Category Archives: GDOC

Videos: Adoption of Budget, Appointments to DFACS, VLPRA, Construction Board, Courts, Prison Details @ LCC Regular 2023-06-27

They approved everything unanimously, the Lowndes County Commission two weeks ago, with another surprise presentation in County Manager Reports.

[Collage @ LCC 27 June 2023]
Collage @ LCC 27 June 2023

They approved the Hotel-Motel Budget Plan and the FY 2024 Operating Budget.

They reappointed Elsie Napier to DFACS, Suzan Garnett to VLPRA, and Tripp Howell to the Construction Board.

They passed a stopgap resolution to delay approving changes to the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC). So there’s no need to approve any changes at the July 11th County Commission meeting.

Remember, the public has hardly seen any of the proposed ULDC changes, while the County Manager announced two weeks ago that “tomorrow we have the stakeholder meetings at 12:30 and 2 PM that I mentioned to you yesterday, with permits and inspections, and that is all going fantastically well, and I’m interesting in getting the feedback from our development community so we can make any changes that they may need prior to going live July 1.” Curious how the county government is not so solicitous of feedback from the general public as it is of feedback from “our development community”.

In response to a question by Commissioner Demarcus Marshall, Public Works Director Robin Cumbus clarified that the county since COVID has only been paying for one prisoon detail even though the contract says they can use up to three.

About Reports: County Manager, Gretchen Quarterman remarks: Continue reading

Videos: Surprise One Valdosta-Lowndes presentation, and executive session to discuss personnel @ LCC Work 2023-06-26

Update 2023-07-10: Videos: Adoption of Budget, Appointments to DFACS, VLPRA, Construction Board, Courts, Prison Details @ LCC Regular 2023-06-27.

Update 2023-06-29: Slides: One Valdosta-Lowndes @ LCC Work 2023-06-26.

People might have come to see if they knew One Valdosta-Lowndes was going to present at Monday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session. Instead, County Manager Paige Dukes announced it during her County Manager Report, and then OVL Executive Director Mary Beth Brownlee presented. Thanks to Mary Beth for sending LAKE her presentation slides.

[Collage @ LCC 26 June 2023]
Collage @ LCC 26 June 2023

At the end of the meeting, the Commissioners held an executive session to discuss personnel. There is only one personnel directly managed by the Commissioners: the County Manager.

The second longest item at 4 minutes was 5. Fire Officer of the Year – Fire Fighter of the Year Recognition.

Next longest at two and a third minutes was 7.a. Lowndes County Accountability Court Grant Approval and Cash Match.

Everything passed unanimously, including the adoption of the FY 2024 Operating Budget and the reappointments to three boards.

Once the county finishes taking over its own permitting, the 6.c. Valdosta Lowndes County Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals won’t exist, and Lowndes County will have to appoint its own. The new one could have the same county members.

Were you invited to the stakeholder meetings the County Manager announced for “the development community”? Maybe taxpayers and citizens are not stakeholders.

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, with a few notes by Gretchen Quarterman, followed by a LAKE video playlist.

See also

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Packet: Adoption of Budget, Appointments to DFACS, VLPRA, Construction Board, Courts, Prison Details @ LCC 2023-06-26

Update 2023-06-29: Videos: Suprise One Valdosta-Lowndes presentation, and executive session to discuss personnel @ LCC Work 2023-06-26.

The board packet to go with the agenda for this week’s Lowndes County Commission meetings is on the LAKE website, received in response to a LAKE open records request.

[Collage, Board PacketT @ LCC 2023-06-26]
Collage, Board PacketT @ LCC 2023-06-26

LAKE videos of the meetings will follow.


Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

Agenda: Adoption of Budget, Appointments to DFACS, VLPRA, Construction Board, Courts, Prisoners @ LCC 2023-06-26

Update 2023-06-27: Packet: Adoption of Budget, Appointments to DFACS, VLPRA, Construction Board, Courts, Prison Details @ LCC 2023-06-26.

Monday morning at 8:30 AM the Lowndes County Commission will review at its Work Session items that it will vote on in its Regular Session Tuesday at 5:30 PM.

[Collage @ LCC Agenda 2023-06-26]
Collage @ LCC Agenda 2023-06-26

Items include the Adoption of Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget, and a Budget Plan for Hotel Motel Proceeds for Fiscal Year 2024.

A stopgap resolution is proposed until the changes to the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) are ready.

Also on the agenda are re-appointments to three boards,

Plus two items that the agenda says cost money:

Cost What
$147,954.007.b. Annual Contract Renewal with the State of Georgia Department of Corrections
$25,139.007.a. Lowndes County Accountability Court Grant Approval and Cash Match

Here is the agenda.

LAKE has sent an open records request for the board packet. However, when Lowndes County someday puts its board packets on its own website, as many counties larger and smaller, in Georgia and Florida, have been doing for years, nobody will have to play this silly open records game just to get board packets.

