October 15, 2018

  1. Mental Health in Schools.  Per Dr. Amanda Harkness, Chatham Co. Schools has increased training for teachers.  Main issues for children are anxiety and depression.  Schools focusing on strategies to support students socially and mentally with school-based problem solving.  Chatham schools has achieved a 40% reduction in suspensions over past 3 years.  Notable that third graders are at highest risk because of bullying.
  2. Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center.  Successful first year of operation.  Chatham government, schools and local non-profits accounted for the majority of the 630 events, but private events generated $113,699 in revenue.  Policy changes being considered include liability insurance, extending alcohol service hours and adding provisions for non-caterers with ABC license to serve, packaged snacks, and the number of days space can be reserved in advance.
  3. Discussion on new Government Complex. Early stage:  this will replace old agriculture and annex buildings and is a future project in the Capital Improvements Program. The proposed 3-story building will house county government services (tax, registrar of deeds, mapping, manager, finance, planning, permitting, health, environmental health, parks, public works, etc.). The plan is to create a visual corridor for community gatherings between the historic courthouse in the traffic circle and the new court house, with the government building to one side.
  4. Election Task Force.  Nine residents (3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, 3 Unaffiliated) were appointed by BOC to consider whether to recommend (a) increasing the number of commissioners from current 5, and (b) how commissioners are elected (current system requires that each commissioner reside in one of the five districts, but the entire county votes for every district.)  Three months of meeting resulted in recommendation to keep elections as they are:  5 commissioners, maintain residency requirement to run in each district, but entire county votes for every commissioner.  The task force did not recommend District-Only elections where voters in each district vote exclusively for their district commissioner.
  5. Oil and Gas Exploration (Fracking Moratorium). This was a public hearing to consider amendments to various planning ordinances on how Chatham will handle potential fracking operations and its infrastructure.  Changes had to be generally applicable to all industrial applications; the changes sought to take advantage of language “gaps” in existing State rules; and also depend on existing ordinances in Chatham, such as Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance that applies to ALL development, as well as Watershed Districts that have established local regulation.  Recommendation for adding a section on Conditional Use Permits to include a provision for “Special studies” since State stipulates we can’t require an Environmental Impact Assessment for oil and gas exploration.