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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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This online news website is owned and operated by Becky Watts. The Editor can be reached at 770-468-7583 or at editor(at)PikeCountyTimes(dot)com. Pike County Times is a website for citizens to keep up with local events and stay informed about Pike County government. It began on November 13, 2006 as a watchdog on county government and has turned into an online newspaper.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 9:00 AM
Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, Georgia

https://pike.novusagenda.com/AgendaPublic/meetingsresponsive.aspx has an online agenda and accompanying information for this meeting. Monthly information from Animal Control, Coroner, Fire Department, Grady, Library, Magistrate Court, McIntosh Trail CSB, Planning & Development, Registrar, Superior - Juvenile Court, Tax Assessor, and the Water Authority are included as well during the morning meeting only.

Commissioners James Jenkins, Jason Proctor, Tim Daniel, Tim Guy, and Chairman Briar Johnson were present along with County Clerk Angela Blount, County Manager Brandon Rogers, and County Attorney Rob Morton.

1. CALL TO ORDER - Chairman J. Briar Johnson

2. INVOCATION - Ben Maxedon

3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE - Chairman J. Briar Johnson

4. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA - (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (1))

County Manager Brandon Rogers added an item E for .gov address. [Note from the Editor: I have had expressed my thoughts on adding items to the agenda last minute and have been ignored so I decided to ask about this through open records. Boy, did I open a can of worms! More on this at the end of the meeting.]

5. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES - (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (2))

Minutes of the January 25, 2022 Regular Monthly Meeting.

Minutes of the January 25, 2022, Executive Session.

Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.


A. Employees to be recognized for years of service.

Donna Chapman

CM Rogers advised that she has been with the county for 25 years. Donna is elected by the people of Pike County, and she’s been elected multiple times for the knowledge and experience that she has. Chairman Johnson said that she does a great job and has a great staff.

B. Holly Line with Department of Family and Children Services.

Ms. Line is the current Interim Director of Pike County DFCS and has been serving with DFCS since 2007. She is open to suggestions for improvement. She is here for the long-term and here to serve the county.


a. Monthly Reports submitted from County Departments and County Authorities, including a Revenue/Expenditure Statement for all departments, and a summary check register.

Motion to accept. Approved 5-0.

County Manager Report.

Update on County finances for the following funds/accounts:

General Fund $5,328,432.32
Fire Dept. Donations $6,320.37
Cash Reserve Account $307,607.55
Jail Fund $28,788.69
E-911 Fund $258,786.29
DATE Fund $39,082.48
Juvenile Court Fund $12,623.75
Residential Impact Fee $1,240,164.56
Commercial Impact Fees $192,753.75
C.A.I.P Fund $38,233.90
General Obligation SPLOST Tax Bond Sinking Fund, 2016 $956,069.83
L.M.I.G. Grant (DOT) $531,030.84

c. County Manager Comments.

Update for the grant request for broadband. Governor put out the list, and we were not included. Southern Rivers was awarded $15.6. Most will be completed this year. High 80% by end of 2022. We will continue to apply for funding.

There have been several road closures of late after the heavy rain. The road department is working to get roads back in shape. Milner, Turner, Old Bolton, and Woodard Roads are in bad shape and are on the list for repair by Public Works as soon as possible.

There have been talks about zoning issues from over the years. CM Rogers asked for a workshop to discuss issues. Maybe a half a day, but he thinks a full day. February 22 at 1 p.m.

The R-cut on Shackelford Road on Hwy 341 has been delayed. Are we still supportive of this? The only change since then is the Dollar General. Still in favor of this.

d. Commissioner Reports.

District 1 Timmy Daniel. Tanyard and Brazier are bad because of the rough rains.

District 3 Jason Proctor thanked Public Works Director Todd Goolsby and the guys at Public Works for their work on the roads.

District 4 James Jenkins saw them working this morning at 7:30 a.m. Woodard Road has been added to the list.

Chairman Briar Johnson said that in 2018, CM Hanson applied for a grant from GEMA. This was awarded and dragged on for years. They told us we were awarded about 1 ½ years ago. We ordered generators for each station for backup in disasters. Have they been wired yet? CM Rogers said that this is finished up.

