Sumter commissioners vote to rename Airport Road Frankie Williams Road
Published 2:35 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018
By Ken Gustafson
AMERICUS — At their work session Tuesday the Sumter County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to change the name of Airport Road to Frankie Williams Road in honor of the late Williams. Williams, who died on Jan. 27, managed the Souther Field Airport and owned Souther Field Aviation Inc. since 1984. The airport was renamed Jimmy Carter Regional Airport on Oct. 11, 2009.
Terrell Templin, chairman of the Americus-Sumter County Airport Authority, addressed the board, requesting the name change. He recognized Stephanie Williams, Frankie’s wife, and owner of Souther Field Aviation; Holly Lott, secretary of Souther Field Aviation; and Frank Joiner, authority vice chairman.
At that point, Templin asked Joiner to address the board of Commissioners. “Frankie was a special person,” Joiner said. “He managed the airport for over 40 years. I’ve been on the Airport Authority for over 40 years. He was there when I got there.” He that nobody could replace Frankie Williams, and that his wife Stephanie had been running the airport for a long time. “It’s in very good hands,” he said. “I tell farmers every day that the airport is going to carry on just like it always has.”
Joiner presented a brief synopsis of Frankie Williams’ life. Williams registered to vote when he turned 18 and joined the Army on the same day, and did two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter crewman. Afterwards Williams came home to Americus and attended South Georgia Technical College to get into the school’s aviation program. “He (Williams) was held in high esteem by everybody in the aviation business,” Joiner said, adding that many agricultural pilots would ask Frankie questions regarding aviation.
Joiner briefed the board that they plan to have a celebration in October to celebrate the airport’s 100th birthday. “We think it’s one of the only continuously-run airports in North America that was in continuous use since 1918,” Joiner said.
The board discussed the approval of agreements for services with the Airport Authority in the amount of $35,716. Commissioner Thomas Jordan made a motion to approve the proposal and Commissioner Clay Jones seconded it. It passed unanimously.
The board also discussed approving the agreement for economic development services for the with the Americus-Sumter Payroll Development Authority in an amount not to exceed $185,380. Commissioner George Torbert made a motion for approval seconded by Jordan. It passed unanimously.
The board decided to carry over into next Tuesday’s meeting the discussion of the proposed Indigent Defense Contract between the Office of the Circuit Public Defender of the Southwestern Judicial Circuit and the Governing Authorities of Lee, Macon, Schley, Stewart, Sumter and Webster vounties for the second half of 2018. The Board decided to do this due to the fact that County Administrator William Twomey was not present at the meeting. The board also decided to wait until next Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the inmate telecommunications service agreement with Combined Public Communications, LLC.
Due to the fact that Sumter County Human Resources Manager Susan Merritt was not present at the meeting, the board decided to wait until Tuesday to discuss the approval of the amendment to the Sumter County Personnel Policies and Procedures, Section 5, 10, Longevity Increases.
Due to Merritt’s absence, the board also decided to make the approval to ratify the Health Promotion and Well-Being Grant a separate item to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.
The Board discussed the approval for agreements for Services with the Office of Environmental Health of the Sumter County Health Department in the amount of $675. Jones made a motion to approve the agreements, seconded by Jordan. It passed unanimously.
The board also held public hearing to consider a request from Timothy W. Crisler for a variance to place a manufactured (mobile) home at 126 Gary Brewer Road in Cobb. The property is zoned Lake Single Family Residential (R1-L). Code Enforcement Officer Michael Sudduth Sr. the board that the Planning and Zoning Board recommended denying Crisler’s request. Sudduth said that Crisler wants to put the mobile home on a one-acre lot and that neither sewage nor water had been installed. There were people at Tuesday night’s board meeting who were invested in the situation. One citizen, speaking on behalf of a group of people, said they were opposed to Crisler’s request. County attorney, Kimberly Reid said that to qualify for a variance, the person requesting the variance usually has to show that there are extraordinary and exceptional conditions for that particular piece of property because of the size, shape and topography. She said the person requesting the variance had to show that applying the general standard to that property created a necessary hardship and that the reasons for the variance are geared to that particular piece of property and not to the whole neighborhood. Reid also said that there would have to be proof that it wouldn’t be a detriment to the public interest. Reid told the Board that they didn’t have to act on it that night. Commissioner Torbert made a motion to deny the request for the variance, seconded by Jordan. It passed unanimously.
