October 3, 2015

No AmbulanceAround 10:30AM this morning TWG was notified that Medic 1 housed at Jackson Lake was not staffed and hadn’t been since early this morning.

At 1:30PM Medic 1 was still not staffed and it appears it will not be staffed all day long.


Anyone that could possibly need an ambulance needs to be aware that the time it would take to get to the lake or North Alcovy area will be much longer than usual.


 Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

Posted in County, EMS | Tagged , | 5 Comments


October 2, 2015

The Commissioners asked their attorney to look at the bid specs for the Fire Pumper to see if they are too narrow; he is to let them know on Monday night (10/5/15).

E-One PumperAfter the blog postSOMETHING SMELLS FISHY WITH THE FIRE PUMPER BIDS there have been thoughts posted on the blog and on Facebook. TWG agrees that Jasper County is in need of a fire truck at Station 6, and that SPLOST money has been allocated for that purpose. However, the best bid should be used in allocating those funds properly. E-One may make strong apparatus, and some, like the Jasper County Fire Chief, seem to prefer it over other brands. As someone said, “Some people prefer Fords, while others prefer Chevys. One isn’t necessarily better than the other.” Wouldn’t it make sense if E-One was the biggest, strongest, best fire truck then every fire department would use only that model?  Even so, E-One may be the best truck for Jasper County; however….

 There are laws that govern bidding and the request for bids to make sure everyone has a fair chance. Jasper County has been very lax in its enforcement of the bidding process, even though on 1/6/15 Comm. Henry made a motion that the bidding process be followed as required by the County procurement policy. It was passed with a 5-0 vote. (There had been numerous violations by the BOC previous to that date and several since that date.)


It is a felony for any person to enter into a contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or in restraint of free and open competition in any transaction with the State of Georgia, any state agency or any political subdivision. O.C.G.A. § 16-10-22.

According to the Georgia Procurement Manual (GPM), there are protestable issues in procurement procedures. They include:

  • The agency’s specifications give one bidder an unfair advantage over its competitors or otherwise unfairly limit competition;
  • The award was based upon evaluation criteria disclosed in the RFP, but which conflicts with superior statutes, charter provisions or ordinances that prohibit such considerations;
  • The agency afforded more weight to one evaluation area than was disclosed in the RFP (such as a wiring harness we heard so much about when bids were discussed)
  • Irregularities in the receipt or opening of bids such as the acceptance of a late bid or the opening of bids at different times; and
  • The agency improperly designated the procurement as a sole source.

Also, according to the GPM Section 3.2.3, Sole Brand Purchases

A sole-brand purchase is a competitive solicitation which includes specifications restricting offered goods to a specific manufacturer or owner’s brand. Sound procurement practice requires that a sole-brand solicitation be used only when it is the last justifiable option, and not as an attempt to contract for a favored brand of goods. An example of the appropriate use of the sole-brand justification may include certain situations where a specific piece of equipment is needed to match existing equipment or is a replacement.

 The Jasper County Fire Department had a demo truck at the station that former County Manager, Karen Degges, wanted to buy without bids. Then bids were solicited for the truck and they came in higher than the amount of funds available. At the September 21st meeting a bidder questioned the second RFP and said only an E-One model could meet the bid specs. The BOC will determine what to do at the meeting Monday 10/5/15 at 6:00PM. As a blog poster asked, “How does the attorney know anything about specifications for a fire truck?” Hopefully, the attorney will know Georgia Procurement Laws.


Posted in Bidding, County, Fire | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

CITIZENS TOWN HALL MEETING-October 13, 2015 at 7:00PM



TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2015 — 7:00PM–

MIKE BENTON, County Manager and  SHANE SEALY, P&Z Director

If the following issues concern you, attend the meeting and bring your friends and neighbors.

–Our BOC just raised our taxes again–over 20% in 2 years
–Unresponsive elected officials–elections are coming up!
Poor roads and poor road maintenance
–County employees arrested for theft and others come and go as they please
–Consolidation of City and County services
— Our BOC is adding debt instead of buying what can be paid for with the available funds and buying expensive items without bids
–Using multi-year (30-50 year) agreements to bypass citizens
while spending money on questionable projects

Open forum will allow ANY issues you want to discuss to be brought up.

We must do something to relieve the current and future tax burden on all of us.  If we want to prosper as a community, the community has to be aware of what is going on and get involved!

