Board of County Commissioners discuss roads & bridges and HB 1075

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By Cindy Jackson
Reporter
February 22, 2019 11:30 a.m.

Nassau County Employees honored for years of service.

Nine employees of Nassau County were recognized for their years of dedicated service at the February 20, meeting of the Board of County Commissioners. Presented with a certificate by Commission Chair Justin Taylor and County Attorney/County Manager Michael Mullin, the group then received a standing ovation from commissioners and audience members.

Those employees were:Benjamin Kay (Fire/Rescue or F/R), 20 years of service

  • Gregory Roberts (F/R), 20 years of service
  • Darron Ayscue (F/R), 20 years of service
  • Mike Eddins (F/R), 20 years of service
  • Kelly Gunnell (F/R), 20 years of service
  • Clay Ridding (F/R), 20 years of service
  • Pat Gilroy (Engineering), 20 years of service
  • Donald Light (F/R), 25 years of service
  • William Johnson (Road and Bridge or R&B), 25 years of service
Florida Association of Counties Trust celebrates 30th Anniversary with BOCC.

Making a presentation before the Commissioners regarding its 30th Anniversary Celebration was Ken Moneghan, of the Florida Association of Counties Trust (FACT). Established in 1989, FACT is a not-for-profit public entity risk pool of which Nassau County is a member. It was formed by and is owned by Florida counties and provides “a broad liability program specifically designed to protect counties with competitive pricing that is reasonable and predictable, broad risk and safety management service and aggressive claims management and defense of questionable claims,” as described on its website.

Mr. Moneghan proudly spoke of one of the organization’s newest service offerings – the “Just Call” program. The “Just Call” program provides member counties with an opportunity to consult with one of Florida’s most recognized consulting-based employment law firms, The Krizner Group, out of Tallahassee. “Just Call” specializes in employment and human resource related legal questions. Last year alone, the hotline received some 3,000 calls from its 23 member counties.

The bulk of the meeting on February 20, however, was dedicated to the roads and bridges of Nassau County. Cameron Hansen, Road and Bridge Director, gave a thorough overview of the department which maintains 345.5 miles of paved roads, 180 miles of dirt roads and 43 bridges. Nassau County Road and Bridge is responsible for road grading and road maintenance, pothole repair, right-of-way mowing, culvert and ditch cleaning and retention pond maintenance.

Road and Bridge is also responsible for maintaining and ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA) on two million square feet of sidewalk. With five divisional budgets, the department is budgeted to have 70 positions, 62 of which are currently filled.

With improvements in operations management and greater use of computerization, Road and Bridge is getting more efficient. To illustrate, Hansen stated that “we just did [mowed]  entire county. It took us 16 weeks with this “all in one” motion, coming in five weeks under expected schedule.”

Trash pick-up along county roads is also a responsibility of Road and Bridge and for the month of January, that crew, (typically comprised of just four individuals) collected 2.1 tons of debris, most of which is just paper, Hansen explained.

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Another impressive statistic cited is the work done by the sign department. That team of just three individuals is responsible for 80,000 signs and reflective signals. County Attorney/County Manager Michael Mullin commended Hansen and his department and the work they do.

Director Hansen’s entire presentation can be viewed on the county website at http://nassaufl.granicus.com/player/clip/784?view_id=2

Related to the work of Road and Bridge is the Pavement Management Program. Robert T. Companion, Transportation Engineer, made a presentation to the commissioners  about that program. Important to note is the parameters of that program. As Companion explained, projects typically included are:

Overlay projects that do NOT require engineering plans

    • Road previously improved with “millings” and
    • Overlay previous chip seal projects

Projects NOT included in the Pavement Management Program are:

    • Major road construction and reclamation projects funded through Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) like Pages Dairy Road, 14th
      Street and Crawford Road.
    • Major county funded construction and reclamation projects that require
      engineering plans, like Chester Road and the Minor Road turn lane.

Companion was also quick to point out that there is a separate budget for dirt road paving projects. Companion also outlined the various approaches that exist for the evaluation of road projects and explained the pros and cons of each. The Selection Method proposed is based on FDOT’s 2017 Flexible Pavement Condition Survey Handbook Guidelines.

Using that as the basis for evaluations of roads under the Pavement Management Program will not require the purchase of any expensive software or equipment, nor will it require the hiring of additional personnel.

Engineer Companion described one downside of using this method as being that
projects selected may not be evenly distributed across commissioner districts. Another “con” is the fact that it will take about four months to assess the entire roadway system which will delay the actual start of the Pavement Management Plan.

      • Using the FDOT system, Companion listed the evaluation criteria as being:
      • Traffic volume
      • Rideability
      • Cracking Percentage
      • Previous Patches
      • In Service Life and Rutting Observations

Adding a bit of levity to the discussion, Companion quoted Road and Bridge Director Hansen as saying, “you know if you are wearing your coffee at the end, the road is obviously getting a bad score.”

Following the completion of Companion’s presentation, individual commissioners talked of their individual “pet: projects and lamented the fact that road construction on SR 200 has brought about a faster deterioration on many other “feeder” roads. Commissioners were unanimous in their appreciation for the plans and professional approach to better project management.

Coming up next month will be an in-depth discussion of fees and classifications for waste materials accepted at the Nassau County Convenience Recycle Center located at 46026 Landfill Road in Callahan. The Center has seen a substantial increase in recent years – collecting 87 tons per month in 2016/2017 to 113 tons per month in 2018/2019.

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Limiting loads, increasing fees, cutting down on abuses and taking into consideration a possible rise in illegal dumping are topics of concern relating to this issue.

Also on the calendar for next month, although a date has not yet been set, is a meeting of the Amelia Island Joint Local Planning Agency, which includes city commissioners, county commissioners and the Tourism Development Council (TDC). The BOCC has asked that annexation planning and beach cleanup be added to the agenda.

Before adjourning, County Manager/County Attorney Mullin suggested that BOCC hire a financial advisor and recommended a firm out of Orlando. Mullin explained that in the past, the County did have someone on staff providing that service. “I am always asked about funds relating to property acquisitions, bond issues for this or that . . .” and as a result, Mullin believes that having that sort of expertise on hand “would be prudent.”

On the subject of the East Nassau Stewardship District and HB 1075, Mullin announced his recommendation for the BOCC to defer for a year, its plan to seek a legislative remedy in the stalemate with Rayonier relating to parks and recreation fees. Said Mullin, “in analyzing the situation and in talking with [the law firm of] Nabors, Giblin [and Nickerson], I propose you defer the proposed language for a year. . . the reason is, it is a local issue and should be dealt with locally.” He cited Chapter 164 of the Florida statutes, which is referred to as the “Florida Governmental Conflict Resolution Act,” Mullin indicated he believes using the terms outlined in that statute will that provide what they [he and the commissioners) have always wanted – to settle it here, in person.

The next meeting of the Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for February 25, 2019 – 06:00 PM.

Editor’s Note: Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Cindy received her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career on Capitol Hill working as a legislative aide and director. She later became a part of the public relations and lobbying team of the American Iron and Steel Institute and served as director of the office of state legislative affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Cindy was involved in economic development with the state of Maryland, and served as executive director of Leadership Washington County. As a community volunteer, Cindy participates in numerous volunteer activities serving as a member of Sunrise Rotary, and as board member of Cummer Amelia Board of Directors.

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