Despite years of plans to preserve the old courthouse sitting on the ballot and slow results, Dade County Commissioners voted on Oct. 1 to give the Historical Preservation Society $32,293 in SPLOST dollars to repair the roof of the courthouse on the assumption that the other $20,000 needed will be paid for through a grant.
HPS Member William Back informed the commission that the wooden structure underneath the rafters is rotting quickly and additional lumber is needed to strengthen the roof and prevent a collapse. While the cheapest bid was from Blevins Construction for $52,293 and a grant would pay $20,000 of that, Commissioner Phillip Hartline was not convinced.
“Do we have a plan in place of when we are going to complete the courthouse?,” Hartline said.
“No,” HPS Member Donna Street said. “We’re ready to move though. I don’t want to be 80 when this is done.”
“I don’t either,” Hartline said. “But, I’m not giving another penny to this project until we get a timeline.”
“You don’t get to say that,” Street said.
“How am I supposed to give you [money] when I don’t know where it’s going?,” Hartline said.
“The Architect told us we should fix this roof before we work on anything else in the building because [we could] run a risk of further damage to the building,” Back said.
Commissioner Lamar Lowery was satisfied with the demands.
“I can’t say enough good about Blevins Construction,” Lowery said. “I’m good with it.”
Commissioners Robert Goff and Allan Bradford agreed with Lowery.
Street said the HPS is working to get a timeline. However, there are state-mandated deadlines in place that say the roof work, once started, must be finished in a year’s time.
“By next September, we should be complete and working on another [piece of the courthouse],” Street said.
“We’re not a wealthy county so we’re going to be out there hustling to get [money for the courthouse],” Back said.
The decision to give the HPS $32,293 in SPLOST dollars on the grounds that $20,000 would be paid through a grant was voted on at the end of the regular meeting. All commissioners except for Hartline voted yes.
A walking path easement for the proposed Town Creek Trail was pitched to the commissioners next. The easement is expected to be installed near the courts facility. Trenton Mayor Alex Case encouraged the commission to use their right to close the easement at any time, especially since high profile court cases will eventually resume at the facility when COVID-19 slows down.
Questions arose about how to shut down the easement in the event of such high profile cases taking place. County Attorney Robin Rogers said the only way to do this would be to use barricades and station officers by the easement. Rogers also encouraged setting up additional security cameras.
“The facility is pre-wired for security cameras,” Case said. “We just haven’t put them in because of the budget.”
“How much, money-wise, to put in a couple of cameras?,” Rumley said.
“Less than a thousand,” Case said.
“I’m fine with it,” Hartline said. “I just don’t want to pay out of pocket for the cameras.”
The commissioners voted yes unanimously to allow the easement to be made on the grounds that security cameras will be purchased and installed with SPLOST dollars.
The Commission also voted yes unanimously to the purchase of a new John Deer Tractor and mowing machine for roughly $80,000 with SPLOST funds.
Rumley said one of the county’s tractors, a 2004 tractor with over 60,000 miles, was completely worn out and that the county “desperately” needs a new one.
County Deputy Clerk Carey Anderson reported that attempts to extend the 2020 Census to Oct. 30 were rejected by the federal government. The census was extended to Oct. 5 several weeks ago and is now officially over. Dade County finished with a subpar response rate of 54%, roughly 7% below the 61% response rate from the 2010 Census. The county lost out on over $144 million in additional funds back in 2010. With the lower rate showing that the county only has approximately 9,000 people living in it, the financial losses could be a crushing blow to the county.
Brian Page from the Trenton Telephone Company was congratulated for his over 40 years of service. Page was instrumental in getting Dade its first 911 call service back in the 1980s. Since then, over 1 million 911 calls have been made.
“That’s a lot of calls,” Rumley said. “We congratulate Brian for over 40 years of service with the Trenton Telephone Company.”
“Thank you,” Page said.
“We do appreciate you,” Rumley said.
Proclamations for Fire Week from Oct.4 to 10, Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23 to 31 and Breast Cancer Awareness Month from Oct.1 to 31 were unanimously approved.