Monday, December 31, 2018

Watkinsville Apartment Complex On Hold Until City Decides On Request For Building Permits

***Sewer Capacity Part Of Issue***

Chuck and David Williams ended the year without a resolution to their efforts to move the proposed Wisteria Ridge Apartment Complex on North Main Street in Watkinsville from dormant to active.

Ken Beall, representing the Williams brothers, appeared before the Watkinsville City Council in November with the request that the city issue building permits for a sampling of the 103 residential units in the 15-building complex.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Oconee County Election Director Told Republicans She Does Not See Evidence of Voter Fraud Or Voter Suppression

***Says System Secure***

Fran Davis, director of Elections and Registration, told Oconee County Republicans that she does not believe voter fraud exists in Georgia, based on her experience in Oconee County.

She also said she believes the election system is secure because of the “checks and balances” built into it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Defeated Oconee County State House Representative Told Fellow Democrats Of Positive Outcomes Of Election

***Cited Better Understanding Of Community***

Jonathan Wallace gave Oconee County Democrats a decidedly upbeat assessment of the Nov. 6 election in which he was defeated in his bid to retain his House District 119 seat.

Wallace confessed he was not excited about “the actual outcome of the election,” which he lost to Republican Marcus Wiedower, but he said “There is a lot to be proud about.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Issues Bonds For Presbyterian Village Athens

***County Grants Initial Building Permits***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Wednesday issued $127.8 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds for construction of Presbyterian Village Athens on U.S. 441 at Hog Mountain Road.

The issuance of the bonds followed a Nov. 15 ruling by Oconee County Superior Court Judge Lawton E. Stephens that the Authority had properly entered into an agreement with Westminster Presbyterian Homes Inc. of Quitman to pay off the bonds.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

At New Fire House Dedication, Oconee County Officials Note Commercial Demands And Possible Future Need For Paid Firefighters

***Ladder Truck Planned***

The “ribbon” was a yellow fire hose.

Rather than cut it, Oconee County Fire Chief Bruce Thaxton and Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell uncoupled it.

With that uncoupling, Thaxton said, “We’re now dedicating Station 8 to Oconee County.”

Friday, December 14, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Treated To Holiday Song Medley By Elementary School Students

***Rocky Branch Chorus Performed***

The meeting of the Oconee County Board of Education on Monday had a special feature, in keeping with the season.

Eighteen students, making up the Rocky Branch Elementary School Chorus and led by Josh Luke, performed a medley of holiday songs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Approval Of Rezone Modifications For Two Large Residential Developments

***Part Of Legal Settlement***

The Oconee County Planning Commission took quick action on Monday on three rezone requests dictated by the county’s settlement of lawsuits involving the massive Parkside and Westland projects that together will bring 1,175 new residential lots to the county.

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners actually brought the rezone requests to the Planning Commission, as called for in the settlement of the lawsuits, and the Planning Commission dutifully recommended to the Board of Commissioners that it approve them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Granted Variance (And Forgiveness) To Builder Who Said He Made “Small Mistake”

***House Too Close To Street***

Keith Newberry, managing partner at Keystone Custom Homes LLC of Athens, told the Oconee County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting last week that his draftsman made a mistake in drawing site plans for two homes he built this year in Lee Ridge Subdivision southeast of Watkinville.

One house, a 2,370 square-foot structure at 2339 Maddison Avenue, now sits more than four feet closer to the street than the county’s Unified Development Code allows, and Newberry was asking the Board of Commissioner for forgiveness.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Receives Proposal For School Calendars

***Later Start Dates Offered***

Oconee County schools will begin classes on the first Wednesday of August and end classes on the Friday of the third full week in May in each of the next three academic years if the Board of Education accepts the recommendation presented to it at its work session last week.

Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, director of Communications for the schools, told the Board the draft calendars were the result of work by a Calendar Committee and had been reviewed as well by Parent Advisory, Student Advisory, and Teacher Advisory groups.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Republicans Raffensperger And Eaton Carry Oconee County In Runoff, But Democrats Gained From November

***Light Turnout***

Republican Brad Raffensperger got 67.1 percent of the vote in Oconee County in the runoff for Secretary of State on Tuesday, up just slightly from his 66.8 percent vote on Nov. 6.

Democrat John Barrow received 32.9 percent of the vote in Oconee County on Tuesday, up from the 30.7 percent he received in the three-way contest on Nov. 6.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Oconee Commissioners Approve Variance Requests for Eastville Car Museum

***No Sidewalks, Buffers Needed***

Tony Townley won’t have to meet county standards requiring a 15 foot setback in the front yard of his Eastville Car Museum.

He also won’t have to move four existing silos, a windmill, and a water tower from the front yard of his property at Snows Mill Road and Cole Spring Road, even though they violate the county’s Unified Development Code.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Told 2004 And 2009 Unspent SPLOST Funds Soon To Be Used

***Courthouse Expansion With 2004 Funds***

Oconee County soon will deplete money currently sitting in the 2004 and 2009 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax accounts and then will be dependent solely on revenue coming from the 2015 tax, county Finance Director Wes Geddings reported earlier this month.

