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.
The three said it would be very disruptive for the College and its students to move the program now that the school year is underway and that the College provides needed services for Oconee County residents.
In other action Tuesday night the commissioners agreed to pay $425,000 for easements to build a sewer line along McNutt Creek through the Jennings Mill golf course and to spend $10,000 for a study of the existing Animal Shelter in the south of the county.
The commissioners also appointed Cindy Pritchard to be the executive director of the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission.
Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie told the commissioners that the $425,000 settlement with Jennings Mill Country Club was for 1.9 acres of permanent easements, 1.9 acres of construction easements, and 0.3 acres of access easements.
The county initially offered $389,000 for the easements, Haynie said, while the owners had sought $1.4 million.
In the end, the county rerouted the line and agreed to bore under trees and other features to minimize damage to the course, Haynie told the Commission.
The 18-inch sewer line will run from Bogart to the pump station on McNutt Creek at Epps Bridge Parkway. From there the sewage will be pumped to the Calls Creek sewage plant outside Watkinsville.
Haynie said the rough estimate of the construction costs is $2.5 million. The work will require closure of the back nine holes of the golf course later this year or early next year.
Athens Technical College asked the county to sign an agreement allowing the College to continue offering it's GED classes in space it currently uses in the Annex building until the end of this fiscal year in June.
Commission Chair Davis had tried to get the Commission to approve that agreement last week, but Commissioner Jim Luke and Commissioner Mark Saxon objected because the county needs the space for offices it has relocated from the Dolvin property across from the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.
Nancy Turnbull, 1021 Kings Court, in Northwest Woods subdivision, formerly lead instructor for the program, said the students in the program have overcome challenges and moving the program outside the county “would put one more difficulty in lives that are frequently already overwhelmed.”
Ginger Randall, 3162 Greensboro Highway, south of Watkinsville, a retired educator from Athens Technical College, asked that a move not be made until the end of December. She said she felt the county has made a commitment to the program and the students for the remainder of this year.
Judy Marable, 1041 Buckeye Pointe, in Lake Wellbrook subdivision, an educator in the program, asked the commissioners to help find an alternative location if the Annex cannot be made available.
The commissioners agreed to look for alternate space.
Animal Control And KOCBC
The Commission agreed to hire Tevis architectural firm, with an office in Atlanta, to evaluate the existing Animal Control Facility and offer recommendations on what can be done to improve and expand the facility.
Catlyn Vickers, director of the Animal Control Department, has been advocating for a new facility, arguing that the existing building and location are inadequate for the county’s needs.
The Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission has been without an executive director since former director Angela Helwig stepped down in May of 2015.
The half-time position will pay $22,000 per year. Pritchard will start work next week.
Pritchard currently is the market manager for Oconee Farmers Market, which operates on Saturday mornings in front of the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.
The Commission on Tuesday also approved a special use request from Jenny and Gary Evans for a professional home office at 1490 Calls Creek Circle, outside Watkinsville,
Annette Sledge missed the opportunity to speak at the citizen comment section of the front of the meeting and attempted to speak to the Commission on its decision to put Sunday sales of alcohol on the ballot on Nov. 8 during the discussion about Athens Technical College.
Commission Chairman Davis stopped her and told her he would give her the opportunity to speak at the end of the meeting.
Commissioner Jim Luke reminded Davis of his pledge after the meeting ended, and Davis reassembled the group and allowed Mrs. Sledge to speak for nearly nine minutes, despite rules limiting public comment to three minutes.
Mrs. Sledge, who said she is 85 years old, started by citing the Bible but then went into a long discussion of the reasons why the Commission should not have approved the referenda on Sunday sales of alcohol.
The commissioners listened patiently and with sober looks on their faces, but they did not respond to Mrs. Sledge.
The video is below.
Full Video Of Meeting
The entire video of the Commission meeting is below.