Saturday, March 30, 2019

Oconee County To Consider Converting Sewage Treatment Facility On Rocky Branch Road To A New Park

***Commission To Consider Plant Decommissioning***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners will consider decommissioning its Land Application System sewage treatment facility on Rocky Branch Road and converting it into a park, Commission Chair John Daniell said at the first-ever State of the County presentation on Wednesday.

The nearly 250-acre site also could accommodate a new fire station and a new facility for the Fleet Maintenance, Water Resources and Public Works departments, Daniell told the nearly 70 people assembled for the presentation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Oconee County Moves Forward With Plans To Build Its Own Broadband Infrastructure

***Seeking Partners For Service***

Oconee County took first steps Tuesday night toward building broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet both in the northern developed and southern undeveloped parts of the county.

The Board of Commissioners told County Administrator Justin Kirouac to go forward with seeking qualified partners to build off a proposed fiber network to provide Internet services to homes and businesses.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Large Turnout At Oconee And Morgan County Open House Sessions On U.S. 441 Widening And Bishop Bypass Demonstrate Public Interest

***UGA Sends New Letter Of Opposition***

A total of 269 people attended the two Open House meetings the Georgia Department of Transportation held in the last two weeks on the widening of U.S. 441 and the bypass of Bishop, including 195 at the Open House last week at Oconee Veterans Park.

Attendees at both sessions got a chance to view maps showing the widening plans for the highway from the bypass in Madison to just south of Bishop and from just north of Bishop to the Watkinsville bypass and the truck bypass on the eastern side of Bishop.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Oconee County Legislators Supported House Bill On Voting Machines; Oconee Democrats Anticipated Objections At Last Meeting

***Bill Includes Reforms***

Oconee County’s three legislators in the Georgia General Assembly last week voted in favor of House Bill 316 that selects new voting machines and responds to allegations that voters last year were denied access, absentee ballots were not counted and vote tallies were incomplete.

The vote on the House bill was partisan, and Sen. Bill Cowsert from the 46th District, Rep. Houston Gaines from House District 117, and Rep. Marcus Wiedower from House District 119, all Republicans, sided with the Republican majority.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Extension Of Permit For Apalachee River Intake, Detailed Plans For Bishop Bypass On Meeting Agendas For Tuesday

***University Remains Opposed To Bypass***

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted a 15-year extension to the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority for its permit to build an intake facility on the Apalachee River for its Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir.

The extension is contingent on approval of related permits issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and the Regional Reservoir Management Board and the Water and Sewer Authority will meet at 1 p.m tomorrow (Tuesday) in the Historic Courthouse in Monroe to discuss these permits.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Discussion At National Issues Forum In Oconee County Focused On The Media

***Sponsored By Oconee Progressives***

Criticism of both social and traditional media was a theme that ran throughout the National Issues Forum on “A House Divided” held at the Oconee County Library last Saturday.

Discussion leader Margaret Holt brought up the media even before turning to the first of the three discussion topics, which focused on “dangerous, toxic talk” in the media and elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Large Turnout For Open House On Apalachee River Bridge Replacement In Oconee And Walton Counties

***Chance To Comment On Alternatives***

Sixty-nine people turned out last Thursday evening at Oconee Veterans Park to learn about and express an opinion on the proposed replacement bridge for SR 186 over the Apalachee River at High Shoals.

Those who attended the two-hour open house were presented with two alternate plans for the bridge replacement.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Oconee County State Representatives Voted For Anti-Abortion Bill And Against Hate Crimes Bill

***In Late Action On Thursday***

Oconee County’s two representatives in the Georgia General Assembly cast their votes late Thursday night with the House majority in favor of a bill that prohibits most abortions after a doctor can detect a heartbeat in the womb and with the minority against a hate crimes bill.

House Bill 481, officially called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, passed narrowly at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday with 93 representatives, almost all Republicans, voting in favor, and 73 voting against.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Oconee County Board Of Education Received Update On Roundabouts Planned For Two Entrances To Malcom Bridge Middle School

***Right Of Way Not Yet Granted***

The Oconee County Board of Education reacted cautiously last Monday to school Chief Operating Officer Brook Toole’s update on the four roundabouts planned for Malcolm Bridge Road, including one each at the parent and bus entrances to Malcom Bridge Middle School.

Board Chair Tom Odom was concerned that the School System was receiving all of the information it needs from the county regarding the plans and the right of way the Board of Education will have to surrender for the roundabouts.

Friday, March 08, 2019

House Bill 302 And Senate Bill 172 Prohibiting Local Regulation of Housing Design Standards Stuck In Committee

***Neither Made Crossover Deadline***

Neither House Bill 302 nor Senate Bill 172, which would have prohibited local governments from regulating design standards on one and two-family residential properties, made it out of committee on Thursday, the day when a bill usually needs to come to the floor of one chamber for ultimate passage.

The House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee met three times on House Bill 302, most recently on Wednesday, when it approved a substitute for the original bill in a 9 to 7 vote.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Oconee County Commission Approves Agreement For Economic Development Services With Chamber Of Commerce

***Eliminates Oversight Council***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night voted 3 to 0 to approve a modified Memorandum of Understanding contracting with the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce for economic development services formerly provided by county staff.

In introducing a series of changes to the original Memorandum, Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said he was responding to criticism of the original document.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Oconee County Citizens Will Get Chance To Review And Comment On Plans For Apalachee River Bridge Replacement At High Shoals

***Preferred Plan Calls For Lengthy Detour***

Citizens will have a chance on Thursday to comment on two plans for replacement of the bridge over the Apalachee River at High Shoals.

One of those plans would require a 15-month closing of the roadway and a nearly 16-mile detour of traffic.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Oconee County To Consider Shifting Economic Development To Chamber Of Commerce, Bypassing Open Meetings And Records Laws

***Memorandum Up For Review***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night will consider transferring the county’s economic development activities to the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.

The action comes in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding that would convey $100,000 annually to the Chamber and give it responsibility for providing economic development services for the county, including attracting and recruiting new businesses and industries.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Local Journalists Tell University Of North Georgia Audience That Change In Media Industries Is Dramatic

***Most Say Business Model Broken***

The four local journalists gathered at the Oconee County campus of the University of North Georgia agreed that this is a period of dramatic change and adaptation in the media industries they represent.

Blake Aued from flagpole, Michael Prochaska from The Oconee Enterprise, and Lee Shearer from the Athens Banner-Herald said the business model for journalism is broken.