Long County Code Enforcement Officer Steve Atkins said that the Making of Miracle Stories animal-rescue shelter has until Dec. 1 either to relocate or have all animals on the site removed.
The issue came up at the Oct. 8 Long County Commission meeting, where shelter representatives were told that the organization had to be relocated by the deadline or face closure. The shelter on Hugh Gordon Lane has received complaints about excessive animal noise from area home owners since its inception.
Dwight Gordon, the commissioner of the shelter’s district, said the current and previous commissions have worked with MoMS, but nothing has been resolved. He said the Dec. 1 deadline would be enforced, and that the matter had been turned over to the county’s code-enforcement office.
“We have not asked them to shut down. All we have asked them to do is relocate,” Gordon said. “They told us that they would, but they still haven’t. Animal control is under code enforcement, so now it is a code-office issue.”
Calls seeking comment that were made to phone numbers representing MoMS were not returned by press time.
The shelter, which opened in 2011, adopts out animals to other areas. According to information provided earlier from MoMS volunteer Bob DeVries, the shelter has saved nearly 2,800 animals, and its goal is to save as many animals as it can from being euthanized.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners heard several complaints from residents who reside at Country Manor Mobile Home Park off Tibet Road. Some residents said the privately owned road was not being maintained. Also, the park manager allegedly had changed water-distribution guidelines. Some alleged they no longer could water their gardens or wash vehicles.
Commissioners told the residents that if the road was privately owned, they couldn’t do anything because the matter was a civil issue between them and the park owner. The water issue was referred to Atkins. He said park manager Paul Klimowicz had been disconnecting the water lines to the residents and installing water meters. He said that Klimowicz was not certified to install the meters, and that his doing so violated code requirements.
On Friday, Atkins said he was in the process of setting up a meeting with Klimowicz and Gordon in an attempt to resolve the matter. When reached Friday, Klimowicz, who was not at the meeting, claimed he already had discussed this matter with the Coastal Courier and had no further comment. However, as of Friday, no comments from Klimowicz had been made to the Courier.
Patricia Smith Johnson went before the commission questioning recent actions affecting employees in the Board of Elections office. She was told that because they were personnel matters, they could not be discussed in the meeting. After the meeting, Johnson told the Courier that discussion of the matters was not a violation of the Georgia Sunshine Laws Act, and that it should have been addressed in the meeting. She said one key issue she wanted to discuss was the reduction of a former full-time employee to part-time status. She said that employee lost their health insurance and that it was wrong.
On Friday, Chairman Robert Long said that after the commission reviewed all of the employees, it was discovered that the employee in question never was approved to be a full-time employee, but only a part-time employee. He said that with the finding, it was necessary to adjust the employee’s job classification. As a result, that employee no longer is eligible for full-time benefits. Long added that all employees were reviewed, and actions were taken accordingly.
“This is a regrettable situation, but unfortunately we are having to do some unpleasant things to straighten out some past problems,” Long said. “We are making an effort to be consistent in our actions, and we had to do this to be fair to all employees.”
Randy Simmons went before the commission to ask how much money has been saved after reviewing the county’s cell-phone policy and the LCSO’s purchase of new radar-detection equipment. Long said that the county’s cell-phone bill had been reduced around 50 percent since the review. LCSO Deputy Jeff Dawson said the new radar resulted in approximately $56,000 of citations written in August and more than $20,000 in September. He said that the $25,000 equipment has paid for itself.
Tax Commissioner Becky Fowler asked commissioners when she would be able to move back into her office behind the courthouse. She was told that to provide better security, her office now will be inside the courthouse. Fowler said that she did not believe that the proposed office was large enough.
Mel Gordon reported that he and his volunteers had completed as much work as they could to clean the Ludowici Train Depot. He asked the commissioners to consider making the work a nonprofit project in order to seek tax-deductible donations. He also asked them to consider using funds from the development authority, and when the project was completed they would have an office to operate out of. Dwight Gordon said that County Attorney Jay Swindell would get with Mel Gordon and discuss some options.
Swindell responded to a question from the audience regarding when a proposed ordinance to cease the discharging of weapons in neighborhoods would be voted upon. Swindell said that the wording of the ordinance as it currently stands could be interpreted as violating citizens’ Constitutional rights. He said that he is reviewing it at the commission’s request and to adjust the wording. Once completed, it would be ready for their consideration.