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BOE presents bus camera plan to county

Special to SEGAZINE

Residents in Brantley may soon need to keep an even more careful eye out for stopped school busses since a proposed inter-governmental agreement could allow the buses to keep a close eye on them.

Brantley County School System Transportation Director Wiley Crews told county commissioners Monday night that he had been working with a company named Redflex on a StudentGuardian Program that revolves around the possibility of installing as many as seven cameras on up to five school buses in the county.

But the company’s work wouldn’t end there, he said. The cameras would activate whenever a bus was stopped with a crossing guard out. From there a monitoring company would watch for any vehicles that choose to illegally pass the bus and would send video to the appropriate municipality to write a ticket for the driver who would likely receive it in the mail.

As for the cost, there wouldn’t be one according to Crews, but the company would take up to 75 percent of the ticket money brought in. That’s where an agreement between the three governments in the county would be necessary.

And with ticket costs from $300 for a first time offense, $700 for the second and $1,000 and a revoked license on the third, the county and cities’ share of the remaining 25 percent would still be reasonable, Crews said.

But he said the goal of the technology isn’t to write more tickets, but instead to stop a burgeoning problem in the county particularly on U.S. Hwy. 82 in both Hoboken and Waynesville as well as along Georgia Hwy. 32.

Crews said that Georgia currently has the highest number of student fatalities for the third year in a row and that many of these are the result of motorists passing school buses.

Sheriff Jack Whisenant, who was in attendance of Tuesday’s meeting, said that he was in favor of the project and that the money that would go to the company wouldn’t hurt the sheriff’s office since they would be tickets that may not otherwise be written.

The information was also being presented to the Hoboken City Council Tuesday as well and will be brought to the City of Nahunta at its next meeting.

Crews passed out a packet of information on the company and said he could have a representative at Thursday’s regular meeting to answer further questions.

The item was placed on the regular agenda.

The county also revisited issues with residence living in unfit structures such as storage buildings at the meeting for the first time in several months.

Commissioner Mike Edgy said that he had spoken with the previous county manager to find out where the issue was left. According to former manager Parrish Barwick, the county’s code enforcement officer was asked to send out letters to home owners that violated the county’s housing codes by lacking items such as working water and sewer. The residents were then to have been given 180 days to bring their homes up to code or they would have to leave.

While the code is in line with state law, Edgy admitted to the difficulty and unpopularity of evicting residents from their homes.

Chairman Charlie Summerlin said that it didn’t seem right to move residents out of what they could afford.

However, Edgy and the county attorney agreed that the violating homes were a liability for the county in the event of a major storm or other disaster. Edgy also pointed out that living in unfit structures is as much a violation of state code as it is local.

The item was added to the regular agenda for Thursday.

Meanwhile the county may soon be moving road department employees from five 8 hour days to four 10 hour days to help save money on gas and overtime.

County manager Carl Rowland said that he had polled many of the departments employees and found them to be largely in agreement with such a move. Rowland said that he had noticed during the last week’s flooding issues that workers could get more done in a 10 hour day.

As for the roads themselves, Rowland said they were well on their way to being completely back up and running with remaining work to be finished soon.

The words brought both the transportation director and longtime resident William Gibson to praise the work of the road department in having the roads maintained and repaired in a timely manner.

The sheriff’s department could be more prepared for the next major deluge if the board approves Whisenant’s request. The new sheriff requested two Chevrolet Tahoes in place of three budgeted Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers that were already budgeted for the department this year. Whisenant said he had looked around for the best price and found that Brannen motors had the best price but that a more local company, Walker Jones in Waycross, could match it.

Whisenant said he picked the Chevrolet over a Ford Explorer because he felt the truck, which is built on a truck chassis, would serve the department better than the Ford, which was built on a car chassis. Of the two vehicles requested, Whisenant asked that one be a four wheel drive and the other a two wheel drive.

The vehicles would be used to navigate the county’s more treacherous roads in the event of an emergency during another major storm or flood.

The item was placed on the regular agenda.

Discussion of using a high power pump and truck for cleaning out culverts in the county stalled over cost concerns when the county chairman suggested that the county didn’t have the money to spend up to $25,000 on a truck and a pump repair to make the process a reality.

However, the county manager said that many of the county’s problem roads are made worse by clogged culverts that sometimes are so clogged they can’t be cleaned by any other means. Meanwhile digging them out to solve the problem, he said, is costing upwards of $400 per damaged pipe.

The commission also reviewed two task orders for the airport expansion project with a total of just over $9,000 of the program cost actually falling on the county. The task orders had to be altered after an environmental study was imposed on the project by the state and added to task order nine.

The county is set to receive a large amount in reimbursement from the state for previous work on the project the county manager said.

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