2017-05-18 / Front Page

County approves changes to alcohol sales ordinance

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor

At the latest meeting of the Board of Commissioners, members voted to change Lincoln County’s alcohol package sales ordinance. The ordi­nance – which previously restricted the sale of alcohol between the hours of 6-12 a.m., Monday-Saturday – will now conform more closely to that of Georgia state law.

In removal of the time restraint, the new ordinance reads “Alcohol may be sold at all times not oth­erwise prohibited by law,” which puts it into submission to Georgia’s law on alcohol sale. Neighboring Columbia County also adheres to this type or ordinance. Furthermore, this ordinance deals specifically with package sales, not on-premise sales.

Prior to changing the ordinance, Cliatt Crossing owner Jason Raiford addressed the commission.

“What I’ve run into several times is that we’ll have, say fishing tour­naments or other events, and people coming from mainly Columbia County, or Richmond County, are going to the lake to meet their bud­dies and go fishing, and they’ll want to meet at the ramp at 6 o’clock to take off,” Raiford said. “They’ll swing in the store, start buying all kinds of stuff, and all of a sudden they’ll walk up with a case of beer for a picnic later on that day, and I’ll have to tell them, ‘I’m sorry we don’t start selling until 6 o’clock.”

Due to the restraint, Raiford fur­ther explained that customers very often will drive back into Columbia County to purchase alcohol before heading out to the lake.

“We also have a lot of people that work at Savanna River Site and when they come in because they got off really, really early in the morning, they stop by and get them a couple of things,” Raiford said. “In that situation they can’t [buy alcohol] either, and I think at that point they’re hitting stores on the way home instead of spending their money in Lincoln County.

“I know it’s alcohol, but it’s still shopping local,” Raiford asserted.

The change in ordinance passed unanimously, with Commissioner Cooper Cliatt abstaining from the vote.

In other business, the board voted to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the exterior painting of the courthouse and the library.

“If we continue to allow [these buildings] to deteriorate we’ll end up spending a lot more money than we will now,” Public Works Director Roby Seymour explained.

“I think anybody that takes a look at the outside can see that if some­thing isn’t done soon to the exterior of the courthouse we’ll start losing window pains, if you look at the caulking around them, and the raw wood is beginning to rot,” Chairman Walker Norman said. “I have asked [Finance Director Traci] Bussey how we could pay for some of these things, and we have some monies that are being turned over to the county, to the general fund, that will more than pay for the cost.”

Currently, the administration at the library is working out its budget for the building to be painted.

Along this same thread, the board also agreed to put out an RFP for the replacement of the county jail roof, which is 26-years-old, and frequently suffers from several severe leaks.

“The roof that was on top of that jail was what we call a membrane roof. What it is is that you’ve got insulation boards laid down on top of that concrete, and then on top of that insulation board is a mem­brane, a rubber membrane, and it’s not fastened, it’s just laying there loose. The rock on top of it is called battle straight, and it weighs it down, and holds it down,” Seymour said, noting that the life expectancy of most membrane roofs are around 20 years.

According to Seymour, the RFP will include removal of the battle straight and membrane, as well as call for an inspection of insulation. An option for an addition of a 20 year warranty will also be included in the bidding process.

In other business, the board ap­proved certain adjustments to the county’s budget.

“I have submitted some budget adjustments as we move toward the end of this fiscal year,” Director Bussey said. “As we move toward the end of this fiscal year, we try to do a little cleanup.

“It’s not an overall change in the general fund budget, because I’m using funds where we were over, and where we’re under budget on other items, to offset the increases that you see listed there,” she said. “The net affect on the budget is zero, but the total of all of them is a little over $32,000.”

Bussey further noted, “some of these items are things the depart­ment heads have no control over, so we want to clean these off of their budgets so that they have a cleaner look at what they’re dealing with budgetary wise.”

Additionally, the board approved a meal rate increase with Bateman Community, which provides meals for the seniors program in Lincoln County through the CSRA-RCA.

Meals will increase from $4.27 to $4.45 in all 13 of the counties that Bateman serves.

As a part of his departmental re­port, Director Casey Broom stated that the Office of Emergency Ser­vices responded to 165 calls over the month of April. He also reported that the department is gearing up for an NPP exercise with the Department of Public Health.

Director Seymour reported that the Department of Public Works served 1,445 waters customers, 152 sewer customers, and 603 availability customers for a total of $66,960.27.

Code Enforcement Official Jim Farrand reported that over the month of April the Department of Planning and Zoning conducted 131 building inspections; issued 60 building permits; conducted 170 onsite evaluations or meetings; had 12 plan reviews; had eight solid waste activities; had 23 code viola­tion site visits; and had 10 notices of violation.

In his closing remarks, Chairman Norman reiterated that the board does a lot of pre-planning prior to the actual meetings of the commis­sion. Norman expressed that great discussion is given to all matters that are voted on by the board, and are thoroughly discussed in work sessions and committee meetings before they are voted on. He also explained that those meetings and workshops are also open to the public.

Additionally, Norman thanked IT Director Austin Dockery for his hard work, and for all of the “behind the scenes” work that he does for the county.

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