Beginning this weekend, Bryan County residents can buy alcohol in the unincorporated parts of the county on Sunday after members of the Bryan County Board of Commissioners approved a second reading of the ordinance allowing such sales.
Tuesday’s action in Pembroke followed voters’ approval of Sunday sales in a November referendum, when 67 percent of those who went to the polls said yes. But commissioners were unclear on how many retailers who sell beer, wine and distilled spirits in the unincorporated areas will take advantage of the new ordinance, which makes it legal to sell from 12:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.
County commissioner Carter Infinger said he knew of one shop which wasn’t going to bother with opening.
“It’s just not worth it,” Infinger said.
“Good for them,” responded Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed. “Maybe others will follow their lead.”
Sunday sales of package drinks and beer and win in Richmond Hill and Pembroke are still illegal, though Richmond Hill allows restaurants to sell liquor by the drink on Sundays. One liquor store owner in Richmond Hill asked council in September to consider putting it on the ballot in 2015.
New official depositories
Each year in January, commissioners name a bank as the official county depository. This year, there are three after commissioner Steve Myers asked that Ameris Bank and South State Bank be added to the list along with First Bank of Coastal Georgia, which for years has been the only bank so designated.
Ameris Bank lent the county $10 million to refinance debt on water and sewer infrastructure, while South State Bank lent $10.5 million in funds to refinance Development Authority of Bryan County loans and reportedly saved the county a combined $1.5 million in the process, officials say.
“I think we need to show some recognition to people who came to the table and lent 20 million to the county, I think we’re being shortsighted in that, I recommend we name all three of them as county depositories,” Myers said.
County administrator Ben Taylor agreed.
“Both those banks play a very critical role in economic development and infrastructure,” he said.
The vote to add both banks to the list of official county depositories was unanimous.
District 1 commissioner Noah Covington was appointed vice chairman, replacing District 2 commissioner Wade Price. The commission rotates the position each year, and it was Covington’s turn to take the job.
In addition, longtime clerk Donna Waters was reappointed to the job as “personal staff for the Board of Commissioners.” Waters has worked for the county since May, 1979. In 2013, Waters was named the county clerk of the year by the Georgia County Clerks Association.
Commissioners met in a short closed session, then came out to announce that Buddy Shuman is now the county’s public works director. Shuman has been doing the job for three years, since the retirement of Derrell Newman in 2012, but had been doing it under the title of public works road superintendent.
The new title apparently doesn’t mean a hike in pay for Shuman, who “has done a fine job,” county commission chairman Jimmy Burnsed said in announcing the change. “He’s done some things in public works we’ve never done before and done a fine job with it.”
Shuman, who has been with the county for 26 years, heads up a department with roughly 30-34 employees. He said the change caught him by surprise.
“I didn’t know they were going to do this,” he said.
Residents who live on Bill Futch Road in Black Creek are invited to a public meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the courthouse annex in Pembroke. There, they can learn what the county might do to address concerns about speeding and traffic on the road.
For now, the idea is to make it a one-way street, with traffic still able to use the approximately half-mile road as a shortcut from Highway 280 to Wilma Edwards Road. But drivers from Wilma Edwards Road wanting head left on 280 will have to go down to where Wilma Edwards intersects with 280, if residents approve of the change.
County Engineer Kirk Croasmun said residents asked the county to do something to limit traffic on the road and the one-way street idea is “our first stab at it,” Croasmun said.