State funds include Avera project
• Avera stands to get $20,000 for fire station; $15,000 cut that would have gone to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
By Ben Roberts
In the political arena, there will always be winners and losers and the State of Georgia's record 17.4 billion budget for 2006 is a good example of that philosophy.
The General Assembly's final version of the budget now awaits Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature. If he signs it as is, the City of Avera will receive $20,000 to add an additional bay to the city's fire station, thus becoming one of the winners.
However, Perdue has the power of the line item veto to strike individual requests from the document and Avera's funds for expansion could fall under the Governor's blade.
Avera's mayor, Tommy Sheppard, hopes that won't be the case.
"It would be a big help if we got it," he said. "The way the Governor's cutting, though, we'll just have to wait and see."
House Representative Jimmy Lord (D), who's 142nd district includes Jefferson County, agrees. It's all up to the Governor now, he said.
Lord had originally requested $35,000 for the expansion but that number was eventually whittled to its current figure.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO), however, was one of the state's losers. Lord had also requested $15,000 for them to use towards equipment purchases, but that amount was removed completely when the proposed budget went to the Senate.
"There were several things we needed in Jefferson County, but with the budget being so tight, I requested what I thought was most pressing," Lord said. "In the end we just weren't able to get everything we wanted."
Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins said he asked for the funds to assist in buying metal detectors and bulletproof vests for his deputies, but that he knew the request was a long shot.
"I wasn't too surprised," the Sheriff said. "I know how tight things are, but I was hoping we could get something. I know they've got to watch what they spend, but down here in these small counties, we really need some help."
Glascock County's representative, Sistie Hudson (D), agrees. She had attempted to get funds to assist the county's newly reformed Development Authority, but that request did not make it into the House's version of the budget.
Lord admitted the budget process could be a frustrating ordeal, especially if your requests end up on the chopping block, but, he said, that is simply a part of politics.
"Some of the Republican leadership got more than some of the other representatives; but back when the Democrats had the majority, I'm sure we got a little more too," he said. "That's just the way the game is played. We've all still got the same job to do."
Senators J.B. Powell (D) and Jim Whitehead (R) did not return phone calls inquiring what they had requested for their districts in the budget.
Glascock landfill needs further study before closure
• Dangerous contaminates found in landfill, assessment would determine extent of contamination
By Faye Ellison
After last week's meeting Glascock County officials are trying to determine the best course of action for dealing with contamination at the county's landfill, as well as how to pay for the additional costs associated with a mandated more in-depth assessment.
Tests conducted over the past several years have detected the presence of both mercury and dichloroethene in a total of 6 of the 13 test wells at the county landfill causing the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to require the county to prepare a Contamination Assessment and Corrective Measures Plan.
County landfill consultant Charlie Armentrout brought the news before commissioners at the April meeting last Tuesday.
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Armentrout said the required assessment should pin point the extent of the contamination of mercury, which is a metal, and the dichloroethene, which is a solvent, in the landfill. Without the study it is impossible to determine the levels of these contaminates in the soil, bedrock and groundwater, as well as how wide and deep they appear.
Another big problem the commission is facing involves coming up with the $30-$35,000 needed to pay for the assessment when the expense has not been included in this year's budget.
According to Armentrout, dichloroethene has been found in two test wells and mercury has been found in four. He went on to tell commissioners that while EPD allows a maximum amount of mercury, any amount of dichloroethene would be excess.
"We monitor 13 wells and have not found any contaminates in the other seven," Armentrout said. "That does not tell me to what extent they are in the landfill.
"One of the purposes of the assessment is to determine the extent of the problem, then from the data, [the assessment] will propose a method to deal with it."
Though Armentrout is not sure where the contaminates originated, he said that mercury could be found in the byproducts of manufacturing plants and dichloroethene can be found in drycleaning establishments. However, since he is unfamiliar with Glascock County's history, Armentrout said he had no idea of their possible origin.
Commissioners have been trying to close the landfill for the past 10 years; however, they have been blocked by EPD's requirement that the property's groundwater must be contaminant free before such a closure.
"In 1992 we were told that if you go through the steps it will be over and out in five years," Commission
Chair Anthony Griswell said.
Armentrout said that if they had found no contaminates in that first five years after petitioning the landfill's closure, it would have closed.
"I assume the landfill was opened in the early seventies," Armentrout said. "Georgia had open dumps up until about '72 or '73."
Much of the history of the county's landfill predates current commission members' experience with county government.
EPD's decree requiring the county's schedule for compliance was handed down to Armentrout just four months ago. In his response he said the assessment would be conducted during March and April and the corrective plan would be completed by June.
With the county unsure of where funding for the assessment will come, Armentrout feels that it may not be completed in time.
The assessment will require taking more samples, sending them to EPD approved labs that will look at the soil, groundwater and bedrock to measure the levels of contamination. Armentrout said it was important that follow the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations be followed.
"All we have done now, is sampled to say it is here," Armentrout said.
The overall cost of the assessment will be determined afterwards, the $30-$35,000 figure is based on what Armentrout thinks the level of sampling and analysis could be. He said in the long run it could cost more or less.
Armentrout said that at present he knows of no grants or options that could help the financially strapped county curb the costs of the assessment.
Tuesday night, commissioners asked Armentrout to go back to EPD to see if there was any way to cut costs.
"The commissioners did not give me permission to go ahead with the assessment," said Armentrout. "They asked me to go back and talk to EPD and see if there is a way to mitigate this requirement, maybe to lessen the cost to the county. Can that be done? I don't know."