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Commissoners speak out on litter

Decatur County commissioners used part of their Tuesday evening meeting to talk about the problem of litter.

Commissioner Butch Mosely, who serves on the board of directors for Keep Decatur County Beautiful, again expressed disgust at the amount of trash that accumulates along the side of roads and streets of Bainbridge and Decatur County.

According to statistics compiled by KDCB, county inmates picked up 12.85 tons of trash, including tires, from alongside county roads during February. Between March 1 and March 22, 2.71 tons of trash were picked up. Within Bainbridge city limits, probationers doing community service picked up 4.51 tons of trash during February, and had picked up 2.62 tons to date in March.

“[The work crews] can hardly pick up all the litter before it is thrown out again,” Mosely said.

County Administrator Tom Patton responded to a previous suggestion by Mosely to post more signs stating littering violates Georgia law and is punishable by a $1,000 fine. Patton said 20 anti-littering signs had recently been found in storage and will be put up around the county soon. As the old signs state a fine of $500 for littering, which has recently increased, the plan is to “cross out” the old fine in red paint and list the heavier fine of $1,000, Patton said.

Mosely said he wants the Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement to more aggressively issue citations to anyone caught littering. Keep Decatur County Beautiful has applied for a grant to fund purchase of surveillance cameras which could be placed where littering is especially bad, in an effort to catch those who do it in the act.

Patton gave kudos to Commissioner Gary Phillips, who represents the northwest area of the county, including Brinson, for recently helping Sheriff’s deputies catch people who were illegally dumping waste.

Although law enforcement officers typically have to see someone littering to cite them, anyone who learns of people dumping trash or junk on others’ private property or alongside roads can call 911 to report it or call Keep Decatur County Beautiful at 246-3611 with concerns.

Student working to encourage voter registration

Commissioners heard a presentation by Bainbridge High School sophomore Austin Spooner, on the topic of encouraging people to register to vote. Spooner, who is the recipient of a leadership scholarship from Darlington School in Rome, Ga., has chosen voter registration as his community service project to work on from now through this summer.

In addition to asking local leaders to encourage employees and citizens to register to vote, Spooner said he hopes to help register at least 100 new voters through a variety of means, including door-to-door drives.

According to information Spooner said he obtained from the Board of Election and Voter Registration, of the county’s official population of 28,500, more than 20,100 people are eligible to vote. However, only 13,778 are considered active voters, which leaves approximately 6,800 people who are eligible to vote but are not registered to do so.

Other business

In other business, county commissioners:

 Amended, by unanimous vote, the county’s sign ordinance to bring it into compliance with requirements of Georgia law concerning the distance between billboards and commercial property and the distance billboards must be set back from buildings, right-of-way and other specific places. Chiefly, billboards must be placed within 600 feet of commercial properties, but must be located at least 100 feet from a property’s principal commercial structure.

 Approved, by separate unanimous votes, low bids associated with the upcoming construction of the third phase of the county landfill: $73,995 from Atlantic Coast Consulting of Atlanta, Ga., for quality assurance services; and $11,000 from Howell Mills and Associates of Bainbridge for surveying services. County employees and temporary workers will construct the third phase of four in the landfill’s original design.

 Renewed, by unanimous vote, an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use of the Flint River Heights boat landing and park area.

 Held an executive session to discuss personnel matters and land acquisition. When the public meeting resumed, commissioners voted unanimously—with the exception of Mosely, who abstained—to re-appoint Mosely, Ted Mauldin and Fanny Handsford to the Decatur County-Gilbert H. Gragg board of directors. No action was taken regarding land acquisition, according to Barbara Parsons, an administrative assistant for county government.