Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor gave his approval to amend an incentive agreement with Shaw Industries Group, Inc. at Wednesday morning’s public meeting — in turn, giving Bartow’s largest employer the “authority of investing up to $158 million” into expansion of Adairsville’s Plant T1.
“Shaw has already announced it and the construction’s underway, but this is the formality to amend the [memorandum of understanding, or MOU] with the Development Authority,” Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said. “They’re going from 700,000 square feet to 1.2 million square feet up there. They’ve got around 320 employees right now, this will allow them to go to 650 within the next three years or so.”
At a Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce event in February, Shaw representative Nolan Howell said earthwork on Phase II expansion began late last year. At full buildout, he said the expanded Plant T1 would have a capacity of 20,000 square yards per year and add much-needed warehouse space for Shaw's inventory.
“One of the reasons why we made additional expansion space, we added to it, was so that we could store yarn that is used by the Bartow County plants,” Howell said. “We’re going to have about 20-25 million pounds of yarn storage capacity here … the economy’s going real good, some people may have noticed that.”
Shaw is "an employer of choice for so many," Olson said, with great partnerships with the local school systems.
"And they pay well, good wages,” Olson said. “We’re always excited when Shaw wants to invest more money.”
Along those same lines, Taylor said he didn’t know where the community would be without the Berkshire Hathaway-owned flooring giant.
“It’s about 3,100 employees in Bartow County,” he said, “so it’s by far our largest employer.”
Taylor also approved the appointment of several County employees as Bartow’s official “Abandoned Mobile Home Act” agents.
“It allows property owners to have an abandoned mobile home on their property that they don’t own, to have a process to go to magistrate court and get the authorization to remove it,” Olson explained the statute, which was signed into law by former Governor Nathan Deal last year.
“We often do a lot of unfits for properties that are dilapidated, but this allows the landowner, rather, to go against a mobile home that’s been abandoned. The government has to have an authorized local government agent to go and certify that it’s dilapidated and needs to be removed — this will authorize our code enforcement and building inspections folks to do so.”
Olson said Bartow County Chief Magistrate Judge Brandon T. Bryson was a big proponent of the measure.
“He’s getting a lot of interest from property owners in exercising that remedy under the statute,” he said. “So that’s good for us. That takes workload off of our department and off of the lawyers we use to go after these.”
Taylor also approved an agreement with Croy Engineering to conduct a traffic study at several Highway 41 intersection points in Adairsville.
The commissioner’s office, Olson said, has fielded many phone calls from residents concerned about access to Adairsville High and Adairsville Middle.
“There have been some folks who have asked could we push a new road straight through in front of those entrances,” Olson said. “We thought we would gather some data on the traffic flow patterns and see what solutions would work best to help in the traffic situation off that highway.”
Also approved was a $42,906 agreement with Georgia Power to relocate utility lines at the Hamilton Crossing Elementary roundabout, as well as an agreement with Georgia Power to install lighting at both that roundabout and the one near Cass High School at Colonel Way.
“We will pay them a monthly fee, they’ll install the lines and maintain them,” Olson said. “It’s sort of an all-in-one single package deal.”
Taylor also authorized the investment of certain County bank proceeds into Georgia Fund 1.
“That’s a fund maintained by the Treasury of the State of Georgia, and for many years, of course, it paid like 0.1%,” Olson said. “But in the last year or so, with an increase in interest rates, its interest rate has gotten over 2%, so instead of parking any excess money we have in just a local checking account and getting a minimal interest rate, we’re going to park excess funds there and start to generate substantial interest returns.”
A Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) equipment lease was also approved. This year, Olson said the County intends on using the mechanism to acquire a bulldozer for the road department and a fuel truck and excavator for the County solid wastes department.
“We have a pool of lease money through a GMA pool that was started in the late ‘90s, and every year we buy some of our heavy equipment with lease money,” Olson said. “This is just a financing method that saves us a little money.”
Taylor then approved a contract with Mitchell Whitehead and Sara Griggs for the performance of specialized juvenile court services, in particular the local Family Treatment Court.
“We had a contract with Highland Rivers to provide substance abuse treatment for our participants,” said Bartow County Juvenile Court Associate Judge Josh Earwood. “We decided it would be more cost-effective and we’d get better quality treatment if we brought that in-house.”
With 28 current participants, he said Bartow’s Family Treatment Court program is one of Georgia’s largest.
“The funds for this are paid by the County, but it’s reimbursed because we have a grant through the State,” Earwood added.
The monthly meeting concluded with Taylor signing off on yet another Highway 411 development moratorium — this one extending until January.
The measure is needed, Taylor said, to give the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) more time to acquire properties before work on the proposed $113 million Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor project begins.
“We’re just trying to prevent developments from happening,” Taylor said. “The State would, of course, have to take down homes and buildings and whatever.”
Other items of interest from Wednesday morning’s meeting include:
— Taylor approved the acceptance of Boyd Morris Drive into the County road system.
— Taylor approved a contract with All Top Roofing to replace the roof at Fire Station No. 8 in Pine Log for $16,350.
— Taylor approved the surplussing of a 2000 Ford ambulance, a 2003 Ford Taurus, a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria, a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria and a Cummins Inc. generator.
— Taylor approved a quitclaim deed for a remnant parcel to Foxfield Bartow, LLC. “They bought 700 acres from Anheuser-Busch, all there along Cass-White Road,” Olson said. “They found a strange little remnant that we didn’t show as the County owning … there’s no road there, it’s just a little elbow that doesn’t go anywhere, so we’re abandoning that to them.”