cover the costs of 3 new fire stations if the grading, plumbing, electrical, etc. are added to the cost. The Road Dept has already paid $4,500 out of its budget to clean up the Lifsey Springs in order to get it ready for the new fire station building that will be built as soon as that deed is cleaned up and to top it all off, American la France, the company that we have contracted with to build the engines, has claimed Chapter 11 and is slowly getting the engines together. The BOC was assured that this company will not go out of business, but it is taking longer to get the trucks than we expected. [Note from the Editor: And great emphasis has been placed on following the SPLOST (penny sales tax) and doing exactly what the voters asked for.]

Turning radius for the trucks, questions about how much it will cost, and the age of our fire trucks were brought into the discussion that included members from the audience who are involved in county fire in our county. It was even said that ISO ratings (how much we pay for our house insurance) are not lowered by fire stations but are lowered by the fire trucks. It was a very heated discussion with the final outcome being that the BOC will be provided with cost analysis on the two stations done by Steve Reeves and they will meet to discuss this at a later meeting.

Budget preparations have begun. Thank you to the CM and BOC for making this process as transparent as possible. The CM asked the BOC if they were interested in being involved in a Strategic Planning Session with Mike Stewart from ACCG doing the set up so they can lay out our plans for the next 5 years. The general consensus was to do this and include the CM, Dept heads, Leadership Pike, etc. Test pits were done on the land that the county was going to give to the animal shelter. It won't work so they are looking for alternative sites. EMA question about programming the storm towers to tell citizens more information in case of an emergency situation and the EMA safety sites are being revamped so citizens can have evacuation centers to go to in case of emergency. Also talked about the SKYWARN TM Spotter Class in the story dated 2.12.08. The public can be a part of the emergency procedures in Pike County.

More later.

January 29, 2008
6:30 PM

ZEBULON, GA - [Note from the Editor: It's been a while since I left a meeting with hopes that we were moving in the right direction. The BOC took criticism of the public from decisions at the past couple of meetings at the end of the meeting and spoke frankly about the situation with the Lifsey Springs fire house and the use of Sovereign Immunity. Thanks to Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickerson for the maps on the wall for the public. And someone was even nice enough to tape the agenda onto the door so the public could view it prior to entering the room. There is extra effort there that the public appreciates.

Added 2.6.08: Some of that hope has worn off in the past week as we have voted in a national election and I see business as usual going on under the Gold Dome in Atlanta. I am just shaking my head as I finish out the write-up this week. Maybe things will improve in Pike County at least. I can't say that for anything else unless some massive changes are made.]

The beginning of the meeting was a ceremony to honor the USS Georgia. Representatives from the RDC and Navy League were at the meeting accompanying a Georgia State flag that will be presented at every county across the state before the March 28th presentment date when the flag will be given to the Commanding Officer of the USS Georgia by Governor Sonny Perdue at the Return to Service Ceremony in Kings Bay. The USS Georgia is the only ship ported in the same state in which it is named for. This is a way to welcome the crew into service. Click here for more info about the USS Georgia.

Liberty Industrial Park with no opposition. It will get connected with county water that is out there and the runoff problems out there will be corrected. There was no opposition and one citizen speaking in favor of the Industrial Park said that this is the kind of development that is needed to help relieve the tax burden for property owners in Pike County.

Chapter 90 of the Code of Ordinances was reviewed by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) and approved. The Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) spent a couple of months reviewing this logging ordinance and making suggestions for changes that would make it more clear and concise. Thank you to Dawn and the Board of Commissioners for walking through this so citizens could see what had been done to the ordinance.

Monthly reports are being sent to the BOC regularly now by authorities, boards, and county departments. The list is lengthy but I looked over them last night and was glad to see it. The BOC needs regular reports because it is funding these entities with tax payer money. Oversight is a good thing.

There is a Needs Analysis going in the county by a firm that was contracted to find out what the county will need in the next 5 and 10 years as far as growth and storage, etc. are concerned. This is going pretty fast from what we heard last night. The CM said that we should have a full report in less than 3 weeks. Visits to various facilities around the state including an $8 million jail facility (compared to the much larger estimate that was thought we would need here in the county--that is a good thing!) where we could house all of our inmates--instead of paying surrounding counties $35,000 per month to house them for us becaues we don't have room--and charge other counties to house their prisoners here--no liabilities because they deliver them here and pick them back up to go to court in their own county. Pike County is planning for the future at last!

The BOC is getting a regular once a month report now that says how much SPLOST is bringing in and how much has been spent and how much has come in with Impact Fees as well. Thank you to the CM and those who work with him to ensure that this is regularly tabulated. Mike Stewart from ACCG, who is familiar with all of the bumps in the road for Pike County over the past 7 or 8 years, has offered to do a strategic planning session for Pike County for free. The CM will look into this further and report on it next month. The session will need to be conducted outside of Pike County just to get people out of their comfort zones and maybe encourage people to work together. One of these was held a couple of years back down at Calloway Gardens. It was a start.

Animal control is looking more and more like a reality here in Pike County. Special thanks to Don Bailey for spearheading this effort and pulling everyone together to push for animal control in our county. The BOC is looking at the animal control facility being on the lot next to the dirt road by the firing range. Soil samples should be taken shortly and the ball should continue rolling on this.

