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Citizen James Tinker told the Dade Commission at its Thursday meeting about the county’s littering problem. “I thought somebody told the citizens of Dade County Hale’s Gap was the new dumping site,” he said. Also pictured is court reporter Erin Meeks Flatt.
 

By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter

 

At the regular April meeting of the Dade County Commission on Thursday evening, commissioners and citizens talked some serious trash.

District 4 Commissioner Allan Bradford in his monthly report told of how the sheriff’s department had recently devoted resources and manpower toward cleaning up garbage dumped on Newsome Gap Road.  District 1’s Mitchell Smith elaborated: If whoever left it there had carted it to the landfill, said Smith: “It would have cost the people maybe $5 at the tops, but it cost the county maybe $500 to pick it up.”

People may think they’re saving by avoiding tipping fees, said Smith, but as taxpayers they’re costing themselves money in increased expenditures of public funds. Smith’s challenge to the county was: “Come to the dump.”

In the citizens’ participation part of the meeting, James Tinker stood up to suggest the problem might be confusion as to where, exactly, that was. “I thought somebody told the citizens of Dade County Hale’s Gap was the new dumping site,” he said.

Tinker said Sand Mountain residents in the Scratch Ankle neighborhood were progressively unhappier about the mess. The area had been cleaned up several years ago, he said, but was now getting choked again with litter. “Somebody has to see these cars going in and out, because there ain’t but one way in or one way out, but nobody reports it,” he said.

Tinker’s wife, Deborah Tinker, speaking in her capacity as the executive director of the Dade County Chamber of Commerce, said C of C ambassadors had picked up 120 bags of garbage in Hale’s Gap. She reminded the public that the Chamber will provide free garbage bags to any individual or group wishing to help with the “Great American Cleanup,” ongoing until the end of May. Readers may call the Chamber at (706) 657-4488.

The commissioners said the sheriff’s department took illegal dumping seriously and could track perpetrators down by looking for paper litter with their names or addresses. They urged anyone noticing illegal dumping to report it, either to the commission office (706) 657-4624 or to the Dade County Sheriff’s Department (706) 657-3233.

Still on the subject of garbage, Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley recommended that the commission renew Dade’s contract with S&ME Inc. for monitoring of the old county landfill. He explained that the company tested groundwater in the dump’s vicinity for contamination. Recent samples still showed a trace of cobalt, but Rumley hoped within the next few months the water would test pure enough to relieve the county of its monitoring obligation altogether. Anyway, he said, “Most people are not on wells anymore.” 

The commission voted to approve the renewal. In other business, the commission also voted to proclaim May 12-18 Respect for Law Week.

Otherwise, the April 4 meeting was so short on agenda items that the commissioners’ work session at 6 p.m. ended in time to call the business meeting to order at 6:06.

But that is not to say the evening was entirely without drama: Commissioner Bradford of District 4 delivered the ill tidings: The blinking light at Highway 157 has been stolen. 

Anyone who has traveled by night in the Head River area will realize the significance of the news. Fog is the abiding affliction of that part of the mountain. “When you get to 157, you can’t see two foot in front of you,” said Bradford.

He said the solar-powered light at Highway 157, which had been installed only a month or two previously, had probably already prevented a number of accidents. “I’ve had so many comments about it,” said Bradford.

Devastating as the loss is, Bradford said his emphasis will be on recovering the light as opposed to punishing the taker. “If they’ll just call me, there won’t be any charges,” he said.

Chairman Rumley said in any case another light is already on order. This one, he said, will be welded in place to discourage the covetous.

Rumley updated the audience on the county’s search for a new human resources director after the precipitous departure of the incumbent pursuant to questions raised by the audit of fiscal 2012. He said the auditors, who are doing the testing of candidates for the position, had narrowed the field down to five hopefuls. Rumley hopes to have the vacancy filled by next week, he said.

He touched on the recent friction between the sheriff’s department, which has released numbers it says show that Dade’s new jail kitchen is saving the county big bucks, and Randy’s Restaurant, which used to cater meals at the lockup, and contends the reverse. Rumley said anyone who likes may come in and review the figures. “We have that in our office and we can show you exactly what’s going on with that,” he said.

On the business front, Rumley congratulated D&B Powder Coating on its new hydrographics process.  He also said the county is doing, and will do, all it can to accommodate the expansion of another business, Accellent, eager to keep the big employer in Dade County.

And finally, he pointed out that the ongoing controversy over Georgia’s claim to Tennessee River access had once again put tiny Dade – which is where Georgia’s drinking straw would dip into the river – on the map. He had just been interviewed by a CBS crew for a Friday national news report, said Rumley. “It surprises me that it would draw that much attention,” said the “Executator” modestly. And, with a nod to the press table: “That’ll sell a lot of newspapers in the next year.”

District 3’s Robert Goff was absent, traveling abroad, and District 2’s Scottie Pittman had nothing to report.

Donna Street stood up to report on the Friends of the Library’s March 22’s dinner with elected leaders, which included a brainstorming session on how to save the threatened library. She said getting a resolution to dedicate a portion of county taxes to support the library had been one of the favorite ideas discussed. Another had been getting the regional management to house one employee at the Dade branch to stretch staff there. That, said Ms. Street, was one she would be pressing forward immediately.

Ms. Street also said that Marshana Sharp, the library’s manager, was looking for someone to teach a money management class. 

Tom Black, Dade’s representative on the regional mental health board, stood up to invite the public to a community education program this month called “SOAR,” the Science of Addiction and Recovery. It runs 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on April 30 and includes lunch. Location is the LaFayette Recreation Department at 638 S. Main St. in LaFayette.  For more information, Black may be reached at (423) 718-1725.

Dade’s own John Deffenbaugh, newly elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, addressed the commission briefly about the House’s recently concluded legislative session. He reported that legislation had been passed to combat “pill mills” – facilities that grant easy access to prescription drugs – and that state personnel would be shifted interdepartmentally to enforce it. “If one doctor is doing all the prescribing in the town, they’ll be able to tell that,” he said.

Deffenbaugh urged constituents to stay in touch. “I need input,” he said. “That’s the lifeblood of everybody down there.”  Readers may email the representative at john.deffenbaugh@house.ga.gov.

 

 


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