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County honors 3 departing commissioners
Outgoing Bryan County Commissioners Rick Gardner, left, Blondean Newman and Toby Roberts with Chairman Jimmy Burnsed at Thursdays meeting. - photo by Photo by Hallie D. Martin

Thursday marked the last Bryan County Board of Commissioners meeting for three long-time members.
“It’s been a pleasure and honor working with y’all,” said Commissioner Glen Willard to outgoing commissioners Blondean Newman, Toby Roberts and Rick Gardner.
Newman, from District 2, sat on the board since 2001 and was the tax commissioner for 30 years before that. Roberts, from District 4, served for 18 years and Gardner, from District 5, for eight.
Wade Price, Carter Infinger and Jim Henderson will replace Newman, Roberts and Gardner, respectively, starting at the Commissioner’s next meeting at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 11 in Pembroke.  
After the three outgoing commissioners were presented with plaques, resolutions and gifts, the county commission got down to its regular business and unanimously approved the budget for 2011.
The $17.62 million balanced budget reflects a 4.6 percent increase from this year’s $16.85 million spending plan. The millage rate will not change from this year’s 7.9 mills.
Next year’s budget, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, does call for a 2.8 percent pay raise for employees. Commissioners announced on Thursday night that department heads will not get the salary increase next year.
The estimated $24,000 to $25,000 that would have been spent on raises for the 25 department heads will go into the contingency fund, according to County Administrator Phil Jones.
In other actions:
• The Emergency Services department received two grants, director Jim Anderson told commissioners. The county received a $62,500 grant that can pay for a mass causality trailer, which will provide treatment for up to 100 trauma patients in Bryan County in case of a massive accident or event. The county also received a $10,000 grant for HAZMAT equipment.
• Commissioners voted 4-0 to buy a GMC truck for $25,170 to replace a service truck that was destroyed in a fire at the maintenance facility in Pembroke last month. The GMC truck has 129,000 miles on it and comes equip with a heavy lift crane. The county will have to buy a new compressor and welder for the truck for between $5,000 and $6,000. The county will pay for the truck from unused funds from a mosquito eradication line. Roberts abstained from the vote. According to county documents, his staff at Roberts Truck Center helped find the GMC truck and will sell it for the owner.
• The county courthouse clock in Pembroke will get regular maintenance for $965 a year thanks to a new contract with John Eachus & Associates approved Thursday. Commissioners previously asked if the clock could be evaluated and fixed. Jones told commissioners the clock is an historic antique dating back to 1938 and is very sensitive.
• Commissioners awarded a $59,580 bid to Ricky Jeffcoat Construction to build a walking trail behind Hendrix Park.
• Next year, Bryan County residents living in the unincorporated areas will only be able to water their lawns from between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. The measure excludes commercial farmland, personal food gardens, new turf or grass on landscapes, golf fields and sports fields, or watering other public recreational areas. The state legislature mandated that counties and cities adopt the outdoor watering ordinance under the governor’s Water Stewardship Act.
• Bryan County received an $114,400 energy efficiency grant to help improve the heating and cooling system in the county courthouse. The money is not enough to fix the entire system, which is around 18 years old, but the county will replace as many units as possible with the money, Jones told commissioners.
• Commissioners listened to a first reading to change the minimum residential lot size for guest houses and accessory structures. The proposed zoning change would reduce the minimum from 1 acre, or 43,560 square feet, to 0.69 acre, or 30,000 square feet.

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