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Library usage plan stirs county debate

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, center, talks with Assistant County Administrator Mike McCoy, right, and Commissioner Ewell Lyle before Monday's commission meeting.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, center, talks with Assistant County Administrator Mike McCoy, right, and Commissioner Ewell Lyle before Monday's commission meeting.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes questioned fellow Commissioner Gloria Gaines over the Governmental Affairs Committee's plan to determine use of a closed library building during the commission's work session Monday morning.

After Gaines outlined the committee's plan to look first at possible county use for the building, which formerly served as the Southside Library branch, then at potential use by the city and other government agencies, and finally at general usage, Hayes asked what prompted the plan.

"Why are we, now that we have a group that seemingly has a plan and funding in place for the facility, going through this process of looking at county, city and other government agencies before we even consider this group?" Hayes asked, making reference to the Jayda Lives group that sought permission at the commission's July 8 work session to use the facility for an educational program. "What prompted this?"

When Gaines replied, "I think it's very clear what ..." Hayes cut her off.

"It's not clear to me, that's why I asked," he said. "We have a local organization that seems credible ..."

Gaines replied, "John, the only reason that group got everyone's attention is because they came to you while the other (five) groups (interested in utilizing the facility) went to our county administrator. That alone proves we have no process in place to deal with this type situation."

Hayes suggested that the Library Board should have an opportunity to weigh in on usage of the Southside facility, prompting Commissioner Jack Stone to reply, "The Library Board should not have a say in what happens with this building. The people of this county did not elect them to make those decisions."

Earlier, the commission listened to a noise complaint from David Ryan, who lives on Big Oak Court in the southwestern part of the county. Ryan said he'd had to resort to going to bed with earplugs because a neighbor played music loudly and refused requests to lower the volume.

County Attorney Spencer Lee said, since the unincorporated portion of the county had no noise ordinance, the county could do little until the situation rose to the level of criminal action. "At that point, law enforcement can get involved to keep the situation from getting to a disturbing-the-peace level," Lee said.

Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard asked Ryan to meet with Lee and representatives of the county police department and the sheriff's office to see what action might be taken.

"That's his home; this man should not have to put up with this," Gaines said.

Also at the meeting, county Public Works Director Larry Cook discussed plans to start work on the next phase of storm drainage improvements that had initially been approved by the commission in 2009; County Administrator Richard Crowdis updated the board on a call for renewal of a lease agreement with the Southwest Georgia Association for Convalescent and Aging Persons, and Assistant Administrator Mike McCoy recommended declaring county equipment as surplus so that it might be sold.

Sinyard made a plea for citizens in the county to help with economic development efforts by keeping the community clean.

"Everyone in this building and throughout our community wants us to move forward, and one way we can all help is by not littering, not throwing trash on the streets," Sinyard said. "It's embarrassing to see the piles of litter on some of our busiest streets; if it weren't for groups like Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, the sheriff's department and other volunteers we'd need a bulldozer to get down the streets."