County hires firm to design lake dam
The Grady County commission continues to move forward with the construction of the 960-acre Tired Creek Lake and on Tuesday night some major votes were cast.
The board unanimously approved a bid of $1,144,000 from Schnabel Engineering for the design of the dam for the new lake.
“This will cover everything up to dam construction,” County Administrator Rusty Moye explained to commissioners.
Moye says the county will discuss the construction phase services offered by Schnabel at a later date.
Tuesday night’s unanimous vote to enter into an agreement with Schnabel Engineering will put the wheels in motion for the dam design process that will take the better part of a year to complete.
The board also unanimously accepted a proposal from Eco-South for $265,000 for the development of the wetland mitigation work plan and monitoring plan designs.
County commissioners also on Tuesday night voted to contract with Wood & Partners, a land planning and landscape architectural firm with an office in Tallahassee, to begin work on the design of the 100 foot buffer zone required in the 404 permit. This plan must be included in the lake management plan that is to be presented to the Corps for its approval.
The county also had a $12,250 proposal from Roy Ashley & Associates, a design firm the county has contracted with on this project in the past, but decided to accept the $11,000 bid from Wood & Partners. The successful bidder also employs Charlie Johnson, a Grady County native, as a landscape architect on its staff.
County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley reported to the board on his most recent meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other regulatory agencies held in Savannah.
Cauley said the meeting was very “productive” and he said it allowed all of the regulatory agencies involved in the project to comment as to what is expected to be included in the various planning documents required in the 404 permit for the 960-acre lake.
“The overwhelming message was that this should be a holistic approach to the fisheries management plan, the 100 foot buffer plan, watershed management plan and others to insure water quality throughout the process,” Cauley said.
The county attorney said that a lot of professional services are needed in this phase of the project and once all of the plans have been developed the county would submit them all at once for the Corps to review and act on.
Commissioner Charles Norton asked how long the review process would take and Cauley estimated a couple of months. When asked if that would delay the dam construction, Cauley said he believed the necessary plans could be completed and reviewed by the Corps as the dam design work was ongoing.
Another issue to be tackled is the Sapp Creek bridge replacement. The current bridge will eventually be covered by water when the lake fills. County officials met with the Georgia Department of Transportation board in 1999 to request the state delay replacing the Sapp Creek bridge until an answer on the permit to build Tired Creek lake was received.
“All bridges on state routes in the county have been replaced except that one and that is because that is what we asked them to do back in 1999,” Commissioner Norton said.
County officials now want to schedule a meeting with Vance Smith, the new DOT commissioner, and make the case for the state to replace the bridge.
The board on Tuesday night authorized the administrator to work with State Senator John Bulloch in arranging a meeting with the DOT commissioner.
A county delegation already has an appointment for 1 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13 in Athens to meet with officials with the United States Department of Agriculture to discuss possible federal funding opportunities for the Tired Creek project.
Earlier this summer officials met with Congressman Sanford Bishop who suggested the county seek possible federal funding through the USDA for the lake project.
Lastly, commissioners took up the unfinished business of addressing a proposed job description for the Tired Creek Project Development Manager position. Two weeks ago Moye presented a proposed job description, but the board voted to table action on it until this week.
“I think we can go ahead and advertise. We can always stop it or start over again if we don’t find what we are looking for,” Commissioner Elwyn Childs said.
Commissioner Bobby Burns questioned whether someone associated with the construction of similar dams who may be out of work could be contacted to apply.
Moye said the county would be advertising in areas where such applicants would become aware of the position.
“What kind of money are we looking at paying for this position,” Vice Chairman Charles Renaud asked.
“According to The Lucas Group it will be in the $70,000 to $120,000 range depending on experience,” Moye said.
The commissioners previously approved Moye’s recommendation to contract with The Lucas Group to conduct the search for the project development manager. If the county hires an applicant that was referred by the recruiting firm the county has agreed to pay The Lucas Group a fee equal to 25 percent of the starting salary of the project development manager.
Vice Chairman Renaud asked Moye and County Attorney Cauley if this project manager would relieve them of work they are currently being required to do on the Tired Creek project.
“Definitely,” Cauley said and Moye repeated his estimation that 40 percent of his work week is spent on Tired Creek.
Chairman Ball voiced his support for moving on with the candidate search, but emphasized the importance of hiring someone who has been successful in obtaining grants.
Ball said the project manager should not be someone who is just drawing a salary, but someone who can successfully apply and obtain grant funding that would offset his or her salary.
The board voted unanimously to begin advertising for the new position.