The Water and Sewer Authority asked to store parts on the old chipper site by the Transfer Station. They will lease it for the remainder of the fiscal year from the BOC. Don't know if this is big enough for a permanent site or not, but discussion will continue on this and if they want it, they will buy it from the county at some point.

Commissioner concerns included filling a secretarial type position in the front office. [Note from the Editor: Nancy is having to work some horrible hours in order to get things done in there. She was at work on Saturday because I got my email agenda for last night's meeting on Saturday afternoon. The size of the BOC packets for this meeting were huge too. It takes a lot of time to make copies and get things ready for meetings.] Questions about the fire station in Williamson included info that the City of Williamson has got 1 1/2 acres beside the walking track that it is looking at for the new fire station. The county website should be up and running soon. www.co.pike.ga.us Question about holding a workshop and one meeting per month rather than just two meetings to be more efficient. [Note from the Editor: There is some merit in talking about the BOC holding a workshop along with both meetings. A workshop could have been held to go through Chapter 90 line by line as well as some of the other items that were discussed. I don't think turning one meeting into a workshop would be a wise idea but two meetings and a workshop would be a good idea to cut down on 5 and 6 hour meetings. Last nights' meeting was 5 1/2 hours ending about 11 p.m.]

Update 1.31.08There have been more than a few calls about GA Broadband cable (who bought the franchise from Rapid Communications and Charter before that) and cable tv changes. There have been complaints about rate changes that include a franchise fee with one bill going from $75 to $105. The CM is working on the contract between the county and GA Broadband. Discusson about the fire station in Lifsey Springs is ongoing. A contract is in the works on this and the building will not be ordered until the agreement is signed on the property. Right now there is no clear deed to this property because the legal description is not correct. More about this in Jimmy Bass' comments at the end of the meeting. Turner Bridge Road is waiting on a contract from the DOT to buy the materials. Question about the DOT letter for McNair. Rezoning is coming on this piece of property. It has already begun advertisement. A commissioner has had complaints about Double P accessing on the dirt road. Neighbors have pictures. The BOC expressed concern that the ordinance be followed. (Another grading company has sprouted up behind Double P according to Buddy Fuller who is on the agenda at the end with public comment.)

County Attorney Report led to a motion for the CM to sign contracts.

William McWilliams requested a tax refund of $99.94 and $108.39 on his boats. He said that the Tax Assessor's Office had them appraised at more than they were worth and was asking for a refund on amounts paid during previous years. There is no tax on boats (all included together according to state law) that add up to less than $7,500 in value. DNR sends a notice to the county that tags were bought for what type of boats and then the county sends out a notice to the tax payer. The problem with this is that state law says that if taxpayers do not respond to the Tax Assessor's notice and do not reply with corrected information, that they are agreeing to the assessment value. The same goes for paying the assessment amount. [Note from the Editor: Go to the Tax Assessor's link at the top of the page to read more about this because January 1 to April 1 is the time that tax payers have to change assessed amounts. After April 1, you are out of luck.] No motion to refund the motion so the action stands with the Tax Assessor's Office collecting the amount with no refund to the tax payer. Mr. McWilliams was very upset with this decision and could still be heard outside after leaving the meeting room as he complained. [Note from the Editor: Pike citizens need to learn from this if you have gotten an assessment notice and it is incorrect because the BOC is not handing out refunds like it used to.]

Pike County Personnel Policy-Bereavement Policy and the 2nd Reading of the Anti-Fraud Policy were postponed to the next meeting because the County Attorney and the CM have not had a chance to review these documents prior to the meeting.

Tripp Brisendine advised the BOC that the last lot on the square had been sold to a local business owner. Urged the BOC not to forget about using the old school building for a county administration building. Also advised that there is a revolving loan fund available to business owners through the Zebulon Downtown Development Authority.

No applicants for Keep Pike Beautiful or the Citizens Advisory Task Force.

The paralegal who is working through all of our minutes to find out what resolutions and changes to our ordinances have been proposed in the past several years is working already. She has submitted a proposal that this project will take no more than 500 hours at $20 per hour for a total of $10,000. She will meet with community members who have kept up with changes to ordinances, Dawn Dickerson, Wendell Becker, etc. to review her findings when the findings are complete. Motion to continue this process with no more than $10,000 for this service coming out of the Planning and Development budget. [Note from the Editor: I am on the CATF Subcommittee on Ordinance and Zoning where we are volunteering our time to go through Pike's Code of Ordinance to make recommendations. With that being said, $10,000 would not be enough for me to go through our minutes from various secretaries for the past several years and make notes of which ordinances were supposed to be changed, etc. Some of our older minutes after Mrs. Ann's retirement are not going to be a walk in the park. Nancy is truly an asset to Pike County.]

Motion to go with FNB out of Zebulon for the 3 new cruisers for the Sheriff's Office. 3.44% with a $175 processing fee. The county was fined by the EPD for operating a borrow pit (dig out the dirt for various projects in other places around the county) without a permit. Carter and Sloope performed a needed procedure for our surface mining permit in order to come into compliance with EPD regulations. Motion to approve payment of this bill.

Motion to allow GA Broadband to come in and videotape our meetings. This cannot be denied. [Note from the Editor: GA Broadband will need to have a representative in the room to take care of the equipment for our 5 and 6 hour meetings. It won't be a simple set up the camera and then walk out procedure. I'm sure they have a rep at all of the other meetings as well so there is not a problem with the taping of Executive Sessions which are not accessible to the public. Motions are required after Executive Sessions to advise the public of the any decisions that were made.]

Update 2.6.08 Motion to approve application of Concord Community Block Grant 4-0. This can only be applied for every 2 years and Pike County joining on this helps Concord where Pike County's high household income probably would disqualify us by ourselves. This $511,119 project will not require funds from Pike County but might bring needed state funds to replace deteriorated sewer line in the Hilltop area.

City of Zebulon annexation application that involves the land behind the old school campus. 2 Industrial lots right now. The Planning Commission recommended at least 2 access points to this property. Rob did not see any way for the county to object to this project at this time. However, the BOC can bring objection within the next year if the zoning changes.

Don Collins gave a summary of the January 14th Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) meeting. CATF positions still left open and want to contact the mayors in the different cities and ask for representatives to ensure their representation on this county committee and wants to talk to the Chamber of Commerce to get a business representative. Asked to move some at large representatives to the open District positions that they live in. Approved 4-0. Next meeting is February 11th at 7 p.m. in the BOC meeting room. Said that the Records Retention Committee could help the BOC with information about our county records if they requested it. Advised that the Zoning Ordinance Committee has been on the verge of disbanding twice over the past year but said that they are doing an excellent job. Also said that approving recommendations on Section 90 was a good thing for them too.

SPLOST money will be disbursed February 2nd per original agreement. CM has met with every City Council and Mayor to advise of this and take care of any problems from the one time SPLOST amount every year.

Ray Grizzard had representative Tripp Brisendine come before the BOC per the 2006 zoning stipulation that the propose use of the property located across from Pike Manor come back before the BOC before a building permit could be issued on this property. It was already zoned C-2 and there is a list of allowable uses in that zoning which includes indoor recreation facility like Safari Fun in Thomaston which is what this owner wants to do. Rob tendered his legal opinion that this is not a zoning hearing because the zoning has already been approved but that it was zoned C-2 with the condition that the owner come back before the BOC to advise what it will be used for and that this appearance now satisfied that requirement. Strictly for information and is not a zoning action. Didn't know at the time what it would be used for. Could have been reverted back to A-R according to our ordinances but that process has not been done in some time. The clock will start ticking again on that year requirement now that the building permit can be given to this land owner. Tripp said that we have a Code of Ordinances with a list of approved uses for property and that he would appreciate the BOC not microzoning like this in the future. [Note from the Editor: This was approved for C-2. If there are items in C-2 that the BOC doesn't like being there, they need to change the ordinances. It is ridiculous for someone to come back and ask permission from the BOC to build something that is allowed in C-2. A building permit cannot be issued unless something is specifically allowed in the ordinances now. The Planning and Development Director is no longer allowed to use judgement on whether something is allowed or not. If there is a question about it, the land owner is required to go through the process of getting permission from the required entities which include the BOC since they now have the final say on everything that goes on in this county.]

Discussion of Provisional Business Licenses and Business License Applications not in zoning compliance. Scotty Stewart came with his counsel Josh Thacker about a provisional business license. Wendell Becker could not give him a business license because he is operating out of compliance with his current business license for tree service, but Wendell asked for clarification from the BOC because Scotty has not been declared guilty in a court of law. It was said in the meeting that there are 2 cases pending jury trial in Pike County. [Note from the Editor: This discussion should have included Centerfield Sports and Fitness Inc. but the BOC made a point not to include it. Centerfield owner Mike Grant has already asked for his business license and has a case pending for arraignment in Pike Superior Court on February 15th as well. Forgive me for beating a long dead horse, but we need to follow the rules and treat everyone in Pike County alike regardless of name, age, race, political affiliation, or whatever else. But I digress. For better or worse, a jury will decide on both of these cases.] Motion was made to grant a provisional license to this company pending outcome of jury trial for the current calendar year. (In case it extends into next year in which case, this would have to be done again.) If found guilty of non-compliance during the current calendar year in a court of law, then the current provisional license will be revoked. 4-0.

No applications for GA Dept of Human Resources Region One MHDDAD Board appointment. The BOC has approved the hiring of a consultant to design monetary policy since the CM doesn't have the time to write policy for all of the written policy procedures that need to be in place in Pike County. $24,000 was the high amount that one person wanted to do this. Still getting more info on this. This person will also write out job descriptions for a couple of positions dealing with finance in Pike County. Account technicians, county finance officer (CFO), etc.

Discussion of EMA director Mike Singleton and his training, funding, etc. Discussion EMA needs to line item rather than using contingency to pay for everything because there was discussion that fire and EMA used to share a line item at some point in the past. Motion for $550 out of contingency to pay for a 3 day training class and directed the CM to research EMA 4-0.

Executive Session from 9:20 to 10:10 p.m. Howard Rawlins spoke about the Veterans Memorial on the Courthouse Square. Wants to remove the monument because it is separating from the settling of dirt underneath the monument. He brought pictures for the BOC to review of what it used to look like. Asked permission for Pike veterans to take care of this monument so it can be restored to original condition prior to construction on the Square. Agreement that the monument has dropped about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch which has created a gap in the monument.

Don Bailey came front and spoke about this issue as well. See Letters to the Editor or Calendar of Events for upcoming Veterans meeting. Said he met with the two gentlemen concerned about the monument. Said that the concerns were tht there is no tarp under the rocks as it was before, that the trees would tarnish the monument, etc. Said that the vets in Pike County should take care of the monument. This may even include moving it to another location. It represents Pike pride.

