By Marla Ogletree

The Charlton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) held its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, February 6.

During the meeting, the board heard from Laura Glenn with Georgia Fund 1, a liquid investment alternative offered by the state to counties, municipalities, public colleges and universities, boards of education, special districts, state agencies, and other authorized entities. Glenn went over the different funds eligible to be invested in the “pool”. Chairman James Everett expressed his concerns with the lack of insurance covering the investments. Commissioner Luke Gowen agreed with this concern and asked Glenn if there was any history of fraud or embezzlement. Glenn assured them, in her 24 years with Georgia Fund 1, there has not been charge for either, and the number one goal for the company is to protect the county’s money. The commissioners agreed to look over the presentation more and give it more thought.

Also during the meeting, the board heard the St. Marys River Management Committee’s Annual Report. The committee thanked the county for quickly following up with Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) on the land disturbance infraction in the Black River Subdivision and the continued work to upgrade the facilities at Traders Hill. All four counties involved with the St. Marys River are having issues with non-point pollution, the county has already been awarded the Coastal Incentive Grant to analyze and correct the impairment. The SMRMC continues to monitor the renewal of all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits in the St. Marys River Watershed. The commissioners were told of the concerns from the community about the disposal of EZ Base at the Chesser Island Road Landfill, and while the SMRMC understands the county’s budget is dependent on the fees, the committee asks that the county set aside a portion of the increased income as a contingency fund in case of any future contamination.

The board was given an update on the Spanish Creek Coastal Incentive Grant, stating the county was awarded $29,000.00. The grant is to pinpoint and correct the fecal coliform and dissolved oxygen issues facing the water. Chip Campbell, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, stated they have already made strides and are confident they will be able to correct the issue. Currently, the EPD is drawing samples from public access to the creek. Charlton County High School teachers Audrey Pickren and Ashley Raulerson are also leading local students in testing, who are able to provide samples from private access of Spanish Creek. He also stated plans are underway for the two sites of the River Clean-up set for April 25.

County Administrator Hampton Raulerson stated he has received the cost estimate for the Right of Way for the County Road 60 (Hatcher Branch) Bridge replacement and the details have been sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) for review.

Last year, Raulerson conducted a Request for Qualifications for consulting firms in relation to Davis Field Airport. Five firms submitted inquiries, but Passero Associates made the only official submittal. The consulting firm has met all requirements set by GDOT, and are highly regarded. Raulerson recommended the county enter into a five-year agreement with Passero Associates, similar to the current agreement with Michael Baker. The motion was made and approved unanimously. 

EMA/EMS Director Bruce Young addressed the board in regards to the Mutual Aid Agreement with Camden County EMS. Both parties agree to offer assistance should a need arise. Rendering aid under this agreement is not mandatory, and neither party would receive reimbursement. The agreement would be for three years, and the only authorized personnel allowed to call for assistance will be members of the BOC, the County Administrator, EMS Director, Fire Chief, and the Fire Department District Chiefs. The motion was made and passed unanimously.

Young also spoke about the Hazard Mitigation Planning Grant for FEMA grant funding. The plan must be updated every five years, and was last updated in 2018, however, the board must review and rewrite the plan within the proper time frame. Federal funding for this grant is 75%, the local share will be made up of in-kind labor contribution from county staff. The motion was made and carried unanimously.

Fire Chief C.L. Lewis spoke to the commissioners about the Georgia Forestry Commission Firefighter Property Program Cooperative Equipment Agreement and procedures. The agreement is required in order to participate in the Firefighter Property Program (FFP), which allows the county to acquire equipment to be used by the fire department at a reduced cost. The agreement is set for five years. The motion was made and passed unanimously.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with D. Ray James Facility was renewed, with the added line “Note that no agent of Charlton County will be called upon to enter any building, gated, or enclosed area of the D. Ray James Correctional Facility” at the request of the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). The MOU with the D. Ray James ICE Facility was also up for renewal. The agreement does not have the same added line, but the CCSO does have the right to deny responding. The motion was passed unanimously for both MOUs.

The county commissioners officially adopted the updated Soil Erosion, Sedimentation, and Pollution Control Ordinance and will soon be made the Local Issuing Authority for Soil Erosion Permitting.

Bids were received for the purchase of culvert pipes for the Road Department. Lanier Municipal Supply Company was awarded the bid for $5,547.00. The board also approved the purchase of four Lifepac heart monitors for $132,000.00. The cost will be paid for with SPLOST funds.

The Board of Commissioners will meet again Thursday, February 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the BOC conference room.