Sumter County BOC held its monthly Work Session on Election Night, November 8
Published 5:50 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022
AMERICUS – In the midst of all of the excitement and interest surrounding the midterm state wide and national elections held on Tuesday, November 8, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) held its monthly work session that night at the Sumter County Courthouse.
Early in the work session, the BOC heard from Jim Livingston of the River Valley Regional Commission (RVRC). Livingston described how the RVRC is helping the county to improve its economic development, as well as that of the entire region. One of the things that Livingston mentioned will help the county’s economic development is planned road infrastructure projects thanks to the Transportation investment Act (TIA). Livingston stated that TIA 1 projects will finish up by the end of December. Then TIA 2 will start up in January of 2023 and will run through 2032. “This region will see $1.3 billion dollars of road infrastructure investment,” Livingston told the BOC. “We need to make sure that we leverage that to the maximum possible. We are doing that through TIA 2 and the Highway 280.” Livingston went on to say that a lot of the funding for the construction and completion of Highway 280 came from the State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
He also stated that the RVRC is looking to get $159 million dollars from GDOT to help fund its slate of projects, as well as the money Sumter County has to spend. In total, between the money it will receive from GDOT and the county, Livingston stated that the RVRC is looking for a total of $824 million dollars of investment over the next 10 years. “That’s tremendous and that’s our resources to try to do with and maximize the best that we can,” Livingston told the BOC.
Livingston went on to praise the RVRC for the work that it does to help seniors living in the region with things such as Meals on Wheels and the various senior centers throughout the region. However, he also mentioned that the Aging and Disability Resource Connection is an intake for all of the other resources for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels and the other projects. “This is a national network, a number for you to call if you have any questions,” Livingston said. “It’s designed to be a one-stop shop.” Livingston went on to say that if anyone wants information about the many resources for seniors in the region, they can call the Aging and Disability Resource Connection at 800-615-4379.
In other news from the work session, Sumter County Sherriff Eric Bryant and Mark Torre, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car representative for the county, talked about Enterprise’s fleet management program for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). Speaking by way of Zoom conference call, Torre stated that they had ordered some Ford Explorers and utility interceptors, but those orders were canceled in 2022 due to supply chain issues. “Because of that, it looks like we’re seeing a lot of repair issues in police vehicles because we aren’t able to replace the vehicles due to the supply chain,” Torre said.
He went on to say that he was able to find an alternative option through another company to get vehicles that would take the place of the vehicles that were canceled. “Due to what’s going on in the environment right now, the ever-changing environment with the supply chain, we try to find as many alternative options as we can, especially with vehicles” Torre said. “As we get out of this pandemic supply chain issue, we are going to see probably some of the oldest fleets we’ve ever seen just due to people not being able to replace vehicles as quickly as they were previously.”
Torre went on to say that Enterprise is trying to do everything it can to help out the county and provide the sheriff’s office with quality vehicles. He added that Sumter County is not the only county that is being affected by the supply chain issues as far as Enterprise being unable to help its clients. He added that Enterprise Rent-A-Car currently has the oldest fleet of vehicles that it has had in 65 years because of the supply chain issues.
Board Chairman Mark Waddell stated that the county has purchased several Chevy Tahoes, but Sheriff Bryant replied that at this point, even though Fords and Chevys are both police vehicles, his department is dealing with Fords in the rotation process.
In short, Torre and Bryant were at the work session to ask the BOC for approval to replace the Ford vehicles that were canceled with Ford vehicles from Brannen Motor Company in Unadilla, GA. “What we are asking for is four vehicles to replace the four vehicles that were canceled,” Torre told the BOC. “These are four police interceptors. They are the explorers that are outfitted for police pursuit.”
Bryant stated that even though the county has been purchasing Chevy Tahoes for the sheriff’s office, he and his department would prefer to use Ford vehicles because there is a local Ford dealership in Americus and the price is cheaper compared to the Tahoe. Bryant added that the Ford Explorer has more room than the Tahoe does based on the price when the sheriff’s office was looking at the Ford versus the Chevrolet.
Commissioner Jim Reid stated that he noticed that a lot of the law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties are using Ford F150s in their fleet of police vehicles. Bryant replied to Reid that he is correct and that the demand for F150s is very high, which would put the SCSO further behind in waiting to purchase F150s.
County Clerk Rayetta Volley stated that based on the BOC’s approval in the past to purchase three police vehicles, she recommended that the BOC stick with purchasing three new vehicles this time as well instead of four.
Bryant added that the issue was brought back to the BOC because it would no longer be dealing with the 2022 model vehicles, but the 2023 models.
Waddell asked for a motion to approve a change order from purchasing 2022 model Ford vehicles to the 2023 models. Commissioner Scott Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Jesse Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
There were other issues that the BOC dealt with and made some unanimous approvals on. They are as follows:
- Approval to transfer the properties located at 617 Apple St. and East Jefferson St. in Americus to the Sumter County Land Bank Authority. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.
- Approval to rename Paul Mercer Rd. to Willow Lane. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve the name change passed unanimously.
- Approval for surplus of 4 Bison T-Rex-66 indoor, rollaway basketball goals to be placed on govdeals.com for sale. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the motion to approve passed unanimously.
- Approval to ratify the acknowledgement of service summons to Peter H. Banse for New Garden Hills – Civil Action No. 22. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.
- Approval to place a mobile home that is located next to Fire Station 6 on govdeals.com for sale. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.
- The BOC also voted unanimously to move its February 2023 Work Session from Tuesday, February 14 to Wednesday, February 15 to accommodate for Valentines Day. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion.
- Approval of agreement between the Sumter County BOC and Attorneys Emory M. Greene and Wesley B. Beamon for the Provision of Indigent Defense in the State Court of Sumter County. This is a contract between the county and these two attorneys will be for 2023. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.
The BOC also unanimously voted to reappoint Consumer Representative Michelle Ragsdale to the Sumter County Board of Health. Commissioner Roberson made a motion to approve and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. In addition to approving that board appointment, the BOC also unanimously voted to approve the appointment of Mark Ennes to the Lake Blackshear Watershed Advisory Board. This board was formed to monitor the quality of the water in Lake Blackshear. Ennes will succeed Yonnie Williams, whose term expires on December 31, 2022.
Commissioner Roberson made a motion to approve Ennes’s appointment and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion.
Finally, near the end of the work session, Commissioner Jim Reid suggested that a proclamation be done in honor of Joan Tovar-Martinez, the Sumter County High School and Ignite College and Career Academy student who won a national championship by earning the Grain Division Proficiency Award at a national FFA competition in Indianapolis, IN. Reid stated to the BOC that it should sign the proclamation and have Tovar-Martinez and his family come to one of its meetings where an official proclamation can be read in his honor.
Reid also made a request to the BOC that the county put a sign up on the roads coming into the county proclaiming Tovar-Martinez as a national champion, much like signs that are put up praising the accomplishments of high school athletic teams winning state championships. “Very few counties get to claim that and he’s the first in Sumter County’s history of FFA,” Reid said.
Reid also stated that he spoke with Sumter County Fire and Rescue Chief Jerry Harmon about the roads and right-of-ways. This is something that Commissioner Reid has gotten numerous complaints about from his constituents and he has brought it up on numerous occasions at BOC meetings. “We’ve got issues with zoning,” Reid said. “Residential, rural residential, whether or not trucks can be parked in rural subdivisions.” Reid then asked Sumter County Department of Public Works Director Jim Littlefield what the policy is if a resident wants a new drive way. Littlefield responded that the resident is on their own, but that the county has to dictate the size and diameter of the pipe (culvert) and go over with the resident how to construct it and put it in and that the resident is responsible for retaining the contract. Littlefield added that once the resident completes the construction of the driveway, he or she will contact him and his department to set up a final inspection. If after the inspection the new driveway conforms to the requirements, it will be accepted for maintenance.
Commissioner Reid also stated to the BOC that he wants to give Littlefield a week to talk to the contractor that is responsible for clearing tree limbs and cutting grass at certain roads and right-of-ways in the county where drivers are struggling to see to make turns due to tree limbs and tall grass that blocks their view. This is something that he has expressed at numerous BOC meetings and he has stated more than once that he has gotten complaints about these roads and right-of-ways from his constituents.