Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges informed the Liberty County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that Gum Branch and unincorporated county residents can expect a decrease in their homeowner’s insurance rates this year, thanks to better fire-protection ratings for the areas under Liberty County Fire Services management.
Although it was not on the commission’s meeting agenda, County Administrator Joey Brown asked Commission Chairman Donald Lovette if he would allow Hodges to share the “great news” that had just come in earlier that day.
Hodges explained that although Gum Branch has been under county fire management for a few years, it was receiving its initial inspection as a new station. The Fleming and Lake George areas, he said, were due for their first inspections since coming under county control last August.
Hodges said that Insurance Services Office ratings for fire protection run on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.
Hodges explained that previously, the Gum Branch area was rated at 9. Fleming and Lake George, he said, were on the verge of going from 4 to 10, due to lowered response times over the past several years.
Now that all three areas are under county management, they receive one collective rating. Hodges told the board that the rating came back at 4/5Y. He explained that homes within a certain distance from water sources will be credited with the 4 rating, while homes that are further from a water source will get the 5Y. Either way, he said, the rating is “much better” than it was.
Hodges illustrated the affect the new ratings will have on insurance premiums by sharing a quote from an area resident. He said the resident told him his premium normally runs approximately $1,600, but that after plugging in the 5Y rating, his quote dropped to $978 — a decrease of more than $600.
Hodges said that the county’s new rural water system, which serves residents along Lewis Frasier, Holmestown and Dave Williams roads, will drop that area’s ISO rating from 9 to 5.
Commissioners Connie Thrift and Marion Stevens were elated at the news, but also asked that citizens be patient with their insurance companies as they process the new ratings and insurance quotes. Stevens added that residents may have to contact their insurance companies to ensure they receive the proper documentation.
“There’s no doubt that (lower ISO ratings will) help the insurance premiums for the citizens in the Gum Branch area and those on the other side of the county,” Thrift said.
Paint the Town Purple
Also Tuesday, the commission heard from Karen Bell, director of the Liberty County Relay for Life event.
Bell told the board that this year’s Relay for Life is scheduled for May 15, and that “our goal is to help raise money for the American Cancer Society to fight cancer and end the disease.”
She said that the Liberty County Relay for Life organization will participate in a “Paint the Town Purple” week in an effort to raise cancer awareness and raise funds for the May event.
Bell said that the awareness week will be held Feb. 9-15 and that businesses, schools, churches and citizens may participate by displaying purple bows throughout the week and by wearing purple on Feb. 12.
She encouraged participants to take pictures of themselves wearing purple and to post the photos to social media with the tag #PaintTheTownPurpleLiberty.
In other business, the commission:
•unanimously approved a petition from Bertha Windom to rezone 0.85 acres of land from agricultural-residential to general commercial. Windom wants to use the property, located at the intersection of Leroy Coffer and E. Oglethorpe highways, for retail businesses such as fruit stands and yard sales.
•unanimously approved a petition, submitted by Russell Guyett, to rezone 3 acres of land from agricultural-residential district to single-family residential district for a small subdivision in unincorporated Liberty County, located off Live Oak Church Road.
•approved a request from the Liberty County Recreation Department board for $150,000 of SPLOST V funds for new batting cages at Liberty Independent Troop Park. The motion passed, 6-1, with Stevens opposed.
•unanimously approved $4,086,649 in SPLOST funds for the construction of the new Hinesville branch of the Live Oak Public Library system. Architect Craig Buckley presented a revised site plan that brought the construction cost down from its previous projection of roughly $5.3 million. Buckley said he was able to lower the cost by taking out the planned auditorium and courtyard, but noted that they easily could be added on to the structure at a later date if funds became available.