Three local residents will soon join the Resource Recovery Development Authority.
The Cherokee County Commission unanimously appointed Tom Ware, Jeff Duncan and Troy Welker to the RRDA. The three men will take their place on Jan. 1 or when the county can get a new operator in place at the Ball Ground Recycling facility.
They will replace County Commissioners Karen Bosch and Jim Hubbard, whose terms on the commission will end on Dec. 31. Jason Nelms will most likely be replaced on the board as well. Both County Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Harry Johnston are slated to remain on the board.
Welker declared his candidacy Republican nomination for the State House District 23, which encompasses parts of Canton, northwestern Cherokee and small sections of southwest Cherokee County. However, Welker dropped out of the race before the July 31 primary.
Ware currently serves as a member of the county's Recreation and Parks Advisory Board as Commissioner Jim Hubbard's appointee, but his term on that board will expire on Dec. 31. He will then assume his new position on the RRDA.
Duncan is the past chair of the Cherokee County Republican Party and currently serves as an area precinct manager. He's also listed as a member of the county's Board of Ethics and his term expires on that board in January 2018.
Commissioners were excited to have the three come on board.
"These are all folks who have been quick to tell us what they think, whether we like hearing it or not," said County Commissioner Harry Johnston, adding Ware has also been a long-time friend.
Commissioner Jim Hubbard added all three have some familiarity with county government operations and have various backgrounds, which he said will benefit the county.
“I think they will be excellent for this purpose," he added.
The commission in 2006 created the Resource Recovery Development Authority, which backed up to $18 million in bonds that were used to relocate the former Cherokee Recycling to land along Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.
The agreement stipulated Bobo was to make payments of the bond into an escrow account, but the county learned last year Bobo hadn't been making the payments. That forced the county to pick up the tab, which it will still be responsible for if it does not find a new operator for the site.
Ball Ground Recycling in late May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company was subsequently forced to remove itself from the property. The county, along with the RRDA, have been in bankruptcy court trying to remove the automatic stay imposed by the bankruptcy filing.
An interim Cherokee County grand jury in June decided to launch an investigation into the deal and earlier this month issued 13 recommendations for the county in the aftermath of the deal gone sour.
The most notable recommendations include calling for a forensic audit into the financial dealings of Ball Ground Recycling; replacing the members of the Resource Recovery Development Authority with non-elected officials; placing on the ballot any future partnership between the county and private entity which would call for issuing bonds; and for the county to exhaust all avenues to recoup money owed to taxpayers in the failed business.
It also recommended the county look into recovering the cost of removing debris from the Blalock Road site.
The grand jury earlier in late September also decided to “investigate and further inquire into the Resource Recovery Development Authority of Cherokee County, its books, sites, and property in order to clarify the details that led up to the County having to assume the re-payment of the bonds that funded Ball Ground Recycling, LLC.”
The county has received nine proposals to conduct a forensic audit. County Manager Jerry Cooper said he and District Attorney Garry Moss, along with some members of the grand jury, will review the proposals and narrow the nine down to a short list.
Cooper noted he hopes he will be ready to make a proposal to the county commission during its Nov. 20 meeting.