Movement on the Black’s Mill Bridge project is set to begin today after the Board of Commissioners voted to ratify a contract with the property owner to proceed with construction of a one lane bridge on Black’s Mill Road during last night’s voting session.
Black’s Mill Bridge, a historic bridge in southwest Dawson County, was closed July 19, 2017 after an inspection by the Georgia Department of Transportation deemed the bridge unsafe for vehicular travel.
It has remained closed ever since, with commuters who used the bridge to get onto Dawson Forest Road taking a 5.5 mile or 10 minute detour.
Nearly two years later, the county reached an agreement with the property owner and began installation of the bridge on April 5.
Commissioners heard from county attorney Angela Davis of the legal firm Jarrard & Davis who outlined some of the provisions of the contract that was approved by a 3-0 vote on April 4.
In the agreement the property owner has agreed to entry upon his property for the installation of the bridge. The county agreed to not damage the stone walls and should they be damaged during the construction process, the county will restore them to the same or better condition than they were found.
The property owner, who owns property on both sides of the bridge, also agreed to any value that might be paid for any encroachments that may incur will be dealt with at a later time so that it does not hold up the project.
District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix seconded the motion to ratify the contract but said that not knowing how much in damages the property owner could bring before the county at a later date was a concern.
“If we don’t do this it’s never going to start,” District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett said.
Nix said the bridge is still an ongoing concern for citizens, even receiving a phone call earlier in the day from a constituent discussing a fatal accident in 2017.
Due to the bridge’s closure, the fire department responded in 22 minutes from Station No. 2 near Tractor Supply and 12 minutes from Station No. 7 on Dawson Forest Road due to detours and the person died, Nix said.
“We have to move forward,” Nix said. “This is my frustration. This should have been done a long time ago last year because it’s taken two years to build a bridge.”
In other business:
New BOC meeting schedule set to begin in May
The meeting schedule proposed by Chairman Billy Thurmond at last week’s work session was approved 3-1 with Nix opposed. The adjustment will take effect next month.
The BOC has been holding four meetings each month, with two work sessions and two voting sessions. The approved change will reduce the number of meetings each month to two, with a work session beginning at 4 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. executive session as needed, and a 6 p.m. voting session on the first and third Thursdays of each month.
Items discussed during the 4 p.m. work session would not be voted on at the 6 p.m. voting session the same evening unless the item needed immediate action. The items would be voted on at the next voting session two weeks later.
Thurmond said at the March 28 work session that the adjusted meeting schedule would allow for commissioners and the public to have more time to research and consider items in the agenda.
The public will be able to attend the 4 p.m. work sessions and the 6 p.m. voting sessions.
The time in between the public sessions will be used as needed for executive sessions.
County Clerk Kristen Cloud will be presenting the amended 2019 Board of Commissioners meeting schedule at the April 11 work session.
County enters three party agreement for animal control enforcement
The board unanimously approved entering a three party intergovernmental agreement with the city of Dawsonville and the Dawson County Humane Society that will help to save the lives of cats and dogs within the city.
The city of Dawsonville provides animal control services within its boundaries; however, it is not well-equipped to provide long term care for impounded animals which often results in euthanasia as more animals are impounded.
The agreement that was approved on April 4 establishes a process in which the city will temporarily hold cats and dogs impounded within the city and work to contact the animals’ owners. After two days, if the animal has not been picked up by an owner, the city will call the county and the county will transport the animal to the Dawson County Humane Society where it will either be given more time for an owner to claim it or be put up for adoption.
Injured or malnourished animals picked up by city animal control may be transferred to the humane society sooner.
The humane society has had a contract with Dawson County since 2008 to take in stray animals from the county animal control.
Care for the city-provided animals is not anticipated to cost the county any additional money because those animals will be added to the county’s existing animal quota. The county receives a 450 animal per quarter quota from the humane society which the county has not come close to reaching.
The Dawson County Humane Society has been an established No-Kill shelter since Sept. 2012.
Alcohol license administrator position tabled for two weeks
A request made by Planning & Development Director Jameson Kinley for an alcohol license administrator to serve in the Fire Marshal’s Office was tabled for two weeks and will be reevaluated by the board after receiving recommendations from the new human resources director, Lisa Green, who assumes her duties April 8.
Currently the Marshal’s Office consists of two code compliance officers responsible to handling animal control and code enforcement while sharing the duties of maintaining more than 1200 alcohol permits in the county that must be evaluated annually.
District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield motioned to table the decision for two weeks, stating that he would like additional time to look at the pay range because it seemed high for a starting salary.
The salary range for the position is $17 to $26.35 per hour, and Kinley requested the board approve $58,169.48 for salary and benefits at the March 28 work session.
Satterfield said the position, if approved, would pay more than current salaries for emergency services personnel and a number of sheriff’s office personnel.
Kinley said the office would be able to continue its current operations until a decision is made on the position.
The motion passed 3-1 with Nix opposed who recommended a reduction in salary in order to get the position approved and put another member in the Marshal’s Office.