County Commissioners Discuss Inactive Tornado Sirens and Big-Rig Traffic

Published 4:15 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Mr. Smith brought the issue of eighteen-wheeler traffic through downtown Americus before the commissioners.

“I used to consider it just a kind of a nuisance, as I’m sure most of you do. But a couple months back I was backing out of the parking spot with my wife and I was almost broadsided by an eighteen wheeler rushing to make the next green light and I don’t think I’m the only one in this room that’s had that happen. So its not a nuisance to me anymore, now its personal, this a safety issue.”

Mr. Smith mentioned the lack of signs directing trucks to the by-pass. Mr. Smith stated it had been the second year since The Georgia Department of Transportation, GDOT, had been notified, and that a letter should be sent to representatives Patty Bentley and Mike Cheokas to expedite the process. Commissioner Jessie Smith argued that signs would be ineffective. Commissioner Mike Waddell saw no issue in sending a letter but argued that the issue was one for the city to resolve.

The Commissioners also heard a proposal to serve as the fiscal agent to apply for a grant to build a catwalk between Ignite and South Georgia College. The catwalk would cross the truck route. The grant was available for tribal and rural counties. Having a population of less than 50,000 made Sumter eligible.

“What we’re trying to do is literally bridge the gap between the two with a catwalk” said Alex Saratsiotis, chairman of the One Sumter Ignite program. Ignite college has 62 students in dual enrollment. They asked the Board of Commissioners to partner with them and the schools since they need a municipal agent to apply for the grant.

A representative of OneDigital, an HR support company, offered to partner with the county to provide HR solutions and regulatory compliance. OneDigital currently partners with the city of Americus.

The Board heard a request from Nigel Poole, the emergency management director, to use ARPA funds to replace the batteries in the county’s tornado sirens at the cost of $17,200. When interviewed, Mr. Poole explained why all the batteries needed to be replaced.

“What has happened is that the company we originally signed a contract with has gone out of business.”

The company they are currently contracted with only covers repairs and maintenance, not battery replacement.

“The maximum lifespan for the batteries that these sirens use is about four to five years and these sirens have been up for about ten years now.”

He described the purpose of the alert system.

“We only alert to tornado warnings and tornado watches.”

He went on to state that they were specifically to warn people congregating outside, and that there were other methods in place to alert individuals indoors.

The Board of Commissioners approved the intergovernmental agreement to conduct the 2023 municipal elections on behalf of Americus, Leslie, Plains, Desoto, and Andersonville in the event of a contested race.

The Board discussed a request to change Eton Road to Signify St. but decided it might cause confusion for the shipping of Americus Fresh.

The Board of Commissioners discussed a special exception given to a cell tower in land zoned for rural use. The special exception had been granted under the condition that the county have access to the tower for public broadcast. Initially the county was offered a ten-foot spot, but this was insufficient for the county’s two twenty-foot antennas. The issue was carried forward as there appeared to be some progress in negotiating use.