John Morrison discussed the procedures that allowed a revisit to a "no" vote at the past meeting. He asked what was done to distinguish that one and do you plan to revisit all "no" votes? Addressed the lapse of time in between the vote on Double P grading that was denied last year but not given three affirmative votes with the motion for zoning and said that people were not aware that it was going to be voted on again. Mr. Morrison went on to say that the BOC appoints citizens to committees and no less than 3 county committee members were sitting in the audience with their hands up and none of the other BOC members would 2nd Commissioner Swift's motion to let them speak even with a point of information that John Hoover attempted to give the BOC. John said that the BOC should show more courtesy to those who serve on boards and listen to them.

Jimmy Bass addressed Board of Appeals issues. Said that the Heltons had been before the Board of Appeals 3 times in the past 3 months. Their property was R-6 instead of A-R--though A-R was advertised in the newspaper--and their hearing had to be postponed because it was not advertised properly and the BOA members had studied A-R zoning code instead of R-6 and were not prepared to discuss R-6 zoning. Said that this is no way for citizens to be treated. Talked about the fire station at Lifsey Springs which also went before the BOA. Asked if the lines that have been redrawn include the well and if there is a signed agreement on this. At this time, there is not. Was advised that the land owner is allowing the fire station to have access to the well water though the agreement is still in the preliminary draft stage. There was a problem with the legal description in the deed. The surveyor went out on March 31, 2006 but that was not agreed to and was not presented until August of 2007 [Note from the Editor: Basically, the ball got dropped between the past CM who was fired in 2006, the appointed CM, and now the new CM is taking this on. Continuity in county business affects even the day to day items such as this.] Commissioner Parrish Swift is caught in the middle of this because he was not a county commissioner when it began and now he is. Commissioner Swift said as much with the comment that he has been severly compromised and put in a bad predicament because this is not over with even now. Said of the BOA asking "If you don't have all the facts, how can they have all the facts?" Asked whn the BOC make the decision to allow sovereign immunity to be used? Fry said that BOC did not authorize it or talk about it ahead of time. Basically boils down to not wanting to charge taxpayers for more property to put this fire station on because this property is too small according to our ordinances. It was the best thing for the taxpayers to make this work. Growth will maybe allow for a 2nd story on the firehouse later on. At some point in the future, the county will need to build a larger fire station somewhere in this area, but when that happens, new land will have to be located to place it on.

Buddy Fuller spoke about Double P Grading. Said that people in the audience were under the impression that the Double P Grading rezoning could not be brought back up for a year instead of being postponed like it was. Said that the citizens living closeby were completely disrespected. Said he was told that he would be notified when this came back before the BOC and this was not done. Ended with "Let your yeas be yea and your nays be nay."

Motion to adjourn at 11:00 p.m.

The History of Centerfield Sports and Fitness

The original Centerfield Sports and Fitness Center, Inc. facility is located on Lot C-1 North Park at Brookstone Subdivision. This 1.02 acres was purchased on May 9, 2003. Lot 1 of Brookstone Subdivision is subject to Restrictive Covenants that were filed on January 8, 2004. The original covenants prohibited "business or commercial activity" from being operated or maintained "from any Dwelling Unit or other structure upon or within the property". An Amendment to the Covenants was signed on May 31, 2005.

This revised covenant on Lot 1 was filed and recorded by the Clerk of Superior Court on June 10, 2005. The Amendment restricts Lot 1 uses to the following: 1) a parking lot, ball field, eight batting cages, playground, picnic area and swimming pool. It specifically restricts buildings of any kind with the exception of the pavilion as shown on the site plan attached to this Amendment which is Exhibit A, 2) Lot 1 must be accessed only from the east and no drive shall be permitted to access Lot 1 from Brookstone Drive, 3) must maintain a natural or landscaped buffer of 30 feet in width along the north, south and west property lines and specifically, Bradford pears shall be planted in the north buffer, 4) must comply with all soil conservation requirements upon development and improvement of the lot, 5) no flood lights, ball park lights or similar lighting will be permitted. Only sodium type street lights of 150 watts are permitted with a pole length not to exceed 20 feet, and 6) no activities of any nature shall be permitted after 9 p.m. Every property owner in Brookstone Subdivision signed this document with the witness of a notary public including Tamara Woods, who is now married to Billy Paul.

Pike County's Code of Ordinances does not allow outdoor activity on C-1 Neighborhood Commercial zoned property--only indoor recreation. It also says in 156.188(f): All uses not permitted within C-1 Districts by this section are specifically prohibited. However, Section 156.188(c) at that time said: The following accessory uses are permitted in C-1 Districts: those determined by the Zoning Administrator to be customarily appurtenant to those uses permitted in this District. At that time, Wendell Becker was the Zoning Administrator for Pike County and was allowed to make these decisions without BOC approval.

No structure was going to be built on the property so no building permit was required; however, a grading/land disturbance permit was required and was purchased. The Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Review Plans were completed on May 20, 2005 and given to the Pike County/Towaliga Soil Conservation District with approval being given on May 24, 2005. The receipt for Land Disturbance Permit 05-014 is a matter of public record. It was bought on May 27, 2005 for $380.00 and paid by check.

Centerfield Sports and Fitness, Inc. applied for and was issued a business license on December 30, 2005 for the entire property including the lot containing the outdoor baseball field. The nature of the business was stated: "Health, Sports, Fitness, Baseball Training, Baseball Tournaments".

On August 22, 2006, Billy Paul filled out an application to present an appeal before the BOA regarding Lot 1 of Brookstone, Centerfield's baseball field. According to the BOA September 21, 2006 minutes, the BOA voted to deny the appeal against the Zoning Administrator 3-2.

On December 13, 2006, Billy Paul made a presentation on the zoning violations at Lot #1 Brookstone Way to the Board of Commissioners (BOC). Becker advised that Centerfield Sports and Fitness supports youth baseball and that is why he decided that the ball field was an expansion of Centerfield's current business. The BOC ordered that any activities on this outdoor property were to cease until this matter was resolved. 4-0 vote. The BOC also made a motion that any business that ceases to comply with our ordinances ceases to be allowed a business license. 4-0 vote. The BOC made a motion for a 90 day moratorium on the Zoning Administrator's ability to make an appurtenant accessory use decision without coming before the BOC. The BOC is to make final approval on appurtenant accessory use. 4-0 vote.

The BOC have since approved text amendments to our Code of Ordinances that do not allow the Zoning Administrator to make decisions on an accessory use if something is not allowed in our ordinances. However, the Zoning Administrator was authorized to make those decisions up until December of 2006. This zoning change does not affect decisions that were made prior to that date.

Mike Grant applied for Centerfield’s business license at the end of December in 2006. It was placed on the agenda for January 10, 2007. At that meeting, Attorney Newton Galloway gave a 26 page presentation to the BOC on Centerfield. He referenced Massey v. Butts County, 637 S.E.2d 385 (2006), a case that he argued all of the way up to the Supreme Court of Georgia and eventually lost. In it, Newton's client, sought to have a barn on his neighbor's property removed because it was not a permitted use under the county's zoning ordinance. The ruling on this case required that the property owner show how he would suffer "special damage" and said that a neighborhood challenge for a zoning violation is not allowed even if the permit was issued in error by the Zoning Administrator and the use is not permitted. Click here to read the final ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court from which this is cited.

Newton concluded his presentation with a simple question of whether the BOC was willing to use tax money to buy this business if the BOC improperly denied Centerfield's business license. The BOC voted to allow the renewal of Centerfield's business license for the indoor facility only.

Efforts to compromise on this situation by a change to our code of ordinances to allow outdoor activity as a special exception on commercially zoned property were presented to the Planning Commission on August 9, 2007. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on these text amendments which included an unprecedented Executive Session and approved the changes with a condition that buffers, lighting conditions, and architectural requirements must be included and that compatibility and hours of operation in relation to the use and proposed adjacent properties be included. From there it went before the BOC.

At the August 28, 2007 BOC meeting, the public hearing was held for these text amendments. The BOC voted to deny these text amendments 3-1 with Commission Swift dissenting. Planning Commission members, who had been given a directive from the BOC to approve these text amendments, were visibly upset because two meetings were spent discussing this ordinance and it was an obvious waste of their time. One Planning Commission member even asked the BOC where do we go from here?

Centerfield Sports and Fitness held a Winter Baseball Camp on December 8, 2007. Seventy or so kids were there from several of the surrounding counties. There was plenty of parking and there were no cars on the street. No citations were issued at this time.

Centerfield held a baseball camp on January 5, 2008. Wendell Becker, who is now the head of Code Enforcement, came to Centerfield to issue two citations to owner Mike Grant. The first was based on Pike County Code Section 156.18 which does not allow outdoor activities on commercially zoned property. The second citation was based on Section 112.02 of Pike County Code which requires a business license in order to operate a business in Pike County.

Centerfield Sports and Fitness received two additional citations at his business on January 7, 2008 for use of the batting cages under the covered pavilion next to his indoor business. The first was for activities for batting cages not permitted because outdoor activities are not allowed in C-1 zoning. The second was for violation of business license for using the batting cages when the business license was granted to Centerfield Sports with the specific instruction that it was only for the indoor facility.

Centerfield’s business license is up for renewal again. The BOC has made sure that a situation like this would not happen again when it removed the Zoning Administrator's authority to make an appurtenant accessory use decision without coming before the BOC. However, that does not solve the problem that Centerfield has with the current BOC.

A flurry of citations right before the business license renewal does not strengthen a case that we don't have a leg to stand on in the first place. Massey v. Butts County can be applied directly to this situation. Furthermore, it can be argued that this is a taking because Mike Grant was allowed to have this facility and now it is being taken away from him without fair and just compensation. Court decisions on vested rights and takings would also apply to Centerfield.

The public expects effective leadership from its representatives. The people need to know that our commissioners have the integrity to follow the rules and deal fairly with every situation that comes before them regardless of who is involved and any personal history that may exist. The Pike County BOC has a responsibility not only to handle taxpayer dollars wisely but to treat everyone with integrity and fairness.

So where do we go from here?

The BOC can choose to stand by its former Zoning Administrator and state that Wendell made a decision on an appertenant accessory use that he was authorized to make at that time, but make it clear that it will not happen again because this authority now rests with the BOC.

