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County’s first 2015 session lasts three hours

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Board of Commissioners held its first work session of 2015, in a three-hour open session. At the end of that, they voted to go into closed session to discuss “real estate, legal and personnel matter.”

Several citizens were scheduled to appear before the Board. Bishop Wallace, who was to speak on taxes and Jenkins Road, was a no show. Jacob Battle of Leslie spoke for almost 20 minutes, complaining of flood conditions each time it rains on the road where he lives, Wilson Battle Road, and also about drugs and crime in Sumter County. Richard Oates addressed the Board for 10 minutes on a Magistrate Court case regarding a mobile home park he owns on Gordon Street, off Rucker Street.

Boze Godwin of Plains, who owns Perfect Care on Sullivan Drive, spoke for four minutes, requesting that the County close Sullivan Drive at the end of the street because he owns property on both sides of the street. Charles Proctor of Gold Star EMS told the Board his company has outgrown the building on Rucker Street and requested temporary housing for the service, for “no longer than a year,” in the former office space of PharmaCentra. The Board voted to allow that request for six months until Gold Star can find a permanent location. Tim Estes, executive director of Sumter County Parks and Recreation, requested the Board reject the lone bid for scoreboards at the Regional Park so he can rebid the project. The Board approved this request unanimously.

During the citizen comment section, Craig Walker of Buttercup Drive asked why he is always reminded by the Board chair that he has five minutes while other speakers go past five minutes. He asked that the Board make a Plains merchant take down “anti-Obama” literature. He told the Board that commercialized gambling is going on on Tripp Street.

Ed Weckwert, a citizen of the Lake Blackshear area, really didn’t address the Board but directed his comments, which lacked focus, to Walker.

In other business, County Roads Superintendent Frank Whitaker told the Board about a situation on Parker’s Mill Creek Road, which collapsed on Christmas Eve due to heavy rainfall. He said in order to repair the mess, traffic to the residents on the road will have to somehow be detoured and to prevent future problems, one of the landowners will have to build an earthen dam on his pond.

Whitaker also reported that, due to heavy rains in December, two springs had popped up on Lower Five Points Road, which resulted in road repair.

A water bill from the City of Americus was briefly discussed. Bill Twomey, County administrator, recommended asking more questions before paying it. County attorney Kimberly Reed said the City cannot charge interest on top of interest and she would check to see if there was a contract in existence. She said the County cannot be charged a stormwater fee because no water went into the sewer system. Twomey questioned whether others who experienced water leaks were made to pay late fees, etc.

“After we fixed the leak,” Board Chair Randy Howard commented, “The still charged us.”

Commissioner Mark Waddell said, “No way do we owe that much money.”

Commissioner Clay Jones said, “If that’s their policy … ”

Twomey said the County should do whatever is legally necessary and charge the City the full rate on any outstanding costs for services, the landfill, etc.

Twomey said Barbara Grogan, executive director, Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority, had requested $7,500 from the County for resurfacing the parking lot at the newly remodeled call center in the Industrial Park. The City has agreed to pay half. The County voted unanimously to pay its half.

Twomey brought forth a request from Union Tabernacle Church to hold services temporarily in the former PharmaCentra space while the church is being renovated. Twomey stressed the importance of being consistent in how the County deals with these requests. Commissioner George Torbert recommended the church investigate space at Perlis Plaza which has many vacant areas.

The Board appointed Charlene Pennymon, Mark Pace and George Torbert to serve on the Land Bank Authority.

The Board’s regular meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Sumter County Courthouse.