Commission Tables Buying New Fire Trucks; Update on Several County Projects


County Projects Moving Forward

Several ongoing projects in Dade County are making progress according to reports given during the October Dade County Commission meeting.

Courthouse renovations continue as Commissioners approved a bid presented by Jamey Blevins with the Historical Preservation Commission. Blevins said the RFP’s (Request for Proposals) for masonry work at the historic courthouse had two to three companies attend the pre-bid, but only one bid was returned by Masonry Specialists Corporation. Blevins said their recommendation was to go with the bid which came in $2,400 less than had been budgeted. The bid, for $36,042, includes repairing wall from trench drain, repairing wall from wreck, straightening coping, and cleaning brick wall surrounding the courthouse. New steps are part of the concrete RFP and Blevins said they had no responses for the concrete work locally so would be widening their net for bids.  Blevins also presented a bid from Mr. Sandman, a local company he has worked with before, for refinishing the hardwood floors in the courthouse. Originally the plan had been to put in new flooring, but once the floors were uncovered it was decided that it would be a shame to cover up the original flooring. Mr. Sandman would come in and remove and reuse wood flooring from areas like the kitchen and bathrooms for any repairs needed and then refinish the floors. The removal and salvage will cost $2,500 with refinishing of both floors coming in at $53,000. Blevins said the cost to refinish was less than the cost of replacement flooring and it was important that the right person was used to refinish and repair the floors because a mess up would mean having to cover all the original flooring.

Blevins said thus far the courthouse projects were coming in under budget and they had been able to add another $2,400 to the contingency fund. They are now looking at proposals for a few things not in the original budget, but that would add to the restoration. One of those items is sending out proposals for cleaning of the outside of the courthouse and cleaning and restoration of the flagpole. Electrical work has been going slower than they like, but Blevins said they have pushed them to move faster and if that does not work then they will try some remedies. Manufacture of the courtroom ceiling tiles is one of the projects with an extended time frame, but Blevins told Commissioners that the project overall was still running on time with a projected end in 2024.

County Executive Ted Rumley spoke about plans for the property that the county had previously planned to use for a reservoir. Currently work on a small corn maze for children is underway on the property and a pumpkin patch is coming along well. Rumley said the hope was that the pumpkins would be harvested and available for K thru 3rd grade students to carve for display around the square. They also would like to transport students to the pumpkin patch to walk through and see where the pumpkins were coming from. This will be the first year for the pumpkin patch and corn maze, but they are hoping the event will get bigger in coming years. As the leaves change, the gates to the property will be opened and Rumley encouraged people to visit the property calling it the most beautiful walk nearly a mile along Lookout Creek. If people do not know where the property is, Rumley said they could contact the county offices for directions.

Bids for pumper trucks for three of the volunteer fire departments (South Dade, West Brow, and Trenton) were presented to commissioners. The bids ranged from $360,000 to $450,000 with a two year period before the trucks would be available. There is a possibility a fourth truck may be needed. Commissioners decided to table the decision to purchase the trucks – which would be done as a lease purchase using SPLOST funds – pending additional information they requested from the fire departments. The proposed fire training center is also tabled until December per request by Ansel Smith who is spearheading the project with the Trenton Fire Department.

Other projects in the county include the HVAC project at the Dade County Public which is complete, according to Library Manager Mindy Haworth. The new HVAC system was mostly paid for through a grant from the state library system. Rumley said paving in the county continues as does work by the state to cut back low hanging branches along State Route 299. Work on the shoulders along Highway 136 going up Lookout Mountain continues as well.

Rumley had three things he wanted to make sure citizens were aware of. First, the rabies wildlife vaccine bait packets have been air dropped in our area as part of the USDA Wildlife vaccination program. Secondly, the new roadways put in at Belk Road and Clark Street are on railroad property and were created for emergency use only when the railroad crossings are blocked. Finally, the bridge project on Highway 136 has had to be re-engineered to prevent closing the section of road down completely. Traffic will be slower during the project and the project will go for several months through school time and summer, but will not be starting any time in the next few months.

Probate Judge Kerry Carter asked commissioners to approve the appointment of an Associate Probate Judge. Carter said the appointment would not cost any extra money and would only be for the term Carter is in office, but was recommended to Probate Judges statewide by counsel. Carter said during COVID they lost three Probate Judges and many more were ill. The appointment of an Associate Probate Judge gives counties a Judge who can stand in during death or illness or other situations when the Probate Judge is unable to perform their duties.

For the month of September, Commissioner Lamar Lowery reported that E-911 handled 212 EMS calls, 238 fire calls, 1,827 law enforcement calls for a total of 2,277 calls. Seventeen new E-911 addresses were added for a total of 99 new E-911 addresses for the year. Lowery also gave a special thanks to first responders in the county and their assistance when his son was recently in an accident.

Soccer is continuing at the county recreation fields, rec league football is finishing up this weekend and one team is still practicing baseball, according to Commissioner Phillip Hartline. As far as inspections go, the county had 11 electrical inspections in September, three new construction and one RV Park. Compared to other areas, like Calhoun who dropped to zero inspections or permits filed in September, Hartline said Dade County has slowed a little, but new construction is continuing.

Commissioners unanimously approved a consent agenda which included bids for work at the courthouse, appointment of an Associate Probate Judge, purchase of two radios from Dalton Communications at a cost of $12,527.82 and an AED from Stryker at a cost of $4,159.05 for New Home Fire Department from SPLOST, disposal of surplus property of a 2008 high mileage Ford Explorer to be sold on, Proclamation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Proclamation of October 8 through 14 as Fire Prevention Week, and Phase II of the Historic Resources Survey for North Dade.

By Summer Kelly

Watch the full County Commission Meeting here: