Saturday, October 31, 2015

Two Incumbent Commissioners Considering Running For Chair Position In Oconee County

Davis Is Key

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis is at center stage as the county orients itself for next year’s Board of Commissioners elections.

Davis, who is 75, has until noon on March 11 to decide if he wants to seek a fifth term as a party candidate or until noon on July 1 should he choose to run as an independent.

Friday, October 30, 2015

GDOT Will Build Bishop Bypass And Widen U.S. 441 In Oconee County Without Federal Funds To Speed Up Construction

Decision Called Political

The Georgia Department of Transportation has decided to build the bypass of Bishop and widen U.S. 441 from the Morgan County line to Watkinsville entirely with state funds, bypassing the normal processes associated with federal highway funding.

That decision moves the timetable forward so that project engineering will begin in 2019 and right of way acquisition and actual construction is now slated for 2022.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oconee County Commissioners Delay Effort By Chairman To Assert Power On Human Resources

Until Next Week

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis’ attempt to get himself named as an equal to county Administrative Officer Jeff Benko in the county’s Human Resources Policies and Procedures manual ran into opposition last night.

Commissioner John Daniell, in a methodical analysis of the 42-page document, asserted repeatedly that the reference to the chair should be removed in all but one place to leave Benko as the person in charge of administration of the policies spelled out in the document.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Human Resources Policy That Would Strengthen The Power Of The Chairman

Document Not Released

The public and the Oconee County Board of Commissioners will get an overview tomorrow night of a revised Human Resources policy document that solidifies the power of the chairman of the Board of Commissioners in terms of job classification, pay, dismissals and other personnel matters.

Contrary to the Organizational Policy adopted by the Board of Commissioners in August of 2009, the document makes the chair of the Board of Commissioners and the county administrative officer equals in key personnel matters.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oconee County Chairman Davis Distancing Himself From Decision To Spend $10,000 On Design Work For Old Mars Hill Road

Blames Others

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis has taken steps to distance himself from the county’s decision to spend nearly $10,000 for design work to reconnect Old Mars Hill Road to Mars Hill Road proper.

That is true even though Davis has been exonerated of any wrongdoing for his involvement in the proposal under the county’s ethics ordinance and although the email correspondence indicates Davis initiated the discussion more than a year ago and has been involved from that point forward.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oconee County Development Authority Contemplating How To Spend Future Sales Tax Money

Likes Sewers

Oconee County voters cut a nearly blank check for $850,000 to the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority when they approved the 2015 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax last November.

The language on the resolution for the 2015 SPLOST merely said the money should be used for “Economic Development Facilities,” and the voters, probably without giving it much thought, accepted the deal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oconee County Recreational Affairs Committee Endorses Greenway Project Along Oconee River

Recommendation to BOC

The Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs reversed course on Tuesday evening and voted to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that it move forward with a greenway project along the Oconee River at Barnett Shoals.

The Recreational Affairs Committee said the BOC should begin negotiations with two key landowners over easements and use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue for securing public access to the property.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Special Master Rejects Citizen Complaint Against Oconee County Commission Chairman

Evidence Lacking

Oconee County Special Master James Warnes has rejected the complaint filed by Sarah Bell against Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, saying that Bell had not provided evidence of a violation of the Ethics Ordinance establishing standards for county commissioners

“This report should terminate this matter,” Warnes wrote in a letter he sent to Michael Pruett, standing in for County Attorney Daniel Haygood, who has been out of town.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Called Meeting Of Oconee County Recreational Affairs Committee To Reconsider Greenway Along Oconee River At Barnett Shoals

Part Of Larger Project

The Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs is holding a called meeting at 5 p.m. tomorrow in the Community Center at Veterans Park to reconsider a proposed greenway along the Oconee River near the Barnett Shoals Dam.

In July, the Advisory Committee turned down a recommendation of a joint subcommittee that the county use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue to purchase easements on two key properties along both sides of the river that would be the centerpieces of the greenway.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oconee County Issued Permit For New Office Building On Daniells Bridge Road

East of ITS Building

Construction crews last week began assembling equipment and materials in preparation for pouring the foundation for another two-story office building that will be part of the University Parkway Office and Technology Park at 2500 Daniells Bridge Road.

The building will join two others under construction in the quickly-developing area around the Oconee Connector, SR 316 and Virgil Langford Road.

One of those, a storage facility complex of two three-story buildings, is visible across SR 316 from near the site of the office building to be constructed on Daniells Bridge Road.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Citizen Bell Refiled Her Ethics Complaint Against Oconee County Chairman Davis, Charging Interference With County Work

Email Documents Submitted

Sarah Bell on Monday morning refiled her complaint against Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis charging violations of the county’s ethics ordinance.

Bell contends Davis violated several provisions of the code when the county spent, at Davis' initiative, nearly $10,000 for design work for the reconnection of Old Mars Hill Road with Mars Hill Road itself.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Oconee County To Hold A Hearing On A Landfill, Discuss An Overlay District, Consider Zoning For A Business Park–All On Tuesday

Landfill Permit Denied

Oconee County is holding three meetings on Tuesday dealing with a permit for the county’s inert landfill, the Mars Hill Road Overlay District, and a rezone request for a business park at the corner of the U.S. 441 bypass and New High Shoals Road.

Two of the meetings actually overlap.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oconee County Commission Chairman Attempting To Put Himself At Center Of Email Flow In County

Despite Organization Chart

At a meeting of Oconee County Department heads on Sept. 9, Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis took a bold step to attempt to change the impact of the county’s organizational chart.

Davis said that the county is “making some adjustments in our procedures,” according to notes Davis made of the meeting.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Oconee County Animal Control Board Heard About Citizen Concerns Near End of Three-Hour Meeting

New Facility Needed

When the six members of the Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board began their meeting last night, they were facing an audience of nearly 30 people in a small, overly warm room at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

A few people drifted in and out as the nearly three-hour meeting progressed, but when the Advisory Board let the citizens speak at two hours and 20 minutes into the meeting, 25 people were still present.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Local Caterpillar Plant Could Absorb Job Cuts Without Penalty Under Terms Of Agreement With Oconee County And Athens-Clarke County

During Restructuring

When Caterpillar announced on Sept. 24 that it plans to cut 10,000 employees and consolidate and close more than 20 facilities around the world, it left unspecified which plants would be impacted.

In its news release, which has been the source of much of the reporting on the announcement, Caterpillar would say only that “There are many factors that impact these contemplated decisions” as well as their timing.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Oconee County Issued A Permit For LED Sign On SR 316 At McNutt Creek; Two Other Sign Applications Pending

One On Mars Hill Road

Oconee County issued a permit for an 8 foot by 12 foot LED sign at SR 316 and McNutt Creek Road Sept. 29 and is processing applications for two additional large LED signs, one at the Oconee Connector and SR Loop 10 and the other on Mars Hill Road just north of Barber Creek Drive.

A small sign on the property on the northwest corner of SR 316 and McNutt Creek Road will be removed, and the large replacement sign will be just beyond the 10-foot setback from the state right of way for SR 316.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Oconee County Animal Control Board To Discuss Long List Of Issues At Meeting Wednesday Night

Foster Program On List

The Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board, meeting on Wednesday evening, will address a full slate of issues, including tethering and hoarding of animals, the status of the foster program, changes to the county’s Animal Control Ordinance, and the status of the shelter facility.

The Advisory Board also will discuss the ordinances passed by the Board of Commissioners creating the Advisory Board and consider changes to its bylaws.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Citizen Files Ethics Complaint Against Oconee County Commission Chairman Over Old Mars Hill Road Proposal

Forwarded To Special Master

Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood has referred to Special Master James C. Warnes an ethics complaint that Sarah Bell has filed against Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis.

Bell contends that Davis violated at least eight sections of the county’s ethics code by “using taxpayer money to pay an employee and to prepare and purchase plans” for the reconnection of Old Mars Hill Road to Mars Hill Road proper “as a special favor for one citizen.”

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Oconee County Reports Major Spills At Its Calls Creek Plant In September And In July

Adds To Long List

Oconee County late yesterday informed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division of yet another problem with the operation of its Calls Creek wastewater treatment facility.

From 5 to 8 a.m. on Sept. 25 the plant released an estimated 50,000 gallons of discharge containing total suspended solids that exceeded the permitted level, according to the county’s report.