The True Citizen
P.O.Box 948
Waynesboro, GA
(706) 554-2111
October 15, 2003

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Waldrop Proposes 2.4% Pay Increase In 2004 Budget For County Employees

By Jimmy Ezzell
True Citizen Editor
A proposed “balanced budget” for 2004,
was handed to the Burke County Commission last Wednesday, Oct. 8, by county administrator Merv Waldrop. The budget, in a completely new format, contains a recommended 2.4 percent cost of living salary increase, “for all employees except those whose salaries are set by law.” This would include elected officials, the sheriff, tax commissioner, probate judge, clerk of the Superior Court, chief magistrate, coroner and the county commissioners.

The budget, prepared by Waldrop for consideration by the commissioners, totals $18,430,760, up by 5.3 percent over the 2003 budget. This budget includes $12,767,099 for the general fund and $5,663,601 for fire protection and EMA. Waldrop told the commissioners of the total budget, $9.4 million is for salaries for the county’s 385 full-time employees. The 2.4 percent recommendation for pay increases would cost the county about $180,000 if approved by the commission. This does not include the benefits, which would add close to another $75,000 to the pay package, Waldrop said. He also pointed out that vacancies that currently exist in departments will not be filled in the 2004 budget, the exception being the public safety agencies, sheriff’s, EMA and fire.

Also, while requests have been made for additional employees, Waldrop said the budget does not include any new positions.
The current 2003 budget approved earlier this year is $17.3 million for the general fund and $3.9 million for fire protection. That budget also included a 25-cent per hour salary increase for county employees. The present budget also included a $244,000 surplus because revenues exceed proposed expenditures by that much. As a result the commission reduced the millage by .16 mill rather than place the funds into a contingency category. What this mean to county homeowners if they had a home valued at $100,000 they saw a $6 decrease in their taxes on that property when they received their tax bills last December.(Read Rest of Story in The True Citizen.)



Neely Dukes, 102 Years Old
By Ben Roberts
True Citizen Staff Writer
Neely “Eef” Dukes was born on Aug. 16, 1901, he is 102 years old.

To put things in perspective, here are a few facts: Dukes was just shy of one month old when Roosevelt became president. Not F.D.R., but “Teddy” Roosevelt. A first-class stamp cost just two cents in 1901 and there were only 45 states in America. Dukes was three when the Wright brothers made their famous first flight in 1903, and the first Model T Ford didn’t come along until Dukes was seven.

It is an understatement to say that Dukes has seen a lot in his lifetime. And it’s a lifetime that has never ventured far from Burke County. Bertha Rosier, Dukes’ only child, says her father has never left the state of Georgia nor traveled too far from the area. Even now he resides at the Keysville Nursing Home, just a short drive north on Highway 305 from his birthplace of Gough.

Dukes has outlived two wives, has six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Ask him what the secret of his longevity is, and he’ll give you a smile and a simple answer, “I’ve just always been good to everybody.”
Dukes is a man of few words, but it’s got nothing to do with his age, he could easily pass for being a few decades younger. On the day of his interview, Dukes was dressed in khaki pants, a white dress shirt and a sleeveless sweater. He even continues to wear a watch on his right wrist.

Gale Baker, social director for the nursing home, tells a funny story about how Dukes only recently gave up his walker for a wheelchair. Baker said she tries to encourage residents to walk as much as possible, so she asked Dukes one day why he was sitting in a wheelchair outside his room.

“ Because I’m old,” Dukes responded, as if pointing out the obvious. Dukes agrees he’s lived a long life and seen a great many things, and while he remembers some of it, he’ll tell you rather quickly that he’s forgotten a great deal, as well. Dukes was a farmer in his younger days, growing mostly cotton and corn; he also worked for a cotton ginning warehouse and the railroad.

“ I’m doing pretty good,” he’ll say, suggesting that at his age, each new morning brings a reason to smile.
And Neely Dukes likes to smile. (Read Rest of Story in The True Citizen.)
Legal Organ of Burke County, Waynesboro, Sardis, Midville, Keysville, and Girard