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Commission is split over Hwy. 188 roundabout

Not all Grady County commissioners are sold on the idea of constructing a roundabout at the intersection of GA Hwy. 188 North, Old Thomasville Road and Airport Road northeast of Cairo.
On Tuesday night, commissioners were asked to ratify verbal approval to authorize the county to apply for a Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) grant to construct the roundabout.
According to County Clerk Carrie Kines, the deadline to apply is March 22 and according to Accounting Manager Donna Johnson, the grant is for $2 million and requires no local match. Johnson said any money left could be used on any road project in the county.
Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince said that the project is estimated to cost approximately $1.5 million and is “all federal money.”
Prince said that more wrecks occur at the intersection than at any other in the county, but Grady County Commissioner Keith Moye, a volunteer firefighter, who said he responds to 90 percent of the accidents in the county, said that was not true.
Chairman Prince said there had been four or five head-on collisions there since he had lived on GA Hwy. 188 near the site of the proposed roundabout, but Moye noted that those wrecks had occurred on the straight-away of the high way and not at the intersection of the three roads.
“This has been studied for quite some time,” Chairman Prince said to which Moye responded, “They didn’t study it enough in my opinion.”
Both Moye and Grady County Commissioner June Knight had voted in opposition to applying for the grant verbally earlier and they stuck to their positions Tuesday night.
“We’ve got some county roads out there that need to be fixed,” and she encouraged the board to spend the money where it should be spent.
The board was also asked to pay $7,000 to consulting engineer Stacy Watkins for engineering services on the project. In December 2016, the board authorized a payment not to exceed $35,000 for the preliminary engineering for the roundabout project. At that time, former county administrator Carlos Tobar told commissioners that a safety action plan grant would pay for those costs.
In addition to engineering costs, the board, in April 2017, approved payment of $33,700 to Environmental Services of Savannah for the required environmental studies for the project. Then in December 2017, Tobar sought and was granted approval to pay the same firm $16,075 for environmental studies for the project. Tobar said those costs would be paid for with state  Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant (LMIG) funding.
On Tuesday night, Prince, David and Copeland voted to apply for the grant and to pay Watkins $7,000 for the engineering services. Knight and Moye voted against for the second time.
In other business Tuesday night, the board voted to pull money from various line items in the budget to fund the repair and replacement of the control boards at the Grady County Detention Center. Former county administrator Carlos Tobar was supposed to have funded the repairs in the 2017 and 2018 budget, but no funding was included in the budget for either year, according to County Clerk Carrie Croy. Three vendors were requested to submit bids but only Montgomery Technologies, the firm that installed the original control system, submitted a quote. The total cost is $38,700 and Croy recommended taking $18,600 from the major repair line item, $10,100 from Building & Grounds repair and $10,000 from contingency to finance the cost.
“There is not a lot of places to pull the money from,” said Donna Johnson, accounting manager for the Grady County Commission.
Without these controls, each of the cells have to be opened manually. Chairman Prince said in the event of an emergency, such as a fire, if jail personnel could not get to all cells to open them it could prove disastrous.
After discussing the situation, the board voted 4-1 with Commissioner Knight voting in opposition to replacing the control boards.

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