Butler helps broker deal with Leon County in hopes of better relations
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Grady County officials are singing the praises of Grady County Lake Authority consultant Will Butler following the unanimous vote of the Leon County Commission Tuesday afternoon to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Grady County Commission on issues related to Tired Creek Lake.
“It’s a good day in Grady County and it’s a good day for Leon County,” Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said Tuesday night.
Johnson and Butler attended the Leon County Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“They approved it unanimously,” Johnson said.
The document brokered by Butler and attorneys for Grady County and Leon County, is intended to end the back-and-forth wrangling between the two governments over water quality and water flow issues downstream of the 960-acre lake.
Johnson has said previously that anytime Leon County had an issue they contacted officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, oftentimes through their congressional representatives.
Butler also recognized that no qualified developer would want to invest in developing around Tired Creek Lake until Leon County was satisfied and no longer filing complaints with the Corps.
Johnson said prior to the start of the commission meeting in Tallahassee Tuesday each and every commissioner came down into the audience to speak with Butler.
“He is the real deal,” Johnson said Tuesday night.
The Leon County commissioners withdrew the MOU from its consent agenda, according to Johnson, so that commissioners could speak on the subject. Johnson said the Leon County officials were complimentary of Butler and of the Grady County Commission for seeking to create a better working relationship with the neighboring county.
“That’s a valuable piece of paper,” Commissioner Ray Prince said of the MOU negotiated by Butler.
“It’s hogwash that he (Butler) is not doing anything. Guess what! He earned every dime we’ve ever paid him and now he has the ability to do so much more. I can’t say enough good things about Will Butler. This is huge for this county,” the Grady County administrator said.
Johnson is also hopeful that Grady and Leon counties can work together on other projects.
The amount of water released from the Tired Creek Lake dam impacts the recharge of Lake Iamonia in northern Leon County, which is of particular importance to officials in Tallahassee.
Leon County officials have repeatedly raised those concerns, as recently as April, with the Army Corps of Engineers.
“If Leon has an issue, instead of going to the Corps and creating a roundabout issue, they’re just going to come to us,” Johnson said. “The understanding is, ‘Hey give me a shot first.’”
“It’s much more than we’ve had in the past and it provides a really good framework for an effective working relationship around those issues and to avoid potential conflicts,” Leon County Administrator Vince Long told The Tallahassee Democrat on Monday. “It spells out how we would talk to each other over potential disputes and how they would share information with us relative to the dam and release of water.”
Butler, who is also the asset manager for Seminole Boosters Inc., told The Tallahassee Democrat, Grady and Leon counties were involved in “miscommunications and misunderstandings” for a long time that the MOU squashes.
“We reached an agreement for Leon and Grady County that is mutually beneficial,” Butler said. “That will ensure the folks in Leon County that the quality and quantity of water that leaves that lake will meet and exceed standards. It seems to have been embraced by the staff on both sides.”
Grady County commissioners will schedule a called meeting once the executed document from Leon County is received in order for local officials to take action on it and authorize Johnson to sign it.
Grady County Commissioner Phillip Drew commented on the front page coverage of the MOU in Tuesday’s edition of The Tallahassee Democrat. He also voiced his appreciation and support for Butler.
Butler will be speaking at a joint meeting of the Cairo Rotary and Kiwanis clubs today to update civic leaders on the Tired Creek Lake project and the MOU agreement.