He also thanked the fire department and all who helped with the fire at Supreme.

e. County Attorney Report to Commissioners.

County Attorney Morton said that they've been spending time on litigation. He received a letter from Ruth Chandler with the Animal Advisory Board. They have put together ordinances and submitted those for an upcoming agenda. Rob will scan them for their review. They have requested this to be on the February night meeting agenda.

Shelter operations are not ready to go yet. Can they qualify as a 501(c)3 for donations? If it’s a county advisory board, they cannot and this would need to be similar to the Fire Department with a separate entity for funds. It was received yesterday. They have a meeting on the 10th. What can I tell them?

Chairman Johnson was at their first meeting, and they are discussing a full animal control facility. He reminded them that we don’t have this yet. We have a facility, but said that this doesn’t alter our schedule for building. He also asked them to do a chapter at a time rather than an entire ordinance. He told them multiple times that we aren’t ready for a full scale animal control operation yet.

Mr. Morton said his office will consider it and give it back to the commissioners. A question was asked if this will be a problem if it is approved prior to what is now only vicious animals only becoming a full scale animal control facilty. He said that it may not create a problem with the implementation of the animal shelter, but he can’t give a full answer until he looks at this. It depends…

[Note from the Editor: We've been working on this for a long time as a county. Having a completed facility is a HUGE deal for us! However, everything has to be set into place for this to work well. I think it would be a good idea for commissioners to review this and revamp the time schedule on the animal shelter becoming a reality for Pike County. That means contacting cities and getting a dollar amount as well as an intergovernmental agreement into place for an opening at some point in the near future. What will the dollar amount be for cities to pay to help out with this animal shelter? How can citizens help out with donations for food, etc. and maybe even sign a waiver to help inside the facility if needed. A lot of work has been put into getting to where we are now. Let's keep that forward momentum going!]


a. Approve/deny SUB 21-05 – Southern Cousins Properties, LLC., owner/applicant are requesting concurrent preliminary and final plat approval for a 10-lot major subdivision with no new infrastructure being proposed. The name of the subdivision will be “Glover Estates” subdivision. Property Location: North side of Glover Road, West of Harden Road Zebulon, GA 30295. Land Lot: 129. District: 8th. Parcel ID: 090-006. Acreage: 98.92 acres. Commission District: District 3rd. Commissioner District: Jason Proctor. FEMA Data: A portion of the subject property lies within the 100-year flood zone.

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Gilbert spoke and said that this is for a subdivision on the north side of Glover Road. A 10 lot subdivision. AR zoning. Each lot is larger than the 3 acre minimum with this smallest being 8 acres and the largest is 12 acres. 1500 square feet minimum. Staff recommends approval.

Chairman Briar Johnson asked if current zoning allows the layout. 1 acre wide and 8 acres deep. Yes. He asked about the 100 acres flood plain. There is some building on the front of lot. Briar suggested vinyl siding. This was done with the last request as well. Motion to approve this as is (thinks vinyl siding needs to be reviewed at the workshop). 4-1 with Chairman opposed.

[Note from the Editor: We really need to revamp our ordinances so those who are building know what to expect. Tacking motions onto a request to change things is not what we should be doing. I don't think that the county has revamped ordinances in a large manner since the Citizens Advisory Task Force (CATF) went through everything and even helped come up with a few ordinances like the Adult Entertainment and Sign Ordinances. We spent 2 years going to twice a month meetings to do this so it wasn't an easy task, but it was well worth it for the county. The commissioners will be holding a workshop tomorrow starting at 1 p.m to look at revamping our Code of Ordinances. I don't know exactly what will be on there, but expect that 155 and 156 will be reviewed at some point. Vinyl siding needs to be included in the discussion. ADDED 2.22.22: Former Planning and Zoning Director David Allen advised that the code was changed the most when he worked here in the county. And I do remember a lot of changes, but I was thinking overall. I'm adding this to clarify that a lot of chanes were made during his tenure.]


a. Open sealed bids for Lawn Care services for Pike County.

Up for renewal. Current company said that they cannot renew under current conditions because they were losing money. This will put us on an annual schedule. We will start a new contract in July.

Bids were opened.
Flint River Landscaping – $50,000.
Cut N Edge - $85,968.

Flint River is current provider and CM Rogers recommended going with Flint River Landscaping. Current number $38,000. Commissioner Jason Proctor said that he would like to see what we could with this. He was advised by the CM that personnel is the issue. If we hire someone for $12 an hour, we’re at $25,000 or $30,000 without benefits. We have had this discussion before. $50,000 is very close to that number. Currently, the personnel that we have now cannot do this. We would have to hire someone who would do nothing but cut. The two others would help supplement in the high months. We do mulch and pine straw. The county can’t do the upkeep and do this. We had a problem before which is why we went out to bid.

Commissioners were advised that they could reject and go back out for bids if we need to. Two more companies seemed interested but did not bid. Commissioner Jason Proctor rescinded his motion and said that he would like to reevaluate next year before we go out to bid and stay with Flint River for $50,000 a year. Approved 5-0.

Chairman Johnson went to ask the board if the subdivision builder could speak, but he left. He had asked to speak during the commission discussion of the Glover Road Subdivision.

b. Update signatories on the Young at Heart Club checking account.

The Board of Commissioners have nothing to do with us, but we helped set this up years ago. The new officers need to be on the account rather than the old officers who are no longer with the Young at Heart Club at the Senior Center. The county is not responsible for this monetarily? Nope. Motion to approve. Approved 5-0.

c. PUBLIC HEARING: To receive public input regarding the 2022-2042 Comprehensive Plan Update.

Comp Plan Update. The DCA had reps to speak to us. Paul Jerrell and Stephanie Wagner. They were here last time for this in 2017. This is a joint planning effort again. Qualified Local Government Status requires this, but it is also setting the vision for us. 20 year vision. What does Pike want to be? Cities and counties. Existing needs that need to be addressed including goals and policies.

We need to formalize plans for cities and county including grants, SPLOST, and impact fees for future projects. County and cities, Regional Commission, a Steering Committee, public through surveys and vision events, elected officials will be involved through the entire process. One elected official needs to be on the committee as well as the cities. Community stake holders. Education, real estate, public works, etc. The Steering Committee is a large part of this. There will be a survey at some point for the public to be involved. There will be a 30 day review by the DCA. Community goals and needs will be addressed. We have to have a transportation element. There will be a broadband section as well. This is new since the last update. Proposed schedule was presented. Drafted for 2nd public hearing in August.

Public Hearing

Mayor Joe Walters. 24 year resident. This is going to be important for us. Things are changing so quickly so we have an opportunity to get a handle on things. Let’s try to work together for the common good. People come from other places and want the same services. The Zebulon City Council is working on this. Equitable and affordable housing is important. He wants his kids and their kids to be able to buy affordable housing here in years to come.

Closed the hearing.

Is there a certain number on the stakeholders? No. We can do what we want on this.

d. Discussion of .gov email domain.

IT recently discovered that a .gov domain is available for us. This would give us a little more security. .gov emails can’t be obtained by everyone. There is a procedure to walk through. CM Rogers said that there is a long process to get this so that is why it was added today. Cost? Free for now but annual cost is $800 a year. Said that it is harder for spam too. It also gives the citizens the comfort of knowing that it is from a legitimate source. This would go through Microsoft Office 365. If any of the elected officials would like to join, they can. No limit with the .gov as for as emails go. Currently have a gmail account that is limited to 50 users for free. Over 50, it is for all. This year, we will be charged for all addresses. Motion that we pursue this. Approved 5-0.

[Note from the Editor: I sent an open records request (ORR) to the county clerk requesting “a copy of emails dealing with the .gov issue from today's meeting” at 11:59 AM on the day of the meeting. I received a phone call from CM a little while later in which he asked what I was looking for and advised that he had emailed the commissioners about this on February 2 and that the final information that he needed for the meeting had come in over the past week/last few days prior to the meeting. However, the county clerk was away at a conference until the day before the meeting (so an amended agenda couldn’t go out) and the agenda had gone out a little early on Friday so I agreed that this was something that couldn’t be helped. But when I told him that additions to the agenda should not be happening on a regular basis, the conversation went downhill.

The conversation was NOT cordial, and I voiced a verbal complaint to him that he was speaking to me in a demeaning manner when he told me… “I’m right… you’ll understand later why I’m doing this.” He then spoke in a passive-aggressive manner that I verbally pointed out was derogatory and ironically the same way he had addressed our elected Tax Commissioner Donna Chapman by saying, “I understand that you’re upset…” (Hers was in an email conversation in which his authority was challenged on whether one of her employees would receive retirement benefits because this employee was working 32 hours a week under her authority as an elected official instead of the required 36 hours per week as was required for the rest of the county employees who actually fall under his direction as county manager. Hers do not because she is an elected official. This write up in blue can be read under the section “Discussion of changes to the Pike County ACCG Defined Benefits” at www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BOC9.28.21.html#.YhGIT5ZOnIU).) And then he advised me that this situation/how he does his job as CM “was not about making me happy.” Yes, I placed a written complaint with the Board of Commissioners and have advised the county manager that he will not speak to me in the future unless it is being recorded or in an email. (I can’t help but wonder how many employees, department heads, and elected officials have been spoken to like this. Besides Tax Commissioner Chapman that is.)

The point of that paragraph is that even though I have been sitting in county commission meetings for literally 20 years and pointed out that state law is not being followed, my request to properly advertise items for the public was turned into an argument about who was “right” and that this wasn’t about making me “happy” rather than simply following state law as closely as we can as a county. I said then and say again now that this request to follow the law is not about anyone being “right” and certainly not about making either one of us “happy.” It’s about following state law for Open Meetings because we’ve been sued and lost in the past. It’s also the right thing to do by our citizens so people can see what is going to be on the agenda because commission votes directly affect us and our community.

Time for a quick history lesson. The county has been sued twice and lost both times to the tune of over $50,000 for open meetings violations. Advertising items on the agenda so the public can see it and contact their commissioners is VERY important. This is a part of having an open and transparent government. You can read the details in blue where I wrote about this in the September 28, 2021 meeting under the section entitled “Property by the Concord Fire Station” at http://www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BOC9.28.21.html#.YhGIT5ZOnIU. You can also click here to read The Consent Interlocutory Order from 2004 and click here to read to read the Consent Order from 2005. Back to the present.

Less than an hour after this conversation on the 9th, the county clerk advised by email that she had reached out to the CM, and he advised that “there are no documents for him to provide” in reference to my ORR. I responded that the CM had spoken to me and advised that there was an email from February 2 that went to all of the commissioners, and that I expected that email to be provided per state law requirements. Yes, this email was copied to all of the commissioners, the county manager, and the county attorney.

I then laid out state law as it comes to open meetings with an understanding that emergency issues do happen and can be addressed quickly, but emergencies don’t happen on a regular basis so I expect that future issues to be properly advertised according to The Open Meetings Act which can be read by clicking here: https://law.georgia.gov/sites/law.georgia.gov/files/imported/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/62/49/186393706OMA_M_2012_Act_correctly_formatted.pdf. I also laid out the fact that the Consent Interlocutory Order from 2004 states specifically in Section 1 that the Pike County Board of Commissioners will make agendas available to the public prior to scheduled meetings AND that the agendas for each meeting "will reasonably and accurately identify the matters expected to be considered at the public meeting... in order to inform the public as to the true topics expected to be discussed at said meetings." This gives the public the opportunity to call, text, email, and/or speak at the Town Hall Meeting if they so choose. When I had not received anything by the next day, I sent another email to all who have already been named.

