Floyd County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock took up the gavel at the first meeting of the year Tuesday, following his selection last month as the panel's leader for 2019.

He and Commissioners Rhonda Wallace and Larry Maxey — who were re-elected to new terms in November — had been sworn into office a few hours earlier by Probate Court Judge Steve Burkhalter.

Hancock, who's now an administrator at Redmond Regional Medical center, spent 18 years as an employee of Floyd County. He started as a corrections officer at the prison, moved to the sheriff's office, then headed the animal control department before being promoted to director of the county's emergency management agency.

"I'd like to say thank-you to the board for entrusting me with the chair ... and thank-you to Chair Wallace for her service the past two years. We've had some tough issues come before us and she's shown great leadership," Hancock said.

Commissioners took care of a number of administrative issues, including approval by consent of annual beer and self-service fuel permit renewals for 20 convenience stores in the unincorporated area. County Clerk Erin Elrod said the last batch would be presented at the Jan. 22 meeting.

The board also renewed the contracts for County Manager Jamie McCord, County Attorney Wade Hoyt III and, as outside auditors, the firm of Mauldin & Jenkins.

Hancock also accepted Commissioner Wright Bagby's recommendation to appoint Thad Watters to fill a vacancy on the Rome Floyd Parks & Recreation Board. Watters will serve out the remainder of an unexpired term, through June 30, 2020.

Two groups of residents spoke during the public comment period about road issues: train blockages on Hall Road and washouts on Mountain Lane.

McCord said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently approved a limited incursion in the wetlands near Hall Road and there's now a path toward emergency access. The Mountain Lane issue will need to be researched, however, because it's unclear if the offshoot of Ward Mountain Road is public or private property.

Also on Tuesday, the board approved a revised contract of up to $550,000 for construction of a new training center building at the Floyd County Jail. It's the first phase of a larger project expanding the facility's medical wing.

Commissioners also awarded two water contracts to UWS Utility and Water Services of Trion.

The company will install 1,400 feet of water lines along U.S. 27 North near Richard B. Russell Regional Airport at a cost of $62,70. McCord said it's the final section to be relocated from under the highway. The second project, at $27,500, will tie in the county's water main at the Highway 156 pump station to provide a back-up source in the area.