The Long County Commission decided Thursday to hire a new animal control officer. The area has been shaken recently when a felony case of cruelty to animals was made by Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClellan after widespread publicity.
The commissioners and County Administrator Frank Etheridge were clearly ready to put Matt Scoggins into the vacant animal control officer position but hesitated because the Thursday morning work session was not a formal meeting.
When County Clerk Mary Ann Odum said, “This meeting has not been advertised,” the commissioners opted not to vote, but their consensus was definitely in favor of the hire. Commission Chairman David Richardson said the hire would be formally ratified at the earliest opportunity. Long County Animal Control serves the city of Ludowici as well as the unincorporated area of the county.
The commission usually uses its 9 a.m. third-Thursday-of-each-month work session to share information and discuss matters that show up later as action items in the commission’s more formal first Tuesday meetings.
The first work session of 2018 included the commissioners‘ strategic planning and goals they might hope to accomplish this year.
Commissioner Mike Riddle said he wanted to see a retirement plan for county employees and that the employee handbook needed to be updated.
He said Long County should continue the short term work plan and the priority list for improving county roads.
Commissioner Robert Parker said he agreed with Riddle and that joining with the city of Ludowici in an employee retirement plan might allow officials to get a better deal.
Parker said the county needed more and better dialogue with the Department of Natural Resources which owns a lot of land in Long County, including the 5,600-acre Griffin Ridge Wildlife Management Area. Ecotourism might be a good possibility; it is being done in neighboring McIntosh county. A shooting range was mentioned as a likely attraction and Parker pointed out the underutilized camp ground.
Parker suggested quarterly meetings with the police department, the sheriff’s office, the emergency management agency and the emergency medical service. “So we will all be speaking from the same sheet of paper when something happens.” There are no regular meetings now;
Riddle said, “They meet when there’s a storm.”
Richardson said, “That’s not a good way to do it.” He said during the recent winter weather event, “For two days the sheriff had to run the whole county because there was no contact with anyone.”
Parker said, “None of y’all have any idea what’s going on. I do because I am here. You can’t tell me anything I don’t already know.” He said there was a disconnect between the board of commissioners and emergency agencies and staff. Failure to communicate was shown, several said, by the sheriff’s deputy who was guarding the courthouse when the building and all its offices were closed.
One problem, a need for residents to serve on the county board of the Division of Family and Children Services was easily solved Thursday: Richardson said he would fill one of the vacant seats. One more board member is still needed.
A county commission meeting is set for Feb. 6; the time has been changed to 6 p.m.
Parker can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org