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County Commission turns down idea for out-of-county garbage

Colquitt County Administrator Chas Cannon and Colquitt County Solid Waste Manager Stacy Griffin approached the Cook County Board of Commissioners at their most recent meeting about Colquitt County possibly contracting to send that county’s garbage to the Cook County Landfill.

Cannon said Colquitt County currently takes tons of garbage from a transfer station on Shade Murphy Road to a landfill in Valdosta. The costs are escalating, especially with diesel fuel for transportation. The rising costs are forcing Colquitt County to increase its curbside pick-up fee from $20 monthly per container to $25 in January.

So, Colquitt County officials are considering new landfill options in Tift County and Thomasville. Cannon said he wanted to bring that idea to Cook County as well for what could be a “win-win situation” for both communities, in terms of new revenues for Cook.

He said Colquitt County generates 33,000 to 36,000 tons of waste per year.

“We don’t need an answer tonight,” Cannon told the Cook Commissioners. “There might be something we can work out in the future.”

Cannon noted that Colquitt County may contact the State of Georgia about reopening landfill space in that community in the future.

The County Commissioners offered no immediate response to Cannon’s presentation. But at the end of the meeting, after the Colquitt County representatives had left, County Commissioner Debra Robinson said garbage from outside the county isn’t allowed into the Cook County Landfill. It was noted that the garbage tonnage figure for Colquitt County is 10 times what Cook County puts in its landfill a year.

“Tell them to take Cook County off their list,” Mrs. Robinson said.

County Administrator Faye Hughes said taking in out-of-county garbage, especially at the level of Colquitt County’s, would use up the local landfill space very quickly. She added that any revenues generated would have to go back into the landfill expenses.

The Commissioners’ consensus seemed to be “no” to the Colquitt County suggestion.

Also during the regular session of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022:

Commissioner Audie Rowe gave the opening invocation, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approval of minutes

Commissioner Debra Robinson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Lindsey Parrish, to approve the prior meeting minutes from November 2022. All voted in favor.

Board of Assessors appointment

Commissioner Parrish made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Robinson, to reappoint Stephen Wood to the Cook County Board of Assessors, with a term of Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2026. All voted in favor.

Tax refund request

Commissioner Jeff Lane made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Rowe, to authorize the chairman to endorse a Tax Release Application for Vikram C. Patel’s property tax refund. All voted in favor.

“Rocky” Patel requested a refund of a portion of his 2019, 2020, and 2021 property taxes. The amount is $804.51. The Board of Assessors and the Tax Commissioner agree that Patel’s taxes were calculated on an incorrect square footage and he is due the refund. (The 2022 square footage calculation is correct.)

Board of Elections and Registration appointments

Commissioner Parrish made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Robinson, to appoint Rhonda Bennett as District 1 representative and Ray Greeson as District 2 representative to serve on the Board of Elections and Registration for the term Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2026. All voted in favor.

16th Street property

Following discussion at the work session, the Board agreed not to extend the contract for housing developers on the County’s 16th Street property and to let the contract expire.

Safety issue – Installation of lighting on Hutchinson Parrish and Cox Still Road

Commissioner Parrish made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Rowe, to approve the installation of lighting at the intersection of Hutchinson Parrish and Cox Still Road. The vote in favor was unanimous.

The cost will be $46,677.18 from American Lighting and Signalization from McRae, Ga. This is the same company that installed the lighting at Antioch and Old Union.

The proposal is for solar-powered flashing beacons (stop sign), solar-powered advance warning sign (for stop sign), and solar-powered advance warning sign (Dangerous Crossing).

County staff reached out to another company, but they didn’t give a price.

Commissioner Lane then made a motion to take money from the general fund for the signs, but then to reimburse it from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax when funding becomes available. The vote in favor was unanimous.

Other business during the Cook County Board of Commissioners’ work session on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022:

Closed session

The Board went into executive session, closed to the public, to discuss a legal matter with County Attorney Daniel Connell. They then returned to regular open session.

Road Department report

Road Superintendent Scot Harnage requested that the County look into purchasing a packer for roadwork rather than renting it. Harnage said the equipment is needed because many roads need to be built back up.

The Commissioners directed Harnage to look around for prices, and once those are back, the Board will decide whether to purchase a packer.

Also, Commissioner Lane asked Harnage to remove trees that have fallen too close to the roadway on Val-Del Road.

Highway 37/76 roundabout development – utility billing

County Administrator Faye Hughes said County Commissioner Audie Rowe and her had listened to a virtual concept meeting about a roundabout being planned for the Highway 37/76 intersection on the approach to Cook High School. The circular roundabout intersection would replace the current “Y” intersection that splits off towards Nashville on one leg and towards the high school on the other leg. The current intersection has been the location of several major traffic accidents and even fatalities, and the Georgia Department of Transportation has determined that a roundabout would be safer for motorists.

Mrs. Hughes said the DOT wants the roundabout to be lighted and has planned for the County to pay the expense of utilities for lighting. There is no information about how much that would cost the County, Mrs. Hughes said. A lot of questions remained unanswered from the virtual meeting, she said.

County Commissioner Jeff Lane asked why the State of Georgia wouldn’t fund the lighting since the roundabout would involve state highways.

County Commissioner Rowe said the roundabout will be a “$4,537,000 project that they have decided to take on for us.”  He spoke about accidents that have occurred at the current intersection, including a four- or five-car wreck on graduation night and a crash nearby in which a car ran into a house.

The Commissioners questioned whether Colquitt County pays for lighting at roundabouts in that community.

The intersection improvements take on an added importance with Phase II planned for the Adel-Cook Sports Complex and future development coming for the school system property, all on Highway 37.

EMS contract

County Administrator Hughes advised that the current EMS contract will expire in May. She provided the current contract for the Commissioners to review. Other companies are beginning to contact Mrs. Hughes concerning the contract.

Mrs. Hughes suggested that the Commissioners discuss the contract during a work session in January or February 2023, and then issue a Request for Quotes (RFQ). She advised that the update was for information only; no decision has to be made right now.

Commissioner Lane said that before a decision about the EMS contract, the Commissioners need to set up an appointment with the hospital board and discuss plans for the local Emergency Room.

It’s putting a strain on the local EMS to have to transport emergency patients to Moultrie, Valdosta, or Tifton, Lane said. “I think we need to (have the ER discussion) before we talk about the EMS side.”

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