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Property Committee Meeting Minutes – September 11, 2023 (Approved)

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Chairman Commissioner Tracy Wilburn opened the meeting asking Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The previous minutes of 27 July 2023, a combined Budget/Property meeting, were moved for approval by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, and were unanimously approved.


The County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe was asked if there were any announcements and with him responding no, the Chairman moved into discussing the policy handout.  The handouts were entitled 1) Revised 08 Aug 2023, Draft Policy for Use of the Historic Giles County Courthouse Grounds, and 2) a Problem Statement and what the Courthouse & Grounds Policy Accomplishes.


Commissioner Hopkins, re page 2 on Handout 1, questioned why the Chamber was called out as excepted from the requirements for “Special Events”.  The CE answered, giving that the Chamber uses the grounds more than most, that the Chamber not only has a history using the grounds, but that the number of applications to his office would be a burden.  Commissioner Hopkins asked how would you know the Chamber has insurance coverage for the event.  Commissioner Evan Baddour pointed out that on page 5 the CE may waive any application requirement.  The County Attorney Chris Williams also pointed out that the Chamber is a pseudo-government organization, funded by the county, and promotes a quality-of-life issue, stating the Chamber’s long-standing involvement.


Commissioner Hopkins, re page 3 which discusses electrical needs, asked is providing that need worth the liability, especially considering the age of the courthouse.  He stated he didn’t know if there had ever been a problem, but he wanted to avoid such a problem in the future.  Commissioner Shelly Goolsby discussed past use of the grounds (no activity) and how now the use includes a lot of activity, e.g., the farmers market.  Those activities result in more spending especially from those just visiting Giles County.  She expressed concern if too many limiting restrictions, the vendors can go somewhere else.  Commissioner Hopkins in response said he considered concerns about the electrical usage to be relevant.  Commissioner Joyce Woodard, who in a previous position was Tourism Director, stated they planned the set up of vendors with those who needed electric usage placed near the outlets and that they were charged $5 extra for that one-day usage.  She expressed her concern for non-profits who use the grounds for fund raisers such as the ice cream venue that needs electricity, and her concern that some of those would be blocked if electricity not available.  The CE noted that near the end the “hold harmless” Giles County application would answer some of Commissioner Hopkins concerns; and that if not using the county located electrical outlets, bringing their own generators would be another potential problem.  The Chair asked about the electrical car chargers that were placed in one part of the square, and if they were still there with the CE saying no.


Commissioner Evan Baddour said he liked the policy on whole. However, on pg. 1, par 2.A the policy states impromptu, unscheduled use .. requires no permit.  Commissioner Baddour expressed concern that might be a “loophole” with spontaneous being abused; The County Attorney stated you can’t pass a resolution on what you think people are going to do, this would counter their free speech.  Commissioner Woodard asked, if after obtaining a city permit, would that also specify “must abide” by this policy.  The CE said it would work informally now, but that he had forwarded the draft policy and expects it to be officially included.  Commissioner Annelle Guthrie asked about a “stealth mob” and how that would be handled.  The County Attorney said if they have a permit, you can’t “disrupt”, but that the county is blessed to have such a good officer in Capt. Joe Purvis.  Commissioner David Adams asked if everybody would be required to have a permit, with the County Attorney saying not everybody, e.g., marriages, graduation photos on the square.  Commissioner Adams asked about vendors, selling on the square, would that be a trigger for an application.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins discussed insurance for events, noting his experience in another county where he needed to show insurance.  Commissioner David Wamble said the trigger could be by number of people.  Commissioner Joyce Woodard mentioned that she had insurance for her events and her insurance covered all vendors, costing about $275 for a day.  In addition, the city of Pulaski provided garbage cans and after events picked those up.  She also mentioned the bathrooms, where tissue, towels were furnished as well by her tourism mission.  The County Attorney cautioned that events such as churches use could provide a chilling event on people using the grounds.  Commissioner Judy Pruett asked if as the application states “I assume all risks” would cover the question of insurance, with the county attorney stating that might not be legally binding.  Commissioner Gayle Jones asked if there had been a security deposit for the event, with the County Attorney stating the difficulties of all who might want to use “public space”, e.g., churches, as well as hard to enforce.  Commissioner Gayle Jones asked about the use of bathrooms, with the CE saying the commission had said they wanted them to be open.  Commissioner Gayle Jones said she didn’t think the county bathrooms were capable to handle big events.  Commissioner Joyce Woodard also mentioned the deposit question that the FM would have to receive and they can’t hold, so would also have to deposit and then return.  Returning to the insurance concerns an MOU was suggested for the chamber.  For others the County Attorney suggested him talking to the county’s insurance agency, to include appropriate insurance language in the policy.  A motion by Commissioner Evan Baddour, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to approve the draft policy, with the understanding insurance language considering injury to person or property would be added later, and forward to the full court.  The CE recommended the insurance language be timely.  Motion approved unanimously.


Old business/New Business – Commissioner Evan Baddour asked about the ambulance site evaluation, with the CE saying getting close and should be available next month. Commissioner Baddour also asked about the large crane at the courthouse and its purpose. The CE said it was for wind damage, which was covered by insurance for $65K repair.


A motion by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Gayle Jones, to adjourn was made and was approved unanimously.


Attendees:  Members of the Committee – Commissioners Chair Tracy Wilburn, Annelle Guthrie, Gayle Jones, Joyce Woodard, Mathew Hopkins, Evan Baddour, Shelly Goolsby Other Commissioners – Judy Pruett, Dr. James Lathrop, David Adams, Matt Rubelsky, David Wamble, Tim Risner, Rose Brown  Other County Executive Graham Stowe, Bill Myers Director Emergency Management Services, County Attorney Chris Williams