The 2004 SPLOST account currently has $2.5 million in unspent funds, while the 2009 SPLOST account has $0.4 million, Geddings told the Board of Commissioners as part of his financial update for the first quarter of the 2019 Fiscal Year.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Early Voting Starts Tomorrow For Secretary Of State, Public Service Commission Runoffs

Turnout Likely To Be Light

Early voting for the Dec. 4 runoff election begins at 8 a.m. tomorrow at the Office of Elections and Registration, 10 Court Street, across from the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Early voting will continue through Friday, with the Office open each day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday is the last day to mail absentee ballots.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Analysis Of Oconee County Vote On Nov. 6 Suggests Most Voters Did Not Cross Party Lines

***No Evidence Of Party Shift***

Oconee County voting on Nov. 6 showed little variation by election contest, suggesting that most ballots were cast along party lines.

No Republican got more than 74.6 percent of the vote or less than 66.8 percent in Oconee County, and no Democrat got more than 30.7 percent of the vote or less than 25.4 percent, an analysis of the certified results shows.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Parent Says Oconee County Board Of Education Not Responsive To Issues Of Mold And Mildew At Elementary School

***Board Disagrees***

Brandi Herndon told the Oconee County Board of Education on Monday evening that she doesn’t think it has been responsive to her concerns about mold at Oconee County Elementary School, which her child attends.

The Board disagreed, with member Amy Parrish saying she had confidence in the school staff and is convinced the problem had been adequately addressed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Apalachee River Intake For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Makes Georgia’s Dirty Dozen List

***Georgia Water Coalition Report***

The Georgia Water Coalition this (Tuesday) morning named the planned withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River for an expanded Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir to its 2018 Georgia’s Dirty Dozen list.

The Coalition labeled the proposed Apalachee River water intake “an exercise in overbuilding” and called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to turn down the current requests for the intake.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Oconee County Voters Had Disproportionate Influence On Outcomes Of Local Races For Georgia General Assembly

***High Turnout The Explanation***

In terms of number of registered voters, Oconee County is smaller that all four of the counties with which it shares legislative districts for the General Assembly in Atlanta.

In last Tuesday’s elections, however, a higher percentage of Oconee County voters cast a ballot than in any of those other four counties.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Told Testing In Schools Is A Concern Of Parents And Community

***Researchers Summarize Findings***

Parents and community members are concerned about how Oconee County Schools assess student performance and see a need for greater support services in the schools to help with mental health, stress, and social skills issues.

That was one of the key findings of researchers for the Georgia School Boards Association, who examined responses to an online survey and input from a community engagement meeting last month.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Republicans Reclaim Oconee County's Two House Seats

***Also Hold Senate***

Republicans Tuesday reclaimed House District 117 and House District 119, held by Democrats since a special election a year ago.

Republican Houston Gaines defeated incumbent Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in House District 117 and Republican Marcus Wiedower defeated incumbent Jonathan Wallace in House District 119.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Incumbents Win Oconee County Board Of Education And Watkinsville Council Races

***Turnout Lower Than 2016***

Republican incumbents today easily defeated their Democratic challengers in the two Oconee County Board of Education races, and incumbents in the three nonpartisan Watkinsville City Council races held off challengers as well.

Oconee County voters favored Republicans in statewide races, with 69.8 percent selecting Republican Brian Kemp for governor versus 29.0 percent voting for Democrat Stacey Abrams and 1.2 percent selecting Libertarian Ted Metz.

Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Board Purchases Land On Apalachee River At High Shoals For Intake Facility

***Hydroelectric Plant To Close***

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board last week agreed to purchase 3.48 acres on the Apalachee River at High Shoals for an intake facility and pump station for future expansion of the reservoir in southeastern Walton County.

The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority, meeting with the Management Board, also approved the $1.3 million purchase agreement with Victoria Bracewell Presley that includes both temporary and permanent easements at the site as well as water rights.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Republicans In Oconee County House And Senate Races Report Spending Nearly Twice What Democrats Spent In October

***Raised Twice As Much As Well***

The three Republican candidates seeking to be elected tomorrow to represent Oconee County in the Georgia General Assembly in January spent nearly twice as much as their Democratic counterparts in the crucial first 25 days of October.

The three Republicans also raised nearly twice as much money as the three Democrats during that time period.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Four In Ten Oconee County Voters Cast A Ballot In Early Voting

***Turnout Likely To Match 2016***

At the end of early voting on Friday, 11,709 Oconee County residents had cast a ballot, representing 42.5 percent of the county’s 27,530 active, registered voters.

Four years ago at the end of early voting, only 24.4 percent of the county’s then 22,526 active registered voters had participated, indicating final turnout for Tuesday’s election almost certainly will exceed by a considerable amount turnout four years ago.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Human Trafficking Forum In Oconee County Focuses On Problems Of Awareness

***Speakers Make Common Point***

It could be your daughter or your son, and you might not even know it.

That theme permeated the entire evening of the Human Trafficking Awareness Forum organized by the North Oconee Rotary Club and held last week at the Oconee County Civic Center.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Vote To Settle Sewage Capacity Suits, Allowing Large Residential Master Planned Developments

***Concessions Made***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight (Tuesday) approved a settlement agreement with the owners of Parkside and Westland subdivisions that will allow the massive residential master plan developments in the center and west of the county to move forward.

