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Supervisors withdraw park study action

In an effort toward community cooperation, Lincoln Countysupervisors Monday rescinded an earlier decision and will seek cityinput before choosing an engineering firm to study industrial parkneeds.

At the April 1 meeting, supervisors accepted the IndustrialDevelopment Foundation’s recommendation for Williford, Gearhart andKnight to study six sites and make a recommendation on a newindustrial park location.

Since the first meeting, though, officials said Mayor BillGodbold had expressed concerns about the city not having a say inthe decision-making process. The study is being funded with a$70,000 economic development grant and $10,000 each from thecounty, city and Vision Partnership.

Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice-president, said the “miscommunication” had putofficials in an “awkward position.” He urged supervisors to acceptthe recommendation to withdraw the IDF decision.

“We’ve got to have a good relationship with the city to moveforward,” Russ said.

Supervisors had some concerns about the change inrecommendations. Board president Nolan Earl Williamson wonderedabout possible consequences of changing the board’s decision, asdid board attorney Bob Allen.

“I’m very interested the consequences are going to be,” Allensaid.

Allen said he was not concerned about rescinding therecommendation but, given the scoring system nature of the grantprocess, how the next firm is selected. He was expected to lookinto that and discuss the matter with other officials involved.

District 4 Supervisor W.D. “Doug” Moak said he was concernedabout undermining the confidence of people chosen to make therecommendation. He also lamented the loss of two weeks and thepotential for more time lost on the important project.

“I think this industrial park deal is a time bomb,” Moaksaid.

District 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens said he saw no other choicebut for the board to rescind its decision.

“I don’t see no way around it without us having the city in it,”Givens said.

Russ said Williford, Gearhart and Knight had not incurred anyexpenses on the study and a contract had not been signed.

Regarding a new engineering firm, Russ suggested EngineeringAssociates with the stipulation of a $100 a day penalty for notmeeting its study time line.

The Williford firm had proposed to do the study in 16 weeks, butEngineering Associates’ time line is 24 weeks. The penalty would beimposed if the study exceeded 24 weeks.

Supervisors voted unanimously to rescind the engineering studyrecommendation but did not decide on a new engineering firm. Russwas expected to come back with a recommendation after discussingthe situation with city, county and chamber officials.

In other action Monday, following an executive session forpersonnel reasons with Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan,supervisors voted to advertise and seek bids for a company to dothe county’s property value maintenance appraisal work.

Supervisors last year accepted Jordan’s recommendation for ReidHerring and Associates to do a state-mandated reappraisal of allcounty property values. There was some controversy last year whenproperty owners objected to higher property values, which taxofficials said were needed because old values were out of line withfair market value standards.

Moak said there were several reasons for the board’s decision.He cited getting the best price possible for the services and alsomentioned last year’s controversy.

“We wanted to eliminate complications by bidding it and clear upany misconceptions that may come up later on,” Moak said.

Also Monday, supervisors approved plans to install new trafficsignals at the Industrial Park Road and North Jackson Streetintersection and creation of a turn lane for trucks going into theindustrial park. The projects are being funded with money left overfrom the Industrial Park Road overpass.

The board delayed action on a request to give pagers to deputycoroners. Supervisors suggested developing a priority call list forcontacting the coroner or one of his four deputies. Chancery ClerkTillmon Bishop said the pagers are necessary in case there is aconflict while the coroner is handling one call and there isanother death in the county.