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Commissioners support fifth judge in district

County commissioners discussed the process and benefits of having a fifth judge in the Griffin Judicial Circuit during their Tuesday, July 31 meeting. Court administrator Will Simmons and Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams were invited by the county to discuss the process of hiring a fifth judge for the circuit. They said the state is currently in the second stage of the process and the additional judge will cost the county very little. Judge Sams said the process of obtaining a fifth judge for the circuit would also result in a state paid assistant public defender, state paid assistant District Attorney, state paid administrative assistant for the DA’s office and a state paid investigator for the DA’s office. ’I believe this is a golden opportunity for every county in the circuit,’ said Judge Sams. ‘Pike County is lucky because you are not seeing the brunt of the increase in crimes that we are seeing in the outlying counties in our circuit. If we do not move ahead with this process, they will be coming to the board for county paid assistance. The numbers justify us getting a fifth judge and we have been told this is the third year we have qualified for this position more so than any other circuit in Georgia. I understand this is an investment with a cost of around $8,000 but I believe it is a lot of bang for the buck. The two other counties that qualified have withdrawn their requests at this time so now is the best chance for Pike County to get this position. But to get the position, we need the support of all county commissions.’ County attorney Rob Morton noted the board has received funding requests from the District Attorney’s office and the Public Defender’s office and this would be a way to fund those positions without passing the cost on to Pike tax payers. Commissioners unanimously voted to write a letter of support for obtaining a fifth judge in the circuit. The board held an executive session at the end of the meeting before extending the application deadline for the county manager’s position until Aug. 31 The county also: ’¢ Approved use of the south side of the courthouse square for the American Legion Post 197’s Veterans Day Observance Program from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11. ’¢ Heard that most of the preparation work has been done on McKinley Road but there were some issues with water during the process. Hanson said the road will be paved as soon as the weather cooperates. ’¢ Approved preliminary and final plat approval to subdivide property owned by Ray Joel Byrom Jr. into a six lot residential subdivision. The property division would create lots fronting both Rose Hill Road and Campbell Road. Planning and zoning director Brad Vaughan said Byrom voluntarily planned to build homes greater than 1,800 square feet and most of the homes will be 2,000 square feet or larger. ’¢ Approved final plat approval for four tracts of land with frontage off Blanton Mill Road, Dunbar School Road, Huff Creek Road, Scott Road and Hancock Road. Three tracts were approved the by board previously. Vaughan said the 1,800 acre tract of land is being divided for estate planning purposes and not development. ’¢ Approved preliminary and final plat approval or two tracts, one is five acres and the other is almost 10 acres. Vaughan said this is the second property division in a three year period and there are no major developments planned for the property. ’¢ Approved preliminary and final plat approval for Steve Godwin and Johnny Bertram for an A-R major subdivision at the corner of Highway 18 east and Chapman Road.

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