This one outlined state law with regard to redacting specific items for very specific reasons but not completely withholding any item as had been done here: "...In any instance in which an agency is required to or has decided to withhold all or part of a requested record, the agency shall notify the requester of the specific legal authority exempting the requested record or records from disclosure by Code section, subsection, and paragraph within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days or in the event the search and retrieval of records is delayed pursuant to this paragraph or pursuant to subparagraph (b)(I)(A) of this Code section, then no later than three business days after the records have been retrieved..." I included the entire note from my write up on the September 28, 2021 meeting as has been linked above so commissioners would know the history of why this is so important and that we could be sued (again) and lose (again) for not following state law. On the afternoon of Tuesday, the 16th (this is technically the 4th day after I had made my request which is not following state law either, but I’m not even going there because this gets so much worse. ADDED: To be clear, the CM knew when the 3 days was and did not give the info to the County Clerk until Day 4. This should not reflect on the clerk because she couldn't send what he refused to send her.), I received a copy of the email with one very large paragraph redacted so much that it only contained one sentence that said, “I’m looking at a possible .gov domain along with the possibility of having to swap from Gmail to Office 365.” I questioned the email sent from the CM who redacted it and then sent it to the county clerk to send to me. Since the email was sent to all of the commissioners, I asked them to look at it to see if it met state rules for redaction at Section 50-18-72 of https://law.georgia.gov/sites/law.georgia.gov/files/imported/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/62/51/186385699r1.pdf". I also asked if the county attorney had seen the entire email and given an ok on the redaction prior to it going out.

I then made an ORR for a copy of the email sent on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at 4:54 p.m. from the CM to Angela Blount, Rob Morton, and all 5 commissioners which was the unredacted copy of this email and asked commissioners to ensure that the law was followed when it came to open meetings so that we won’t continue to have “emergencies” at so many meetings. I also asked commissioners to write up the CM when needed “because that is going to be the only way to ensure that those speaking and acting on your behalf behave in a manner that is above reproach and reflects well on you and the county” when he interacts with employees, department heads, constitutional officers, and the public.

I received an email on the 17th from the county clerk which advised that she had spoken with the county attorney and in his opinion, the county had already provided me with the response to my ORR. My only other question at that point was upon which section of state code was this redaction based upon because the CM did not provide that information as required either. I asked and was advised by the county attorney that it was his understanding that the information was redacted by the CM based on OCGA 50-18-72 (25). Click here to see the redacted email: pikecountytimes.com/secondary/redactedemail2.21.22.2nd.pdf.

I also have email discussions with IT and the CM that go back to January 21 and as late as February 7 though the verbal conversations were not documented. This may have been an emergency situation that needed to on the agenda as I agreed to at the beginning of the phone call, but the fact remains that the rest of the conversation should have been handled differently.

As for open records, there has only been one other time that I have been completely denied a document by the Pike County Commission. That occurred in November of 2006--which is the same time that I began Pike County Times as a watchdog for the county commission. I received that document three months later through the intervention of the State Attorney General’s Office. (Yes, I have requested information on how to begin this same process 15 years later in a similar situation. How horribly ironic.) However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this never would have occurred if the .gov matter had been properly advertised in the first place, and if the county manager had spoken to me on the phone “with a measure of respect which should be given to EVERY citizen that he speaks to on the behalf of the county.” I was willing to walk away from this because the county clerk was off at training so an amended agenda couldn't be sent out and told the CM this at the beginning of the call.

Unfortunately, this has become a battle of whether state law will be followed in our county when it comes to open records and open meetings, and it shouldn’t be like that. The commissioners have a responsibility to ensure that law is followed or that there are consequences for choosing not to follow state law if this behavior continues. The same goes for how employees, department heads, constitutional officers, and the public are treated when they interact with the CM because he is speaking and acting on their behalf.]



12. ADJOURNMENT - 10:02 a.m.

[Note from the Editor: If you appreciate being able to read information from county meetings for free on Pike County Times, please make a donation to Pike County Times through the PayPal link at the bottom of the page or by check to Pike County Times at PO Box 843, Zebulon so I can justify the amount of time that I am spending away from family. It may not seem like much but sitting in a meeting and then typing it up takes a lot more time than you might imagine! Thanks for reading Pike County's only FREE newspaper.]