Saturday, October 21, 2017

Oconee County Exploring Collaboration With Athens-Clarke County As One Option For Sewer Capacity Expansion, Citizens Told

***Town Hall Meeting***

Oconee County is exploring collaboration with Athens-Clarke County for future wastewater treatment, Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell told a small group of citizens this week at a Town Hall meeting in Oconee Veterans Park.

“We’ve had different conversations since I’ve been in office,” Daniell said in response to a question asking if the commissioners had “met with Clarke County to discuss wastewater?”

Wastewater treatment was the most prominent topic at the meeting with citizens, which followed a public hearing on the environmental impact of the expansion of the Calls Creek wastewater plant from its currently allowed 1 million gallons per day of discharge to 1.5 million gallons per day.

As the Town Hall meeting progressed on Wednesday evening and Daniells and his fellow commissioners responded to questions, Daniells said the county has set as a long-term goal the building a Rails-To-Trails pathway from Watkinsville to Madison along an unused rail line that parallels U.S. 441.

Daniell said he expects to start work on the Rails-To-Trails project in January.

Variety Of Questions

Only about a dozen citizens attended the meeting in Veterans Park, and the session became more of a round table discussion than a question-and-answer session.

Seven different citizens posed something in the neighborhood of 22 different questions during the 70-minute session.

It is hard to count the exact number of questions because of the back-and-forth nature of the exchange.

Questions were posed about the need for a full-time Commission Chair, about the value of the Industrial Development Authority, and about Mars Hill Road, Simonton Bridge Road and the Connector and SR 316 interchange.

The citizens also asked about the possibility of Costco coming to the county and about county staffing and departmental structure.

Wastewater Treatment

Tony Greco, one of the organizers of Friends of Calls Creek, asked the first question about the wastewater plant just a little more than 10 minutes into the meeting.

John Daniell At Town Hall Meeting 10/18/2017

Greco wanted to know the county’s plans for the Calls Creek plant beyond the expansion to 1.5 million gallons per day, which is underway.

Daniell said the county is working on a master plan at present, but he also said the county isn’t committed to expanding capacity in the future beyond the 1.5 million gallons per day.

“If we built a 10 million (gallon) plant we could fill it up,” Daniell said. “Just because there is demand for wastewater doesn’t mean it is going to be there for people when they need it,” he said.

“The extra 500 (gallons per day at Calls Creek) gives us some additional time to figure out what the next step is,” Daniell said in response to a subsequent question from Greco. “The question out there, too, is what’s the max number of sewer we want to treat?”

The county had proposed building a pipeline down Calls Creek to the Middle Oconee River to discharge treated sewage beyond the 1.5 million gallons per day limit set by the state.

Residents of the neighborhoods along the creek have been outspoken in opposition to that plan.

Partnerships

Pam Hendrix asked if the county has “truly explored working with Clarke County” on sewer capacity.

Athens-Clarke County has a sewer plant on the Middle Oconee River just across from Oconee County.

“We are always looking for opportunities to work together with interregional,” Daniell said. “There are lots of factors that go into that. Have we looked at it? Yes. Will we keep pursuing it? Every step, every chance we get, we’re going to keep trying.”

Greco then asked if “you have met with Clarke County to discussion wastewater?”

Stand On Own If Necessary

Daniell would not elaborate beyond confirming that he has had “different conversations since I’ve been in office.”

“If we can work it out, we’ll do it. If we can’t, we’re going to stand on our own two feet,” Daniell said.

“There’s all kinds of schools of thought on what to do there,” Daniell said. “But we’ll keep exploring any opportunities we’ve got to work with out neighbors, whether its Clarke or Oglethorpe or whoever it is.

“But we’re going to keep working toward being self-sufficient as well until that solution comes up,” he said.

Other Answers

Daniell told Hendrix that “right now” the county needs a full-time Chair as well as a county administrator, but he is willing to revisit the question in the future.

Commissioners Chuck Horton, Mark Thomas and Mark Saxon agreed. Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes did not attend the session.

Daniell said the county is not considering reducing the number of county employees.

He also said the county does not rely simply on fiscal calculations in making decisions about what is right for the county.

Daniell defended the record of the Industrial Development Authority.

Mars Hill Road

Daniell also defended the decision to rely on the state for the widening of Mars Hill Road, even though that meant following state and federal regulations for the roadway.

“That’s a project this government could never have funded on its own,” he said.

Daniell said “Mars Hill Road has been a thoroughfare since my granddaddy drove his one-mule wagon down it” and that he had relied on the road to get to Athens when he was a child growing up in the county.

No plans are active for an upgrade to Simonton Bridge Road or to the intersection of that road and Main Street in Watkinsville, Daniell said.

Engineering work for a multi-grade intersection of the Oconee Connector and SR 316 should start in 2019, he said.

Rails-To-Trails And Costco

Hendrix said she wants to see the county develop a bike trail on the rail line running through the center of the county.

James Kizer at Public Hearing On Calls Creek Expansion

“That’s on our long-term goals,” Daniell said. “We’re with you on that.”

“The first thing we are going to pursue is to get the Rails-To-Trails on the existing line,” he said. “That’s a long-term project, though.”

“Costco will come when Costco is ready,” Daniell told Dave Jackson, who asked for a status report on rumors the membership-only warehouse club is coming to Epps Bridge Centre.

Daniell said other sites in the county also are being considered by the retailer.

Public Hearing

The public hearing on the Calls Creek expansion started at 5 p.m. in the same meeting room at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park as the Town Hall meeting, which started at 6 p.m.

Fifteen people showed up to a technical presentation by James Kizer Jr., president of Constantine Engineering of North Charleston, S.C., of an Environmental Information Document his firm produced for the Oconee County Utility Department in support of its expansion of the Calls Creek plant.

The session was a public hearing on the document as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Kizer said that although the state was increasing the amount of water it will allow the county to release into Calls Creek, the standards for the discharge actually are more stringent than those in place at present.

Commissioners Daniell, Horton, and Saxon attended the meeting.

Video

I attended the Public Hearing on the report by Constantine Engineering, and it is below.

OCO: Utility Department Meeting 10 18 17 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Sarah Bell recorded the video of the Town Hall Meeting.

The question about the need for a full-time Commission Chair and a county administrator is at 1:25 in the video below.

The questions about wastewater treatment begin at 11:25 in the video and continue through 38:20.

The question about Mars Hill Road, which then digressed into a discussion of Rails-To-Trails, begins at 41:20.

The question about Costco is at 53:56.

Discussion of Simonton Bridge Road begins at 56:30.

The discussion of the Industrial Development Authority begins at 1:05:56.

OCO: BOC Town Hall Meeting 10 18 17 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Questions On Trump Again Prominent In Oconee County Candidate Forum For Two Open Georgia House Seats

***Created Spark In 117th Race***

Donald Trump played a role in the candidate forum for the Nov. 7 special elections for House Districts 117 and 119 held tonight (Tuesday) at the Oconee County campus of the University of North Georgia, as he did in a forum last week.

In response to a question about Trump’s behavior as President, the three Republican candidates in the race for House District 119 strongly endorsed Trump, though Steven Strickland did say he had problems with 5 percent of what Trump does.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Clarke County Dominates Both House Districts 117 And 119 And Brings Different Demographics From Those Of Oconee County

***Registration Analysis Confirms***

Clarke County voters are dominant in Georgia House District 117 and make up a very slight majority of voters in the 119th Georgia House District, an analysis of voter registration data as of Oct. 1 shows.

Clarke County voters also differ demographically from those in Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties, who share the 117th, and from voters in Oconee County, who share the 119th, the analysis of the registration data confirms.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Speakers Tell Oconee County Board Of Education They Oppose Reassignment From Malcom Bridge Elementary School

***Is Move Necessary?***

Eleven people spoke at the Oconee County Board of Education Listening Session on elementary school redistricting last week, and none of them was in favor of the plan put forward by Oconee County Schools.

The proposal calls for creation of a new elementary school district north and west of U.S. 78 to accommodate the new Dove Creek Elementary School under construction on Hog Mountain Road near the Barrow County line.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Georgia House Candidates Address Wide Range Of Issues In Forum At Oconee County's Veterans Park

***Both Parties Represented***

The candidates on Monday night fielded questions on campus carry, healthcare, religious freedom, President Donald Trump and a variety of other matters.

The three candidates running as Republicans in Georgia House District 119 agreed in their responses to most of the questions, while the lone Democrat in the Nov. 7 special election politely differentiated his views from those expressed by the others.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Oconee County Approves Building Permit For Hobby Lobby In Expanded Epps Bridge Centre

***Now On Atlanta Highway***

Oconee County has issued a building permit for Hobby Lobby in Epps Bridge Centre II, signaling that another big box retailer is leaving the Atlanta Highway commercial corridor for Oconee County.

The permit is for a 54,947-square-foot building and is the first issued by the county for Epps Bridge Centre II, which is across the Oconee Connector from the existing shopping center at the newly opened Plaza Parkway.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Rezone For Possible Hotel And Restaurant At SR 316 And Oconee Connector Gets Approval Of Oconee County Board Of Commissioners

***Exit In Question***

Oconee County commissioners on Tuesday night approved a concept plan for a hotel and restaurant at the southeastern corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector, but how patrons will exit the development remains uncertain.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is building a full median cut on the Oconee Connector allowing left turns and right turns into and out of the property.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Oconee County School Ranked Second In State On Average College Entrance Exam Scores

***ACT and SAT***

Oconee County Schools ranked second in the state in student performance in 2017 on both the ACT and the SAT college entrance exams and tied for seventh in graduation rate, school administrators told the Oconee County Board of Education at its work session on Monday.

Forsyth County Schools was the only school system that outperformed Oconee County on the ACT scores, and Buford City Schools was the only system that outperformed Oconee County on the SAT scores.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Four Republican Candidates For Two Open State House Seats Introduced Themselves To Oconee County Republicans

***Similar Stands Voiced***

The four Republican candidates for Georgia House District 117 and District 119 used the opportunity presented them at the Oconee County Republican Party meeting last week to introduce themselves and take similar stands on a number of issues.

All spoke about the need for improvements to roads, in support of education, and in favor of campus carry, though some were open to changes in the campus carry law passed by the legislature last year–without the support of then 117 Rep. Regina Quick or then 119 Rep. Chuck Williams, both Republicans.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Developer Asking Oconee County Commissioners For Variance To Recently Enacted Mars Hill Overlay District Building Height Restriction

***Full Median Cut On Connector***

Owners of the property on the southeast corner of SR 316 and the Oconee Connector are asking the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to set aside a restriction approved just last year limiting building height in the Mars Hill Overlay District.

The property owners, 316 Holding Group, also are asking for a change in the zoning of the 4.5-acre parcel from one type or business use to another to allow for the possible development of a restaurant and hotel on the property.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Candidate For Watkinsville City Council Race Withdraws From Campaign

***Leaving Two For Post 2***

Jennifer Gude, one of three candidates who qualified to run for Post 2 on the Watkinsville City Council, turned in paperwork on Tuesday withdrawing from the contest.

Gude had announced at a Meet and Greet for Watkinsville city candidates on Sunday that she had decided not to continue her campaign for family reasons.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Four Applicants Seeking Appointment To Oconee County Industrial Development Authority

***On BOC Agenda***

Oconee County Commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night will consider four applicants for two positions on the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority–clearly the most powerful committee a citizen can be appointed to in the county.

Chuck Williams, selected by Gov. Nathan Deal as the director of the Georgia Forestry Commission, is not seeking reappointment to the Industrial Development Authority.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Oconee County Republicans Featuring Party’s House Candidates In A Meeting This Week

***Democrats Hosting Meet And Greet***

Three–and possibly four–of the Republicans running for the Georgia House of Representatives in the Special Elections on Nov. 7 are to be guest speakers at the Oconee County Republican Party meeting on Sept. 28, Party Chair Tammy Gilland announced on Thursday evening.

Houston Gaines, running in the 117th House District race, and Tom Lord and Marcus Wiedower, running in the 119th House District race, have confirmed they will attend, Gilland said in an email message she sent out late last evening.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Citizens Shaping Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Update Told Their Work Is 60 Percent Complete

Public Meeting In December

Work on the 2018 update for the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan is about 60 percent complete, Justin Crighton, a planner with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, told members of the citizen committee involved in the update at its meeting on Tuesday night.

Crighton, who is leading the work on the update, said he has been drafting two key parts of the final document, one dealing with community needs and opportunities and the other with visions, goals and policies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Oconee County School System Releases Proposed Redistricting Maps To Accommodate New Elementary School

***Two Districts Affected***

Parents living northwest of U.S. 78 will be sending their elementary school children to the new Dove Creek Elementary School starting on Aug. 1 if the preliminary redistricting plans presented to the Oconee County Board of Education on Monday are adopted.

The School System is now taking public input on the proposed redistricting map, and the Board of Education has scheduled a Public Forum on the proposal for 6 p.m. on Oct. 10 at North Oconee High School.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Democratic Party Resurgent In Oconee County, With Candidates Running In Both Georgia House Districts

**Two Republican Groups**

The Democratic Party in Oconee County is experiencing a resurgence, with a candidate running in each of the Nov. 7 special elections to fill vacancies in the 117th and 119th Districts of the Georgia House of Representatives.

This is at the same time that the Republican Party in the county is split, with a new group, calling itself the Oconee County Area Republicans, having formed earlier this year.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Oconee County Approves Plans For Bank At Daniells Bridge Road And Mars Hill Road; Possible Restaurant And Hotel Nearby Under Review

Planning Commission Meeting

The Oconee County Development Review Committee on Friday morning approved the preliminary site plans for a bank on the southeastern corner of Daniells Bridge Road and Mars Hill Road, opposite QuikTrip.

Tomorrow (Monday) night, the Oconee County Planning Commission will consider a rezone request for 4.5 acres at the southeast corner of the Oconee Connector and SR 316, just north of the site for the bank.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Six Qualify For Special Election On Nov. 7 For House Districts 117 And 119

**2 Democrats, 4 Republicans**

Georgia House District 117, made up of parts of Barrow, Clarke, Jackson and Oconee counties, will continue to be represented by someone from Clarke County following the special election on Nov. 7.

Georgia House District 119, made up of Clarke and Oconee counties, will continue to be represented by someone from Oconee County following the Nov. 7 special election.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Two More Qualify For Special Elections On Nov. 7 For Georgia House Districts 117 and 119

**Forum Announced**

Houston Gaines qualified today (Thursday) for the special election on Nov. 7 to fill the open seat for Georgia House District 117, while Marcus Wiedower qualified for the special election on Nov. 7 to fill the open seat for Georgia House District 119.

Gaines, running as a Republican, joins Deborah Gonzalez, who qualified to run as a Democrat on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On First Day of Qualifying, Four Candidates File Paperwork To Run In Special Elections For Oconee County House Seats

**Two Democrats, Two Republicans**

Three candidates qualified today (Wednesday) to run in the Georgia House District 119 Special Election on Nov. 7, two as Republicans and one as a Democrat.

Deborah Gonzalez was the only candidate to qualify in House District 117. Gonzalez is running as a Democrat.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Volunteers Take Little Time To Plant 2,977 Flags At North Oconee High School In 9/11 Memorial Event

**Student Organized**

It took the roughly 100 people assembled for the 9/11 Memorial Event less than a half hour Sunday evening to plant the 2,977 small flags on the front lawn of North Oconee High School.

Each flag was to represent an individual who lost her or his life in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Oconee County Library Friends Has Mystery/Thrillers, Children’s Book, And More At Fall Book Sale

**28,350 Books Sorted For Sale**

Community members will have a chance starting on Thursday to participate in the Oconee County Library Friends Fall Book Sale and buy back books donated from the community to help support the library in Watkinsville.

Volunteers have organized an estimated 28,350 books, sorted into 37 categories, to be offered for sale at the Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road west of Butler’s Crossing.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Oconee County Political Parties Supporting North Oconee High School 9/11 Memorial Project

**YAF Student Chapter**

NOTE: As of 2 p.m. on Sept. 10, this event is to be held as planned. Oconee County Schools, however, are closed on Sept. 11 due to anticipated severe weather.

Oconee County’s Democratic and Republican parties have sent notices to their members asking them to join in Sunday’s 9/11 Never Forget Project at North Oconee High School.

Organized by the North Oconee High School Young Americans for Freedom chapter, the event is centered around placing 2,977 flags on the front lawn of North Oconee High School to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Grant Appeal To Briarwood Baptist, Move Forward On Old Jail Demolition

**$15 Million Bond Sale Discussed**

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night approved the appeal by Briarwood Baptist Church of a construction moratorium imposed by the county, allowing the church to go forward with expansion plans at its Hog Mountain Road location.

The Commissioners also agreed to go forward with plans for demolition of the Old Jail at the rear of the Courthouse in Watkinsville to allow for expansion of the Courthouse.

