Woodland fires have decreased substantially in Long County during the past two years, the commissioners learned during their recent August meeting.
Chief Ranger David Duke with the Georgia Forestry Commission reported to the commission that for fiscal year 2013, there were 25 fires reported in the county and 137 acres burned. That compares to 37 fires and 105 acres burned in fiscal year 2012 and 88 fires and 1,327 acres burned in fiscal year 2011.
Duke said that the reasons for the decrease were the efforts of Ludowici/Long County Fire Department in educating people on proper burning techniques, landowners burning more safely and the increase of wet weather. He also told the commissioners that there are six firefighters and six tractors assigned to cover this area, including three firefighters and three tractors stationed in Ludowici, which are the same numbers assigned to Midway. Having the personnel assigned to each area provides fast service in each county, with available support resources always available, he said.
Duke said that his firefighters work well with the
L/LCFD and that the people in the county always supported him and his crews.
“When things were bad a few years ago, Long County came through with food, clean towels, drinks and everything that we needed. The support was overwhelming,” he said. “When we work over here, we always know that we have the support of the churches, the landowners and the board of commissioners, and we appreciate that.”
Also at the meeting, Bob DeVries, a volunteer with the animal-rescue center Making of Miracle Stories, gave the center’s monthly report to the commission. He asked the commissioners if they had decided whether to give the center a special exemption to allow an RV be set up at the center. At the July meeting, DeVries asked for the variance so that a couple could move on to the site to help monitor and take care of the center.
Though DeVries’ request was tabled, Dwight Gordon, who represents the district in which the center is located, told him that he was against approving the special request.
“I’m probably against it. If we do it, it will look like we are encouraging it … (and) the whole compound has to be moved,” Gordon said.
DeVries told Gordon that he still is attempting to find a new location. After a brief discussion, the commission decided that DeVries, Gordon and code-enforcement officer Steve Adkins should meet to attempt to resolve the matter.
DeVries also told the commission that there currently are 73 animals at the shelter and that it provided homes to 91 animals over the previous month.
Commission Chairman Robert Long reported that over the previous year, the county had paid out an additional $25,000 in wages to employees for being called in to work. He said two of the primary spending areas were in the code-enforcement and sheriff’s offices. Commissioner Willie Thompson added that even when some of the employees were being called in, the county was having a hard time getting in touch with the person being sought. Long said this cost is too much and that the commission is addressing it in the upcoming budget.
Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles commented on the issue by saying that the “Call Out” policy and the fees already were in place prior to his taking office. Nobles added that he agreed with the commission, and that the matter needs to be addressed.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved sending 16 percent of monthly SPLOST funds, allocated for roads and public safety, directly to the city of Ludowici. Long said that this was the amount that the city was entitled to.
• Approved the state-required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit regarding stormwater best-management practices.
• Told Ludowici resident Mel Gordon that a liability release form was being drawn up so that he and other volunteers could begin cleaning up the old Ludowici Train Depot.
• Reported that a county seal was being created.