Tag Archives: water quality

Packet: Stream monitoring, trash franchises, wetlands credits, force main, quit claims, paving, and Accountability Court @ LCC 2020-04-28

Apparently there was no legal public notice and no recording of the April teleconference meeting with the dial-in code changed less than three hours before, with $6,913,575.06 in taxpayers’ money being decided.

[Photo: Pine Grove Road Collection Center]
Photo: Pine Grove Road Collection Center

For that Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission, at which everything was approved unanimously except the one split vote on the single-source no-bid stream monitoring contract, LAKE sent an open records request for “the teleconference audio recording and the log of teleconference attendees (who dialed in, by name, or, if name is not known, by telephone number) for the April 28, 2020, Lowndes County Commission Regular Session.”

The response from the County Clerk was:

The April 28th telephone meeting was not recorded other than the minutes that were taken. Further, the program used does not record a phone log for the option utilized for this meeting. This being case, there are no records responsive to your request. I do expect the next meeting to be held in the Commission Chambers with social distancing requirements observed. This being the case, citizens will have an opportunity to attend in person which is a much better format for everyone.

Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Do you think it’s better to have to wear a mask to the Commission Chambers and risk getting infected, than to listen on the phone?

The Valdosta City Council had their meeting this Thursday on facebook live. The Madison, Florida, BOCC has been doing theirs on gotomeeting. It’s curious how the most populous county in the region can’t manage a teleconference or video meeting.

LAKE received the full board packet two days after the meeting, at 5:07 PM on Thursday, April 30, 2020, in response to an open records request. It’s on the LAKE website. We look forward to Lowndes County putting its full packet on its website along with the agenda and one-page agenda sheets per item. Many other counties in Georgia and Florida have been doing this for years.

When will the Lowndes County Commission catch up with the 21st century?

April-28-2020-Commission-Meeting-Packet

By far the biggest item was the $6,545,729.00 Coleman Road Force Main Replacement. The county apparently saved a bunch of money by removing many amounts from the bid for the county to do directly.

[Amount Removed from Bid]
Amount Removed from Bid

Curious how they didn’t do that for the sole-source no-bid $45,120.00 Professional Services for Sampling, Monitoring and Reporting of Impaired Streams. More on that in another blog post.

The county bid everything else that could be bid, including the $228,400.95 Continue reading

Teleconference: Stream monitoring, trash franchises, wetlands credits, force main, quit claims, paving, and Accountability Court @ LCC 2020-04-28

Update 2020-05-10:

Update 2020-05-09: Board packet.

Update 2020-05-02: Gretchen’s notes on each agenda item.

Was this even a public meeting? The Lowndes County Commission approved everything on its agenda yesterday, even though only really perceptive citizens could figure out how to listen to the teleconference. In which they approved everything, with only one split vote, for a $45,120.00 single-source item.

[Agenda Versions]
Agenda Versions

At 2:38 PM, less than three hours before the 5:30 PM voting Lowndes County Commission Regular Session, they made this one change to the online agenda:

Old:
“The call in number is 813-769-0500 and the access code is 373-829-614#”

New:
“The call in number is 813-769-0500 and the access code is 584-852-611#”

Can you spot the change? It’s the access code.

I didn’t notice the agenda had changed, so I used the old access code. Which only started a teleconference five minutes late, and then had 18+ minutes of silence.

Gretchen did notice the agenda had changed, but there was no indication of what had changed. She carefully looked to find that different access code. It’s a good bet Gretchen was the only citizen on the conference call, because likely few other people figured that out.

But that didn’t stop the Commissioners from approving everything on the agenda.

The only split vote was for: Continue reading

Trash franchises, Stream monitoring, wetlands credits, force main, quit claims, paving, and Accountability Court @ LCC 2020-04-28

Bids or negotiations for everything except the Professional Services for Sampling, Monitoring, and Reporting of Impaired Streams, which is on the agenda for Tuesday as a single proposal from an engineering firm. The agenda sheets are on the LAKE website. We do not yet have the full agenda packet.

This April 28, 2020, Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission will be held by teleconference. There will be Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, but as usual that will be after the Commissioners vote. This is the only County Commission of the many counties I’ve been to in two states that does not let citizens speak either at the beginning of the session or on each agenda item as it comes up.

Citizens wishing to be heard should email County Clerk, Paige Dukes at pdukes@lowndescounty.com or call 229-292-6142 during normal business hours to register to speak. Please register prior to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28th. Thank you.

Notice no Work Session is listed on the agenda, and a Commissioner tells me there will be no Work Session, which is marked in the county calendar as Cancelled.

[Map: Coleman Road, VALORGIS]
Map: Coleman Road, VALORGIS

These are the costs of the agenda items, sorted most expensive first:

Continue reading
CostWhat
$6,545,729.00 5.h. Coleman Road Force Main Replacement
$228,400.95 6.a. LMIG Resurfacing Contract
$48,079.00 5.f. Approval of Clyattstone Road-Simpson Lane ROW Purchases
$45,120.00 5.c. Professional Services for Sampling, Monitoring and Reporting of Impaired Streams
$26,246.11 5.i. Lowndes County Accountability Court Grant Approval and Cash Match
$20,000.00 5.e. Purchase of Wetland Credits for Clyattstone Road – Simpson Lane Paving Project

HB 59 to waive sovereign immunity in certain cases

Sue the state? You’ll lose, because of sovereign immunity, unless HB 59 passes. Then you might be able to sue GA-DNR for circumventing permiting in allowing construction on the Georgia Coast, or if it should approve a compressor station in Albany, or if it should issue any other permits for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline.

State agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR), can use “letters of permission” to do things like make alterations to Georgia’s coast, and anyone suing to stop it runs up against sovereign immunity unless the issuing agency has expressly waived it. Now that may change with HB 59, “State tort claims; waiver of sovereign immunity for declatory judgment or injunctive relief; provide”. It has six co-sponsors, including Jay Powell, District 171, Camilla, Mitchell County, GA.

Here’s the key part: Continue reading

GA EPD Hazardous site 10645: Brooks County, Piscola Creek, Withlacoochee River

Brooks County has a hazardous waste site: a closed landfill a few miles southeast of Quitman, about a mile from Piscola Creek, and less than four miles from the Withlacoochee River.

parcel 0096 0003 Brooks County Georgia

This Georgia EPD Hazardous site 10645 on Johson Short Road and SR 333 (also known as Washington Street and Madison Highway) Map: Quitman SR 333 GA EPD Landfill Hazardous Site 10645 was presumably why we find this Continue reading

Status of (not Valdosta) Lowndes County Waste Water Spill

Mike Allen, Utilities Director, Lowndes County, Georgia After learning that Lowndes County (not Valdosta) was having a waste water spill, I called the Utilities Department and asked to speak with Director Mike Allen.

The person that answered the phone said that he was not available and perhaps she could answer my question or put me through to his voice mail. I figured that perhaps I could get some of my questions answered so I asked about the status of the current waste water spill. She said that it had been repaired as of 5am today (April 26).

I then asked if it would be possible to get a copy of the Overflow Emergency Response Program and she asked my name. When I said my name (Gretchen Quarterman) she said that I would have to talk to Paige Dukes and she would transfer me. After a long wait, she came back on the phone and said she would transfer me and I was transferred to the voice mail of Paige Dukes. I did not leave a message.

-gretchen

Major Spills: What to Do –GA DNR

Georgia: 14 River Basins Apparently whoever is responsible for a major spill into Georgia waters needs to immediately tell GA EPD DNR and the local health department and post a sign, and the sewage leak at GA 133 into the Withlacoochee River qualifies as a major spill. The City of Valdosta reported it as such, but it’s not clear it was their spill (update: it was Lowndes County’s spill). Excerpts below from GA DNR’s guidelines. -jsq

Water Quality: A Guide for Municipal Compliance by Mick Smith, Environmental Engineer.

Spills and Major Spills

Spill

  • Any discharge of raw sewage < 10,000 gallons to waters of the state

Major Spill

  • Any discharge of raw sewage > 10,000 gallons to waters of the state
  • BOD5 or TSS = 1.5 x weekly avg. permit limit
  • Any discharge resulting in a water quality violation
Continue reading

Changes to Lowndes County’s Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) @ GLPC 2012-08-27

Did you know last night’s Planning Commission meeting included a public hearing about changes to the county’s Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) related to land disturbances and water quality? You wouldn’t have found out about that in the agenda, because it wasn’t posted anywhere you’d be likely to see it. (Where does GLPC post the one physical copy of the agenda required by law, anyway?) Supposedly it was advertised in the Valdosta Daily Times, but a search of Public Notices in Statewide Database of Public Notices from Georgia’s Legal Organ Newspapers for 1 June 2012 through 27 August 2012 finds nothing.

Here’s what the agenda item for the 27 August 2012 GLPC meeting (that we only know about because Gretchen went to that GLPC meeting and asked County Planner Jason Davenport) says:

From a procedural standpoint the amendment has been advertised in the Valdosta Daily Times to fulfill legal requirements. Beyond legal requirements staff has plans to post this agenda item and draft ULDC on the Lowndes County Website at http://www.lowndescounty.com/content.asp?pid=23&id=224. Regarding staff review of the amendments, the TRC recommended for their approval at their 08/16 regular meeting.

If you’d happened to look several levels deep on the Lowndes County website you would have found that undated announcement:

Continue reading