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.
In appointing Mark Dawson, Audrey Ann Haynes and Walter Rhyne, the Commission could change radically the character of the five-member Advisory Board, as neither Chair Tom Beacorn no former Chair Susan Wells sought reappointment.
Commission Chair John Daniell announced at the beginning of the Board of Commissioners meeting that the Commission will hold a Town Hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 13 at the Oconee County Civic Center on Hog Mountain Road.
Prior to the Commission meeting, the county held a public hearing on the procedures the county is following in revising its Comprehensive Plan.
Animal Services Advisory Board
Six citizens had applied for the three openings on the Animal Services Advisory Board, which provides guidance to the operation of the county’s Animal Services Department and the county Animal Shelter.
The relationship between the Board and the staff of the Animal Services Department has been rocky in the past, with disagreements over tethering of animals, the value of the adoption program, and the need for improvements to the Shelter.
Dawson, 3573 Colham Ferry Road, in the south of the county, did not attend the March 28 meeting of the Commission when applicants were interviewed, but he said in his application that he had “several positive experiences with Oconee County Animal Control” and is “interested in the future of the County animal shelter.”
Haynes, 1221 St. Andrews Drive, at Jennings Mill, told the Board she had never been at the Animal Shelter. In her application, she wrote that she wants to make sure the Shelter is “a safe, clean, compassionate” place for the animals housed there.
Rhyne, 1520 Crooked Creek Road, north of Watkinsville, told the commissioners that he had been at the shelter. In his application, he said he applied to be on the Board to “give back to the community.”
Craig Green, a veterinarian, was the sixth applicant.
The Commission makes its decisions on appointments to citizen committees in executive session and does not explain its decisions when it announces them.
Justin Crighton, from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission and a consultant to the county on its Comprehensive Plan, outlined to the public the procedures to be followed in updating the county’s plan by the June 30, 2018, deadline.
Crighton repeated what he had said to the Stakeholders Committee working on the plan at that group’s last meeting on March 14.
The plan will consist of five components focusing on needs and opportunities, community goals, a community work or action program, land use, and transportation.
Crighton said a sixth component might deal with green space and parks, though those topics could be woven into the other five parts, he said.
The public hearing was required by the state, and it was not very well publicized.
Only three citizens not employed by the county were present when the meeting started at 6:30 p.m., and a fourth joined shortly after that time.
The Commission awarded a $32,500 contract for the demolition of the Dickens’ homesite on Experiment Station Road at Bishop Farm Parkway as part of the work for the Experiment Station Road widening. The award went to EnviroMasters of Carrollton.
The Commission also awarded a contract for $39,900 for design services for road improvements for the planned new school in the far northwest of the county at Hog Mountain Road and Osborne Road.
ABE Consulting, owned by Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee Chair Abe Abouhamdan, was the recipient of the contract.
The Commission gave first reading to a new Door-To-Door Solicitation Ordinance and to revisions of the county’s Alcohol Beverages Ordinance.
The Solicitation Ordinance would require commercial solicitors to register and pay a fee before being granted permission to solicit. The law would not affect non-profit groups.
The Alcohol Beverages Ordinance would lower from 25 to 21 the age allowed for those holding an alcohol license in the county and from 19 to 18 the age of servers.
Final action on the two ordinances is expected to be on May 2.
The first video below is of the public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan.
The second video is of the Board of Commissioners meeting itself.