Your opinion matters. This is your chance to have your voice heard!

Go to or for more information as the date gets closer.


Posted in City, County, Open Government | Tagged , | 3 Comments


September 29, 2015

1-Lime & Sewage across streetThe City has known of problems with sewage overflows along Pine Street for close to 15 years. The sewage has ended up in people’s yards, in their basements, and in the creek behind Pine St.

Late in 2014 the citizens that live along Pine St. were told that the sewage problems were going to be corrected within a few weeks. The City council had voted to spend money (approximately $40,000) to have everything fixed. See Raw Sewage Nightmare

Obviously something went wrong or the fix was never made. People all up and down Honeysuckle as well as those living along Pine St. have smelled that “horrible odor” again recently.

 The City posted a notice. Can you read it from the street?Sewage spill 9.16.15 notice from road
Here is an up close picture of the notice
(click to enlarge)

 Sewage spill 9.16.15 noticeThe notice can be changed easily to insert the new date and time and other information, which has to be done with each sewage spill. People in this area should be calling EPD and the City on a weekly basis until this stinky situation is fixed for good.

 And the fix? Oh, “increased treatment”, which means more lime poured over the exposed sewage!



Posted in City | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


September 27, 2015

Procurement CorruptionFor the 3rd or 4th time, a new fire pumper was discussed and the amount of the 2nd round of bids questioned at the BOC meeting on 9/21/15.

Jarret Slocumb gives bid information—recommends the “E-1” truck:

BOC questions if bid specs are too narrow–

Jarrett said the chassis, motor, and wiring harness are the biggest differences. It appears though that the bid request was put out based on “E-1” specs—a type truck built by Fireline– so other bidders can’t meet the specifications and cannot win the bid.

A representative from Deep South, one of the companies that bid on the fire truck, was at the meeting.  The video below is a very interesting and shows why something smells about the bid specifications put out by our Fire chief.

What was revealed by Deep South–We could not meet specs because of verbiage…bid requirements had “E-1” verbiage…only an “E-1” truck could meet the specs.

The BOC also learned that the first truck bid requirements were totally different than the second truck bid requirements. Watch at 1:37 on video below.

Air packs were also put out to bid as a separate option, even though current air packs don’t expire for more than 2 years—2018– as revealed by Comm. Pennamon, who did his homework on this issue. Why would our Fire Chief include these now in the bid request?

When specs are so narrow other companies are unable to meet the bid, it is a form of bid rigging. When that happens, kickbacks are usually involved.

Thank you, Commissioners, for discussing this issue. Let’s hope you insure that all bidders are treated equally and fairly, and not just special ones that are hand-picked by those writing the bids.

This item will be back on the 10/6/15 BOC meeting agenda according to the discussion. It should be another interesting discussion.



Posted in Bidding, County, Fire | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments


September 25, 2015

Meeting Notice

Please mark your calendar —Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:00PM–and make plans to attend a Town Hall meeting.

We will hold this town hall meeting in the same place as we held the Town Hall meeting last year.

Please save the date and plan to attend.  Next week we will post directions, issues to be discussed, and other information.  Look for this information and pass it on to others.




Posted in Open Government | Tagged | Leave a comment


September 25, 2015

BCR Lake Varner

Keeping current reservoir at low levels to fool people into thinking Bear Creek Reservoir is essential.

Tommy Craig, Newton County attorney and water consultant, has led people on for 18 years about the coming reservoir. He has spent $22M of taxpayer’s money so far on this money pit, with a goodly amount going into his personal coffers via invoices for legal and consulting services.

In 2003 TWG started working against Jasper County paying Newton County 25% of all costs incurred to be a “partner” in Bear Creek Reservoir. We particularly protested the bloated and outrageous population figures used to “sell” this reservoir to Newton County citizens, the JCWSA, the Jasper County BOC, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Many more people in Newton County are now seeing the light as well, and want Craig and the reservoir stopped. If Jasper County had participated in this venture, the taxpayers of Jasper County would have already paid in $5.5M for nothing but promises.

Here is a link to the news article “Corps of Engineers at Standstill on Reservoir Permit.” It seems the letter from the Corps was hidden by Tommy Craig and Chairman Ellis according to the article.

