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Macon consultants to continue managing county forests
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A letter of understanding outlining the services provided by Barber Forest Consultants, Inc., for forest management services was approved by the Newton County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night’s meeting.

J. Mack Barber said he had won the bid to manage the county’s forests in 2005, and outlined past and future work for the board. The work completed included thinning trees at Gaither Plantation and areas around the proposed Bear Creek Reservoir site, spraying timber stands and a prescribed burning on 200 acres owned by the county.

The Macon-based business also handled timber sales for the county.

In the new agreement, Barber’s firm said it would be thinning approximately 480 acres of planted pine and 124 acres of natural pine. The second thinning of the forests would be more labor intensive, with trees being selectively marked at eye and stump level between November 2015 and April 2017. Barber would also receive per ton per product bids from buyers, and recommend the successful bidder or negotiate an acceptable sale.

“We have a purchasing policy and this hasn’t been [put out for bid],” Commissioner Nancy Schulz said after the review of the agreement. “We keep having these same issues with our vendors, and we keep dropping the ball.”

Commissioner Lanier Sim agreed with her, saying, “If we’re going to have a policy, let’s stick to it.”

County Attorney W. T. “Tommy” Craig said the purchasing policy did not cover professional services. Contracts for professional services do not need to be put out for bid, he said.

The commissioners voted to accept the agreement, with three voting in favor, and Schulz and Sim voted against.

A number of grants were accepted by the county as part of the consent agenda, including $5,341 grant to the sheriff’s office for the FY15 State Criminal Alien Assistance Program; a $7,400 local grant from General Mills Foundation for the sheriff-s office; a $178,398 grant from the U.S. Justice Department for body worn cameras; $62,597 for the juvenile court for CJCC Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and Treatment Programs; and a GDOT Gateway Beautification Grant for $50,000 for the Highway 11 interchange at Exit 98.