Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Morgan County Commissioners Voice Support For Citizens Opposed To Location Of Proposed Intake Facility On Apalachee River

Possible Vote Next Month

Morgan and Oconee county residents opposed to the proposed intake facility on the Apalachee River in Morgan County for an expanded Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir got their first major victory on Tuesday evening.

Three of the five members of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners said they support citizens who are opposing construction of the intake facility in Morgan County.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Residents Along Apalachee River Who Oppose Intake Facility Have Two Opportunities On Tuesday To Speak Out

***No Decision Yet On Public Hearing***

Residents in Morgan and Oconee counties who live along the Apalachee River and are opposed to the proposed intake facility on the river in Morgan County for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir have two opportunities this week to voice their concerns.

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board has set aside two times for public comment on its agenda for its meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the historic Courthouse in downtown Monroe–one at the beginning and another near the end.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education To Be Asked to Spend Sales Tax Revenue On Computers For Teachers And Students

$1 Million Bid

Oconee County School administrators will ask the county Board of Education on Monday to spend nearly $1 million to buy computer equipment as part of the system’s efforts to have one computer for every student in the schools.

Claire Buck, chief academic officer for the Oconee County School System, is recommending that the Board accept a $949,647 bid by Virtucom, of Norcross in Gwinnett County, to provide 3,100 computer and mobile devices.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Oconee Farmers Market Starts Its New Season Saturday In Downtown Watkinsville

***8 a.m. To 1 p.m.***

Oconee Farmers Market will launch its 15th season Saturday in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville, with offerings such as baby spinach, lettuce, kale, eggs, potatoes, grass-fed beef, lamb, boiled peanuts, gelato, tamales, empanadas, and lemon squares.

An estimated 20 vendors are expected to set up tables and tents for the 8 a.m. opening, according to Annie Kennedy, Market Board president. The Market will close at 1 p.m.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Comprehensive Plan Spurs Revisit Of 2008 Film On Development In Oconee County

*** “Carving Up Oconee” ***

Ann Stoneburner said she was motivated to help set up the program at the Oconee County Library late last month by a concern with the rewrite of the county’s Comprehensive Plan and its impact on development in the county.

The centerpiece of that program, sponsored by the Oconee County Democratic Committee and the Oconee County Progressives, was a showing of the 2008 film by Celestea Sharp, “Carving Up Oconee.” Stoneburner is vice-chair of the Oconee County Democratic Committee.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Oconee County Animal Services Director Placed On Administrative Leave As State Conducts Audit Of Pharmaceuticals

***Leave With Pay***

Oconee County has placed Catlyn Vickers, Animal Services Department director, on administrative leave with pay while the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency conducts an audit of pharmaceuticals at the Animal Services Department.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office requested the audit by the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency following an initial investigation by the Sheriff’s Office of a discrepancy of $398 in the account of the Animal Service Department.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Citizens Again Voice Concerns To Oconee County Board Of Commissioners About Apalachee River Intake Permit

***Chair Tried To Limit Comments***

After initially trying to cut off discussion of the proposed Apalachee River intake facility, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell relented last (Tuesday) night and allowed 12 citizens from Oconee and Morgan counties to state their opposition to the project.

As was the case a week ago, those who spoke focused primarily on the water levels in the Apalachee, arguing that the river does not have sufficient flow to sustain pumping to the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in southeastern Walton County.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Oconee County School Administrator Explains Teacher Total Benefits To Board Of Education

***Based On Example Of Jane Smith***

A teacher is Oconee County Schools who makes a little more than $60,000 a year in salary actually has a total estimated benefit of nearly $86,000 when the contributions of the school system itself are included.

That was the message of Saranna Charping, chief financial officer for the school system, who reviewed the Total Benefits Statement sent to all school system employees with the Board of Education last month.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Two Republican Candidates Offer Criticism Of Party At Oconee Area Republicans Meeting

***Also Take Stands On Issues***

Michael Williams told the gathering of Oconee Area Republicans that the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, is dominated by lobbyists, special interests and big corporations.