The developers did agree to concessions, including the reduction of the number of lots in both developments, elimination of proposed attached homes from Westland, inclusion of lots reserved for persons 55 years old and older in Parkside, and that no more than 75 building permits would be issued per year.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Kemp Makes Pitch For Two Oconee County State House Candidates During Bus Tour Stop

***Says Turnout Key***

Republican Brian Kemp brought his bus tour to Oconee County today (Monday morning) to raise money for and stir up interest in his campaign.

He made it clear, however, that he also wanted to help Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower, who are trying to unseat Democrats Deborah Gonzalez and Jonathan Wallace, holders of the House District 117 and House District 119 seats respectively.

Letter To Parents of Oconee County Elementary School Addresses Concerns About Mold And Mildew In Classroom

***Issue Raised At Board Meeting***

Oconee County Elementary School Principal Ashley Templeton sent a letter to parents and staff last week to reassure them that the school has not had a problem with mold.

Templeton took the action following a statement by Brandi Herndon, a moderator of the Facebook group, Parents Improving Oconee Schools, to the Board of Education earlier this month that she had been told of a “mold or mildew problem” at the school.

Congressman Hice Bragged About The Economy In Meeting With Regional Government Leaders

***Meeting In Athens***

Congressman Jody Hice’s presentation to the Council of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission last month was not billed as a campaign event, but it would have been hard to have missed the political implications of the message.

In just “two quick years,” Hice told the government and civic leaders from the region, the country has gone from having a “stagnant” economy to one in which there is “great economic news.”

Sunday, October 28, 2018

All Watkinsville Council Candidates Say They Like Sidewalks and Bike Paths

***At Forum***

The seven persons seeking the three seats on the Watkinsville City Council agreed at the candidate forum earlier this month that the city needs more sidewalks, more bikeways, and more interconnectivity of those pathways.

All agreed that the big challenge is how to pay for these improvements to the city’s infrastructure.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Healthcare Issues Dominate Forum For Oconee County Senate And House Candidates Held At Baptist Church In Athens

***Medicaid Expansion Plays Role***

Healthcare generally and Medicaid expansion specifically dominated the forum last week for candidates for Georgia Senate District 46 and House District 117 and House District 119 organized by the Athens Community Agenda.

Democrats Deborah Gonzalez and Jonathan Wallace, incumbents representing the 117th and 119th Georgia House districts respectively, said they support Medicaid expansion, as did Marisue Hilliard, the Democratic candidate for Georgia Senate District 46.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Oconee County Early Voting Continuing At Strong Pace

***Nearly 1 In 5 Voters Participating***

An average of more than 700 Oconee County voters has cast a ballot in the first seven days of early voting for the Nov. 6 elections.

The 4,996 votes cast as of the end of the day today (Tuesday) represents 18.1 percent of the county’s 27,530 active registered voters.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Approves Bond Sales For Presbyterian Village

***Final Bond Amount Not Set***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority today (Monday) agreed to sell up to $155 million in tax-exempt bonds for the construction of Presbyterian Village Athens.

The Authority will earn a total of $600,000 in fees for issuing the bonds for Westminster Presbyterian Homes Inc., which is building the continuing care retirement community on the 70-acre tract on U.S. 441 at Hog Mountain Road.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Cancels Meeting For Bond Sales To Presbyterian Homes

***Documents Not Ready***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority cancelled its scheduled meeting for this afternoon because the documents needed for the Authority to go forward with authorization of a loan for Presbyterian Village Athens are not ready.

The county sent out a notice just before noon today announcing the cancellation of the 4 p.m. meeting but did not give a reason and did not indicate when the meeting would be held.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Candidates For Georgia House And Senate Take Different Stands On Health Care At Chamber Of Commerce Candidate Forum

***All See Health Care Problems***

The three Republican state legislative candidates who spoke at the Oconee County and Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Candidate forum on Thursday night said they did not want the government involved in health care and that the market could provide solutions to health care problems.

The other five speakers–four Democrats and a write-in candidate–said the market was not working and government needed to step in to address health care problems.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wiedower Raised More Money In July to September Campaign Period Than Any Other Oconee County Candidate

***Gonzalez Had Strong Report Too***

Marcus Wiedower, Republican candidate for the 119th House District seat, raised more than $80,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30, topping all six candidates for Oconee County’s seats in the Georgia General Assembly.

Deborah Gonzalez, Democrat incumbent in House District 117, raised $68,381–more than $20,000 above the $47,987 raised by her Republican challenger, Houston Gaines.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Oconee County Schools Assembling School And Community Team As Part Of Strategic Planning Process

***Report To Board***

Oconee County School administrators are in the process of putting together a team of some 30 to 40 members who will meet in early November as the next step in the Strategic Planning Process, Claire Buck, chief academic officer, told the Board of Education last week.

Buck said invitations had gone out to 39 individuals, roughly evenly split between student and staff on the one hand and parents and community on the other. Buck referred to the group, when assembled, as the Planning Team.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Postpones Meeting On Presbyterian Homes Bonds

***Final Figure Not Set***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Friday postponed its meeting to consider issuance of bonds for construction of Presbyterian Village Athens on U.S. 441 at Hog Mountain Road that had been scheduled for tomorrow (Monday).

