Local environmental advocate Phil Odom provided the Liberty County Commission with information on opposition to offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling during the May 16 regular meeting. These measures, proposed and then withdrawn by the Obama administration, are being reopened by the Trump administration.
Odom asked the commissioners to join the opposition to drilling and seismic air gun blasting that is part of the exploration. Odom said the air gun testing was “like throwing dynamite off the back of your boat,” and very harmful, particularly to microorganisms in the water as well as other sea life.
Numerous Georgia cities have gone on record against the air gun blasting, saying it endangers economic well-being and quality of life because of the importance of the importance of fishing, recreation and tourism.
Odom said all coastal state governors of both parties—including Georgia’s—have expressed at least concern if not opposition to the exploration plan. The Georgia General Assembly is among the opponents as are numerous cities including Hinesville, Midway, Riceboro, Richmond Hill, Tybee, Thunderbolt, St. Marys, Brunswick, Atlanta and others in Georgia.
Lovette thanked Odom for the information and explained that the commission’s usual practice was to learn the facts first and then to act on such requests at a subsequent meeting.
In routine business, commissioners dealt with the numerous boards, committees and other bodies to which the commissioners name members. Many incumbents were reappointed and some vacancies remain unfilled.
Richard Hayes and Shirley Frasier were reappointed to represent Liberty on the council of the Coastal Regional Commission. Shirley Frasier was initially named to complete the term of her late husband, Charles Frasier, who died August 16.
The entire membership of the county’s Cultural and Historic Committee was reappointed: Phil Odom chairs the group; the reappointed members are Luciria Lovette, Michelle Ricketson, Jeffrey Porter, Natalie Hines and Renee Reese.
Vickie Cook was named to a vacant position on the board of elections and registration. Jeffrey Mobley was appointed to the county forestry board. Kathryn Walden was renamed to the library board and Paul Johnson was reappointed to the public facilities authority.
The commission district one seat remains vacant on the recreation board; Commissioner Marion Stevens said he wanted to hear from citizens interested in the position before making a choice.
A position on the regional board of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities remains vacant. Commission Chairman Donald Lovette said the slot was always a difficult one to fill.
Assistant County Administrator Bob Sprinkel and David Floyd, summer food chief, talked with the commissioners about the federally assisted summer food program for youth. The two men said they had searched the entire county for good locations from which to deliver food.
When complete, the entire list of summer food sites will be published in the Coastal Courier. The Midway-Riceboro of the Live Oak Public Library will be a new site this year.
County Engineer Trent Long reported on problems with Interstate Paper Road which serves DS Smith (formerly Interstate Paper Co.) in Riceboro. The road is in poor condition and deteriorating rapidly, partly because of heavy truck traffic to the plant. Interstate Paper Road lies in the county for about a half mile; the remaining two miles is in the city limits of Riceboro.
Long told the commissioners that Whitaker Laboratories recommended completely rebuilding the road at an estimated cost of $2.9 million. Necessary temporary repairs would cost about $500,000 more.
Long said another plan would save the county around $1 million. He proposed doing leveling and deep patching on the road and then pouring thick concrete. Officials are searching for funding for Interstate Paper Road, possibly from the One Georgia program or the Liberty County Development Authority. Noting that only a half mile of the road is in the county, Commissioner Connie Thrift asked, “Why are we talking about this?”
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