County Commission Secures Grant for Library HVAC System and Warns Against Increase in Scams


The Board of Commissioners kicked things off with board appointments and proclamations. The reappointment of Department of Family and Children’s Services member Tanina was discussed, as she was willing to retire if a replacement could be found. The Board also discussed reappointment of Sarah Moore to the Historical Preservation. Leisa Cagle was reappointed to the Public Library Board of Trustees, and the appointment of Steve Forester to fulfill the unexpired term of Tad Everett.


The Board then moved on to a reimbursement grant for a new HVAC unit in the Dade County Public Library. The replacement would be for  an outdated LG unit in the library. The library secured a grant for the project and received three proposals for the replacement of the unit, with Callahan being the preferred company. The State Library Association will be matching the funds for the grant, and the commission has a cap of $170,000, with anything extra being requested from the ARPA funds.


The commission was also updated on the Historical Courthouse restoration project, where one Request for Proposal was returned for Millwork, which was over-budget and required the reallocation of funds, but the overall budget for the project did not increase. Two issued RFPs for architectural services and painting were discussed, both of which came in under budget with one contractor being chosen for the painting. The boardd was provided with updates on the progress of the project, with framing work almost complete and drywall installation and Millwork to begin soon. The company also plans to refinish the existing hardwood flooring, with only the issue of nail removal remaining to be addressed. The speaker notes the importance of being careful when removing the nails to avoid further damage to the floors.


Moving forward, the board discussed an agreement with Field Print Equipment Corporation for fingerprinting hardware and software, which will allow them to handle all the fingerprinting needs, including gun permits. The application is a bit lengthy and requires the county to be a responsible party for the machine, which is protected by privacy laws. The County requires both fingerprints and background checks for gun permits, and it takes a short amount of time to complete the process with their system. However, there have been issues with a new company for fingerprinting, where the appointment times have been delayed, leading to difficulties in obtaining the permit. Despite the expense of other options, there seems to be no other choice but to continue with the current system.


Moving on, they discuss a resolution for updating the drug and alcohol policy for FTA employees. A concern was brought up about the policy for drug testing, specifically the requirement for “directly observed collections” where employees are watched while giving a urine sample. The policy notes that for transgender and non-binary individuals, a “normal fluid collection” must be conducted. However, Commissioner Lowrey suggested changing the policy for all County employees to only allow for oral testing to be done instead. The policy cannot be modified extensively as it is an FDA policy but it can be adjusted for County employees.


The County Commission transitioned to the topic of a public hearing for the USDA Rural Development Community facilities Grant, which aims to equip the Dade County Sheriff’s Office training facility. The grant money would be used to furnish the facility to offset some costs. The commission notes that there has been a misunderstanding about the facility being open range for the public. This is not the case, although Firearms instructors are reportedly asking if they can hold safety and self-defense classes at the facility for citizens. However, the county commission would need to come up with a policy, insurance, and waivers for those classes. Some churches have asked if they can require individuals who will be carrying guns for security purposes to go through a qualification course similar to a Target training course, which can help with insurance coverage for the church. In other news, the building update was given on the new facility, which has been painted and had insulation put in, and is now ready for drywall. The commission will also be holding a special call meeting on June 15th at 5 PM to consider approval for the budget.


The Regular Meeting Session began with the commission updating the community on the number of emergency calls received by the fire and police departments, as well as the progress made on emergency road repairs and electrical inspections. The county road department has done well in cutting a new road at Gwen Road, with only a few telephone poles and trees remaining to be removed before it is completed. However, trains blocking the road have caused delays in the construction process. The baseball and soccer teams have finished their spring season, and some age groups may play in the fall, with tournaments planned for the summer. The community raised questions about charging for events such as Antique Alley, but it was explained that the fees go towards covering overtime pay, supplies, and track removal costs. Overall, the county is still experiencing growth, with an increase in new construction inspections every month.


Various other updates were discussed, including the Sheriff’s building being built at the old landfill, the resurfacing of the parking lot, and the start of registration for the Dade County rec league football. Tax notices have also been sent out, and citizens have 45 days to appeal their property value if they disagree with it. It was emphasized that people should not wait until it’s too late to appeal as there is a deadline of June 26th to file, and they would not be able to appeal again until next year. The Commission emphasizes the importance of checking a neighbor’s property value online to ensure uniformity and to take advantage of property tax freezes. They encourage residents to come to their office and ask about how their taxes are determined and discuss their concerns. They also mention the tire embassy and express gratitude to those who helped with the event.


Commissioner Rumley then discussed the progress of various projects in the county, including the building project led by Tommy Bradford that is expected to be a cost-saving facility and generate revenue through training for other counties. They also discussed the Seal Road Project and the Clark Street road project, both of which will improve safety and accessibility in the area.


There have been complaints about traffic on 299, which is becoming a serious issue. Grant Waldrop, the area engineer has been scheduled to address it. The official assures residents that they are working on the issue and that the engineer can make recommendations and bring about changes.


The Commission then moved on to an update from the Director and CEO of the Alliance for Dade Chamber of Commerce about tourism, including new printed materials and increased visitor numbers. A lodging list and restaurant guide as well as sample itineraries and postcards have been developed and are available at the Visitor Center. The Chamber has advertised in various travel guides and publications, with a full-page ad in the State Parks Travel Guide and a two-page spread in the Georgia Parks Magazine. They also did a digital promotion on Facebook and Instagram, with 70 new likes and 32 more followers in one week. The Tourism Department has been successful in their efforts to promote local tourism and are continuing to explore new ways to get information out to the public.


The County Commission wants to warn the county about the increase in scams that are even affecting young people. Citizens are advised to not give out personal information to any suspicious phone calls or emails, especially regarding social security numbers.


Following this, the county is updated on the county’s finances, stating that the general fund balance was at $1.6 million and the American Rescue Plan balance was at $1.5 million. The county’s revenue for April exceeded expectations, coming in at $669,445.84. The report also revealed that the county had excess funds and was under budget for both April and year-to-date expenses. Revenues attained were at 90.02%, while expenses attained were 81.97%. The special purpose local option sales tax collection for the month came at 262,465.72 cents, and the local option sales tax came in at 248,984.84 cents. The tax commissioners report through April 30th indicated that the county collected 5 million 261 147 dollars, and they still had 234,000 352 dollars to go. The report was approved after a motion and a second were obtained.