Secretary Of State Kemp Announces Special Elections For Oconee County House Districts

**Nov. 7 Election**

NOTE: Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced on Sept. 8 that qualifying for the Special Election on Nov. 7 will be held from from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14 and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 15 in the Secretary of State’s Office. Gov. Nathan Deal announced just after noon on Sept. 10 that all Georgia government offices will be closed on Sept. 11 and 12. As of 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 10, Oconee County government offices remain open on Sept. 11. UPDATE: Oconee County Offices will be closed on Sept. 11.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today announced special elections on Nov. 7 for both of Oconee County’s state House of Representatives districts.

Qualifying will be held Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 at the Elections Division Office of the Secretary of State in Atlanta. Qualifying fee is $400.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

North High Shoals Businessman Strickland Announces Plans To Run In 119th House District

**Joins Two Others**

A third Oconee County businessman has announced that he plans to run for what will be an open seat in the Georgia General Assembly representing Oconee and Clarke counties.

Steven Strickland, 1061 Arborwood Ridge in North High Shoals, said he wants to bring his 17 years of business experience in the communications and software industries to the Georgia House of Representatives.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners To Decide On Future Of Old Jail And Funding For Calls Creek Sewage Plant Expansion

**Horse Barn And Church Also On Agenda**

The Old Jail, a horse barn turned reception hall, funding for the Calls Creek sewage treatment plant, and Briarwood Baptist Church are all on the agenda of the Board of Commissioners for tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

Commissioners will decide if they want to go forward with demolition of the abandoned Jail at a rear corner of the Courthouse in Watkinsville and if they are willing to spend an additional $57,080 for design work for an expansion of the Courthouse into the space freed up by the demolition.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Oconee County Businessman Wiedower Announces Candidacy For 119th House District

Two In Race

Marcus Wiedower, 1081 Princeton Lane, just outside Watkinsville, announced this (Thursday) morning that he is a candidate for the 119th House District, consisting of Oconee and Clarke counties.

Wiedower joins Tom Lord, who announced on Monday that he will seek to replace Chuck Williams. Williams has been appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as director of the state Forestry Commission.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oconee County Commission Agrees To Put Demolition Of Old Jail On Next Week’s Agenda For Discussion And Possible Vote

Part Of Courthouse Expansion

Oconee County commissioners took two steps last night toward the possible demolition of the old and unused jail, which is at the rear of the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

At its agenda-setting meeting, the commissioners agreed to take up the future of the jail at its meeting next Tuesday night, with only Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes indicating opposition to the demolition plans.

Oconee County Resident Announces Plans To Run In 119th State House District, But No Election Date Has Been Set

No Date For 117th District Race Either

Thomas Lord, 1172 Bridlegate Drive, off Astondale Road in the south of Oconee County, has announced that he plans to run for the 119th House District seat that became vacant on Monday when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Chuck Williams as director of the state Forestry Commission.

Lord is owner of Lord and Stephens Funeral Homes, with locations in Athens-Clarke County, Madison County and Oconee County.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tells Students At Oconee Republican Meeting About Career Prospects

Also Asks For Support

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black had a simple message for the young people gathered at the meeting of the Oconee County Republic Party last week.

Agriculture offers lots of good career opportunities, Black told the Oconee County high school and middle school students.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Gov. Deal Appoints Rep. Chuck Williams To Head Forestry Commission, Opening Up Another Oconee County House Seat

Special Elections Needed

Gov. Nathan Deal today (Monday) appointed Rep. Chuck Williams director of the Georgia Forestry Commission, creating a second opening in Oconee County’s state legislative delegation.

Williams represents the 119th District in the Georgia House of Representatives, which consists of 10 of Oconee County’s 13 precincts and parts of southeastern Clarke County.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Developers Of Epps Bridge Centre Postpone Work On Part Of Project Thought To Include Costco

Other Work Progressing

The developers of the expanded Epps Bridge Centre have postponed until some unspecified time in the future construction of the part of the project that was expected to include a Costco membership-only warehouse club.

In revised preliminary site plans submitted to the Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement Department on July 31, Oconee 316 Associates LLC of Atlanta split development of Epps Bridge Centre II into two parts, labeled Phase 1 and 2.

Oconee County Experimenting With Autry Road Exit To Oconee Veterans Park

During Peak Times

Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department last week began using Autry Road as a second exit from Oconee Veterans Park on an experimental basis to see if it helps relieve traffic during peak periods at the park.

Traffic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays during the 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. period will be allowed to exit the park via the back gate, which feeds onto Autry Road and then Hodges Mill Road.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Board Asking Corps Of Engineers For Permit Extension For Apalachee River Intake Facility

Historic Concerns Raised

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board last week agreed to ask the United States Corp of Engineers for a permit extension for construction of an intake facility on the Apalachee River at High Shoals.

The Board had voted at its previous meeting in May to go forward with construction of the intake facility, which could be used to expand at some point in the future the capacity of the reservoir now filling in southeast Walton County.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Special Election Likely For Oconee County Voters In Georgia House District 117; Special Election In District 119 Also Possible

Rep. Quick Named Judge

Voters in three of Oconee County’s 13 precincts likely will be participating in a special election on Nov. 7 to help determine who replaces Regina Quick in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday announced the appointment of Quick as Superior Court Judge of the Western Judicial Circuit, making it necessary for her to resign as representative of the 117th House District.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Oconee County Issues Building Permits For Burger King West Of Butler’s Crossing And For Mama’s Boy At Falls Of Oconee

Reception Hall Request

The Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement Department has issued a building permit for Burger King, the first of two fast food restaurants to be built on Hog Mountain Road opposite the three-school complex at the corner of at Hog Mountain Road and Mars Hill Road in Butler’s Crossing.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in early November, according to the permit application.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Candidates For Local And Federal Offices Step Forward At Oconee County Democratic Party Meeting

Watkinsville And Congress

Jennifer Gude told Oconee County Democrats gathered in the Watkinsville Library on Tuesday night that she has decided to run for a seat on the Watkinsville Council to make a good city even better.

Richard Dien Winfield of Athens followed Gude to the front of the room, stating that he plans to announce in January that he is a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from the 10th Congressional District to put forward what he called a “new social bill of rights.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Watkinsville Swears In New Mayor To Replace Charles Ivie, Who Stepped Down On Monday For Health Reasons

Massey Takes Oath

Watkinsville got a new mayor tonight (Wednesday) as Connie Massey took the oath of office at the beginning of the City Council meeting.

Massey replaced Charles Ivie, who resigned as mayor on Monday morning because of health problems. Ivie had previously announced that he would not run for re-election.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Daniells Bridge Road Flyover Removed From Transportation Planning Documents For Oconee County, But It Could Reappear In The Future

Kittles Make Plea

The Policy Committee of the Madison Athens Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) last week removed the proposed flyover connecting Daniells Bridge Road with the Oconee Connector from its 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.

The Policy Committee also added five projects to its 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan to accommodate the Construction Work Program of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Oconee County Citizen Committee Raises Concerns About Traffic At Oconee Veterans Park With Addition Of New Fields

Multi-Use Fields Planned

Members of the Oconee County Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs were pleased last month with the county’s decision to begin construction of three multi-use fields at Oconee Veterans Park but expressed concern about the impact of the project on traffic at the park.

Lisa Davol, newly appointed director of the Parks and Recreation Department, updated the group on county plans for the fields, originally designated for adult softball but now being redesigned for multiple sports.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Rezone In Preparation For Sale Of Barber Creek Fire Station Acreage

Warning On Alcohol Licenses

Oconee County commissioners last (Tuesday) night rezoned nearly two acres on the Oconee Connector and Daniells Bridge Road where the Barber Creek fire station sits in preparation for selling it for business development.

Although the property was donated to the county prior to 1997, the county owns the land outright and is preparing to sell it to the best bidder. The owners of the nearby SpringHill Suites by Marriott, 3500 Daniells Bridge Road, seem likely to be interested.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners To Approve Sewer Contract And Consider Alcohol License For Convenience Store At Athens Ridge

Rezone On Agenda

Oconee County commissioners are set to give final approval tomorrow (Tuesday) night to a $1.9 million contract to upgrade the sewer line running from Epps Bridge Parkway at McNutt Creek and down Daniells Bridge Road and Government Station Road.

The upgraded sewer line will allow the county to divert sewage now being pumped to the sewage treatment facility on Rocky Branch Road to the Calls Creek plant currently under expansion outside Watkinsville.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Regional Transportation Body Votes To Eliminate Daniells Bridge Road Flyover From Its Plans

Another Vote Needed

The Technical Coordinating Committee of the Madison Athens Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) voted last week to recommend to the body’s Policy Committee that it remove from its long range plans the proposed flyover connecting Daniells Bridge Road with the Oconee Connector.

The Technical Coordinating Committee also recommended that five projects be added to the MACORTS long range plans, all to accommodate requests from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Oconee County Residents Provided Feedback On Preliminary Components Of Updated Comprehensive Plan

At Two-Hour Forum

A crowd of approximately 75 people turned out at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park on Thursday night to review the work to date on the Oconee County Joint Comprehensive Plan for 2018.

In a two-hour session, those in attendance could visit four different stations with five different posters or story boards about elements of the update to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Public Forum Thursday Night To Review Work Of Stakeholders Committee Updating Oconee County Comprehensive Plan

At Veterans Park

Planners from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission tomorrow (Thursday) night will showcase the work to date of the Oconee County Stakeholders Committee updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Oconee County Will Hire New Consultant To Help Plan For Animal Shelter Improvements, County Administrator Said

Information Still Needed

Oconee County will need to hire a new consultant to come up with a design for improvements to its Animal Shelter, Jeff Benko, county administrator, told the Animal Services Advisory Board earlier this month.

Benko said he and Animal Service Department Director Catlyn Vickers are working with Terry Tevis of Tevis Architecture to get additional information about his proposal that the county spend $2.9 million on a replacement facility.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

State Filings Show Oconee County Leaders Favoring One Candidate In Georgia House District Race

Gaines Raised $66,000

A number of Oconee County leaders, including Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell, already have picked sides in an evolving contest for what could be an open House District 117 seat.

According to Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports filed on June 30, Daniell contributed to the campaign of Houston Gaines, as did Oconee County Board of Education Chair Tom Odom, Watkinsville City Council member Brian Brodrick and businessman Carl Nichols.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oconee County Reviewing Proposal To Demolish Old Jail And Expand Courthouse In Watkinsville

Announced At Town Hall Meeting

Oconee County commissioners are considering a plan to tear down the old, unused jail tucked at the rear of the existing Courthouse in Watkinsville and to build an addition to the Courthouse where the old jail now sits.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell announced the proposal at the end of a Town Hall Meeting held by the Commissioners Thursday night at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Hiring of New County Administrator And New Parks And Recreation Director

Held Tax Hearing Also

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners appointed Justin Kirouac as county administrator and Lisa Davol as director of the Parks and Recreation Department at its regular meeting last (Tuesday) night.

Kirouac, currently assistant manager in Johns Creek in Fulton County, was given a five-year contract starting at $110,000. Kirouac replaces Jeff Benko, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Public Forum Scheduled On Work Of Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Joint Stakeholders Committee

July 27 At Veterans Park

The public will have the opportunity on July 27 to see the work of the Joint Stakeholders Committee that is deliberating on the update to the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan.

The county has rescheduled the public forum for 6 p.m. at the Community Center at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Are Working As A Team, Chairman Tells County Republican Gathering

Other Commissioners Agree

The five members of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners have come together to address the issues before the county, commissioners told a gathering of the Oconee County Republican Party late last month.

“We are working together as a team, and that’s what we are,” Commission Chair John Daniell told the group in what was billed as a State Of Oconee County report. Daniell assumed the Chair position only in January.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Public Hearings Set For Property Tax Increases For Oconee County

Millage Rate Unchanged

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will hold three public hearings over the next month on a proposed 4.19 percent property tax increase in the unincorporated parts of the county and 5.01 percent increase in the four cities in the county.

The property tax increases result from the decision of the Board of Commission to maintain the millage rate of 6.686 in the unincorporated parts of the county and 7.656 in the incorporated areas at a time when assessed value of property is increasing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Justin Kirouac Says He Focused On Oconee County In His Job Search Because Of The Opportunities It Presents

County Administrator Finalist

Justin Kirouac, currently assistant manager in Johns Creek, said he was not looking for jobs generally when he applied for the position of county administrator in Oconee County.

He said he was looking for the “right opportunity, the right fit,” and he “targeted” Oconee County when the job was advertised because of the “real opportunity” the job provided.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watkinsville Awarded State Grant To Make Harden Hill Road More Pedestrian Friendly

In City Center

The State Road and Tollway Authority has awarded Watkinsville a grant of $298,800 for the construction of sidewalks and other improvements to Harden Hill Road.

The sidewalks will connect the city’s newly developed Watkinsville Woods city park and be linked to the city’s other sidewalk network that ties pedestrian traffic to Harris Shoals Park, the city’s community center and the new Extra Special People complex.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Women Running for U.S. And Georgia Houses Generated Excitement At Oconee Democratic Party Meeting

Against Hice and Quick

The two women were not the featured speakers at the Oconee County Democratic Party meeting on Tuesday night, but they got enthusiastic responses from those present.

Chalis Montgomery, a musician and music educator from Barrow County, told the group she intends to announce her candidacy for the 10th Congressional District seat and is seeking help in forming her campaign committee.

Oconee County Review Committee Approved Site Plans For Retail Building Near Oconee Health Campus

Fire Station Moving

The Oconee County Development Review Committee has approved the preliminary site plans for an 11,500-square-foot retail building on Jennings Mill Road opposite the newly opened Piedmont Athens Regional Oconee Health Campus.

The retail building will be on one of four lots on a 5 acre parcel tucked between Jennings Mill Road and the Oconee Connector at SR Loop 10. The recently cleared land abuts another 2.5-acre-parcel at the corner of Virgil Langford Road and Jennings Mill Road.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oconee County Announces Sole Finalist for Position of County Administrator

Justin Kirouac Named

Oconee County Commissioners, following an executive session of just less than 40 minutes, today (Wednesday) announced that Justin Kirouac, assistant city manager of Johns Creek, is the sole finalist for the position of county administrator.

The Board of Commissioners is expected to take final action on the appointment at its meeting on July 11, according to Commission Chair John Daniell.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Votes To Spend $35,000 To Explore Sewer Option For Gateway Business Park

Also Considering Buildings

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority voted last week to spend $35,000 to determine if it can run a sewer line from the eastern to the western part of its Gateway Technology Business Park on the southwest edge of Bogart

The $35,000 also is for design work if running the sewer line proves to be feasible.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Committee Reviews Preliminary Documents Before Public Forum

July Meeting Scheduled

Members of the Stakeholders Committee updating the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan spent two hours last week reacting to a series of recommendations on four topics that will be covered by the Plan.

The recommendations were spelled out in sheets prepared by the staff of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, which is directing work on the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, and were based on earlier meetings of the Stakeholders Committee and its three subcommittees.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Citizen Comment Sought On Removal Of Daniells Bridge Road Extension In Oconee County From Transportation Planning Documents

To Accommodate GDOT

MACORTS, the regional transportation planning organization, has begun accepting public feedback on changes to its planning documents, including the removal of the controversial Daniells Bridge Road Extension and SR Loop 10 flyover from its long range plans.

The first of three public meetings on the proposed changes in the planning documents will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 26 at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Attorney Announces Plans To Run As Democrat For One Of Oconee County’s Two State House Seats

Seat Held By Quick

Deborah Gonzalez, an Athens attorney, has announced that she will seek the Democratic Party nomination for Georgia House District 117, which includes three Oconee County precincts.

Regina Quick, a Republican, currently represents the 117th in the Georgia House of Representatives. Quick, also an Athens attorney, has not said if she intends to seek re-election in 2018.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Oconee County Comprehensive Stakeholders Committee To Get Report On Transportation and Infrastructure

After Two-Hour Meeting

The Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee working on the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan update will have a chance tomorrow (Tuesday) night to summarize its conclusions from a two-hour meeting it held late last month.

At the end of that wide-ranging discussion, Justin Crighton said the citizens had agreed that the county “needs to find a way to move truck traffic through the county without sending it downtown.”

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Brian Kemp Tells Oconee County Republicans He Can Bring Small Business Experience To Georgia Governor’s Office

Also Wants Tax Reform

Athens native Brian Kemp, seeking the Republican Party nomination in the 2018 gubernatorial election, told a gathering of Oconee County Republicans late last month that his experience as a small business owner sets him apart in the campaign.

“I have been a conservative, small business owner for over 30 years,” Kemp, who currently is Secretary of State, said. He said he is seeking the governor's office to “take that small business owner’s mentality and be the next CEO of the state.”

