The Long County Commission on Tuesday cleared up some issues on the upcoming county election and wrapped up several loose ends regarding the recreation department.
Three former commission candidates — Robert Long, Dwight Gordon and Gerald Blocker — voiced questions about the upcoming election. Long, who resides in District 2, asked if the winners of the upcoming election would take office after the general primary March 12 or after the general election May 7. County Attorney Jay Swindell said that it was his understanding that due to the possibility of a write-in candidate being added, all winners would assume office after the official results from the state were posted following the May 7 election.
Long, Gordon, and Blocker asked when an official voter list would be available for the candidates to view. Blocker said he had sent in a payment from the state and would be upset if the list he received wasn’t accurate. Commission Chairman Bobby Walker recommended that Blocker ask the state not to cash his check and wait until the county received an updated list. Walker said that if the candidates got a list now, it could be inaccurate. Board of Elections Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham said that if any candidate receives a list that is not up to date, she will help them correct their list.
Blocker also asked who drew up the new district lines. He said he was told that the court that reviewed the case and the state drew the current map. Blocker also asked if anything at the local level could hold up the election; Cunningham said no. Gordon asked whether new Elections Supervisor Leah Hughes had been given the opportunity to complete her training, and had the county looked into hiring additional temporary help in the elections office for the upcoming vote. Walker said Hughes had completed some of her training but not all of it, and that no additional help had been hired.
Gordon also said that he asked for help from Cunningham regarding the election, and that she had given him the “cold shoulder.” Cunningham said that this was not her intent, and that if she did, she apologized.
In other matters Tuesday, the commissioners expanded the Recreation Department Advisory Board from five members to seven by adding four new members. Joining the board were Michael Richardson, who resides in District 1; Timothy Wells, District 2; Lisa Overbey, District 3; and John Kuhaneck, District 4. They join Shana Skipper, Eric Petoff and Ricky Peacock, all from District 5. With this change, each district in the county has representation and two now are at-large members.
According to the commission, the board previously had a more active role with the department, but with the establishment of a recreation-department director, it now has an advisory role.
Director Michelle Rogers reported that basketball season is in full swing and said new batting cages will be completed by baseball and softball seasons. She added that on April 27, the department would be offering a baseball and softball clinic. The district basketball tourney starts Feb. 18, and on March 16, the department would have a mud bogg fundraiser.
Walt Pelton asked the commissioners about adding a restroom or allowing people to access the restroom in the voting precinct at the basketball courts on Walker Street. Commissioner Wallace Shaw said that due to voting equipment being in that building, it needed to remain secure. Walker said there had been discussion about the possibility of adding a portable restroom, but local residents did not want that. Walker added with the recent addition of the new bleachers, fencing and goals, about $12,000 had been spent improving the area.
Blocker asked what the plans were for a 5-acre tract of land in District 1 purchased several years ago for recreation purposes. Commissioner David Richardson said it initially was to be a park, but the matter always was followed by controversy, so nothing has been done with it. Walker said that the purchase of the land had been made prior to this sitting board being in place.
Previous Coastal Courier stories reported that commissioners felt that due to the recreation complex in Ludowici being a central location for all members of the county, it needed to be completely finished prior to adding any new facility in the outlying districts. Another concern was maintaining and securing the additional park.