It was a bright and sunny Friday morning on February 17th when the commissioners held another of their regularly scheduled work sessions. From their conference room on the third floor, you could see the beauty of the downtown square and the construction on the downtown hotel in the distance. At this meeting, the commissioners would handle several items of business and finalize their agenda for their regular meeting, Tuesday morning February 21.
The first item of business that morning came from Sheriff James Woodruff who was there to serve as a follow up from the previous work session; a meeting that saw Sergeant Maurice Raines address the Commissioners. The Sheriff once again spoke about the hard work of the State Patrol and of the working relationships between both departments.
The Sheriff then gave some background on traffic and the interstate here in the community. Here in Troup County, there are 43 miles of interstate. Last year, there were 1,159 accidents and out of that number there were 841 injuries. The State Patrol wrote over 8,000 citations alone last year. In 2015 there were 11 deaths and in 2016 that number doubled to 22. The Sheriff also spoke of the difficulties the State Patrol is experiencing to get new Troopers, as the amount of Troopers in Trooper School is exceptionally low at the moment. In fact, there is an average of seven Troopers that retire a month and about 84 retire a year.
While our local 11 Troopers do an outstanding and dedicated job, they need more help from local agencies with their patrols and wrecks on the interstate. In turn, the Sheriff at times has to pull his men from their regular duties to help and assist with wrecks and patrolling the interstate. It is with that in mind that the Sheriff is requesting that the County Commissioners hire a new deputy for the Sheriff’s Department. The total cost of the new deputy, including salary and benefits, a new Dodge Charger, lights and equipments, a watch-guard camera, striping, a radar, and tag reader would cost about $105,614.35. With the new Great Wolf Lodge expecting to bring about 500,000 visitors to LaGrange and Troup County in the coming years, it is imperative to up our patrols on the interstate. As the Sheriff said, it is not about revenue collecting and writing tickets, but about slowing people down and saving lives.
Next on the agenda that morning was the third amendment to the Town Square TAD Intergovernmental Agreement. Essentially, as the project did not begin on time for the downtown hotel, the time table for the TAD needed to be amendment and given a few more years. The new date for the TAD will be 2043 if the amendment is approved.
Another item at the meeting that morning had to do with a budget amendment for the correctional institution here in the County. In fact, the CI just received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Corrections to be able to bring teachers to the jail in order to teach the inmates job skills for when they return to society. Currently, West Georgia Tech will be providing a GED class, a barber program, and a welding program. There will be no monetary match from the Board of Commissioners.
Cajen Rhodes of the Rec Department was also at the meeting that morning to request that his department be allowed to participate in the 2018 DHR Grant application process. Since 1999, the Parks and Rec department has received funds from the DHR program to run the Troup Transit program. The Troup Transit program currently has 10 vehicles in the fleet and runs about 4,000 calls per month.
Lastly, there will be some staffing changes, should the item be approved on Tuesday’s agenda, in the Commissioner’s Office. Essentially, the secretary from the Commissioner’s office will be moved down to another department to make up for the need on that level. The County and the Coweta Judicial Circuit are working to get funds from the Circuit to replace the position in the Commissioner’s office. While this seems to be pretty standard, the big piece of information to come out of this will be that the new secretary will have training in online applications, as the County is finally putting the hiring and application process to an online only format.
Most of these agenda items will be voted on at the meeting on Tuesday, February 21 at 9 am.
Jeremy Andrews Staff Writer