Center construction delayed
• Law Enforcement Center was originally set to be completed July 1, should now be August 1
By Ben Nelms
Work on the new Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center is nearing completion but did not meet its anticipated completion date July 1. Though the total cost will exceed the $6.5 million limit, county officials say the difference should be made up without spending additional taxpayer money.
County administrator Paul Bryan said Friday that the project should be substantially completed by August 1. Once completed, the building can be inspected by the fire marshal and the occupancy permit can be obtained. The sheriff's office, magistrate's office and E911 can move in at that time. The training date for jail personnel is expected to be near September 1, with inmates moving in once training is complete.
Commissioners have recently grappled with information that the cost of the facility will exceed the $6.5 million authorized by the voter approved one-percent sales tax. The overage results from the purchase of items not figured into the budget for the one-percent sales tax referendum. Those items include the center's telephone system, furniture, relocation and enhancement of radio towers, the computer system and jail management system. Monies that will be generated to cover the additional expense include items such as money from interest on the sales tax bond, the inmate telephone agreement and sale of the E911 tower and existing generator, county administrator Paul Bryan said Friday. Those monies are expected generate enough to cover the additional costs.
"All efforts will be made to avoid having to spend taxpayer money to complete this project," said Bryan.
Bryan added that the county will perform some of the remaining work in order to save on expenses. Such work includes landscaping, cabinet building, erosion control and paving the center's parking lot.
Another issue requiring attention, but one not expected to be costly, is the remediation of the recent runoff of large amounts of rainwater from the law enforcement center and adjacent prison camp into two ponds on private property. The county was cited months ago for the same problem, where runoff contaminated the same ponds. Last week Bryan instructed county crews to construct a sediment pond behind the prison camp to reduce runoff, place matting on the west and south sides of the law enforcement center to stabilize the soil and facilitate the growth of grass, to install rip rap in the ditch on the south side of the property and upgrade the silt fence along the south boundary line.
Located on the Louisville bypass adjacent to the county prison camp, the law enforcement center's administrative building will house the offices of the sheriff and magistrate judge, the magistrate courtroom, a multi-purpose room and the E911 center. To the rear of the building will be the 120-bed jail pod with self-contained steel cells. All inmate activity will be continuously scrutinized from a central control room positioned above the pie-shaped cell units.
In a recent twist, the actual name of the center underwent an unexpected change. The name located over the front entrance of the center now reads, Jefferson County Law Enforcement Facility. The change is due to the title used on the contracting document and, hence, was the name placed on the building, said Bryan.
The law enforcement center project is funded by a SPLOST tax passed by voters in September 2001. Collection began in January 2002 and has a maximum collection period of five years and a monetary ceiling of $6.5 million. The ceiling will likely be met by late 2005 or early 2006 based on collection figures calculated since the collection period began.
County 20-year plan nearly complete
By Ben Nelms
The Jefferson County 20-Year Comprehensive Plan moved a step closer to completion July 1 with the formulation of vision statements for several of the components of the document. The meeting followed a sparcely attended June 17 public meeting where the various goals and objectives produced by the plan committee were unveiled.
The plan will be presented for approval to the various city councils at the July meetings and forwarded to the county for subsequent approval in time to meet the plan's submission deadline in August for submission and final approval by Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs. This is important because counties are ineligible to receive state and federal grants unless an approved 20-Year Comprehensive Plan is in place.
Vision statements were developed for the major components of the all-encompassing plan, including land use, community facilities, natural resources, housing, intergovernmental cooperation and economic development. While purposefully general in their wording, the vision statements were significant because they set the tone for goals and objectives identified in the document.
The vision statement for Land Use read: "Create an atmosphere which encourages the positive development of land, people and resources while utilizing conservation ideals to ultimately protect our environment for future use and development."
Also developed July 1 was the vision statement for the Community Facilities component. The statement read: "Collaboratively work together for the coordination and provision of facilities that meet existing and future needs."
The Natural Resources vision statement read: "Adopt and enforce regulations to protect the county's natural resources to ensure that they are available for future generations."
The vision statement for Intergovernmental Coordination read: "Establish the tools that will be used to coordinate future planning and implementation activity by all levels of government."
Another component category, Housing, had a vision statement developed by the group that read: "Develop resources that will allow for the provision of affordable housing to all members of the community."
Also agreed by the group was to adopt the vision statement for Economic Development used by the Development Authority of Jefferson County.
Now near the completion of its task, the 20-year plan group will meet again in mid-July to determine what finishing touches, if any, are required to complete the plan.
Wrens works to preserve historic structures
By Jessica Newberry
The city of Wrens is home to numerous historic homes, businesses and other structures of historical significance. However, these local treasures would have been lost without the efforts of some local leaders to establish a historic preservation commission.
The idea was proposed a few years ago, and a draft was made, but the commission never really got on its feet, according to City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson. This year, a new draft was drawn up and the ordinance was approved on March 18.
The Wrens Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) held its first meeting at Wrens City Hall on Friday, June 18 with Mayor Dollye Ward and Johnson present. Anne Floyd from the CSRA Regional Development Center (RDC) presented information to the commission and helped them to get things started.
The group went over what the HPC does and the ordinance including their responsibilities and rules of procedure. The commission decided to meet 10 times during the year on the first Tuesday of each month excluding July and December at 10:30 a.m.
The commission is currently in its first phase in which it will arrange driving tours or other activities as part of historic education. The second phase will begin when the city passes another ordinance and sends a report to the main office in Atlanta.
The commission has five members with staggered terms. Members are Judy Bostick, Joe Johnson, Evelyn Murray, John Pilcher and Danette Wren. They will elect a chairman, vice chairman and secretary and decide on terms. The commission has jurisdiction over everything within the city limits.
The Wrens HPC deals with exterior appearance only and anything that was built over 50 years ago is considered historic by the state HPC. The local commission has the power to establish design guidelines, restrict advertising in specific areas to preserve historic integrity and obtain grant funding.
The commission is currently working on updating the Jefferson County Cultural Resources Plan for Wrens by listing possible historic sites as the plan was last updated in 1978. This is an effort to place more pre-1950 structures and sites in Wrens on the National Register of Historic Places.
Preservation activity occurs first at the local level; therefore, a community is in the best position to identify and protect its own resources. The Certified Local Government (CLG) program assists local governments with integrating historic preservation concerns with local planning decisions.
The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources coordinates the CLG program through the Public Service and Outreach Office at the University of Georgia.
With the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a Federal State partnership was initiated that developed into a nationwide preservation program.
Any city, town, or county that has enacted a historic preservation ordinance, enforces that ordinance through a local preservation commission, and has met requirements outlined in the Procedures for Georgia's Certified Local Government Program is eligible to become a CLG.
In order to become a CLG, the local government must establish a qualified historic preservation review commission by state or local legislation after adopting a preservation ordinance that complies with the Georgia Historic Preservation Act. The local government must then maintain a system for survey and inventory of historic properties and provide for adequate public participation in the local historic preservation program.
Once certified, a local government is eligible to apply for federal historic preservation grant funds available only to CLGs. CLGs participate directly in the National Register of Historic Places program by reviewing local nominations prior to their consideration by the Georgia National Register Review Board. Technical assistance in historic preservation is available through training sessions, information material, statewide meetings, workshops and conferences.
The Wrens Historic Preservation Commission will meet again on Aug. 3 at 10:30 a.m. All meetings are open to the public.