The city of Ringgold recently adopted a new probation services agreement that includes details of how it conducts and oversees how probationers work their community service hours.

City Manager Dan Wright says that the city has, for years, partnered with Georgia Probation Services Inc. through the court system as part of its probation process.

"They were the first probation company we contracted with, and they've done a great job over the years," Wright said. "They have someone here at every court whether our judge actually issues someone probation or not. They're here regardless."

Wright says that in years past municipal judges have had to orchestrate an agreement with the probation company, but that now that responsibility will fall to the city itself.

"One of the new requirements is that the governing authority now has to contract with the probation company, where it used to be between the judge of municipal court and the probation company," Wright said. "Another issue is that the agreement can only be for a period of five years. Used to, you signed an agreement and it continued to roll until one of the parties decided that they wanted to cancel it."

The new agreement with Georgia Probation Services was recently revised by the city attorney, and Wright says there's new language altering some of the requirements, but that the city will continue to offer ways for people to serve their probation hours.

"The new agreement includes a fee of $41 per month for each person that goes on probation," Wright said. "The city will continue to be the location for community service, and we use those people to do a wide variety of things around the city from picking up trash to cleaning up buildings to weed-eating. ... Sometimes we get people with office type skills and we'll use them for those things as well."

The agreement was unanimously approved by the city council on Aug. 28, and then forwarded to the probation company for final approval.

Wright also pointed out that the city offers and receives flexibility from other entities when it comes to out-of-towners, and local residents facing probation in other places.

"The people come here for their community service," Wright said. "Now, if someone is from out of town, we try to work with the municipality, the county, or the state agency in that area so that that probationer can get their community service done. They reciprocate also...we have communities call us and say we have someone from Catoosa County who has 40 or 80 hours of community service, can you allow them to do it there?"

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.