Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oconee County Commission Candidates Call For More Transparency In Dealing With SPLOST

Horton Open To Citizen Oversight

All three of the candidates seeking to fill Post II on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners are proponents of more transparency regarding how the Commission spends revenue from its Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Only Chuck Horton, however, stated a willingness to have a citizen committee to provide oversight for decisions made by the Commission on the 1 percent sales tax. Other counties, including Athens-Clarke County, have such a citizen committee.

“Maybe we need to have a group of citizens...get a report: Where are we on these projects that you said we were going to do?” Horton said in a one-on-one interview on a wide range of issues confronting the county.

Candidate Marcus Wiedower rejected the idea of a citizen review committee, saying “The oversight is the Commission” in his interview.

Ben Bridges didn’t take a stand on the appropriateness of a citizen oversight committee, but he did say “We need to have more openness to how much money is being collected and where exactly is it going for anybody to see.”

Early voting is underway, and 2,295 voters already have cast their ballots for the Nov. 8 election, which includes the special election to fill the unexpired term for the Post II BOC Commission as well as other local, state and national elections.

Heavy Turnout

Turnout for early voting has been running strong all week.

Today (Thursday), 616 persons cast their ballots, according to Pay Hayes, director, Oconee County Board of Elections.

On Wednesday, 521 persons had voted.

The figures were 575 on Tuesday and 583 on Monday.

The 2,295 represents 8.2 percent of the 27,845 registered voters in the county.

Early voting continues until Nov. 4. Saturday voting will be on Oct. 29.

Responses Of Candidates

Bridges, Horton and Wiedower were responding to questions I asked them in interviews on Sept. 25, 25 and 27, respectively.

Complete videos of those interviews are available on an Election Channel I created on the Oconee County Observations Vimeo site. The Election Channel also contains complete videos of the two election forums held for the Nov. 8 election.

In the interview, Horton gave the most detailed response, criticizing the current Board of Commissioners for holding money collected in the 2004 SPLOST and for transferring funds from water and sewer projects to pay off the jail.

Bridges mistakenly referenced the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax in his answer. That tax is controlled entirely by the Oconee County Board of Education, not the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

The video of the answers of the candidates to the question on SPLOST is below, starting with the answer of Wiedower.

OCO: Three Candidates on SPLOST from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Oconee County Commission Chairman Ready To Make Decision On Calls Creek Sewer Line Before Retirement In January

Tells Citizen Group

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis said today (Tuesday) that he is open to bringing the decision on whether to build a sewer line down Calls Creek up for action before he leaves the Board in January.

In an email message to Jim McGarvey, president of Friends of Calls Creek, Davis said “I do not have any issues with the current Board of Commissioners acting” on sewer issues, even though Commissioner Jim Luke is retiring in January and will be replaced and one slot on the Board is vacant.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Oconee County School Officials Oppose Amendment 1 To State Constitution On the November Ballot

Want Local Control

Both Oconee County School Superintendent Jason Branch and Board of Education Chairman Tom Odom have spoken out publicly against Amendment 1 to Georgia Constitution that is on the November ballot.

The so-called Opportunity School District amendment asks voters to decide if they want “to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Oconee County Commission Candidate Wiedower Explains His Link As A Builder To Development

Candidate Financial Disclosures

Marcus Wiedower has said he recognized from the beginning that his occupation as a custom home builder would raise questions as he sought to make his case for a spot on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

“I knew that in a suspicious society people are going to read that (his occupation) and automatically assume that I’m going to do whatever I can to bolster the position of development,” Wiedower said. “It’s just simply not the case."

Citizen Group Makes Case For A Route For Bishop Bypass In Southern Oconee County

Open House Announced

About 90 people turned out on Wednesday night at the Thomas Cotton Gin on Greensboro Highway south of Watkinsville to eat a barbeque dinner and learn about the potential impact of possible routes for a bypass of U.S. 441 around Bishop.

The centerpiece of the evening's presentation was a map produced by the Georgia Department of Transportation showing two different routes for a bypass around the eastern side of Bishop.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Candidates For Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Told Attendees At Candidate Forum Why They Should Be Elected

E-SPLOST Discussed

Chuck Horton was the first asked the question, and he said voters should choose him for the Board of Commissioners in the November election because of his experience.

Horton, 62, has served two terms on the Board of Commissioners and two terms of the Board of Education, and he said he has experience with the issues the county will face in the next two years.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oconee County Officials Pass Over State Denial Of Request For Waste Load Allocation For Sewer Plant

At Two Meetings

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis told the county’s Industrial Development Authority yesterday (Monday) that the state has granted the county a waste load allocation of 1.5 millions gallons per day for its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant.

What Davis didn’t tell the IDA members–and what they didn’t ask about–was the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s decision to deny the county’s request for a waste load allocation of 3 million gallons per day of discharge from the county’s plant.