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Dougherty County commissioners get storm drainage update

Nineteen of 39 Dougherty County storm drainage projects have been completed

Dougherty County EMS Director Greg Rowe, left, talks with Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard Monday before the commission’s work session. District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson is at right. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Dougherty County EMS Director Greg Rowe, left, talks with Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard Monday before the commission’s work session. District 3 Commissioner Clinton Johnson is at right. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Dougherty County Public Works Director Larry Cook told county commissioners at their Monday work session that the county still has $1,582,031.54 in special tax funds earmarked for 48 storm drainage projects.

Cook gave the commission an update on usage of SPLOST III, IV and VI funds to make storm drainage repairs and upgrades throughout the county, noting specific costs and status on 48 projects identified after heavy rains inundated the county in 2009.

“If you recall, in 2009 we had about a 19- to 21-inch rainfall event that led to significant area flooding,” Cook said. “The information from that event was captured and used in a 2010 report that allowed us to identify 48 specific areas in need of (storm drainage) improvements.

“This report today shows the status and expense of each project.”

Nineteen of the 48 projects are listed by the report as 100 percent completed, while nine others were deleted for various reasons, usually because access to the low-lying private property was denied. Cook said $8,243.57 in SPLOST III and IV funds remain, while $1,573,787.97 in SPLOST VI funding is available for use.

Commissioners were also updated on a Region 4 Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Planning Board stakeholder meeting scheduled tonight at 6 p.m. Dougherty County board representative Judy Gaines said the meeting will focus on the impact the Dec. 31 closure of Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville will have on the region.

Gaines said Dougherty County is one of two locations in the region with a crisis unit that will allow for the intake of both transitional and addictive disease mental health patients. She said both groups would be housed at the county’s 11th Avenue facility.

“Patients in the criminal unit (of Southwestern State) will not be sent to public facilities in other communities,” Gaines said. “They will be sent to other hospital facilities. But there are around 35 transitional patients — 15 of whom will be moved into other rehab facilities — who will be taken into centers with skilled nursing care. Some of those patients are expected to be located in Dougherty County.

District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone said the work of the Planning Board is significant.

“These people are human beings,” Stone said of the patients with mental illnesses. “We can’t just sweep them under the rug.”

Chief Forest Ranger Tom Lambert said in his annual report to the commission that only 11 wild fires had occurred in the county during fiscal year 2013. Those fires burned only 47.79 acres, a much lower total than is typical.

“I think there were a number of factors (responsible for the decrease),” Lambert said. “One is public education, but perhaps the biggest is the large amount of rainfall recorded during the year.”

Downtown Albany Manager Aaron Blair gave commissioners an update on progress of the Riverfront Park canoe/kayak launch project set for bid in the next few days. Blair said the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority-funded project is expected to be completed by early spring.

“Now is the time we want to move forward,” Blair said. “With the (Flint River’s) water down, we should be able to do most of the work in November and December.

County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said, “This is awesome, Aaron. We’ve been needing this for a long time.”

Emergency Medical Services Director Greg Rowe recognized LaCedric Powell for his recent designation as Exchange Club Paramedic of the Year.

“If I’m on the side of the road, this is the guy I want taking care of me,” Powell’s supervisor, Sam Allen, said.