Qualifying for elections that are scheduled for later this year begins in all three cities today and will run until 4:30 PM on Friday, September 4th. Each of the three cities have seats open for qualifying and, depending on who qualifies, will hold elections in November.
In the City of Jackson, three City Council Seats are open for qualifying. These are District 1 (Theodore Patterson), District 4 (Don Cook) and District 5 (Beth Weaver). Qualifying for each of these seats must be done at the Jackson City Hall only.
Seats held by Mayor Kay Pippin, Councilman Lewis Sims and Councilman Ricky Johnson are not up for election until November of 2017.
In the City of Flovilla, the office of Mayor, currently held by Beth Ogletree, is up for qualifying. Mayor Ogletree won a special election in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Scott Chewning, who resigned the seat when he moved out of the city limits. Two City Council seats will also be decided, currently held by Glorine Thurman and Willie Morgan. Flovilla City Council seats are elected at-large, which means that if more than two people qualify for the City Council, the two seats up for election will go to the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes. Qualifying for Flovilla seats can only be handled at Flovilla City Hall.
Seats held by Councilman Thomas Douglas, Councilwoman Catherine Watson and Councilwoman Lillian Cowell are not up for election until November 2017.
In the City of Jenkinsburg, the office of Mayor will be vacated at the end of the year by incumbent Mayor David Nestor, who has indicated his intention not to seek elected office this year. City Council Seats for District 1 (Susan Barabas) and District 3 (Ken Rooks) are also open for qualifying at Jenkinsburg City Hall only.
Council Seats for District 2 (Joye England), District 4 (Richard Weaver) and District 5 (Eddie Ford) are not up for election until November 2017.
Early voting starts on October 12th, 2015 and runs through October 30th. Those wishing to early vote in the City elections may do so at the Butts County Administration Building between October 12-30 during business hours. Those wishing to vote On Election Day which is November 3rd will have to vote at their respective City Hall. There is no voting of any kind at the Administration Building on Election Day.
Those wishing to qualify for any of these elected offices must do so at the respective City Hall of each jurisdiction. No candidates for City Elections are allowed to qualify at the Butts County Administration Building. As of this writing, no incumbents have formally announced their intention to seek re-election, nor have any candidates been put forward to seek elected office. We will update this information as it changes.
The Joint City-County Transportation Board will meet on Thursday, August 27th at 6PM in the C. Wayne King Auditorium, Butts County Administration Building, 625 West Third Street, Suite 4, Jackson, Georgia. The public is invited to attend.
The 20th Annual Ernest Biles Memorial Golf Tournament is approaching fast, scheduled for September 23, 2015 at the Hickory Hill Golf Course. For the past 19 years, many citizens of this community have helped the Youth Recreation Programs in our area by sponsoring/playing/assisting in the tournament, which goes to provide funding for County Youth Recreation Programs in Butts County. All monies received by sponsors, golfer registrations and raffles go directly to these programs with Atlanta South 75 Travel Center picking up all the costs of the tournament, cart fees, lunch, prizes, give-aways and more. Hickory Hill assists in all “Game Day” organization efforts and over the past 19 years, $401,230.53 has been donated directly to these programs.
According to Atlanta South 75 President Bob Ryan, who has coordinated the tournament since its inception, “The young child might have been watching a game or event through a fence or window had you not helped us put them in a uniform and on the playing field, learning so many important things about life such as teamwork, respect, self-esteem and so much more”.
“The sad the truth is that many parents cannot afford the cost of parks and recreation programs for their children. This is particularly true in today’s tough economic conditions. Together we can give them a uniform, sporting equipment and a safe place off the streets where lifelong values are nurtured” Ryan stated in the annual request letter to local governments, businesses and community leaders.
This year will be special because the tournament will mark the 20th anniversary of this annual community event. No doubt, many who participate in the tournament have at some point in their youth been touched by this special program.
