The Bryan County Board of Commissioners is moving forward with plans to make public buildings and commission meetings more available to more people across the county.
The board agreed Tuesday to convert the County Courthouse Annex in Richmond Hill into a senior center and to also change the commission’s regular meeting time, allowing it to convene in the new County Administrative Complex, and more.
The discussion of new uses for the annex building, near the corner of highways 144 and 17, began when the facility was rendered vacant as various county offices relocated earlier this year to the new administrative complex farther down Hwy. 144. And a senior citizens center seemed to top the list in previous board discussions.
But it was made official during the board’s regular meeting in Pembroke when commissioners unanimously approved using the annex to house a senior center and other similar public service-type offices. Commissioner Rick Gardner moved to approve the action, and Commissioner Toby Roberts gave the second.
County Administrator Phil Jones told the board that only minor modifications would be needed inside the building to make it suitable for a senior center.
The changes, which include taking out a couple of walls on the first floor to create a more open floor plan, will be done by the county workforce he said, and no changes are anticipated on the second floor.
Chairman Jimmy Burnsed added that the exterior of the annex is in need of some repairs and repainting and should be made to “look more inviting for seniors.”
But while the building may need to be more attractive, he said a senior center is a great use of the facility.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but this is very much needed,” Burnsed said.
In other business, commissioners unanimously approved new regular and additional meeting times that will begin in August.
The board will now meet twice a month and at different times than residents may be accustomed to. The changes are as follows:
* The board meets at 9 a.m. – instead of 1:30 p.m. – on the first Tuesday of each month at the courthouse in Pembroke beginning in August.
* The board meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the administrative complex in Richmond Hill beginning in August.
The Richmond Hill meetings will largely consist of planning and zoning items since the majority of such items are located in South Bryan. However, other items can be included on the agenda as needed.
Commissioners agreed the 6:30 p.m. time slot would make it easier for people commuting from Savannah to make it to the meeting.
Gardner suggested holding off on changing the Pembroke meeting time until residents could get used to the new meeting schedule for Richmond Hill. But in the end he agreed to shift the meeting time in Pembroke from 1:30 p.m. to 9 a.m.
As for that change, many commissioners felt convening in the morning would enable people who work in Savannah – residents, applicants, and even some commissioners – to attend a meeting without having to miss nearly an entire day at work.
And though a work scheduling conflict could have been avoided by moving the meeting time to the evening, commissioners agreed many North Bryan residents might not attend an evening meeting.