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County accepts funding for covered arena

At their Sept. 12 meeting, commissioners accepted a $150,000 grant from the One Georgia Specialty Fund to help the Pike County Agribusiness Authority build a covered arena at Chestnut Oak. Interim county manager Rob Morton noted that the Agribusiness Authority has spent years planning for a covered arena for use in the community. They constructed restrooms and put up lighting at the existing arena as well as maintain a nature trail at Chestnut Oak that is open to the public. ’This facility will be a huge asset to agriculture in Pike County as well as the community with its many uses,’ said Pike County Agribusiness Authority chairman Ken Gran. ‘We have plans to host rodeos, livestock shows, cattle field days, and much more.’ Ginny Blakeney, director of economic development for Pike County is spearheading the arena project and got unofficial quotes on the price for different sizes and types of arena to decide the best route for constructing the building. ’The quotes ranged from $160,000 to $350,000 based on the different structural elements,’ she said, noting that Gran and the Agribusiness Authority have committed to adding funds to help with the project. ‘While these are not official bids, the most favorable quote we received was for $170,000 which could be covered by the grant and what the Agribusiness Authority has in their account.’ It was noted that the funds would only purchase the materials for the building and not include electrical, footing and erection costs. Blakeney estimated those costs to be around $100,000, not including an in-kind services that the county might provide. Chairman Briar Johnson asked about the different heights and lengths of the structure that were considered. Blakeney said they submitted requests for bids for heights from 20 to 50 feet to get a price point and preliminarily settled on 140 feet in width by 210 and 25 feet high. ’That’s the standard for a national show,’ she said. It was noted that the 4-H Extension office would be able to use the arena regularly and it would pretty much become their home base. She said the county has the largest FFA program in the state and members will be going to a national competition in October and could be among the top three in the nation. She noted the county also has an excellent 4-H program through UGA and the Extension and believes the two programs could help with some of the funding for the arena project. Commissioner Tommy Powers said the county would be crazy if they let the grant money get away by not accepting it and made a motion to approve the grant. Commissioner Tim Daniel pointed out that the price of steel is not going down and if nothing else, the funds could purchase the structure until the rest of the funding was available for construction. Blakeney noted that they have a year and a half to get the project completed and bids for the materials would be sent out immediately. Commissioners briefly discussed the registrar’s office and the new hours there. Commissioner Tim Daniel said a citizen went by the office but there was a closed sign on the door. The office will be open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and will close for lunch each of those day. During days when no one is in the office, citizens will be directed to the commissioners office to see deputy registrar Jo Ann Wrye and calls will be forwarded to her cell phone. The county also: ’¢ Appointed BJ Lawrence to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities County for Region Six for a three-year term, set to expire July 31, 2021. ’¢ Approved changes to the soil erosion and sedimentation control portion of the county code. Morton said the county is an issuing authority related to land disturbance permits and the revision is necessary for the county to maintain that authority to issue permits on behalf of the state. ’¢ Approved the second reading and adoption of changes for sections 38.04 and 38.05 of the county code. Morton noted that the changes were required per state law. ’¢ Heard from pastor Jessie Henry Jr. who is the new pastor at White Plains Church in Molena. He said he wanted to be active in the community and introduced himself. ’¢ Held a closed, executive session, but reconvened to take no formal action other than adjournment.

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