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Sutton may be honored by U.S. 19 designation

Marine Lance Corporal Steven G. Sutton (Special photo)

Marine Lance Corporal Steven G. Sutton (Special photo)

LEESBURG — There’s a good chance that motorists driving along U.S. Highway 19 between Leesburg and Albany soon will be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that Marine Lance Corporal Steven G. Sutton paid for his community and country.

Lee County Commissioners are working with Leesburg City Council members to prepare a resolution asking Georgia legislators to dedicate that portion of the road as Veterans Memorial Highway.

The action, County Commissioner Greg Frich said, would involve the erection of two signs along the highway noting the new designation that includes wording honoring Sutton, who was killed during a combat operation in Afghanistan on June 6, 2012. He noted the change, if approved by the Georgia General Assembly, would not officially change the name of the highway and addresses of residences and businesses along the route would maintain their existing addresses.

Chairman Rick Muggridge said the issue was added to Tuesday night’s agenda to give commissioners time to consider the resolution before voting on it at their November meeting.

“The idea of this honorary designation is to keep fresh in our community’s mind of the sacrifice that was paid by our servicemen, most recently Lance Cpl. Sutton.” Frich said.

Frich said three routes are being considered, with all three covering the same U.S. 19 path to Albany. The only issue to be determined is where the route will start. One option starts at Callaway Street. Another starts at Fourth Street and Starksville Avenue heading west before connecting to U.S. 19. The other option starts at Cannon Drive.

Frich said Leesburg City Council is expected to discuss the same issue when it meets in November.

The resolution would be submitted to State Rep. Ed Rynders to be approved by the Legislature.

The new signs would be placed on each side of the roadway to inform motorists of the honorary designation.

County Attorney Jimmy Skipper said he could prepare a joint resolution after getting input from the city.

Muggride commended Frich for working with the Sutton family and the City of Leesburg in trying to get this initiative prepared in time to be considered in next year’s legislative session.

In other action, the Commission proposed an ordinance that will be voted on in November that would allow the county to purchase used equipment up to $50,000 without utilizing a bidding process.

Previously, the County Manager had been able to spend up to $10,000 with the commission’s approval without seeking bids. This issue surfaced a couple of months ago when commissioners were informed about a used fire engine at a cost of just more than $40,000. Commissioners were stymied on how to proceed on buying the equipment under existing guidelines other than writing a bid specification with narrow parameters to fit that type of equipment.

If approved in November, any purchases under this ordinance would still have to be brought before the full county commission and documentation would have to be provided to convince the board that the equipment in question was in good repair and the price was reasonable, County Manager Ron Rabun said.