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County Commission: Joe C. Peavy Highway designation passed

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

During the regular meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, May 10, County Coordinator Brian Kauffman informed the board that State Sen. Bill Montford's office had announced the Legislature passed legislation designating State Road 53 North from US Hwy. 90 to the Georgia line as “Joe C. Peavy Highway.” This is a designation the county commissioners requested a year ago. “Sheriff Joe Peavy was a loyal public servant who unfailingly put the needs of others above his own. I had the fortune of working with him over the years, but also had the distinguished honor to call him a friend. His passing left a void in Madison County, but he also left a legacy for future generations about what it means to be a civic leader. Sponsoring this designation in the Senate meant a great deal to me, and I look forward to seeing this most deserved honor bestowed on Sheriff Joe Peavy. He was a good man,” said Sen. Bill Montford. According to Commissioner Alston Kelly, the board will be working with the Florida Department of Transportation on the appropriate signage to be placed on S.R. 53 North in the near future. “The Commissioners wish to thank Sen. Montford and Rep. Beshears for their efforts,” said Commissioner Alston Kelly. No date has been set for the official unveiling of the new road signage.

The board passed the consent agenda, which included a lighting services contract with Duke Energy for the old agricultural center.

Sheriff Ben Stewart updated the board on the Baker Act transport plan. Stewart said the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) will assist the Madison Police Department (MPD) with the transport of Baker Act patients if the MPD is short-handed. The MCSO is working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MPD in order to iron out the details. On a somewhat related subject, the board passed approval of The Apalachee Center being designated as the local receiving center for Baker Act patients. According to Undersheriff Epp Richardson, state statute calls for counties to have a designated receiving facility for patients in need of help with behavioral health disorders. “With a designated facility, there is a plan in place [to take Baker Act patients],” said Richardson. This will greatly reduce the amount of time patients have to spend in the county jail waiting for transport. Without the designation, patients would have to be transported to the “nearest facility,” which often does not have room. At those times when a patient will need to be transported, an officer will be called in to transport the patient to Tallahassee.

Emergency Management Director Alan Whigham informed the board that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to sign off on an agreement to help with the cost of clean-up from Hurricane Hermine. The federal agency has agreed to fund 75 percent of the approved cost of clean-up from the storm. The board passed the FEMA agreement.

Road Department Coordinator Lonnie Thigpen informed the board of a mosquito situation at the bridge construction site at Sundown Creek. According to Thigpen, the mosquitos are quite bad and it interferes with the work at the bridge. The commissioners authorized Mosquito and Animal Control Director Jamie Willoughby to begin spraying as needed immediately. Willoughby informed the board that his office had received a request from Madison Correctional Institute (MCI) to be added to the regular spraying schedule for this season. Willoughby said he could fit this request into his spraying schedule, budget-wise. According to Willoughby, approximately 1,600 people could benefit from adding the three miles necessary to spray at MCI. The Board approved adding MCI to the spraying schedule. Commissioner Rick Davis suggested authorizing the county coordinator to direct additional mosquito spraying as needed, within budget, and inform the board. This could save a wait of up to two weeks for needed additional mosquito spraying. The Mosquito Control Department will continue to follow established procedures for mosquito spraying.

Board Chairman Alfred Martin informed the board the hospital was “coming up with a plan” for the repayment of a $151,000 loan made by the board to Madison County Memorial Hospital for the purchase of endoscopy equipment in 2009.

The board was informed the remainder of the grass carp to be released in Cherry Lake had been released. Due to an equipment malfunction, only about 70 fish had originally been released. The total number of fish released into Cherry Lake now numbers at approximately 500. The fish were released as part of a plan by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to control the invasive hydrilla plants in the lake.

The next scheduled county commission meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 24, at 6 p.m. in the commission meeting room, located at 229 SW Pinckney St.

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