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Historic sights get SPLOST money
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The Liberty County Board of Commissioners presented five Liberty Trail-related organizations with $72,000 in SPLOST funds at its mid-month meeting Thursday.
Board Chairman John McIver presented symbolic checks for $12,000 each to Geechee Kunda Cultural Center, Seabrook Village, the Midway Museum and the Dorchester Civic Center for one year’s worth of historical preservation. He also gave the Dorchester Improvement Association a check for $24,000 for two years’ worth of assistance. 
“This is a sample of the effort that you all make through the 1-cent sales tax,” McIver said. “It’s not from the county’s general fund.”
The effort has been a long time coming, he added.
After the meeting, Commissioners Donald Lovette and Marion Stevens Sr. joined McIver in speaking about the need for the project, which they said they began discussing in 2003.
“We’re glad to see this come to fruition,” Lovette said, adding that the Liberty Trail preservation funds are “money well spent.”
The board also discussed future projects and leases in addition to hearing departmental and administrative reports, but it did not take action on any of the matters at the meeting.
County Finance Officer Kim McGlothlin updated the board on the status of the 2011 fiscal year budget. She said that the county still is awaiting payment for some June services, but to date it has realized $25,421,023 in revenue and $24,206,747 in expenditures, which leaves a buffer of about $1.2 million, she said.
Once all year-end adjustments are finalized, she hopes the county will be able to add a few hundred thousand dollars to the fund balance, coming in within the budgeted amount, she said.
“If we spend what we budgeted and just barely come under, that means we budgeted appropriately,” she said after the meeting. “We’re coming in close, which means we did a very good job in projecting our budget.”
She hopes to present the board with a final report during its August mid-month meeting, she said.
The board also heard from McCall & Associates architects — a father and son team, both named Rusty McCall — about preliminary plans for the Liberty County Animal Shelter and the West Side Fire Station.
The animal shelter is a project budgeted for $1 million in SPLOST funds and ideally would house 16 animals, the junior McCall said. Under current plans, it would be 4,300 square feet with room for future expansion.
The senior McCall presented plans for the fire station project, which currently is in the proposal-scoring phase, County Administrator Joey Brown said. The estimated budget for construction of the building — including the site concrete, wells and septic system — is $750,000. Once completed, the Gum Branch Fire Department will move into the building.
More than 10 residents, represented by District 3 Commissioner Connie Thrift, joined the Gum Branch Fire Department at the meeting to show their support for the project.
Commissioners Eddie Walden, Gary Gilliard and Pat Bowen volleyed questions to McCall, county engineer Trent Long and Liberty County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown about the building’s water sourcing and how it affects truck-filling logistics.
The board will review and provide its input on both proposals in the next few weeks.
Tres Hamilton, executive director of the Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, spoke to the board about her organization’s role in providing assistance through state and federal funds to lower-income families in the area.
In addition to running Head Start, Early Head Start, social and community service programs, the organization is in the process of helping to weatherize Liberty County homes. So far, the program has handled air sealing, efficiency repairs and appliance updates for 60 homes in the area, but the program budget allows them to do 133 projects.
Residents who want to apply for the weatherization program should contact the Community Services Center at 933 E.G. Miles Parkway, suite 106, or call 876-6173.
Brown also asked the board to review proposed leases with the Hinesville Area Arts Council and the Liberty Independent Troop so the matters can be voted on next month.

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