Video, hearing about abandoning Old State Road at the Alapaha River @ LCC 2010-10-26

Here is video of the public hearing in which the Lowndes County Commission decided 26 October 2010 not to abandon a portion of Old State Road leading to the Alapaha River. This is the same stretch of road that's scheduled for another such hearing in two weeks from tomorrow.

The camera aim is a bit erratic, and you can see why we hadn't already posted this video (which is actually several briefer videos pasted together with a few gaps). Yet you can clearly see, after Glenda Cofield and Steve Bays spoke against closing the road, someone else started speaking from the audience. Then Commissioner Joyce Evans asked those opposed to stand up, and many people did. You can see County Engineer Mike Fletcher in the background.

Presumably some of the people who stood were among the 450 people mentioned in the minutes:

Glenda Cofield, Mullins Lane, spoke against the request, and presented a petition submitted prior to the work session with the unverified signatures of 450 area residents included.

Why were the signatures still unverified if she submitted the petition before the work session of the previous day? Couldn't county staff check them against the Lowndes County Tax Assessor's database? If from the morning of the previous day to the evening of next day is not long enough to do that, maybe the county needs to announce a petition due-by date before a public hearing.

The applicant started talking from the audience. Chairman Ashley Paulk told him to come up front, which he did. Phillip Connell complained about people leaving trash and otherwise abusing his property. He also remarked:

As far as the church, legitimate people, they can still use it.

Who gets to decide who are legitimate people? If the county closes the road, he does.

Next, J.C. Riley noted:

That's the only access to the Alapaha River in Lowndes County.

The next access upstream is near Lakeland in Lanier County, and the next one downstream is at Mayday in Echols County.

Commissioner Richard Lee asked the applicant, Phillip Connell, if his property was alongside the part of the road that was proposed to be closed.

Connell, speaking from the audience again, nodded and said "both sides".

Well, that's strictly true for a few feet, perhaps, but the rest of the way to the river the land on both sides of Old State Road is owned by Acree Investments, according to the Lowndes County Tax Assessor's public database,

which also says that property hasn't changed hands since 2001, well below Mr. Connell's assertion.

Finally, Commissioner Evans made a motion "to deny the closure request, indicating that the road is still used by the public" as the minutes phrased it.

Commissioner G. Robert Carter seconded the motion.

Chairman Paulk asked the Commissioners more than once if there were any questions. There were none, so he took the vote, which was unanimous; you can see all three of their hands up at once.

The minutes add:

Chairman Paulk asked those in attendance to assist Mr. Connell with policing the area and encouraged them to report unlawful activity.

However, while the minutes record Glenda Cofield's request:

Mrs. Cofield added that the boat ramp was used by many and needed to be improved. Mrs. Cofield further stated that Department of Natural Resources had guidelines by which the county could move forward with repairs to the ramp.

The only response to her request was this:

Commissioner Lee stated that it might be an issue for the parks and recreation to explore.

Did Commissioner Lee or anyone else with the Lowndes County government ask Parks and Rec to explore Mrs. Cofield's question? The minutes don't say.

Here's the video.