Saturday, December 31, 2016

Oconee County Commission Chairman Was Matchmaker For Proposed Solar Energy Farm In Northwest Of County

Also Pushed Law Change

Residents in the northwest of the county may have been surprised late last year when signs went up announcing public hearings on a proposed change in land use to allow for development of a solar energy farm on 238 acres at the intersection of McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis had known about and promoted the project for at least a year and three quarters.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Get Their Jobs With Support Of Small Numbers Of County Voters

Dec. 6 No Exception

Chuck Horton needed only 1,922 votes to win the runoff for the special election to fill Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 6.

That’s because only 3,846 of the county’s 24,657 registered voters, or 15.6 percent, cast a ballot in the runoff, according to the certified results filed on Dec. 9 by the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oath Of Office Behind Them, Oconee County Commissioners Confront Big Challenges

Starts Tuesday

The four Oconee County Commissioners were a picture of harmony on Sunday afternoon after they participated in the Oath of Office Ceremony at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Incoming Commission Chair John Daniell joined new commissioners Chuck Horton and Mark Thomas as well as re-elected Commissioner Mark Saxon in a photo after the ceremony. All were wearing smiles.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Falls Of Oconee Has Permits For Interior Construction For Three Of Its Four Buildings

Includes Gourmet Food Store

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office has issued 10 permits for buildout of three of the four units in The Falls of Oconee commercial complex at the corner of Macon Highway and White Oak Drive opposite the Athens Ridge student living complex.

All of the permits are for interior suite buildouts, but the permits list tenants for only three of those suites.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Agrees To Sell Eastern Part Of Gateway Business Park

Another Executive Session

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority, after 40 minutes in executive session, voted in open meeting today (Wednesday) to approve a contract to sell 38.5 acres in its Gateway Technology Business Park south of Bogart for roughly $760,000.

The purchaser is Alexion Pharma LLC of New Haven, Conn., the parent company of Synageva BioPharma Corp., which has a pharmaceutical production and research operation on 11 acres adjoining the newly purchased property.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Debated Sale Of Real Estate In Meeting Closed To Public

Another Scheduled Tomorrow

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority yesterday (Monday) spent nearly two hours in a meeting closed to the public.

Contrary to the state open meetings law, the Authority voted to go into executive session not in an open meeting, as required, but rather in one already closed to the public.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Accepts Again Plans For Small Upgrade To Oconee County Calls Creek Sewer Plant

Original Allocation In 2003

Oconee County has received “concurrence” from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for an upgrade of its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant from its current 0.667 million gallons per day to 1 million gallons per day of effluent.

The EPD had approved an earlier design for the upgrade of the plant in June of 2015 and had approved construction of the project on Dec. 30, 2015, but the county did not move forward on those plans.

Oconee County Commission Chairman Davis Honored At Reception At Civic Center

Davis Sees Bright Future

More than 75 people showed up at the Oconee County Civic Center this (Sunday) afternoon to honor retiring Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis for his 16 years of service to the county.

Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State, thanked Davis for his service to the county, the local community and the state of Georgia.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Redesign Of Government Station Road/Experiment Station Road Intersection In Oconee County Includes Three Way Stop En Route

Road Closure As Well

The straight cut through on Government Station Road from Hog Mountain Road to Experiment Station Road will be eliminated in the future as a result of a design change negotiated by Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis with the University of Georgia.

The current intersection of Government Station Road with Experiment Station Road will be eliminated in favor of a redesigned intersection across from the existing Bishop Farms Parkway.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Oconee County Restaurants, Grocery And Convenience Stores Can Sell Alcoholic Beverages This Sunday

Ring It Up

Restaurants, groceries and convenience stores in Oconee County currently selling beer, wine and alcoholic drinks will be free to do so on Sunday.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners changed the county’s alcoholic beverage ordinance on Tuesday night by adding hours for sales on Sundays but did not require license holders to get new licenses.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Developer Of Bogart Subdivision Appealing Oconee County Denial Of Sewer Capacity

Seeking Transfer

The developer of a 28-acre residential subdivision in Bogart is appealing a decision by Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie to deny it sewage treatment capacity for its project.

T. Wesley Robinson, a Gainesville attorney, on Tuesday sent a letter to Haynie, copied to County Attorney Daniell Haygood, appealing Haynie’s denial of residential sewer and asking that the issue be put on the agenda for consideration by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners in January.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Postpone Decision On Solar Farm In West Of County Until January

New Plans Submitted

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night decided to delay until January a decision on a rezone request for a solar energy farm at McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road in the far northwest of the county.

The Board postponed action after holding a public hearing on the request during which six citizens spoke in opposition to the project.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Horton Defeats Wiedower In Runoff For Open Oconee County Board Of Commissioner Seat

Got 57 Percent Of Vote

Former Commissioner Chuck Horton defeated Marcus Wiedower by a 520-vote margin tonight (Tuesday) in the special election runoff for the open Post 2 seat on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

Horton carried seven of the county’s 13 precincts, including the two largest, to get 56.8 percent of the vote overall.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Revived Plans For Massive Residential And Commercial Complex Called Parkside Before Oconee County Review Committee

41 Lot Parcel

Parkside, the dormant residential and commercial development that extends from Hog Mountain Road to Mars Hill Road, has come back to life.

The Oconee County Development Review Committee is scheduled to consider a revised preliminary plat for seven phases of the 469-acre master plan development at its meeting on Friday morning.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Oconee County Has Rejected Request For Residential Sewer For Bogart Subdivision

On Council Agenda

The Bogart City Council tomorrow (Monday) night is scheduled to take up a residential rezone request in the city that has raised questions about the county’s willingness to grant sewer capacity for a residential development.

At the Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 14, Jon Williams, representing the developers, told the commissioners that the property owners were working with the county to provide residential service to the 37-lot single family subdivision.

Oconee County Board Of Commissioner Candidates Went Into Final Days Of Runoff With Money In Reserve

Early Voting Turnout Low

Chuck Horton raised slightly more money than Marcus Wiedower in the last days of October and November as the two competed in the special election for open Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

Wiedower raised $3,793 and spent $17,818 with War Room Strategies, an Athens-based consulting firm, leaving him with a balance of $9,521 for the campaign going into the final vote on Tuesday, according to his campaign finance reports.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

RaceTrac To Open Remodeled Store At U.S. 441 And Hog Mountain Road By End Of Year

Complete Upgrade Underway

The remodeling of the RaceTrac store at the corner of Hog Mountain Road and U.S. 441 north of Watkinsville is in the final stages and should be completed by the end of the month, according to Karissa Bursch, communications manager for the the Atlanta-based company.

The new store will have a more modern store layout that includes updated building architecture, a new Swirl World frozen treat station, an expanded coffee area with more counter space, according to Bursch.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Oconee Commission Appoints Executive Director Of State Green Industry Association To Hard Labor Creek Management Board

Replaces Horton

Oconee County Commissioner Jim Luke lost his bid Tuesday night to keep fellow commissioners William “Bubber” Wilkes and Mark Saxon from removing former commissioner Chuck Horton from the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board.

In a 2-1 vote, Wilkes and Saxon, over Luke’s objection, reappointed John Caudill as one of two citizen alternates on the Management Board but replaced Horton with Chris Butts, executive director of the Georgia Green Industry Association.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Proposed SR 316 Corridor Study Before Oconee Commission Includes Proposed Daniells Bridge Road Flyover

Dec. 6 Election To Play Role

When Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara reviewed bids for the SR 316 corridor study at the Nov. 1 Board of Commissioners meeting, he made no mention of the proposed Daniell's Bridge Road flyover of SR Loop 10.

Bidders, however, knew the controversial project was to be a part of the study they were being asked to do.

Appointments To Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Board On Agenda For Oconee County Commission Again

Alcohol Ordinance Too

Oconee County Commissioners will be asked again on Tuesday to decide if they want to replace Chuck Horton as one of two citizen alternates on the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board and appoint instead the executive director of the Georgia Green Industry Association.

The commissioners said at the beginning of the month that they expected that a special election to fill a vacancy on the Board of Commissioners would be settled by now, clarifying Horton’s eligibility for the spot.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Journalism As Applied Social Science And The Third-Person Effect

Response To Critics

I am writing this post because my daughter told me to.

I won’t blame her if it fails, but I do want to credit her if it succeeds.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Georgia Democratic Representative Advises Oconee County Democrats To Be Cautious In Responding To Trump Victory

From Cobb County

Stacey Evans, Democratic Representative from Smyrna to the Georgia House, told Oconee County Democrats not to criticize the voters for the defeat of Hillary Clinton and election of Donald Trump on Nov. 8 in Georgia.

The Democrats didn’t get out enough of their voters to win the election in Georgia and across the country, she said.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Oconee County Turnout Highest In State In An Election In Which Trump Underperformed Locally Compared With Recent Elections

422 Write-In Votes

Donald Trump underperformed in Oconee County on Nov. 8, compared with how Republican presidential candidates fared in 2012 and 2008, an analysis of the official results for the last three presidential elections shows.