County Clerk Kathy Hayes sent out notice of the postponement of the Authority meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Friday but did not give an explanation of the decision to postpone the meeting.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Oconee County School Board Candidates Focus On Access In Forum; Legislative Candidates Address Campus Carry And Other Issues

***Gaines On Attack***

Fran Thompson and Andrea Wellnitz, seeking spots on the Oconee County Board of Education, told a packed room of citizens gathered for a candidate forum on Thursday night that they want the Board to be more transparent and more open to citizen input.

Incumbents Kim Argo and Amy Parrish said the Board already is transparent and open to citizens ideas and feedback and they want to make sure the community understands that.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Rezones For Shopping Center And Car Museum

***Conditions Added In Both Cases***

Oconee County commissioners, with minimal discussion, unanimously approved the request for a shopping center at the intersection of Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road and for a museum, office, and events venue at Cole Springs Road and Snows Mill Road.

Just fewer than 50 citizens turned out for the meeting, about half of them interested in the shopping center decision, despite their having been told in advance it was unlikely they would get a chance to speak. They did not get that chance.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Citizen Asked Oconee County Board Of Education To Lobby Legislators To Reduce Testing

Superintendent Asked In 2015

The Oconee County Board of Education members, in keeping with policy, did not respond last month when Joyce Reifsteck, 1141 Thornwell Drive, north of Watkinsville, asked them to address her concerns about the burden placed on teachers by testing in the county’s schools.

“I don’t have to tell you about constant preparation and testing, and the tedious attention that is paid to the Georgia Standards of Excellence, formerly called Common Core,” Reifsteck said.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Cell Tower On McRees Mill Road Gets Required Permit From Oconee County Commission

***Court Ruling Dictated Decision***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night took the unusual step of holding a zoning hearing at its agenda setting meeting and approved the issuance of a special use permit for a telecommunications tower on McRees Mill Road off Barnett Shoals Road.

The Board took that action following a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta overturning the Board’s denial in 2014 of the permit for Verizon Wireless on 42 acres at 1210 McRees Mill Road.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Oconee County Planning Commission Approves Townley Request For Car Museum And Events Venue

***Rejects Staff Recommendations***

Oconee County planners told the county’s Planning Commission last week that they were recommending approval of Tony Townley’s request for a car museum on 11.1 acres surrounding by farmland only on the condition that it not include an events venue.

The planners said that use of the land on Snows Mill Road at Cole Springs Road for public events is incompatible with surrounding land use and that the 151 parking spaces are sufficient for the Museum and existing office but not for events that could attract large numbers of visitors.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Oconee County Reports Sewer Spill Into Tributary Of Barber Creek At Rocky Branch Road

***Fourth Spill This Year***

Oconee County reported another major sewer spill on Wednesday after discovering that approximately 21,225 gallons of waste water were released into a tributary of Barber Creek at Rocky Branch Road.

The spill, which occurred on Tuesday, was the result of a break in the sewer main due to “pipe fatigue,” according to a news release from the county. The county’s Land Application System site is on Rocky Branch Road and is fed by a sewer line that runs along Rocky Branch Road.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Gaines Has Built Up Big Cash Surplus For His Second Attempt To Gain A Seat In Georgia General Assembly

***Incumbent Gonzalez Won Last Time With Less***

It seems unlikely Republican Houston Gaines will run out of money as he seeks to unseat Democrat Deborah Gonzalez in Georgia House District 117 in November.

Gaines, in his second attempt to win a House seat, was sitting on $169,450 in unspent funds as the election entered its crucial stage this summer.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Oconee County Planning Commission To Consider Proposal For A Car Museum On Former Plant Sciences Farm

Red Barn Part Of Museum

Tony Townley is asking the county to allow him to carve out and rezone 11.1 acres that are part of the Plant Sciences Farm on Snows Mill Road he purchased from the University of Georgia in 2014 so he can turn the property into commercial use.

Townley is proposing to operate what he is calling the Eastville Car Museum to display classic, vintage, and historical automobiles and equipment in buildings already on the property, including the University of Georgia’s Red Barn, which Townley purchased and moved to the site.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Oconee County Schools Added Enough New Students In August To Fill Half Of A K-5 School, Education Board Members Told

***Community Engagement Meeting Announced***

Enrollments at Oconee County Schools increased by 246 students over the last year, marking the fourth straight year that enrollments in the county schools grew by more than 3 percentage points.

Brook Whitmire, chief Human Resources officer for the school system, told the Board of Education on Monday that the growth in enrollments means that the county is adding enough students each year to represent about half of K-5 school.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Students And Community Members Join At North Oconee High School To Honor Victims Of 9/11 Attack

***Sponsored By Young Americans For Freedom***

The event honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks 17 years ago was nonpartisan, North Oconee High School Young Americans for Freedom Chapter Advisor Kirk Shook told the roughly 100 people assembled at the school on Sunday.