The tournament will begin with lunch served at noon, followed by door prize drawings at 12:45pm and tee-off at 1PM. Many different levels of sponsorship are available ranging from $150 to $1,000 and includes different levels of amenities depending on the sponsorship level. Individual golfers contribute at the $50.00 level.
For more information about the tournament, becoming a sponsor, participant or both, please contact 770–775–8181 and let’s help make the 20th Annual Ernest Biles Golf Tournament one for the history books!
On Monday, August 10th, the County government unveiled its new Paperless Agenda Management System at a workshop attended by the Board of Commissioners, Department Heads and members of the general public. The new system, designed by Provox, was purchased last year by the Administration Department and has been in the setup and implementation process for some time now as it was readied for public use. The system provides a range of services, both to Commissioners and staff, as well as making a wealth of information available to the public electronically. This information includes meetings, items discussed and those acted upon at BOC meetings. The system was shown to the public for the first time in a demonstration by County Clerk Crystal Epps, who has headed up the project and worked with Provox for months on the setup.
The system will move the Commissioners and staff away from a paper-based system, which is time-consuming to construct, difficult to make last-minute changes to and which uses a lot of paper and copier resources. Each item on the monthly agenda generates documents, sometimes as few as one and sometimes, in the case of zoning matters, 40-50 pages of information, all of which had previously gone into a hefty binder which the Commissioners had to come and pick up. In recent years, much of this could be scanned and emailed to commissioners but oftentimes the file size would exceed what could be sent electronically. With the new systems, a user can simply open an iPad, laptop or desktop computer, go to the County website, click on “Agendas” and go right into the system.
From there, a new page will open up that displays a range of options available to all users including a calendar of meetings scheduled, contact information for elected and key appointed officials, documents used in support of the meetings and much more. At this current time, the information available is limited to recent months but as time goes by and information is input into the system, the database of information will continue to grow.
One function that was shown at the meeting is the option for Commissioners to vote electronically with a portable keypad and for their vote to be recorded directly into the system. This in turn will be generated into the minutes of the meetings and allow for the public to view how each commissioner votes on a matter. It also can help to limit any confusion about who placed motions and seconded motions as well as whether all five commissioner actually voted on the matter at hand. An option to abstain from voting is also included for cases where a conflict of interest might exist.
Possibly the best benefit of the system though will be its ability to archive and retrieve documents electronically, which will allow the public, media and others who wish to see meeting materials the opportunity to do so from the comfort of their home or office, saving them from having to make a trip to the Administration building and pay for paper copies. The system will pay for itself within a few years due to reducing the amount of paper used, wear and tear on copier machines and the amount of staff time that was required to put materials together in the old format.
The County Clerk’s Office responds to a number of requests each month for information regarding decisions made by the Board of Commissioners, zoning issues, requests from attorneys and other public information items. Having this type of system in place is just another way that Butts County has transitioned into the 21st century using technology to streamline processes and provide greater accountability to the public. As the system is populated with more and more information, the benefits to all who use it will increase tremendously as time goes by. For more information or to see the system in place, go to www.buttscountyga.com and click on “Agendas” at the top right of the screen. An information screen such as the one shown above will display and the user can explore the different functions that are available or will be available in the coming months.
Butts County Fire Department will begin fire service operations in its newest station, located between Jackson and Flovilla, on Thursday, August 13th beginning at 8AM and will begin providing 24-hour station coverage in the southeastern portion of Butts County. This area, known as Fire District 2 under the current fire zone map of Butts County includes Flovilla and Indian Springs as well as all areas south on Highways 42 and 87 to the Monroe County line. Mount Vernon road and the areas off of that road will also be a part of the district until it meets up with Fire Districts 5 and 1. Firefighter/EMT David Smith, who has served for the past few years as a full-time firefighter for Flovilla has already transitioned to the BCFD but has been detached to continue working at the Flovilla City Fire Station until the new Station 8 was ready for operations.