Trump got 67.4 percent of the vote in Oconee County on Nov. 8, compared with Mitt Romney’s 73.6 percent in 2012 and John McCain’s 70.8 percent in 2008.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Oconee County Planning Commission Gives Negative Review To Solar Energy Farm Proposal

Next Vote Dec. 6

The Oconee County Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly last (Monday) night against a request to rezone 238 acres on McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road in the far northwest of the county for a solar energy farm.

The vote was before a full room of citizens, most of whom were opposed to the proposed 38 megawatt solar energy farm on two separate parcels of land separated by Dials Mill Road.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Early Voting Available Only Five Days In Runoff For Oconee County Commission Post II

Turnout Will Be Key

Early voting starts on Nov. 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving, for the Dec. 6 runoff election for Post II on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

Early voting will run only Monday through Friday of that week and will be held at the Board of Elections and Registration Office, 10 Court Street, across from the Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Oconee County Utility Department Director Promises Sewer Service To Calls Creek Residents; Costs Of Delivery Not Known

Affects Comparisons

At the Town Hall meeting late last month, Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said the county would put in not one but two sewer lines down Calls Creek if the Board of Commissioners approved his plans for the upgrade of the county’s sewage treatment plant.

Haynie was making the case for the gravity sewer line to a skeptical audience, arguing that young home owners would be attracted to the Calls Creek corridor by the availability of sewage service over the existing private septic systems that serve the subdivisions along the creek.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Horton And Wiedower Will Meet In December For Runoff In Oconee County Board Of Commission Race

The 905 mailed in absentee ballots, counted after this story was posted, did not affect any of the elections except for Watkinsville Post 5. Dan Matthews ended up leading Mark Melvin by 1 vote, but neither got a majority because five persons wrote in the name of a candidate.

Tie In Watkinsville

Oconee County voters will be back at the polls on Dec. 6 to decide the outcome of the special election to fill Post 2 on the Board of Commissioners, as none of the three candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote.

With all but about 900 absentee ballots counted, Chuck Horton had 45.1 percent of the vote, Marcus Wiedower had 30.5 percent, and Ben Bridges had 23.7 percent.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Three Candidates For Board Of Commissioners Slot Express Strong Support For County’s Parks And Recreation Department

One Says Funds Available

Oconee County Parks and Recreation Director John Gentry told the Board of Commissioners on Aug. 30 that the county is at a decision point regarding the future of the operation of its parks.

The commissioners must decide if the Parks and Recreation Department should continue both to manage facilities and to manage youth and adult programs, or if the department should play a lesser role, perhaps only managing facilities.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Attack Advertisement Mailed To Oconee County Homes In Board Of Commissioners Race

Horton The Target

The campaign for the open Post 2 seat on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners turned negative this week as a campaign flier attacking candidate Chuck Horton as a “career politician” who has threatened the county’s school system arrived in select mailboxes in the county.

The dark colored, six-inch by 11-inch flier does not indicate who paid for the mailing, but it lists as the mailing address the postal box used by Marcus for Oconee BOC, the organization of candidate Marcus Wiedower.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Oconee County Commissioner Luke Went Against Colleagues And Objected To Committee Appointments, Spending On Road Projects

With Some Success

Oconee County Commissioner Jim Luke broke ranks with his fellow commissioners three times last (Tuesday) night in what is likely to be his fourth last meeting on the Commission.

He refused to go along with an attempt to remove former Commissioner Chuck Horton from the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board, where Horton serves as a citizen member.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Being Asked to Pay Between $30,000 And $60,000 For SR 316 Study

Exact Figure Not Released

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis is asking his fellow commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night to spend between $30,000 and $60,000 on a study to justify widening Daniells Bridge Road and building a flyover of that road to the Oconee Connector at Home Depot.

The exact cost of the study isn’t known because county Public Works Director Emil Beshara has not yet released the three bids received.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Early Voting In Oconee County Continues To Be Heavy, Reflecting Pattern Of Presidential Elections

Big Day Friday

More than a quarter of Oconee County’s registered voters have cast ballots in the first 11 days of early voting.

On Friday, 927 persons voted to the office of the Board of Elections and Registration at 10 Court Street across from the Courthouse in Watkinsville, the highest number since early voting started on Oct. 17.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Daniells Bridge Road Flyover Back On Oconee County Commission Agenda Through Transportation Study Contract

3 Bids Received

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis has the proposed Daniells Bridge Road flyover of SR Loop 10 back on the Commission agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting.

A year and a half after the Board of Commissioners turned down his efforts to get approval of the flyover and widening of Daniells Bridge Road to Hog Mountain Road, he is asking for funding of a traffic study of SR 316 and Epps Bridge Parkway.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Audience Not Happy With Analysis Of Alternatives To Pipeline Down Oconee County’s Calls Creek

Gravity Declared Most Efficient

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie saved the slide that most of the 70 people in the audience at the Water Resources Town Hall Meeting last (Wednesday) night came to see until near the end of his nearly hour-long presentation.

It was quite clear once he showed the slide that most of the people in the audience didn’t like the message it contained.

Oconee Board Of Commissioners Candidate Says He Didn’t Ask Nevada Congressman For $2,000 Campaign Donation

Friend Raised The Money

Marcus Wiedower says he doesn’t know the Nevada Congressman who gave him $2,000 for his campaign for Post II on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

Wiedower said the $2,000 contribution came as a result of request on Wiedower’s behalf by Richard Goddard, who served as chief of staff for Congressman Mark Amodei from October of 2011 to February of 2015.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Large Crowd Turns Out To View Maps Of Current Route Of U.S. 441 In South Of Oconee County

No Future Route Presented

A large crowd turned out at an Open House tonight (Tuesday) to review maps of the current route of U.S. 441 as it passes through Oconee County south of Watkinsville and take advantage of opportunities to give the Georgia Department of Transportation input on its proposed widening of the route.

About 50 people, including 20 representatives of GDOT and its consultants, were in the room at the Community Center in Veterans Park 10 minutes before the Open House was scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Wiedower Raised Nearly Twice As Much Money In Oconee County Board Of Commission Race As Other Two Candidates Combined

Sign On Davis Property

Marcus Wiedower has raised just less than $24,000 in his bid to gain a seat on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, more than twice the amount of money raised by Chuck Horton, his nearest competitor in fundraising.

Through the end of the day today, Horton had raised $11,485, while Ben Bridges, the third candidate seeking Post II on the BOC, had raised $500.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Three Candidates For Oconee Commission Want That Body To Play A Strong Role In U.S. 441 Widening

GDOT Meeting Scheduled

The three candidates for Post II on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners want the Board to play a strong role in representing citizen concerns to the Georgia Department of Transportation as it plans for the widening of U.S. 441 in the south of the county and a bypass of Bishop.

In separate interviews, each candidate called for the Commission to play a stronger role than it is playing a present.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Oconee County Advised Owner Of Large Tract Now Zoned For Subdivision To Downzone Land To Agricultural Use

To Build Farm Lake

The Oconee County Planning Department has advised the owner of an 188-acre tract between Daniells Bridge Road and Cliff Dawson Road currently zoned for a large subdivision that he should downzone the property for agricultural use to accommodate his plans for the land.

David Mulkey, operating as Wildwood of Columbia LLC, purchased the 188 acres in June of this year, according to Oconee County tax records.

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.

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.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Scheduled Meetings In Oconee County Focus On Bishop Bypass, November Election, Wastewater Plans

Free BBQ

Positively Oconee, a citizen group concerned with the proposed widening of U.S. 441 in the south of the county, is inviting people to a program Wednesday evening on the proposed Bishop Bypass, the land the roadway will traverse, and Greenbriar Creek, which the bypass could cross.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Thomas Cotton Gin, 3782 Greensboro Highway (SR 15), south of Watkinsville, and the first 100 persons in attendance will receive a complimentary BBQ dinner.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Marcus Wiedower Said He Would Help Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Become More Proactive In Dealing With Challenges

Wide Ranging Interview

Marcus Wiedower said he will bring his listening skills and his planning skills to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners if voters select him for Post II in the special election on Nov 8.

“All I do all day long is plan,” said Wiedower, a custom home builder, in an hour-long interview. He said he will bring to the Commission “an educated, experienced voice” that “has a planning background.”

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Chuck Horton Said He Brings Experience To The Race For Oconee County Board Of Commissioners

In Interview

Chuck Horton said his experience and background will allow him to “hit the ground running” should he win the open seat on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners in the special election on Nov. 8.

Because of his service on the Board of Education, Horton said he understands the need for the Board of Commissioners to think through the implications of decisions it makes on the county’s schools.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

BOC Candidate Ben Bridges Said He Wants To Be The Voice Of Oconee County Citizens

In Hour-Long Interview

Ben Bridges says the county is growing too fast and it is time to slow down for a little while to take stock of where things are.

He also says that water and sewer are the biggest challenges facing the county.

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Denied Oconee County Request For Expanded Waste Load Allocation

For Calls Creek

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has denied Oconee County’s request for a 3.0 million gallons per day waste load allocation for Calls Creek, saying the stream is too small to handle the treated effluent.

