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Lee County Commission backs plan to designate U.S. 19 as Veterans Memorial Highway

State Rep. Ed Rynders reports that Lee County will receive Georgia DOT funding for two projects

U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County may be designated Veterans Memorial Highway in 2014. This stretch of the highway is located about halfway between Leesburg and Albany. (Staff Photo: Danny Carter)

U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County may be designated Veterans Memorial Highway in 2014. This stretch of the highway is located about halfway between Leesburg and Albany. (Staff Photo: Danny Carter)

LEESBURG — Lee County commissioners officially endorsed a proposal to designate U.S. Highway 19 in Lee County as Veterans Memorial Highway with a 5-0 vote Tuesday night.

The vote came without discussion and is in sharp contrast to a debate at the board’s November meeting when Commission Chairman Rick Muggridge and Commissioner Greg Frich wanted to give specific recognition to Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

The resolution endorsed Tuesday night mentions no veteran by name. However, signs listing the names of all Lee Countians who have been killed in military action are expected to be placed along the county’s major thoroughfare.

The measure previously was endorsed by the Leesburg City Council. It is expected to be approved by the Smithville City Council when that body meets at 7 p.m. on Dec. 19.

The request for the local legislation will be submitted to Lee County’s legislative delegation for introduction in the 2014 session of the General Assembly, which begins in January.

State Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, was at Tuesday night’s meeting. The lawmaker told commissioners that the Georgia Department of Transportation has approved another “Quick Response” project in Lee County.

“This will add a turning lane for people coming from Old Leesburg Road, or Forrester Parkway, to turn right onto U.S. 19,” Rynders said.

The project is similar to another Quick Response funding for a turning lane at Oakland Road and U.S. Highway 82.

“The funding is about $150,000 for both of these projects that will help with the flow of traffic,” Rynders said. “And, this does not involve any local funding.”

The commission also also adopted a new medical insurance plan that will begin Feb. 1. It will require county employees to absorb a higher share of the cost of insurance.

One of the most significant changes calls for tobacco users covered under the county plan to pay a surcharge of $30 per pay period. This includes county employees and dependents who are covered.

The new plan also changes the current two-tier rate structure to a four-tier plan to more closely match the cost of the insurance to the number of people covered.

Other changes include increasing the deductible from $500 to $750, increasing the emergency room co-pay from $100 to $250, and increasing the co-pay for primary care physicians from $25 to $35 and bumping it to $50 for specialists.

In other business, the commission voted to reject a rezoning matter which would have allowed the operation of a group personal care home at 2503 Ledo Road.

W. Baxter Brown sought conditional approval for the personal care home in the C-4 traditional office district. Several residents of the neighborhood appeared to speak against the personal care home.

They contend the facility would lower residential values, increase traffic and pose a threat to the safety of others in the vicinity.