Among other items, a proposal to declare May 8, 2022 as “The Day of the Trailblazer” is made at Sumter County BOC Work Session
Published 8:16 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022
AMERICUS – At the Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ (BOC) monthly work session on Tuesday, March 8 at the Sumter County Courthouse, Yolanda Robinson, the daughter of Sumer County trailblazer Bobby L. Robinson Jr., proposed to the BOC that May 8 of this year be declared Bobby L. Robinson Jr. Day in honor of Robinson, who in 1969, was one of the first black high school students in Sumter County to earn a high school diploma.
The public was still not allowed to attend the work session in person due to concerns over COVID-19 and it was streamed live via Zoom.
“That is the very reason we are here today: to recognize the impact that someone has made on future generations,” Yolanda Robinson told the BOC. “There is one who stands among us that possesses the treasured qualities that Sumter County values.”
Robinson went on to explain that in 1966, her father, Bobby Lee Robinson Jr., enrolled in Union High School in Leslie, GA and as a black student, was stepping into uncharted territory. “He knew he had a hard road ahead of him,” Mrs. Robinson said, “But what he didn’t know was that he was selflessly investing in his community.”
Mrs. Robinson went on to say that at that time, her father didn’t know that he was setting the standard for education in Sumter County for all children. Mrs. Robinson went on to say that Bobby L. Robinson Jr., who will turn 70 on May 8, graduated sixth in his class from Union High School in 1969. She added that Mr. Robinson blazed a trail for future children in Sumter County, including those who are currently at the Ignite College and Career Academy, which is located on the new Sumter County High School campus on South Georgia Tech Parkway. She asked the BOC that it consider acknowledging Mr. Robinson as the civil rights pioneer that he is by declaring May 8 as “The Day of the Trailblazer” in honor of her father, Bobby Lee Robinson Jr.
Board Chairman Mark Waddell replied to Mrs. Robinson that this is something that the BOC will have to discuss further and that he plans to ask County Administrator Rayetta Volley whether or not something like this has ever been done before in the past. Waddell told Robinson that the BOC plans to get back with her regarding the matter within the next few weeks.
The BOC also heard from James Wolfe, who serves as Commander of American Legion John D. Mathis Post 2, one of two American Legion posts here in Americus. The other one is American Legion Post 558. Wolfe spoke on behalf of the upcoming 103rd birthday of the American Legion, which will be celebrated next week.
“It was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization focusing on servicing veterans, service members and communities,” Wolfe told the BOC. “The Legion evolved from a group of war weary veterans of World War I and it is one of the most influential non-profit groups in the United States.” Wolfe went on to say that since then, numerous American Legion posts have sprung up across the country and today, membership stands at more than two million at more than 13,000 posts world wide. He added that the American Legion has produced many programs for children and youth, such as American Legion Baseball and national high school oratorical contests, one of which was recently held at Georgia Southwestern State.
Wolfe also mentioned the work done by the American Legion to create the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which was the forerunner to the Veterans Administration (VA).
“Today, the Legion continues to lobby for adequate funding to cover medical, disability, education and other benefits for veterans,” Wolfe told the BOC.
Wolfe added that in June of this year, both local American Legion posts will be performing a flag retirement ceremony in participation with county and city first responders, local Junior ROTC units and the Civil Air Patrol, where over 200 unserviceable U.S. flags will be retired and disposed of.
In his closing remarks, Wolfe stated that the American Legion John D. Mathis Post 2 was the first permanently chartered American Legion post in the state of Georgia.
“I encourage you to take part in post programs as a veteran who joins one of our two posts, or as a non-veteran who supports our organization and our mission,” Wolfe told the BOC.
In other news from the work session, the BOC approved an ordinance to repeal sections 70-46 through 70-59 of Article III of Chapter 70 of the Sumter County Code of Ordinances relating to utilities and for other lawful purposes. According to Waddell, this is related to the BOC’s discussion last month regarding the Georgia State Patrol tower, which has been an ongoing discussion amongst the Commissioners as far as where it should be located. Commissioner Scott Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Jesse Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
Having approved this ordinance, the BOC once again brought up the issue of the proposed location for the tower. Sumter County Public Works Director Jim Littlefield told the BOC that he had met with the communications director, the deputy director and the information officer of the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) to discuss an alternate site for the tower. Littlefield stated that the first possible site they looked at was behind the Sumter County Agricultural Center. “That would tie up a lot of land that would be available for future expansion or any other use that the county may have down the road,” Littlefield told the BOC. “We found a site south of this building (the Ag Center) that I would recommend and they are going to pursue this.”
Littlefield went on to say that the tower will be 297 feet tall with no cable anchors at the bottom of it and that it is designed to collapse straight down within a 520-foot radius. He added that a 500-foot GSP tower that was based on the same design was recently erected in Ware County. No approval was officially made by the BOC regarding the placement of the tower at the site Littlefield recommended, but the Commissioners did indicate that they were ok with the proposed site.
The BOC also approved a request from Littlefield to purchase some drainage pipes for the price of $31,034.50. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
Near the end of the work session, County Attorney Rayetta Volley expressed her opinion that the BOC should apply for reapportionment funding that is available for fiscal year 2023. “The appropriations request have to be sent to the office of Senator John Ossof,” Volley said. “What I’m asking the Board is if I could go in and apply for the reapportionment funding. There is going to be a total of $7 million that we’re asking for. Now I don’t know if we will get it or not, but we’re asking for it.”
Volley went on to say that this money is all going to be apart of Parks and Recreation and that supposedly, this program would help the rural areas in their parks and recreation departments. “$3 million will be used for new park equipment, like a walking trail, etc.,” Volley told the BOC. “We’re going to use $4 million to do the renovations of the fairgrounds. I want to ask the Board for permission to go ahead and submit these projects to see if we can get this funding.” Volley added that the county would have to make the funding to maintain the equipment as part of its budget. No decision was made by the BOC concerning Volley’s request, but this issue might be revisited at a later date.
The BOC also had to deal with Board Reappointments in this work session and it voted unanimously to approve the reappointment of Lester Kitchens to the Sumter County Hospital Authority. Kitchens’ current term expires on June 30 of this year and his next term will expire on June 30, 2024. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
The BOC unanimously approved the reappointment of Susanne Roquemore to the MH/MR/SA Community Service Board. Her current term expires on June 30, 2022 and she will serve another three years on this board. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
The BOC then voted unanimously to reappoint Linda Holloway to the Healthcare wing of the Sumter County Board of Family & Children Services. Her current term expires on June 30, 2022 and she will serve another five years on this board. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the reappointment passed unanimously.
The BOC also approved the reappointment of Sebrina Hopkins-Pitts to the Sumter County Library Board of Trustees. Her current term expires on June 30, 2022 and she will serve another three years on this board. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
There was also a public hearing to discuss the request to close and abandon all of Parker Road from its intersection with Lane Store Road on the southern end and ending at its intersection with Buck Doster Road on its northern end. The total length of Parker Road is approximately 1.06 miles and it consists of approximately 2.57 acres to 3.85 acres with variable right-of-way. Littlefield told the BOC that this road is a short, dog leg road on which no residents live. “I have not heard from anyone other than the adjacent property owners making this request,” Littlefield told the BOC.
Board Chairman Mark Waddell asked if anyone wanted to speak in favor of closing the road or against the road closure. No one spoke up for or against it. At that point, he closed the public hearing and entertained a motion for approving the closure of Parker Road. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval to close Parker Road passed unanimously.