Long County is likely to see a dry spring and more drought-related fires. At the county commission’s Tuesday meeting, Georgia Forestry Commission acting Chief Ranger Paul Robertson said the area has already experienced a substantial increase in the number of forest fires this fiscal year in comparison to last year’s total.
"This year we have already had 47 fires and we’re only halfway though the fiscal year. We haven’t even hit the fire season yet … most of these fires are from debris burning, which is the No. 1 cause of our fires," Robertson said.
Last year, the ranger said, the average amount of land burned per fire was three and a half acres, but there were only 32 forest fires in the county the entire year. With the current projections, Robertson estimates there will be around 100 fires in the county this year.
There are 256,700 acres of land in Long County and 197,467 of those acres are forested and under GFC protection, Robertson said. According to additional information provided by the chief ranger, the Long County Forestry Unit last year was staffed by four full-time employees who maintained and operated three tractor plow units and one Type 7 Engine. The Long County Commission contributed $4,799.60 to the GFC budget last year and the remaining portion came from state funding.
Long County Chamber of Commerce President Kerry Hunt also went before the commissioners to present the group with a proclamation declaring the county a Georgia Work Ready County. Hunt said the document will hang in the Long County Courthouse until a chamber of commerce building is built.
According to Hunt, the county earned the designation through employee assessment testing and skills gap training. The program also offers a job profiling system for businesses to help them match open positions with qualified applicants.
Long County was named a Georgia Work Ready County in October 2010, thanks, in part, to its improved high school graduation rate and the 141 residents who obtained work-ready certification, which was 26 percent higher than the county’s goal.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved a measure to advertise committee and board vacancies and openings to give individuals who are interested in serving the opportunity for an appointment.
• Approved a $2,000 change order for work being done at the recreation park on the planned walking trail. According to Commissioner Wallace Shaw, improving the trail at this point is more cost-effective to do the work now because other construction projects are under way.
• Approved a measure to assist the city of Ludowici in repairing a dip and a crack in the road on Macon Street, which was caused by the ground settling.
• Urged county residents to contact the appropriate county governing authority if they see any rule violation regarding construction or other issues.