Joe Hunt said that the Republic Party at the national level is struggling to make clear that it is not controlled by dark money, is not racist, and is not dominated by big business.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Oconee County Issues New Citations Against Landscaper As Trial On 2017 Citations Is Set

***April 13 Date***

Oconee County has been trying since August of last year to get Chad Forehand to stop operating a landscaping business at New High Shoals Road and Union Church Road.

County code enforcement officers have filed new citations charging they have not been successful.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Oconee County Commission Candidate Wants More Residential Growth In County

***Turning Farms To Subdivisions***

John Laster, in a meeting with local Republicans last week, left little doubt about the pro-development views he would bring to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners were he to win the Republican primary on May 22.

Laster said he wants to see continued residential development in Oconee County, “and, to me, that is a great privilege for our land to no longer grow crops but grow communities.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

State Senate Candidate Tells Oconee County Democrats Country Needs Gun Laws In Response To School Violence

***Says School Shootings Motivated Her To Run***

Marisue Hilliard, who helped found the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told Oconee County Democrats last week that she was motivated to run for the Georgia Senate from the 46th District by gun violence.

Hilliard listed healthcare and education as other issues she will focus on in the campaign, but she said the need for “common sense gun laws” is what led her to seek public office for the first time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Oconee County Participants State Support For Openness In National Forum On Immigration

***Concerned Other Views Not Represented***

The small group assembled at the Oconee County Library to discuss immigration expressed one significant disappointment at the end of its two-hour long deliberation.

There was much more agreement among the participants than disagreement, those engaged in the conversation said, and the discussion was limited because of it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Speakers Tell Oconee County Commissioners They Oppose Permit For Apalachee River Intake Facility

***Ask For Re-evaluation***

Citizens filled the Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chamber tonight (Tuesday) to voice opposition to the plans to pump water from the Apalachee River as part of planned future expansion of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County.

Those who spoke acknowledged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had granted a permit for withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River in 2004 but argued that the decision should be re-evaluated in light of the need for modifications to and extension of the permit.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Citizens Plan To Address Oconee County Board Of Commissioner On Proposed Apalachee River Intake

Follow To Morgan County Meeting

Residents living along the Apalachee River in Oconee and Morgan counties who are concerned about the impact of a proposed water intake facility on the river plan to attend the Oconee County Board of Commissioners meeting tomorrow night to seek support.

The gathering will be a sequel to one the group, now organized under the name Greater Apalachee River Community, held last week with the Board of Commissioners in Morgan County.

A Proposal To Restrict Slab Home Construction In Oconee County Stirs Home Builders To Action

***Citing Market Demand***

A proposal to greatly restrict the use of slab foundations for single-family dwellings in Oconee County has met with strong negative reaction from at least a segment of the local development community.

More than 50 people crowded the room for the Planning Commission meeting last Monday night to make clear their opposition, with at least that number, maybe more, crowded into the hallway outside.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Students At Oconee County March For Our Lives Rally Ask For Action On Gun Violence

***Nonpartisan Event***

More than 200 people of all ages showed up for the March For Our Lives rally at Oconee Veterans Park today, which ended with the plea from two North Oconee County High School students for action.

“Those who do not support common sense gun legislation are putting their wants for guns above other people’s rights for life and safety,” Piper Cyterski, the first of the North Oconee County High School students to speak, told the group.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Army Corps Of Engineers Rejected 2017 Request For Waiver Of Public Comments For Intake Facility For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***Comment Deadline Is Today***

Consultants for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir project asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July of 2017 to bypass the public hearing process and allow construction of an intake facility on the Apalachee River to pump water to the reservoir in the future.

