Jones County Commissioners recognized the efforts of a man who has devoted decades of service to his community, and they took a big step toward the preservation of a historic property.
Board Chairman Chris Weidner called the June 1 meeting to order, and Parks and Recreation Director Matt Goins led the opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance.
Weidner read a resolution expressing the county’s appreciation for Frank Duke’s years of service to the Jones County Public Library that started in 1978. Duke retired from the Library Board of Trustees last month. The county dedicated the library building to Duke May 5.
The proclamation also commended Duke’s service on the Development Authority of Jones County and most recently the Blight Committee.
The final item of New Business on the agenda was Jake’s Woods. Commissioner Sam Kitchens said attendees of a May 22 work session received a tour of part of the Clinton historic district that included a portion of Jake’s Woods.
“We have a chance to preserve a historic property that also has an economic potential. The opportunity to have that all together is an opportunity we seldom have,” he said.
Minutes from the work session said it was attended by representatives from the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and The Access Fund.
“We have the opportunity for a conservation fund to help acquire the property with a public/ private partnership,” he said.
He explained that using the conversation program would result in the true preservation of the property without a cost to the county.
Kitchens made the motion to begin the process, and it was approved unanimously.
The first item of business on the agenda was about the striping of parking lots at the Government Center, W.E. Knox Civic Center, Courthouse and its overflow lots. The item was presented by Building Maintenance Director Donald White who said the low bidder on the projects was Mid-State Striping at a cost of $4,200. He asked for the project to be paid from the General Fund.
Kitchens made the motion to award the bid to the low bidder, and it was approved unanimously.
County Administrator Jason Rizner presented a lease agreement renewal contract for the former OAC building. He said the building is used by Central Georgia Technical College Adult Education classes, and the terms of the agreement have not changed. Commissioner Daylon Martin made the motion, and the vote to renew the lease was unanimous.
Rizner spoke to the board about bids for the purchase of a mini excavator for the county. He said two bids were received, and he recommended the bid from Yancey Brothers in the amount of $128,693. The motion to award the bid to Yancey Brothers was made by Kitchens, and it was approved unanimously.
Goins talked about staffing of Jones County gyms for the summer. He said he recommended the gyms be open for the additional hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. He said the gyms are already open after 4 p.m.
The director said the additional hours would cost $3,600. He also asked for the approval of $1,800 in case more attendance at the gym requires additional staff.
Kitchens made the motion, and it was approved unanimously.
Goins asked to award the bid for the repair and finishing of the concrete floor at the Mattie Wells gym. He said the low bidder was Concrete Design & Repair in the amount of $33,430.
Martin made the motion to award the bid to the low bidder, and the vote to approve was unanimous.
The director announced this year’s Independence Day celebration would take place July 1 at the Morris Bank Recreation Center. He said the event was being sponsored by Outdoor Adventures and Skweeky Kleen Car Wash.
Goins asked that the county contribute $2,000 toward the cost of the event.
Commissioner Wendy Vaughn made the motion to contribute $2,000, and the motion was approved unanimously.
Goins’ next request was for online registration for recreation sports and camps. He said Civic Plus worked best, and it would let the county create a website based on what it offers. He said it is all done online and offers efficiency and accountability.
He said the recreation football, basketball and soccer leagues want the county’s help. The director said the cost of the program is $7,800 the first year and then $4,800 annually.
He said, once the program is set up, it can be built into the department’s annual budget.
Vaughn asked if the sports leagues would help with the cost, and Goins said that would be up to the commissioners.
Kitchens said he agreed the cost should be shared. He made the motion to approve the online registration program, and it was approved unanimously.
Martin asked that five houses per district be scheduled for abatement or demolition. He said the Blight Committee did a good job, and it was time to allocate a budget to move the plan forward.
Rizner said $20,000 is budgeted for demolition each year.
Code Enforcement Officer Tiffany Davis said the county was on track to demolish three to four houses a year until 2019. She said the judge put cases on hold, and then COVID happened.
“Once the court opens back up, we can go back at it,” she said.
Commissioners discussed the budget for the demolition program. Kitchens said he was not sure the county could afford to demolish 20 houses a year.
Martin said he understood that, but it was important to set a goal. Commissioner John Wood said people needed to realize what blighted structures do to the county’s tax base.
Kitchens brought up the next agenda item, late fees for water bills. He said the commissioners changed the billing policy twice, but the late fees are another issue. He said one customer got a $15 late fee for a $18 bill that was late.
“That’s not right,” he said.
The result of the discussion of the issue was the scheduling of a work session before the next meeting to once again discuss the water department billing policy.
The only item of Old Business was a shelter for food distribution at the recreation complex on Highway 49. Goins said he met engineer Tim Ingram, and he had some different ideas of how the shelter should be constructed.
Goins said an estimated cost for the project was $25,000, and it would be a multipurpose shelter. He said it would also be used as a pavilion for the recreation complex.
Ronnie Hinson with Sonrise Ministries said the food distribution served 200-250 families.
“It’s been phenomenal,” he said.
Goins said fundraisers would be held to help with the cost and donations would be funneled through the ministry.
Other approved agenda items:
• Rezone site for doublewide mobile home on Highway 57 from R-1 to R-MH
• Reappointment of Don Graham and Thomas Coleman to the Region 5 EMS Advisory Council