Funding in place for flood elevation study

LEESBURG -- Lee County appears closer than it's ever been to approving a flood elevation study that may alleviate FEMA requirements that some 80 homes located within the agency's newly drawn flood plain purchase flood insurance.

Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander told Lee commissioners Tuesday that the Leesburg had agreed to finance $23,000 of the total $74,400 cost of the study, while the city of Smithville agreed to pay $13,801. Added to the $37,599 the county had previously agreed to pay, that puts the needed funding in place.

"Do you have anything in writing from Leesburg or Smithville saying they will be responsible for these sums?" County Administrator Alan Ours asked Alexander.

The Planning director said he had attended a meeting at which the Leesburg City Council agreed to fund its share of the study, and he said Smithville City Attorney Tommy Coleman had notified him of that municipality's decision to provide the final amount needed to meet the bid of Lanier Engineering.

Commissioners also held a public hearing during their Tuesday evening work session on the request that a pouring license be granted Paige Etheridge for the sale of spirits by the drink on the premises of the Grand Island Club. The application was necessary, Ours said, because of club General Manager Vic McKinley's recent retirement.

Commissioner Dennis Roland asked County Attorney Jimmy Skipper if people who had been drinking at the club could sue the county if they became intoxicated at the club and later were involved in an accident.

"My pat answer is that anybody can sue anybody," Skipper said. "But the law you may be referring to has to do with continuing to sell alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk."

Roland then spoke out against the measure.

"I don't play golf and I don't drink, but I am opposed to the county serving alcohol on any of its premises," he said.

The commission also discussed extending the county's sign moratorium for another 30 days until a comprehensive sign ordinance could be presented to the Board; an agreement that will utilize state funds for a safety program that will provide signage on Lovers Lane, New York, Philema, Oakland, Airport and Richardson roads; Lee Family Connections coordinator Patsy Shirley's request that the county become the agency's fiscal agent, and a request by Fire Chief James Howell for funding to make repairs on a department pump truck.

"I come bringing bad news," Howell said. "We've had a catastrophic failure on our newest and most powerful truck."

Howell offered options of using truck designer American LaFrance's equipment to repair the vehicle or what he considered a more efficient and better quality Hale product.

Commissioner Rick Muggridge recognized members of Lee County's Complete Count Committee and told those gathered that the county had the No. 1 census response of Georgia's 159 counties with an 83 percent response rate.

"Government works because people participate," Muggridge said. "I'm constantly amazed at the willingness of the people of Lee County to do what has to be done."

Commissioners then closed out the meeting with a surprise -- if off-key -- rendition of "Happy Birthday" for Ours who said, "So much for a low-key birthday."