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Childs and Cohen named to Lake Authority

Grady County commissioners routinely accept the recommendations of various authorities, boards and commissions when making appointments to those entities, but on Tuesday night questions were raised about the Grady County Lake Authority bringing forward a recommendation for the appointment of two new members.
In the end, on a split vote, 3-2, the county commission accepted the recommendation of the authority to name Eric Cohen and Steven Childs to the authority.
Lake authority members Travis Bryant and Lee Gainous, both original members of the authority since its 2013 establishment, have chosen not to seek reappointment when their terms expire on March 31.
At a meeting of the lake authority last Thursday, a discussion was held by the authority members concerning possible replacements.
Lake Authority Chairman LaDon Toole said that he had been contacted by a number of people interested in serving and after talking with several, two names were put forward for consideration.
“Eric Cohen and Steven Childs are both well respected in business and in the community. They both are willing and interested in serving, if selected,” Chairman Toole told authority members last week.
Those involved in the discussion of recommending Cohen and Childs to the county commission were lake authority members Edgar B. Smith, III, Lee Gainous, Travis Bryant, Ray Prince (via telephone), and Randolph H. Wind, in addition to Chairman Toole. Also participating in the meeting via telephone was Grady County Commission Vice Chairman T.D. David.
After Lake Authority Chairman Toole made some introductory remarks about the two candidates, authority member Smith asked if anyone else had other names of candidates that should be considered.
At Thursday’s meeting, Prince did not offer any other suggestions for potential replacements and voted with the other authority members in approving the recommendation.
However, Tuesday night Chairman Prince had a change of heart and nominated former county commissioner Charles Norton and Commissioner June Knight nominated Richard Jordan, a vocal critic of the lake authority and Knight’s opponent in last year’s special election for the District 1 county commission seat.
Commission Vice Chairman David said Tuesday night that other nominations were anticipated, but it was his suggestion that the board accept the recommendation of the lake authority.
Commissioner Knight, at first, said she would like to be involved and Chairman Prince said that the bylaws allow for up to two county commissioners to serve on the authority. Shortly after, Knight said she was nominating Jordan to serve and stated, “he’s been involved and attended almost every meeting they’ve ever had.”
Commissioner Knight then asked Jordan, who was in the audience, if he would be willing to serve. Jordan said, “I would love to.”
Chairman Prince said that Norton “probably knows more about the lake than anyone. He said he had talked with the former commissioner and he had said he would be willing to serve.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland then commented, “I’m going to give it to you straight. If we trusted the lake authority to handle lake business, Tired Creek Lake business we should trust them to make recommendations for appointments.”
Commissioner Copeland responded to earlier remarks made by Commissioner Knight concerning the authority’s power to elect its own members. Copeland noted that the authority could not elect its own members, that was solely the power of the county commission, but pointed out that it was within the authority’s legal power to offer a recommendation for appointments.
“To me, if we don’t support their recommendation it sends out a bad vibe. We look bad as a board of commissioners,” Commissioner Copeland said. “I don’t like the division,” she added.
Commissioner Copeland also commented that if the board was going to ignore the recommendations of the authority then if she were a member of the authority she would tell the commissioners they “could have it.” She questioned why authority members would want to volunteer their time and receive no compensation to serve if the board was not going to recognize the authority’s recommendations.
Commission Vice Chairman David said he did not have an issue with other nominations being made, but he was willing to accept the recommendation because the members of the lake authority had studied the matter and talked with both Cohen and Childs about the duties, responsibilities and challenges of serving on the authority. “These two men are ready to jump in and work with the existing members,” David said.
“We get recommendations from the hospital authority and JDA (Joint Development Authority). We get them all the time and we go along with them,” Commissioner Copeland said.
Chairman Prince said that neither he, Commissioner Knight nor Commissioner Keith Moye were on the board when the original members of the authority were appointed and had not had the opportunity to appoint anyone to the lake authority.
“You can have your nominees, we will just have four people we’re looking at. All are equally qualified to hold the position,” Vice Chairman David said.
Chairman Prince renewed his push for Norton and touted his knowledge and experience. However, Vice Chairman David said the focus now was on development. “We’re moving into another field now,” David said.
Commissioner Moye offered a motion to accept the recommendation of the lake authority to appoint Cohen and Childs as replacements for Gainous and Bryant. His motion was seconded by Vice Chairman David. Moye, David and Copeland voted in favor of the recommendation and Prince and Knight voted against.
Commissioner Copeland called to Jordan in the audience and said, “Richard, no harm. I think you would be a good one,” but she said she was going with the recommendation of the authority.
Jordan responded, “I’m fine. You had a CFO rolling off and I was a CFO. I could be a big asset to the authority, but I’ll still be at the meetings.” Actually, Bryant is the CEO of Coastal Lumber Company and Gainous and his family are the owners of Gainous’ Shade Tree nursery.
“We appreciate these two gentlemen for agreeing to serve and we appreciate the county commission for the majority vote approving their appointment. I and the other authority members look forward to working with them,” Lake Authority Chairman Toole said Tuesday night.

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