The denial means that the county will have to change its plans to upgrade its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant on the outskirts of Watkinsville, run a sewer line down Calls Creek, or find another way to discharge treated sewer water from an expanded Calls Creek plant into the Middle Oconee River.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oconee County Issued Land Disturbance Permit For Expansion Of Epps Bridge Centre

Land Remains In Gordy Family Hands

Oconee County on Sept. 15 issued a permit for land disturbance activities for expansion of Epps Bridge Centre, but it has not yet issued a second permit that would allow for installation of site infrastructure.

The county permit followed approval on Aug. 18 by the Oconee River Soil and Water Conservation District of an erosion and sediment control plan submitted by Oconee 316 Associates LLC and developer Frank Bishop of Atlanta for the 54 acres for the shopping center expansion.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Oconee County Seeking Easements From Property Owners For Sewer Line Along McNutt Creek

Following Jennings Mill Settlement

Oconee County, having reached a settlement with Jennings Mill Country Club over easements for the McNutt Creek Sewer line from Jimmy Daniell Road to Jennings Mill Road, is now turning its attention to the other property owners across whose land the sewer line will run.

The line will cross 17 properties not owned by Laniertindall LLC, owner of the country club.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Construction Company Clearing Land For Entrance Roadway For Epps Bridge Centre Expansion In Oconee County

Aerial Images Show

Simpson Trucking and Grading of Gaineville already has completed some of the clearing and grubbing work for Parkway Boulevard Extension, which will serve as a major entranceway for an expanded Epps Bridge Centre.

The company also is putting in temporary erosion control measures, according to Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara, and plans to begin moving direct in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

State House Minority Leaders Tells Oconee County Democrats To Focus On Voter Registration And Turnout

Says State Already Blue

Stacey Abrams, minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, gave a rousing calls to action to a gathering of Oconee County Democrats this (Sunday) afternoon, telling them to get people of all races registered and to get people of all races out to vote starting next month.

“Georgia is already blue,” Abrams said at the outset.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Oconee County Board Of Commissioner Candidates Asked About Power Of Commission Chairman During Election Forum

100 Turn Out

Robert Wyatt of 1090 Apalachee Trace in the Lane Creek subdivision in the west of the county, asked the first question at the Oconee County Election Forum on Thursday night, and he found discord among the three candidates for the open seat on the Board of Commissioners in their answers.

Wyatt noted that there has been disagreement on the Commission about the county’s organizational chart and wanted the three candidates to indicate where they stood on the issue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Oconee County Book Sale Fundraiser for Watkinsville Library Starts Three-Day Run Thursday

Estimated 32,000 Books

Oconee County Library Friends has unpacked 1,134 boxes of books–a record number–in preparation for the book sale that will run Thursday through Saturday at the Oconee County Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing.

While no one knows the exact number of books in those boxes, book sale coordinator and Library Friends Treasurer Penny Mills said that a conservative estimate would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 32,000 books.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Oconee County Had Modest Growth In Sales Tax Revenue During Period Of Rapid Commercial Development, Tax Distributions Shows

Neighbors Gained Also

Oconee County has experienced only modest growth in revenue it receives from sales tax in the last decade and a half even with significant expansion of its commercial inventory, changes in the county’s alcohol laws, and the opening of new restaurants.

The growth in sales tax revenue in Oconee County, in fact, is not so different from the growth experienced by Athens-Clarke County, which has lost some retail outlets to Oconee County and lost its exclusivity in selling alcohol in restaurants.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sole Scheduled Oconee County Election Forum Set For Thursday Night At Veterans Park

BOC, School Tax, Referenda

The only scheduled forum for the Nov. 8 election is to take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday at the Community Center in Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.

Citizens will have the opportunity to pose questions directly to Board of Commissioners candidates Ben Bridges, Chuck Horton and Marcus Wiedower. Each candidate has been asked to make an introductory comment before the questioning.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Allow Athens Technical College To Continue To Use Space In Annex Until December

Spend $425,00 On Easements

Oconee County commissioners last (Tuesday) night agreed to allow Athens Technical College to continue to offer its adult education classes in the Government Annex building until December of this year.

The commissioners took that action after Commission Chairman Melvin Davis invited three advocates for the College to speak and make the case for its continued presence in the county building, located on SR 15 on the south side of Watkinsville.

Six Candidates File To Run For Three Watkinsville Council Seats

One Without Opposition

Six candidates filed last week to run for three seats on the Watkinsville City Council in the Nov. 8 election.

Marcia Campbell filed to run for Post 3.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Paying $425,000 For Sewer Easements At Jennings Mill Golf Course

Rezone On Agenda Also

Oconee County commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night will be asked to spend $425,000 to purchase easements to build the McNutt Creek sewer line through the golf course at Jennings Mill Country Club.

The golf course straddles McNutt Creek, and the creek is incorporated into the course’s design.

Restaurant To Replace Oconee County Offices In Property On Main Street Opposite Courthouse In Watkinsville

Pour Bistro

The Watkinsville City Council at its next meeting on Sept. 21 is to take up the business license application of Edward Grenvicz, who plans to operate a restaurant in what is commonly referred to as the Dolvin building facing Main Street in downtown Watkinsville.

Pour Bistro, according to the business license application, will be an “upscale restaurant” offering beer, wine and distilled spirits as well as food.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Oconee County BOC Chairman Wants County To Build Median Break On Mars Hill Road That GDOT Rejected

”Plan B”

Only 2 hours and 14 minutes after learning that the Georgia Department of Transportation had turned down the county’s request for a full median break on Mars Hill Road to accommodate landowner Doug Dickens, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis turned to “Plan B.”

Davis told the Commissioners that the county can build the median break when GDOT turns the highway back over to the county.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oconee County Parks And Recreation Department Director Presses Board Of Commissioners For More Resources

Options Presented

Oconee County is at a decision point, Parks and Recreation Director John Gentry told the Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night.

The commissioners must decide if the Parks and Recreation Department should continue both to manage facilities and to manage youth and adult programs, or should the department play a lesser role, perhaps only managing facilities.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Grove Park Master Plan Development On Hog Mountain Road Dependent On Oconee County’s Limited Sewage Treatment Capacity

Houses Close Together

Drivers traveling on Hog Mountain Road heading west from Butler’s Crossing in recent months have come upon a collection of tightly clustered, similarly designed homes facing the roadway.

Further from the road, additional homes are being built, with a total of 45 dwelling units planned for the subdivision.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Oconee County Getting A Brand New 8-Foot-By-12-Foot, Two-Sided LED Sign–On Mars Hill Road

35 Feet Above Ground

A crew began work yesterday (Friday) on the large sign Oconee County permitted for just south of the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Daniells Bridge Road, and by the end of the day today (Saturday) the pole base was installed and sign materials were above the base suspended from a crane.

When completed, the top of the 8-foot-by-12-foot LED sign will be 35 feet about ground level.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Athens-Clarke County Has Excess Capacity At Its Middle Oconee Sewer Plant, Close To Oconee County

Also Has Sewer Line

Athens-Clarke County has excess capacity at its Middle Oconee Water Reclamation Facility, the sewer plant closest to Oconee County, an analysis of the Discharge Monitoring Reports for the plant since January of this year shows.

Athens-Clarke County also has a gravity feed sewer line running along its side of McNutt Creek, paralleling the sewer line that Oconee County is building from Bogart to Epps Bridge Parkway on its side of the stream.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dolvin Foundation Considering Plans For Recreational And Educational Facility On Land Surrounding Oconee County’s Elder Mill Bridge

Mill Essential Component

Trustees for the Elizabeth Price Dolvin Foundation are exploring the possibility of creating an Oconee County environmental and heritage center modeled after a similar facility in Gwinnett County.

The facility would be on Elder Mill Road and incorporate property owned by the late Elizabeth Price Dolvin surrounding the iconic Elder Mill Bridge.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hard Labor Creek Management Board Moves Forward With Design Work For Apalachee River Intake

In Market To Sell Water

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board last week agreed to spend $93,536 for design work for the intake structure on the Apalachee River across from North High Shoals that can be used in the future to expand the size of the reservoir.

The Board also reviewed plans for a water treatment plant for the reservoir that would rely on membrane filtration technology. Actual construction of the plant is thought to be at least three years away as neither county has a need for the water filling in the reservoir.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

All Three Candidates For Oconee County BOC Post 2 Agree To Participate In Election Forum

Set For Sept. 15

All three candidates for the special election on Nov. 8 to fill Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners have agreed to participate in an election forum set for 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

Oconee County School Superintendent Dr. Jason Branch also has agreed to answer questions on the district’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education question, which also will be on the ballot in November.

Expenses For Mars Hill Road Work Mislabeled In Presentation To Public On Request Of Oconee County Commission Chairman

Email Messages Show

Oconee County administrators, to accommodate Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, intentionally mislabeled $15,000 in expenses in giving a public presentation in June of a bill for added design work for Mars Hill Road.

Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. billed the county $10,000 for requested design work to reconnect Old Mars Hill Road to Mars Hill Road and $5,000 for design work on a median break requested by businessman Doug Dickens.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oconee County Committee Turns Aside Bishop Farms Parkway Extension; GDOT Rejects Mars Hill Road Full Median Break

Two Setbacks

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis’ proposal for the county to spend upwards of $1.3 million to extend Bishop Farms Parkway received no support last (Tuesday) night from the Citizen Advisory Committee On Land Use and Transportation Planning.

