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BOE approves retention pay, County re-opens parks
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During the March 23, Liberty County School Board Work Session, the Board of Education approved to provide retention pay to educators. Meanwhile at the Liberty County March 18, mid-month Commissioners’ meeting the Board of Commissioners voted to re-open many of the outdoor facilities at the Liberty County Recreation Department.

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At the Tuesday morning Board workshop, LCSS Executive Director of Finance Stephanie Clark said it was the recommendation of the Superintendent to provide $1,000 payment to all full time employees, long term substitutes and active substitutes which will cost roughly $1.6 million. A majority of the funds will be covered by the Georgia Department of Education. Clark said that LCSS CARES Act II funds will be used to cover retention payments not covered by funds provided by the Georgia DOE. Additionally it was the recommendation of the Superintendent to provide a $1500.00 payment to all full time employees, long term substitutes and active substitutes returning for the 2021-2022 school year at a cost of $2.4 million. Clark said CARES Act II funds will be used to provide retention payments to eligible employees in September 2021. The recommendations were approved unanimously.

The BOE awarded E Sam Jones Company, $136,377.28 for the replacement of the fluorescent lighting at Button Gwinnett Elementary. They awarded nearly $400,000 to Mid-Atlantic Renovation to replace the lighting at Bradwell Institute and another $407,864.11 to E Sam Jones for the lighting replacement at Liberty County High. All the funding will be coming from E-SPLOST.

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County Commission

Liberty County Recreation Department Director Jimmy Martin told the Board that about 1,000 participants have signed up for the start of baseball and softball, a number that he said is lower than what they normally have. Martin then requested that the Board allow the recreation department to reopen the playgrounds, basketball courts and other outdoor facilities while keeping indoor facilities closed. Martin said it’s been difficult to maintain the current limited use facilities policy they put in place when COVID hit. Martin said some people were ignoring the closed signs and bypassing locked gates. There was a lengthy discussion by the Board of whether they were reopening to soon and the inability to control social distancing. Martin said they would still have certain sanitary measures in place. Martin said he spoke with other recreation departments that have all their outdoors facilities open and functioning.

Commissioner Gary Gilliard mentioned that it would be nearly impossible to control social distancing if they reopened the basketball courts adjacent to Popeye’s and other popular courts within the city. Commissioner Eddie Walden noted that kids playing soccer and baseball are playing without masks and not socially distanced when playing on the field.

Martin said reservations are still required for use of fields, due to regularly scheduled maintenance and current spring programs. Reservations can be made by calling (912)876-5359.

Chairman Donald Lovette said reopening the facilities may help some of the younger folks who need an outdoor outlet to improve their behavioral and mental health.

Gilliard opposed the recommendation but all the other Commissioners voted in favor to open the parks. 

The Board of Commissioners approved the Liberty County Hazard Mitigation Plan. They approved the improvement plans for Joseph Miller Park which includes a $55,601.00 award to Dominica-Gametime for the purchase of a new playground. Funding will come from SPlOST-6. They also discussed several projects that are required at some of the local parks to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those improvements will cost $335,000.00. The Commissioners approved the measure.

The Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding for Off-system striping of some County roads.

After a lengthy discussion on the need to improve drainage issues on Luke Road and Phillips Road the Commissioner did approve the final plat for the subdivision owned by John Tzen on Luke Road. Commissioners Maxie Jones IV and Marion Stevens addressed their concerns asking if further development of the subdivision would exacerbate the current roadway drainage issues. County Engineer, Trent Long said he would meet with Jones at the project to go over the areas of concern and study the plans to make sure they were on track to improve the area.

During his engineering report there was another lengthy discussion about the use of a service road at Tradeport East, near the Dorchester Civic Center. Commissioner Stevens said the semi-truck coming into and out of the area on that road is a safety hazard. He asked if the use and development of the road had been brought before the Board for approval. Long said they application was delivered late and brought before the Liberty County Planning and zoning office. Long said he would bring a set of plans before the Commissioners and work on addressing any of their concerns.

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