Commissioners table action on Lake Authority appointments

The Grady County Board of Commissioners routinely accept the recommendations of various boards and authorities when making appointments or reappointments, but on Tuesday night the matter of filling vacancies on the Grady County Lake Authority was anything but routine.
The Lake Authority met Thursday and part of the discussion was the approval of a recommendation to fill four vacancies on the seven member panel.
Former chairman LaDon Toole and Edgar B. Smith III, are both resigning one year prior to their current term expiring. Toole has accepted a job in central Georgia and will be relocating. Smith, who is retired, is scaling back on his responsibilities.
In addition, the terms of Jeff Brown and Randolph H. Wind expired and neither sought a reappointment.
All four men have served on the authority since its creation in 2013.
The authority recommended on a unanimous vote the following:
Chip Wells to fill the unexpired term of LaDon Toole. Wells is a local banker as well as an outdoorsman. This is a one year appointment and will be up for renewal in 2020.
Laura Register to fill the unexpired term of Edgar Smith. Register is an active local citizen and public servant. This is a one year appointment and will be up for renewal in 2020.
Jeffery Cape for a three year appointment. Cape is the general manager of Mr. Chick restaurant.
Stephen Francis for a three year appointment. Francis is the director of the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club.
Cape would replace Wind and Francis would replace Brown.
Also last Thursday, the authority elected Steven Childs as its new chairman. However, Childs could not attend Tuesday night’s meeting and Toole made the recommendation via telephone. Toole has been battling illness for over a week.
“All of these candidates are willing to serve and can be there to serve on the authority. This is the slate of candidates we would like to bring forward,” Toole said.
Commission Chairman LaFaye Copeland indicated that all of the county’s five districts were represented and if the authority’s recommendation was approved two members of the authority were residents of District 1, incumbent member Eric Cohen and candidate Jeffery Cape.
“We want good representation and there has been some discussion about having a woman on the authority. We’ve listened to the community and what it is saying,” Toole said.
District 1 Commissioner June Knight spoke up and offered the name of Bob Ponder as a possible candidate she would like considered. Knight did not indicate which of the four candidates put forward she would support in addition to Ponder.
“I say this every time and I’m firm about what I say. If we have a board appointed to service I’m going to go with their recommendations. If I don’t, it defeats the purpose of them serving. If we are going to make the recommendations we wouldn’t need an authority,” Chairman Copeland said. She encouraged the board not to “undermine” the authority by ignoring its recommendation.
The board routinely approves the recommendations of the Grady County Joint Development Authority when naming county representatives as well as the Georgia Pines Community Health Board, the Department of Family and Children Services Board and others.
According to Knight, Ponder is an emergency room tech who works at Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge. “He’s an outdoors person and lived here all his life. I think he would be good and he will have no problems making meetings in the mornings or the afternoons. He lives in Whigham, probably less than a mile from the lake,” Commissioner Knight said.
Vice Chairman Keith Moye asked Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, who was listening over the phone and was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting, if he had a recommendation. Johnson suggested to table the recommendation to give the board an opportunity to discuss the appointments unless there is a reason to act immediately.
It was noted that currently, there are only three sitting members on the authority, which did not constitute a quorum.
Commissioner Ray Prince, who is a member of the authority and voted in support of the authority’s recommendation on Thursday, said that it would not be a problem to wait and take action at the commission’s next meeting on March 5.
Prince offered a motion to table, which was seconded by Knight. Vice Chairman Moye joined Prince and Knight in voting to table the matter, but Chairman Copeland opposed with the motion passing 3-1.
Both Prince and Copeland expressed appreciation to the members of the authority who are coming off. “It’s a thankless job,” Commissioner Prince said and Chairman Copeland said the retiring members had been “faithful” and would be missed. “I wish some of you would stay,” she said.
In other Tired Creek Lake related news, Lake Authority Executive Director Mike Binion reported to the authority last week that as of Jan. 24, $6,700 had been generated by opening the lake to duck hunting and that the county had collected $19,375.90 in daily pass fees from Memorial Day 2018 through Jan. 24.

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