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Approve FY 2018 Budget And Deny Request For Business Use Of Agricultural Land

Revenue Sources Identified

Oconee County Commissioners last (Tuesday) night approved a $49.9 million Fiscal Year 2018 budget based on a projected increase of 6.2 percent in sales tax revenue and an 18.4 percent growth in real property tax revenue.

The budget assumes the Commission will hold its millage rate steady at 6.68 and that growth in real property value will produce the increased property tax revenue.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners To Approve FY 18 Budget And Consider Special Use Request For Landscaping Business

Revenue Projections Not Released

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night is expected to give final approval to a Fiscal Year 2018 budget that is 3.4 percent greater than the budget for the current fiscal year, but the county has not yet provided detailed information on how revenue will grow to meet the budget increase.

The two primary sources of funds for the General Fund Budget, which makes up 54.0 percent of the overall budget, are sales taxes and property taxes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Regional Transportation Group Moves Up Oconee Connector Flyover And Eliminates Daniells Bridge Road Flyover In Planning Documents

Policy Committee Still Must Act

A committee of the area regional transportation body last week added $19.2 million to its 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan at the request of the Georgia Department of Transportation to cover a range of projects, including several in Oconee County.

To accommodate the addition of the projects, the Committee eliminated the controversial Daniells Bridge Road Extension and flyover of SR Loop 10 from that same Long Range Plan, meaning it is no longer a part of the active projects in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

North Oconee Rotary, A Facebook Post, And The Emergence Of A New Oconee County Group Called Oconee Progressives

Five Women Talk

An empathetic response by the North Oconee Rotary Club to a member’s statement of concern about possible discrimination against her Chinese-born, adopted daughters after the November election has had an unexpected outcome.

A group, calling itself Oconee Progressives and claiming nearly 300 members, has emerged.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oconee County FY 2018 Budget Will Not Require Use Of Reserve Funds, Public Told

First Hearing On Budget

Oconee County presented a $49.9 million Fiscal Year 2018 Budget to the public last (Tuesday) night that was balanced without requiring that any money be drawn from the county’s reserve funds, labeled the Fund Balance.

Finance Director Wes Geddings said he is projecting that the county will receive sufficient revenue, primarily from sales tax and property tax, in the 12 months starting on July 1 to cover the $49.9 million budget.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Oconee County Commission Chair Tells Citizens That Park Needs Compete With Other County Demands

Roads Mentioned

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell last week had a simple message for the Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs and representatives of the citizen Stakeholders Committee that is updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Daniell said the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget contains only one new full-time position, and that will go to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Oconee County Citizen Committee For Comprehensive Plan Accepts Parks And Recreation And Land Use Subcommittee Reports

Land Use Only A Start

The Stakeholders Committee working on a revision of the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan gave preliminary approval last week to the preliminary reports of two of its subcommittees, one on Parks and Recreation and the other on Land Use.

The Parks and Recreation Subcommittee report noted that Subcommittee members said there was a need for more parks in the county, for more multi-use fields at parks for sports such as lacrosse and soccer, and for passive parks with walking trails and green space separated from organized sporting activity.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Oconee County Fiscal Year 2018 Budget To Be Presented To Public On Tuesday

One New Full-Time Employee

Oconee County Finance Director Wes Geddings has presented the Board of Commissioners a $26.9 million General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which will be before the public for review on Tuesday.

Geddings told the commissioners he has not yet made his final revenue projections but he is “confident we have the revenue stream to support the expenditure request” without increasing the county’s millage rate.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Special Use For Noncompliant Landscaping Business

Lacks Business License

Twelve-year-old Jack Senyitko gave a flawless presentation to the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night, arguing, on behalf of his family, against a special use request to operate a landscaping business on the northwest corner of New High Shoals Road and Union Church Road.

The young Senyitko’s comments won the praise of Planning Commission Chairman Dan Arnold, but not his vote.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Oconee County Planning Commission Once Again Scheduled To Review Plans For Residential Subdivision East Of Butler’s Crossing

Now Zoned For Retirement Community

A request by Stonebridge Partners LLC to rezone approximately 40 acres just east of Butler’s Crossing for a 35-lot single-family residential subdivision is back on the agenda of the Oconee County Planning Commission for tomorrow (Monday) night.

The request was on the Planning Commission agenda in November, December and February, and each time the applicant pulled the request from consideration at the last minute without explanation.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Oconee County Legislative Delegation Focused On Health Care In Talk About 2017 General Assembly Session

Waiting On Washington

Health care issues in the state dominated a briefing on the 2017 legislative session that Oconee County’s delegation to the Georgia General Assembly gave to county Republicans late last month.

Much of that briefing centered on the need for the state to provide adequate health care outside the major metropolitan areas and particularly outside Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Goes Into Executive Session Again For Unspecified Real Estate Matters

No Action Taken

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority went into executive session Monday to discuss real estate matters, less than two months after the Authority learned that its latest attempt to sell part of its Gateway Technology Business Park had fallen through.

The session lasted 40 minutes, and the Authority took no action when it came back into open meeting.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Stakeholders Subcommittee For Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Creates List of Parks And Greenspace Wants

Land Use Meeting Too

Oconee County needs more park space.

As a result, it should identify land now for future expansion of its parks.

The county should include a natatorium with swimming and diving facilities in one of the new parks it builds.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Pinelake Campground Expansion After Increasing Buffer On Adams Road

Number Of Sites Reduced

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night imposed changes on the proposed plans of Pinelake Campground LLC to expand its existing campground west of Bishop before giving approval to the project.

Residents along Adams Road objected to the addition of a recreational vehicle park on undeveloped property on High Shoals Road to the east of the existing Pinelake Campground, saying it would adversely affect their privacy, subject them to unwanted smoke, and be unsightly.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Expansion Plans For Campground Outside Bishop

Also Solicitation Ordinance

Oconee County commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night will consider a rezone request for expansion of Pinelake Campground west of Bishop as part of a lighter-than-usual agenda.

Most of the important items under consideration, in fact, already have been given tentative approval and are on the consent agenda, meaning they will be voted on en masse unless a commissioner asks for discussion.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Parkway Boulevard To Open In Next Three Or Four Weeks, Oconee County Public Works Director Says

Take Aerial Tour

Oconee County expects to open Parkway Boulevard from the Oconee Connector to Kohl’s by the end of May, county Public Works Director Emil Beshara told a meeting of the regional metropolitan transportation planning organization on Wednesday.

Construction on the roadway is “winding down,” Beshara told the group, with work remaining only on such things as pedestrian islands, guardrails, and striping.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Asked During Budget Hearings To Approve Water And Sewer Rate Increases

Actual Decreases For Some

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie is asking for a 1.0 percent increase in the base water rate and a 1.5 percent increase for those who use just slightly more water per month.

Those who are heavier users actually will see a reduction in water rates, if the Board of Commissioners accepts Haynie’s recommendations.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Oconee County Commission To Hold Budget Hearings For Two Departments Prior To Its Regularly Scheduled Meeting

Rescheduled Hearings

Oconee County commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) night will discuss budget requests from two key departments, Parks and Recreation and Utility, in hearings rescheduled from last week.

The Board of Commissioners has set aside two hours before the regular Board meeting for the two departments, which have more interaction with citizens than many of the others in the county.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Oconee County Puts Two Projects On Three-Year Hold Because Of Issue With Ground Clearance Permits

Timbering At Issue

Oconee County has informed developers of two projects, both of which have been before the county’s Development Review Committee in recent weeks, that their projects are on hold because they cleared trees from the sites without getting clearing and grubbing permits.

A representative of one of those projects--the expansion of Briarwood Baptist Church on Hog Mountain Road--was before the DRC on Friday and was told that even though the DRC approved the Preliminary Site Plan the county would not issue any permits for work to go forward.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Oconee County Says It Cannot Provide Sewer Capacity To Auto Dealership Being Built On SR 316

12-18 Month Delay

Oconee County told Mercedes-Benz of Athens Friday that the county will not be able to provide sewer service for the planned new auto dealership on SR 316 at Virgil Langford Road for another 12 to 18 months.

The announcement coincided with the release of a memorandum stating that those requesting Letters of Availability of sewer service be advised of limited capacity in parts of the county’s service area and the complete lack of availability in others, including where the Mercedes-Benz facility is planned.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Georgia Department Of Transportation Releases Maps Of U.S. 441 Widening In Oconee County

Show Bishop Roundabouts

The Georgia Department of Transportation today (Tuesday) released electronic versions of the five maps it unveiled March 28 at a meeting of the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on the widening of U.S. 441 from Watkinsville to the Apalachee River.