Or the BOC can authorize text amendments--without restrictions--that will enable Centerfield to continue with business here in Pike County. The BOC will need to give verbal assurance--noted in the minutes--that the text amendments are a formality for Centerfield since an earlier attempt in this direction was abandoned by a majority of the BOC.

Or the BOC can continue on their chosen path which leads to litigation and a settlement that will be financed by taxpayer dollars.

Are the taxpayers of Pike County willing to pay our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to this business owner for his time and aggravation because the BOC refuses to abide by our Code of Ordinances?

Workshop on Flat Shoals, Flint River Access

The workshop for Flat Shoals, Flint River Access was held at the Board of Commission (BOC) office today. Commissioners Roosevelt Willis, Parrish Swift, Tommy Powers, and Steve Fry were present. Attorney Rob Morton, County Manager (CM), Nancy Cook, Dept of Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickerson and Enforcement and Permitting Director Wendell Becker were also present. The meeting was taped for "point of process". [Probably something to do with possible litigation.]

The meeting was basically an hour and fifteen minutes of rehashed arguments with few new variables added to the mix. District conservationist Carmen Westerfield was present to address the erosion and sedimentation (E&S) items on this river access point. David Ison, David Brisendine, and Tripp Brisendine were present to represent the housing at Flat Shoals as well as Jay and Joy Lett, who own property in this subdivision. Flint River Outdoor Center owner Jim McDanile, who used to put canoes and paying customers in the river at Flat Shoals was present to state his views as well as Walker Chandler, David Russell, and Larry Lynch. There were several other citizens there to observe or speak if needed and the media.

Here is a synopsis of this issue. The dirt ramp by the bridge has been used to access the river for more than twenty years until the Flat Shoals Development was built and now there are big rocks blocking the public's access to the river at this point as well as an accelleration/deaccelleration lane going into the subdivision that takes up the shoulder which used to be used for parking and signs that display the county's ordinance of no parking in this area.

There is no Pike County access to the Flint River at this time if this access is blocked. (I've been advised that there may be an access on Hwy 362 but I have not confirmed this.) However, there is access to the Flint in other places even though those access points are not as convenient to Pike residents. This argumnt went back and forth for some time.

The answer to the question of who put the rock there and why was answered somewhat. Attorney Rob Morton advised that the rock was not part of the E&S Plan that was reviewed and approved. However, Carmen advised that the rip-rap could have been added if there was a need for additional E&S measures to stop the erosion from the water coming down the hill from the accel/deaccel lane. It could have been a short-term solution to help the grass grow in this area to hold the soil and while it should have been on the as-built to show the measure, it does not have to be. And the rocks could be removed since the grass is now growing, but a large amount of traffic will begin the erosion problem again if it is not dealt with prior to opening a boat ramp.

There was an agreement that there should be some type of public access to the Flint River in Pike County but disagreement on where it should be and who should pay for it. The land on the other side of the bridge is for sale, but four acres for six million dollars is out of Pike County's price range. Paving dirt roads versus putting in a boat ramp was not a hard issue for Commissioner Tommy Powers and I can see his point though a boat ramp in Pike County would be nice.

Attorney Rob Morton summed up the problem at the end of the meeting. He said that the BOC needs more information in order to make an educated decision on this and that the county is trying to get a resolution to this problem but has to follow proper channels.

The county assumes liability for anything that happens in this area if it builds a nice boat ramp because it invites people to come and use it when we don't have adequate parking. Not to mention that the county would probably have to rebuild the fence that is about a foot inside of the adjoining property owner's property that keeps getting knocked down by people who are trying to back their trailers down to the river. And the fact of the matter stands that the issue of parking has to be addressed before the boat ramp itself can come into play.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources are federal and state respectively agencies that have rules that must be followed when it comes to the Flint River. More information must be obtained from these two sources in order to ascertain if a boat ramp can be built here and what is needed in order to do this if it is allowed. In the meantime, the county attorney made it clear that citizens cannot go on county right of way and remove rocks in order to restore access to the Flint River.

The CM asked that the local media put out word to the public that there are ways to obtain to the public boat ramp through the Georgia State Land Trust. This department gives tax breaks to those who donate land for a cause such as this.

Public access to a river that runs through the county is an important issue and it will be interesting to see how this continues to play out.

January 9, 2008
9:00 am

Today's meeting lasted from a few minutes after 9 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. at which time Chairman Fry was kind enough to allow the citizens to vent at some of the action taken at the meeting today. I finally went to lunch at a little after 2 p.m. That makes for a long day, but this was a good meeting overall even if it was long.

Commissioners Parrish Swift, Tommy Powers, Steve Fry, Jake Garner were present. Commissioner Willis was absent. Our prayers go out to the Willis family on the loss of their loved one. Nancy took the minutes and County Manager (CM) Steve Marro was present. Rob and Tom Morton were both present to provide legal counsel as well.

Discussion at the beginning of the meeting about how our BOC is required to have a positive vote on every action that is taken by the BOC. That means that a majority vote is required in order for a final decision to be made. There were two previous actions that were not completed but had satisfied the public hearing requirements and needed to be finalized. Both actions were with grading companies.

SUB 07-07: WOODLAND HOMES has requested subdivision of 49.01 acres into two tracts of no less than 19.896 acres. The property is located on Hood Road in Land Lot 238 of the 1st District of Pike County and found on Tax Map 12-007. This is property that was previously divided in the past three years that had to come back before the BOC for another hearing so the county doesn't end up with a subdivision where it hasn't authorized one by small divisions of property every couple of years. This is the 5th division of property here with the last taking place in September of 2007. No one spoke in favor or against this item. Motion to approve: 4-0.

