The Emanuel County Board of Commissioners met Monday evening, November 20, for their November regular meeting at the John C. Coleman County Office Building. Following a welcome to media and visitors from Chairman Hugh Foskey, an invocation was delivered by board attorney Richard McNeely. Commissioner Jim Sherrod led the pledge of allegiance.
Chairman Foskey then took the opportunity to acknowledge the passing of longtime Commissioner Dessie Davis. In a tribute on behalf of the board and the entire county, the Chairman praised Davis for his willingness to always help wherever he could and for his dedication to his home and his county. His service on the Emanuel County Board of Commissioners will be greatly missed.
As the commission turned to business, Mrs. Schenise Cheeks addressed the board on the condition of a county road she uses daily in her commute to work. Mrs. Cheeks related in detail the severe difficulty she encountered during a recent storm when the roadway became impassable. She asked for help from the Commissioners in alleviating the situation. Chairman Foskey thanked Mrs. Cheeks for attending the meeting and went on to comment that the problem was the result of the combination of regular ditch maintenance and three inches of rain both occurring within a short time of each other. He indicated that the county was working to enact preventive measures going forward so the situation would not recur. The board then proceeded to the review and unanimous approval of previous minutes from the October 16 and November 14 meetings. No items were presented under old business, and the first item of new business concerned the planned acquisition of temporary office space to serve during the renovation of the Coleman County Office Building. A building that had been considered for use as temporary offices did not prove to be satisfactory. A motion to rescind the purchase of the building was passed and unanimously agreed to. Water intrusion at the Courthouse was the next item on the agenda. Prompted by reports of water leaking into the building, Administrator Guy Singletary advised Commissioners of the problem and Requests for Qualifications were sent out to specialized contractors. The resulting selection process named Tharp Construction to provide the necessary repairs of the degraded areas where water leaks had occurred around areas of cast stone and other masonry applications. Singletary expressed the disappointment of the Commissioners at the extent of repair that is called for on a building that is only 26 years old, but emphasized that work done now would restore the viability and longevity of the Courthouse far into the future. A motion was made and passed by unanimous vote to proceed with the needed repairs. Next on the agenda was consideration of a proposed resolution expressing the sentiment of the commission regarding the “so-called” Hi-Lo Bike Trail through Emanuel County. The resolution, which appeared in the November 15 edition of the Forest Blade enumerates the obstacles, impractical aspects and infeasibility of the project, as well as the unknown financial burden that the project could possibly place on the taxpayers of Emanuel County. Commissioner Oliver made a motion for the Emanuel County Board of Commissioners to endorse by signature the resolution thereby expressing the formal opposition of the board to the project. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thompson and passed by the board. Discussion then turned to the issue of combining two elected Emanuel County offices into one. Administrator Singletary explained the proposal that would bring the Probate and Magistrate Court into one department. The move reportedly is generally favored by some judges who believe it makes for more efficient operations and eliminates the need for an additional department head at a time when qualified officials are becoming harder and harder to find. Singletary stressed the need for prompt action if a change is desired since legislative action would be necessary. Chairman Foskey had questions about the proposal and the level of activity that would now come under one department head and the administrative load involved in merging the two offices. He was also concerned that the move would deprive the voter of their right to choose who might serve as head of one of the two offices. It was agreed that there would be little cost savings in the proposed consolidation. Following discussion, a motion was made to combine the departments by Commissioner Thompson and seconded by Commissioner Oliver. The motion to combine the offices passed 3 to 1. In the final action of the meeting, Administrator Singletary reported on the progress of the new county office building for Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, and Voting Registrar offices. The Administrator reported that stage one of the project, which includes preparation of the site, has now been completed, and that last week, Pope Construction, the selected contractor for the Construction Management of the project, indicated that the next phase which includes the actual construction was ready to begin. Construction of the 16,000 square foot building will take 12 to 14 months. Chairman Foskey commented that it was time to move ahead on the project. Commissioner Sherrod made the motion to approve the start of construction which was seconded by Commissioner Thompson, and a unanimous vote followed. At that point, the agenda was completed, and Chairman Foskey called for adjournment.