The board also dealt with the issue of surplus vehicles and equipment purchases from the federal government. Col. Eric Bryant of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office addressed the board concerning the matter. “We wanted to come back and request to have our five vehicles be moved to surplus,” he said. “We have submitted to the County Clerk, Mrs. Rayetta Volley, our vehicle inspection form, along with the photographs.” Bryant said that his department recently received $2,678 from the federal government. “It was through the U.S. Marshal Service,” he said. “Initially, we had submitted this paperwork as if it was a grant, and of course, all grants come through this body (Board of Commissioners). However, we were since corrected by our inspector in charge of the Middle District from the U.S. Marshal Service. This came from our Sex Offender Registry through the U.S. Marshals, and they have funds that they can help agencies with equipment. In this case, we were able to purchase laptops to replenish the two for the sex offender deputies that are in charge of all the registered sex offenders in the county. Therefore, it’s not classified as a grant.” Bryant told the board he wanted to bring it to their attention because the money was directly deposited into the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office’s inmate housing account. “Basically, this falls under our memorandum of understanding with housing inmates. We’re eligible for small funds like that that they have at their discretion to solicit to all the counties in the Middle District,” Bryant said. “We were actually able to receive that amount of money.” County Financial Director Janice Jarvis told Bryant that if he has some paperwork from the Sex Offender Registry to please give her a copy for the auditors. Bryant reiterated to the board that he wanted to bring the issue to the board’s attention because he didn’t realize the money was going to transferred into the Sheriff’s Office’s general fund.
The board approved the agreements for services with the Georgia Middle Flint Area Community Service Board in the amount of $2,000. Commissioner Torbert made a motion for approval which was seconded by Jones and passed unanimously.
The board also approved the agreements for services with the Lake Blackshear Regional Library System in the amount of $125,000. Commissioner Jordan made a motion for approval of the agreements which was seconded by Torbert, and passed unanimously.
The Board also approved the agreements services with the Middle Flint Area Council on Aging Inc. in the amount of $2,500. Commissioner Torbert made a motion to approve and Jones seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.
The board discussed the approval of agreements for services with Sumter Humane Society Inc. in the amount of $50,000 and decided to discuss this at Tuesday’s meeting.
The board approved the agreements services with the Sumter County Department of Family and Children Services in the amount of $16,500. Commissioner Jones made a motion for approval which was seconded by Jordan, and passed unanimously.
The board voted to approve the agreements for services with the Sumter County Health Department in the amount of $240,387. Commissioner Torbert made a motion approval which was seconded by Jones, and passed unanimously.
The board also approved the agreements services with the Sumter County Development Authority in the amount of $20,000. “This is the one that, on the actual agreement, the name has been changed to the Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority,” Janice Jarvis said. Jarvis explained that she had talked with the authority that afternoon and was told that Americus-Sumter County Payroll Authority was their legal name. Chairman Howard asked if there was a motion for approval with the understanding that the name of the authority had been changed. Commissioner Torbert made the motion and Jones seconded it. It passed unanimously.
The board approved the agreements of services with the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $18,000. Commissioner Torbert made a motion for approval which Commissioner Jones seconded. It passed unanimously.
Frank Whitaker told the board that the notice to proceed with the paving project had been issued earlier that day. “The contractor said that they hope to mobilize in three to four weeks. They’re trying to catch up from the rain,” Whitaker told the Board. Whitaker told Chairman Howard that he would be putting together a TSPLOST project for 2019. And would get it to Mr. Howard by August.
Sumter County Fire Chief John Ekaitis spoke to the board. “We had the Battalion Chief James Hart resign from the fire department to take a job in Florida,” he said. “What I did was I had three chief fire officers come from out of the area that didn’t know any of the four candidates. One was from the city of Albany, a deputy chief. One was from Warner Robins, a trained officer and one was a trained officer from Perry.” Ekaitis said those three officers conducted the interviews and he did not sit in. He told the Board that Jerry Harmon was chosen to replace Hart as a battalion chief. Harmon recently left the Sumter County Department of Code Enforcement to take the position. Ekaitis said Harmon will begin his job as a battalion chief on July 22.
Ekaitis also said the fire department is on the list to receive a donation of a pickup truck from Colonial Pipeline, which will have a tool box on the back side of it. “It will probably have about 100,000 miles on it,” Ekaitis said. He said the truck is in good working order. He told the board that he sat down with all of the career staff members of the fire department and explained to each of them about the pay increases and that the board voted on taking care of the insurance premiums. “They were very grateful and very thankful,” Ekaitis said.
It was decided by the board that the discussion of the Lease Agreement for Juvenile Justice would be a separate item and would be discussed at the Tuesday meeting. The issue of appointing two people to serve on the Land Bank Authority was also set aside as a separate item for Tuesday. Michael Sudduth Sr. told the Board that Jerry Harmon’s service in the Department of Code Enforcement will be greatly missed. “We hired him about 12 to 13 years ago,” Sudduth said.
Chairman Howard called for a motion to go into closed session. Commissioner Jones made a motion and Torbert seconded it. It passed unanimously.