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.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Oconee County Ready For Winter Weather, Public Works Director Reassured Commissioners Yesterday

Two Spreaders Ready

For those who ever have wondered how Oconee County prepares for the threat of winter weather, Public Works Director Emil Beshara yesterday afternoon had the answer.

With the threat of snow and icy roads in the forecast, Beshara told county commissioners that the county had its two salt and sand spreaders on the trucks “and ready to go.”

Oconee County Citizens Gathered To Discuss U.S. 441 Widening Favor Close-In Bypass Of Bishop

No Epps Bridge Wanted

The 22 people who gathered at the Oconee County Community Center in Veterans Park Thursday night to discuss the proposed widening of U.S. 441 in the south of the county mostly agreed on two important things.

First, a bypass of Bishop is needed for the economic survival of the city and the safety of its residents.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oconee County Issued Building Permits For Two More Restaurants In Epps Bridge Centre

Core And Outlot

Oconee County has issued building permits for two new restaurants in Epps Bridge Centre, one for Bone Island Grillhouse and the other for Diablo’s Southwest Grille.

Bone Island Grillhouse will be on the outlot between McDonald’s and Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. Big Property Holdings LLC, 1720 Epps Bridge Parkway, purchased the 1.8-acre-lot from Epps Bridge Centre LLC early last year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tour Of Oconee County’s Water Reclamation Facility Shows Changes Since Plant Failure Surfaced Last Spring

Money Invested

The Oconee County Utility Department threw open the gates to its Calls Creek Water Reclamation Facility late last year to allow the community to see how the revitalized plant operates.

What those on the tour observed was a clean, functioning plant with an upbeat staff that is now proud of the operation of the wastewater facility.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oconee County’s Two State Representatives Cool To Proposal To Create Independent Redistricting Commission

County Split In 2011

Neither of Oconee County’s two members of the Georgia House of Representatives is willing to support a pair of resolutions prefiled before the current session began on Jan. 11 that would create an independent commission to create Congressional and General Assembly districts in the state.

Oconee County was split into two House districts in a special session of the General Assembly in 2011 to help the dominant Republican Party achieve a super majority. A super majority allows the dominant party to govern without minority support.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Land Being Cleared For Lavista Office Park On U.S. 441 In North East Oconee County

Joins Other Office Projects

Work is well underway on the clearing of 13.4 acres at the corner of U.S. 441 and Lavista Road for construction of what is being called Lavista Office Park.

Preliminary site plans filed with the Oconee County Planning Department a year ago show construction of a 12,000-square-foot professional office building at the southern end of the lot nearest to the Waffle House at 8000 Macon Highway (U.S. 441).

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Agrees To Explore Borrowing For Parkway Boulevard Extension

$4.5 Million Figure

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority yesterday voted to explore the issuance of $4.5 million in bonds for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension to connect the existing roadway in front of Kohl’s department store with the Oconee Connector.

The Authority took the action after Chair Rick Waller said the Board of Commissioners was asking the IDA “to review” the roadway project and consider issuing the bonds.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Oconee County Commission Chairman Turns Work Session On Mars Hill Overlay Into Opportunity For One Land Owner To Complain

Plan’s Future Uncertain

Oconee County Board of Commissioner Chairman Melvin Davis yesterday morning turned what was billed as a work session on the proposed Mars Hill Road corridor overlay district into an opportunity for a single land owner, his family and his land planner to call for rejection of the ordinance.

Following 37 minutes of comments by consultant Bill Ross, who developed the overlay plan, Davis turned the session over to Doug Dickens.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Accept $3.35 Million Bid For Construction Of Parkway Boulevard Extension

Funding Unclear

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners this morning approved a $3.35 million contract with Simpson Trucking and Grading Company of Gainesville for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension.

The three-lane road will run from the current terminus of Parkway Boulevard just west of Kohl’s department store to opposite an existing entrance to Epps Bridge Centre and is to be open by September of 2016.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Oconee County Commission To Review Bids For Construction Of Parkway Boulevard Extension At Tomorrow’s Mars Hill Overlay Work Session

Last Minute Addition

Oconee County Commissioners tomorrow morning will consider awarding a bid for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension, the roadway that will open up additional land for expansion of the Epps Bridge Centre shopping complex on the Oconee Connector.

The item was added yesterday afternoon to the agenda for what is being billed as a work session for the commissioners. Originally, the purpose of the session, to start at 10 a.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville, was solely to discuss the proposed overlay district for the Mars Hill Road corridor.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Agree On Staff Salary Allocation, Discuss Future Changes In Animal Control Ordinance

Election Maneuvering

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners agreed last night to distribute unallocated salary money in the current budget differentially to address issues of pay compression within job classification categories.

The four voting commissioners unanimously approved the plan, developed by Commissioner John Daniell, rather than allocate money across the board, as advocated by Commission Chairman Melvin Davis.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners To Discuss Staff Pay Once Again At Meeting Tomorrow Night

Merit Pay At Issue

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will return tomorrow night to a topic that has bedeviled it since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1–the allocation salary money to the staff.

The Board spent more than 50 minutes at its last meeting on the topic, and then another 1 hour and 45 minutes in a work session on Dec. 29, but it has yet to resolve how to spend the 1.5 percent pay increase approved on July 1.

Friday, January 01, 2016

No Route For U.S. 441 Widening And Bishop Bypass Exists, GDOT Tells Oconee County Citizen Committee

December Meeting

The two Georgia Department of Transportation representatives who attended the first meeting of newly appointed Sounding Board on the U.S. 441 widening project in southern Oconee County had a very clear message.

“There is no alignment set for this project at this time,” Brad Saxon, assistant state program delivery engineer, said near the beginning of the meeting.