Courthouse repairs could also involve landscaping

by Nicole Stokes

In conjunction with planned courthouse repairs, the epicenter for county government could also be in for a landscaping facelift in the near future.

Circuit Clerk Warren Walker, in addressing the Franklin County Board of Supervisors during the panel’s Sept. 19 meeting, suggested an update to landscaping along the front of the building.

“We’ve got some bushes that are overgrowing and we just want to see if everybody can get on the same page with me taking the bushes down and redoing our (landscaping),” he said.

“One of the bushes on my end is half dead. When you look at it, two sides of it are OK, but the middle of it is gone. The one on (Tax Assessor-Collector Talina King Matthews’) end has just (taken) over the entire building.”

The board voted in favor of removing the bushes and replacing them with something else in the near future — after next month’s Homochitto River Festival — to prevent the lawn from becoming a muddy mess or eyesore during the festivities.

Walker also pointed out removing the bushes would be helpful with planned renovations to the outside of the courthouse, as they would likely be in the way of workers.

District 4 Supervisor Pat Larkin offered to use his equipment to pull the bushes up by the roots, and District 5 Supervisor and Board President Jimmie “Bodi” Bass stated it would be wise to call 8-1-1 to make sure no utility lines would be damaged when the plants are eventually uprooted.

The board also heard from local businessman Tyler Blalock, who sits on the county’s 9-1-1 commission, about dispatching software and other security equipment needs in the courthouse and the county — including the National Crime Information Center computer used by the sheriff’s office.

“Our NCIC computer has gone down,” Blalock said. “It’s 10 years old – it’s had a hard life. It is a secure computer, all the people on it have to have security background checks and all that kind of stuff and y’all bond them. The dispatcher is typically the one (using) it.

“(The 9-1-1 board) wants to make a recommendation that we purchase a new computer. Max (Wilkinson) has one lined out through our IT guy. He’s already recommended one and he’s got one on the books. I think it’s around the $850 range.”

No action was taken on this matter as another quote for the computer was needed.

The money to purchase the computer would be taken from the county’s 9-1-1 fund.

In other action, the panel:

• Signed an updated resolution and interlocal agreement to house inmates in the Amite County jail.

• Accepted certification of petition signatures to allow Mary Kay Holt to run for District 2 election commissioner.

• Accepted the first quarter budget allocations for the Franklin County Sheriff and Tax Assessor-Collector for fiscal year 2023.

• Approved payment to WGK Engineers in the following amounts to be reimbursed by the Office of State Aid Roads Construction — $6,299.78 for State Aid Project-19(73), Gloster Road slide repair; $27,975.79 for a Local System Bridge Program Project-19(18) on Oak Grove Road; and $23,659.99 for SAP-19(72) on Providence Road.

• Gave approval for county engineer Mike McKenzie to request $10,147.79 be moved from the county’s Office of State Aid Roads Construction fund to its Emergency Road and Bridge Repair fund to cover remaining costs on the completed ERBR-19(02) Davis Hill Road bridge replacement project.

• Approved payments of $2,050.79 and $225 to the McGehee, McGehee and Torrey law firm for services rendered in litigation.

• Gave approval to pay Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance Inc., $250 for a $50,000 bond for Roger Causey and $175 for a $50,000 bond for Joshua Evans.

• Approved junking multiple items from the county’s assets list, consisting mostly of outdated computer and office equipment.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board will take place at 9 a.m., Monday, Oct. 3 at the courthouse in Meadville.