Gadsden County’s Board of County Commissioners gathered for their regular meeting on April 1.
Robert Presnell, county administrator, initiated discussion about the county’s 2014 Summer Youth Employment Program. The commissioners discussed what academic and conduct criteria students should meet before being considered for inclusion in the program. The commission also discussed how the students should be selected.
Commissioner Sherrie Taylor suggested each commissioner should be able to select five students for the program, allowing a committee to select the remaining 50.
Commissioner Doug Croley voiced misgivings about commissioners selecting any students for the program.
Commission Chairman Eric Hinson said commissioners could be trusted with that responsibility.
Commissioner Brenda Holt asked for the committee to include five rather than three people, adding additional oversight and credibility to the process.
Holt made a motion to have five people to serve on the selection committee, allowing each commissioner to recommend five students for the program, and permitting potential selections to one “N” in their conduct record. Commissioner Croley seconded the motion.
The motion passed, 4-1. Commissioner Gene Morgan cast the opposing vote.
The program will cost the county $75,000.
Walter C. Rogers of Hardaway Highway, Chattahoochee, attended the meeting to represent his sister Jackie Reese of Tharp Circle, Chattahoochee, and himself. He told the commissioners he would present a brief and simplified version of his complicated case for their consideration.
According to Rogers, in 2007 the board of county commissioners granted another family permission to place a gate across a portion of the Woodrow-Butler Road in Chattahoochee. Rogers said the county’s decision was an error.
Rogers said he and his sister own land along the road and all sides of the road at its southern terminus.
“The gate across the road denies us several hundred yards of public road right-of-way and greatly diminishes the value of our property,” said Rogers.
According to Rogers, public officials, members of the other family, and the St. Joe Timber Company — an interest which owned land along the road at the time — met on location to discuss the installation of the gate. Rogers said he was not notified, invited or in any way included in the county’s meeting.
According to Rogers, a Florida statute dictates that a road built by the county and maintained by the county for four years or more constitutes a public right-of-way. Rogers said the county built the road in the late 1960s — and has maintained it since, long past the four-year mark. He also said, history aside, the road is illustrated as public on county maps.
Florida Statute 95.361 appears to be the passage to which Rogers refers. It reads, in part, “When a road, constructed by a county, a municipality, or the Department of Transportation, has been maintained or repaired continuously and uninterruptedly for 4 years by the county, municipality, or the Department of Transportation, jointly or severally, the road shall be deemed to be dedicated to the public, to the extent in width that has been actually maintained for the prescribed period, whether or not the road has been formally established as a public highway.”
No conclusion was reached.
Rogers thanked Presnell for his previous support — but said the administrator’s efforts were “fruitless.” Rogers concluded his statements by clarifying that he has known members of the other family for years. He said he holds them in high regard and he carries no grudge. Instead, he said the responsibility falls on the county.