THOMASVILLE — A letter from the Grady County Board of Commissioners (BOC) addressing questions about Tired Creek Lake was received on Wednesday by John Monds, president of the Libertarian Party of Grady County.
Monds presented his list of 16 questions at the March 17 BOC meeting. His questions ranged from specific concerns about a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on mitigation deviations to conflict of interest concerns regarding the county attorney, Kevin Cauley, and Cairo Messenger publisher Randy Wind, who serves on the Lake Authority board.
On Feb. 17, the corps issued a letter stating that “mitigation was not constructed as required in the approved mitigation work plan,” and that “based on the conditions of the mitigation sites, it is unlikely that an adaptive management plan would be successful in bringing the mitigation sites into compliance.” Based on these mitigation issues, the corps informed the county that it would not approve any further work at this time, meaning that the county cannot fill the lake with water. The corps demanded a revised plan be provided to it within 30 days.
Monds’ questions centered on who was responsible for the deviations from the approved mitigation plan, when the deviations were discovered, what were the causes of the deviation and had the revised plan been submitted. The letter from Commission Chair LaFaye Copeland, with assistance from Cauley and engineers involved, according to Monds, answered most of his questions.
Basically, Kent Campbell Jr. of EcoSouth provided the mitigation work. Campbell said in his March 10 response letter to the corps that “based on experience and professional judgment, modifications to the stream mitigation component were made during the final design process...” He also said adjustments “were also made in the field during construction to avoid removing larger mature oak and magnolia trees.”
Also in his response, Campbell does reference the more than 30 inches of rainfall Grady County received between September and December 2014, with one storm dumping more that nine inches in 24 hours.
On the issue of conflict of interest with Cauley pushing for the issuance of $10 million in bonds and then receiving $65,000 in issuance fees, Cauley’s response can be found in the Tuesday issue of the Times-Enterprise. No where in the response does anyone address the fact that Cauley used his influence with the BOC to get a bond passed of which he got a fee proportionate to the overall value of the bonds issued. The response also states that the commissioners were aware of the fee Cauley would receive even though in statements to the Times-Enterprise Copeland and Vice Chair Charles Norton said they did not know how much Cauley would be paid.
Copeland said, “I don’t know if anybody really knew the exact amount he was going to get paid, to be honest with you.”
According to the response letter, the BOC, evidently, sees no conflict of interest with Wind serving on the Lake Authority board while he is supposed to be objectively reporting on Tired Creek Lake in his newspaper, stating, “We are thankful for his service and unaware of any conflict or personal gain he has received as a direct result of his service.”
“Really? You (the BOC) can’t figure that out?” Monds said of the Wind involvement. “That makes the commissioners look stupid.”
Though Monds had been on the March 17 BOC meeting agenda since at least the previous Friday, his comments during the meeting were limited to five minutes and he received limited feedback. He requested to be place in the “Presentations” portion of the agenda because the “Public Comments” portion limits the speaker to three minutes and does not provide for interaction with the board. The BOC’s response letter concludes by directing Monds that in the future, his access to the board should only be during the “Public Comments” portion.
Monds said, “I’m glad they responded, but troubled they want to shut me off the agenda. It disturbs me that the board acts like they want to remove the public’s ability to get on the agenda. I think Copeland wants to do the right thing, but I think she’s getting bad advice.
“I’m not satisfied with all their answers and as long as I have questions, I’ll keep coming back.”