Commissioners ponder key fobs, broadband in regular session

*Editor’s note: This story was updated from an earlier version to correct the votes of commissioners Griffin and Pettis. They cast the only two ‘yes’ votes to deny contractors receipt of a key fob.

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners covered several topics from key fobs to updates to their website during the regular session Jan. 19.

While FEMA coordinator Kevan Parker updated the board on the $55,749,000 that has been spent paving roads with Hurricane Michael funding, he advised that $54,441,000 of that has been reimbursed with the remaining $1.8 million in validation. 

Chairman Tray Hawkins stated he thought Parker needed a key fob to access the county annex building for ease as he is there so often. Commissioner Wesley Griffin disagreed with the idea. 

“The only people who should have a key fob for the county building are county employees,†Griffin said. “We should not be giving them to contractors, especially ones who have an office already at the Emergency Operations Center.†

Hawkins reiterated the only time Parker would have a key for is during business hours, and Griffin disagreed.

Griffin made a motion that Wheeler and Associates, Parker’s employer, not be allowed a key fob to the building. Commissioner David Pettis seconded; however, the motion failed.

In the end, in a 3-2 vote, Parker will have use of a daily fob to enter the annex as needed. Griffin and Pettis were the two yes votes.

Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Karen Shaw advised commissioners that three FDOT beautification grants had been awarded to the county totaling $76,000. The funds will be used to improve the front of the agricultural center, the recycling center and the park at Blue Lake. Shaw said the public will be happy when they see the improvements planned for Blue Lake.

County Administrator Jeff Massey gave the board updates on the changes to the county website which will make the site easier to navigate with a new search engine. Massey also added an update concerning the broadband project throughout the county. 

“We have reached the threshold for the first part of the broadband project,†Massey said. “Once we have Sunny Hills up and running, that portion will be complete. Wildstar is working hard to bring high speed internet to citizens of Washington County even after the major supply chain issues that have plagued the project.â€

The board is working toward the goal of live streaming their meetings and are currently searching for a way to meet all the needs to make the county compliant with ADA requirements and cost effective for the county coffers. Griffin made it clear where he stood on the matter. 

“If the counties around us can live stream, we can too,†Griffin said. 

Massey is expected to bring back some concrete ideas when the board holds a workshop in February.

Commissioners are currently working on a schedule to hold monthly workshops and possible night time meetings which will give the public more access to the goings on in the county. A tentative schedule is expected to be brought to the Feb. 9 workshop for further discussion.

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in workshop at 9 a.m. Feb. 9.