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.

Haynie objected to the camera when he stood up to talk, however, saying he was hoping to have a “safe space” among the civil engineers to talk about the controversy over the county’s plans to expand its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant and run a discharge pipeline through the neighborhoods along the creek.

Haynie went forward with his talk–and explanation of the controversy the pipeline had raised–only after the engineering group voted to ask McGarvey to turn off the camera and she complied.

Public Meeting

The regular meeting of the Northeast Georgia Branch of the ASCE was publicized in advance, with an announcement of Haynie’s talk circulating on email lists of area engineers.

The title of the talk was “Calls Creek WRF: Why all the fuss?”

The luncheon event at Stricklands Restaurant, 4723 Atlanta Highway, near Bogart, was open to the public, with those attending asked to pay $15. Students only had to pay $5.

McGarvey paid the $15, set up the camera, and joined the group for the lunch.

I had lent her the camera, since I could not attend myself because of another commitment.

Our agreement was that she would share the video with me as well as with the members of Friends of Calls Creek, which has led opposition to the proposed pipeline.

Speaker Introduction

After the lunch and a series of reports on group finances and other issues, Santosh Ghimire, ASCE Northeast Georgia Branch president, introduced Haynie.

Haynie said a few words and then noted that McGarvey was recording the session. Haynie said that “there is a threat of litigation” regarding the project.

“I was coming here hoping that this might be a ‘safe space’ for us engineers,” Haynie said. “I would respectfully ask that the camera be turned off.

“I think that’s only fair that we be able to come out and meet with our industry and not have to have that.”

McGarvey refused, saying that “it was a public meeting in a public place.”

Haynie interrupted McGarvey, saying “I’ll ask the officers for a ruling on that.”

That ultimately led to the vote by the members to ask McGarvey to turn off the camera and not to use any audio device as well.

The video of the exchange is below.

OCO: Haynie Before Civil Engineers from Lee Becker on Vimeo.


Haynie’s presentation consisted of 31 slides, which I obtained through an open records request.

Slide Of Citizens Protesting Calls Creek Pipeline

Haynie had used most of those slides in public presentations he had given in the last year as the discussions of the upgrade to the Calls Creek plant had progressed.

Two slides that were added focused on opposition to the sewer pipeline.

One showed people, including McGarvey’s husband, Jim, at public events wearing T-shirts stating opposition to the pipeline.

Another showed a deforested landscape with the word “Imagined” on the top.

McGarvey’s Notes

While McGarvey was not allowed to record Haynie’s comments, she was allowed to remain and take notes.

Slide Of Deforested Landscape

According to those written notes, which she shared with me, Haynie said one of the reasons for the citizen response was a “mistrust of local government.”

He also said people had a mistaken impression of what the pipeline would do to the landscape.

The canopy will grow back and grassy areas will return, Haynie said, according to McGarvey’s notes.

Haynie has made similar arguments at meetings in the past.

Upgrade Approved

The Board of Commissioners voted to upgrade the Calls Creek plant to 1.5 million gallons per day of capacity at its meeting on Feb. 7.

Those plans do not include construction of a sewer pipeline down Calls Creek.

Haynie told the Board he wanted to keep open the option of expanding that plant at some point in the future to 3 million gallons per day or even more, and the Board approved design components to accommodate that possible future upgrade.

The state has said that it will not allow the release of more than 1.5 million gallons per day of treated effluent to Calls Creek.

The pipeline was proposed as a way of getting that treated effluent to the Middle Oconee River, where the state has said it will allow the discharge of additional sewage plant effluent.


barb carroll said...

haynie's story changes with the wind; he has completely destroyed my confidence in anything he says. moreover, he has little regard for our county...its environment, old growth trees and clean water for wildlife, property values, quality of life, our beloved watkinsville (pumping all of the county's raw sewage UPHILL with the destruction/stench from the now-routine sewage spills potentially apocalyptic), the spending of 10's of millions with no end in sight on a band-aid fix...the list goes on ad nauseum. we need to fire haynie and begin the new midddle oconee plant now.

Xardox said...

"A safe space." For whom?

Anonymous said...

Barb hit the nail on the head. Look for the pipe as long as he is there.

Zippity said...

I agree, He is supposed to work for us, the taxpayers, and yet he does not want to let us hear what his thoughts are? I am so glad our citizen representative was there to take notes anyway. I suspect her presence modified his presentation. He knows what he wants and he does not listen to alternatives. Yes, the grass will regrow, but the trees will take decades and somehow I wonder if they really want trees with large roots near a sewage pipeline. I don't live in that area, but I sympathize with these residents.

Unknown said...

To propose an unpopular pipeline is one thing..but to purposely mislead and deceive those concerned citizens is something else completely and quite frankly it is egregious. My haynie should be ashamed of how he has handled this project. He has lost all credibility w most of us on this side of the county

barb carroll said...

condescendence/deliberate naivete on unfathomable scale by this tail wagging dog public employee who has been given sufficient power by he boc destroy everything oconee county holds dear. he assumes that the boc and citizens are stupid and/or ignorant

1) title of this secretive presentation

"what is all the fuss about" (calls creek sewer) - (TOTALLY MINIMIZING CITIZEN CONCERNS ABOUT THIS TRAVESTY)

a display of unnecessary or excessive excitement, activity, or interest.
"I don't know what all the fuss is about"
synonyms: ado, excitement, agitation, pother, stir, commotion, confusion, disturbance, brouhaha, uproar, furor, palaver, foofaraw, tempest in a teapot, much ado about nothing; More

2) "imagined" destruction of the ecology/back yards along call creek (THIS IS NOT IMAGINED...IT IS BASED IN FACT UPON PROPOSED PIPE)

Definition of imagine
imagined; imaginingplay \i-ˈmaj-niŋ, -ˈma-jə-\
transitive verb

to form a notion of without sufficient basis : fancy

3) "the canopy will grow back" (UH...NO, IT WON'T)

this is old growth forest/landscape that will be completely destroyed for now (would take over 100 years to come back if left undisturbed, will NEVER COME BACK IN THE PRESENCE OF A SEWER PIPE)
Jump to Forest dynamics definition - An old-growth forest — also termed primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest, late seral forest, or (in Great Britain) ancient woodland — is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features and might be classified as a climax community.

old-growth forests are natural forests that have developed over a long period of time, generally at least 120 years (DNR definition and consistent with definitions for the eastern United States), without experiencing severe, stand-replacing disturbance—a fire, windstorm, or logging.


Let'sGoOconee said...

I'm a big fan of this old saying:

"If you have nothing to hide...then hide nothing"

Wayne Haynie's objection to being recorded is extremely troubling. Whether it's his intention or not, he doesn't inspire public trust.

He's the county government's most important employee. Things like this will only breed most questions and distrust. Can't blame Davis anymore, this is on John Daniell's watch now.