Whitfield County Board of Commissioners to vote on intergovernmental agreement on radios

Members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to vote on Monday on an intergovernmental agreement between the county and the four cities governing use of county-owned encrypted radios for first responders.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in Administrative Building 2, 214 W. King St.

Whitfield County Emergency Management Director Claude Craig said in June he was developing a formal policy regarding the radios. Craig made the comment shortly after a grand jury declined to indict Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant for providing one of the radios to a private business. District Attorney Bert Poston said it was “particularly significant” that there was no formal policy concerning the radios among the county and the cities of Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell.

Grant provided a radio to Bob Cummings, owner of Bob’s Wrecker Service in Dalton, a situation investigated first by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and then by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

County Attorney Robert Smalley said during the board of commissioners' June work session the proposed agreement makes it clear that the radios are only to be used by public safety officials.

It will likely be the last time the commissioners will meet in the Administrative 2 building, which will likely be torn down.

Administrative Building 2 houses the offices of the accountability courts — Domestic Violence Court, Drug Court and Mental Health Court — and the RESOLV (Recognizing, Exposing, Stopping Our Learned Violence) Project anger management program, a nonprofit program that works with the accountability courts in Whitfield and Murray counties. Those offices will be moved in coming weeks into Administrative Building 1 at 301 W. Crawford St.

Administrative Building 1 currently houses county administration, engineering, information technology, finance, human resources, building inspector and public relations offices. Most of those offices are being moved into the fourth and fifth floors of the Wells Fargo Bank building at 201 S. Hamilton St. Officials say they hope to have those offices relocated by the middle of this month.

Commissioners in April approved a two-year lease for the top three floors of the Wells Fargo building. The county will pay $10,160 a month for a little over 18,000 square feet.

Administrative Building 2, at the corner of King Street and Selvidge Street, opened in 1967 as a church and has a number of structural issues. The Dalton Fire Department sent the county a three-page letter last year detailing the ways the building fails to meet the fire code, including insufficient emergency lighting, use of extension cords because of insufficient electrical wiring and no central fire alarm system.

In March, the Dalton Fire Department sent county officials a letter telling them the county would have to vacate the building by April 1. The sides later reached an agreement that the county could continue to use the building while commissioners decided what to do with it as long as they have a certified firefighter in the building performing "fire watch" patrol whenever there are people in the building.

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