Madison County may soon end its long-time service of burying livestock free of charge for county farmers.

County commission chairman Todd Higdon raised the issue Monday, saying that the road department, which handles the burials, is short-staffed and that the county buried 263 animals last year — 199 cows/horses and 64 deer — and has already buried 53 farm animals and nine deer this year.

He said that requires about 1.5 to two hours of work from two road department employees, who are diverted from other road department duties to bury animals.

“We’ve got about $200 total in an animal burial,” said Higdon. “We just can’t afford to do that. We don’t have the people or the time.”

The practice has long been provided for livestock owners in the county, but county attorney Mike Pruett said the government burying privately owned animals on private property for free is a gratuity and not backed by law.

Christopher Roach, who addressed the board as a potential new code enforcement officer, said there are specific guidelines from the state on animal burial and that the county risks legal liability for improperly buried animals. He said there are private services that can handle that job, adding that there are also businesses that will pick up animals and pay by the pound if the death has occurred within a day.

Animals, such as dead deer, in the county right of way are the responsibility of the road department.

Monday’s meeting was a work session, and the matter will likely be discussed again at the board’s March 29 meeting.

‘NOT IN THE RETAIL BUSINESS’

In another matter, county commissioners talked about ending the practice selling and installing driveway pipes. Higdon said the county is “not the retail business” and that there are local businesses who provide this service. The county may set guidelines on new construction regarding driveway pipes to make sure hazards aren’t created at the roadway. The county will likely discontinue its sell of gravel, as well. The county government purchases gravel in Elberton and then allows citizens to purchase from the county at the same price, with the government eating the cost of transport. Higdon said there are a number of businesses that sell gravel and that the government shouldn’t be undercutting them.

BEER-AND-WINE APPLICATION

Dogsboro, LLC is seeking a beer and wine license for the convenience store at the corner of Hwy. 29 and Glenn Carrie Road. The owner of the property, who does not qualify for a beer and wine license, is leasing the property to Dogsboro LLC. Over the years, several applicants have sought a beer and wine license at that locale, and the commissioners have tried to make sure any operator of the business is acting independently and not doing the bidding of the property owner, who can’t have a license. Store manager Melanie Dove presented the applicant’s lease agreement and two years of tax returns. The county attorney will review the paperwork and present his findings to the board. The issue will be considered again March 29.

FIRE HALL PROPERTY

Danielsville and Collins volunteer fire departments don’t own the land beneath their fire halls. That land is owned by the county. Higdon has suggested that the county deed that land to the fire departments so that they can use the property as collateral for loans to purchase necessary equipment. County commissioner Derek Doster has suggested the board getter a broader picture of the future of county fire services before taking action on the matter. The board heard Monday from long-timer Danielsville Fire Chief Marc Perry Monday, who said the department is interested in owning the land beneath its fire hall, which will help keep fire department members from personally having to sign on to loans. One complication in the process of deeding the land is that, by law, the county must put the property out for bid. Perry was asked to present the board with a written request for the land transfer. He agreed that he would.

CODE ENFORCEMENT POSITION

Madison County’s code enforcement officer has long handled animal control duties, with an estimated 80 percent of code enforcement calls related to animal issues. That is likely to change soon. Madison County commissioners are considering moving code enforcement from the sheriff’s oversight to the county government, with the sheriff’s office handling animal control. There are many code enforcement issues that need attention, and the board heard from Roach about his qualifications to handle code enforcement issues.

OTHER BUSINESS

Higdon said starting salaries for those with a commercial driver’s license is too low to hire qualified people, with Madison County pay several dollars lower per hour than surrounding areas. He asked the board to review those salaries. The chairman reported that the county now has a 2001 Caterpillar rubber tire loader purchased with trade-in equipment. The board agreed to go out for sealed bids on an amended road resurfacing list through a state grant program. Higdon said Timberlane Drive will need to be prepared in 2021 for surfacing in 2022. Bishop Carey Road will also be in 2022. Ingrams Road and Adams Clarke Road were added to the 2021 list.

Locations

(2) comments

Clyde Verhine

My comments address the “Free livestock burials likely to end” in Madison County portion of this article.

I am not in agreement that this service provided by the County should end and am asking that the Commissioners not approve discontinuing this service.

The article stated that “Christopher Roach… said there are private services that can handle that job”. We have had to have animals buried in the past when we have had horses die and could not locate any service available in Madison County to bury the animals. The only option we had was to use the resource provided by the county. Can the County provide a list of private providers of this service in Madison County?

I am also concerned that without the county providing the service, farmers on small local farms who do not have the necessary equipment will not bury dead cows. I believe this is the reason the county began providing the service to begin with.

I am in agreement that the service should not be provided free of charge. In order to continue the service, I would be willing to pay the County a $200 fee for animal burial and I am sure others would be OK with that option as well.

Again, I urge the Commission not to approve discontinuing this service but rather change it to a fee based service.

Virginia Moss

So far, I'm liking Chairman Higdon's practicality across the board. Government shouldn't do what private business can handle for the people of the county. If there were no such business or possible business in the area, then the government should step in. Or if government has excess resources and can make money for the county by offering a local service, then that would make sense, too. Such is not the case in Madison County. Since it's a hugely conservative county, there should be no complaints about this new policy from anyone, certainly not me, a left-leaning independent voter who agrees with this policy.

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