Included were maps showing two alternate designs for the roadway through Bishop as well as three maps of the sections of roadway through Oconee County

Monday, April 17, 2017

Alexion Decides Not To Expand Oconee County Plant And Cancels Land Purchase At Gateway Business Park

90 Day Deadline

Alexion Pharma of New Haven, Conn., has decided not to expand its operation at the Gateway Technology Business Park on the edge of Bogart, dealing a setback to efforts of the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority to develop the business park.

Rick Waller, chair of the IDA, announced the decision of Alexion as an afterthought following his Chair Report to the IDA last week.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sewer Issues At Top Of County Concerns, Citizens Told At Oconee County Town Hall Meeting

Closing Question

James Gaither, 1040 Cumberland Road, north of Watkinsville, asked the final question at the Town Hall Meeting held by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Thursday night.

“If you guys could have one thing off your plate right now, or tomorrow morning, what would you choose--to be done with it, don’t have to worry about it for another 10 years?” Gaither asked.

Dollar General Store Under Construction On U.S. 78 In Oconee County

Near Dickens Corner

Exterior construction is complete on the 9,100- square-foot-building on U.S. 78 and Pete Dickens Road that is slated to be the location of the first Dollar General in Oconee County.

According to the estimate on the building permit the county issued late last year for the project, interior and exterior construction is to be completed by early next month.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Oconee County Asks Court To Dismiss Suits Filed Over Sewer Capacity Fee Refunds

Westland And Parkside

Oconee County is asking the Superior Court to dismiss the three suits filed against it challenging the county’s right to refund unused sewage capacity fees, stating that the decision to issue the refunds was in full compliance with state laws and the county’s zoning and related ordinances.

The county also claims that the actions of the commissioners in voting to refund sewage capacity fees paid developers of two large, dormant subdivisions “were a proper and legal exercise of discretion as government officials and do not breach any rights” of the property owners.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Adopted Goals; Now Citizens Get To Share Their Concerns

Town Hall Meeting

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners earlier this year adopted a list of 22 goals for county government in 2017, ranging from immediate creation of an electronic records and filing system to development of a rails-to-trials program at some point in the future.

The Commission adopted the goals following a series of work sessions called after new Chair John Daniell replaced long-time Chair Melvin Davis in January.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Oconee Commissioners Appoint Three Newcomers To Animal Services Advisory Board

Town Hall Announced

Oconee County commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday night appointed three relative newcomers to issues facing the county’s Animal Shelter as members of the Animal Services Advisory Board.

In doing so, the commissioners turned down a request for reappointment by current Board member Claire Hamilton, who often has been outspoken in her criticism of the Shelter and its operation.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Texas Roadhouse To Replace Ryan’s On Dowdy Road, Oconee County Planning Department Told

Plans Approved

The Oconee County Development Review Committee has approved preliminary site plans that call for demolition of the building that was a Ryan’s Grill on Dowdy Road and show a new building to house a Texas Roadhouse Restaurant.

The site plans also call for a second building on the site that could be used for retail space and a restaurant.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Vendors Open 14th Season Of Oconee Farmers Market With Vegetables, Baked Goods, Grass-Fed Beef

Grand Opening: April 22

Twelve vendors, offering grass-fed beef, pasta, fresh vegetables, plants, soaps, dog biscuits, and other items, turned out yesterday for the soft launch of the 14th season of Oconee Farmers Market.

The vendors set up booths at 8 a.m. in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville, as they will every Saturday now until the end of November, and remained in place until the 1 p.m. closing.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Sunday Sales Allowed Immediately Following Wednesday Vote Of Watkinsville City Council

Ordinance Changes

Watkinsville restaurants and convenience stores can sell alcohol tomorrow–a Sunday--as a result of a change in the city’s code approved at a special called meeting of the City Council on Wednesday evening.

By a vote of 4-1, the Council inserted language into its Distilled Spirits Ordinance setting hours on Sunday during which alcohol can be served at restaurants and can be sold at package stores.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oconee County Commission Turns Down Appeal Of Sewer Capacity Decision For Bogart Subdivision

Cites LAS Problems

Oconee County Commissioners last (Tuesday) night voted to deny the appeal by Lovett-Keller Ventures LLC of a decision by Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie to turn down a request by the developers for a transfer of sewer capacity for a subdivision in Bogart.

Stephen Lovett and Chad Keller of Gainesville and Oconee County had negotiated with REO Funding Solutions III LLC to purchase part of the sewage capacity held by Westland, a dormant 443-acre master plan development on the south side of U.S. 78 between Hog Mountain Road and the Apalachee River.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bishop Bypass No Longer Being Considered, Georgia Department Of Transportation Officials Said At Oconee County Citizen Meeting

Existing Alignment Followed

The Georgia Department of Transportation is proposing that U.S. 441 be widened to three lanes through the center of Bishop rather than build a bypass of the small Oconee County city.

GDOT also is proposing that the highway be widened to four lanes from Bishop north to Watkinsville and from Bishop south to Madison following the alignment of the existing roadway.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oconee County Animal Services Advisory Board Once Again Attracts Large Number Of Applicants

Two Stepping Down

Six people have applied for three open positions on the Oconee County Animal Services Advisory Board and will have a chance tomorrow (Tuesday) night to make their case for appointment.

The Board of Commissioners will consider appointments to the Animal Services Board as well as to three other citizen bodies, the Family and Children Services Board, the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, and the Oconee County Library Board.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Oconee County Issued Two Occupancy Permits For Falls Of Oconee Commercial Complex

Gourmet Food Store Opening

The Oconee County Code Enforcement Office on Friday issued occupancy permits for two tenants of The Falls of Oconee commercial complex on Old Macon Highway at McNutt Creek.

The permits were for The Olive Basket, a gourmet food store, and PT Solutions, a physical therapy facility.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

GDOT Holding Meeting On Tuesday With Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee For U.S. 441 Widening And Bishop Bypass

CAC Only Invited

The Georgia Department of Transportation is holding its first meeting with the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee for the U.S. 441 Improvements in Oconee and Morgan counties from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Community Center at Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.

Bruce Anderson, GDOT project manager, sent the invitation to 10 members of the Citizens Advisory Committee via an email on March 3 and attached a formal invitation from Albert V. Shelby III, program delivery administrator in the GDOT Office of Program Delivery.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oconee County Parks And Recreation Department Beginning External Review Of Operation

Bark Park Fundraiser

The Oconee County Department of Parks and Recreation is moving forward with plans for an external review of operation of the Department, Lisa Davol, deputy director, told the Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreation Affairs on Tuesday.

Davol told the Committee that the Board of Commissioners had requested the review of the facilities, facility usage and staff operation and that the Department is getting costs estimates at present. She said the Department should have a report back about 90 days after a contract is let.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Watkinsville Voters Approve Sunday Sales By Big Margins

Low Turnout

Watkinsville voters overwhelmingly approved the Sunday sales of alcoholic drinks in the city’s restaurants and the Sunday sales of beer and wine in the city’s convenience stores in voting in the special election that ended today (Tuesday).

Vote turnout was low, but the margins in favor of Sunday sales in the city were even higher than they were when county voters approved Sunday sales last November.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Oconee County Republican Party Has New Slate Of Officers Following Saturday Convention

52 Attended

Oconee County’s Republican Party got a whole new slate of officers in elections held yesterday (Saturday) at the Thomas Cotton Gin on SR15 south of Watkinsville.

Tammy Gilland was elected chair, Ed Perkins was elected first vice chair, Marcus Wiedower was elected second vice chair, and Brooks Fletcher was elected third vice chair.

Construction On Oconee County Presbyterian Village Likely To Start This Summer, County Told

At DRC

Construction on the Presbyterian Village at U.S. 441 north of Watkinsville likely will begin this summer, Frank Pittman from Williams and Associates told the Oconee County Development Review Committee on Friday morning.

Work will begin with the Village Health Services Center and the Independent Living Apartment Building, Pittman, chief operating officer at Williams and Associates, said.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Turnout Light In Early Voting For Watkinsville Special Election On Sunday Alcohol Sales

63 Ballots Cast

Only 63 of Watkinsville’s 2,117 eligible voters have participated in the three weeks of early voting leading up to Tuesday’s election on whether Sunday sales of alcohol should be allowed at the city’s restaurants and convenience stores.

The turnout of less than 3 percent of the city’s voters so far suggests that only a small number of the city’s voters will decide the issue.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Plans for Presbyterian Village North Of Watkinsville On Agenda Of Oconee County Development Review Committee

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Nearly two years after getting zoning approval, Presbyterian Homes of Georgia has preliminary site plans for its continuing care retirement community at U.S. 441 and Hog Mountain Road before the county’s Development Review Committee.

