County Commissioners Hear News About Truck Route, Call for False Alarm Ordinance, and 211 Service

Published 12:54 pm Sunday, January 21, 2024

In addition to the elections of the chair, vice chair, and the denial of democratic nominee Eugene Edge to the Board of Elections, the January 16th meeting of the Board of Commissioner’s delt with several other pressing topics.

During citizens remarks, Bethany Greeley brought to the attention of the Board the plight of Ana Artiga, who had received second and third degree burns after her house had burned down in Plains.

“On new years Eve, Ana Ortiga had her house burn down in Plains and she was completely homeless, her house was incinerated. She and her daughters escaped. She tried to put the fire out with a hose, not knowing it was frozen, and did not know she was on fire and got third- and second-degree burns. She was airlifted to Augusta. All this to say that there was nowhere to call. She didn’t know how to get services. She tried the Red Cross and they told her well we’ll give you $300 dollars but that’s it. We can’t help you find housing. We can’t help you with transportation.”
Greeley mentioned how 211 was a common service available in Northern States for those lacking housing or human service. She mentioned that the service doesn’t appear when you call from Sumter. While people stepped up to provide meals for Ortiga, she had been forced to drive herself to surgery.

“United Way in Macon lists Sumter County as one of the Counties they serve with 211. I’ve asked Phoebe Sumter, The Red Cross, and a couple other organizations to write a letter asking them why we are not getting services.”

Interim County Administrator Doug Eaves mentioned that he had contacted United Way. He said he would share why the service was unavailable and what would be required to receive it once he found out.

Afterward Fire Chief Jerry Harmon addressed the Board of Commissioners with a proposal for an ordinance for false alarms from E911 alarm systems.
“We have been dealing with quite a few here in the last several months. Most of them get looked at. When they have a false alarm, they get the alarm company involved and they get them fixed.”

However, he mentioned some companies have caused repeated issues.
“When we tell you look, there’s an issue, and you just blatantly don’t get it handled, and we continue night after night after night going out there, that’s where it begins to be a problem. It costs this County every time we respond.”

He mentioned the severity.
“We get three a night at some of these businesses.”

A $100 fine would result for each false alarm after the first three false alarms in a calendar month.

Public Works Director Jim Littlefield reported on the truck route.
“All five roads have been determined by the DOT to be truck routes. Signs have gone back up.”

He mentioned that a traffic engineer was able to provide assistance after Commissioner Jim Reid reached out. However, the County will be required to buy the signs. Littlefield also addressed speed limits, which have been a past concern of truckers who felt the truck route was a speed trap.
“The County can change the speed limit on what they call an of system road.”

He mentioned an ordinance was an option to change the speed limit from 45 mph back to 55 mph.
The truck route passes between Ignite College and the technical college. Previously, the Board had heard from OneSumter about a grant for a walkway so that high school students crossing for dual enrollment courses at the college would have safe passage. Littlefield mentioned the grant had made it to the second round of the grant process.

For details concerning elections to chair and vice chair of the Board of Commissioners as well as the vote on Eugene Edge for the Board of Elections, see the companion piece to the January 16th meeting.