March 13, 2009




Attending the  March 9, 2009 BOC meeting was "an eye opener."


The first thing that happened Monday morning was the Commissioners voting 3-2 to go into Executive Session to interview the candidates for County Attorney.  Comm. Patrick and Cox voted no.  Kathy Mudd, editor of the newspaper, argued they couldn’t interview the attorneys in closed session.  The four men left the room.  Comm. Patrick stayed behind.  She said she didn’t think there were any questions that needed to be asked that couldn’t be asked in public.  Ms Mudd appeared outraged and talked about how she was going to file a complaint about this violation of Open Meetings Laws.   Funny how all this was missing from the article about the meeting in “The News” if she was really that concerned.


During the meeting the County Manager was questioned extensively first by Comm. Cox and then by Comm. Patrick.  They both had lists of things the County Manager had been directed to do and they wanted to know if he had done them or not.  It hasn’t taken these 2 commissioners long to realize the County Manager doesn’t follow through or follow up.  The County Manager gave his typical answers of “I don’t know” or “I guess.”  There were several “no” answers meaning no, he didn’t do what should have been done.  Anyone that makes $86,000 a year ought to know how to follow directions and follow through without having to be asked at every meeting.  Everyone attending the meetings can see the County Manager is not on the BOC's team or on the side of the county.  He seems to try to defeat everything they want to do.


Citizen comments came 5 ½ hours after the meeting began.  Some people were determined to stay and let the BOC know just how frustrated they were.  One lady got up and showed pictures of her road, Marben Farms.  With as many potholes as shown on the pictures, it’s hard to be called a “road”.  One pothole was 8 feet long and 4 foot wide and 4 inches deep.  She pointed at the County Manager and said, I’ve called him and called him and he never returns my calls. 


Another man got up and talked about how the road grader came down his road and traveled the entire road at 30mph with the grader blade UP.  When he caught up with the motor grader and asked why, he was told because he didn’t have a work order!  Taxpayers, this is what you are paying for—fuel and time to do absolutely nothing.  There is no supervision of what is done or supposed to be done.


Two men that lived on Johnny Fears Rd. and Kline Rd. brought pictures and shared them with the BOC.  The roads were entirely flooded during the past weekend when there was rain and then several inches of snow.  The road hadn’t been worked in years and there were no ditches to handle the water.  The roads in this county have stopped up culverts and if the road is dirt, the ditch is full of limbs and trees so water doesn’t drain properly.


The meeting really got exciting when one man informed the BOC that he had watched the County Manager during several meetings and in particular the last night meeting.  He said that every time the BOC voted on a budget cut or anything else the County Manager made faces and let everyone know of his disagreement with the BOC.  He told them they needed to get rid of the County Manager and get someone that supported them and would work with them. 


After all these comments, the BOC has to be fully aware that the citizens are tired of not having their calls returned and their problems addressed by the County Manager. 


Finally the County Manager was questioned about his investigation concerning the now former Recreation Director, Don Shipp.  During the meeting Comm. Patrick had asked the County Manager if all the items Mr. Shipp had at his house belonging to the Rec Dept had been returned.  The County Manager assured her they had, “That’s all been taken care of” he said.  Oh, but maybe not.  The next speaker informed the County Manager there were still some more things --including a golf cart that the Rec Dept paid for and was still sitting in Don Shipp’s yard.  He then produced the invoice.  The invoice shows that no sales tax was paid and that the golf cart was sold to Jasper County Rec Dept.  Sources tell TWG that Mr. Shipp has returned such things as weed eaters, drills, and other tools and equipment that have been at his house instead of at the Rec Dept. 


After hearing all this an invoice for $400 for a deep fryer was produced. A copy of the Rec Dept bank deposit slip showing Mr. Shipp’s personal address was also shown.  The deep fryer has never been seen or used at the Rec Dept.  Amounts paid to Lee Umpire Association were also listed.  Over $14,000 has been paid to Lee Umpire Assoc.  This business was run by Don Shipp who received these checks from the county without revealing his involvement. 


TWG hopes an actual investigation by the Sheriff or GBI is conducted.  Use of county property for personal use is a felony, isn't it?  Isn’t it time someone in Jasper County actually did something about these things?  The County Manager didn’t seem to find anything wrong during his investigation.   It appears he’s more worried about covering up problems than fixing them.


This county needs a county manager that will do what is right for the county and not try to defy the BOC on everything that they are trying to accomplish.  The commissioners need to decide if this county needs to spend money for a county manager. 



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