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County OK’s lease of former MACE building
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At the Sept. 7, County Commission meeting the commissioners approved to enter into a lease agreement for a facility off Highway 196 in Hinesville that will be utilized by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.  The building once housed the Multi Agency Crack Enforcement (MACE) Drug Task Force. The building was originally constructed by Kevin Hodges to be used as a Narcotics Unit for the LCSO. 

The narcotics investigation division was formed by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and Hinesville Police Department in 1995 to investigate violations of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act in Hinesville and Liberty County, according to the LCSO website.

When MACE was disbanded in 2012 the building was rented out for other uses.

Liberty County Deputy Major Bill Kirkendall said the department had to sell off two older trailers, one which was being used as a training facility. He said the trailers were old and in bad shape and no longer inhabitable. He said they’ve been using some office space at the District Attorney’s Office for training but the department needs its own space to implement a new training simulator they’ve received.

“We have a $64,000 cost free simulator that we were awarded from a grant and we don’t have the space to even set it up,” he said. Kirkendall explained the County is also viewed as a regional training site and right now they can’t offer additional training due to lack of space. He added the building has a vault that can be utilized as an evidence locker. He said the LCSO is currently using the historic Charlton Hines home off South Main Street for their narcotics division. That building was donated to the County by Claude Dryden. But Kirkendall said due to the historic significance of that building they can’t alter any of the interior and they’ve also run out of space in that facility.

Kirkendall said the building has enough room to secure all the evidence in one location. He said right now the department has evidence secured at several location around the City and considers that a security liability.

The Board approved a water service request from Joshua Wheeler for a subdivision on Bill Carter Road for 200 proposed homes.

The Board approved an emergency declaration for COVID-19 which encourages the public to wear masks and maintain CDC protocols when entering County facilities.

The Board approved an alcohol beverage license for the Pal-N-Food Mart, provided $3,500 in funds to the Frasier Counseling Center and approved a cost-of-living allowance for their retirees at 3 percent. The Board also renewed the annual contract for the Hinesville Official Association which provided referees for recreational programs. 

County Administrator Joey Brown explained the upcoming County redistricting process. Brown recommended it be done at the local level. Brown said the Commissioners will work together with their respective district representative from the Board of Education to redraw district lines per the results from the 2020 Census reports. Once that step is complete those redrawn maps is sent to the state level for approval. Once approved, the new district maps are signed by the Governor and the new maps are sent to the local election boards. 

The Board discussed American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and the state’s fiscal recovery funds. Brown said he would like to apply for state funds to extend water and sewer services along Lewis Frasier Road. 

Brown said the ARP funds and state funds have similar criteria and must be used to address the negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency; Replace lost public sector revenue; Provide premium pay for essential workers; and invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

The Board discussed a variety of projects that could be funded by both funds but no final plans were decided upon. The Board is expected to vote on Brown’s grant application for state recovery funds at their mid-month meeting Sept. 16.

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