Fire Chief Prather recognizes new paramedics

Community, Police & Government
paramedics recognized at BOC

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. — The Pickens County Board of Commissioners met on May 19, 2022. At their meeting, Fire Chief Tim Prather was given the time to recognize two employees who recently received licenses to serve as paramedics. Chairman Stancil also gave a recognition to Pickens County sports teams, and the commissioners voted to fill two positions.

During the commissioners’ meeting, Chief Prather recognized firefighters Zachary Robinson and Zachary Licona who recently finished the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Paramedic Program. Prather emphasized the time Licona and Robinson dedicated to becoming licensed paramedics, “I don’t think there’s ever enough said about the paramedic program and what these guys go through. The program itself is about 1200 hours.” He also read a letter of commendation that was presented to both paramedics. “Although I have never attempted this program,” Prather said, “I am fully aware of the time, preparation, commitment, dedication, and physical demands required to complete this program successfully.” He continued, “It is with immense pleasure and honor that I offer you this letter of commendation for a job well done.”

Prather also noted that their licensure had already been used to benefit the community. He added that one paramedic had already responded to a heart attack call, saying the survivor is “alive today because of that training.”

Continuing recognitions, Chairman Kris Stancil recognized the Pickens County High School teams that reached the state championships or playoffs including baseball, competition cheer, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, girls’ golf, cross country and track, girls’ tennis, soccer, and Esports. Stancil said they “definitely want to recognize and honor every member of everyone of those teams, but like I say, we don’t have a room big enough in the county to bring all of these students and their families in.”

After the retirement of the county’s current commercial building inspector, the commissioners approved an agreement that will allow the chairman to fill the position. The board also took action to appoint a Democrat to the Pickens County Board of Elections. Stancil first noted that the elections board must have two Republican members and two Democratic members. He explained that one current member, Democrat Barbara Balducci, is leaving the county. The commissioners filled that position until the term expires in January 2026.

Pickens Airport will receive over 1.7 million in grant funding

paramedics recognized at BOC

PICKENS, Ga. — The Pickens County Airport will receive up to $1,741,049.12 after the Board of Commissioners voted to authorize acceptance of grant funding. The board also approved a rental agreement with the intent to relocate the county’s Board of Elections office.

Discussing the funding, Chairman Kris Stancil said, “The grant is from the Georgia Department of Transportation Aviation and the FFA in order to do runway crack seals, replace the windsock, relocate beacon, relocate and replace the AWOS system, terminal area site prep and paving, construct terminal building at the Pickens County Airport. I know this has been something we’ve discussed in a couple of previous meetings before, but they have sent over the official authorization in order for us to accept that grant.”

Phil Eberly, with Lead Edge Design Group, noted that “It’s supporting the amount of traffic and activity at the airport. Many of these things are bringing us into compliance with current FA criteria on items that we already have in place … that’s fantastic that we’re offered that, much more than a normal airport would get.”  Chairman Stancil also noted the amount of money listed on the agreement, “The maximum amount the department shall be obligated to pay is $1,741,049.12.”

The grant funding approved at the Feb. 17 meeting comes after the board approved another grant agreement from American Rescue Plan funding through the Georgia Department of Transportation last month. During the Jan. 20, 2022 meeting, Chairman Stancil explained “They [GDOT] took a portion of the funds that were brought in from the federal government. I think statewide they had $3,458,000 to distribute out amongst local airports for different maintenance projects.” The Pickens County Airport received a $32,000 share of that funding.

The board also approved a rental agreement with the Georgia State Properties Commission. Chairman Stancil explained that the county had been in discussions with the Georgia State Patrol about a property located at 3100 Camp Rd: “We were able to renegotiate a new lease agreement with the Department of Public Safety along with the State Properties Commission to allow the county to have access to the portion of the property.” Stancil noted that not all of the building was being utilized, “The total square foot of the building is about 8500. This would then change the amount that the Georgia State Patrol would occupy to 6230, and then the remaining would come to the county. He explained that the purpose of access to the building is to move the Board of Elections office into the new space, saying it would allow more accessibility to residents. Chairman Stancil said he was “very thankful that we’ve had … the engagement, working back and forth with the State Patrol.” The rental agreement will create a 10 year lease on the property.

