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County included in Opiate lawsuit
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The County Commissioners voted to be included in the settlement of a class action lawsuit in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation. The Board of Commissioners passed the measure at its Nov. 18, mid-month meeting.

County Administrator Joey Brown explained this was the next step in the ongoing process for the several communities across the state that participated in the opiate litigation process against several opiate distributors and manufacturers two years ago.

County Attorney Kelly Davis said the state will receive 75 percent of the funds and participating local governments will receive 25 percent of the funds allocated. But Davis said the amount the County would receive is still unknown at this time. He did say the overall settlement for everyone across the country is 26 billion dollars.

D avis said they are waiting to receive more information on how those funds may be spent.

According to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) document provided at the meeting, 9.45 percent of the funds paid to the county will go to the Sheriff ’s Office, two-percent will go to Liberty Regional Medical Center and one-percent will go to the Liberty County Board of Education. The MOU states a portion of the funds must be used for future abatement purposes.

“Most of the monies have to be used for opioid prevention,” Davis said via phone call. “Or at least addressing the consequences of opioid abuse.”

The Board of Commissioners also approved an intergovernmental support agreement with Fort Stewart Hunter Army Airfield.

Travis Mobley, deputy to the garrison commander of Hunter Army Airfield, said they are seeking to partner with local counties and cities in creating support agreements for needed services. He said Fort Stewart / HAAF is seeking the County’s help in doing their designs for their navigation and training areas. Mobley said their current method of getting designs and engineering concepts drawn out is cumbersome and it is better for the military to enter into an agreement with the County and compensate the County for providing the engineering and designing services.

“We have been able to keep approximately 29 million dollars local with these counties and municipalities,” Mobley said.

The Board approved an application for an alcohol beverage license for Bill Carter’s Corner Store who is now under new ownership.

The Board received an update on the various projects run by the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority (HDDA). Executive Director Michelle Ricketson reported about the Discover Downtown Hinesville Revolving Loan Funds program. The program was designed to provide flexible and expedient gap funding between $20K-$50K to new or expanding small businesses to purchase land or buildings within the HDDA boundaries; and make them move-in ready. Ricketson said the HDDA planted orange an lemon trees in Bryan Commons Park, which had started to yield some fruit this year. She said her group has worked on developing Gap Park to host the Farmers Market. She said the move was necessary since Bradwell park is undergoing extensive renovations. Ricketson noted they managed to save several plants and pavers that were removed from Bradwell Park and moved those to Bryan Commons Park. Ricketson said the HDDA has earned their sixth accreditation as a Certified Main Street Program. She said they keep data and it helps with certain business loans in the vicinity.

She noted in the first eight months the downtown area is plus 28 businesses and 114 net jobs. She reported the HDDA historic preservation program is active. She said the HDDA district has a dozen historic markers and 24 structures more than 100 years old.

She said they added 30 tons of pea gravel at Cisco’s dog Park to improve maintenance and sanitation. She said they also added nine tee pads for disk golf. She said the plan is to have two full 18-hole disk golf onsite to host tournaments.

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