Phil Johnson, who has announced his candidacy for Newton County Commission Chair, challenging current chair Keith Ellis, has some information about BCR on his website. He states, “Comments from Craig and Chairman Ellis in the Covington News are troubling. The Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority have all raised serious questions as to the need for Bear Creek Reservoir, but Craig and Ellis are clearly undeterred.” Read more here:

A letter shared on a Newton County resident’s Facebook page gives much of the recent background, including the USACE withdrawing the BCR permit due to population projections 50% higher than the Governor’s office projections.


I’m deeply concerned by news reports regarding Bear Creek Reservoir and the lack of action by the Board of Commissioners to publicly address these developments. Commissioners Nancy Schulz and Lanier Sims called for a public meeting to discuss the situation, but Chairman Keith Ellis has taken no action as of this writing. Commissioners Levie Maddox, John Douglas, and J.C. Henderson have remained silent, suggesting willingness to let the costly and self-serving actions of County Attorney Tommy Craig continue.

From news reports and commissioner comments, it’s evident Ellis and Craig withheld from the board and citizens a damaging August 28 letter by the US Army Corps of Engineers, while Ellis allowed Craig to respond on Newton County’s behalf without giving commissioners and the public a say. This is unconscionable and terrible leadership by the Chairman.

I’ve read both the letter from the US Army Corps of Engineers and Craig’s response. The latter only deepens concerns raised by the former:

  1. The Corps letter is damning acknowledgement of how little Craig has accomplished, while spending an incredible sum of money ($22M at least) in the process.
  2. The Corps letter and Craig’s response are clear evidence the County Attorney has become an impediment in our relationship with the Corps. His comments about the Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority (NCWSA) are likewise disturbing and unlikely to foster the kind of teamwork we need in this county.
  3. Nowhere in Craig’s letter, nor in public comments from Ellis, have they properly addressed valid questions raised. None of us has a crystal ball, so I don’t view the answers as clear-cut. I respect Craig could differ with the Corps. But, when the Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the NCWSA, multiple engineering firms, and numerous citizen groups raise serious and legitimate questions about the wisdom of proceeding, it is troubling to see Craig resort to attacking questioners, rather than responsibly seeking truthful answers.
  4. Craig lost all credibility as an objective consultant when he deliberately and knowingly mislead commissioners about the existence and findings of the 2009 safe yield analysis performed by Infratec Consulting. I would have been fired for similar deception on my job. It is unfathomable the same did not happen to Craig last December when this was first revealed. Yet, he was reappointed by this board in January. Commissioners, what were you thinking!?
  5. I am deeply concerned by Craig’s stated intent to move swiftly forward, increasing our commitment and spending on the project. In his own words, he admits no urgency exists for this project, and yet his letter states: “Newton County’s proposed approach allows engineering to proceed parallel to implementing environmental mitigation.” He is hell-bent on accelerating the commitment. The Board of Commissioners must stop this madness.

I’m not qualified to assess the need or timing for this reservoir, but many who are have raised serious doubts. I am imminently qualified to say Craig’s actions prove serious conflicts of interest and show he is unfit to provide objective counsel on a project of this magnitude. His failure to secure a permit – despite repeated assurances we were “almost there” suggests incompetence. Considering the vast sums of money we have paid, he is clearly not a wise investment – something other counties have already recognized and taken action accordingly.

Commissioners face a tough January vote with significant political consequences regarding Craig’s reappointment as County Attorney. But, this can’t wait. Whether the Chairman will lead or not – and, clearly he won’t – the commissioners must demand a meeting. Someone must make the motion and call the vote. Commissioners, show you are something more than what most have come to think of you. Do the right thing.

Remove Tommy Craig immediately as a consultant on the Bear Creek Reservoir and any other water-related projects. We can’t afford to wait.

Maurice Carter

In Jasper County our current BOC says they are not interested in Bear Creek Reservoir; however, we never intend to let our guard down since too many things have gone on behind closed doors. We ask all citizens to keep an eye open and a listening ear for anything about Bear Creek Reservoir. If this reservoir is ever built it will have to have water pumped in from the Alcovy River and will affect the flow of that river and Jackson Lake. Those of us in Jasper County must stay diligent. It is our opinion that Tommy Craig’s main interest in Bear Creek Reservoir is not a water supply (which all admit is not needed anytime in the near future), but his main interest is money and how much he can bill the complicit NC BOC year after year.



Posted in County, Open Government, Water | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments