Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Oconee County Groups Planning Two Events For Elder Mill Bridge

Long Sleeves, No Dogs

Two events are in the planning that will highlight Elder Mill Bridge and the land around it, which at least some people in the county feel should be set aside as a county park.

Melissa Steele has set for Saturday her cleanup of Rose Creek, including sections upstream and downstream from the covered bridge, as well as of Little Rose Creek, which feeds into Rose Creek south of the historic bridge.

Jonathan Veit has tentatively set March 25 as the date for a “town hall forum” to discuss creation an Elder Bridge Park.

Veit also has created an online petition that people can sign to support creation of a park around the wooden bridge.

Steele is expecting between 30 and 35 people to show up for the Saturday morning cleanup, which will begin at 9 a.m. with a breakfast at Antioch Church Fellowship Hall on Antioch Church road, 8.4 miles south of downtown Watkinsville off SR 15.

After breakfast, the volunteers will get a safety briefing, maps and further instructions before being divided into teams and heading out to designated sites on Rose Creek and Little Rose Creek or on Elder Mill road itself, which crosses the two creeks.

Steele and others involved in organizing the event will provide bottled water, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, gloves and trash bags.

“You will get your feet wet if you are going to be on one of the creek teams,” Steele wrote in an email message to volunteers on Monday, “so be prepared for that with shoes you don’t mind getting wet.”

Steele is advising volunteers to bring along a fanny pack or day pack, dry socks and shoes, and a hat. She also recommends long sleeved shirts and long pants. “There are lots of briars and stickers along the creek,” she noted.

Volunteers are asked not to bring dogs.

Each volunteer will be required to sign a liability waiver, based on the one used for the Rivers Alive stream cleanup program in the state.

The cleanup will be moved to March 13 if it rains this Saturday.

Anyone with questions should call Steele at 706 255 8528 or email her at mechanted757@gmail.com.

Veit said the scheduling of his town hall forum is not settled but “it will happen.”

Although the activity has been approved by the Oconee County Democratic Committee, of which Veit is chairman, the forum is nonpartisan and open to the public, Veit said. He is currently lining up speakers.

The petition that Veit put online reads:

“We urge the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to make every effort possible to acquire the land surrounding the Elder Covered Bridge in an effort to create an Elder Bridge Park.

“Acquisition of the land surrounding the bridge would enable both tourists and Oconee County residents to enjoy the historic covered bridge and the shoals on Rose Creek. It would also represent a critical first step toward implementing a 2007 plan for a county park in the area. Given the scenic and historic values of the Elder Bridge area, and tourism dollars it could produce for the county, it should be a high priority for preservation.”

Veit said in an email message he sent out on Monday that he “tried to find a petition site that wasn’t too filed with advertisements. Unfortunately, that isn’t very easy.”

After signing the petition, the signer is asked to donate to support the online site itself, but it is possible to close the page without making any contribution.

Veit can be reached at Victory Communications in Watkinsville at 706 255 0222.

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