The Charlton County Board of Commissioners met for the first time in 2021, Thursday, January 7.

Chairman James Everett and Vice Chairwoman Alphya Benefield were reinstated in their respective positions. The meeting calendar was also approved.

Also during the meeting, the resolution to submit an application to obtain 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Mitigation Funds was approved. The funds are to be used for street, drainage and flood mitigation improvements on Eston Prescott Road.

The commissioners recently received proposals for Grant Administration, with the two top-scoring agencies being Government Consulting Unlimited and the Southern Georgia Regional Commission. The two tied with top marks and have good references. The board voted to go with Southern Georgia Regional Commission as they have always worked well with Charlton County.

Commissioner Jesse Crews alerted the board that the Recreation Board has recommended increasing the baseball sign-up fees from $30.00 to $40.00 per child with a $100.00 cap per household. The cost increase will help cover uniforms, equipment, gym/field improvements and other recreation needs. The motion was made and passed unanimously.

The board approved the opening of bids for the 2019 LMIG St. Marys River Bluff Road project and 2020 LMIG Colonial Way project. Only one bid was received for the St. Marys River Bluff Project, which was Littlefield Construction at $445,159.20. The Colonial Way/Settlers Village received three bids, with Littlefield Construction at $260,003 being the lowest. The bids were approved and the plan is to begin work this year.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Charlton County and the Folkston ICE Processing Center, which is for Mutual Aid in the event of an emergency, was approved. This is the same agreement from previous years.

Chesser Island Landfill submitted a request to receive a shipment of asbestos for disposal at the landfill. Though this type of material has been accepted before, due to an agreement with the landfill, the request must come before the board as the shipment is coming in from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chesser Island informed County Administrator Hampton Raulerson that the asbestos is required to be mapped and GPS tracked after disposal. The motion was made and approved unanimously.

The commissioners heard from Elaine Bailey who reminded them the Unified Alliance’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and services will be held Monday, January 18. The march will begin on Martin Street at DFCS at 11:00 a.m., will travel down Main Street and end at the courthouse. The services will take place at Chatman-Mobley Park beginning at 12:00 p.m. Masks are encouraged.

Terrence Pender also addressed the board saying the alliance wants to work diligently with the Sheriff’s Department – regardless of political party and he looks forward to working with Sheriff Robert Phillips.

Sheriff Robert Phillips shared he is working on the courthouse security program to spruce up the plan. Funds were given for the program, which Sheriff Phillips would like to use for a metal detector at the courthouse. He stated he would also like to install ascetically pleasing lockers in the courthouse for the use of personal belongings during proceedings. He also stated inventory has been nearly completed for the whole department. Sheriff Phillips alerted the board of the hiring of Bill Lee as Chief Deputy. He has been working with EMA/EMS Director Bruce Young and Homeland Mayor Ouida Johnson on action plans as well as utilizing E-911. An agreement is in the works for Sheriff’s Office calls to go through to surrounding counties in case phone lines are down.

EMA/EMS Director Bruce Young alerted the commissioners that he and six other volunteers received the vaccine for COVID-19. Young has not been told when health/public safety workers will be able to receive the vaccine.

Commissioner Alphya Benefield wished everyone a Happy New Year and thanked everyone for all they do in their respective positions. She spoke to Young and expressed her concern for the lack of a clear plan for the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine for Charlton County. She stated she would like to have a clear plan so the community can be on the same page in order to avoid mass confusion.

Commissioner Luke Gowen thanked Sheriff Phillips for staying connected and looks forward to working with him. He also asked Road Department Supervisor Ronnie Pollock for updates on Pinckney Drive. Pollock stated the department will try to run the water from the problem area to Highway 40. 

The next meeting will be held Thursday, January 21 at 6:00 p.m.