May 14, 2013

Whitfield commissioners change cellphone service

Charles Oliver

— Whitfield County expects to cut its cellphone bill almost in half.

The Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 Monday to change its cellphone service to Verizon from AT&T. The county will pay $4,605 a month, down from the $8,000 a month it currently pays.

“The sheriff’s department has already been working with Verizon, and they said they’ve got good results,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb. “We did some checks with Verizon phones and it turned out well. My main question was, ‘We pay one fee no matter how many minutes we use. Is that the same with Verizon?’ They said that was correct.”

Commissioner Robby Staten was absent, and Babb usually only votes to break ties.

The board also voted 3-0 to:

• Temporarily transfer the right-of-way of part of Carbondale Road to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). GDOT requested the transfer in order to perform a reconstruction of the I-75 interchange at Carbondale Road. That work is currently scheduled to start in 2014. The right-of-way will be returned to the county when that work is finished.

• Amend the county’s special events ordinance to allow firms with malt beverage or wine licenses to serve alcoholic beverages at special events held property that is zoned agricultural. The law previously allowed alcoholic beverages to be served at special events on properties zoned commercial or manufacturing.

“We added agricultural to cover some of the mud runs and cross country events that are becoming more and more popular,” Babb said.

• Approve the acquisition of four pieces of property for right-of-of way for a planned extension of Veterans Drive from Underwood Street south to East Morris Street. The properties are currently dilapidated or condemned. The total cost is $17,800, which will come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.

• Approve an agreement with CGI Communications Inc., of Rochester, N.Y., to develop a video tour of the county for the county website. The board will not pay anything for the tour but agrees to allow CGI to sell ads on the tour site.

• Renew for one year an agreement with Laserfiche to maintain a paperless database of county records. The agreement will cost $10,483.

• Renew for one year an agreement with Environmental Research Systems Inc. to provide maintenance of the county’s geographic information system (GIS) software for $11,100.

• Approve malt beverage and wine licenses for A’s Corner Mart and 1910 S. Dixie Highway.

• Approve the rezoning of 2208 Antioch Road to rural residential from heavy manufacturing.

The board also heard that year-to-date spending through the end of March was $8.1 million, or 13 percent less than forecasted.

Babb credited the watchfulness of department heads and elected officials. He said he believes the county can continue to keep spending below projects through the rest of the year. But he said he doesn’t believe the gap between actual spending and forecasts will remain so large.

The board recognized William Kevin “Otis” Day as employee of the month for March, May 12-18 as Whitfield County Transportation Week and May as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.