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County may use community service labor

Commissioners discussed having probationers work community service hours for the county, board application changes and heard about a building permit request by Teen Challenge Boys Academy to expand dormitory space at their Wednesday, Sept. 10 meeting. Ben Dunn and Billy Elder of the Georgia Department of Corrections Probation Operations were invited guests and they discussed the program’s benefits and shared data about Upson County’s use of the program. They noted that the Upson County board of commissioners and two other agencies there received nearly 4,800 hours of community service since Jan. 2. ’When the court sentences a person to work community service hours, generally those will be performed in their county,’ said Elder. ‘They can be used to perform certain tasks such as helping maintain and clean buildings, picking up trash, even mowing grass. Probationers are typically required to perform a minimum of 16 hours of community service and most of them want to complete that sentence in a timely manner.’ County manager John Hanson said he visited three different projects completed using probationers’ labor, including a building and structure at an overlook above Sprewell Bluff. He said some probationers have specific skills and could really cut down on the costs of projects. ’I think it’s a very viable program and we can utilize it,’ he said. ‘If we have any projects we need to complete, we would just be looking at the cost of materials and not labor. These are probationers so we don’t have to pick up inmates and transport them, they would report here to work off their community service hours.’ Dunn said most of the probationers have to serve community service due to substance abuse and property crimes and the county is covered by forms each probationer must fill out that says they assume all liability while working their community service hours. ’There are a lot of benefits, even for probationers who perform basic labor, avoiding the cost of $7.25 an hour helps to pass those savings on to the county and the taxpayers,’ said Elder. County attorney Rob Morton said a form must be submitted to the chief judge of the Griffin Superior Court District to approve Pike County for community service probationers. He said a contract similar to what used to be in place with the West Central Georgia facility would have to be agreed upon and he would have that available at the Tuesday, Sept. 30 meeting. Commissioners changed the agenda to add discussion of the process of board applications. Commissioner Carol Bass said she feels like applicants should be able to apply at any time for board seats instead of just a few weeks. County manager Hanson said there needs to be an end date for the applications so they can be put together for the commissioners to make the decision. Commissioner Tommy Powers said he thinks the application time period should have an open and end date, with the county holding applications for no longer than six months. County attorney Tom Morton suggested the board take a look at the application as well and include a space for experience that is pertinent to the board. He noted that the tax assessors board requires some experience in the field and that appointed board members in the past have quit because they were unable to pass required tests or did not know that they must take courses to be certified. Commissioners approved a request from Daulton Corbett and Elizabeth Hanson who asked to use the sign company contracted with by the county to place 4-H welcome signs at six county entrance ways, including Highway 19 north and south, Highway 18 east and west, Highway 362 and Highway 74. The signs will read, ‘Pike County 4-H Welcomes You’ with a 4-H clover in the middle of the sign. The 4-H will hold fundraisers to cover the costs of the signs. ’This sounds like a wonderful project and I’m proud of you for taking the initiative to do this,’ said commissioner Tamra Jarrett. Heard Teen Challenge Boys Academy has applied for a building permit to expand their dormitory. They currently house 20 students but would like to be able to house 40 students. David Allen said he just wanted to inform the commissioners of the building permit and that at the January 2009 meeting where the facility was approved, no action was taken to prevent future expansion. Commissioners voted to approve the permit and apply Hospital Impact Fees to the project since that was the closest applicable fee for the facility. The county also: ’¢ Appointed Gary Hammock to the Pike County board of assessors to fill an unexpired six-year term set to expire June 30, 2020. ’¢ Didn’t take action on an appointment to the Pike County Recreation Authority to fill an unexpired three-year term. There were two applicants who met the criteria for the seat. ’¢ Approved a request for funds from the sheriff’s office to take $4,600 equally from jail impact fees and the sheriff’s office impact fees. ’¢ Approved request from Seth Zimmerman of Stalwart Films to extend road closure days on I B Howard Road for filming Sept. 15 through 17. ’¢ Heard from Hanson that he has met with fire department captains and administrators about how to move forward since the resignation of former fire chief Randy Snyder. He said he is assembling a panel to help with the decision. ’¢ Heard from Hanson that the road patching machine broke down during work on Williamson Road and it has been fixed and will resume work on Williamson Road and then move to Tanyard Road.

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