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Application for zoning special exception withdrawn

By Michael Murray

AMERICUS – The Sumter County Board of Commissioners met for its monthly work session on Nov. 14 at the Sumter County Courthouse, followed by the monthly regular meeting on Nov. 21.
Dozens of local citizens attended the Nov. 14 work session, apparently to discuss a proposal to consider a request from Audrey Melissa Adams for a special exception to operate the Southwest Georgia Potter’s House for Women at 1138 Upper River Road in Americus.
At the opening of the public hearing, Sumter County Code Enforcement officer, Mike Sudduth, advised the board that Adams had withdrawn the application earlier that day, stating that the proposed location had been deemed unsuitable for the operation’s needs.
Sumter County Fire and Rescue Services Chief, John Ekaitis, advised the board that he would be delivering a presentation the following week at the regular meeting, updating them on an upcoming change to the county’s ISO score. Ekaitis informed the board that the ISO score is used by insurance companies to measure the fire department’s effectiveness and that, when the score is lowered in February 2018, many local homeowners will likely see their fire insurance premiums decrease.
The board heard from Michelle Smith, who updated them on the progress of her previous request for modifications to Sumter County’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
Smith advised the commissioners that several non-functional street lights had been repaired in the neighborhood and that the neighborhood has seen a reduction in speeding on the local roads since the addition of a speed-checking device to the roadside. Smith also informed the commissioners that debris left over from Tropical Storm Irma still remained by the roadside in parts of the neighborhood.
Smith presented the commissioners with a petition, signed by residents of the neighborhood, requesting that a speed bump be installed in the neighborhood roads to help further curb dangerous driving habits.
County public works director, Frank Whitaker, advised the board that the addition of speed tables to the neighborhood roads would likely cost the county between $9,000 and $10,000. Whitaker went on to say that the installation of speed humps in the neighborhood would likely cost the county between $4,000 and $5,000.
Board chairman, Randy Howard, asked County Administrator, Bill Twomey, if he could meet with Whitaker and begin the process of getting the speed-reduction devices installed.
Smith also advised the board that former Americus resident, Kent Hill, had offered to donate a tract of land in the neighborhood to build a small park for neighborhood children.
Howard discussed the pros and cons of creating a public park as opposed to a private park on the lot, stating, “If it’s a private park, that means you can control what happens there.” He went on to say that, if a public park were created on the lot, it would have to be open to everyone in the community and that neighborhood residents could, potentially, have problems with people loitering on the property late at night.
County attorney, Kimberly Reid, advised the board that, before any decision could be made, a title search would need to be performed on the property to ensure that there are no liens on it. Twomey stated that he would do some research on the property and discuss potential solutions with Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department director, Tim Estes.
At the regular meeting, the commissioners spoke with Col. Eric Bryant, chief deputy of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, about a recent request for proposal (RFP) issued by the sheriff’s office for the purchase of a pair of SUVs to be used as patrol vehicles.
Bryant advised the board that the lowest bids submitted were for Ford Interceptors. Bryant asked the board to reject the bids since the RFP had mistakenly included the term “mid-sized” in the document.
Bryant asked the board to approve the purchase of a pair of Chevrolet Tahoes which, he stated, were best suited to the department’s needs.
“We don’t want to be the test agency for something that’s new to the law enforcement market,” Bryant said, referring to the fact that the Ford Interceptor has not been widely used as a patrol vehicle by other law enforcement agencies. He went on to say that the Tahoe has been proven to be effective in this capacity and that the vehicle has ample room to carry equipment that officers need in the field. He added that this equipment would allow officers to patrol more effectively, essentially functioning as a mobile office.
The board members approved a motion to reject the previous RFP issue another to solicit bids for two Tahoes.
Bryant also asked the board to approve a request to purchase additional defibrillators for the Sumter County Courthouse. Bryant told of an incident in which there was an emergency on the first floor of the courthouse and the response time was delayed since the nearest defibrillator was on the fourth floor. Bryant requested that additional devices be purchased to ensure that, if another individual needs emergency medical attention at the courthouse, there would be a defibrillator on each floor to facilitate a prompt response.