Public Hearing and numerous approvals discussed at Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ Work Session

Published 11:38 am Monday, April 17, 2023

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AMERICUS – A public hearing was held at the Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ April Work Session on Tuesday, April 11, to discuss and possibly approve a conditional use permit request from Jay Hembree to remove four existing mobile home parks and establish four recreational vehicle parks, which would be located at four different addresses: 100 Odum Rd. in Americus, 133 Hillside Dr. in Americus, 115 Bo Drive in Americus and on the parcel number 2704-153-3. All four of these addresses are within a mobile home park zoning district.

Heather Tyler of the Sumter County Planning and Zoning Board (SCPZB) told the BOC that her board heard all of the four requests separately and each one was approved contingent on it being all on one parcel. Tyler added that she had proof that it would be all under one parcel. She also showed the BOC a map of how the requested park would look like and added that Henry came to the zoning board with a sight plan and wanted to take out the existing mobile home park and replace it with a recreational vehicle park and get rid of all of the existing manufactured homes out there. “He’s already been working on that. There are not many left out there, “Tyler told the BOC. She went on to say that Henry and his group have met every section of the RV ordinance and that the SCPZB recommends approval for all four of these requests.

Commissioner Jim Reid asked Tyler if Hembree had plans to zone his RV park into the city, which, according to Reid, certain land owners nearby did not want to have happen to their land. Tyler replied that there were no plans for the RV park to be zoned into the city of Americus.

Board Chairman Mark Waddell then opened the floor for anyone who wanted to speak in favor of or against Hembree’s request. Hembree, who was at the meeting, told the BOC that he originally did take the issue to Americus Mayor Lee Kinnamon and had the Mayor’s backing. “At the time, we felt that the city would be behind an effort to bring sewer out and once they realized it was cost-prohibited, we completely dropped that because there was no intent to bring it into the city,” Hembree told the BOC. “We initially went to the county, but then when they offered the potential for sewer, we looked at that, but it was going to be in excess of $1.5 million dollars. It was just not even feasible,” Hembree continued.

Hembree went on to say that since he bought the property, he has been trying to clean it up and make it a nicer area for everybody without the 911 calls and the criminal element. He also stated that he hopes that it would provide areas for temporary housing and take some of the pressure off the housing market.

Waddell asked if anyone wanted to speak in opposition to Hembree’s request. Commissioner Reid responded that under the current ordinance, people are not allowed to establish permanent residence in an RV park. Tyler responded by saying that that truth was established at the SCPZB meeting and that Hembree only wants travelers to come in and stay and go and that it would be regulated.

Waddell declared the public hearing closed and asked for a motion to approve Hembree’s request to put in an RV park at all four addresses mentioned. As far as each address was concerned, Commissioner Jesse Smith made a motion for approval and Commissioner Clay Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.

Once the public hearing was closed, Janice West of the River Valley Regional Commission (RVRC) talked to the BOC about the WIO Program, which is a workforce development program, but more specifically Eckerd Connect, which is one of the RVRC’s service providers. “They (Eckerd) deliver our on the job training and our work experience programs in the area,” West told the BOC. She went on to say that Eckerd has been with the RVRC for over 20 years providing both youth and adult services in the area for the purpose of work force development and added that she would love to have Sumter County participate in the program.

Brandy Whaley, who also represents the RVRC, told the BOC that she had a meeting with County Operations Administrator Rayetta Volley and that Volley had asked her to come and speak to the BOC at its work session about the on the job training they provide. “When the county brings in a new employee and they are eligible for our services, we’re able to reimburse training expenses up to $3,000.00,” Whaley told the BOC. “We just have to work with the potential employee. We have an applicant pool that we can send to you guys, or you can do reverse referral and you pick the employee and you send them to us.”

Waddell asked what the county would need to provide in order to be reimbursed for participating in the program. Whaley replied that they would need time sheets, e-verification and a contract that would need to be signed that gives worker’s compensation information.

Waddell decided that it would be best for the BOC to review the information first before making any type of approval right away.

Commissioner Clay Jones asked Whaley if any of the surrounding counties are using the service and Whaley replied that there are eight surrounding counties participating in the program.

The BOC also heard from Rob Collins of NEOS about equipment updates, as the county is considering purchasing updated laptop and desktop computers. Collins reminded the BOC about a meeting back in December that they had to discuss hardware updates and he said he took a look at what the priorities were. He also said there were three main concerns regarding hardware updates: Security Requirements, Performance and Age of Equipment. In other words, does the device do what needs to do for where people are today?

Collins added that he and his group went out and got three quotes from three electronic companies, one of which was Ingram Micro. After Collins’s presentation was over, Waddell made a motion to approve the Ingram Micro proposal for $196,871.74, which was the cheapest quote of the three quotes. This is to purchase laptop and desktop server equipment to include installation and software. These funds are to come from the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. Commissioner Jesse Smith made a motion for approval and Commissioner Clay Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

In other news from the work session, the BOC discussed the 2014 SPLOST. County Finance Director Della Griffin stated that she and Rayetta Volley looked over the SPLOST from that year and they both concluded that all of the 2014 SPLOST projects need to be declared completed with the exception of the ones involving county vehicles and that the county has $331,000 to spend on the 2014 SPLOST project dealing with the vehicles. Board Chairman Mark Waddell stated that Volley told him that some of the funds can be taken and used to pay off some of the expenses that the county has and then whatever is left over can be applied to whatever vehicles the county might need. “There is some savings there for us to be able to use these funds and not just go out and buy different vehicles besides the ones we already have financed,” Waddell said. Griffin stated that these funds need to be spent by the end of 2026. She added that she would like to have the vehicles that were leased with Enterprise paid off. Waddell asked whether or not everyone on the BOC is ok with declaring all these items closed and taking the extra funds and deciding what should be done with them. He then entertained a motion to close out the 2014 SPLOST and to have the extra funds that are remaining to be placed for the BOC to decide how to spend those funds. Commissioner Smith made a motion for approval and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.

There were other issues voted on and unanimously approved by the BOC at its work session. They are as follows:


  • Approval to the Amendment of the Food Service Partnership Agreement. This deals with providing inmates food at the county jail and the correctional instititue. Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant told the BOC that this is the first increase in the cost of food that they’ve had since 2021.

Bryant went on to say that Summit Foods, the company that provides food for the inmates at the jail, is requesting an increase in services from $167 per meal to $182 per meal at the county jail and an increase from $118 per meal at the correctional institute to $128 per meal. “The difference in the amount is based upon the number of detainees,” Bryant said. “I average 150 to 180 inmates, where the Warden averages 325 to 350 inmates.” Commissioner Smith made a motion to approve this new food service partnership agreement and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.


  • Approval of a roof project on the new fire department buildings for the cost of $245,068.13 using Gordian Roofing. Commissioner Smith made a motion to approve and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.


  • Approval of Agreement with Radio One for Public Safety Communications Equipment: Commissioner Smith made a motion for approval and Commissioner Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.