SE 07-09: JENNY LOUGH, application for a Special Exception for a General Home Occupation (embroidery) in an AR zoning district. The subject property is located along the northern right-of-way of Hunter Road in Land Lot 37 of the 2nd District of Pike County. Said property contains 5.0 acres and is identified as Tax Map 63-038A. No customers to visit just the UPS truck to carry the orders to their destination. Motion to approve: 4-0.

SE 07-10: BYRAN ARD, application for a Special Exception in an AR zoning district to allow for a temporary residence in a recreational vehicle during new home construction. The subject property is located along the western right-of-way of Union School Road in Land Lots 156, 157 and 158 of the 9th District of Pike County. Said property contains 12.08 acres and is identified as Tax Map 34-052. Board of Appeals recommended approval. Planning and Development Director Dawn Dickerson recommended denial because not provided for in our ordinances. Manufactured homes are discussed but not RV's. In Favor: Bryan Ard. Told how his RV is made for putting into a trailer park and is even equipped with a washer and dryer. He has septic tank and well at property now and can tie in until house is built. BOA member Carol Bass said that she felt her board lacked direction on this and only voted for approval after much discussion. This needs to be addressed in our ordinances. Commissioner Parrish Swift agreed that this needs to be addressed in our ordinances. No opposition. Attorney Rob Morton advised that the BOC can look at the intent as well as what is written. RV's are not prohibited so BOC has discretion. Dawn was following letter of the law but can make contingent upon following manufactured home criteria if applicable. Motion to approve: 4-0.

SE 07-11: JULIAN H. DANIELLY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, application for a Special Exception for a church in an AR zoning district. The property is located at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 19 and Highway 109 in Land Lot 234 of the 8th District of Pike County. Said property contains 38.30 acres and identified as Tax Map 70-031. This was advertised as a church and not as the community center that was eventually approved. It was legally advertised, we were told, because the community center is an accessory use with the church as the main use, but it doesn't sit well with me. Teen Challenge was advertised like this and it caused a ton of problems for them. I wonder if there were people who would have been interested in supporting this if it had been advertised in a manner that they could. I can't imagine opposition but there could have been that too. There was a ton of discussion on this. This was tabled until after Executive Session. After Executive Session, the motion was made to allow a special exception for the purpose of a community center. Amended to include the buffer recommended by Planning and Zoning. 50 foot setback with a 10 foot buffer.

CM report: Letter from GA Broadband that is now the cable tv carrier in our area that bought out Rapid Communications. CM brought up fact that we don't have franchise agreement so losing money. City of Zebulon meetings are on the cable channel now. Motion made to authorize County Attorney and CM to finalize franchise agreement with GA Broadband 4-0. Lifsey Springs Fire Department was burned in order to build a new meeting. Discussion of where to place Williamson Fire Department. Hollonville Church voted to give an acre to the fire department last year. Will continue to follow up on this. Estimate on Turner Bridge Road is much more affordable with DOT culvert rather than cement bridge at $32,578. The county is working to get this bridge fixed. Needs analysis on county facilities is coming along. Maybe finished in a month or so. County Audit has begun. 5 people are working for 3 days this week and 2 days next week. I wonder how much this will cost us by the time that it is over and done with.

An independent paralegal--someone who does not work for Morton and Morton but will be under their supervision and doesn't work for the county--will be going through the official minutes from the last meeting all of the way back to June of 2002 when the last codification was done in order to bring our code books into compliance. Text amendments have not been kept track of since that time and while there has been work with Planning and Zoning employees, CATF subcommittee, Carol Bass, Nancy, and the CM to research old ordinances, there needs to be one point of contact for all of this so we can eventually recodify our Code book so all of the Boards and the BOC can have the same book to look at. It's gotten so bad with the Board of Appeals that there is talk of a moratorium on Special Exceptions because nobody has an up-to-date code book. 30 to 60 days to do this at $15 to $20 an hour. Motion to approve 3-1 with Commissioner Jake Garner opposing because does not know a dollar amount figure for total on this. The county is going to use unfilled positions to pay for this. Also discussed putting plats on the wall along with a county map so citizens can see what is being voted on.

Commissioner Reports: Parrish Swift: County website status? Draft will be ready next week. Litter law contradicting state ordinance? Our code enforcement can issue citations for county litter ordinance. Only Sheriff's Office can enforce state law. 2 BOC on call about checks every week on a rotation basis? BOC employees will call when checks are ready rather than waiting for them to come to office and then sign them. Checks have to have 2 signatures. CM has to review the checks for purchase orders, etc. and sign off on before can be printed. Maybe allow Marro to be one of the signers with one commissioner rather than two so still checks and balances. Asked to have BOC packages 4 or 5 days in advance for review. Discussion of procedures including a requirement that public sign up earlier and give any written documentation to the BOC prior to the meeting in package. Maybe even cut off info on the agenda and public comment requests to 10 days prior. Advised that received a letter on Centerfield from citizen Margie Trammell that concerned him as well as many phone calls from the public. Asked if the BOC need to consider Centerfield or text amendments on agenda for the January 29 meeting. The CM advised that Centerfield is on the next agenda. [Thank you to Commissioner Swift for bringing this up because it should hav been dealt with a LONG time ago.] Commissioner Jake Garner mentioned right of way issues but not too much was said on this.

