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Commissioners seem unclear about plan they approved in 2012

County officials this week seemed unaware of previous board actions and the difference between the Tired Creek Lake Master Plan and the Tired Creek Master Lake Development Plan.
The Tired Creek Lake Master Plan adopted by the Grady County Board of Commissioners in 2012 and subsequently approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires the county have in place a watershed management plan for the lake.
On Tuesday, county commissioners and county administrator Carlos Tobar responded as if they had never heard of the required plan before.
The  master plan was developed by Dr. Jay Shelton of the University of Georgia (fisheries management); Georgia Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists John Kilpatrick, Rob Weller, and Travis Ingram (fisheries management); Dr. Todd Rasmussen of the University of Georgia (water quality); Wood & Partners (master development); and attorneys Tommy Craig and Laura Benz.
The watershed management plan is required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and was included in the Master Plan adopted by the county commission in 2012 and approved by the Corps.
Tobar said this week he first learned that the plan was required on June 28 in communication with Laura Benz.
According to the county administrator, Krebs Engineering, with whom the county has contracted for water quality and water flow monitoring has never put together a watershed management plan in Georgia, but they have done so for projects in Alabama.
“What exactly do they want?” Commissioner Ray Prince asked and Tobar could not answer. “How can you monitor 15,000 acres?” Prince asked.
According to the master plan adopted by the county commission in 2012, the data for the plan was being collected and the plan would be completed in 2013 and once completed it would be incorporated into the lake master plan.
The county’s own approved plan notes the purpose of the watershed management plan is to ensure and maintain water quality standards in the watershed while governing the recreational uses on the lake and downstream reaches.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland asked Tobar why Benz had not notified the county of the requirement earlier, however, if the board had read the plan in 2012 when it was adopted commissioners should have known about the requirement nearly four years ago.
Chairman Charles Norton and Commissioner Prince also pointed fingers at the consulting firm Wood & Partners, but based on what the county approved in 2012 that firm had nothing to do with the watershed management plan. It appeared some commissioners were confusing the Tired Creek Master Plan with the master development plan compiled by Wood & Partners in conjunction with the county commission and the Grady County Lake Authority. The focus of the master development plan was an outline of proposed uses for the property surrounding the lake including locations for fishing piers, boat ramps, docks and a marina as well as other amenities.
Tobar was asked how much it would cost for Krebs to develop a plan and he said $115 per hour.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs asked why wasn’t the plan required before a permit to build the lake was issued. Tobar reminded commissioners that data had to be collected prior to a plan being developed. “Krebs has that data now so they can complete the plan,” Tobar said.
Commissioner T.D. David asked how significant an expense it would be. “Not much,” Commissioner Prince replied.
Tobar estimated not more than $10,000.
Commissioner Prince also questioned if Krebs was insured and bonded. Tobar said the firm was insured up to $1 million.
“This project has been a money grabber since we got started,” Chairman Norton commented.
“It’s just another buddy system,” Commissioner Childs said.
In the meantime, the county is in the process of the initial filling of the lake in accordance with the fill-plan required by Georgia Safe Dams.
Officials with Kazmir, the vendor that sold the county the flow meter required on the discharge pipe of the new dam, completed installation of the meter last week and representatives of Krebs Engineering were here Thursday and Friday to train Grady County Lake Authority executive director Mike Binion on the meter operations.
Commissioners have tentatively set a date of Aug. 23 to host a celebration of the ceremonial closing of the dam gate and filling of the 960-acre lake.

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