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County re-opens damaged bridge

Officials have reopened the bridge on Faceville-Attapulgus Road in southern Decatur County after making emergency repairs, County Administrator Tom Patton said Friday.

At their Tuesday evening meeting, Decatur County Commissioners had approved paying $55,000 to Southern Concrete to make the emergency repairs, which became necessary after the bridge was damaged earlier this month and Georgia Department of Transportation ordered it closed, according to Patton.

On Oct. 13, Georgia DOT officials were in the process of inspecting a number of county bridges. As they were inspecting the bridge on Faceville-Attapulgus Road, located near the road’s intersection with Englehard Road, a large truck went over the bridge and the bridge visibly gave way a little, Patton explained Tuesday night. The bridge was immediately ordered closed and remained closed until Wednesday, Oct. 28, when the repairs were approved by the DOT.

To correct the damage to the bridge, Southern Concrete had to repair approximately 14 cement pilings, making sure the bridge’s supporting structure was located 2 feet below the bed of Little Attapulgus Creek, Patton said.

“Workers took culvert pipe, cut it in half and hinged it around existing pilings,” Patton said Friday. “[The pipes] were sunk around the old pilings and concrete was pumped in around them, strengthening the existing bridge structure.”

“[The bridge’s closing] was a real inconvenience to some of our citizens and our landfill customers,” Patton said. “We had to detour traffic over seven miles out of the way, so it was critical that we get the bridge up and active.”

According to federal bridge inspection records accessed online through nationalbridges.com, the Faceville-Attapulgus Road was built in 1959 and is about 75 feet long. It’s estimated an average of about 740 cars pass over the bridge every day.

Patton said DOT officials told county officials they had inspected all of the county’s other bridges, which passed safety examinations.

Elections board update

Commissioners heard from Ray Chambers, chairman of the Board of Elections and Voter Registration, on elections-related business and issues.

Chambers noted the county’s recent agreement with Recovery Methodist Church, which will allow its fellowship hall to be used as a polling place for the Recovery precinct. Elections officials are also working on getting grants to upgrade nine polling places to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Parker Courthouse, which will no longer be used for voting, will be moved to the Climax Swine Time grounds, Patton said.

Other business

Other business considered by county commissioners Tuesday night included:

 Approved, by unanimous vote, a bid of $24,060 from Montgomery Technology of Greenville, Ala., for a new door security system at the Decatur County Prison.

 Approved revisions to the county’s employee handbook. One revision states that a high school diploma is preferred for persons seeking employment with the county government. New hires without a diploma will have to agree to work toward getting a general equivalency diploma (GED) within a mutually agreed-upon period. The other revision requires employees who drive county equipment and vehicles to report traffic citations to their supervisor, in addition to the non-traffic offenses that have to be reported by all employees.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, a resolution authorizing a bank account maintained by the Decatur County Prison for convenience in dealing with inmates’ personal accounts.

 Approved, by unanimous vote, corrections to the county’s tax digest concerning 27 errors and appeals presented by Tax Commissioner Don Belcher, who in turn received them from County Tax Assessor Ruth Eakin.

 Held a a closed session to discuss personnel matters. When the open meeting resumed, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Marla Ames to the Southwest Georgia Housing Task Force and the reappointment of Gloria Freeman to the Board of Tax Assessors, according to Barbara Parsons, Patton’s administrative assistant. Commissioners also approved sending County Attorney Brown Moseley to a voting rights legal seminar about the redistricting process to be held in Columbia, S.C., on Dec. 10. The seminar is sponsored by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the trip will be funded by previously budgeted funds allotted for Moseley’s continuing education, according to Parsons.