Bryan County Commissioners may start meeting twice a month to give both sides of the county a chance to attend.
Member Toby Roberts suggested the Board to consider holding two meetings per month; a day meeting in Pembroke on the first Tuesday for most county business, and an evening meeting in Richmond Hill primarily for planning and zoning issues on the third Tuesday of the month.
County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed agreed with the suggestion, which came after a lengthy public hearing on a planning and zoning issue from Richmond Hill involving the Indian Bluff Project and a personnel executive session.
Tuesday’s meeting lasted until 6:30 p.m. - making it a five hour meeting.
To have two meetings per month, the Chairman would have to petition state legislature to change the Bryan County charter.
"It’s a change whose time has come." Burnsed said, noting that two thirds of the county’s population lived in Richmond Hill and hoped the change would "help things run much more smoothly."
Roberts said the county’s growth and the issues coming up means a lot of county business to be discussed.
"It would allow us to serve the citizens better and get their input," he said.
Burnsed said petitioning to allow a meeting in Richmond Hill didn’t mean the Courthouse would be moving there as well.
"Pembroke is the county seat, and it’s going to stay that way," he said.
A Richmond Hill meeting wouldn’t "restrict us from bringing a planning and zoning issue to [the Pembroke] meeting, we’d just ask for another meeting where we can vote away from the county seat," Burnsed said.
Roberts’ motion to consider carried unanimously.
In other business:
Former Pembroke Police Chief Bill Collins has been hired as director of the Bryan County Drug Free Coalition. The county received a $625,000 grant last year to form the organization.
Collins told the commission the coalition would work to find the drug problem and fix it, working toward a drug free community.
Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said it was fortunate Collins was directing the program, and that it was the most important thing they’re doing right now, especially in light of the recent teen drug busts.
"I was blown away by the pictures of the kids who where involved in this. I don’t think kids sense the seriousness of all this, but it’s serious." Burnsed said.
Member Rick Gardner said the commission wants to remain dedicated to the idea that the county can be drug free and work with that as an ultimate goal.
The Belfast Keller Loop Road and Extension project low bid went to J.Hiers Co. at $1.6 million. It’s the construction companies first time doing business for Bryan County, according to Burnsed. Letters of recommendation lead the commission to believe Hires will do a good job. They discussed the importance of the quality of the project.
The preliminary plat and construction plans of Alan Mock’s Indian Bluff subdivision were approved after lengthy discussion of property neighbor Kathy Gregory’s concerns over an easement and buffers between her property and the subdivision.
According to County Engineer Dale Dudley, Henderson Park in Richmond Hill will be finished soon, and predicted it to be in time for a grand opening event on March 7 when soccer opens. He said the parking lot was paved and they would be able to finish the asphault once the temperatures rose above 45 degrees.
Choate construction won the low bid for the new county administration building in Richmond Hill at a total cost of $3.6 million, which included a contingency amount of $100,000 for things that may come up during construction.
Choate provided an estimated completion time of 180 days from project start and Vice President Todd Osborne told Commissioners they "felt confident" about that time frame.