To emphasize the point, Shook noted that Democrat Deborah Gonzales, representing the 117th House District in the Georgia General Assembly, was among those gathered to place 2,977 small flags on the school’s lawn to commemorate the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Citizens Voice Concerns At Hearing About Oconee County Sale Of Bonds For Presbyterian Homes

***County Attorney Says No Liability***

Citizens who spoke at the hearing on Thursday regarding the county’s plans to issue $155 million in bonds for Presbyterian Village Athens raised two concerns.

Some said they felt the bonds represented a risk to the county.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Oconee County Board Delays Action On Rezone For Shopping Center At Malcom Bridge School Complex

***2003 And 2004 Rezones At Issue***

Oconee County commissioners Tuesday night delayed until Oct. 2 their decision on a rezone for a proposed shopping center between Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road just south of Malcom Bridge Elementary and Malcom Bridge Middle schools.

The commissioners made that decision after receiving only opposition from residents in neighborhoods surrounding the proposed development, hearing from and interacting with the developer, and getting input from county staff.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Hearing On $155 Million Bond Sale For Presbyterian Homes Gives Citizens What May Be Sole Chance To Offer Comment

***Largest Bond Issue To Date***

Oconee County will hold at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Courthouse in Watkinsville what could be the only public hearing on the issuance of $155 million in revenue bonds for Presbyterian Village Athens.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood will serve as the hearing officer at the meeting, which is required by the United States Internal Revenue Service before the county can approve the issuance of the tax-exempt bonds.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Zoning Change For Shopping Center Near Malcom Bridge School Complex

***Already Zoned Commercial***

Oconee County commissioners tomorrow (Tuesday) will take up a request to modify zoning for a shopping center on land between Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road just south of the Malcom Bridge Middle School.

The 7.5 acre tract has been zoned for commercial use since 2004 but has not been developed and is surrounded by residential and school properties.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Two Democratic Candidates For Oconee County Board of Education Want To Improve Transparency And School Safety

***Schools Are Good But Can Be Better***

Fran Thompson and Andrea Wellnitz told Oconee County Democrats that they are running as a team for spots on the Oconee County Board of Education.

Both said they are seeking to improve transparency in the schools, to guarantee that the school environment is a safe one, and to make sure the schools serve the social and emotional needs of all students.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Federal Appeals Court Ruled Against Oconee County Denial Of Cell Tower Permit, Board Of Commissioners Told

***McRees Mill Road Site***

As a result of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Verizon Wireless will be able to build a cell tower on 42 acres on McRees Mill Road off Barnett Shoals Road despite denial of a permit for the tower by Oconee County in 2014.

Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell announced the court ruling and subsequent negotiations at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night, just before the Board approved a change to its Utility Accommodation Ordinance to regulate small cell telecommunications technology.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Are Considering Transferring Economic Development Staff Function To Chamber Of Commerce

***Proposal Includes Other Governments***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is considering contracting with the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce to handle economic development rather than employ a county economic development director.

Under the proposal, the Chamber of Commerce would designate a staff person to manage economic development for the county.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Oconee County Has Completed Switchover At Calls Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

***Meeting Permit Standards***

Oconee County has successfully transitioned from its old wastewater treatment facility at Calls Creek on the northeast of Watkinsville to a new one still under construction at the same site.

The switchover from the old treatment facility to the new took place earlier this month, and all of the county's sewage coming into the plant is now being handled by the new facility.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners To Consider Ordinance Revision To Accommodate New Telecommunications Technologies

***Small Cell Nodes***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will consider a revision to its Utility Accommodation Ordinance to address small cell technology and other new technologies being utilized in the telecommunications industry.

The proposed revision follows a moratorium passed by the Board at a called meeting on Aug. 16 barring the issuance of permits and the acceptance of applications for permits for the installation of wireless communication devices and facilities in the county's rights of way.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Oconee County To Hold Meeting To Discuss New Structure For Support Of Economic Development

***Follows Elimination Of Position***

Oconee County is holding a meeting at 9 a.m. on Monday to discuss the current governmental structure for promotion of economic development in the county and consider a new structure for the future.

County Administrator Justin Kirouac said he plans to present his recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, the Industrial Development Authority, and members of the city councils of Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals and Watkinsville.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Georgia Election Expert Tells Oconee County Republicans Their Party Should Hold On To Governor’s Mansion

***But Party Could “Mess Up”***

The Georgia governor’s race is Republican Brian Kemp’s to lose, political scientist Charles Bullock, an expert on Georgia elections, told Oconee County Republicans on Thursday night.

“The Republicans should win this,” Bullock, distinguished University of Georgia professor, said. “This is still a Republican state.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Oconee County Republicans Are Excited, Party Leader Says, But Much Hard Work Is Needed

***Opening Of Headquarters***

Oconee County Republican Party Chair Tammy Gilland told those gathered for the Grand Opening of the 2018 Campaign Headquarters last week that the local party is excited about the election season but is aware that much work needs to be done.

Gilland said party members need to make a lot of phone calls and knock on lots of doors to “spread the word about the great candidates that we have.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Oconee Republican Committee Decides To Prohibit Note-Taking At And Recording Of Its Meetings By Media

***Effective Immediately***

The Oconee County Republican Party Executive Committee has placed severe restrictions on media coverage of its meetings, starting with the one on Thursday and running through the election in November.

Tammy Gilland, chair of the local party organization, said that media representatives are allowed to attend the next three party meetings but that they are not allowed to record the meetings in any way and not allowed to take any notes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Fencing And Signs Are Up, But Oconee County Still Waiting For Final Bonding Request From Presbyterian Homes

***For Presbyterian Village Athens***

Oconee County officials are still waiting on Presbyterian Homes to indicate how much money it wants the county to borrow through bond sales to help finance construction of its Presbyterian Village Athens on U.S. 441 at Hog Mountain Road.

In the last two weeks the company began land clearance and construction of a chain-link fence along U.S. 441 for its complex. The county had issued a Land Disturbance Permit for the 79-acre property nearly a year ago.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Bishop Mayor Told State Transportation Board He Opposes Current Plan For U.S. 441 Improvements In Oconee County

***Wants 2007 Plan Instead***

Bishop Mayor Johnny Pritchett has written to the Georgia Transportation Board criticizing the proposed close-in U.S. 441 truck bypass of Bishop and saying the state should resurrect the 2007 plan that called for a bypass further east of the city.

Pritchett told state Transportation Board Chair Jamie Boswell that the current plan, which the state revealed in March, does not address his concerns about traffic inside Bishop reaching the bypass, the use of roundabouts on each side of the city, and the safety of the road south of Bishop.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Georgia Secretary Of State Office Does Not Know How Many People Voted In Primary And Primary Runoff Elections

***Counties Filed Data***

The Georgia Secretary of State Office, which is responsible for elections in the state, does not know how many people voted in either the May 22 primary elections or the July 24 runoffs.

The 159 counties in the state filed that information with the Secretary of State Office shortly after each of the two elections as part of the certification process for elections.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Oconee County School System Released Road Map To Help Parents Find Dove Creek Elementary School Entrance

***Also Used For Ribbon Cutting***

Parents dropping their children off at Oconee County’s new Dove Creek Elementary School for the first day of classes on Wednesday will use the school’s entrance off the newly paved V.M. Osborne Road.

Buses will use another entrance directly off Hog Mountain Road.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Oconee And Walton Counties Waiting On Response From State To Renewal Request For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***Apalachee River Intake Site Not Named***

The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority is waiting on a response from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to the Authority’s application for renewal of its permits to draw water from the existing Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir as well as from the Apalachee River.

The Authority submitted its renewal request for the two permits on May 3, but, according to Jimmy Parker from Precision Planning Inc., who represents the Authority, the Georgia EPD is holding up action until the Authority acquires land for an intake facility on the Apalachee River.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Plans For Retail Projects Along Hog Mountain Road Approved By Oconee County Review Committee

***Plus Project On Virgil Langford***

The Oconee County Development Review Committee approved a series of retail projects on Hog Mountain Road and in Butler’s Crossing at its meeting last week.

The Committee voted to approve the preliminary site plan for Butler’s Crossing Professional Park on an 8-acre parcel next to Publix in Butler’s Crossing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Oconee County Republicans Turned Out For Runoff Election Much As They Did For Primary

***Few Democrats Voted***

Turnout in Oconee County for the Republican Primary Runoff on Tuesday was only slightly lower than turnout for the May 22 party primary, an analysis of elections data by party shows.

Democratic turnout dropped dramatically, however, and overall turnout was down from 29.8 percent in May to 22.7 percent on Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Kemp’s Margin In Oconee County Republican Gubernatorial Primary Runoff Exceeds Margin In State

***Defeats Cagle Easily***

Brian Kemp won big in Oconee County in the runoff election Tuesday, outperforming his strong-showing in the state, where he decisively defeated L.S. “Casey” Cagle for the Republican nomination for governor.

David Shafer carried Oconee County in the Republic Party primary runoff for lieutenant governor, while in the state, with 100 percent of the precincts counted, Geoff Duncan had just more than 50 percent of the vote.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Oconee County Republicans Had High Turnout In Early Voting For Primary Runoff

***Few Democrats Voted So Far***

More Oconee County voters cast Republican ballots in early voting for the runoff elections that ended Friday than cast Republican ballots during early voting for the party primaries in May.

That was true even though there was one fewer days of early voting in the runoff because of the July 4 holiday and no Saturday voting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Oconee County Reports Sewer Spill On Tributary To Calls Creek In Watkinsville

***Flow Meter Strap Problem***

An estimated 31,250 of untreated sewage spilled into a tributary of Calls Creek on Saturday as a result of a blockage in a sewer line on Experiment Station Road near the Sheriff’s Office in Watkinsville.

Tim Durham, newly named Water Resources Department director for the county, said that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has been notified of the spill.

Oconee County Board Of Education Told High School Classrooms And Sports Fields To Be Ready For Aug. 1 School Opening

***Road Work Delays At Elementary School***

Oconee County High School will have 12 classrooms ready for use when students return on Aug. 1, rather than the eight originally scheduled to be ready for the beginning of the school year, Jake Grant, director of facilities, told the Board of Education on Monday.

