Thursday, October 31, 2019

Secretary Of State Office Identifies 1,177 Inactive Oconee County Voters For Challenge

***Notices To Go Out Next Week***

The Georgia Secretary of State Office will send notices to the addresses of 1,177 inactive voters from Oconee County next week as part of the state-wide effort to clean and update the voter files.

Across the state, according to a news release from the Secretary of State Office issued Wednesday, the notice will go to 313,243 inactive voters.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tax Collections From The Education Sales Tax Down Again In August Compared With Year Ago, Oconee County School Board Told

***Five Of Last Six Months Below Year Earlier***

Tax collections for the Oconee County Education Local Option Sales Tax were down more than 2 percent in August compared with August of last year, marking the fifth time in the last six months that the education sales tax revenue had been lower than a year earlier.

Over the first 20 months of the current tax, called ELOST V, the average monthly change over a year earlier remains positive at 7.8 percent, but the trend line since October of a year ago has been negative.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Former Labor Commissioner Thurmond Told Oconee County Democrats That Oconee County Provides Opportunities For The Party

***Cites High Level Of Education***

Oconee County is an excellent opportunity for Democrats, Michael Thurmond told a gathering of party members at the Bogart Library earlier this month, because of the demographics of the county.

The county has one of the highest educational levels in the state and in the southeast, Thurmond said, and the college educated, and particularly college-educated women, are being targeted by Democrats nationally.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Oconee County Reported Minor Sewer Spill Near Subdivision South Of Oconee County High School

***Also Announced Required Drought Response***

Oconee County reported its second sewer spill of the year to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division last week after a sewer force main break in a wooded area behind Cooperville subdivision off Union Church Road south of Oconee County High School.

According to a news release from the county, the Oconee County Water Resources Department was notified of a sewer odor in Copperville subdivision at about 11 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2019.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Georgia Department Of Transportation Drops Plans For Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***U.S. 441 South Of Bishop To Be Widened***

The Georgia Department of Transportation has abandoned its plans for a truck bypass of Bishop, moving the funding for the project into “long range,” according to Project Manager Bruce Anderson Jr.

GDOT made the decision because of a “lack of public consensus for the proposed alignment within Bishop,” Anderson said.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Watkinsville Mayor And Council Hear From Critics Of ESP Plans For Harris Shoals Park

***Environmental Concerns Top List***

The Watkinsville Mayor and Council got push back–including from one member of its Advisory Board–last week on its still tentative plans to allow Extra Special People to construct a Miracle League Field and splash pad on four acres at Harris Shoals Park.

Vicki Soutar, chair of Oconeewaters and a member of the Harris Shoals Park Advisory Board Executive Committee, told the Mayor and Council that the proposed project would have significant negative impact on the park’s environment.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Turnout In First Week Of Early Voting In Watkinsville On Track With Projection Of Final Turnout of About 30 Percent

***New Voting Machines Demonstrated***

In the first week of Absentee In Person, or early, voting, only 121 of Watkinsville’s 2,209 registered voters have cast a ballot, or 5.5 percent.

Early voting usually picks up some as the election gets closer, but, if it holds to the present pattern, only 363 people will cast a ballot before the Nov. 5 election, or 16.4 percent.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Defeated Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Still A Concern, Oconee County Republicans Told

***Watkinsville Mayoral Candidate Makes Partisan Appeal***

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for governor a year ago, is watching the outcome of the mayoral race in Watkinsville, Bob Smith, one of the two candidates in that contest, told Oconee County Republicans last month.

The race is nonpartisan, but Smith made it clear he is running as a Republican and told those gathered they needed to make sure he wins to send a message back to Abrams.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Regional Library Leaders Ask Oconee Library Board For Help In Seeking Exemption From Governor’s Budget Cuts

***Board Asked To Lobby Legislators***

Athens Regional Library System leaders asked member of the Oconee Library Board of Trustees on Monday to contact their state legislative delegation to oppose cuts to library funding requested by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Jean Mead, assistant director of Regional Library Services and Outreach for the Athens Regional Library System, told the Library Board that Kemp has included public libraries in his request that certain state agencies submit plans for a 4 percent budget reduction for the fiscal year underway.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

New Oconee County Superior Court Judge Told Local Democrats She Loves Her Job And Her Work Environment

***Raised Concerns About Budget Cuts***

Lisa Lott, Superior Court judge for the Western Judicial Circuit, told a gathering of Oconee County Democrats last month that her first months in office have been a wonderful experience.

“It has been great. It has been absolutely great,” Lott said. “It has really been a dream come true.”

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Oconee County Expects State To Reduce Volume Of Water To Be Withdrawn From Apalachee River, Citizens At Town Hall Meeting Told

***Waiting On New Permit***

Oconee County is expecting the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to modify its June 2008 Apalachee River Withal Permit and reduce the amount of water Oconee and Walton counties can withdraw from the river for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir.

The state Environmental Protection Division also is likely to add monitoring requirements to the permit, including using new stream flow gauges, quality monitoring stations and biological monitoring activities.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Oconee County School System Students Show A Drop In SAT Scores But An Increase In Graduation Rate

***Oconee Students Outperformed Students In State***

Oconee County students taking the SAT college admissions test in 2019 had a mean composite score of 1157, down a small amount from the average score of Oconee County students who took the test a year ago and up slightly from the average score of Oconee County students who took the test in 2017.

Oconee County schools increased its graduation rate to 97.7 percent in 2019, up from 94.4 percent a year earlier and from 90.5 percent in 2012.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Oconee County Commissioners Approve Tabled Rezone Request For Five Acres On Moores Ford Road

***Allow Smaller Lot Size***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners last week reversed course and unanimously approved a rezone for Tracie and Thomas Hedges allowing them to subdivide their five-acre parcel on Moores Ford Road near the Apalachee River into three lots of 1.67 acres each.

Guy Herring, director of Planning and Code Enforcement for the county, told the Commissioners that the staff had changed its view of the request and was recommending approval in part because the Hedges made their rezone request during a “transition period” in the county codes.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Oconee County Economic Development Taskforce Settles On Strategies In Final Scheduled Meeting

***Public Report At Town Hall Meeting***

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners’ Economic Development Taskforce has identified three strategies for economic development for the county.

The county should invest in current businesses, create an environment for professional and technological innovation, and develop partnerships with the University of Georgia, the group has concluded.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Election Forum In Watkinsville Drew Large Turnout For Mayoral And Council Candidates

***Citizen Questions Were Wide Ranging***

More than 100 people turned out on Thursday night for an election forum in Watkinville that featured a very respectful exchange between incumbent Mayor Dave Shearon and challenger Bob Smith.

Though Smith, a real estate agent and former state representative, has had open disagreements with the Watkinsville Council in recent months regarding development of his property, little of the tension was in evidence on Thursday night, until the very end.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Oconee And Walton Counties Waiting On State Renewal Of Water Withdrawal Permits For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***Decision Expected In November***

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board and the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority are waiting on final action by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on a request for renewal of withdrawal permits from Hard Labor Creek and the Apalachee River.

Jimmy Parker, project manager for the reservoir, said “We have addressed all EPD comments related to water demand and future needs.”