Monday, February 24, 2020

Watkinsville Mayor And Council Find Little Agreement Across Wide Range Of Agenda Items

***Mayor Lacks Vote But Controls Flow Of Meeting***

Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith suggested delaying a decision on the development plan for the Wisteria Ridge apartment complex on 75 North Main Street at the Watkinsville Mayor and Council meeting last week.

The Mayor votes only in the case of a tie, and Council approved the plan in a 3 to 1 vote.

Mayor Smith strongly opposed the site development plan submitted by Oconee State Bank for its new headquarters at 41 North Main Street.

Council approved the plan 3 to 0, with Council Member Brian Brodrick recusing himself from the discussion and vote. (Council Member Christine Tucker was absent from the meeting.)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Bagley Not Seeking Reelection To Oconee County Board Of Eduation, Creating Open Seat

***Odom And Burgess To Qualify***

Oconee County Board of Education Chair Tom Odom and Board Member Tim Burgess announced on Friday that they plan to seek reelection and qualify for the May 19 Republican Party primary.

Board of Education Member Wayne Bagley announced that he will not seek reelection, creating an open seat on the five-person Board. The terms of School Board Member Kim Argo and School Board Member Amy Parrish do not expire until 2022.

Oconee County’s Farmland Preservation Committee Wants To Increase SPLOST Funding To Protect Rural Land From Development

***Preparing For November Ballot Initiative***

Oconee County’s Farmland Preservation Committee voted earlier this month to ask the Board of Commissioners to increase funding for protection of farmland in the county in the 2021 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum planned for the November Ballot.

In both the 2009 and current 2015 SPLOST, $500,000 is set aside for the purchase of conservation easements on farmland in the county that protect the land from future development.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hard Labor Creek Management Board Agrees To Install Flow Monitoring Station On Apalachee River In Response To Citizen Input

***Georgia EPD Set Requirement***

The Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Management Board last week voted to approve the installation and maintenance of a flow monitoring station on the Apalachee River at Snows Mill Road, responding to a requirement of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

The new monitoring station will be a companion to the already existing station of the U.S. Geological Survey at Price Mill Road and will provided data on the impact of the water intake facility planned for the Apalachee River at High Shoals just upstream from the SR 186 bridge.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority In Discussion Again With Potential Gateway Business Park Tenant

***Also Told About New Bond Sale***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority is in discussion with a potential purchaser or leaser of at least part of the eastern parcel of its Gateway Technology and Business Park on SR 316 on the southern edge of Bogart.

Following a 30 minute executive session last week, the Authority came back into open session to vote to transfer to the county an easement that would allow the county to extend sewer services to the parcel.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Oconee County School Board Sought Assurances On Report On Sales Tax Revenue Decline

***Concerns About Debt Service***

Oconee County Board of Education members sought assurances last week from Oconee County Schools Chief Financial Officer Saranna Charping once she completed her monthly financial update.

Charping had just told the Board that collections from the system’s one percent Education Local Option Sales were down slightly in calendar year 2019 compared with the year earlier.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Speakers At Oconee County Forum On Human Trafficking Told Audience Members They Have Power

***Asked To Learn, See, And Do***

Speakers told those gathered last week at the Human Trafficking Awareness Forum sponsored by the North Oconee Rotary Club that they have the power to combat the dual problems of labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

Deborah Richardson, executive director of the International Human Trafficking Institute of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, presented the group with a list of indicators so they can identify victims of sex trafficking.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Governor Has Set Feb. 20 Deadline For Applications For District Attorney For Oconee And Clarke Counties

***Patterson To Apply; Gonzalez Says No***

Gov. Brian Kemp has set a Feb. 20 deadline–a week from today–for applications for the position of district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit consisting of Clarke and Oconee counties.

Brian Patterson, currently chief assistant district attorney, has said he will apply for the appointment.

Deborah Gonzalez, former House District 117 representative, has said she will not submit her application.

Georgia Secretary Of State Told Oconee County Republicans He Wants Voting With New Machines To Be Easy And Enjoyable

***Explained New Voting Equipment***

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Oconee County Republicans last month that he wants the experience of voting with the newly rolled-out equipment at the presidential primary on March 24 to be equivalent to a positive experience at a fast food restaurant.

“We want it to be a great experience, just like when you go to Chick-fil-A,” Raffensperger said. “Who’s ever had a bad experience there? It’s like one in a billion. That’s the kind of experience we want voters in Georgia to have.”

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Oconee/Clarke County District Attorney’s Resignation Has Changed Landscape For Election Of Replacement

***Election Can Be Postponed***

District Attorney Ken Mauldin’s announcement last week that he would resign on Feb. 29 rather than retire at the end of his current term in December has scrambled plans for the election of a successor and given Gov. Brian Kemp control over the outcome.

Before that announcement, Deborah Gonzalez and Brian Patterson were contending for the Democratic nomination for district attorney in the May 19 Democratic primary. No one has declared for the Republican Party nomination.

Oconee County Commissioners Told Sales Tax Collections Lagging Behind Those Of A Year Ago

***Finance Director Said He Expects Collections To Rebound***

Oconee County’s expenditures and revenue for the first half of the 2020 Fiscal Year were on target with one exception, county Finance Director Wes Geddings said Tuesday in making his quarterly financial report to the Board of Commissioners.

The exception is sales tax collections, which were lower in November and December of 2019 than they were a year earlier, Geddings said.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Oconee County No Longer Planning Roundabout At Parent Entrance To Malcom Bridge Middle School

***Announced At Board Of Education Meeting***

Oconee County has abandoned plans to build a roundabout at the parent entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School, cutting in half the number of planned or constructed roundabouts on Malcom Bridge Road between Mars Hill Road and Lenru Road.

Construction of the roundabout at the bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School and Malcom Bridge Elementary School will begin in spring and be completed before school starts in August, according to Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Two Candidates In May Primary Introduce Themselves And Discuss Issues At Oconee County Democratic Party Meeting

***Gonzalez And Ferguson Guest Speakers***

Deborah Gonzalez and Andrew Ferguson used the opportunity of the meeting of the Oconee County Democratic Party last month to introduce themselves to those in attendance.

For Gonzalez, it was a matter of a re-introduction, and she said she was going to respond to the “first question most people ask me.”

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Oconee County Committee Reviewing Plans For Burger King And Convenience Store At U.S. 78 And Mars Hill Road

***Latest Documents Stamped Jan. 7***

The Oconee County Development Review Committee is in the process of evaluating plans submitted by Jones Petroleum of Jackson for a combination Burger King and a convenience store with 10 fuel dispensers at the northwest corner of Mars Hill Road and U.S. 78.

William B. Jones submitted to the county a preliminary plat and preliminary site plan on Jan. 7 for what is described as Phase 1 of the project, which ultimately could involve 32 acres owned by Jones and rezoned for commercial development by the Board of Commissioners in May of last year.