Putnam Commissioners quarreled on Friday over whether to allow Internet access to one of its public recreation buildings, resulting in two split votes.

The vote to allow Internet access to a single computer in the Jimmy Davis Park building split, forcing Chairman Howard McMichael to break the vote 3-2 against the motion.

The motion was pushed by Janie Reid, District 2, and supported by Billy Webster, District 4, and opposed by commissioners Wesley Willis, District 1, and Bob Landau, District 3. The building is in Reid’s district.

After the meeting, Reid said she was disappointed by her fellow commissioners’ decision.

“Some people don’t have access to the Internet in their homes,” Reid said. “We have wasted money because a computer is nothing without Internet access.”

The opposing commissioners cited concerns as varied as sexual predation of children using the computers, and improper use of county dollars.

“I cannot support Internet access at Jimmy Davis Park [because] I met with Commissioner Reid and asked whether we could protect our kids from sexual predators 100 percent of the time, and she said nothing’s 100 percent,” Willis said.

Willis’ colleague in opposition praised Reid for her desire to help Putnam County residents, but argued Internet access isn’t the proper role of county government.

“I applaud Commissioner Reid’s interest, but this is [not] the function of county government. The county is not in the business of providing education support services, which is the proper function of the [Putnam County Schools],” Landau said.

Board of Education Chairman Steve Hersey spoke in favor of Reid’s motion for Internet access, going so far as to offer support and advice about blocking software and oversight.

“It is completely in support of school board goals to access the Internet to serve both our adults and students in the community,” Hersey said.

The school board chairman discussed briefly the expensive nature of maintaining Internet restrictions and security software designed to protect children from adult and illegal content online. The chairman’s cautions prompted Webster, who originally opposed creation of Jimmy Davis Park, to make a failed secondary motion to enforce security and oversight at least as vigorous as that present at Putnam County Schools computer labs.

He conceded, however, that no amount of blocking software could keep children away from content they badly wanted to reach.

“If kids want to find these sites, they will. I tend to say, let’s go ahead and make this exemption [of public Internet access at a public building] and see what happens. As Commissioner Reid said, we’ll limit it to just one computer and see if it works,” Webster said.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved an $80,000 budget amendment that included $15,000 for Better Home Town, $15,000 for the Board of Elections and Registration to purchase new voting hardware, and a grant for maintenance at Jimmy Davis Park.

Reid got the support of commissioners to change language in the resolution regarding the maintenance grant to dispel rumors that either she or her husband, Eatonton Mayor John Reid, was involved in securing funds for the park.

“I did not request the grant, and neither did the mayor,” the commissioner said. “It’s my understanding it was requested by County Manager [Helen Carnes] to City Administrator [Martin Elmore].”

When speaking about the $15,000 reserved for Better Home Town, whose funding was cut by commissioners in their original budget, Commissioner Landau cautioned that they must find their own funding in the future.

“This $15,000 is a one-time deal,” Landau said. “Better Home Town needs to fund itself from the private sector. That’s where it belongs.”

Commissioners meet again at 7 p.m. April 15 in Putnam Courthouse’s central courtroom.

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