FIRE ADMINISTRATION & EMS BILLING TO MOVE
In addition to housing firefighter apparatus and station personnel, the new station, designated as the “Indian Springs Fire Station” will also become the Butts County Fire Department Headquarters station. Chief Mike Wilson, Assistant Chief Randy Prince and Administrative Assistant Artisica Stodghill will all be quartered in the new facility, freeing up needed space at the EMS Station adjacent to Sylvan Grove Hospital. The EMS station will continue to operate out of that facility. Also, the EMS Billing Office, staffed by Deborah Shockley, has relocated from the Administration Building to the new headquarters station. Citizens wishing to pay their EMS bill in person may continue to go to the Administration Building to make payment or, if they need to speak with the Billing Clerk in person, may pay their bill at the new Station 8.
According to Chief Wilson, the Fire Department Administrative Offices will be open for business on Monday, August 10th, ahead of the opening of the Fire Station itself. He plans to hold an open house soon for the community to come by and see their new station once they have worked any bugs out of installing computer equipment, telephone lines and radio systems. Normal business office hours of Monday-Friday from 8AM until 5PM will continue.
Government Relations Director Michael Brewer stated that “Everything is in place to have a seamless transition to start off our offering fire response operations in this district. The County is especially appreciative of the working relationship we have enjoyed with the City of Flovilla over the many years that they have been our fire coverage out in this part of the county. We look forward to continuing this in the future and being there for them as they have been there for us”.
Due to phone system requirements the contact number for both Fire Department Administration and the EMS Billing Office will be merged into one main number. The new number for both will be 678-774-8192.
The Ida Ruth Taylor Senior Citizens Center has been open for just over three years but it continues to be a hit with Butts County’s growing population of active older adults, especially during the hotter summer months of the year. Providing a cool oasis with plenty of indoor activities for seniors, the center is now fully staffed five days per week. Wii bowling in the game room offers seniors the thrill of bowling without the cost, travel to a bowling alley or even having to get out of the chair if they don’t want to. Other games are available and the system is frequently in demand during the day.
If games aren’t for you, the center has places where friends can gather to share stories, tell jokes and just socialize with one another. It also provides a space where those who prefer to sit and read a magazine or a book can do so. There are also exercise machines, a computer lab with modern computers and internet access as well as an arts and craft room. Meal service is available for at the center with a hot, nutritious lunch served on weekdays.
For those who enjoy the hotter weather, a new horseshoe arena is being prepared in the backyard where an unusable, dated playground has recently been removed, opening up the yard area for a variety of outdoor games and usage. In addition to horseshoes, there has been discussion of putting a vegetable garden in so that seniors who have a green thumb and enjoy gardening can grow vegetables.
Lately, the seniors have had the opportunity to enjoy water aerobics at a nearby swimming pool in Jackson when weather has permitted. Water aerobics provides a fun and cool way to exercise in the summer heat and helps to build muscles and stronger bones.
The center, under the leadership of Center Manager Chrissy Crabtree, has grown its outreach and programs in the community ever since moving to the new location on Ernest Biles Drive, just up from the Youth Center. The recent addition of a part-time program coordinator should only add to the available offerings at the Senior Center and the public is always welcome to stop in visit or volunteer to help with programs. Volunteers have helped to provide dance instruction and some seasoned community pros have even helped teach the seniors to play Bridge, a game known for sharpening cognitive skills.
Butts County E-911 Director Sonia Sands recently completed the 40-hour Management Level I course at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. The Management Series offered by the GPSTC provides training for existing department managers that enhances their skill set and knowledge base, making them more efficient and skilled at their job.
Sands manages a department that operates 24 hours per day with a staff compliment of 14 full-time employees. She is a strong believer that training keeps employees sharp and ready for whatever situation arises and has an extensive in-house training program for 911 Communications Officers already in place. Congratulations Director Sands!