Robert Aiken, who lives in a home across the street from the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Camp, spoke to the board of commissioners about the proposed Agriculture Center during Tuesday’s meeting at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.
Aiken told the board that he was concerned about the proposed center, and said he and his family were not told about the camp’s possible development.
“It is unfortunate the community surrounding the FFA Camp has not been contacted about the Agriculture Center before pushing it to state legislators,” Aiken said. “It is clear had officials contacted members of the community, it may not be located there.”
Newton County Chair Keith Ellis, who was a member of the Agriculture Center’s board after the building was approved on the 2011 SPLOST referendum, said that the project was an economic development project and needed to be handled in secrecy.
The new center will be paid for out with $1.1 million of Newton County SPLOST funds, $2 million from the state’s budget and $250,000 from a tobacco settlement fund with the state.
“We worked three years with the Georgia Assembly,” Ellis said. “Without using the state facility, state money would not be appropriated to Newton County [for this project].”
Ellis told Aiken that Todd Teasley, director of the FFA Camp, contacted neighbors of the camp after the project was announced.
District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox suggested that public hearings be held to tell concerned neighbors of the FFA Camp about the project and for officials to hear concerns about the Agriculture Center’s location.
“I think some good points have been raised by this project,” Maddox said. “With the investment that is going in at the FFA Camp and the impacts positive and negative from those investments, I think it’s a perfect opportunity to have a town hall style, public educational session so families who have been on that property for up to 140 years.
“I think everybody down there in that community wants to know where we are spending the dollars, even if it is conceptual.”
Transportation professional services retained
Newton County agreed to retain five firms as professional service vendors after a unanimous vote Tuesday.
Those firms are Gresham Smith & Partners, Atkins, Moreland Altobelli, Michael Baker International and AECOM.
Gresham Smith is an engineering firm, Atkins and Moreland Altobelli do a lot of the county’s architectural drawings for bridges and other road projects, Michael Baker provides the county ith work on large interchange projects and AECOM do inspections for Newton County.
The BOC approved for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office to apply for a Justice Assistant Grant in the amount of $27,665.
The BOC also approved the appointment of Wes Long as Adult Felony Drug Court Coordinator for fiscal year 2017.