Grant also said that the replacement of the tracks at North Oconee High School and Oconee County High School and the installation of artificial turf at the stadium fields for the two schools is on schedule and will be completed for the first home football games of the year.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Oconee County Schools Holding Dove Creek Elementary Ribbon Cutting And Tours On July 24

***Open To Public***

The Oconee County School System is opening the doors of the new Dove Creek Elementary School to the public following a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on July 24, the same day teachers report back for duty.

The first day for students at the new school at 7921 Hog Mountain Road in the far west of the county is Aug. 1.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Excess Land At Proposed Site For New Oconee County Sewer Plant Could Be Used For Recreation

***Concept Plan Released***

A future sewage plant on acreage Oconee County is purchasing on the Middle Oconee River might include picnic areas and walking trails if a concept plan presented at a Board of Commissioners Town Hall meeting last (Tuesday) night is implemented.

Commission Chair John Daniell said the county is about to close on two parcels of land on the river off Rockinwood Drive for a sewage plant, but construction of such a facility is years away.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Reject Rezone Request For New Subdivision On Rocky Branch Road

***Slab Construction At Issue***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday night to turn down a rezone request for a 77-lot subdivision on Rocky Branch Road across from Old Waverly subdivision.

Commissioners gave no reason for the denial, but they took the action after the attorney presenting the case for the rezone would not agree to construct the homes on foundations with crawl spaces or basements.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Corps Of Engineers Told Morgan County Intake Site No Longer Under Consideration For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***New Purchase Pending***

The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority has informed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it is no longer considering a Morgan County site for a possible Apalachee River intake facility for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir.

The Authority asked the Corps to go ahead with consideration of its request for a permit extension for the intake facility and assume that the Authority would be successful in its efforts to purchase the original site for the intake on the river in Walton County.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Candidate Repeats His Pitch For Secretary of State Office In Meeting With Oconee County Republicans

***Early Voting For Runoff Underway***

Brad Raffensperger, running for Georgia secretary of state, had the same message for the Oconee County Republicans at their meeting last week as he had when he spoke to the group in January in the runup to the May Republican Party Primary.

Now competing in the primary runoff set for July 24, Raffensperger said he is motivated to seek the office to make sure only Americans vote in Georgia elections, to make sure the state is a great place to find a job, and to guarantee that the state is a great place to build a business.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Oconee County To Spend Nearly $9 Million In SPLOST Monies In Fiscal Year 2019

***Facilities Spending Detailed***

Oconee County will spend $275,000 out of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues for a variety of facilities projects in the upcoming fiscal year, including for heating and air conditioning replacement at the Oconee County Library and at the Government Annex.

Alex Newell, management analyst with the county, released details of facility projects to be funded by SPLOST to the public and the Board of Commissioners at the Board meeting on Tuesday evening.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Russ Page Says His Oconee County Activism Sprang From His Farming

***Leaving For North Carolina***

Russ Page didn’t grow up on a farm, but he began working on one when he was 11.

It was the love of animals and of farming that brought Page to the University of Georgia in 1981 and to Oconee County.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Items Not On Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Agenda Can Dominate Those On Agenda

***Last Month An Example***

The official agenda for the regular meeting of Oconee County Industrial Authority on Monday is the standard one.

It includes adoption of the agenda and the financial report for the Authority as well as reports from individual members.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Superior Court Judge Quick Fails In Election Bid While Superior Court Judge Norris Turns Back Challenge

***Oconee Incumbents Get Primary Support***

Lisa Lott, formerly Chief Assistant Public Defender for Clarke and Oconee counties, ousted Regina Quick as Superior Court Judge in voting Tuesday in the Nonpartisan General Judicial Election held in conjunction with the Democratic and Republican State Primary elections.

Eric Norris, holder of another Superior Court Judgeship for Clarke and Oconee counties, held off a challenge from Allison Mauldin, chief assistant district attorney for the Ocmulgee District.

Incumbents On Oconee County Board Of Commissioners, Board Of Education Survive Primary Challenges

***Judicial Races Unsettled***

Oconee County Board of Commissioners member William “Bubber” Wilkes emerged victorious from the Republican Party Primary on Tuesday, with 71.9 percent of the vote to John Laster's 28.1 percent.

Incumbent Board of Education Member Amy Parrish also won the Republian Party nomiation for her Board seat, getting 71.0 percent of the vote to 29.0 percent for Adam Spence.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Judicial Races Dominate Discussion At Oconee County Democratic Committee Meeting

Turnout Low In Early Voting

The nonpartisan race for two Superior Court judgeships dominated the Oconee County Democratic Committee meeting this past week, with both candidates Allison Mauldin and Eric Norris in attendance.

Mauldin and Norris are both seeking the judgeship held by Norris in the Western Judicial Circuit, which includes Oconee and Clarke counties.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Oconee County And Board Of Education Not In Agreement On How To Solve Road Problem At New Dove Creek Elementary School

***Gas Line At Issue***

Construction of the planned entranceway to the new Dove Creek Elementary School off Hog Mountain Road in the far west of Oconee County has hit a major snag.

The county has discovered that a gas pipeline owned by the City of Winder is along and possibly under Hog Mountain Road, making it impossible to build the entranceway as originally planned without relocating the pipeline.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Management Still Considering Apalachee River Intake In Morgan County

***Notes Morgan Negative Vote***

Despite objections from the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board and the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority are still considering an intake facility on the Apalachee River in Morgan County.

