Forsyth County Commissioners covered a lot of ground at a work session this week, including a discussion on some controversial yield signs, approving a new provider and location for county employee health care and dealing with how to help with transportation for some of the county’s most vulnerable populations.
All items were approved by 5-0 vote unless otherwise noted.
Some controversial yield signs in Forsyth County are expected to start coming down.
Forsyth County Commissioners voted 5-0 at a meeting on Thursday to start the process of changing the county’s ordinance for yield signs and to have county staff prepare an inventory of those signs and begin removing them after hearing a presentation on the signs from Todd Long, who serves as chief operating officer of Moreland Altobelli Associates LLC and formerly worked with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
After complaints from neighbors, Forsyth County Commissioners have had a renewed interest on the signs as of late, particularly in certain areas where drivers make a right turn to yield to those turning left, and discussions have been part of both the commission’s annual retreat meeting and a recent town hall of elected officials from the local, state and federal level.
“Driving schools don’t talk about islands or different kinds of intersections, they just generalize about left turns and building the right of way,” said District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown. “We don’t teach that to young kids. I don’t think we emphasize it with old people, which I’m getting to be one, and you see the confusion on their faces when they pull up to an intersection.”
The county’s new rules would follow GDOT driving manuals, such as drivers on the left yielding to those on the right, when making a left turn to an intersection, alley or driveway right-of-way is yielded to traffic in the opposite direction and right-of-way should be yielded to all vehicles, including bikes, “which are approaching from the opposite direction,” and pedestrians.
Forsyth County’s Dial-A-Ride, an on-call program allowing residents to make appointments for rides, is critical for vulnerable populations in the county – such as senior citizens and those with special needs. However, some issues are appearing for those that need the service, particularly to make appointments.
“My concern with all this is it does need some supplementing, no doubt,” said Lisa Bennett, with Creative Enterprises-Forsyth, a program for adults with special needs. “Dial-A-Ride is doing, I feel like, the best that they can with what they’ve got, but the scheduling is a nightmare … parents get confirmation on rides then they don’t show up to pick them up.”
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said GDOT has cut back funding over the years and “almost push you toward doing something bigger because they know that your little busses can’t keep up.”
One suggestion was to follow in the steps of Gwinnett and Cobb counties and use Common Courtesy, which connects riders with Uber or Lyft drivers, to use public-private partnerships or working with other ride services already present in the county.
Some county officials had concerns whether drivers of ride-share services required background checks for drivers.
Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said any added plan would not replace Dial-A-Ride.
Commissioners took no action at the meeting, and a proposal is expected to come back to commissioners in April.
Health care and associated costs are a big concern for many families, and Forsyth County employees will soon have a new option for access to coverage and treatment.
Commissioners voted 4-0, with District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent temporarily absent, to approve $800,000 from the 2019 employee health benefits fund for HeathStat Inc., to operate the Forsyth County Employee Health and Wellness Center and voted unanimously to select 514 West Maple Street as the center’s future home.
Under the plan, county employees will go to the center for health care and occupational needs, such as drug testing or pre-employment physicals.
An agreement will be signed at a future meeting.