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County apparently ambushed by Senate resolution on old armory property

By Walter Geiger The Lamar County commisison called an emergency meeting for which it gave but 45 minutes notice Monday afternoon to discuss a resolution passed by the Georgia State Senate regarding the old Booker School/National Guard Armory property off Forsyth Street in Barnesville. The emergency meeting was held entirely in a closed, executive session. After the meeting, chairman Charles Glass issued the following statement: “The reason for the emergency meeting was some pending legislation that we were unaware of until recently that affected some property in Lamar County. We had concerns about how this legislation might affect us and the property in question so we conferenced with our representative and a person from the State Properties division.” The meeting, which began at 4 p.m., lasted one hour and 29 minutes. Pressed later, Glass said the meeting was about Senate Resolution 266 which was approved by unanimous vote – including that of Dist. 16 senator Marty Harbin who represents Lamar. In that Glass said the county was not aware of the legislation, it apparently was not requested by the county. That begs the question of who asked for it and why. Glass, commissioners Van Baker and Nancy Thrash and county attorney Scott Mayfield did not respond to queries in that regard Monday night. Buried in the lengthy resolution which pertains to numerous parcels of state owned property in multiple counties is language noting the state owns the 25.971-acre tract which is home to the old school/armory which most recently housed the Lamar County Activity Center before being closed abruptly by the county commission and National Guard on Dec. 27, 2013. The Georgia Department of Defense bought the property in June, 1994 for $260,000 to house a National Guard Armory. The senate resolution allows the state properties commission to sell the land and buildings by competitive bid or to a local government or state entity for $10 as long as it is used for a public purpose. The resolution gives the properties commission wide latitude for “consideration(s) and provisions” in ridding the state of the property and its sizeable liability. After the closing, local citizens approached the city and the county regarding acquiring the property and applying for grants to rehab it. That plan was deemed unfeasible due to the high cost of mitigating environmental and heallth hazards in the structures. The dilipidated buildings, plagued with leaky roofs and severe mold and structural issues, are basically unfit for human habitation, commisisoners said at the time of the shutdown. More to follow…

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