The Corps indicated that it would reject the request for a waiver of a public hearing process in August of last year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Commercial Development On Cliff Dawson Road Dominates Final Discussion Of Steering Committee For Comprehensive Plan Update

***Citizens Voice Concerns***

The final meeting of the Stakeholders Committee charged with shaping the 2018 Comprehensive Plan was supposed to be a tidying up session ending with Committee approval of the document for public review and government adoption.

Instead it turned into a lengthy discussion of the possibility of commercial development on the western end of Cliff Dawson Road as it meets Mars Hill Road.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Georgia Department Of Transportation Explains Plans For Truck Bypass Of Bishop To Citizen Advisory Committee

***Meeting Room Full***

The Georgia Department of Transportation rolled out its plans for a truck bypass of Bishop as part of its upgrade of U.S. 441 to a generally receptive Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee last (Monday) night at Oconee Veterans Park.

The plans were unchanged from those previewed to the Bishop City Council last week and call for a close-in, two-lane truck bypass on the east side of Bishop that would begin at Astondale Road on the south and reconnect with U.S. 441 on the north at High Shoals Road.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Original And Alternate Sites For Apalachee River Intake For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Found Not Feasible

***Power Plant Has Water Rights***

The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modify its permit for an intake facility on the Apalachee River after determining that not only its original site but three of its four alternatives are not feasible.

Rights to the water that the Water and Sewer Authority wanted to withdraw from the original and the three alternate sites are protected under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit for a power plant located on the river just upstream from the SR 186 bridge over the Apalachee River.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Oconee County’s Joe Hunt Says He Has Skills From Business That Will Make Him A Good Representative In Washington

***Challenging Jody Hice***

Joe Hunt says he can remember when he first started thinking about challenging incumbent Jody Hice for the Republican nomination to represent Georgia District 10 in the United States House of Representatives.

Hunt said he didn’t vote for Hice in either of Hice’s two previous elections in 2014 and 2016 and wrote his own name on the ballot in 2016, when Hice had no opposition.

“When I walked out of the booth in November of 2016,” Hunt said. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘That cannot happen again.’ If no one else is going to do it, then it is my responsibility to do it.”

Friday, March 16, 2018

University Of Georgia Tells State Department Of Transportation Of Concerns About Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***Could Move Equestrian Facility***

The University of Georgia Athletic Department has told the state Department of Transportation that it has “serious concerns” about the proposal to build a truck bypass of U.S. 441 on the eastern side of Bishop bordering on the university’s equestrian facility on Astondale Road.

Athletic Director Greg McGarity acknowledged the “commitment from GDOT to mitigate the noise associated with the construction of the bypass as well as the actual traffic associated with the completed bypass.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Morgan County Asking Corps Of Engineers To Hold Public Hearing On Hard Labor Creek Permit

Public Meeting Also

Morgan County will ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing on the request by the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority for an intake facility on the Apalachee River in Morgan County and for an extension of the permit for withdrawal of water from the river.

The county also will ask for a public meeting with the Water and Sewer Authority, engineers for the project, and the Corps to answer questions from the public about the project, according to Morgan County Manager Adam Mestres.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Democratic Candidate For Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Seat Withdraws

***Two Democrats In Education Board Race***

The Oconee County Democratic Party lost its sole contender for a Board of Commissioners seat yesterday (Monday) morning when Tyra Byers withdrew from the race.

Byers, a program coordinator at the University of Georgia, had filed on the last day of qualifying on Friday to run for Post 3 on the Board of Commissioners.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Georgia Department Of Transportation Proposing Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***Plans Revealed To Bishop Council***

The Georgia Department of Transportation has developed an alternate plan for improvements to U.S. 441 that involves a close-in truck bypass on the east side of the City of Bishop.

Officials from GDOT presented the broad outlines of the plan to the City Council of Bishop on Monday night, where it got at least some support.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Extension Of Withdrawal Permit To Transfer Water From Apalachee River To Hard Labor Creek Is Up For Federal Review

***Intake Facility Not Yet Needed***

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board in August of last year asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an extension of its permit to withdraw water from the Apalachee River, but it has not yet received that extension.

