Coweta snow response praised, Gantt honored
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager praised Coweta County staff Tuesday night for their efforts last week getting roads safe for travel after the snow.
“I just want to say ‘thank you’ and commend all the county agencies,” Yeager said at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
Yeager said he wanted to particularly recognize the Road Department. Public Works Director Bill Cawthorne and his crews worked around the clock treating roads. “I was listening to them on the scanner at 3 in the morning trying to get our county roads passable,” Yeager said. “I tell you, they worked their rear ends off.”
“With everything that was said and done on the Atlanta media about all these negatives, we’ve got some positives in Coweta County,” Yeager said.
Commissioner Tim Lassetter drove home in the snow from Douglas County through Fulton County to Coweta.
“If you saw the roads up there and then you saw the local roads here… we’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Lassetter said. “When you compare the two, there is no comparison.”
“I just want to reiterate what the sheriff said,” added Lassetter,
The commissioners voted Tuesday night to pay county employees for the snow days. County offices closed early on Jan. 28, and were closed on Jan. 29 and 30.
The county’s personnel policy states that non-essential employees must take annual leave or unpaid leave anytime county offices are closed for emergencies.
County Administrator Michael Fouts asked for direction from the commissioners.
Commissioner Rodney Brooks voted to pay employees for the time they couldn’t work, and asked county staff to “examine this policy and come back with any recommendations to this board. I think our policy probably needs to be looked at pretty hard.”
Commissioner Paul Poole said his company allows employees to make up the time they lost by working weekends or longer days. He’d like to see a way for employees to be able to make up time.
Either way, it’s critical that elected officials and department heads know what the policies and procedures are, Lassetter said.
“We as a board are the ones that are responsible” for making the policies, Lassetter said, and staff are responsible for enforcing the policies.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to get the impression that our staff or department heads are doing anything other than administering the rules they way they are written,” Lasstter said.
After the meeting, Brooks said the non-payment policy “was never enforced.” But he wants to be sure people know the policy going forward.
In other meeting business:
• The board recognized Coweta County Assistant Fire Chief Jimmy Gantt, who serves as the county’s fire marshal.
Gantt was recently named Fire Inspector of the Year by the Georgia Fire Inspectors’ Association. Gantt was nominated by an inspector from the state fire marshal’s office.
Several commissioners spoke about Gantt’s service, and he then received a standing ovation.
“On behalf of the citizens of Coweta County I want to thank you; for what you have done to help protect all the citizens, but particularly my family,” said Lassetter. “You have done things that have made a difference in our county.”
“We’ve been a lot safer due to your diligence and hard work,” said Chairman Bob Blackburn.
• The commissioners briefly discussed Blackburn's proposal to allow smaller homes for senior citizens who own 50 acres or more. Currently, all new homes built in Coweta must be at least 1,725 square feet.
The issue was discussed at length on Jan. 7. Blackburn said he wanted to be clear in that the idea is to both help elderly Cowetans have a comfortable place to live on their land and to protect rural integrity.
The commissioners voted to continue discussing the issue.
• The board approved an amendment to the agreement that recreation leagues must enter into with the Coweta County Recreation Department to use county facilities. A new addition to the agreement is the requirement that background checks be performed on all coaches.
• The board named Steve Stripling as Coweta’s “non public” representative to the Three Rivers Regional Commission.
• The board approved the “preferred alternate” for the intersection improvement at Smokey Road, Old Corinth Road and Belk Road.
The plan will pull Old Corinth Road behind the commercial area, separating the two intersections. Belk Road will be moved slightly east, and Meadow Sweet Way will be moved slightly west so those two roads will come together with Smokey in a four-way intersection. Both intersections will have traffic lights.
Blackburn asked if a roundabout was considered.
A configuration of two roundabouts was looked at, but wouldn’t provide “an adequate level of service,” in 2036, said Tod Handley, director of transportation and engineering. That’s the “design year” for the project. That means the project is expected to meet needs through at least 2036.