By MYRA THRIFT, Staff Writer
Just what is one brown penny worth?
What can be purchased with just one copper penny?
How about state-of-the-art life-saving and rescue equipment used to help extricate trapped victims when car crashes occur?
What about a brand new high-tech-equipped ambulance with automatic lift and unload, a machine that carries every medical life-saving tool known to EMTs and paramedics at a total cost of $216,992.87?
How about a contract to get 58 roads paved and 17 resurfaced with drainage (nine areas) added at a cost of about $8.3 million?
What about a training center with a burn building and firing range with all the latest technology and necessary equipment?
How about a new administration building that houses a number of county offices and services and offers citizens a place to attend county commission meetings?
Yes, these and much more have been purchased with that one brown copper penny that everyone pays extra at the marketplace.
That one penny comes from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the last one approved in 2014. Without that one penny, none of the aforementioned projects could have been started much less completed.
During the monthly Ware County commission meeting and work session held Monday, these and other issues were discussed and board members commented on the necessity of having that extra one penny to help with projects and buildings and road pavings that otherwise would still be on the drawing board.
The commission approved the purchase of a new ambulance at the request of EMS Director Dr. Bill Parham. It will be the third and final ambulance purchased through the 2014 SPLOST.
“This one will completely ‘turn over’ the EMS service,” said Parham. “We are so grateful to the people of Ware County for allowing the SPLOST and all that it has done.”
County Manager Scott Moye explained that several street paving projects are on the burner for the coming months. The first 15 of those will be covered by a Community Development Block Grant that is due by April 1. From Nos. 16 forward, they will be paved, drainage repaired and surfaces recoated with SPLOST funds.
He said there are nine projects listed on the drainage program, all issues that have to be addressed as quickly as possible. And resurfacing projects will repair roads, replace pipes and and be finished with a smooth surface. All of this is expected to be done at a cost of about $8.3 million — in other words — SPLOST.
Said Commissioner Burton Carter, “I’m ready to see some asphalt poured.”
Chairman Jimmy Brown noted there are 475 miles of dirt roads in Ware County and 260 miles of paved roads, which cover a lot of territory and require a lot of expensive upkeep.
Fire Chief Dee Meadows introduced Firefighter of the Year Tyler McBee and Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Rob Ardoyno, who brought in some of the county’s new extrication and rescue tools, one of which is the first of its kind from the Hurst company and the only one in the state of Georgia. It has a 32-inch spread with its jaws and has a 45-minute battery life at full service.
The original “Jaws,” purchased in 1986, was also shown with its long lines and hydraulic hoses, all of which was cumbersome and a load for firefighters to carry. The newer tools are lighter weight and do not require hoses or power lines.
The county also abolished its “facilities coordinating position” and added an internet media coordinator position, which commissioners said “is a wash” as far as finances are concerned.
Ware County Sheriff’s Major Travis McNease was named “Employee of the Month.”
It was also announced that a baseball and softball opening ceremony will be held Saturday at Trembling Earth Park. A parade of teams begins at 9:15 and the first pitch will be thrown at 9:45.
Food and drinks will be available at the concession stand including barbecue.
Rec Director Jay Robertson noted that 250 children are participating in baseball and softball this spring. He encouraged everyone to visit the Trembling Earth complex Saturday for games.