Sunday, May 31, 2015

Oconee County Senator Told Small Gathering Of Republicans Why He Voted For A Tax Increase

Other Issues Discussed

Sen. Bill Cowsert told a small group of Oconee County Republicans earlier this month that he voted in favor of the tax increases for transportation in March because the bill gave legislators more control over the Georgia Department of Transportation and “capped” the fuel tax–something the tax bill does only in part.

Cowsert also defended the $5 per night fee added to hotel and other lodging bills as part of the transportation act on the grounds that most of those paying the fee will be from out of state.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Oconee County Releases Names Of Employees Who Resigned From Troubled Calls Creek Sewage Plant

EPD Visited Plant Today

Oconee County late today identified the two employees whose resignations were accepted in the wake of the discharge of inadequately treated sewage water into Calls Creek from a county wastewater treatment plant.

They are Gene Price, wastewater supervisor, and Anthony Occhipinti, maintenance supervisor.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oconee County Issues Interior Permits For Three Building Shells In Epps Bridge Centre

Aug. 15 Completion

Oconee County has issued interior building permits for all three of the buildings currently under construction in the core of Epps Bridge Centre.

Shell only permits had been issued for the three buildings earlier this year, and construction on the structures–side-by-side and northwest of Marshalls–is in full swing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Calls Creek Sewer Plant Problems Lead To Resignation Of Two Oconee County Utility Department Employees

Solids In Effluent

A month-long investigation of effluent from the county’s Calls Creek sewage plant outside Watkinsville became public last night when Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis reported that the county had received the resignation of two of the plant’s employees.

The county also released a six-page report by a consultant hired to review the operation of both of the country’s sewage treatment facilities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Oconee County Budget Maintains Millage Rate, Increases Water And Sewer Costs

Budget Grows 8.7 Percent

Oconee County Finance Director Wes Geddings presented a $39.7 million budget to the public tonight that includes no increase in the county’s millage rate but does include a water rate increase of 1.5 percent and a sewer rate increase of 3 percent.

The budget is 8.7 percent greater than the current budget, and the extra revenue will come in part from an expected 6 to 10 percent increase in property values. Sales tax revenues also are projected to increase.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Oconee County Withholds Information On Budget Prior To Hearing On Tuesday

Meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners released information Friday on the three applicants for the two openings on the county’s Farmland Preservation Ranking Committee and revealed that it had no applicants for the single opening on the Keep Oconee Beautiful Commission.

In preparation for its meeting tomorrow night, the Board identified James “J.R.” Charles as the finalist for appointment as the county’s economic development director.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Small Truck Repair Facility Is Coming To Oconee County Because of Caterpillar, Developer Told Planning Commission

In Business Park

While no vendors have located in the property adjacent to the Caterpillar Plant on Atlanta Highway on the east side of Bogart, despite the expectation that they would do so, Mike Power told the Planning Commission on Monday night that a four-bay truck repair is coming to his business park because of Caterpillar.

Power’s development, called Mars Hill Business Park, is located on Mars Hill Road across from Malcom Bridge Road.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oconee County Charges Property Owners In Four Cities More For Services It Provides Than It Charges Property Owners Elsewhere In County

Law Allows Two Rates

When the Oconee County Board of Commissioners releases the county’s budget on May 26, it also will release two millage or property tax rates–one for property in the county’s four cities and another for property in the unincorporated parts of the county.

Those rates are likely to be different–-as they have been for at least the last six years--with property owners in Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville paying the county more in taxes for a comparable piece of property than do owners of property elsewhere in the county.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Publisher Announces Closing Of Oconee County Weekly Newspaper

Finances Cited

Oconee County lost another local news and information site on Friday with the closing of The Oconee Leader, the county’s largely free circulation weekly newspaper.

Publisher Rob Peecher announced the decision to close the newspaper in a front-page “note of thanks to our readers and advertisers” in Friday’s paper.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Oconee County Administrative Officer Rescinds Order That Restricted Media Access of Department Heads

At Meeting

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko said on Wednesday that he has rescinded his order that department heads limit their comments to the media.

Benko said he lifted the restriction on April 15, the day that the county released to me a copy of the email message Benko sent to department heads on April 3 telling them not to make statements to “the press” without clearing those statements in advance with him.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Executive Director of Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission Has Submitted Her Resignation

Will Continue As Volunteer

Angela Helwig, executive director of the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, has submitted her resignation to the county, saying the job requires more time than she is able to give to it.

Helwig, who also serves as receptionist in the Oconee County Board of Commissioners office, open records officer for the Industrial Development Authority, and recording secretary for the IDA and for the Citizens Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning, among other assignments, said her resignation is effective June 30.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Oconee County Citizens Will Get Their First Chance To See Next Year’s Budget In Two Weeks

Tax Increase An Option

Work on the county’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is taking place out of the public view, but in two weeks, citizens will know how the Board of Commissioners has reconciled the nearly $2.8 million gap between requested expenditures and anticipated revenue.

The $2,747,549 funding shortfall was presented to the commissioners in their last public meeting on the budget–a work session on March 25 held in the Grand Jury Room at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Oconee County Issues First Building Permits For Falls Of Oconee Complex Opposite Athens Ridge

Shell Permits Only

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office on Friday issued building permits for three of the five buildings to make up The Falls of Oconee speciality retail center on Old Macon Highway opposite the Athens Ridge student housing complex.

The permits are for the shells of the three buildings only and give no indication of how the buildings will be used.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

GDOT, Not Oconee County, Has Final Authority For Presbyterian Homes Exit And Entrance On U.S. 441, Public Works Director Says

Regardless Of Condition Imposed

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last night placed a condition on the rezone it approved for Presbyterian Homes of Georgia in order to control the movement of traffic from the site onto U.S. 441 until a traffic light is installed.

Before the vote, Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara advised the Board that much of what will be done at the continuing care retirement community’s main entrance and exit on U.S. 441 is not under the control of the county.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Presbyterian Homes Rezone Request In 4-0 Vote

Conditions Added

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 tonight to grant Presbyterian Homes of Georgia its rezone request to build a continuing care retirement community on 70 acres fronting U.S. 441 and Wellbrook Road.

The commissioners stipulated that Presbyterian Homes must limit traffic leaving the main entrance to the campus on U.S. 441 to right-hand turns.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Oconee County Chamber Of Commerce Says Presbyterian Homes Good For County, Does Not Comment On Safety And Traffic Issues

Letter To Commissioners

The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce has asked the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to approve tomorrow night the rezone request of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia for a continuing care retirement community on U.S. 441 and Wellbrook Road.

The Chamber told the commissioners that the PHG facility will have “significant” economic impact on the community and “add to the quality of life” of citizens, but it did not address the issues of safety and traffic, which are most likely to be the primary focus of the commissioners tomorrow night.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Oconee County’s Two Weekly Papers Ignore Key Documents In Reporting On Bogart Library Defunding

More Than Spending Cut

Oconee County’s two weekly newspapers last week reported explanations for the lack of funding of the Bogart Library renovation and expansion in the state budget passed by the General Assembly last month that are at odds with the public record of the Georgia Public Library Service.

The Oconee Enterprise quoted Sen. Bill Cowsert as saying the Bogart Library project was not listed as a top priority by the Board of Regents, the budget of which includes the requests of the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS).