Proposed package store brings concerns
Published 12:45 pm Monday, October 24, 2016
By MICHAEL MURRAY
AMERICUS – The Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) met for their monthly work session on Oct. 11. The commissioners reconvened for their monthly regular meeting on Oct. 18. Both meetings were held at the Sumter County Courthouse.
At the beginning of the regular meeting, board chairman, Randy Howard, issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 1, 2016 “Retired Educator Day”. Several local retired teachers were in attendance to accept the proclamation and a plaque.
Prior to opening the regular meeting, the BOC held a public hearing to discuss the application of an alcoholic beverage license for Sam’s Package Store on 225 Jenkins Road, in Sumter County.
Several individuals who reside on Jenkins Road spoke against the issuance of the license, citing potential problems with traffic, litter, noise, and crime that they feel would follow the opening of a neighborhood liquor store.
“We do not want to have alcoholic beverages in our neighborhood,” stated Robert Pope, speaking against the opening of the establishment. Pope went on to say that he is concerned that the store may encourage intoxicated persons to “tear up [his] mailbox or tear up [his car]”.
Neighborhood resident, Brenda Tyson, stated that she already sees issues with litter in the area and fears that a package store might exacerbate that problem.
Residents of that neighborhood had previously opposed the opening of a nightclub there.
Three residents of the neighborhood spoke in favor of the establishment.
Sam Patel, the establishment’s potential proprietor, addressed the board, stating that, if the license is approved, he will ensure that no alcohol is consumed on the premises and that the parking lot is kept clean. Patel went on to say that the neighbor has improved in the three years that he has been running Sam’s Country Store.
Howard, advised the participants in the debate that another public hearing would be necessary before a final decision could be reached. The final hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 6:00.
The board then discussed a proposed contract with the Sumter County School System to provide four school resource officers to the system at a cost of $84,000 per year for three years. After much discussion, County administrator, Bill Twomey, expressed reservations about the contract, saying that, according to his calculations, the cost of providing these officers would likely exceed that amount.
Commissioner, Mark Waddell expressed concerns that there is not a provision for a cost increase, if applicable, to the contract.
“There are a lot of variables at play,” Twomey said, referring to the potential costs of overtime, travel expenses, and membership dues for the National Association of School Resource Officers that the county would potentially be liable for. The board then tabled the discussion, to be resumed next month.
At the end of the meeting, Sumter County Fire and Rescue (SCFR) Chief, John Ekaitis, addressed the board to continue a discussion from the previous week. Ekaitis asked the board to approve a measure that would allow SCFR to conduct site visits on establishments with capacity of 100 or more persons to ensure compliance with the fire safety code. The request was approved.
At the board’s monthly work session of the previous week, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center CEO, Brandi Lunneborg, and Ginger Starlin, chairman of the Hospital Authority updated the commissioners of the hospital’s progress on the five-year plan.
Lunneborg informed the board that the hospital has been focusing on recruiting medical professionals locally and from outside the area. She went on to say that the hospital has recently recruited four physicians. She stated that the hospital will continue to invest in physicians’ growth and development to ensure that the hospital staff keeps current on best practices.
Lunneborg said that the hospital is planning to expand in the future to make room for new rehabilitation and cardiology facilities. She also said that there are plans to focus on preventative care and expanding services to ensure that the needs of the area’s medical patients are met.
Sumter County Probate Court Judge, Judy Reeves, then presented the board with several historical records that she had discovered, including an original copy of State Act #170, which was the act that established Sumter County in 1831. Reeves also presented the board with a copy of the 1907 Georgia Constitution Bylaws, a certificate of occupancy for the old courthouse, and a bicentennial community certificate.
Ekaitis then addressed the board to discuss SCFR’s Fire Prevention Program, “Don’t Wait… Check the Date”. Ekaitis discussed the importance of replacing the batteries of smoke detectors yearly, as well as replacing the detector every 10 years.
Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department director, Tim Estes, addressed the board, to discuss the Nov. 5 dedication of the SCPRD football/soccer complex in honor of Millard Rush.
Sumter County Public Works Director, Frank Whitaker, then addressed the board to discuss a proposed project to alleviate rainwater washing out new asphalt in the Lake Jennifer area. Whitaker asked the board to allow him to begin the bidding process for a repair contract and the board approved.
The Commission also discussed a request from the City of Lumpkin to be released from a contract with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. Twomey advised the board that further consideration was necessary before a final decision could be made.