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BoC discusses need to hire locals, minorities, women
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The Liberty County Board of Commissioners spent time discussing road improvement projects throughout the county during its mid-month meeting Thursday.

The topic of selecting contractors to complete work on Spencer Gaulden and Oak Hampton roads was among the priority points for the group, which only had partial attendance.

Chairman John McIver and Commissioners Connie Thrift, Gary Gilliard and Eddie Walden were present. Commissioners Marion Stevens Sr., Donald Lovette and Pat Bowen were not at the meeting.

County engineer Trent Long presented the board with 10 bids for improvements to Spencer Gaulden Road and nine bids for Oak Hampton Road.

In both cases, Long recommended the board approve the lowest labor costs. He recommended Ricketson Construction Company out of Douglas at a price of $237,501.02 for Spencer Gaulden Road work and Littlefield Construction Company at $650,675.83 for Oak Hampton Road.

Both projects require erosion and sedimentation control, grading and drainage work, as well as painting and striping.

While the county has worked with Littlefield Construction for a number of projects and has been pleased with the result, Long explained that because the county has no experience working with Ricketson Construction, he sought references and has heard only positive reviews.

During discussion, Walden emphasized the need to hire from the local workforce to "keep our home folks working."

McIver also chimed in and spoke about the importance of hiring businesses owned by minorities and women.

After some discussion, the board requested that Long look into the ownership status and report back about whether the bidding companies fit into any of the local, minority, or female-owned categories and tabled the vote until next month’s meeting.

Long also spoke to the board about a possible location for the future Liberty County Animal Shelter project, which will provide a new facility to its animal-control operations.

Currently, animals taken in are stored at a dwelling that was built as a residential house on Airport Road. Due to liability issues, only properly insured people are allowed to enter the facility, which limits the public’s ability to rescue animals.

"It is very regretful that the current facility is not user-friendly," County Administrator Joey Brown said after the meeting. Officials are in the design stages of the new facility and looking for a location with an estimated $1 million budget.

Before finalizing a design and location, project leaders will take cues from other facilities, such as the one in Chatham County, about how to maximize efficiency and comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations.

Chatham County utilizes one idea that Brown hopes to implement, he said. Its facility has an area where a volunteer adoption coordinator can visit with the public and complete adoptions directly from the facility.

Brown also updated the board on the current courthouse renovations as well as renovations and updates to the courthouse annex.

Demolition on the courthouse began in May, and now Lavender & Associates workers have moved into the renovation phase of the $2.2 million project, he said. They still are on target for a February completion.

Included in the project are renovations to the annex building for a "minor 20-year overhaul," Brown said. Throughout the building, carpets will be replaced and lights will be converted to energy-efficient systems controlled by motion sensors. The first floor’s floor plan will be overhauled, and the tax assessor’s offices will be moved to the north side of the building, which has been empty since the magistrate and probate courts moved out when the Liberty County Justice Center opened.

With the tax assessor’s move, the tax commissioner’s office on the south side of the building will expand and have more space, Brown said.

Other news from the BoC mid-month meeting:

• The present commissioners unanimously approved an alcohol license request for Chubby’s Favorites, a restaurant located on 15th Street near Fort Stewart Gate 7.

• The board tabled a proposed Emergency Management ordinance brought before it by Liberty County EMA Director Mike Hodges. Hodges said the ordinance initially was recommended by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

• McIver appointed a board to examine and propose the county’s steps in implementing a county-wide fire plan. Stevens, Thrift, Brown and County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown are on the committee.

• McIver discussed the region’s constrained project list for the Transportation Infrastructure Act referendum slated for the July 31, 2012, election and spoke of the need to determine a local list of transportation projects for the county and its municipalities, as it is projected to receive $1.6 million over 10 years if the vote passes.

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