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Rockdale discusses openings on local boards, authorities

JaNice Van Ness, Rockdale County commissioner

JaNice Van Ness, Rockdale County commissioner

CONYERS -- Recent vacancies on county boards and authorities brought up conversations among the Rockdale County commissioners on finding a better vetting process of candidates.

The Board of Commissioners approved reappointments to four county boards during its Dec. 13 meeting. Stan Williams was reappointed on the library Board of Trustees with Joan Brown was approved from a recommendation by the Conyers Civic League.

Elaine Nash and Garvin Haynes were reappointed to the Water and Sewerage Authority. The Parks and Recreation Board saw members Robin Berry and Gwen Butler reappointed. Also, local physician Dr. Gregory Smith was reappointed to the county's Board of Health.

However, except for the water authority, the boards had unfilled slots. Positions on the boards and authorities are voluntary and county officials have often said it is difficult to find residents to apply.

The post on the Parks and Recreation Board became open when Mike Rhinehart moved out of the county. A longtime advocate for recreation opportunities, Rhinehart had served on the board for over 10 years.

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness asked before the vote at last week meeting if there was a better way to coordinate applicants. She said the commissioners are sometimes voting on applicants without meeting them.

"In the past, we've talked with a couple of applicants but it's not as organized as I like to see us to be in our future appointments," she said. "It may be a different process is needed to let us interface with the different people who are being proposed for appointments."

Van Ness offered her proposal to be considered by the county administration. Van Ness said she wanted to make sure the people who apply for the board positions are willing to put in the time to serve and have the knowledge in a field that a board oversees.

She added an open house for all applicants could provide an opportunity for them to meet the commissioners and get to know one another better.

Prompted by Commissioner Oz Nesbitt on the current selection process, Rockdale County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge explained each board is different in their requirements. The Board of Commissioners keeps a list of applicants on file and while the commissioners may move forward on their own appointments, other boards, like the Board of Health, require specific criteria from potential members.

"They need a practicing physician; It can't just be anybody," she said. "A board like the Hospital Authority has a very different process than some of these other boards where the Board of Commissioners will provide applicants within a certain group to make sure it meets their needs. Sometimes they need accountants and sometimes they need a doctor."

The boards often will recruit new members but all must file an application with the Board of Commissioners at 962 Milstead Ave., Conyers. For more information, call 770-278-7001.