The Liberty County Board of Commissioners recognized and signed a proclamation for International Firefighters Day at their Commissioners’ meeting on May 4, Fire Chief Brian Darby and Deputy Chief Jarad Huffman represented the firefighters of Liberty County. International Firefighters' Day was established in 1999 to remember those firefighters worldwide lost in the line of duty. Huffman was also recognized for completing the UGAs Succeeding as a Supervisor. The Board also recognized and signed a proclamation for EMS Week.
Prior to the regular Commissioners’ meeting the second half of the fiscal year 2022 Liberty County Budget presentations commenced where the department heads from EMS, the 9-1-1 Center and Fire Services talked about the needs for more employees but a significant drop in qualified applicants.
Chief Darby said they still need to hire 18 full-time firefighters. He said the department is offering competitive salaries and has plenty of room for growth but there has been a lack of applicants.
Most departments continued to report a need to add staffing.
Animal Control Director Steve Marrero briefed the Commissioners on the many improvements at Animal Control. His budget is similar to last year and said he focused on moving funds where they were needed and removing unnecessary expenses. He requested to move the administrative assistant from part-time to full-time and promote an Animal Control Officer to Deputy Director. Under capital expenses Marrero requested a new truck or van with a dog box and for added security install a fence around the perimeter of the Animal Control facility. He said the department recently installed cameras to catch and prevent people from dumping their pets at the facility. He said the addition of a fence will further prevent issues and keep his employees and facility animals safe.
“We have to impound dogs,” Marrero said when asked why they needed fencing. “We do have people’s property. There’s been instances where there is a drug bust and we have to confiscate their dogs. And they want their animals back. We also have quarantined animals that have bitten people…and animals where the people need to pay fines. We need that security.”
He also stressed the importance of a microchip program so that animal owners can be located if a pet goes missing. Marrero said Animal Control has received $9,500 worth of food and created a food bank, donating food to other animal agencies.
Liberty County Chamber Director Leah Poole requested $25,000 for her budget which is the same amount requested the past few years. She said the Chamber applied for and received a grant for $61,000 to help maintain the historic Bacon-Frasier house where the Chamber office resides. Like other departments the Chamber is down by 50 percent. They are working on the fall events in the hopes that they can happen again this year after being placed on hold last year.
Liberty County Clerk of Courts Linda Thompson placed a request for two new employees. One to help with reorganizing state court duties and the other to help with the e-file portal for electronic filing by mortgage companies and law firms in real estate dealings.
Liberty County Recreation Director Jimmy Martin said his budget has remained consistent. During his presentation Chairman Donald Lovette asked if they anticipated a chlorine shortage as he had seen on the news. Martin said the shortage is primarily granular chlorine and the LCRD uses liquid bleach and the little bit of granular chlorine they do use is in good supply right now. He said they do have a few capital improvement plans to include phase three of Gil Park at a cost of $600,000. Once those projects are completed the recreation department will be out of Special Purpose Local option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.
Building and licensing Director Paul Zechman requested a new truck to help his department stay on top of the roughly 200 homes being built within the County. He said they need to add a part-time new code enforcement officer but have not been successful in getting applicants.
During the regular meeting Public Defender Director Brandon Clark said they anticipate having jury trial start again in the summer. His total budget request was for $143,000 which would help fund one new attorney based in Liberty County.
Correction: In last week’s County Commission story the Courier reported that Magistrate Court Judge Melinda Anderson requested a part-time person to help scan real estate records. The part-time person was to help scan court documents, not real estate. The Courier regrets the error.