The Long County Commission on Tuesday was asked for help with several items, including increasing the county’s animal-control capabilities and also assuming responsibility for roads in two subdivisions.
Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles and Chief Code Enforcement Officer John Bradley told commissioners that reports of stray dogs had increased in recent months, but that the animal shelter was filled to capacity. Nobles said that his department had received several calls of strays, but all his deputies could do was attempt to locate the dogs’ owners because the shelter had no room. He asked the commission if there are any plans to increase the number of pens at the shelter.
Nobles said the need for more pens is crucial, because if two dogs are seen fighting, often bystanders get involved to break them up and can be injured. The sheriff said that the only time a member of his department ever euthanizes a dog is if that animal endangers a person.
Bradley said the shelter currently has eight pens, which hold strays, but if a report of a violent dog is made, the shelter can arrange the other dogs so that the violent animal can be secured.
Despite the difficulties, Commissioner Willie Thompson said that both the sheriff’s office and the animal-control office appear to be doing a good job, because the number of strays on the street appears to have decreased.
Bradley said that when a dog is picked up, an effort is made to adopt that animal out. He said that a dog is kept for seven days before being euthanized; in the case of a dog bite, the animal is kept for 14 days before being euthanized.
Vice Chairman Kent Hall said the commissioners realize there is a need for more pens, but money is tight. He said that at this point, he feels that the county’s No. 1 priority is completion of the mold-removal project at the courthouse.
After a brief discussion, the commission decided to look into adding eight more pens at the shelter.
Nobles also asked the commissioners to consider a three-year grant to hire three more deputies. He said his department’s workload has doubled in recent years, but the number of deputies has remained the same.
Nobles said that the grant would fund 75 percent of the salaries of the three new deputies for three years. The county’s portion for each deputy would be $10,596 annually.
Hall said the commission understands it is responsible for providing the tools to enforce the law, but the problem is finding the additional money. He said he does not see the money being available unless the millage rate is increased. After a brief discussion, Chairman Robert Long said that the commission will look into the matter.
Also Tuesday, local developer Bill Nutting asked the commission for the county to assume the responsibility of all roads in the Murray Crossing subdivision and the majority of the roads in the Crawford subdivision. He said he worked with Bradley to ensure the county’s requirements had been met and that by the end of the day Tuesday, all the roads would be ready to be inspected. He said that the two subdivisions were more than a year old, and he wants to go through the next legal steps to turn the roads over to the county.
Commissioner Gerald Blocker asked if the roads meet the state specifications. Nutting said he isn’t an engineer, so he isn’t familiar with what was required for state roads; however, the roads did pass three proof-roll tests, and have a 6-inch grade base and 1 ½-inch asphalt topping. He said the roads also meet or exceed the requirements imposed from all of the surrounding counties.
Nutting said that by June, all the county’s requirements would be met for the remaining roads in Crawford, and they also would be ready for the county to assume. After a brief discussion, Long said Bradley and road superintendent Wilfred Morris would inspect the roads and if all of the required work was completed, the county would assume their care.
Probate Judge Marie Middleton went before the commission and asked whether employees will receive any more longevity raises. Hall said that at this point, no one will receive a raise. He said that the county provided full health insurance to all full-time employees, and that the average annual premium for the insurance had increased to $6,400. Hall said the county could not afford to give the raises and pay all the health-insurance costs. Long said that the commission felt that it benefitted the employees more to have the insurance coverage than the raises.
Thompson added that if the budget allows it and the money is there, the commission will look into giving all employees raises at the end of the year.
Middleton also told the commission that her office has two leaks, and she is concerned about mold. Long said they would look into her concerns.