IN BRIEF: Discussion over comments and released statements regarding the COPS grants grew heated at Tuesday night's Board of Commissioners work session as Commissioner JaNice Van Ness lambasted County CEO Richard Oden on information presented at the Rockdale Coalition of Civic and Homeowner's Associations on the issue.
Van Ness pointed out the information on slides, which highlighted the increasing Sheriff's Office budget over the past several years, failed to mention the crucial fact that the Sheriff's Office opened an expanded and renovated jail which significantly increased the number of beds, the manpower required, and general expenses required.
"What you failed to put on this propaganda is the fact we opened a new jail with more beds than the previous jail had before," said Van Ness.
"I don't want the county to be divided because of your ego, and that is exactly what this seems like. I have no idea why this propaganda is being put out," said Van Ness.
"Your disrespect for the Sheriff is abdominable. This is horrible. A waste of time and energy for our employees to do that.
If this was an accurate document, it would clearly say we opened a 400-plus bed jail. But it doesn't. It fails to tell the whole story."
Oden had no comment on the COPS grant comments except "I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out today and for your comments. I just love it. But look at your facts."
Several residents who spoke during the public comments section also commented on the COPS grant, praising Sheriff Jeff Wigington for finding and applying for the grant and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt and Van Ness for working out an agreement with the Sheriff.
In other BOC business:
Transportation Director Miguel Valentine announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation had agreed to fund up to $2 million in additional funds to acquire right of ways for the Old Covington Highway expansion and bypass under Ga. Highway 138 (into the Home Depot parking lot). That money would be on top of about $3 million already promised for right of way acquisiton for the project. The total estimate for the cost of right of way aquisition for the project is $5 million and for construction is about $5 million. GDOT has agreed to help with about $1 million to the cost of construction.