The plan is to extend Bishop Farms Parkway from Experiment Station Road to New High Shoals Road, giving University of North Georgia students, faculty and staff another access point to the campus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

State Department Of Natural Resources Sampled Fish In Calls Creek In Advance Of Oconee County Expansion Of Wastewater Plant

17 Species Found

A nine-person team from the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources walked 250 yards of Calls Creek last Thursday looking for fish.

Thirty species would be a good number from such a sampling, according to Patti Lanford, team leader and Stream Survey Program Manager for the Wildlife Resources Division in Social Circle.

Monday, August 15, 2016

GDOT Planning Construction Of Passing Lanes On SR 15 In Southern Oconee County, Development Authority Told

Safety Issue

Construction of passing lanes on SR 15 in both Oconee and Greene counties is on the list for conceptual planning with the Georgia Department of Transportation, Rep. Chuck Williams told members of the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority last week.

Williams said he has been working with Rep. Trey Rhodes of Greensboro on the project, made possible because of funds raised by the increase in fuel taxes and imposition of a hotel tax by the General Assembly in the 2015 session.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

November Ballot In Oconee County Will Contain Educational Tax Question As Well As Sunday Sales Referenda

BOC Post II Too

The ballot that Oconee County voters will see on the screens of the voting machines for the Nov. 8 election has gotten fuller in recent weeks.

The Board of Commissioners on Aug. 2 put two referenda on Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages on the ballot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Oconee County And Athens-Clarke County Officials Met To Discuss Collaboration On Wastewater Treatment

”No Results”

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis and county Administrative Officer Jeff Benko met with their counterparts in Athens-Clarke County in late June to discuss possible collaboration in wastewater treatment.

Benko described the session as “a short meeting with no meaningful results.”

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Oconee County Chairman Met With Firm Representing Developer Of Auto Dealership After Negative Vote Of Planning Commission

Scheduled Next Day

The day after the Oconee County Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Commissioners turn down a rezone request for an auto dealership complex on SR 316, the administrative assistant to Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis set up a meeting for Davis with the firm representing the developer of the project.

Davis attended the scheduled meeting with Jon Williams of Williams and Associates on May 23–a week after the Planning Commission vote--at the firm’s offices at 2470 Daniells Bridge Road.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Put Sunday Sales On November Ballot And Approve Shopping Center On Hog Mountain Road

Three Qualify

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night voted unanimously to put two Sunday sales referenda on the November ballot.

One of those referenda, if approved by a majority of voters, will allow the sale of beer and wine in grocery, convenience and beverage stores in the county on Sundays.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

John Daniell Promises To Change Oconee County Government When He Takes Office In January

”Responsive” And “Efficient”

Oconee County citizens will witness a change of culture in county government after Jan.1, said John Daniell, who will take over as chairman of the Board of Commissioners on that date.

The work of the government and the Commission will be “responsive to citizens...efficient in our operations, and...bring everybody in and talk about our goals and where we want to go as a community,” Daniell said.

Friday, July 29, 2016

High Point Farm Withdrawing Request To Operate Day Camp On Farmland In South Of Oconee County

On BOC Agenda

Greg Thaxton, president of High Point Farm, is asking the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to allow him to withdraw his application for a variance to operate a day camp on the 35 acres he owns at 3551 Colham Ferry Road in the south of the county.

The Board of Commissioners will entertain, and most likely, accept his request when the matter comes before it at its meeting on Tuesday evening.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Expansion Of Calls Creek Sewer Plant To 1.5 MGD Will Serve Needs Until 2025, Oconee County Tells EPD

Need 5 MGD In 2050

Expansion of the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant to 1.5 million gallons per day from its current .667 million gallons per day of capacity should serve county needs until 2025, according to forecasts the county provided to the state Environmental Protection Division on Monday.

Expansion of the Calls Creek Plant to 3 million gallons per day would allow the county to meet needs through 2035, the county said.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

MACORTS Seeking Public Comment On Plans To Add Interchange Of Oconee Connector and SR 316 To Planning Document

Tuesday Night Meeting

The regional transportation planning body for Oconee County will be seeking public comment from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Community Center in Veterans Park on a proposal to move forward funding for improvements to the intersection of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector.

The Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS), the cooperative transportation planning body for the urbanized area, including northern Oconee County, is seeking citizen reaction to its proposed amendment to its Long Range Transportation Plan.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Decide To Discuss Referenda On Sunday Sales Of Alcohol At Next Meeting

Aug. 10 Deadline

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis’ efforts to get alcohol referenda on the ballot in November got a slight push-back from two of his Commission colleagues last (Tuesday) night.

Commissioner Jim Luke said the county needed to do more to warn the citizens that the referenda were under consideration by the Board, and Commissioner Mark Saxon agreed.

Oconee County Ready To Move Forward With Feasibility Study of Animal Shelter, Administrative Officer Said

RFP This Month

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko told members of the county’s Animal Control Advisory Board last week that he expects to advertise this month for a feasibility study of improvements to or replacement of the county’s Animal Shelter.

Benko said he expected the county to open bids responding to the request for proposals in August and that the Board of Commissioners likely would award a contract at its meeting on Sept. 6.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oconee County Expects To Have Data Needed For Response To EPD On Calls Creek Discharge This Week

Waste Load Allocation Request

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said last week that he expects to be able to provide to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division this week the information it has sought in response to the county's request for a new waste load allocation for Calls Creek.

Haynie said he expects to get the information he needs from consultant Carter and Sloope Inc., 1031 Stonebridge Parkway, just outside Butler’s Crossing, on projected county water discharges and to be able to send that to the EPD.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oconee County Planning Commission Votes Against A Recreational Day Camp On Colham Ferry Road

Neighbors Opposed

The Oconee County Planning Commission voted 8 to 1 tonight (Monday) against a request by High Point Land Holdings LLC for special use of 35 acres on Colham Ferry Road for a residential day camp in an agricultural district.

Nine people from areas around the existing horse boarding and training facility spoke against the request, saying the addition of a residential day camp would create traffic and noise problems and is inconsistent with the Agricultural Preservation designation of the area on the county’s future development map.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oconee County Election Superintendent Issues Call For Special Election For Board Of Commissioners Vacancy

Qualifying Aug. 1-3

Oconee County Election Superintendent Pat Hayes has issued a call for a special election to fill the vacancy in the Board of Commissioners created when John Daniell resigned Post 2 to run for Board chair.

The election to fill out Daniell’s four year term ending in 2018 will be held on Nov. 8 in conjunction with the general election.

Oconee County Planning Staff Not Recommending Approval Of Recreational Day Camp On Colham Ferry Road

Access One Issue

The Oconee County planning staff is not recommending approval of a special use request that would allow for a horse farm with a recreational day camp on Colham Ferry Road south of Watkinsville.

The request is before the Oconee County Planning Commission and calls for construction of a multi-use pavilion, to be partially used as a farm management residence, eight cabins, a bath house, and an announcer booth and tack house.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Oconee County Review Committee Approved Preliminary Site Plans for Epps Bridge Centre Expansion

Taco Bell Coming Too

Oconee County’s Development Review Committee approved preliminary site plans for Epps Bridge Centre Phase II and Phase III on Friday, and a representative of the developer of the shopping center said he expects construction to begin on the project within the next two months.

The county should let bids for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension, the entranceway to the shopping center, next month, Adam Layfield of the county Utility Department told the group.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sunday Sales Of Alcohol On Oconee County Commission Agenda For Tuesday Night

For November Ballot

Oconee County Commissioners on Tuesday night are to take up Sunday sales of alcohol in the county with the possibility of having a referendum on the ballot in November.

Oconee County Clerk Jane Greathouse released the agenda at 1:24 p.m. today (Friday) with the 11th item being “Discuss Sunday Alcohol Sales Referendum.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

State Approved Settlement For Dickens Farms Easements On Mars Hill Road In Oconee County Based On Proposed Development

Asking For More

Doug Dickens, president of Dickens Farms Inc., told the Georgia Department of Transportation that it should assess his 102 acres on Mars Hill Road not as agricultural land, as it is zoned, but as the site of the large residential and commercial development he said he plans for the property.

The state ultimately accepted his argument, giving him a partial median cut that was not part of the original design and paying him $32,000 for 0.312 acres of permanent easement and 0.501 of construction easement.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Oconee County Has No Agreement With Dickens Farms On Full Median Cut For Mars Hill Road, County Says

Will Spend Money Anyway

Oconee County officials now say that the county does not have a written agreement to build a full median cut on Mars Hill Road to provide access to property owned by Dickens Farms Inc.

The officials also say that, prior to its meeting on Tuesday night, the Board of Commissioners had never voted to support that full median cut or to ask the Georgia Department of Transportation to modify its design for the road to include the full median cut.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Agree To Spend $10,000 For Design Work On A Mars Hill Road Median Cut GDOT Has Rejected

Part Of Undisclosed Deal

Oconee County Commissioners Tuesday night agreed to spend $10,000 for design work–double the amount originally planned–as part of a previously unknown deal to create a full median cut on Mars Hill Road to provide access to 103 acres owned by Dickens Farms Inc.

