March 20, 2007
HEADSTART/PRE-SCHOOL BUILDING POSSIBLE—
PUBLIC HEARING HELD 3/19/07
if more people had realized just what the advertised hearing
was all about, they would have shown up for the public hearing
held Monday, 3/19/07 at 12:00
noon. However, only 2 citizens, the School
Superintendent and his financial officer, and the editor
of the newspaper showed up. NOT ONE of the School
Board members showed up for the hearing. Sometimes
we wonder if the School Board even knows what is going on.
The announcement in the paper stated:
The Jasper County Board of Commissioners will hold a Called
Meeting on Monday March 19th, 2007 at 12:00pm. The purposes
of the Called Meeting will be (1) To hold a Public Hearing
on a CDBG grant request on behalf of the Jasper County Board
of Education, and (2) To adopt a resolution on
said CDBG Grant.
Since this advertisement
was so vague, TWG requested information for exactly what
the hearing was about. The County Manager informed up that
this application was being made at the request of the board
of education to assist them in building a pre-school/headstart
facility. In addition we were told that these
grants (CDBG) are only awarded to cities and counties so
the county will act as a pass through for the grant.
will recall, we just voted
in a $9.5 million SPLOST to not only build a new High School,
but for the “construction and equipping a new Pre School
Center at the Jasper County Primary School.” So why is more
money needed? These questions and more we
asked at the Public Hearing.
what happened at the meeting:
First, Chris McGahee of the NGRDC spoke about the grant.
He said the schools were told by DCA to apply for a CDBG
grant. He said there was a “shortfall” on funds
to build the new Pre-K/Headstart Building.
(TWG: How can there be a shortfall when no one knows how
much was set aside in the first place? Or was any money
really set aside?) He said the BOC would only be the applicant,
but that the Schools (BOE) would bear all the cost associated
with the grant, the building, etc. (TWG: However, there
was a 2 page letter to DCA “certifying”
that the BOC was responsible for the grant –and any and
all problems was theirs (the BOC) to correct.) Mr.
McGahee explained that this grant was “on the fast track”
(Read this we’re pushing this through as fast as possible.)
and that the BOE would pass a mirror image the next day.
The grant request would then be sent to DCA and if it was
approved, the funds would be sent to the County in September.
then had a chance to speak. First, TWG Chairman, Mary Patrick
spoke. Her questions included:
1. How much
is the RDC cut of the grant for administration?
2. She reminded the BOC that if they hadn’t read the certification,
that no matter what they were told, THEY were responsible
for the grant.
3. She recalled the “Walter Smith” CDBG grant where the
County also took over and administered a grant for the
City which turned out to be something the County got “stuck”
with—investigations, hearings, sanctions, etc.
4. She questioned why the BOE didn’t sign the resolution
FIRST and then ask the BOC to sign on? And wondered WHY
this was on the “fast track.”
5. She felt it was an injustice to all the citizens that
the ad did not tell what the hearing was really
about—that is, building a new Headstart building—and why
was it so difficult to let people know the details. There
could have possibly been more concerned citizens attend
if they knew what it was all about.
Next, Mr. Charles
Forsythe spoke. He had the following comments:
was for the Construction of the Headstart building, and
this proposed grant is for the construction.
2. “Oversight IS the county’s responsibility because YOU
are the administrators,” he told the BOC.
3. He felt there should be an indemnity agreement with
BOE where they would bear all the expenses, administration,
and anything else to do with the grant.
4. He asked if there was any match required.
comments and questions were posed, Mr. McGahee answered
the questions as follows:
1. RDC or
anyone who administered the grant was allowed up to 6%
of the grant as fees—that would be $30,000. (There was
already a letter to the RDC “asking” them to be the administrator
of the grant.)
2. They were in a hurry because of “the late notice.”
He didn’t explain what this meant.
3. He then said the ad was THE MINIMUM REQUIRED. Yes,
folks, we love that new phrase. Our County Manager uses
it frequently, and this is how “government” works—give
out the bear minimum and keep those stupid people that
send in their tax money in the dark as much as possible.
4. He further told the BOC that the resolution, the proposed
“memo of understanding” that would detail the BOE was
responsible for everything, and everything else they were
doing was “a step above and beyond what is REQUIRED.”
(TWG: Yes, but our Commissioners asked lots of questions
because it was obvious they didn’t want to be stuck with
another grant they requested and someone else benefited
from. Our BOC was right in asking the questions they did
and listening to the questions posed by the citizens.)
5. There was a match, which was 5% of any amount over
$300,000 which would be $10,000. The BOE would be responsible
6. He then told the BOC that they didn’t have to do this
particular grant, they could apply for any other type
CDBG grant, such as a Senior Center, etc. However, once
they applied for this grant, if it was awarded, the County
couldn’t apply for another grant for at least 12 months.
If the citizens
had not attended and asked questions, the BOC would not
have known about the match, the admin fees, the fact that
a SPLOST had already been passed to fund the building, they
couldn’t apply for their own grant for at least 12 months,
etc. This information was not voluntarily put forth.
Both Comm. Pennamon
and Comm. Bernard asked several questions and made comments.
After saying he was concerned and asking the questions,
Comm. Pennamon then asked Mr. McGahee if DCA would consider
the grant if they had all this extra paperwork, such as
the Memo of Understanding. It sounded as if he was concerned,
but didn’t want to go through with all these extra safety
precautions. He was assured by Mr. McGahee that it would
show the DCA that they had really thought about all of this
Superintendent Brinson then took the floor:
1. He said
$750,000 had been set aside with the SPLOST money, but
the cost would now be $1.5
million for a 12,000 – 14,000 sq.ft. facility
(that’s well over $100/sq.ft.and 100 sq.f t per child).
2. He said they had they served 84 children in HeadStart
and 40 in Pre-K right now and of course, if they didn’t
get the money they would have to shut the programs down.
(Don’t you hate these veiled threats of dire consequences
when people/agencies/boards come to the BOC for money?)
3. He said the State doesn’t fund classrooms—this is a
then made one of his speeches, which is a normal occurrence
when he wants to make sure everyone understands his position.
Comm. Bernard informed everyone that he was totally for
HeadStart; it helped the community by having educated children,
which benefited everyone.
He then stated that he had helped implement the Head Start
program (when he worked in government).
The BOC voted
to approve the resolution which underwent several major
changes, including adding several detailed clauses outlining
the BOE’s responsibilities, their agreement back to the
BOC in writing, a memorandum of understanding, etc. The
vote was 4-0. Commissioner Yarbrough was again absent.
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how
their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and
discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.