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Park honoring retiring judge proposed to Sumter Board of Commissioners

By MICHAEL MURRAY
michael.murray@americustimesrecorder.com

AMERICUS – The Sumter County Board of Commissioners held their monthly work session on Sept. 13 at the Sumter County Courthouse.
Following several reports from local agencies and a pair of Sumter County citizens who proposed installing a park on the courthouse grounds in honor of retiring Superior Court Judge, George Peagler, the commissioners were addressed by Bob Ridgway.
Ridgway, who lives in Americus, asked the board to reopen the application process for the opening on the tax assessor’s board following the resignation of Jim Norris in June. After iterating that he does not read the local newspaper in which the opening was advertised, nor does he visit the county’s website, Ridgway stated that he was not aware of the opening on the tax assessor’s board. He asked the commissioners to reopen the application process so that he could apply.
Board chairman, Randy Howard, asked County Clerk, Rayetta Volley, if any applications had been submitted for the position. Floyd advised him that there is currently an application under consideration.
Howard informed Ridgway that the application process is closed and Ridgway continued asking the board to reconsider opening the application process.
Ridgway then began relaying his life story to the board. This went on for several minutes before Howard advised him that he had one minute left to speak. Ridgway continued singing his own praises for the remaining minute. After he concluded, Howard stated, “I don’t think that we can reopen [the application process] … It’s been opened twice now, for at least thirty days or more … The position is closed now.”
Howard advised Ridgway that they would consider his application if a position opens in the future.
Ridgway stated that he is qualified and that, if he ever needed to travel to Athens on official business, he could stay with friends and save the county money. Howard reminded him that the application process is closed.
“Why can’t you open it back up,” Ridgway replied. Commissioner, Mark Waddell, then spoke up, reminding Ridgway that the application process had already been opened twice and could not be opened again.
At this point, Ridgway became irate and pointed at the commissioners, stating in a threatening tone, “Y’all are going to be up for reelection, one day,” addressing the group from whom he had, moments before, asked an unprecedented favor.
“In two years,” Waddell replied, not backing down.
“I’ve already talked to someone … and you know who he is. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Ridgway stated, enigmatically, before stepping away from the podium.
In other business at the work session, local, Paul Johnson, addressed the board, relaying his disappointment in the county not being able to provide $50,000 to help keep the Sumter County Livestock Authority (SCLA) in business.
After much discussion, SCLA commissioner, Brent Williams, informed the board members and spectators that the SCLA had come up with the funds to hold an auction on Sept. 15, and is looking into the possibility of starting a co-op to help sustain the business in the long term.
Johnson also stated that he believes that local law enforcement officers should be awarded an 18 percent raise in conjunction with the raise that has reportedly been awarded to state law enforcement officers.
The board heard from Brett McCarty, Chief Ranger of the Schley-Sumter County Forestry Commission, who informed them that the past year has seen a dramatic increase in forest fires.
Trish Popwell and Reggie Daniel submitted a proposal to construct a park around the southeast portion of the Courthouse grounds. They stated that the project, proposed to honor retiring Superior Court Judge, George Peagler, would be privately funded. They asked that the commissioners approve an inmate work detail to aid in the project, since it is on county property. Commissioner, George Torbert, asked them to submit the proposal in writing, stating the county’s obligations in the project. Howard asked the pair to contact County Administrator, Bill Twomey, when the planning stages of the project were completed.
About halfway through the work session, the board excused themselves for a closed session. Howard stated that the reason for the closed session was to discuss potential litigation.