The investment could be good money thrown after bad, as Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara told the commissioners that the Georgia Department of Transportation already has rejected the proposed plans for the change in the roadway design.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Oconee County Officials Won’t Say Who Is Requesting Median Cut On Mars Hill Road At Humane Society Clinic

Initial Cost In Change Order

Oconee County officials are refusing to disclose who requested a median cut on the new Mars Hill Road at the Athens Area Humane Society Adoption Center and Spay and Neuter Clinic.

Public Works Director Emil Beshara said on Thursday that he could not indicate who asked that the Georgia Department of Transportation modify the design in the roadway because “I have not been specifically authorized to discuss” the request.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Georgia Is In Play In Presidential Election, Democratic Field Organizer Told Oconee County Democrats

Goal Is Governorship In 2018

Georgia already is “purple," or in-play in the presidential election in November, Paul Glaze, a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Georgia, told a gathering of Oconee County Democrats on Thursday night.

The goal now is to win the governorship in 2018 and then start to run Democrats in local elections, even in heavily Republican Oconee County, Glaze said.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Agree To Pay For Work On Rejected Plan To Reconnect Old Mars Hill Road To Mars Hill Road

Davis’ Plan

Oconee County Commissioners tentatively agreed on Tuesday night to pay the $10,000 bill for the design work ordered up by Chairman Melvin Davis without Commission approval last year to connect Old Mars Hill Road with Mars Hill Road.

The Commission ultimately rejected Davis’ plans, but not before county Public Works Director Emil Beshara had requested that Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. alter the design for the roadway.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Oconee County’s Epps Bridge Centre Getting Another Restaurant And A Boutique

Only 3 Left

Oconee County issued building permits for two tenants at Epps Bridge Centre in May and June, leaving only three suites in the main core of the shopping complex with Space Available signs.

Woks Up will join six other restaurants or food shops in the central building cluster opposite University 16 Cinemas, which has a restaurant inside it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Oconee County Economic Development Director Did Favorable Analysis Of Dealership Rezone After Planning Commission Negative Vote

Not Available To Public

Three weeks after the Oconee County Planning Commission voted against a proposed rezone on SR 316 for auto dealerships, county Economic Development Director J.R. Charles sent members of the Board of Commissioners an “Economic Impact Analysis” that said the project would benefit the county.

Charles also sent the report to Jon Williams, president of Williams and Associates, who was representing those asking for the rezone, saying “Thought you would like to have it in your back pocket if you have to speak at the Commission meeting.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Oconee County Announced Major Sewer Spill Into Barber Creek At Malcolm Bridge Road

Force Main Break

Oconee County on Tuesday announced a major sewer spill into Barber Creek at Malcolm Bridge Road as a result of a break in a forced main leading to the county’s Land Application Site on Rocky Branch Road.

The actual break in the sewer line occurred sometime before noon on Monday, according to an email message Oconee County Utility department Director Wayne Haynie sent Tuesday afternoon.

Oconee County Planning Commission, Concerned About Traffic At Oconee Elementary and Middle Schools, Turned Down Rezone

Approved Another Despite Traffic

The Oconee County Planning Commission was concerned about traffic on Hog Mountain Road in its rezone hearings on Monday night, but not where Hog Mountain Road meets U.S.441 at Ray’s Crossing.

Instead the Commission was focused on the impact of two proposed fast food restaurants with drive through operations on school traffic just west of Butler’s Crossing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rezone For Shopping Center At Corner Of Hog Mountain Road And U.S. 441 On Planning Commission Agenda

Plus Three Other Rezones

The Oconee County Planning Commission will hold public hearings on four different rezone requests tomorrow (Monday) night, including one that will have impact on everyone who uses the already busy intersection of Hog Mountain Road and U.S. 441.

ABE Consulting, on behalf of property owner Toccoa 85 LP, is asking the county to rezone 1.7 acres, with frontage on and access to both Hog Mountain Road and U.S. 441, to allow development of a small commercial shopping center.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Oconee County Had Draft Plans For The Route Of The Calls Creek Sewer Line At Least A Year Before It Told Public

Property Appraised Too

Oconee County has been working on specific plans for construction of a sewer pipeline down Calls Creek since at least March of 2015, or nearly a year before it revealed those plans to citizens living along the creek.

The county began making specific plans for the 24-inch pipeline after it appraised at least two key pieces of property, one on the Middle Oconee River and the other adjoining the county’s existing wastewater treatment plant on Calls Creek.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oconee County Commission Approves Car Dealership; GDOT Provides More Reassurances On U.S. 441 Widening

Budget Approved As Well

Oconee County Commissioners approved a rezone request last night for a complex of auto dealerships on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road after a public hearing lasting 115 minutes.

The vote was 2-1, with Commissioners Jim Luke and William “Bubber” Wilkes in favor of the rezone of the nearly 30 acres, and Commissioner Mark Saxon opposed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider 22 Percent Increase In County’s Budget

Property Tax Increase

Oconee County Commissioners, in a called meeting tomorrow night, will be asked to give final approval to a Fiscal Year 2017 budget that is nearly 22 percent larger than for the current fiscal year and that includes an average property tax increase of approximately 5 percent.

The county’s millage rate will remain unchanged from this year, but the balanced budget is predicated on an expected 5 percent increase in the county’s tax digest. That increase translates into increased individual property taxes.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

GDOT To Provide Update On U.S. 441 Widening On Tuesday At Oconee County Veterans Park

Expand Sounding Board

Bruce Anderson Jr., Georgia Department of Transportation project manager for the widening of U.S. 441 and Bishop Bypass, has called a meeting for Tuesday to provide an update of work on the highway project.

The meeting is scheduled for from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park, 3500A Hog Mountain Road.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Oconee County Considering At Least Four Alternatives To Calls Creek Sewer Pipeline

Spartan Lane Option Revealed

Oconee County has been considering at least four alternatives to the proposed sewer pipeline down Calls Creek since at least April 1.

The alternates include a route that largely follows U.S. 441, one that largely follows Simonton Bridge Road, and one that would follow the existing easement of Georgia Power Company.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Auto Dealership Proposed For Oconee County Won’t Generate Big Tax Gains

Sales Tax Eliminated

Because of the way Georgia tax laws are written, Oconee County will gain only modest amounts of revenue from the auto dealerships proposed for SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road that will be the subject of a rezone hearing before the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night.

The three key pieces or property that are at the center of the rezone are currently assessed at $648,682, and their value will certainly go up if the rezone for commercial use is approved.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Several Water And Sewer Projects At Tuesday's Meeting

Totaling $218,691

Water and sewer issues will dominate the agenda of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie will ask the commissioners to spend $218,691 for three different projects, including a new water tower and continued work on a sewer line along McNutt Creek.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Precinct Analysis Shows Limited Impact Of Call For Change On Oconee County Electorate

Turnout The Key

Oconee County citizens overwhelmingly chose the status quo in the just-completed primary elections.

Those who went to the polls selected candidates for the Board of Commissioners, for Sheriff, for the Board of Education and for Coroner who said things are ok as is.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Oconee County Expecting Report In June Evaluating Options For Discharge From Calls Creek Plant

Creek One Possibility

Precision Planning Inc. is expected to complete its study of how to handle increased effluent from the county’s Calls Creek wastewater treatment facility in early to mid-June, Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said last week.

The report from PPI will include the evaluation of several “corridors” for a discharge pipe, Haynie said, including the initially proposed route down Calls Creek itself to the Middle Oconee River.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Incumbents Dominate Oconee County Election Results

BOC Gets 2 Marks

Incumbents overwhelmingly defeated challengers in a low turnout election in Oconee County.

Sheriff Scott Berry got just less than 70 percent of the vote.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Three Oconee Commissioners Say They Met With Representative Of Proposed Auto Dealership Development

”Only Listened”

All three of Oconee County’s voting commissioners acknowledge meeting with the representative of the developer seeking to rezone properties on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road for auto dealerships, but each said he has not yet decided how to vote on the request.

Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes said he met with Jon William of Williams and Associates to discuss the project, and Commissioner Jim Luke said he met with Williams and with another representative of the applicant.

Majority Of Funding For Oconee County Sheriff Candidate Hynes Comes From Non-Local Sources

Large Amounts Raised

More than half of the funding for the campaign of Oconee County Sheriff candidate Kevin “Chappy” Hynes has come from non-local sources, according to early campaign finance filings, while incumbent Sheriff Scott Berry has raised almost all of his campaign funds from local sources.

As of March 31, Hynes had raised $52,600 and lent himself another $5,000 for the campaign, while Berry had raised $11,100.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Transparency And Openness Of Government Are Issues In Oconee County Commission Race

Davis Aids Cause

The two candidates running as outsiders in the Oconee County Board of Commissioners contest have made transparency and openness in government a key issue.

At the last Board of Commissioners meeting on May 3, Commission Chairman Melvin Davis gave them the perfect illustration of the problem they are addressing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Oconee County Early Voting Continues At High Rate, Outpacing Figures Statewide And In Neighboring Counties

Ahead Of March Primary

Early voting in Oconee County continues at a pace ahead of voting for the presidential primary on March 1, with 985 voters casting a ballot by the end of the day yesterday, compared with 518 after two weeks of voting for the March primary.