Board of Commissioners approve 2022 fiscal year budget

Pickens commissioners approve 2022 budget

PICKENS, Ga. – The Pickens Board of Commissioners met Dec. 16, 2021 for their last meeting of the year. At the meeting, the board approved the 2022 budget and approved appointments for the Board of Elections and Development Authority.

Discussing the financial report for the 2021 fiscal year, Chairman Stancil noted, “Every department has done a fantastic job staying under budget this year. They, I think, need to be commended every single time they have a chance to.” He continued, “It’s pretty phenomenal to see that we’re at 10.5% better  than budget.” Stancil also mentioned that despite upcoming, end of the year expenses, the county will stay under budget. The board also approved the 2022 fiscal year budget, which was discussed in previous meetings. The total for the adopted 2022 budget is $33,780,038.

During the meeting, the board appointed two new members to the Board of Elections. Stancil explained the reason for the appointments saying, “As many are aware during this past year … a new law established a new board of elections for Pickens County. In that initial establishment … by law, two of those members, one from the Republican Party, one from the Democratic Party, both expired at the end of the year so that they would end up being staggered terms from that point forward.” At the recommendation of the Democratic Party, the board appointed Barbara Balducci. The board also appointed Larry Brown at the Republican Party’s recommendation.

The commissioners also appointed a new member to the Pickens County Development Authority. Steve Lawrence, Mayor of Jasper, will fill a vacancy left after the resignation of Jasper’s city manager.

At the close of the meeting, a local resident spoke on behalf of residents of the Bent Tree Drive area. He provided the board a petition to deny an upcoming rezoning request, which he said had more than seven hundred signatures. The rezoning, which would allow new development, will come before the commissioners for approval in the coming year.

Before the adjournment of the meeting, Chairman Stancil said, “I want to make sure to tell everyone a very very very Merry Christmas.”


Poll Worker Gets Frustrated with Elections Process

Community, Election, Election 2020, News, Police & Government, Politics
Roberts Elections Supervisor

JASPER, Ga. – At Tuesday’s Board of Election meeting, Kathy Browning confronted board members regarding her frustration during the elections of 2020.

From beginning to end, the official Pickens County Board of Elections meeting lasted maybe a total of 15 minutes. With the lack of a full board, much of the agenda was tabled for another day. It wasn’t until the meeting was adjourned that Kathy Browning asked to speak regarding her time as a poll worker.

Browning gave an emotional and detailed recount of her time while at the Pickens County Recreation Center. Short of her calling people or a party by name, Browning says she was intimidated by a handful of unyielding poll watchers assigned to the same location. What’s more, she says it impeded her ability to manage the voters standing in the long lines.

Pickens County Recreation Center

In one instance, she recalled a chatty female poll watcher caused such a disruption that police were called to deescalate the situation. In another example, Browning states that another poll watcher who refused to show any identity showed up armed with binoculars. Julianne Roberts, the Election Supervisor for Pickens County, said she had never seen anything like what took place this past year.

While these things may not seem like much, the State of Georgia takes them seriously.

Consequently, board members and the elections supervisor say that there is a lot of education that needs to be done to make sure Pickens doesn’t repeat many of the mistakes it experienced. One idea tossed around was building a more robust communication line between the local political parties, the Secretary of State office, county and city government, and the local police departments.

Roberts says that her office is always in need of more help, too. Current law states that a poll location must have a minimum of three people, and no one is a volunteer. County clerks are paid $130 a day, assistants are paid $150 a day, and managers are paid $180 a day. If you want more information on how to help, visit the Pickens County Board of Elections website.

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