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Troup Co. considers incentive to spur vaccinations

By Shiann Sivell

Troup County may pursue an incentive program to encourage county employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

County Manager Eric Mosley said Tuesday that the county has been strongly encouraging citizens, as well as employees, to get their COVID vaccines. He said when county employees become sick, it not only affects the departments they work in but the community has a whole.

“We are certainly seeing that when employees are out … it certainly affects the workload that we can handle,” Mosley said during the Troup County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night meeting. “We really want to encourage our staff to make that last step to get vaccinated for the betterment of Troup County and the citizens that we serve.”

In recent weeks, many county department heads have come forward to request lifting of hiring freezes to fill vacancies in their departments as a result of COVID. Many employees who are not sick are putting in extra overtime to make up the shortfall, Mosley said.

Healthcare costs for those who have been infected have been a particular burden.

“I believe I’ve heard that [hospital costs] can run as high as $30,000,” Mosley said.

Mosley noted he and commission members were already vaccinated as well as most leaders within county departments.

Mosley could not provide a percentage of county employees who have been vaccinated but said that the majority of the people he has talked to are vaccinated.

Other states and counties are pursuing similar incentive programs, Mosley said.

In Alabama, the Talladega Superspeedway is offering people ages 16 and older who choose to be tested and/or vaccinated a chance to drive their vehicles on its 2.66-mile track. The Alabama Department of Public Health, as well, previously sponsored a TikTok contest for persons between the ages of 13 and 29 to encourage vaccination against COVID-19, according to the National Governors Association.

Other areas are offering monetary incentives.

“They ran as high as $25 to $1000,” Mosley said.

Funding for the incentive program could come from the American Recovery Plan Act that the county has received, Mosley said.

Commissioners ultimately agreed with Mosley’s idea and encouraged him to return at a future meeting with some ideas for them to consider.

“I feel like every person has the right to choose what to do with their own body…but I do think we need to look into it,” said Lewis Davis, commissioner for District 3. “We’re here to be responsible for the county’s wellbeing. If there is a tool out there that could potentially help them…I think we need to look into it.”

In other business at the meeting:

● Commissioners approved the mutual aid agreement with the City of West Point Fire Department and the Troup County Fire Department. The agreement was tabled at a previous meeting due to the language of certain aspects of the agreement, said Troup County Fire Department Chief John Ekaitis, but the language has since been changed and approved by both parties. The agreement states that both parties will have “automatic and mutual aid for fire suppression and other emergency response purposes.” Fire services will be directed for all of Harris County to the city limits of West Point, Ekaitis said.

● Commissioners voted to approve the acceptance of Georgia Department of Transportation Right of Way for a utility project. The project involves extending the sewer main from Long Cane Creek up Whitesville Road to the interstate, said Patrick Bowie with the City of LaGrange Utilities Department. The property is located outside of the incorporated city limits, Bowie said, and GDOT would have to give the property to the county in order for the project to continue.

● Commissioners voted to approve the bid award request for the Government Center and the Juvenile Court Building roof replacement.The bid for the project was awarded to Roof Technology Partners with a 30-year warranty for a total cost of $1,003,900.00. The project is SPLOST V funded, as noted in county documents.

● Commissioners voted to approve the bid award request for parking deck repairs for the Government Center. The bid for the project was awarded to Ketom Construction Company, Inc. for $747,591. The project will take 120 to 150 days to complete.

● Commissioners voted to approve lifting two hiring freezes for the Parks & Recreation department, a hiring freeze for a property appraisal personnel and a hiring freeze for a tag and tax specialist.