The first zoning request was for a conditional use to allow a personal care home for up to six clients by Tracy Thompson. The home is located at 2895 New Clinton Rd., and no one was at the meeting to oppose the request.
Commissioner Bert Liston made the motion to approve, and it was passed unanimously. The vote was 3–0 because Commissioner David Gault had surgery and was not able to attend the meeting.
Liston and fellow commissioners Larry Childs and Tommy Robinson voted for the motion. Chairman Preston Hawkins chooses to only vote in the event of a tie.
Ginger Scarboro Dunn requested the zoning of 160 Curtis Rd. be changed from AG-1 (Agricultural Rural) to R-R (Rural residential) to allow a second home on the property. Childs said he talked to neighbors next to the property, and they had no objections. The request passed 3–0.
P & Z appointments
Terms for the District One and District Four board members of the Jones County Planning and Zoning Commission were up, and Childs nominated Paul Moncrief to be reappointed to the District One position. The commissioners agreed unanimously.
Liston stated that would be nominating Bill Dewberry for the District Four seat. He explained that he appreciates anyone who serves on the P&Z Commission because it is a thankless job. He said that Lala Scales has done an admirable job, but others have indicated they would like to serve.
Liston went on to say that experience is important, but it is not possible to have experience unless there is opportunity to serve.
“Every commissioner on our board has been given the opportunity to serve with less experience than their predecessors,” he said.
The commissioner said he realizes that the decision he has made opens him up for criticism.
“But I am dedicated to do anything I can for the best of Jones County,” he stated.
Liston said Dewberry has lived in Jones County for more than 25 years and has knowledge of county affairs.
“I have the utmost confidence that he will do a good job,” he added.
Martha Branson asked to speak in opposition to the appointment. She started by telling Liston she does not approve of his decision.
“Mrs. Scales has served the county for a long time, and she has not been treated fairly. I believe in the adage ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’,” Branson said.
She pointed out that this is a crucial time in Jones County, and a lot of decisions have to be made.
“Mrs. Scales does not know I am here, and I appreciate being heard. I don’t know Mr. Dewberry, but I feel we need to continue with the fine leadership of Mrs. Scales,” Branson said.
Liston said he remembers when Branson ran for state representative against Kenneth Birdsong, a very experienced representative.
“I admire you for having the courage to have faced what appeared to be insurmountable odds,” he said. “I appreciate your calling me, and I will always admire you.”
Branson rebuffed Liston’s comments and said the situation was not the same.
“I’m going to be watching you as I never have before. I am very disappointed in you,” she concluded.
The commissioners voted 3–0 in favor of Dewberry’s appointment.
Service delivery area
Bob Rychel from the Middle Georgia Regional Development Center reminded the commissioners that the service delivery strategy between Jones County and Gray is due to be renewed June 30.
“I know you have been in contact with the city. I want to remind you that you need to negotiate, and the RDC stands ready to help,” Rychel said.
He also said the solid waste management plan is also scheduled for an update. The essence of the update is presenting demographic data that the county has the capacity to deal with its solid waste.
County Administrator Mike Underwood said the last time the city and county met, the consensus was for each entity to identify the areas it is serving now, and that would be the map.
“If something comes up, we’ll negotiate at that time. I’ve been in contact with the city, and I expect a call from the mayor to set up a meeting,” he said.
Rychel said he realizes that he is the third RDC staff member to inherit the SDS project.
“But I’m going to close it up for you,” he said.
Kevin and Leigh Brack spoke to the commissioners about their plan for a consignment sale that would take place at the Jonesco Gymnasium twice a year. They asked for a reduced rate for rental of the gym for a one-week period.
Leigh Brack said the sale would bring money back to the community, and unsold items will be donated to the Department of Family and Children Services. She said Jones County has no place to buy clothes, and the clothes at the sale would be affordable to families.
Childs asked if the county has a weekly rate for renting the gym. The daily rate is $250, and Liston suggested setting the weekly rate at $1,000. The motion to set the weekly rate was approved 3–0.
County Extension Agent Frank Sears will be retiring March 31, but a new agent will not be hired for Jones County until July 2010. The University of Georgia has a plan to cover fiscal year 2010, but the county would be without an extension agent for the period between April 1 and June 30, which is a busy time for the office.
At a workshop prior to the meeting, Sears met with the commissioners and presented a plan to work one or two days a week. The commissioners agreed to pay the agent’s salary to cover two days a week for the three months at a cost to the county of $3,000. The UGA plan will begin July 1 at the same price to the county as before Sears’ retirement.
Childs said the growing season will start in March, and he appreciates the agent’s willingness to help. He said Sears could have walked away and left the county in a rough spot.
Board members approved a beer and wine license for Jyotsana K. Patel, and Robinson presented a detailed plan to combat litter in Jones County.
Robinson commended the work of Keep Jones Beautiful Executive Director Judy Webb and code enforcement officer Tiffany Wharton.
“They put forth a tireless effort, but they can’t do it all,” he commented.
The commissioner read a step-by-step plan, which begins with distributing pamphlets at the convenience centers. He suggested more strict enforcement of the litter laws, beefing up the county’s sign ordinance, sprucing up public works, and cleaning up dilapidated buildings.
“Attitudes are contagious, and we as a county need to change our attitude,” he said.
Childs and Liston agreed to get behind the effort.
Wharton said she has issued over $22,000 in fines over the past six months for code violations.
“If it’s reported to me, I take care of it,” she stated.
Underwood presented engineering requests from County Engineer Tim Ingram. He said Ingram needs direction about a test well at the industrial park. Childs said the area has a lot of water, and a test well is a good idea.
Childs also said he and Liston visited the golf course, and several companies are interested in installing the irrigation system. He suggested a blueprint is needed in order to take bids for the system, which will be paid for with sales tax funds.
Childs suggested the Woodman of the World Lodge 358 should ask the county to pay rent when elections are held in their building. The organization asked for the building to be exempt from taxes because it is used as a polling place during elections. The building is the only facility used as a voting precinct that is not owned by Jones County, but County Attorney Frank Childs said it would take an act of the General Assembly to exempt the building from ad valorem taxes.
Hawkins suggested the attorney draw up a contract between the county and WOW before the next election.
“We’ve nowhere to go; we’re going to have to pay it,” Larry Childs said.
Robinson asked that people wanting to hook to the waterline that will be installed on Highway 49 be allowed to make payments for the connection charge as long as it is paid by the time the connection is made. He also asked that the tap-on fee be reduced from $1,500 to $1,250 if the fee is paid before the line is covered, and his request was approved by the other board members.
Wiggins said the county needs to put out bids for the labor for the Highway 49 project and go ahead and purchase the pipes and materials while the prices are low. The commissioners agreed on both points.
Childs suggested the commissioners form committees to work on different areas of county business, and he asked that each commissioner make a list of the committees on which he would like to serve.
Liston said he believes all the board members agree with the concept, and Childs said the committees would keep the entire board involved but could make a lot of progress.
“We need to make a list of duties. I already have tentative notes,” Childs said. The commissioners agreed to a work session at 5 p.m. before the Feb. 17 meeting about the committees.
Liston said he wanted to compliment the continuing education classes being held on Highway 49. He said the classes started with five students and have grown to 21 students and a waiting list.
“It’s the biggest class in the county, and I am proud of what they are doing,” he added.
Liston also said he is pleased that a meeting has been set between the county and the developer of Hampton Lakes. The residents of the area have had a continuing battle with septic tank and sewer issues and roads.
“At least we are making some progress,” he said.