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


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.