2014-02-27 / Front Page

New ballot printing method needed, voter registrar tells commissioners

By SPARKY NEWSOME
publisher and editor

In addition to moving forward to put two alcohol sales questions on the May 20 Primary Election ballot this year (as previously reported), the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners heard a plea from County Registrar Debbie Anderson to upgrade the ballot printing procedure. The proposed new system would allow the printing of ballots as needed rather than relying on “best guess” ordering by quantity.

Some months ago, Anderson introduced the system to the commissioners and even offered to purchase it personally without expecting reimbursement. Commissioners, however, were more interested in the potential savings in printing costs and asked for specific figures to that effect. Anderson did not have those figures available and explained that each election is different and requires different ballot quantities for different precincts depending on a number of varying factors.

Anderson added that under the current system, unused ballots, sometimes boxes of them, have to be destroyed after the elections for which they were intended. She further pointed out that 22 ballot styles will be required by the state for the upcoming May 20 election and said that is the reason many counties have gone to the new system. However, she did not know of any rural counties like Wilkes that have made the change.

“If you can get us some actual savings, instead of costs,” Chairman Sam Moore said, “that would be something we need to look at.” He suggested that the state adds costs to every election. “They don’t send any money with any of this new legislation, we have to eat it,” he said. “Elections have become a very expensive part of our budget whereas they used to be a very small part,” he added.

“It has become a business,” Anderson agreed, “and they seem to be adding more and more and more as we have elections come up.” She again offered to personally pay for the system “because this is going to be a year that we need it. If you can’t justify it, authorize me to get it and I will get it, get it set up, and get it in. I was not teasing when I told you I would cover the cost.”

“Get us some information on savings or what the actual cost is going to be,” Moore responded.

Earlier in the commission’s regular monthly meeting, Wilkes County Extension Agent Audra Armour and Coordinator Frank Watson presented their annual report on activities and operations of their office.

“We conduct over 16 club meetings during the year to cover the 425 youth currently enrolled in the ¬≠Wilkes County 4-H program,” Armour said. “This means that in our age range (9-19) that we are educating and creating an impact in the lives of over 40 percent of the youth in our county,” she continued, and explained that the program prepares them for entry into college and career paths by introducing members to various areas of emphasis.

Armour reported on 4-H competitions, both local and beyond, and enumerated many accomplishments and awards received by members. She also pointed out that 4-H is involved in many local service projects.

Armour commented that new 4-H Program Assistant Della McAvoy “has contributed greatly to the increase in participation” in the program and publicly thanked her for her work. She also invited all the commissioners to attend the annual 4-H banquet scheduled for May 31.

“425 kids!” Commissioner Ed Geddings exclaimed, “When you say this impacts 40 percent of our young people, that’s phenomenal.”

Watson reported that the relatively new Wilkes County Health Navigator Kimberly Jenkins had planned to address the board but was unable to attend the rescheduled meeting due to a previous commitment. “She covers a lot of counties and it’s an advantage to have her [headquartered] here in our county,” he said. “If she is not the best Navigator in the state, she’s in the top one or two, judging from reports I’ve seen.”

He also said that his own availability is his top priority because “quick response is the most important thing in keeping taxpayers happy.” He described a system he has in place to keep handily in touch with anyone who calls in with a question or problem.

A long list of activities and recognitions populated Watson’s report and he concluded by recognizing McAvoy for having completed her training, Armour for receiving the district Professional Achievement Award, Extension Secretary Carol Jackson for being named the Outstanding Secretary in the state of Georgia, and himself for receiving the Georgia Green Industry Association Communicator of the Year award.

In other business not previously reported:

. A resolution providing for transit funding from the state was approved.

. County Administrator David Tyler reported that Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax received for the month of December amounted to $87,384.61, and that $56,800.84 in Local Option Sales Tax had been received. Also TSPLOST for the same month amounted to $76,435.28.

. EMS Director Blake Thompson thanked radio station WLOV and The News-Reporter for their assistance in keeping the public aware of safety concerns during the recent winter storm.

. Jerry Hackney reported on the Code Red emergency notification system.

. Moore reported that Revolutionary Days had been a tremendous success and that the related events seem to be continuing to grow each year.

The next regular meeting of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners will be held on Thursday, March 13, at 6 p.m. in the Wilkes County courthouse with a work session immediately prior in the chairman’s office beginning at 5 p.m.

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