The plans to be reviewed by the Committee at its 9 a.m. meeting tomorrow (Friday) include a Village Health Services Center, an independent living apartment building, 113 single-family cottages, and 13 two-family villas.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Different Views Begin To Surface In Citizen Committee Discussion Of Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Update

More Discussion Promised

At its first meeting last month, the members of the citizen committee working on the Oconee County comprehensive plan update asked for more opportunity to speak, and they were given a bit of a chance to do that last (Tuesday) night.

The discussion revealed significant differences within the group, with some arguing for development throughout the county, including in the largely rural south.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Alexion Not Yet Signed Agreement With Oconee County For Purchase Of Land At Gateway Business Park

Maybe Late Summer

Oconee County has not yet received a signed contract back from Alexion Pharma LLC of New Haven, Conn., for the sale of 38 acres in its Gateway Technology Business Park south of Bogart.

J.R. Charles, Oconee County economic development director, said he is not expecting a decision until late summer.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Parkway Boulevard Will Be Ready To Open By End Of Month, Oconee County Public Works Director Says

Stores Not Ready

Parkway Boulevard Extension will be paved and ready to be opened by the end of the month, Oconee County Utility Department Director Emil Beshara told a meeting of the regional transportation planning body.

Work on the project “is going very well,” Beshara told the Technical Coordinating Committee of the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) at its meeting late last month in Athens.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Owners Of Westland And Parkside Subdivisions File Suit Against Oconee County Over Sewer Capacity Fee Refund

Superior Court

The owners of the long-dormant Westland and Parkside subdivisions have filed suit against Oconee County, seeking to block the decision by the Board of Commissioners to refund sewer capacity fees for the massive master plan developments.

In three separate lawsuits filed in Oconee County Superior Court, the owners contend, among other things, that the Board of Commissioners violated state zoning laws when it voted on Jan. 31 to refund sewer capacity fees paid by the developers of Westland and Parkside as well as by two other residential project developers.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Oconee County Commission Approves Convenience Store And Ministry College Campus In Far East Of County

Unanimous Votes

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night gave unanimous approval to a string of rezone requests, including one that will allow a convenience store in an agricultural zone and another that will allow for conversion of a dormant golf course into a campus for a ministry college.

Both the convenience store and the college campus are in the far eastern part of the county, on the eastern side of the Oconee River, where Oconee, Clarke and Oglethorpe counties meet.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Oconee Farmers Market To Have Soft Launch April 1 and Grand Opening April 22

14th Season

Oconee Farmers Market will have a soft launch of its 14th season in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville on April 1 and a Grand Opening on April 22.

The soft launch is to accommodate vendors who planted with the traditional first Saturday in April opening date in mind.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Convenience Store, Ministry College At Clarke, Oglethorpe Borders On Tuesday Oconee County Commission Agenda

Special Uses

Oconee County Commissioners on Tuesday night will be asked to decide whether to allow a convenience store, a ministry college campus, and an expansion of a community-scale church, all in land zoned for agriculture.

Two of the rezones are in the only part of Oconee County east of the Oconee River–a triangle of land assigned to the county when it was split off from Clarke County in 1875.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Discuss Animal Shelter But Give No Timetable For Action

Future Comment Anticipated

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners took no action Tuesday night after a presentation by and question-and-answer session with Terry Tevis, who has recommended the county build a $2.9 million replacement for its existing Animal Shelter.

Tevis submitted an update just before the meeting to the report he gave the county on Jan. 9. The Jan. 9 report was the result of a feasibility study his firm, Tevis Architects, did of the county’s existing facility on Branch Road in the far south of the county.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Oconee County Commission Chair Says He Will Not Allow Citizen Comment On Animal Shelter Feasibility Study At Tuesday Meeting

Discussion Item

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell said today (Monday) he does not plan to allow citizens to comment at the Commission meeting tomorrow night on the Tevis Architects report that recommends the county build a new animal shelter.

Daniell said citizens will not be allowed to comment on the report during the citizen comment opportunity at the beginning of the meeting because the item is on the Commission agenda.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Feasibility Study Of Animal Shelter On Tuesday Agenda Of Oconee County Board Of Commissioners

Department Head Seeking Support

Advocates for a new Animal Shelter for Oconee County should have an opportunity on Tuesday night to lobby the Board of Commissioners for a new facility.

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to discuss a feasibility study conducted by Tevis Architects as part of its Tuesday night agenda.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oconee County Utility Department Director Successfully Kept His Comments About Calls Creek From Being Recorded

Talk To Civil Engineers

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie told the Northeast Georgia Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers that he would help them understand “the fuss” over the county’s plans to put a sewer pipeline down Calls Creek.

Cindy Mitchell McGarvey, who lives on the creek and is one of the organizers of Friends of Calls Creek, was interested in sharing what Haynie had to say at the engineering group’s regular meeting on Feb. 16, so she borrowed a video camera and attended the meeting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Stakeholders Committee For Oconee County Comprehensive Plan Asks For More Control Over Its Work Schedule

At Initial Session

Justin Crighton, a planner with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, got a polite pushback Tuesday night as he presented his proposed timetable for the work of the Stakeholders Committee for the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan at the group’s first meeting.

Crighton proposed five subsequent meetings of the citizen committee, including a session on March 14 to begin discussing land use issues in the county.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Supporters And Opponents Of Convenience Store On Eastern Edge Of Oconee County Turn Out For Planning Commission Meeting

General Store Proposed

The smallest project in terms of acreage on the agenda of the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night produced the largest citizen response.

Nine citizens came to the podium to speak against a proposal by Pat and Marsha Halloran to build a country store–in the language of the development code, a convenience store--at the intersection of Bob Godfrey Road and Belmont Road on the very eastern edge of Oconee County.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Field Trip In Oconee County Provided Opportunity For Sampling Of Greenbriar Creek And Examination Of Stream Characteristics

Three Farms Visited

The Citizen Committee for Water Resources and its guests on Saturday got a chance to see Greenbriar Creek and one of its tributaries up close in a field trip to three farms just east of Bishop.

The creek, and the three farms, could be impacted by construction of a U.S. 441 bypass of Bishop if the Georgia Department of Transportation opts for a route east of the small city.

Oconee County Planning Commission To Try Again To Review Ministry College Proposal

Will Need Quorum

The Oconee County Planning Commission tomorrow (Monday) night is to pick up its agenda from last month, when it did not have a quorum, and give consideration to a request to convert a portion of the former Green Hills Golf Course and Country Club in the far east of the county to a ministry college.

The Commission also will review a request from Stonebridge Partners LLC for a rezone of land for a residential subdivision on undeveloped land across from the existing Daniells Plantation subdivision, just east of Butler’s Crossing.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

First Meeting of Stakeholders Committee for Oconee County Joint Comprehensive Plan Set For Tuesday

First of 4-5 Meetings

The Stakeholders Committee for the Oconee County Joint Comprehensive Plan is scheduled to hold its first meeting from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.

According to Justin Crighton from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, this is one of four of five meetings the Stakeholders Committee will hold over the next 10 to 12 months as it works to create a new Joint Comprehensive Plan for the county and its four cities.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Oconee County Administrative Officer Benko Announces Retirement Effective July 1

Informed Board Tuesday

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko announced at the end of his meeting with department directors this (Wednesday) morning that he plans to retire effective July 1.

Benko, 62, said he informed the members of the Board of Commissioners of his decision on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Feasibility Study For New Oconee County Animal Shelter Questioned By Animal Control Advisory Board

Key Meeting Feb. 28

Tevis Architects’ recommendation that Oconee County replace its Animal Shelter with a new facility costing an estimated $2.9 million met with some resistance from members of the Animal Control Advisory Board at its meeting last week.

Board member Claire Hamilton said the price tag “is way too high...It is a pretty big price tag for the taxpayers.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Owner Of Land For Proposed Oconee County Solar Farm Also Owned Land That Became Neighboring Wildflower Meadows Subdivision

Developer Says Project Still Alive

When the developers of Wildflower Meadows, a 263.1- acre subdivision in northwest Oconee County, wanted to launch the project in 2006, they assembled 10 different pieces of property to accommodate the proposed 170 lots.

The largest of the 10 assembled tracts was a 113.5-acre parcel owned by the Hammond family of Gainesville.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Oconee County Commission, In Split Vote, Decided To Move Forward With Calls Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

3 MGD Option

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, in a 3-1 vote Tuesday night, agreed to spend $13.4 million to upgrade the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant to 1.5 million gallons per day and prepare the plant for possible future upgrade to 3.0 million gallons per day.