As of the end of the day on Tuesday, Oconee County early voting was considerably higher than the figures for the state as a whole and higher than in many of the surrounding counties.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Extreme Fireworks Wants To Open A Store In Oconee County Shopping Center

Before Planning Commission

Extreme Fireworks of Alpharetta is asking Oconee County to allow operation of a year-round retail fireworks store in Manders Crossing shopping center at Cliff Dawson Road and Mars Hill Road.

The request will be before the Oconee County Planning Commission when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Courthouse in Watkinsville and will be joined on the agenda by a rezone request for auto dealerships on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road and for a reception hall on Hog Mountain Road.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Oconee County Candidates Restate Their Credentials In GOP Meet And Greet

Chops And Hops

The Oconee County candidates in the May 24 Republican primary covered familiar ground last night in introducing themselves to about 40 people who turned out for a Meet and Greet at Chops and Hops Restaurant in Watkinsville.

Board of Commissioners candidates Penny Mills and Sarah Bell, seeking Post 1 and Post 4 respectively, stated concerns about rapid growth in the county.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Auto Dealerships Proposed For Commercial Development On SR 316 Near Oconee Connector

Staff Review Not Complete

The owner of nearly 30 acres on the south side of SR. 316 just west of Virgil Langford Road is seeking to rezone the land from agricultural use to business and to develop the land for auto dealerships and related commercial service-oriented businesses.

Elaine Duckett Crane of Mineral Bluff in north Georgia filed an application for the zoning change on April 20.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Early Voting Suggests High Turnout In Oconee County Elections

Voting Continues

Nearly 400 voters cast ballots at the Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration by the end of the first week of early voting yesterday, or nearly double the number who voted in the first week of advanced voting for the presidential primaries in March.

The 396 votes cast by the end of the day yesterday represents 1.8 percent of the 22,186 active registered voters in the county.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Proposed Calls Creek Sewer Line Dominates Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Meeting

Objections Submitted

Opponents of the proposed Calls Creek sewer line dominated the meeting of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners last night.

Residents along the creek let their negative feelings about the plans be known during the citizen comment section at the beginning of the meeting and later in the night when the commissioners considered and ultimately approved a planning contract requested by the county’s Utility Department.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

State Expects To Begin Right Of Way Acquisition In 2018 For U.S. 441 Widening In Oconee County

Schedule Announced

The Georgia Department of Transportation expects to begin purchasing right of way for the widening of U.S. 441 from the Watkinsville bypass to the Madison bypass in the summer of 2018, representatives of the state agency told a gathering of about 50 citizens last Thursday night.

GDOT plans to let the project for construction in the spring of 2021, the state highway officials told the group, which included the eight members of a Sounding Board appointed by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to provide citizen involvement in the project.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Residents Along Calls Creek To Tell Oconee County Commissioners They Will Not Grant Easements For Proposed Sewer Line

Goal Is To Force Condemnation

Representatives of Friends of Calls Creek plan to submit statements to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night signed by 73 residents along the creek who say they will not grant an easement to the county for the proposed pipeline.

If the residents follow up on their pledges, the county would be forced to take condemnation action against the land owners to go forward with its plans, potentially running up the cost of the project.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Continuity Vs. Change Theme Of Second Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Candidate Forum

Other Candidates Sharpened Focus

Mark Thomas and Mark Saxon are happy with the way things are going in Oconee County and are running for election to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners as proponents of continuity.

Penny Mills and Sarah Bell are concerned about rapid growth in the county and about transparency and openness in government. They want to do things differently in the future.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Oconee County Still Waiting On Details Of Route For Proposed Calls Creek Sewer Line

Three Meetings Upcoming

Oconee County is still waiting on a report from the firm it hired to do survey work for the route of the proposed sewer line down Calls Creek, county Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said today.

Haynie told Jim McGarvey from Friends of Calls Creek that no additional information on the route of the proposed sewer line likely will be available before the meeting the group has called for 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Library in Watkinsville.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

First Oconee County Forum Separated Supporters From Critics Among Board of Commissions Candidates

Who Is Incumbent?

In the Candidate Forum on April 14, Oconee County Board of Commission candidates Sarah Bell and Penny Mills took the position of outsiders and critics.

In their opening comments, Bell said the county does not have a “Commission that listens well,” and Mills said the Commission “needs to be more proactive about transparency.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oconee County Utility Department Budget Does Not Include Water And Sewer Rate Increases–For Now

Rate Study Underway

Oconee County water and sewer customers likely will get a reprieve, at least temporarily, from the annual water and sewer rate increases of recent years.

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie told the Board of Commissioners at a budget hearing last week that he is not asking for a rate increase as part of his budget request.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More Than 100 People Turn Out To Hear From And Question Oconee County Candidates

For May 24 Primary

Oconee County Board of Commissioners candidates Penny Mills and Sarah Bell stated unambiguous opposition to the proposed pipeline down Calls Creek, while candidates Mark Thomas and Mark Saxon took more nuanced positions on the issue Thursday night.

The four were speaking in the first of two candidate forums to be held before the May 24 election. More than 100 people turned out for the meeting at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Proposal For Calls Creek Sewer Pipeline Indicates Shift In Oconee County Sewer Plans

Documented In Letters

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie has said in recent meetings that the proposed sewer line down Calls Creek is not a new idea, and he is right.

The county has had that sewer line in its long-range plans since at least 2005.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Growth And Infrastructure Strain Lurking As Issue In Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Election

Calls Creek Example

The county’s proposal to run a sewer pipe down Calls Creek through a string of residential neighborhoods has become a prominent issue in the May 24 Board of Commissioners election, since the Commission will have to make the final decision on whether to go forward with the project.

Behind this specific concern, however, is the larger issue of how the county–and the commissioners in particular–should handle growth.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Boswell Commercial Appaiser Advises Oconee County Residents Of Potential Negative Impact Of Calls Creek Sewer Line

Offers Expert Advice

David Titshaw, a commercial appraiser with The Boswell Group, has sent members of the Friends of Calls Creek an email saying that people living along the creek should be anxious about the impact of the proposed sewer line on the value of their property.

“You and your community are right to be concerned with the after effects of any proposed easement, particularly sewer,” Titshaw wrote.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Oconee County Issued A Permit For a Restaurant At Falls Of Oconee Complex Opposite Athens Ridge

Three Unoccupied Buildings

Oconee County’s Code Enforcement Office has issued a building permit for the fourth of five planned buildings at the restaurant, retail and office complex being developed on Old Macon Highway across from the Athens Ridge student housing complex.

The new building, which will overlook McNutt Creek just downstream from the old mill dam, is for a restaurant, according to the building permit.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Pass Over Volunteers At Animal Shelter In Appointments To Animal Control Advisory Board

Also Rezoned Three Properties

Oconee County commissioners tonight turned down the applications for appointment to the Animal Control Advisory Board of two women who have played leadership roles among volunteers at the Animal Shelter.

The commissioners instead reappointed Janet Calpin to a two-year term on the Advisory Board. Calpin has been a critic of the Animal Control Department’s adoption program run by the volunteers.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mars Hill Road Overlay District Proposal Joins Three Rezone Requests On Oconee County Commission Agenda

Animal Control Too

The proposed Mars Hill Road Overlay District is back on the agenda of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night.

The commissioners also will consider three rezone requests, two for properties in the quickly developing area surrounding the Virgil Langford Road and Oconee Connector intersection.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Oconee County Utility Department Director Says He Understands The Reactions To Proposed Calls Creek Pipeline

Asking State For Help

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said he understands the negative reactions of people who live in subdivisions along Calls Creek to his plans to run a sewer line along the creek and through their yards.

If he were in their position, he acknowledged, he would be reacting in the same.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Oconee County Candidate Forums Scheduled For April 14 And April 25

Meet And Greet In May

The first of two forums for candidates in the Oconee County May 24 Republican primary will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 14 at the Community Center in Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.

A second forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 25 at the North Oconee High School Auditorium, also on Hog Mountain Road.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Oconee Farmers Market To Open On Saturday

13th Season

Oconee Farmers Market launches its 13th season on Saturday in front of the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.

Market Manager Cindy Pritchard is expecting between 20 and 25 vendors offering eggs, beef, honey, Spring greens, cakes, pies, breads, other baked goods, pasta, peanuts, roasted coffee, soaps and other farm items.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Citizens Tell Oconee County Commissioners Of Their Concerns About Sewer Projects

Calls Creek Pipeline

Concerns about Oconee County’s sewer upgrade plans dominated the citizen comment section of the Board of Commissioners meeting last night.

Tony Greco, 1071 Winthrop Place, in the Hickory Hill subdivision outside Watkinsville, was the first to speak, and he informed the commissioners about the formation of Friends of Calls Creek and the meeting it held on Monday night attended by more than 70 citizens.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Oconee County Citizens Voice Opposition To Construction Of Pipeline Down Calls Creek

Want Alternatives Examined

More than 70 people turned out last night to hear Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie explain his plans to run a sewer line down Calls Creek, and all of those who spoke up told Haynie in no uncertain terms that they didn’t like the idea.

The meeting, called by a newly created group called Friends of Calls Creek, ran for about two hours and included a description by engineer Jimmy Parker of what easements for and construction of the pipeline would mean for residents along the creek.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Three Oconee County Meetings This Week Will Focus On Sewer Issues

Director At Center Stage

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie has a busy week ahead of him.

On Monday Haynie is to appear before a group calling itself Friends of Calls Creek to provide an update on plans to put a sewer line down the creek, and through the yards of a number of residents of subdivisions along the creek.

Friday, March 25, 2016

State Senate Approves GDOT Exemption to Environmental Reporting Requirements For U.S. 441 Widening In Oconee County

Cowsert Votes Yes

The Georgia Senate voted a few hours before the session ended last night to exempt the Georgia Department of Transportation from the requirements of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act.

The Senate vote was on an amended version of the original Senate Bill 346, and Sen. Bill Cowsert, who represents Oconee County, voted with the majority. Cowsert also is the Senate majority leader.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Reversal Of A Year Ago, House And Senate Conference Committee Inserts Funding For Bogart Library In State Budget

Cowsert Key

A year ago the budget conference committee of the Georgia House and Senate stripped the funding for the Bogart Library renovation and expansion from the final state budget, even though the project had been highly ranked by the state Board of Regents and approved by both the House and the Senate.

This year the conference committee inserted $1.8 million for the Bogart Library in the budget even though neither the House nor the Senate had included the monies in the budgets they had passed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Georgia House Exempted GDOT From Georgia Environmental Policy Act Without Votes Of Oconee County Representatives

Now Before Senate

The Georgia House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday to exempt the Georgia Department of Transportation from the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act for road projects costing less than $100 million.

The vote likely will exempt GDOT from being required to file reports on the environmental, cultural, historical and archaeological impact of the widening of U.S. 441 and construction of a bypass of Bishop in southern Oconee County, depending on how the project is bid.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Oconee County Issues Permit For New LED Sign On Mars Hill Road

Two-Sided

Oconee County has issued a permit to USA Outdoor for a two-sided LED sign on Mars Hill Road just south of the intersection with Daniells Bridge Road.

The 8 foot by 12 foot sign will sit atop a single pole that will be just at the edge of a sediment pond on the triangular piece of undeveloped property across Daniells Bridge Road from QuikTrip.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Oconee County Public Works Director Seeking To Name SR 316 And Oconee Connector Intersection Improvement As Priority

In Planning Documents

Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara will get a third opportunity on Wednesday to include construction of a multi-grade intersection at SR 316 and the Oconee Connector in the planning documents of the regional metropolitan transportation planning organization.

Beshara calls improvements to the intersection the number one priority for the county and has pointed out that the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Board for Land Use and Transportation Planning has said the same.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Presbyterian Homes Purchases Three Parcels For Oconee County Retirement Facility

Third Parcel Surprise

Presbyterian Homes has purchased three parcels on U.S. 441 and Welbrook Road, signaling it plans to move forward with its Oconee County continuing care retirement community.

One of those purchases was of a 4-acre parcel that was not included in the rezone approved by the Board of Commissioners in May of last year for the Presbyterian Homes facility.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Oconee Citizen Groups Call Two Meetings On Sewer And Water Issues, Propose Route For Bishop Bypass

Haynie To Speak

Two Oconee county citizen groups have organized meetings to discuss water and sewer issues in the county, and a third citizen group has sent a letter to local and state officials calling for an environmentally and culturally sensitive route for a Bishop Bypass.

A group of residents who live along Calls Creek has set up a meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on March 28 at the Oconee County Library with Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie to discuss the proposed sewer line down that creek.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Judge Refuses To Issue Criminal Warrant Against Oconee County Resident Who Admitted To Shooting Cats

Shooter Fined

Oconee County Magistrate Court Judge Eric Norris last week refused to issue a warrant for the arrest of Douglas Lanier Orr on a charge of criminal animal cruelty for the shooting of cats, but Norris did fine the Broadlands Road resident $750 on five charges of code violation, also for animal cruelty.

Judge Norris ruled that the state animal cruelty law allows a landowner to defend his or her property from feral animals and that the evidence presented by Orr was that he was doing just that.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Georgia House Considering Bill To Remove U.S. 441 Widening And Bishop Bypass From Restrictions Of Georgia Environmental Policy Act

Hearings Held Today

The Georgia Senate has approved, with the support of Oconee County Sen. Bill Cowsert, a bill that would exempt the Georgia Department of Transportation from the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act.

The exemption likely would have a major effect immediately in Oconee County, as it would allow GDOT to bypass the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act in widening U.S. 441 from the Watkinsville Bypass to the Madison Bypass, including the construction of a bypass of Bishop.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Projections For Water Needs Much Lower Than When Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Planned, Project Manager Says

New Data Needed

Jimmy Parker, project manager of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir now filling in Walton County, says current water needs for partners Walton and Oconee counties are much lower now than when the project was planned.

Parker told the reservoir’s Management Board at its meeting in January that there is a need for an update to those projections so the two counties know when they will need to build the water treatment plant and distribution lines.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hendrix Files To Run As Independent In November for Georgia House District 119, Representing Oconee And Clarke Counties

Needs Signatures

Pamela Lohr Hendrix, Watkinsville attorney, filed yesterday to run as an independent in November for the 119th District of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Incumbent Chuck Williams filed on Monday to run for reelection in the May 24 Republican primary. He has no challengers, and no one filed to run for that office as a Democrat.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Daniell Unopposed In May Primary For Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Chair

Odom, Cowsert Get Challengers

John Daniell will run unopposed for Chair of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners in the May 24 Republican primary and in the November general election, unless someone files to run as an independent during qualifying from June 27 to July 12.

No one filed to challenge Daniell during the five days of qualifying that ended at noon today, and no one filed to run as a Democrat for any Oconee County office.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sarah Bell Files To Run For Post 4 On Oconee County Board of Commissioners

Two BOE Incumbents Also File

Sarah Bell today filed to run for the Post 4 position on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, joining incumbent Mark Saxon in the contest for that sport.

Saxon qualified on Wednesday, as did Penny Mills and Mark Thomas, both seeking to fill the Post 1 position left vacant by the retirement of Commissioner Jim Luke.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mills And Thomas File For Post 1 On Oconee County Board Of Commissioners; Saxon Files For Reelection To Post 4

Three Wednesday Qualifiers

Retired educator Penny Mills and contractor Mark Thomas filed for the Republican primary for Post 1 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners today, seeking to replace retiring Commissioner Jim Luke.

Mark Saxon, Post 4 commissioner, also filed today to run for reelection in the May 24 Republican primary. Saxon is retired from the U.S. Army.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Oconee County Commissioner Daniell Files For Commission Chair Position In Second Day Of Qualifying

Coroner Contest

Oconee County Commissioner John Daniell made it official today, filing to run as a Republican for the position of Chair of the Board of Commissioners.

Upon filing, Daniell had to resign as Post 2 Commissioner. The county will need to hold a special election in November to fill that position.

Monday, March 07, 2016

First Day Of Qualifying Brings Out Oconee County Incumbents For General Assembly, Constitutional Offices

No BOC Qualifiers Yet

Oconee County’s three representatives in the Georgia General Assembly filed for reelection today, in the first day of qualifying for the May 24 primaries.

All four of the county’s constitutional officers also qualified, as did incumbent coroner Ed Carson and incumbent Board of Education Chair Tom Odom.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Oconee County, Struggling With Limited Sewer Capacity, Approved Rezone For Commercial Development Anyway

Moved Money In 2014

Oconee County commissioners voted In May of 2014 to move $2 million out of the water and sewer account in the 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax at a time when the county’s Utility Department desperately needed money for maintenance and expansion of its two wastewater treatment facilities.

The commissioners took the action after deciding the Utility Department could delay spending its SPLOST funds and that the county instead could transfer the water and sewer money to pay off the debt on the Jail/Emergency Operations Center/E911 Facilities and Tower.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Reject A Request For Delay In Rezone For Expansion Of Epps Bridge Centre

Traffic And Pollution Concerns

Oconee County commissioners, brushing aside concerns by Athens-Clarke County residents about the negative impact of the development on their residential neighborhoods, unanimously approved a rezone request last night for the expansion of Epps Bridge Centre.

The commissioners made minor changes to the proposed bylaws and establishing resolution for the Animal Control Board, after continued requests for more dramatic change.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Plurality Of Oconee County Republican Voters Chose Trump, While Majority Of Democrats Chose Clinton

Turnout 54%

Just more than 31 percent of voters in Oconee County who used the Republican ballot chose businessman Donald Trump as their candidate in presidential primary voting, while just more than 52 percent of those who cast a Democratic ballot chose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio got just more than 28 percent of the vote, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz got just less than 26 percent.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oconee Commissioners Opt To Bypass Citizen Vote In Issuing Bonds To Build New Road For Epps Bridge Centre Expansion

Cost Of $4.9 Million

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last week took final action to borrow $4.285 million to build a new road to promote further commercial development in the busy Epps Bridge Road corridor.

