New water safety rules for Macon-Bibb’s Amerson River Park

Commissioner Elaine Lucas continues protest of Macon-Bibb Transit Authority fare increase


No one under 16 can enter the Ocmulgee River at Amerson River Park without a personal floatation device and adult supervision.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners passed the new law Tuesday night with Commissioner Bill Howell’s amendment that limits the life jacket requirement only to those under 16 years of age. Commissioner Al Tillman’s original proposal required everyone entering the water to have a floatation device.

Tillman said he was “fine” with the change and just wants to ensure the safety of visitors to the park.

During public comments, Peg Jones, president of Save our Rivers, explained to commissioners how tree roots and guardrails create a dangerous condition called “strainers” that can trap people and boats.

Jones said she and her neighbors who live near the park are troubled any time the helicopters are searching for drowning victims, as was the case for days in the most recent death earlier this year.

She consulted with the Georgia River Network and others to learn that warning poles with red, yellow and green indicators can be effective to alert the public about the condition of the current.

“When it gets high, simply stop access to swimming,” Jones said. “And if it is dangerous, you could put a chain across to let them know it is dangerous.”

She said she’s amazed at how many people travel to the park from outside Macon-Bibb County and is concerned the visitors might not understand the hazards of the river.

Howell first brought up the idea of a warning flag system last week and said he still favors those additional safety measures for the park.

Transit hike protest

Commissioner Elaine Lucas renewed her objection to the Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority’s planned fare hike with its affect on those in poverty. Lucas said more than 500 people have signed a petition against the increase that will be presented at next Tuesday’s authority board meeting.

In a public comment at the end of the agenda, Wade Horton addressed commissioners and said the hike disproportionately affects Paratransit riders who must pay an extra dollar with the proposed $3.50 fare. Regular riders would be charged $1.75, which includes one transfer. Currently, some riders pay $1.25 plus a 50-cent transfer, so their cost is not going up.

Horton also questioned whether the authority’s CEO Craig Ross has sufficient credentials to run a transportation company.

Lucas said she wants an audit showing how taxpayer dollars are spent by the authority and suggested the money could be channeled toward making the transit system fare-free, as other cities have.

She also said the transit authority needs to look into comments made at their last meeting that were directed toward an elected official and “deserve a reprimand.”

Here is a summation of highlights from the meetings that also included a public hearing that no one attended concerning the abandonment of part of the right-of-way on Ell Street.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.