Kevin Little, vice-chair of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board, made that announcement Friday at the end of a called meeting of the Management Board and the Water Authority.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Oconee County Board Of Education Will Consider Changes In Meeting Times In Response To Citizen Request

***Decision Likely Next Week***

The Oconee County Board of Education agreed at its work session on Monday to consider changing its meetings times to accommodate the needs of parents.

The action followed a request by Brandi Herndon, moderator of the Facebook group, Parents Improving Oconee Schools, who asked the Board at its April 16 meeting to consider changing the times of its meetings to accommodate parents and to hold town hall meetings.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Candidates Tell Oconee County Republicans The Party Has To Overcome Complacency To Win In November

Seven Candidates Speak

Steven Strickland and Marcus Wiedower are competitors in the Republican Primary on May 22, but they made it clear in comments to the Oconee County Republic Party late last month that they share the goal of taking back Georgia House District 119 from the Democrats in November.

Both blamed “complacency” for their and the party’s defeat in the four-person special election held last November to fill the unexpired term of Republican Chuck Williams. The election was won by Democrat Jonathan Wallace.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Modify And Approve 2018 Comprehensive Plan

***Infrastructure Language Changed***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a list of changes, some small and some consequential, to the 2018 Comprehensive Plan before sending it on to the state for final review.

The new language approved by the Board clarifies that a land use objective of the county is to make sure that development is consistent with county pre-existing plans for provision of water and sewer services rather than allow development to dictate provision of those services.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Candidate For Democratic Nomination In 10th Congressional District Told Oconee County Democrats The Party Can Win In November

***One Of Many Speakers At Meeting***

Despite the past Republican voting record of the 10th Congressional District, Democrats, in the current political environment, can win in November if they have the right candidate, Chalis Montgomery told Oconee County Democrats last month.

Montgomery, in a primary contest on May 22 for the Democratic nomination, said Democrats can win if they have a candidate who can “speak a shared language” with people in the district.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Oconee County And Clarke County Superior Court Judicial Candidates Show Differences At Law School Forum

***May 22 General Election***

Law Professor Kent Barnett asked six questions of each of the four candidates seeking to be elected as a Superior Court Judge for the Western Judicial Circuit at the candidate forum held at the University of Georgia Law Library late last month.

The first two of the questions seemed like they could have been taken from a law school quiz, and the remaining four dealt with administrative issues the two winners of the May 22 nonpartisan general election are likely to deal with on the bench.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Morgan County Commissioners Vote To Oppose Apalachee River Intake For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***Cite Poor Communication***

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning unanimously passed a resolution stating its opposition to locating an intake facility for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir on the Apalachee River in Morgan County.

The resolution states support for the reservoir, a partnership between Walton and Oconee counties.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Receive Proposed Budget For Next Fiscal Year Showing 7.6 Percent Increase In Spending

***Declines In Base Water And Sewer Rates***

Oconee County Finance Director Wes Geddings has presented the Board of Commissioners a 2019 Fiscal Year General Fund Budget proposal that reflects a 7.6 percent growth in spending over the current fiscal year.

The increase in expenditure is matched by a projected increase in revenue.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Oconee County Commissioners Eliminate Comprehensive Plan Character Area In Response To Citizen Complaints

***Apalachee Citizens Also Make Request***

In quick order on Tuesday night, the Oconee County Board of Commissioners eliminated the Country Crossroads Character Area from the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

The change, agreed to by the commissioners following a public hearing on the draft plan, was a response to criticism that inclusion of the Country Crossroads Character Area could lead to commercial development in the south of the county.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Parents Asking Oconee County Board Of Education To Change Meeting Times and Types

***Consider Change In Meetings***

Brandi Herndon, moderator of the Facebook group, Parents Improving Oconee Schools, has asked the Oconee County Board of Education to consider changing the times of its meetings to accommodate parents and to hold town hall meetings.

In comments before the Board of Education last week, Herndon said the current 5 p.m. meetings are “really hard for parents and especially working parents” and that town hall meetings would be “a place to identify and implement solutions to problems” in the county’s schools.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Oconee County Planning Commission Rejects Restrictions On Slab Construction But Approves Revisions To Comprehensive Plan

***Recommendations To Board Of Commissioners***

The Oconee County Planning Commission, in an 8 to 2 vote last week, rebuffed a proposal from the county administration to modify the county development code to restrict the use of slab foundations in residential construction.

County Administrator Justin Kirouac told Planning Commission members that the proposed changes merely codify what the Board of Commissioners has been doing in rezone cases, but that didn’t influence the majority of the Planning Commission members, who recommended that the Board of Commissioners reject the code changes.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Oconee County Changes Construction Plans For Sewer Line On Daniells Bridge Road Because Of Water Line

***Switch Sewer Line To East Side***

A pipeline for a private water company has caused contractors to switch construction of a pressured sewer line leading from Epps Bridge Parkway to the Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant to the east side of a section of Daniells Bridge Road.

The change in construction plans will result in a three-day closure of Natalie Drive, which is an entrance to Welbrook Farms subdivision, the Oconee County Water Resources Department announced on Friday.

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.