In order to avoid asking the voters to approve the bond sales, the commissioners agreed to have the county’s Industrial Development Authority do the actual borrowing.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oconee County’s Two Representatives Vote In Favor Of Guns On University Campuses

Expand 2014 Law

Oconee County’s two representatives in the Georgia House of Representatives were among the majority that voted in favor this week of a law to allow for handguns on the University of North Georgia campus as well as on other public university properties around the county and state.

The Georgia Board of Regents and Chancellor Hank Huckabee, who lives in Oconee County, have opposed allowing guns on colleges campuses.

The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Delay Until Next Week Final Decision On Mars Hill Overlay And On Animal Control Documents

Pay Back-And-Forth

The proposed Mars Hill Road Overlay District survived one more week.

Oconee County seems likely to get a new web site, at a cost of just less than $40,000, and to spend $52,000 for a study of water and sewer rates.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Animal Control To Web Design On Agenda of Oconee County Commission For Tuesday Night

Lots In Between

Oconee County commissioners Tuesday night will confront a complex agenda that includes proposals for renovation of the Courthouse, the Mars Hill Overlay District, changes in the Animal Control Board and its bylaws, and bonds for construction of the entranceway to Epps Bridge Centre Phase II.

The Board of Commissioners also will give first reading to a change in the county’s Wastewater Treatment Policy, award a contract for study of water and wastewater rates, and set possible termination dates for the county’s lease on the two buildings across from the Courthouse.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Feasibility Study For Animal Shelter On Hold Pending Receipt Of Sales Tax Revenues, Oconee County Administrative Officer Says

RFP In Works

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko gave a simple answer last week at the Animal Control Advisory Board meeting to a question about the status of the feasibility study for renovation or replacement of the existing Animal Shelter.

Benko told Animal Control Department Director Catlyn Vickers that nothing has been done to date.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Board Of Regents Recommends Funding For Oconee County’s Bogart Library In 2017 State Budget

Fifth On List Of 10

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has listed funding for a renovated and expanded Bogart Library as its fifth highest priority among library capital projects that the state should fund for Fiscal Year 2017.

The ranking for the Oconee County library project in 2017 is two rungs higher than the ranking the project was given by the Board of Regents last year. Funding for the Bogart Library was cut from the capital budget in the final days of the legislature last year.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Athens-Clarke County Government Says Expansion Of Epps Bridge Centre In Oconee County Has Impact On Athens-Clarke County

Before Oconee Planning Commission

The government of Athens-Clarke County has raised concerns about the proposed $55 million expansion of Epps Bridge Centre, saying the project will have impact on both the transportation infrastructure and natural resources of the county.

The Athens-Clarke County Planning Department outlined the concerns in a letter sent to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, which is conducting a review of the project as a Development of Regional Impact.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oconee County Will Need Special Election On Nov. 8 To Fill Vacancy If Daniell Runs For Chairman

Candidacy Announced

Oconee County will hold a special election on Nov. 8 to fill Post 2 on the Board of Commissioners if John Daniell follows through on his announced plans to seek the position of Commission chair in the May 24 Republican primary.

That Nov. 8 date became firm on Friday when Daniell opted not to resign his current position as Post 2 Commissioner.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Reduce Protective District Around Historic Elder Mill Bridge After Lengthy Deliberations

Owner Wanted More

It took 72 minutes last week for the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to reduce the size of the Scenic Preservation Overlay District at Elder Mill Bridge by .88 acres from what the county’s professional planning staff had recommended.

The BOC didn’t actually know how much acreage was involved in the switch. The professional planning staff made that calculation days later.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board Agenda Does Not Include Discussion Of Changes To Ordinance

Davis Confirms

The Oconee County Animal Control Advisory Board will discuss a number of issues when it meets on Wednesday evening, but updates to the county’s animal control ordinance isn’t likely to be one of them.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, when asked by a citizen last week about the status of a new ordinance, acknowledged that Commissioner Jim Luke had called for discussion of possible changes in the county’s existing law.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Renovation of Hog Mountain Road Strip Mall Expected To Be Completed In May

Tribe Moving

Work is scheduled to be completed in early May on a half-million-dollar remodeling of a building on Hog Mountain Road just east of Butler’s Crossing known as Oconee Plantation strip mall.

The building, with a 10,500 square feet of space, formerly was home to a Subway sandwich shop, a Chinese restaurant and a barbeque shop. It has gotten a complete facelift and now has a brick exterior.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Developer Of Epps Bridge Centre Submitted Rezone Plans for $55 Million Expansion

Subway Got Permit

The developer of Epps Bridge Centre filed paperwork last month with the Oconee County Planning Department to rezone 54 acres of land from agricultural use to business use for a $55 million expansion of the existing shopping mall.

The land is currently owned by the Evelyn and Frank Gordy Family and lies across the Oconee Connector from Epps Bridge Centre.

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority To Get Bond Sales Documents For Epps Bridge Centre Phase II Entrance Road

$500,000 Per Year

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Monday afternoon is likely to take up again the issuance of $4 million in bonds to pay for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension to accommodate expansion of Epps Bridge Centre.

The item isn’t on the agenda for the IDA, but County Attorney Daniel Haygood told the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that he planned to bring the item to the Authority for consideration at its meeting on Monday.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Oconee County Commission Votes To Use Biological Treatment Rather Than Membranes At New Sewage Plant

Too Costly

Oconee County on Tuesday night turned the page on its 12-year experiment with the use of membrane filtration at its Calls Creek Water Reclamation Facility.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to award a $440,000 design-to-build contract with Crowder Construction Inc. of Conyers for a new, replacement plant at Calls Creek estimated to cost between $6.7 and $7 million.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Davis Retiring As Chair Of Oconee County Board Of Commissioners; Daniell Is Running For The Spot

Announcements Today

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis sent out an email message just before 2 p.m. today saying that he plans to retire when his current term ends on Dec. 31 rather than seek reelection for what would be a fifth term.

Commissioner John Daniell told me in a telephone conversation just after 3 p.m. that he will seek the chairmanship position.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Changes In Sewer Policies And In Upgrade Plans

Increase Residential Capacity

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tomorrow night will consider a request from its Utility Department director to increases by 28 percent the allocated capacity in the county’s sewer system for residential use.

Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie is asking the Board to set aside a policy it adopted on Dec. 2, 2008, but never actually implemented that said “that any additional capacity realized be restricted to commercial usage.”

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Decide On Future Of Scenic Preservation District Surrounding Elder Mill Bridge

Flanagan Rezone Request

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is to decide if the overlay district put into place in 1968 to protect the area around the iconic Elder Mill Bridge should remain in place, should be modified somewhat, or should be radically changed.

The county’s planning staff originally proposed that the district remain unchanged but modified that position to allow land owner James A. Flanagan to remove 6.1 acres from the overlay district.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Committee Votes To Remove U.S. 441 Widening And Bishop Bypass In Oconee County From Federal Transportation Planning Documents

Shift To State Funding

The Technical Coordinating Committee of MACORTS, the regional transportation planning organization, recommended on Wednesday that the widening of U.S. 441 with the bypass of Bishop be removed from its planning documents.

That action follows a decision by the Georgia Department of Transportation to use exclusively state funds, rather than state and federal funds, to finance the project.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

An Illustrated Story About Three Meetings Held By Oconee County Commissioners In January

Includes Citizens Too

This is the tale of three work sessions of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

It is a short tale with only three chapters.

And it has a simple lesson:

Not all citizens and citizen comments are equal in the eyes of the members of the Commission.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oconee County Utility Director Is Asking Board Of Commissioners To Change Plans For Upgrade Of Calls Creek Sewer Plant

Switch In Technology

At the Oconee County Board of Commissioners work session on Jan. 14, county Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie said he was prepared to move forward with purchase of a refurbished sewerage treatment plant to expand the treatment capacity of the existing Calls Creek facility to 1 million gallons per day.

Last night at the Board of Commissioners meeting, Haynie changed course and proposed that the county break its contract to purchase the used plant and instead build a new facility on the Calls Creek property.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oconee County Public Works Director Warns That County Is Falling Behind On Road Maintenance

Half Of What Needed

Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara told the county’s commissioners last week that the county will fall further behind in maintenance of its 400 plus miles of road unless the Board changes the way the county funds roadway maintenance.

The county stopped putting general fund revenue into road work in Fiscal Year 2009, Beshara reminded the commissioners, relying instead on state revenue and money from the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Decreasing Percent Allocation Of Sewer Capacity For Residential Use

Expand Capacity Overall

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie will ask the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night to change the county’s allocation of sewer capacity so that 40 percent is allocated to residential use.

The proposal represents a change in policy put into place by the Commission in 2008 but never actually implemented.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Hold Public Hearing On Tuesday On Updated Solid Waste Management Ordinance

Two Ordinances Combined

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners Tuesday will give second reading to and hold a public hearing on a new Solid Waste Management Ordinance that combines two existing ordinances to regulate the disposal of litter and license the collection of residential and commercial waste in the county.

It will be the first time citizens have a chance to comment on the completed ordinance, since County Attorney Daniel Haygood made changes in the document after the Commission gave first reading to the ordinance on Jan. 5.