Meanwhile, for the ULDC changes, see the Planning Commission board packet.

For the budget, see the LAKE videos from the Budget Work Session, the slides from that meeting, and Videos: Not a Public Hearing, even though advertised as one, Presentation @ LCC Budget 2023-06-20.

WORK SESSION, MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2023, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2023, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

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Prison gang violence

This is what eventually happens in a country with 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prisoners, in a state that has 1 in 13 adults in the prison system (jail, prison, probation, or parole): prison violence the prisons can’t deal with, possibly including the mysterious violence at Valdosta State Prison. When we stop locking up so many people by ending the war on drugs, we’ll have plenty of money to adequately secure the few remaining real violent offenders.

Rhonda Cook wrote for the AJC Saturday, Gang violence in prison is increasingly deadly,

In a little more than 10 months, 12 inmates and a guard have been stabbed to death in Georgia prisons, a dramatic uptick in violence that law enforcement officials and human rights advocates agree points to increased gang activity.

“We cannot remember a time like this when we were getting this volume and severity of violence,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which monitors prison violence.

People who go into such prisons, if they aren’t already violent, are likely to be taught to be violent, and some just don’t come back out. Yet those that do get out can be bad for the rest of us:

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Well loan and tap fees —Barbara Stratton @ Hahira 2012-08-02

Received yesterday on Hahira approved for water well loan by state. -jsq

It’s nice to know Hahira will get a break in interest, but tax payers will still have to pay back the loan. I missed the council meeting which is unusual for me. Does the video show anything about the fact some council members voted not to raise the tap fees for new construction which would certainly help pay back the loan instead of depending so much on tax monies? Developers should not be allowed to come in and make huge profits from new construction, then take their profits and let the citizens pay the price for increased water demands. Raising the one time tap fees would have distributed some of the costs to the developers who enjoy the profits from increased demands on the infrastructure and water usage.

-Barbara Stratton

Yes, we have video of the entire Hahira City Council meeting, which will be posted soon. LAKE is always happy to accept help in taking or labeling videos.


Hahira approved for water well loan by state

Parker Wallace wrote for GPB 1 August 2012, Water Program Awards Loans,

The Governor’s water supply program awarded funding to eight water supply projects across the state.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Georgia Department of Community affairs announced more than 90 million dollars in loans.

They’re aimed at helping finance water supply infrastructure.

The cities of Hahira and Vienna were approved for loans to construct new water supply wells. Newton, Oconee and Walton counties were all awarded 40 year loans to construct new reservoirs.

A bit more detail in the Montgomery Advertiser 2 August 2012, Funding flows to Georgia reservoir, water projects,

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Cook County schools furloughing teachers

Cook county schools have a budget shortfall problem, and they think they can solve it only by furloughing teachers. Remind me again why we're wasting $1 billion a year on prisons, including private prisons for the profit of private prison shareholders and executives (like CCA CEO Damon Hininger's $3 million a year) and we're furloughing teachers instead?

Greg Gullberg wrote for WCTV 10 May 2012, Teachers in Cook County Face Furloughs,

The Cook County School System is facing a $472,352 deficit. Superintendent Lance Heard tells Eyewitness News reporter Greg Gullberg that the only way out may be to initiate system-wide furlough days and cutting jobs.

"We've done everything we can to maintain the level of education for the students that we've always had and we think we've been able to do that," said Superintendent Heard.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but 488 teachers, staff and administrators, may be facing furlough days next school year. Superintendent Heard hopes to limit them to three to five per employee.

"I would like to say also that when we do take furlough days, they are always none instructional days. The students do not miss any school," said Superintendent Heard.

Yet. Keep on in this direction and the students will be missing school. As it is, they just get less-prepared teachers, for less-effective teaching. But this is not Supt. Heard's fault.

Do we in Georgia want to prepare students for jail, or to succeed in life? Prisons cost we the taxpayers lots of money. Successful young people help pay for everything. Maybe we should choose successful young people, starting with education.


Ocilla prison nearly sold at auction: better due diligence would be a good idea

A business our Industrial Authority wanted to get us into still risks bankrupting Irwin County: a private prison. Maybe we should do better due diligence around here and invest in better business ventures.

AP reported 23 April 2012, South Ga. detention center nearly sold at auction,

A privately owned detention center that houses hundreds of illegal immigrants in south Georgia is struggling with finances, and narrowly avoided being auctioned this year.

How bad is it?

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Sentencing reform passed joint committee in Georgia

Remember the Georgia legislature was considering sentencing reform? Now it's passed the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform.

Bill Rankin wrote for the AJC Tuesday, Sweeping changes to state sentencing laws passes committee,

A key legislative committee on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to Georgia's criminal justice system in a sentencing reform package intended to control prison spending and ensure costly prison beds are reserved for the state's most dangerous criminals.

Well, that sounds good!

But wait, this is cautious Georgia:

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