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie argued that the county would save money in the long-run if it spent a $1.1 million “premium” on the plant now so that the county would have the option of upgrading the plant to 3 million gallons per day in the future.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Oconee County Commission To Select Members Of Stakeholder Committee For Comprehensive Plan

33 Applicants

UPDATE 9:10 p.m. on Feb. 7: The Board selected 24 persons to serve on the Stakeholder Committee. That list is HERE. The highlighted names are those selected.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight will select from–or accept all on–a list of 33 applicants for the Stakeholder Committee that will help develop a new Comprehensive Plan for the county.

The list includes five people currently holding a position on a citizen committee in the county, a county employee, and an unsuccessful candidate in the most recent election for the Board of Commissioners.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Oconee County Issues Public Notice Of Spill At Calls Creek Plant

Friday Morning Break

Oconee County posted a public notice on its Utility Department home page late Friday afternoon announcing a sanitary sewer force main break at its Calls Creek wastewater plant located at 1100 Durhams Mill Way on the north side of Watkinsville.

According to the announcement, the break was discovered at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Friday at the pump station at the base of the plant.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Being Asked To Spend Money On Calls Creek Expansion Beyond 1.5 Million Gallons Per Day

At Least $900,000 Added

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie will ask the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to spend $13.5 million for an upgrade to its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant, including at least $900,000 for expansion of the plant beyond the initial 1.5 million gallons per day of capacity.

The $900,000 is part of just less than $2 million the Utility Department asked Crowder Construction Company in March of last year to add to its estimated costs for the wastewater plant expansion.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Vote To Refund Sewer Capacity Fees For Dormant Subdivisions

Parkside And Westland On List

Oconee County Commissioners voted last (Tuesday) night to refund sewer capacity for four undeveloped subdivisions in the county, significantly reducing the need for increased sewage treatment capacity in the county.

The decision will make those four housing projects, including the massive Parkside and Westland subdivisions, unbuildable as zoned, since they require sewage capacity for the intensive development proposed.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oconee County Utility Department Director Says He Will Not Ask Commissioners To Build A Pipeline Down Calls Creek

1.5 MGD Plant Upgrade

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie is scheduled to ask the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night to approve his upgrade plans for the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant, but he says those plans do not include an effluent pipeline down the creek.

In fact, Haynie told Jim McGarvey of Friends of Calls Creek in an email message on Friday that the county is no longer planning a sewer line down Calls Creek.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oconee County Held Two-Day Staff Retreat For Department Heads At Stone Mountain

”Team Building”

Oconee County department heads, at the invitation of Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell, met for two days last week at Stone Mountain in what Daniell said was an effort at “team building.”

In the first day of the session on Thursday, former County Administrative Officer Alan Theriault led the group through a discussion about the budget process, communications, morale “or any other item important to the group,” Daniell said. Neither he nor current Administrative Officer Jeff Benko attended that session.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Architectural Firm Recommending That Oconee County Replace Its Animal Shelter

Cost: $2.9 Million

Tevis Architects, hired to do an assessment of the Oconee County Animal Shelter, is recommending that the county replace the entire facility, located at 1171 Branch Road in the far south of the county.

In a report dated Jan. 9, 2017, Tevis said that the while renovation of the existing facility was possible, “it would be far less costly to build a new facility.”

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Initial Plans Submitted To Oconee County Planning Department For Restaurant In Historic Home On Hog Mountain Road

Abe Jones House

Plans for a restaurant in the historic home at Hog Mountain Road and Hillcrest Drive just west of Butler’s Crossing are moving forward.

Abe Abouhamdan of Abe Consulting presented a preliminary site plan and site development plans to the Oconee County Development Review Committee earlier this month that included the restaurant.

Oconee County Library Friends Preps For Winter Book Sale On Heels Of Successful Fall Event

Feb. 2-4

Oconee County Library Friends, following a record used book sale in the autumn, is preparing for its Winter Sale from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.

The Winter Sale will be held at the Watkinsville Library itself, rather than at the Civic Center, as was the case in September.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Oconee County Utility Department Director Blames Membranes For Past Sewage Plant Woes

Wants Them Eliminated

When a video surfaced in April of 2015 showing Oconee County discharging black water from its wastewater treatment plant into nearby Calls Creek, then Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis told the public the county had become aware of “an issue” at the plant and had it under control.

Oconee County Utility Department Director Wayne Haynie presented a very different view on Wednesday at a Board of Commissioners work session as he was making the case to abandon the existing technology used at the Calls Creek plant in favor of a new design for the plant upgrade.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sewer Plant On Middle Oconee River Center Of Focus At Oconee County Commission Work Session

Calls Creek Upgrade Too

Oconee County officials changed course yesterday (Wednesday), focusing their attention at a meeting on water and sewer issues less on the proposed upgrade to the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant and more on the possibility of building a sewage plant on the Middle Oconee River.

Paula Feldman, lead-off speaker at the Board of Commissioners work session, set the stage, telling the Commissioners at the beginning of her talk that the recommendations in the 2005 Long Range Wastewater Strategies document “are still good and sound.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Proposal For A Christian Ministry Campus Off Barnett Shoals Road On Agenda Of Oconee County Planning Commission

Water And Sewer Needed

The Oconee County Planning Commission tomorrow (Tuesday) night will consider a request to convert a portion of the former Green Hills Golf Course and Country Club in the far east of the county to a ministry college.

Green Hills Farms LLC, the current land owner, is seeking a special use to allow the Athens College of Ministry to develop a campus on just more than 100.2 acres on the agriculturally-zoned land.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Feasibility Study For Oconee County Animal Shelter Should Be Ready For Discussion Shortly, Commissioners Told

Before Advisory Board Feb. 8

Oconee County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko is expecting to distribute a consultant’s report on the feasibility of renovating the animal shelter to the Board of Commissioners this week.

Benko made that statement to the Board at its work session at the Community Center in Veterans Park on Tuesday.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Now Focusing On Western Tract In Gateway Business Park

Lacks Sewers

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority, following its agreement last month to sell the undeveloped acreage in the eastern parcel of its Gateway Technology Business Park, is trying to determine the value of its western parcel in anticipation of interest in the acreage.

The group also wants to come up with firm figures for how much it will have to spend to extend sewer services to the western property.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Citizens At Oconee County Town Hall Meeting Told Decision On Calls Creek Sewer Pipeline Coming Soon

Solar Power Also Discussed

Oconee County is likely to make a decision on expansion of its Calls Creek sewage treatment plant and on whether to run a pipeline down Calls Creek for treated effluent early next month.

The commissioners who opposed the solar energy farm proposed for Dials Mill Road in the northwest of the county were concerned about the project’s impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods and were not opposed to alternative energy sources.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Former Oconee County Chairman Had Impact On Discussion At Work Session Of New Board

Meeting On Friday

Melvin Davis wasn’t at the work session of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Friday, but he had impact on the discussion nonetheless.

The meeting began with a review of the ethics ordinance for commissioners, which has been used only once–in a complaint filed against Davis.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Healthcare And Education Will Dominate Discussions In General Assembly, Oconee Sen. Bill Cowsert Told Local Officials

Assembly Opens Monday

Bill Cowsert, who represents Oconee County in the Georgia Senate, told a group of local officials last month that he expects healthcare and education to dominate much of the work of the session of the General Assembly that starts on Monday.

Cowsert, who is Republican Majority leader, was speaking even before the U.S. Senate began its efforts this week to unravel the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Oconee County Commissioners Turn Down Solar Energy Farm In Northwest Of County

3-1 Vote

Oconee County commissioners in a 3-1 vote tonight (Tuesday) turned down a request for a 30 megawatt solar energy farm at the intersection of McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road in the northwestern part of the county.

Commissioner Chuck Horton made the notion to deny the request for a special use of the 205 acres zoned agricultural for the solar farm, proposed by Rural Green Power LLC of Athens.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Oconee County Planning Staff Recommends Approval Of Solar Energy Farm After Review Of Revised Plans

Comprehensive Plan An Issue

The Oconee County planning staff, after reviewing the revised plans for the solar farm on Dials Mill Road at McNutt Creek Road, has reaffirmed its recommendation that the Board of Commissioners approve the project.

In a report dated Dec. 27, 2016, the staff advocated that the Commission grant Mr. Chick Farms Limited Partnership a special use when the Commission meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.