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Hall board approves bid process for new fire stations

POSTED: March 15, 2013 12:33 a.m.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners started the ball rolling Thursday night on purchase of a fire truck and building two fire stations.

Commissioners approved having purchasing staff begin the bid process for the construction of fire stations in North Hall, one new and one relocated from Short Road.

They said the county is inches from closing on the properties for these stations, but declined to disclose specifics. Commissioner Scott Gibbs said he hopes the county will have two new stations in the next 12 to 24 months.

Purchasing staff was also approved to start the bidding process for a new fire truck, which can take at least a year.

There are currently residents in Hall County districts 2 and 3 who have high fire insurance ratings because of their homes’ distance from fire services or are considered too high a risk, commissioners said. Gibbs is commissioner for District 2 and Commissioner Billy Powell represents District 3.

The board’s most-debated decision Thursday night was what penalty to impose on a convenience store owner who violated the county’s alcohol code.

Gibbs made a motion for a five-day suspension of the business license of Anantkumar Patel, the owner of East Hall Food Mart on Old Cornelia Highway, and a reinstatement fine that was approved with a 3-2 vote. Chairman Richard Mecum, a former sheriff, said he wanted to suspend the owner’s license for six months.

Susan Rector, business license director, said Patel has owned the store for nine years with no previous problems.

Commissioner Jeff Stowe asked County Attorney Bill Blalock if the board should put standards in place, but was told that there had been standards, but the former commissioners changed that. Mecum also agreed there should be standards.

In other business, Gibbs said, installing some city water lines in neighborhoods off Highland Road will be discussed at the county’s retreat, planned for March 26 and March 27 at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road.

Also, commissioners held three public hearings, two on new regulations for pawnbrokers, secondhand stores and jewelry dealers that would require electronic recording of the transaction and customer and uploading daily to a national database.

Two people spoke on the issue, with Michael Scupin of the Lanier Tea Party Patriots — Gainesville and Hall County speaking first. He said he was for slowing and reducing crime, but commissioners should do their homework to make sure these bills weren’t just costly regulations. They should balance public safety with consumer protection and job creation. The bills could result in less money being paid to customers or buyers having to pay higher retail prices because of these proposed laws, he said.

“If, after doing your homework, you can prove to the community that the regulations that you are proposing have actually decreased crime in other communities by using an independent source, such as FBI statistics, I would advocate that this idea be tabled until such time as verification can be presented to this community,” Scupin said.

Commissioners had no comments after those two hearings. They will consider the items again at their March 28 meeting.

Board members also voted 4-1 to award a $478,520 construction contract to Scroggs & Grizzel Contracting in Gainesville to renovate the Clermont Gym into a library. The cost comes out of special purpose local option sales tax revenue. Clermont created a donated library in the Clermont Gym, owned by Hall County, in 2012 after the county decided to build a park and technology center on Nopone Road instead of a library branch in the town.


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