The new signs at Factory Shoals Recreation Park tell visitors to "SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK" in all capital letters and warn there is no lifeguard on duty, as Newton County officials seek to prevent deaths like the drowning last month.
Chairman Keith Ellis said at last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting that two signs had been posted at the county park, including at the park’s entrance and at a path leading to the Alcovy River, and said a third sign would be posted at another path in the park.
When asked, Commissioner John Douglas said he didn’t know if the signs made a difference in terms of lessening the county’s liability, but he hoped thy would help to prevent drownings.
"The message is we hope people take the signs seriously. There have been a number of drownings out there over the years. There is no lifeguard; it’s a dangerous place to swim. People need to take the signs seriously," said Douglas, who initially requested the signs.
"The signs put the burden on the swimmer and visitors … to do the right
thing," Douglas said.
The signs were made by the county’s public works department, Ellis said.
A 14-year-old boy drowned in June while swimming in the pool-like area below the shoals on the Alcovy River, which is accessible from the park.
Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis previously said there have been five drownings at or in the general area around the shoals since 2009.
Douglas previously called the park a "diamond for Newton County" and said he didn’t want to go overboard on regulations but thought more cautionary signs were a prudent idea.
He also said he hoped people would follow county law and not drink at the park.
"I want to remind people alcohol is not permitted in the park. Alcohol oftentimes contributes to accidents (out there)," Douglas said Tuesday.
Other BOC notes
Commissioner Douglas made a motion to consolidate all of the county’s wrecker service into a single contract that would be bid out; however, the board chose not to pursue that path after the sheriff opposed the idea.
Sheriff Ezell Brown said even if the county had only one wrecker service, that wrecker company would still contract out with other companies to handle cases when it could not respond to a call.
By using the current method of rotating the wrecker companies, Brown said, the county always knows which wrecker service is working which case.
Brown said it was important for him to know which company is handling each case so he can inform the public and hold companies accountable for any valuables left in cars.
Brown said rotating wrecker service also allows the nearest wrecker service to be called.
He said he did not believe consolidating wrecker service would save the county any money.
Douglas’ motion did not receive a second from any commissioner.
• The board approved paying Oxford-based MHB Paving $212,898 to construct a parking lot for Newton County’s Miracle League field.
• County Manager John Middleton told the board last week the county’s landfill was recently inspected by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and received a 95 percent rating on its municipal solid waste – which is general trash – side and a 100 percent rating on its construction and demolition waste side.
• Middleton said the county will re-advertise bids for anyone interested in renting Gaither’s Plantation’s pasture for livestock.
The county bid out the pasture land, but no one applied previously; however, one bid was received after the deadline. Gaither’s Plantation is located at 270 Davis Ford Road.