Update 1.11.08: I will try to write some more on this meeting. I thank the BOC for working with these two grading companies to find a way to keep their businesses open here in Pike County. I hope that the BOC will use some common sense on Centerfield as well. Those who support Centerfield for its children's programs and work out facilities need to speak out loudly to your commissioners.

Added this part of the commission meeting on 1.12.08. More later.

REZ 07-07: James Scott McNair has applied to rezone 1.0 acres of land from AR to M-2A for a heavy construction/grading business. The property is located at The intersection of Highway 19 North and Pitts Lane. The property is more properly referred to as being in Land Lot 69 of the 2nd Land District and found On Tax Map 75 and part of parcel 90A. This was properly advertised in a meeting several months ago. The BOC voted to wait 60 days so Mr. McNair could get a letter from the DOT about his driveway. Attorney Rob Morton advised that the BOC had to take final action on this matter. Wendell advised that Mr. McNair had been without a business license for a year. Mr. McNair was originally applying for M2A zoning (Manufacturing) but that is not what is planned for on Hwy 19 in this part of the county Comprehensive Plan or in the Commercial Overlay that has been in the works for the past year. Another problem with M2A zoning is that it heavy equipment cannot access a business off of an unimproved road. Mr. McNair offered to pave Pitts Lane to right past his property since he said that he has done all of the maintenance on the road up until Thanksgiving when he said the county plowed up the road and then left 8 foot of gravel in the middle of what was a passable 2 land dirt road. The recommendation from the Planning Commission was to give approval of C2 (Commercial) with a restriction on the lowboys and to rezone all acreage north of Pitts Lane. Discussion on only zoning use with heavy equipment is M2A or C3. C3 (heavy commercial) has been revised to allow the sales and service of heavy equipment but does not currently allow a grading business with heavy equipment. Attorney Rob Morton advised that the BOC is the executive legislative branch so they are not limited or obligaed to abide by what was applied for. The BOC plans to add grading to C3 heavy commerical and Rob advised that the BOC is not prohibited from giving approval now so they could vote to do this now. Motion to approve as C3 zoning and make a special exception to allow equipment to be parked there with a requirement that there be a buffer across the front entrance onto the paved road. Discussion that cannot have large equipment on 1 acre as Mr. McNair was asking for with M2A so amend motion to include requirement that all property north of Pitts Lane be rezoned. This motion to approve C3 is contigent upon Mr. McNair going back through the rezoning process for C3 with the acreage north of Pitts Lane.

Added this part of the commission meeting on 1.15.08. More later.

Don has appeared before all of the city mayors and their councils over the past year in an effort to gather their support for countywide animal control. He has asked for letters of support from each city mayor and their council that should be addressed to the County Manager (CM) and Board of Commissioners (BOC). Williamson and Zebulon have provided this already. Don will go before the City of Meansville next week. He provided budgetary information from neighboring county animal control programs: $135,000 for Meriwether County and $98,000 for Upson County. He also provided them with the contact information for the Meriwether County Animal Control facility which was largely built with donated funds. Don also asked the county once again for donated land upon which to build this animal control facility when funds are available. Donations can be made to the Pike County Animal Shelter Fund (P.C.A.S.F) at United Bank and correspondence and donations may be sent to: P.C.A.S.F., P.O. Box 314, Zebulon, GA 30295. Discussion centered around land close to the women's correctional facility so that inmates could help with the care of animals and other needs at the facility when it is built. Don has discussed obedience training with Kevin Teate, the new Rec Director and is working diligently on a Spay and Neuter clinic here in Pike County. (More details as soon as I get them! Maybe as soon as March 15th!) The J. Joel Edwards Library has a display by Friends of Pike County Animals with a drawing for gift certificates from Crumb Crazy and A Taste of Heaven Coffee and the items in the display (excluding the library books) for children ages 12 and under. The CM has directed Public Works to obtain a soil samples from land which is suitable in order to decide where to put this county facility and advised that inmate help will be ok with the county. Said he is working on scheduling a workshop but there are so many people involved with this project that it is difficult but is working on this. Said that the cities have to support this including the costs of running it.

Second Reading of the Pike County Anti-Fraud Policy was postponed until the next meeting. 4-0

Final action on zoning application REZ 07-08-Double P Grading


Set qualifying fees for 2008 elections

2008 Beer License-Hammocks Grocery Inc.

2008 Beer License-D&E Holdings, LLC, dba The Country Store

McIntosh Trail-Appoint/Re-appoint 3 Pike County representatives to the Board of Directors

Keep Pike Beautiful-Appointment/Re-appointment of 4 board members

Citizens Advisory Task Force-Appointment/Re-appointment of 7 board members

William E. McWilliams has requested a Tax Refund in the amount of $99.94

Water Authority request for storage space

Ceremony to honor and welcome back the USS Georgia

Address the letter from Pike County Schools regarding school tax exemption for people over 65 years of age.

Discuss and take any action necessary on the annexation request.

The Water Authority has requested insurance through Pike County

Proposal to hold a workshop each month in place of the regular night meeting.

Strategic Planning Session discussion

Discuss the 2008 business license for Double P Grading

-Personnel-County Manager pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(6)
-Pending and Potential Litigation pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2(1)