Lee County to upgrade lifesaving equipment

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County Commissioners discussed everything from defibrillators to dividends to dirt roads -- especially dirt roads -- during their October work session Tuesday night.

Shortly after recognizing and thanking Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Vice President Cynthia George for the hospital's recent donation of six automatic external defibrillators to replace the county's aging lifesaving devices, EMS Director Bobby Watkins asked the commission to approve a $5,000 low bid for three more of the devices.

That amount is equal to a grant presented to the county two weeks ago by Sumter EMC for the purchase of three defibrillators. One each will be placed in the governmental building, the tax commissioner's office and at Grand Island Club.

"People will be trained to use the devices at each of these locations," Watkins said.

George, a former county commissioner, told the board she had a personal as well as a hospital-related reason for celebrating Phoebe's gift.

"Giving back to the communities we serve is an important part of what we do, and we're proud to do our part," she said. "But this means a lot to me because a little over 40 years ago my dad passed away from a heart attack. We didn't have the life-saving equipment then; we didn't even have EMS.

"If we'd had devices like this, my dad might not have died that night."

The commission heard reports from Association County Commissioners of Georgia Marketing and Field Services Manager Ben Pittarelli (property liability and workers compensation stewardship); Southwest Georgia Regional Commission Planner Shane Kelsey (solid waste plan); and Chief Forest Ranger Tom Lambert (annual report).

"Last year, we had more than enough rainfall, whereas just in the last month of this year we've responded to eight fires in the county," Lambert said. "We responded to 13 in the county all of last (fiscal) year. We used that time to educate the public."

No one commented during a called public hearing on a request for an alcohol license at the Dollar General store on N. Slappey Boulevard, while Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander requested a change order in the amount of $38,057.50 to bring the nearly completed intersection at U.S. Highway 19 and Robert B. Lee Drive up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

"If you approve the change order, we do have the funds available in SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) V under roads and bridges," Alexander said.

Interim County Administrator Al Crace discussed a "two-tiered approach" to county public emergency leaders' attempts to have citizens comply with an ordinance that applies to the visibility of address numbering.

"If there is a problem area, Code Enforcemnt will provide notice of the infraction," Crace said. "We'll use that for education and give the homeowner 30 days to comply. If he doesn't do so in that time, he will be given a notice of violation and informed that he has 30 more days to reach compliance.

"If the person still doesn't comply, he'll be given a citation and will have to appear in Magistrate's Court. I think most people will respond in good spirit to our philosophy, which is to educate."

Crace also announced that dedication ceremonies are planned for Oct. 22 for the new Smithville fire/EMS station and Oct. 29 for the naming of the Fifth Friday Foundation Animal Shelter.