2018-08-09 / Front Page

Overstreet lifts non-compliance status; commissioners discuss jail operations

By KAY TOTO staff writer

In June, Senior Judge Carlisle Overstreet ordered Lincoln County and the City of Lincolnton to pur­sue mediation over their disputes concerning the Service Delivery Strategy (SDS) and water and sew­erage rights. Overstreet ordered the two sides to meet on July 19 of this year in an attempt to come to some kind of compromise. There has been no meeting of the minds over this dispute.

County Attorney Ben Jackson, petitioned Overstreet to lift the non- compliance status on the county so that the deadline of August 3 for the grant for the proposed Senior Center on Rowland-York Road could be met. Overstreet lifted the sanctions – hopefully in time – but only until the next mediation date of August 8. As of that time, both governments are in a state of non-compliance again until the matter is resolved.

Lincoln County Commission Chairman Walker Norman touched on a variety of subjects at the recent workshop of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, where no vote was taken, some of which will be taken to a vote at the next regular meeting, scheduled for Thursday (tonight), August 9, beginning at 6 p.m.

One of the subjects mentioned by Norman came at the conclusion of a discussion regarding a purchase needed for the jail.

“There’s some discussion going on about how much longer we can operate that jail. I hate to spend this money and close the jail down in 12 months. When we get through with what we’re already doing, I am going to set up a study committee,” Norman said. “We’re going to look at something similar to the Toombs Judicial Circuit Communication Center. We would have a dispatch center, probably in Thomson, to dis­patch several counties. It would cut our labor force way back. These are the things we have got to start look­ing at, consolidation of services with other counties,” he explained.

Joe Willis, chairman of Family Connections, and Daravious Cul­lars, coordinator, appeared before the board to ask for a moratorium on the amount of administrative fees that Family Connection pays the county, at least until they establish more grants. Currently the partner­ship has lost several significant grants, and at the current time can­not pay the fee. “As of October, we will lose a $150,000 grant. The only grant we have left does not let us pay administrative fees,” said Willis.

At that time, Norman brought up the fact that the partnership had been paying $2,000 a month to the school system for offices in the old high school, and recently the Lincoln County Board of Education had raised the fee to $3,000 monthly, and Family Connections could no long afford that as well. Norman then proposed to the board to al­low the partnership to use a vacant building at the recreation center. The currently empty building had once been the office for the Recreation Department. Norman proposed that the board vote to allow Family Con­nections to use the building until they can procure more grants.

The chairman then broached the subject of problems with the roof of the Lincoln County courthouse. A leak discovered in one of the court­house offices led to an inspection of the loft, where three five-gallon buckets were found filled with rain­water. Several calls led to quotes to put a new roof on the hundred-year- old building.

One firm quoted $135,000, while another quoted $130,000-200,000 to install a new roof, assuming no structural problems. “We can do one of two things: we can ignore it, or we can look after the county’s buildings,” Norman said.

Norman also broached the prob­lem of the heating and cooling systems in the courthouse as being insufficient, with the first of the new units being installed to repair the problems for the main courtroom. “We are spending between $20,000 and $30,000 a year in just air con­ditioning repair, said Director of Public Works Roby Seymour. “You have to remember we have nine buildings total and all of them have multiple air conditioning units. For example, the jail is just one build­ing but it has 10 air conditioning units and most of them are old,” he continued. Norman expressed an interest in getting bids for two units for the main courthouse.

The committee heard from Wanda Duncan, chief of staff with the Of­fice of Emergency Services, explain­ing the benefits of a rate increase proposal for ambulance calls. She stated that it would continue to be in line with Medicare rates, as well as private insurance. She also stated that a canvass was done of other counties, and that the rates for calls in Lincoln County is lower than most other counties. Norman stated that he wanted the board to have more time to study the data, and suggested that it come before the board in September.

Captain Leighton Taylor, who is in charge of detention at the jail, and also transportation, and court security, came to speak before the board in reference to the purchase or repair of two different appliances that are no longer working in the jail, a refrigerator and a dishwasher, both industrial grade. The refrigerator, a 49 cubic foot model, is over 21 years old and needs a new compressor. The quote for repair was $1,250 while the cost for a new one from ACityDiscount.com in Atlanta is $2,165, freight included, versus a quote from B and J Appliance at $3,899.

The age of the existing dishwasher is unknown. It was obtained from the old middle school as a used model and was a subject of some discussion. A quote was obtained to repair the dishwasher at a cost of $3,575. By law, the trays and dishes for the jail must be sterilized. A new dishwasher of the type required must be capable of heat sterilization or chemical sterilization. A new heat sterilization dishwasher would be $10,439, while the chemical washer would be significantly cheaper. The jail fee fund has a cash balance of $18,309. The general consensus was to purchase both appliances new, however more research is needed and should be available by the regular monthly commissioners meeting.

Briefly, a state-required contract with the CSRA Regional Commis­sion was discussed. The five-year update provides for a pre-disaster mitigation plan that will ultimately be paid for with a grant.

John Stone, director of the De­velopment Authority, was on hand to start a discussion of the 2018 Christmas Parade, funding and the possibility of starting the “Christmas at the Courthouse” once again.

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