Dade County Commission Hears From IDA, Moves on Lakeout Lake Contract

Candidate Jamey Blevins brought his Cub Scouts to pledge allegiance to the flag at the May 5 Dade County Commission meeting. Blevins is challenging Allan Bradford for the district 4 county commission seat.

Also attending were candidate for Dade County Executive Cliff Auman (left) and challenged incumbent County Coroner Johnny Gray.

Wes Hixon, another challenger to incumbent County Executive Ted Rumley, was conspicuously absent from the May 5 commission meeting as he had been from previous ones.

Nathan Wooten, chairman of the Dade Industrial Development Authority (IDA) reported at some length on that body’s doings to the Dade County Commission at its regular monthly meeting on May 5. “I just wanted to show you the money trail,” he said. Wooten went over IDA’s land acquisitions and sales since it was created and endowed some years back with $1 million in special purpose local option sales tax funds to lure industry to the county, through IDA’s hiring of executive director Peter Cervelli to its current status, which he described as depleted of both funds and real estate after its push to bring the new Vanguard National Trailer to Dade County. “We basically sold our souls for that project,” he said.

As for new business, Wooten said industries interested in building new plants want at least 70 or 80 acres and that IDA currently had no such large tracts. He said IDA had recently had to turn down a prospect who wanted 100 acres. He said IDA currently did have its eye on two pieces of property near the current industrial park. He said the prevailing wisdom for industrial development is: “If you don’t have property to offer, you don’t have anything to offer.” Commissioner Robert Goff reminded Wooten that new industry was good but: “To maintain or keep jobs is just as important as getting them.”

Wooten detailed IDA’s efforts in that arena, and said other counties are competing fiercely for new plants. “These counties are offering just everything under the sun,” he said.

Later, the commission voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement to transfer land from the county to IDA. Dade Executive Chairman Ted Rumley explained after the meeting that the land in question was the site of the old Georgia Forestry Commission office. That office was destroyed in the 2011 tornadoes and the county ended up with the land, swapping it with GFC for some further south near the Four Fields, where GFC built its new office.

Now, said Rumley, the land was being bought by Fred’s Dollar Store for the new store it plans on Highway 11 South. Dade is transferring the plot to IDA for the sale, he said, because quasi-governmental IDA has more extensive buying and selling powers than does the county itself; but he said the resulting $50,000 will be transferred to the county’s own general fund.

The commission approved 911 Director Alex Case’s proposal that the county go forward with its application for a $1,275,210 GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) grant for eight emergency pumps. The pumps will, in the event of a power outage, among other functions pump water up Sand and Lookout mountains and sewage to the Moccasin Bend wastewater facility. Case reminded the commissioners that in the aftermath of the 2011 tornadoes the county had a water crisis due to a power outage at the Water Authority.

The local matching-fund portion of the pump cost will be $191,281, said Case. Case, who besides his role as the county emergency services boss, is also the mayor of Trenton, said city funds would also be used for the project, though: “We know we lose power more out in the county than we do here in the city.”

The commissioners considered a request by Sheriff Ray Cross to lower the speed limit on Hartline Road from 45 to 35 miles per hour. Advised by their attorney that to do so required an ordinance, they approved on their consent agenda that the meeting serve as the first reading of such an ordinance.

Cliff Auman, who is running in the upcoming election against Rumley for the job of county executive—the de facto head of county government— asked during the citizens’ participation part of the meeting for what reason the speed limit should be changed. The short answer seemed to be: Because the sheriff requested it.

Wes Hixon, the other candidate for Rumley’s job, did not attend the commission meeting; nor has he attended any since paying his qualification fees for the office.

In other business, the commission okayed going ahead with a $19,000 contract to Zantech in Chattanooga for the engineering work involved in Dade’s Lookout Lake dam improvement. The county had submitted a request for competitive bids but no one else had shown interest, said Rumley.

The county is required by Georgia to bring the earthen dam at Lookout Lake, a private body of water, up to state standards as it impacts the county road that goes over it.

The commissioners approved putting an old Ford and superannuated fire trucks up for bid on a government surplus website.

They also approved SPLOST funds to buy slightly-used fire engines from other counties for two of the county’s volunteer fire departments.

And on the subject of fire departments, in his monthly address to the public, District 2’s Scottie Pittman reminded all that Dade’s ISO rating numbers had plummeted or in fact halved, resulting in homeowners’ insurance payments also plummeting or in fact halving. “That’s because our volunteer fire departments work so hard,” said Pittman.

The acronym ISO, which originally stood for “insurance services office,” is used universally as a fire-hazard measurement standard, and Pittman pointed out that depending on where a homeowner lives in Dade the number has gone from 9 to 5 or 4. But, he said, to take advantage of the lower cost, policyholders may well have to call their insurers and ask for it, possibly even canceling their policies and getting new ones.

Support your local volunteer fire department! It's

easy and delicious! Most have benefits such as this

fish fry last Friday at the New Salem FD and community center.

In his own address, District 3’s Robert Goff said he’d taken a class at a county commissioners’ convention on how a county government can coordinate with the county’s board of education. “Maybe there’s some places we can save each other some money,” he said. He also asked residents not to flush sand into the local sewage system as this practice is causing trouble with the equipment.

To elevate the glamour a notch, District 4’s Allan Bradford in the “State of the Dump” portion of his own address said he’d been complimented at the same county commissioners’ convention on Dade’s garbage facility. “They said we have the cleanest transfer station in the state of Georgia,” he crowed.

County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley said in his address that he’d toured Brow Wood, the new housing development and assisted living facility recently completed on Lookout Mountain, and been had impressed at its size and quality. “It’s a great addition to Dade County,” he said.

Rumley had also met with neighborhood association representatives and the Georgia Environmental Department at a development that had not turned out so well, the old Preserve at Rising Fawn in Johnson’s Crook. He said the EPD will now determine if any more building will be allowed at the Crook. It’s stopped for now, he said.

Additionally, Rumley reported that Dade Middle School planned to build a cross-country track and that Georgia Forestry Commission would do the bulldozer work.

Dade Public Library manager Marshana Sharp said the library’s summer reading program for children kicks off soon—interested parties can call the library for more information at (706) 657-7857—and that the board of education’s school lunches for qualifying minors (0-18 years of age) would be served this summer at the library.

In citizens’ participation, nonresident Regan Wooten appeared as he did last month to petition the county commissioners for help with a legal snarl that he said began in 2009 with a traffic stop in Dade and has never gone away. “They have destroyed my life over this,” he said.

Last month the commissioners referred him to the county attorney. This time Chairman Rumley said he would review the matter himself.

The Dade County Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the county Administrative Building on the first Thursday of each month.

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