The big event was that citizens speaking about the pipeline got four of five Commissioners to come down and listen afterwards. And in a surprise addition to the agenda D.A. J. David Miller asked for and got approval for a victim assistance program. All this and insurance plan, health plan, a road closing, a grant proposal to renovate the Library (did the Commissioners get the whole board packet this time?) and let’s not forget a special performance on fire by Chairman Bill Slaughter, plus apparently the County Commission is in charge of rain like it’s in charge of alcohol.
LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2013, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2013, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor
- Call to Order
Video. Audio feed was not working (again) so the first bit of this has no audio.
Video. The evening’s Preacher Commissioner was John Page, with his usual “decently and in order”. As a farmer, I also like the “blessings of rain”, but I’m not sure the Lowndes County Commission is in charge of that.
- Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
- Fire Prevention Month –Bill Slaughter
Video. Chairman Bill Slaughter interjected as a non-agenda item a homily about Fire Prevention Month. This is the same Bill Slaughter who complained recently that if meetings were televised citizens might grandstand and meetings would take forever. Like former Valdosta Mayor John Fretti before him, grandstanding is apparently only for the Chairman or the Mayor.
- Minutes for Approval
Video. Unanimously approved with no discussion, as usual.
- Work Session — October 7, 2013
- Regular Session — October 8, 2013
- Special Presentation – Award Presentation for Public Works
Video. Robert Drewry, head of the Chatham County Public Works Department and president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Public Works Association presented an award to Lowndes County Public Works Director Robin Cumbus.
- For Consideration
- Section 125 Plan Document Renewal for 2014
Section 125 is afeteria or flexible benefit insurance. Human Resources Director Kevin Beals said this plan would remove county employees’ premiums. Commissioner John Page moved, Demarcus Marshall seconded, unanimous approval. See the Work Session for more discussion.
- Health Benefit Vendor and Premium Change for 2014
Video part 1. Human Resources Director Kevin Beals said bids came in from Aetna, Coventry BCBSGA, and United Health Care, as well as Group Resources. Compared to the incumbent for costs and disruptions, BCBSGA seemed to be the winner. He did put up some tables of comparisons, which maybe you can read on the screen.
Several Commissioners had questions. County Manager Joe Pritchard pitched in to say participants in the wellness program would get breaks on their premiums. Commissioner Demarcus Marshall said he had not been aware the county had no fee for smoking. Beals said they still didn’t, but they could examine that for future years.
Commissioner John Page made a motion to go with Paragon, which I don’t understand since that wasn’t one of the bids. They approved it anyway.
Video part 2. They approved the premium changes in a separate motion.
See the Work Session for more discussion.
- Abandonment of Green Lane
Video. The only family living on Green Lane appears to be Alphonso Simmons Jr. County Engineer Mike Fletcher said the road would remain open to Mr. Simmons’ driveway, and confirmed there were no other driveways or houses on Green Lane. Apparently the other nearby landowner wants to limit access to his private hunting club. This was an initial determination by the Commission; there will be a public hearing at a later meeting.
- South Georgia Regional Library – FY ’13 Georgia Public Library Service Major Repair and Renovation Grant Program Application
Video. It’s a grant application to fix up the library with matching funds from SPLOST VII, and it’s only valid if SPLOST VII passes (which has happened since then). Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know what Plan B was if SPLOST VII didn’t pass. The answer appeared to be there was no Plan B. Approved unanimously. Did the Commissioners get the whole board packet this time?
- Beer & Wine License — Cannon & Lewis Enterprises Inc. — 1177 Lakes Blvd.
Video. Because of a change of ownership, which happens frequently in these cases. Approved unanimously.
- State of Georgia Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia Agreement for Funding of Prosecution Based VOCA Program State Personnel Program
Video. Lowndes County District Attorney J. David Miller presented, apparently about this U.S. DoJ program. He said there were no new people, pay raises, etc., involved in this, and it would be paid for by fines, for the benefit of crimes.
Commissioner John Page wanted to know if it came out of the District Attorney’s budget. Miller said yes, but it was completely funded by fines levied on criminals.
Commissioner Demarcus Marshall wanted to know what was a list of attorneys in the documents before him. Miller said they were attorneys for the victims.
There was some other discussion, after which they approved it unanimously, and Miller said he probably wouldn’t be back for this for another four or five years.
Sheriff Chris Prine was in the audience at the beginning of the meeting, I’m guessing for this item, but he left before it was presented.
In a rare move, the County Clerk updated the agenda to add this item between the Work Session and the Regular Session. I complimented County Clerk Paige Dukes on that after the meeting.
- Reports-County Manager
Video. According to County Manager Joe Pritchard, Lowndes County has received an annexation request from the City of Valdosta on behalf of the Valdosta Lowndes County Industrial Authority. The location is off the New Statenville Highway and the county has 30 days to register any objection based up on land use only. Is VLCIA planning on making yet another industrial park? Commissioner John Page wanted to know if the county had water or sewer running to that site. Answer: no, the county does not service that site with any utilities. More here.
- Citizens Wishing to be Heard Please State Name And Address
- “Help the citizens of Lowndes County” –Carol Singletary on Sabal Trail Pipeline
Video. Landowner in the path of the proposed Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline reminded the Commissioners of their own mission statement, mentioned the Spectra pipeline meeting at Wiregrass Tech 16 Oct 2013, said the letter the pipeline company sent her cited Georgia law about eminent domain, and urged Commissioners to… see separate post.
- Sidney Blanton on SPLOST
- “This company is awful” –Phillip Singletary on Sabal Trail Pipeline
Video. He thanked Commissioner Marshall for coming to the Spectra pipeline meeting at Wiregrass Tech 16 Oct 2013, and said that meeting wasn’t very informative. He asked Commissioners to… see separate post.
- “It was an outright threat” –Ronald Kicklighter on Sabal Trail Pipeline
- Chairman Slaughter responding about Sabal Trail
Video. The Chairman started out reiterating his disclaimer of county responsibility from back in June, but at least this time said… see separate post.
Video. They could put this on the written agenda.
- After meeting milling about and discussions
Video. See previous post about how unusual it is for four of five Commissioners to listen to anything afterwards. And the next day Chairman Slaughter was quoted on WCTV singing a different tune:
“Bottom line is we’re going to be looking out for the citizens of Lowndes County.”
What will the Lowndes County Commission actually do?
Here’s a video playlist:
Videos: Pipeline, health, insurance, library, and alcohol
Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 22 October 2013.