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County gets update on Ware fires
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County Fire Chief Jim Anderson addressed the Bryan County Board of Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, updating them on the wildfires in Ware County.

Anderson has been in Ware County in recent weeks working as a resource staging control officer, helping call in mutual aid partners and other fire departments to see what services they can provide.

During his presentation to the commission Anderson said Bryan County is in the very high to extreme category for fire danger as determined by the Georgia Parks Commission.

"It has a lot to do with the humidity and drought," he said. "This is the high time through the first part of June because it’s been so dry, and because of the winds."

Anderson said it’s normal for the county to be in this category this time of the year, but stressed the importance of the burning ban that’s been placed across the southern portion of the state.

"We’re telling people not to burn, period," he said. "They are issuing no burn permits at this time."

He also said the governor has declared 21 counties – including Bryan County – in a state of emergency because of the drought and dry conditions, which make this a potential area for wildfires.

Anderson gave statistics about the fires in Ware Counties. As of Monday, nearly 90,000 acres had burned and Anderson said the fire was spreading at about 57 feet per minute. While the fire is currently 70 percent contained, Anderson said the fire is spreading through the higher trees, even though areas on the ground have been blocked off with bulldozers exposing dirt in the vegetative areas. Anderson said May 15 is the expected date for total containment with a control date of June 1.

So far, 18 homes have been destroyed and the fire had cost close to $17 million.

Following Anderson’s presentation a representative from Code Red Alert Systems addressed the commissioners. The system her company sells is internet based and sends out mass messages to home and cell phones and in a matter of minutes is able to contact tens of thousands of people. The representative said the system was good for sending out emergency notifications and could also be used to inform citizens of instances of work being done on water lines and other community issues. She said the cost of the program is roughly $10,000 per year.

Anderson said the system would be a good tool for Bryan County and urged the commissioners to consider it.

Also at the meeting;

-The commissioners approved three emergency management ordinances dealing with price gouging, curfews and allowing organizations to bring in trailers if need arises during or after an emergency.

-Tara Jennings, director of Bryan County Family Connection, discussed projections for a possible new community center and said the current teen center is looking to form a partnership with the Girls and Boys Club out of Savannah. BGC would provide additional staff and programs at no cost and the commissioners approved Jennings to go ahead with the partnership.

-The commissioners approved a lease-purchase for an excavator and bulldozer for the county.

-Paul Fletcher with the Genesis Point Project addressed the commissioners regarding his development, which would include nearly 3,000 homes ranging in price from $300,000 to $3 million.

-The commissioners approved a rezoning request from Anthony Lee from AR-1 agricultural residential to B-2 general commercial in Ellabell on Highway 204. Lee plans to locate his glass cutting businesses there next to his home.

-The large farm animals ordinance was approved in its final reading. The ordinance would allow for no more than one farm animal per 3/4 acre in a fence with a 100-foot setback from property boundaries.

-A proclamation for Building Safety Week, set for May 6 – 12 to honor the work of building inspectors – was approved.

-County attorney Charles Brown presented a proposed timeline for when someone could re-submit a rezoning request application after an application is withdrawn. The commissioners said sometimes the county may ask that an application be withdrawn if there are details in that application that need to be worked out and were hesitant to approve a timeline without some stipulations. Brown said he would re-introduce the measure for the commission’s review at the June meeting.

-Jim Harn was appointed to the Department of Family and Children Services board, replacing out-going member Jack Parrish.

-The commissioners approved the sale of county history books with a 20 percent incentive for non-profit groups.

-The commissioners approved to have the commission chairman and county administrator to work on a design and process for a new DFCS building and to start looking for requests for proposals.

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