By Mary Ann Ellis

After the pledge and invocation, Commissioner Mike Shumans welcomed the crowd to the regular meeting. The group then approved the minutes for the work session of May 4, the regular meeting of May 4, and the called meeting of May 25. Recognition of the Recreation Department’s State Track and Field participants came next.

Mrs. June Dipolito and Knicole Lee did a presentation to update the commissioners on Pineland, a public agency that serves local people suffering with mental illness and addictive diseases. She commended Patricia Haynes and Reid Lovett for their years of help. Pineland applied for a SAMSA grant and became funded. Appling and Jeff Davis Counties will become the first in the state certified for both mental and physical health services. Appling’s model was the only one chosen in Georgia and has been a dream of Pineland for years. It looks at the whole person and requires a lot of community support, as well as describing local need and support. Now the problem is to fill the staff positions that the grant opened when a national workforce shortage exists.

Lee said, “Appling was awarded funding before the state of Georgia was and will be on the map for the model. No one will be turned away if unable to pay. We will be able to get meds for free, too. We have transportation resources also. Maybe next year there will be money to apply for in that area. Many people with substance abuse problems have medical issues too. Also, this big grant will add twenty positions to the workforce if we can fill them. The five positions we have now will go up to twenty-five.”

Randy Crawford asked to be postponed until a later date.

Changing the portion of Cecil Tyre Road from SR 121 to Dead End (West) to Tom Morris Road was approved per public request and the signs will be changed.

The Recreation Board recommended that the concession stand be leased out and completed by September 1, 2021 and that the monitor for the cameras be moved to Rozier’s office. It is password protected and only Rozier can see it. They currently have seven cameras and can add more if the commissioners want to. He can see the whole complex from the cameras, so if an incident arises, it can be put to rest with the film. Terry Turner affirmed that it can be a legal document. These recommendations were approved unanimously. Harris wants to use debit cards at all functions possible, but no action was taken.

Twiggs asked that the commissioners give the recreation board the equipment for recording their meetings just as the commissioners do. He further stated that Wilton McCall has in his office requirements for volunteer coaches. Twiggs then presented his resignation after 30 years of service. All the commissioners asked him to reconsider, and he said he’d think about it. Twiggs asked them to clarify the difference between board and authority. He was told that the word authority has more bite than board. There are fewer limits on an authority.

The commissioners then provided the final draft of the by-laws for approval. Boatright said they had not discussed them as a board before and that they should have.

“We should have discussed it as a full board before bringing it to a vote, not just two or three of you,” said Boatright.

Twiggs pointed out that as the by-laws currently read, the whole board would rotate off at the same time and every member will be new, which is not a good thing. Rotation should be staggered so that some experienced members remain and know what’s going on.

Boatright said she remembers talking about them a few months ago, but not since and that she was told it was being worked on. She does not object to the changes but to the way it was done.

Edwards made a motion to approve the final draft and it was approved, but not unanimously. Edwards, Charlie Leggett and Doug Harris voted in favor. Boatright and Theodore Wilkerson opposed. Twiggs asked if the recreation board members had to come off and then be reappointed. He was told no.

They then approved Rozier’s recommendation of the Landfill scale computer upgrade at a cost of $8,880.00 dollars, which will come from the contingency fund. Members were asked for six names for the hospital board since Peggy Miles and Pam Williams won’t serve after this term. Wilkerson said Joyce Edwards, Harris said Billy Ahls, and Leggett said Perry White. Rozier will submit those three names and needs three more at the next meeting.

For the 2024 SPLOST Committee, Wilkerson submitted Reggie Fedrick and Gerry Moore, and Harris submitted Jada Miles and Stan Harris.

Development Authority of Appling County board members James Futch, James Clark, Mickey Bass, and Andy Orvin are willing to serve again.

Appling Recreation Manager Wilton McCall addressed the commissioners and asked if a new recreation position is in the budget? He was told not in the current budget. They’d have to do an amendment to the current one or put it in the 2022 budget. McCall said he took his current job in 2011. “I was the athletic director when I was offered the job of Recreation Manager,” he said. “The duties of both jobs stayed but titles went away. I am doing the jobs of two men. I’ve worked for recreation for thirty years now. I have people on my staff who can do this job. We don’t need to create a new position. I want someone who knows recreation.”

Shumans said they would definitely advertise it. The job description depends on the work to do.

“Three or four weeks ago I wanted to hire three people, but I got a phone call saying I can’t do that,” McCall continued. “Now we’re going to create a high-paying position. Make it fair. That’s what I’m asking for.”

Boatright commented that they should have discussed this before putting it on the agenda to vote on.

Edwards said that he knows that McCall has employees, but complaints that recreation is not serving the needs of the community come to them all the time and that he has approached McCall with them before.

McCall replied, “Let me be the director. It’s not fair to come in and take over. I was told we didn’t have the money to hire. Give me a chance to do my job. Let me run my department.”

After a long and heated discussion between McCall and the commissioners with the public trying to talk as well, they tabled the issue, recommending that the county manager get with McCall and discuss the situation and then bring recommendations back to be considered.

Shumans assured McCall that no one was trying to fire him, but McCall said it was all over town that a position had been created and someone hired at a high salary. Rumors do get started.

Terry Turner, lawyer for the commissioners, announced he is retiring and Tracy Alan Brown was hired to replace him. The retainer fee is $1500 and $250 an hour.

Sheriff Melton had no report.

McCall gave the recreation report, stating at they had seventeen state winners and 17 district champs. They will have tennis, golf, and swim teams this summer. They are already practicing, but the golf team must go to Bacon County to practice. Swimming lessons started yesterday (Wednesday) and they have 75 participants so far.

A discussion of wages for summer help followed with the charges for using the fields. The only charge is a $250 clean up fee and concessions. Whoever is having the event pays recreation for use of the field.

Shumans commented that charges should be in line with the other counties.

Chris Horton reported that all bridges and roads are currently open, but they have two road graders down. They have two loaners from the company until the county equipment is repaired.

Shumans thanked people for coming, saying that much was accomplished. As the meeting was ending, Ann Singer thanked each commissioner for the opportunity to serve and tendered her resignation from the Recreation Authority/Board.