The original permit expired on Feb. 28, 2014, and had been extended to February of 2019.

Oconee County Democrats Qualify Candidate In Board Of Commissioners Race

***May And November Ballots Set***

Tyra Byers qualified as a Democrat for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on the final day of filing on Friday, bringing to three the number of county races to be contested by both parties in November.

Incumbent Republican Chuck Horton, who holds Post 2 on the Board of Commissioners, did not get any Democratic or Republican challengers, meaning he will run unopposed in the May 22 Republican primary and in the November 6 general election.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Busy Day Of Qualifying On Thursday Leads To Contests For Oconee County Board Of Education Seats

***No Democrats For County Commission***

In a busy day of qualifying Thursday, a Democrat and a Republican filed to run for Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Education against incumbent Republican Amy Parrish, who qualified on Tuesday.

Andrea Wellnitz filed for the Democratic primary, and Adam Spence filed for the Republican primary.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Oconee County Schools Train Staff In Civilian Response To Active Shooters, Board Of Education Members Told

***Surveillance Cameras In Place***

Dallas LeDuff, director of Student Services for Oconee County Schools, assured members of the Board of Education on Monday that Oconee County Schools have procedures in place to provide safety at the system’s campuses.

Included, LeDuff said, are surveillance cameras in every building and on each school bus and security vestibules at the school buildings with remote locking mechanisms that deny access to the students in the schools.

Incumbents On Oconee County Ballot In May Primaries Get Challengers

***Two Republicans, One Democrat***

Three incumbents whose names will be on the Oconee County ballot for the May 22 primary elections picked up challengers in qualifying on Wednesday.

Joe Hunt, an Oconee County businessman, filed to run in the Republican primary against U.S. Representative Jody Hice.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Residents Along The Apalachee River Gave Notice To Oconee County Commissioners Of Their Concerns About Proposed Intake Site

***Unusual Votes On Appointment***

Residents along the Apalachee River concerned about the location of a proposed intake for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County communicated their uneasiness to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night.

Liz Marchant, 1011 Riverbanks Road in the Riverwalk subdivision in Morgan County, told the Oconee County Commissioners in brief comments at the front of the meeting that she wanted them to be aware that residents along the Apalachee River are not content with the proposed intake location.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Incumbent Oconee County Commissioners And Board Of Education Members Qualify

***Hice Draws Opposition***

Oconee County’s two commissioners and two Board of Education members whose terms expire at the end of this year have qualified for re-election.

All four are Republicans, and no one has come forward in the first two days of qualifying to compete against any of the four in the May 22 primaries.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Citizens Along Apalachee River In Oconee And Morgan Counties Oppose New Intake Facility For Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir

***Seek Public Hearing***

Residents living along the Apalachee River turned out in force on Sunday, producing a petition after nearly two hours of discussion with 73 names on it directed toward the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Petitioners are asking the Corps to hold a public hearing on a previously undisclosed decision by the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board to move its planned intake site on the Apalachee River from High Shoals to several miles south in Morgan County.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oconee County Democrats Sponsoring March For Our Lives Rally On March 24 At Veterans Park

***BOE To Get Report On School Safety***

The Oconee County Democratic Committee is sponsoring a local March For Our Lives Rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 24 at Oconee Veterans Park.

The local event is part of a national day of demonstrations following the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Oconee County Review Committee Approves Plans for Buildings For Land Between Jennings Mill Road And Oconee Connector

***Extends Medical Complex***

The Oconee County Development Review Committee approved the preliminary site plans for two additional buildings on the now-cleared land between Jennings Mill Road and the Oconee Connector at SR Loop 10.

Those plans calls for a 21,020 square-foot-building to house University Surgical Vascular and a 9,972 square-foot-building for an office of The Commercial Bank.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Republican Candidate For Lieutenant Governor Told Oconee County Republicans The Party Will Retain Its Hold On State

Expects Light Turnout For Primary

Rick Jeffares, running for Georgia lieutenant governor, told Oconee County Republicans that he doesn’t expect the Republicans to loose any state offices in November and that the party is likely to control state politics for at least eight to 12 more years.

Jeffares, from Henry County, said he expects fewer people to vote in the May 22 Republican primary than voted in the primary four years ago.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Group Gives Oconee County Board of Commissioners Proposal For History Museum At Barnett Shoals

***Landowners And Land Trust Involved***

Russ Page, a tireless advocate for farmland and historic site preservation, last (Tuesday) night delivered on his promise in January to present the Oconee County Board of Commissioners a proposal for a county History Museum and preservation of historical sites on the Oconee River.

Page, representing a group of land owners, historians and archaeologists, and the Athens Land Trust, asked that the Board set aside $300,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue for the purchase of land for the museum.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Agreements For New Fire Station On Virgil Langford Road

***In Called Meeting***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners, in a called meeting on Friday, approved a $2.1 million contract for construction of a new fire station on Virgil Langford Road just south of SR 316.

The Board also approved a lease-purchase agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia that will provide the county with $2.4 million in credit for construction of a replacement for the Barber Creek Fire Station #8 on the Oconee Connector.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

John Barrow Tells Oconee County Democrats He Is Proud Of Endorsements From County Republicans

***People Notice***

John Barrow, running as a Democrat for Georgia Secretary of State, told Oconee County Democrats last week that he was proud of his endorsements from Republicans, including from Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry and from former Oconee County Commission Chair Melvin Davis.

“Believe me, to have someone like Scott and Melvin on there is an eye opener for folks who know the score,” Barrow said of his list of endorsements.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Members Express Concern About Dependence On Sales Tax

***Online Threat Identified***

A standard feature of the regular meetings of the Oconee County Board of Education is a report from Chief Financial Officer Saranna Charping on the collections from the Education Local Option Sales Tax.

Charping’s report on the sales tax on Monday showed a sharp increase in sales tax revenue in December of 2017, but that followed months of slow growth and three months where revenue in 2017 was lower than a year earlier.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Watkinsville Mayor Said Impartiality And A Desire For Collaboration Will Guide Him In His New Role

Mayor’s Report

Dave Shearon used his first mayoral report to the City Council and the public to spell out a series of what he called “general principles” that will guide him as he serves as mayor of Oconee County’s county seat.

Shearon said he would be nonpartisan and impartial in addressing issues before the city.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

State Resource Team Praises Oconee County For Promotion Of Tourism And Offers Recommendations

***Criticism Too***

The state resource team studying tourism and its potential in Oconee County offered much praise of the county in the report it delivered last week at Oconee Veterans Park.

“You all have some really gorgeous things in your community,” team leader Cindy Eidson said. “Everything was so incredible.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Libraries Are Not A Relic, Former Rep. Williams Says At Groundbreaking For Oconee County Bogart Library Expansion

***Challenge For Funders***

Former state Rep. Chuck Williams told a crowd of more than 50 people who turned out on Saturday for the groundbreaking of the 5,900-square-foot addition to the Bogart Library that getting state funding for library construction today is difficult because of a misconception.

“When it comes to libraries, there’s a challenge at the state to make sure that everyone needs to understand that libraries--public libraries like this--are not a relic,” Williams said.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Friends Of Barber Creek Seeking To Play Leadership Role In Discussion Of Oconee County Water Master Plan

***Board Elects New President***

Members of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Barber Creek have decided they want to play a leadership role as Oconee County completes work on its Water and Wastewater Master Plan revision.

The Board earlier this week elected Allan Antley, 1040 Lake Wellbrook Drive in Lake Wellbrook subdivision, as president, and decided to make new efforts to revive its membership base.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Oconee County Issues Building Permit For Online Grocery Operation At Epps Bridge Walmart

March Launch

Oconee County issued a building permit late last month for alterations to the Walmart Super Center, 1911 Epps Bridge Parkway, to incorporate an online grocery operation at the store.

Included is restriping of parking on the west side of the building to denote online grocery pickup parking and parking lot signage for the designated area.

Secretary Of State Candidate Told Oconee County Republicans He Wants To Make Sure Only Americans Vote In State Elections

Takes Pro Business Stance

Brad Raffensperger told Oconee County Republicans he is motivated by three key issues in his bid to get the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in the May 22 primary.

He said he wants to make sure that only Americans vote in elections in the state, that Georgia is a great place to find a job, and that Georgia is a great place to build a business.

Speaker Tells Oconee Democrats They Need To Reach Out To Others To Win Elections

***Urged Involvement In Local Races***

Democratic activist Daniel Blackman from Forsyth County told the gathering of Oconee County Democrats last month that he was really pleased to see so many people in the audience, but he said it wasn’t enough.

Blackman said there were not enough young people in the group.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Georgia Department of Transportation Has Lifted Stop Work Order Halting Construction On Mars Hill Road

***In Place Since December***

The Georgia Department of Transportation lifted a stop-work order last week against G.P.’s Enterprises Inc., contractor for the widening of Mars Hill Road, that had halted all work on the road project since December of last year.

GDOT had issued the stop work order after discovering problems with storm water drainage at the bridge over Barber Creek that resulted in dirt and sediment entering Barber Creek.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Oconee County, Fearing Legal Challenge, Revises Its Sign Ordinance

***Removes Content References***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last week acted quickly to change the county’s sign ordinance in an effort to strip the document of any reference to the content of the signs and thus avoid a lawsuit.

The Board took the action at the urging of County Attorney Daniel Haygood, who told the Board he was afraid the existing sign ordinance left the county vulnerable to a legal challenge in light of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Arizona case in 2015 greatly restricting how local governments can regulate signs.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Future Development Map Attracts Attention At Public Forum On Revisions To Comprehensive Plan

***Light Turnout At Meeting***

Monday night’s meeting at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park was billed as a Public Forum on the 2018 revision to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Opportunities for feedback on the current draft of the plan were quite limited, and only a small number of people not engaged with creation of the draft were in the audience.

Oconee County Chairman Tells Board Of Education County Roadwork At New Elementary School Is Progressing

***Responding To Questions***

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell appeared at the Monday meeting of the Oconee County Board of Education to reassure Board of Education members that the county is moving expeditiously on roadwork around Dove Creek Elementary School, set to open next school year.

Daniell’s comments followed questions from Board of Education members about the county’s work on the entrances to the school at the Jan. 22 meeting and again on Monday and reports from Facilities Director Jake Grant that the county was behind on the project.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Oconee County Reports Another Spill At Calls Creek Plant

***Monday And Tuesday***

Oconee County late Tuesday reported its second major spill in less than a month from its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant outside Watkinsville.

According to the county, an estimated 72,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater was released on Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 5 and 6) into Calls Creek from the plant, which is located at 1100 Durhams Mill Way, on the north side of Watkisville.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Public Forum On Comprehensive Plan Set For Monday Night At Oconee Veterans Park

***Draft Plan Available For Review***

Oconee County citizens get their first chance tomorrow (Monday) night to review the nearly-completed work of the 29-member citizen Stakeholders Committee, which has worked in collaboration with the county consultants to draft a 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

Based on citizen input at the meeting tomorrow, the consultants are scheduled to make changes to the document to be discussed at a final meeting of the Stakeholders Committee in early March.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Oconee County Library Friends Winter Book Sale Will Help Fund Summer Reading Program At Watkinsville Library

***Feb. 8-10 At Library***

Oconee County Library Friends will direct funds raised through its winter used book sale from Feb. 8 to 10 to support of the summer reading program at the Oconee County Library on Experiment Station Road in Watkinsville.

Rebecca Ballard, children’s specialist at the library, said children experience a “summer slump” in reading when school is not in session, and the summer reading program is designed to address that.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Citizens Seek To Make New Friends Across Party Lines On Rainy Sunday In Oconee County

***Oconee Progressives And Democrats Are Sponsors***

Twenty-eight people turned out at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville on last Sunday’s rainy afternoon to exchange nonpartisan conversation with the goals of getting to know each other and of building community.

The sponsors, the Oconee Progressives and Oconee Democrats, had reached out across party lines with their invitations, and they were successful.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Postpone Until Next Week Decision On Additional $1 Million Expenditure For Calls Creek Wastewater Plant

***Second Aeration Basin Requested***

Two weeks after asking Oconee County citizens if they want to include wastewater reuse in the county’s yet-to-be completed Water and Wastewater Master Plan, Oconee County Water Resources Department Director Wayne Haynie asked the Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night to spend $1 million for that purpose.

The commissioners took the request under advisement, with Board Chair John Daniell saying it will be on the agenda at the meeting on Feb. 6 to allow for more citizen input on the request.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Commissioners To Discuss Revisions To Development Code For Landscaping

***Sewer Issues Also On Agenda***

In a reversal of plans, Oconee County Administrator Justin Kirouac tomorrow (Tuesday) night will open up discussion with the Board of Commissioners of a possible revision to the county’s Landscape and Buffers section of its Unified Development Code.

Citizens called for action on the code revision at a Town Hall Meeting last week, but Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said consideration of changes to the Unified Development Code would not take place until after the county completed work on its Comprehensive Plan this spring.

Sometimes Testy Meeting On Oconee County Sewer Plans Ends With Applause For Commissioners

***Poor Communication Acknowledged***

A sometimes testy meeting ended with applause on Wednesday night for Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell and Commissioner Chuck Horton, who spent more than 80 minutes taking questions from and interacting with citizens opposed to county plans for treatment of wastewater.

“I hear everybody talking,” Daniell said near the end of the meeting, “I think we’re already addressing what you’re saying. We’re trying to look at alternatives. There is no plan etched in stone.”

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education To Vote On Request To Spend $2.2 Million On High School Stadium Turf And Track Replacement

Removing Natural Turf

Oconee County school administrators will ask the Board of Education next month to approve spending $2.2 million to replace the natural turf in the system’s two high school stadiums and replace the synthetic tracks around the two fields.

The move to synthetic from natural turf is to accommodate increased use of the fields for football, soccer and lacrosse.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Transportation Sales Tax May Be On Ballot In Oconee County Next Year, Oconee Commission Chair Said

***At Town Hall Meeting***

Oconee County probably will consider whether to pursue a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax after it completes an ongoing transportation study and might ask voters to approve such a tax next year, Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said last (Tuesday) night.

Daniell made his comment in response to a question posed at the first quarterly Board of Commissioners Town Hall meeting for 2018, held at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Construction To Start On Upgrade To Sewer Line From Epps Bridge Parkway To Calls Creek Plant

***12-Inch Forced Main***

After a two-month delay due to the disruption in supplies because of Hurricane Harvey, construction crews are ready to start work on the upgrade to the sewer line from Epps Bridge Parkway to the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant outside Watkinsville.

Piles of 12-inch pipe are stacked at locations on the route along Old Epps Bridge Road, the Oconee Connector and Daniells Bridge Road.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Oconee County Magistrate Court Judge Finds Oconee Waste Transport Not Guilty Of Noise Ordinance Violation

***Jan. 12 Trial***

Oconee County Magistrate Court Judge Samuel Barth on Friday ruled Oconee Waste Transport not guilty of the county’s charge that the trash hauler violated the county’s noise ordinance by tipping dumpsters from a commercial site on Epps Bridge Parkway sometime between Dec. 29, 2016, and Jan. 20, 2017.

Clyde Edwin Pittman, an Athens plastic surgeon who lives at 1591 Tanglebrook Drive just off Epps Bridge Parkway, testified in the trail before Barth on Jan. 12 that he observed OWT emptying trash before 7 a.m. at IHOP on Epps Bridge Parkway and called the county to complain.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Decision On Future Of Oconee County Animal Shelter Likely To Be Addressed In Spring, County Administrator Says

***Flooding To Be Fixed***

Oconee County Administrator Justin Kirouac wants the Board of Commissioners to make a decision on what to do with the Animal Shelter this spring.

The Board needs to decide if it wants to retrofit the existing facility on 1171 Branch Road, south of Farmington, or if it wants to build a new facility, Kerouac told the commissioners at a strategic planning work session earlier this month.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Superior Court Judge Refuses To Force Oconee County To Issue Permit For Storage Facility On U.S. 441

***Case Can Be Reopened***

Oconee County Superior Court Judge H. Patrick Haggard has turned down a request by Broome Street LLC that Oconee County be forced to issue the company a development permit for construction of mini-warehouses on just more than 12 acres on U.S. 441 behind the Stone Store.

Judge Haggard denied the petition “without prejudice” on narrow grounds, and the case can be reopened for any reason.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Open House Discussion Identifies Major Decisions On Wastewater Treatment Confronting Oconee County

***Impact On Growth***

Oconee county is facing major decisions on wastewater treatment that will have significant impact on future residential, commercial and industrial growth in the county, a public presentation and discussion last (Tuesday) night at the Civic Center indicated.

The gathering, labeled an Open House On the Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update, was attended by 40 citizens and was hosted by Wayne Haynie, director of the Oconee County Water Resources Department, formerly called the Utility Department.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Need For High Speed Internet Access Dominated Discussion Between State Legislators And Oconee County Officials

***Session in Late December***

The lack of high speed Internet access in areas outside metropolitan Atlanta dominated discussion at a meeting of Oconee County’s legislative delegation with local government officials late last year.

“We’re committed on the Senate side for sure to try to increase access to high speed Internet throughout Georgia,” said Bill Cowsert, who represents the 46th Senate District, which includes Oconee County.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oconee County Magistrate Court Judge Delayed Decision On Ordinance Violation Issued To Oconee Waste Transport

***Noise Ordinance Cited***

Following and hour-long trial on Friday, Oconee County Magistrate Court Judge Sam Barth postponed his decision on whether Oconee Waste Transport violated the county’s noise ordinance while operating prior to 7 a.m. behind at least one business along Epps Bridge Parkway.

Clyde Edwin Pittman, an Athens plastic surgeon who lives at 1591 Tanglebrook Drive just off Epps Bridge Parkway, testified that he has been awakened in his home going back five years by haulers picking up trash from dumpsters at businesses on Epps Bridge Parkway.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Oconee County Announces “Major Spill” At Its Calls Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

***Suspended Solids Exceeded***

Operational problems caused a spill of partially treated wastewater into Calls Creek from the Oconee County wastewater treatment plant of that name located just north of Watkinsville, the county announced this (Thursday) morning.

The partially treated release occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 9, according to the statement from Wayne Haynie, director of the county’s Water Resources Department, previously called the Utility Department.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Democratic Georgia House Representatives Gonzalez And Wallace Entered 2018 With Small Campaign Surpluses

***Dwarfed By Republicans***

Deborah Gonzalez, newly elected to represent Georgia House District 117, began 2018 with $11,466 in her campaign account, and Jonathan Wallace, newly elected to represent Georgia House District 119, began the year with $11,639 in unspent campaign funds.

Gonzalez and Wallace are Democrats. Both the 117th and 119th House Districts are split between Oconee and Clarke counties.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Panelists From Oconee And Surrounding Counties Engaged In "Focus Group" On Range Of Political Topics

***At Civic Center***

The organizers labeled the group conversation as one that should not involve political rhetoric, but given the topics selected that was a near impossibility.

Business, Economy, Education, Free Speech, Healthcare and Immigration are political issues, at least in the current environment.