By LYDIA BERGLAR
The Dec. 1 meeting of the Dade County Board of Commissioners largely focused on requests for SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to support emergency response and law enforcement, specifically several fire departments, the Dade County Sheriff’s Office, and the Emergency Management Agency (EMA).
Jamey Blevins also gave an update on the Historic Courthouse Restoration Project, and Adam Austin gave an update on Trenton Telephone Company’s fiber optic expansion.
Commissioner Robert Goff (District 3) led the meeting in place of County Executive Ted Rumley. Rumley’s home was struck by lightning during the Nov. 29 storms and sustained some structural damage.
The commissioners appointed Will Garrett to the Industrial Development Authority, a six-year term position beginning on January 1, 2023. They also reappointed Kevin Smith to the Special Use Permit board.
Requests for funding from SPLOST and ARPA began with Mat Hill, South Dade Fire Department fire chief, requesting SPLOST funds to upgrade medical items: one LUCAS Chest Compression System and two LIFEPAK 1000 AEDs (automated external defibrillator). The total is $24,747.59.
Alex Case (EMA director) requested SPLOST funds for radio systems for three fire departments: South Dade, New Salem, and Davis. The total is $42,875.00.
Case also requested SPLOST funds for a new F-250 truck for the EMA. He noted that the old truck has about 168,000 miles on it, but it will continue to be used locally. The price is $56,551.16. Case noted that the dealership requires a PO, but the payment would not be made until the truck is available, but the pricing will not change.
Don Townsend (clerk and finance officer for the county) added that the timeframe could be up to a year, saying, “It’s been hard to get any emergency package vehicles. You can order it today, and you might not get it for a year.”
Chief Deputy Tommy Bradford explained an upcoming project which would involve a request for ARPA funds. The Dade County Sheriff’s Office is planning to apply for a grant for a shooting simulator. The grant requires that the office have a facility to house the simulator. Therefore, they are currently searching for an appropriate location to construct a metal, prefab, 30 foot by 60 foot building with a 30 foot awning.
They are looking at the old landfill located near Back Valley Road and Daniels Road. Bradfor noted that the simulator will not create loud noises which would disrupt the surrounding area. He noted that the Trenton Police Department has an outdoor shooting range also on Back Valley Road.
Commissioner Melissa Bradford (District 4) asked how often the facility would be used. The chief deputy replied “Quite often. It teaches you how to be under stress and it gives you different scenarios. One time, it may be a shooting scenario. Another time, it tells you to de-escalate or use a taser.”
Bradford’s current estimate for all costs related to the building is $100,000. He noted that some members of the sheriff’s office have construction experience and would be able to do some of the labor themselves. He noted that while the sheriff’s office would maintain it, the fire department and other groups could use some of the space.
The commissioners tabled this request while plans and costs are finalized.
Case returned to last month’s request for funds to update the E911 system. The board elected to consider ARPA funds instead of SPLOST funds for this project. Case reported that they receive about 38,000 911 calls each year.
The updated quote totals for new systems and five years of support are $444,792.00 for Ztron (the current company) and $446,095.72 for Motorola Vesta. Case would like to keep using Ztron because the operators are already familiar with it and they are happy with the company.
Case also mentioned the goal of having a backup system in a storm shelter so that if the main 911 call center is taken out by a storm or other disaster, they could be up and running again very quickly at the storm shelter.
Townsend added that this request has been on the table for much longer than these two recent board meetings. “We’ve been talking about this for three years.”
Jamey Blevins of Blevins Construction Management gave an update on RFPs for the Historic Courthouse Restoration Project. They only received one proposal of $2,808 for fire proofing the building. The other RFP for storm, water, and site work totals $28,600.
Blevins will continue to ask for RFPs for other needs in the courthouse project.
Adam Austin then gave an update on Trenton Telephone Company’s work to build out the broadband fiber optic internet throughout the county. “We are 100% built out with fiber on all of the main roads in our service area. We are 99.5% complete on secondary roads. We turned on our first fiber customer in 2012,” said Austin, noting how much progress they’ve made in the last decade.
Austin also noted that starting Jan. 1, 2023, all fiber internet customers will be bumped up from 250 megabytes (a quarter of a gigabyte) to one gigabyte for the same price.
At the end of the workshop portion of the meeting, Georgia Probation Services requested the signing of service agreements for the Superior Courts, Probate Court, and Magistrate Court. These agreements are signed every five years and do not involve funds.
During the regular meeting, Commissioner Lowery (District 1) reported November emergency calls: EMS 637, fire department 768, and police 2,427.
Commissioner Phillip Hartline (District 2) reported electrical inspections for November: 7 new construction, 7 mobile homes, 1 operation, and 1 new connection.
Mindy Haworth, manager of the Dade County Public Library, noted that the library will be closed for Christmas from Dec. 24 through Dec. 27.
The board of commissioners accepted the consent agenda.
The next commissioners meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m.