Sunday, March 29, 2020

Oconee County Commission Chair Explains Decision On Emergency Order, Decision to Live Stream Tuesday Commission Meeting

***In Zoom Interview***

Citizens will not be allowed to attend the agenda-setting meeting of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, but they will be able to watch via a live stream on YouTube.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell announced that decision to hold the agenda-setting meeting as usual, but minus an audience, in an interview of just more than 30 minutes length via Zoom on Sunday morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Clarke And Barrow Counties Report Deaths From COVID-19; Confirmed Cases In Oconee And Surrounding Counties Stable

***Number Of Cases In State Increased By 80 Since Noon***

Update 7 p.m. 3/29/2020: The number of COVID-19 Confirmed Cases in the 7 p.m. Daily Status Report for both Barrow and Walton counties was reduced by 1 from the noon report. The figures for Oconee, Clarke, and the other surrounding counties remained unchanged. The state added only 32 cases from the noon report, bringing the total to 2,683, and three deaths, bringing the total to 83.

Georgia reported 79 deaths due to COVID-19 in the 7 p.m. Daily Status Report today (Saturday), up from 69 in today’s noon report. The rate of death to confirmed cases now stands at 3.2 percent.

The 7 p.m. Daily Status Report included rudimentary data on the death in Clarke County and the death in Barrow County first included in the noon status report.

Clarke County Reports Second COVID-19 Death, Barrow Reports First; Oconee County Confirmed Cases Stable At 10

***State Reports 365 New Cases***

Clarke County has recorded its second death attributable to COVID-19, and Barrow County has recorded its first death, according to the Georgia Department of Health Daily Status Report for noon today.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clarke County increased by three since noon of yesterday to 35.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Oconee County Added 3 New Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In Last 24 Hours; Clarke County Added 8; State Of Georgia Added 476

***State Now Has 64 Deaths***

As of noon today, Clarke County had 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Oconee County had 10, and Barrow County had 6. The numbers for other surrounding counties are shown in the chart below.

The state, based on the noon Daily Status Report from the Georgia Department of Health, now has 2,001 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up from 1,525 at noon on Thursday.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

COVID-19 Has Altered Already Unusual Political Campaign Scene In Oconee County

***Campaigns Become Virtual***

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Georgia and Oconee County has added another dimension to an already complex election year in the county.

On Feb. 5, District Attorney Ken Mauldin suddenly announced he would retire, resulting in cancellation of the expected May 19 primary contest and calling into question whether an election would be held at all, even though two announced candidates had been campaigning for months for the spot.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Clarke County Reports First Area Death Due To COVID-19; Oconee’s Seven Confirmed Cases Second Highest In 10-County Region

***County Says Shelter-In-Place Order Not Needed***

Update 7 p.m. 3/26/2020: Clarke County now has 29 cases and Oconee County has 7. The numbers for the other counties surrounding Oconee are: Barrow (5), Walton (0), Morgan (1), Greene (1), Oglethorpe (0), Jackson (2) and Madison (3). The state now has 1,643 total confirmed cases, 509 hospitalized patients, and 56 deaths. The line chart below reflect the numbers as of noon today. The box above the lines includes the 7 p.m. figures. The increase in the number of cases in the state in the last 24 hours was 18.5 percent.

The Northeast Health District of the Georgia Department of Health has confirmed the first death in the district from COVID-19 with the passing of a 67-year-old Athens male at one of the area’s two hospitals.

The Northeast Health District consists of 10 counties, and, as of 7 p.m. on Tuesday, had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with Clarke’s 17 and Oconee’s 5 dominating.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Oconee County Now Has 5 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Clarke Has 16; Medical Professionals Urge County To Issue Shelter-In-Place Order

***Commission Chair Said Considering Citizen Input***

UPDATE: Oconee County added two new cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, as did Clarke County. The number of cases in Oconee is now 5, and it is 16 in Clarke. Barrow County still only the one confirmed case. Walton, Morgan and Greene counties now also are reporting a single case, as is Madison County. The number of cases in the state has increased 32.9 percent in the last 24 hours and now stands at 1,026. The chart below summarizes those data. I will update it again after the 7 p.m. Daily Status Report today.

Click To Enlarge

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Stable In Oconee County, Barrow County, Clarke County; New Testing Options Announced

***Area Government Leaders Expect Increases In Future***

Update 12:14 p.m. 3/23/20 Oconee now has its third confirmed case of COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases in Clarke is now 14. Barrow still has a single confirmed case. The number of confirmed cases in the state now is 772.

Click To Enlarge

The original post follows.

While the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased dramatically in the state in the last two days, the number of confirmed cases in Oconee, Clarke and Barrow counties has remained stable, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Oconee and Barrow counties are each reporting a single case, and the Department of Public Health has decreased the count of the number of cases in Clarke County from 10 to nine.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In Clarke County Now At 10; Piedmont Oconee County Campus Offers Testing

***Potential Exposure At Oconee County Landfill***

UPDATE 3/21/2020 noon: Numbers for Oconee, Clarke and Barrow counties remain unchanged from a day earlier.

UPDATE: Oconee county has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, based on the Georgia Department of Health Daily Status Report for 7 p.m. on 3/20/2020. Clarke now has 10 cases. Barrow has one case.

This original post was based on data from Thursday and has been updated based on the Georgia Department of Health Daily Status Report for 7 p.m. of 3/20/20.

The Georgia Department of Health reported Thursday that Clarke County has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from five on Wednesday. Barrow County has a single case, first reported on Tuesday. (Clarke now has 10 cases, as of 7 p.m. on 3/20/20)

According to the Department of Health report for Thursday, Oconee County still has no confirmed cases, but the Oconee County web site reports a potential exposure of an employee at the County landfill off U.S. 441 in the far south of the county. (Oconee now has one case as of 7 p.m. on 3/20/20.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Last Week’s Retreat And Called Meeting Of Watkinsville Mayor And Council Show Differences In Perspectives

***No Support On Council For Mayor’s New City Charter***

After an eight-hour retreat of the Watkinsville Mayor and Council on Monday of last week, Brian Brodrick, mayor pro tem and the longest serving member of the Council, praised his colleagues, including new Mayor Bob Smith, for their team play.

Brodrick made the comment even though Smith had surprised the Council at the retreat with a proposed revision of the City Charter that would that would reverse the action by the Council at the end last year–just before Smith took office–delegating to the city manager some of the duties of the mayor.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Democratic Ballots Dominated Early Presidential Primary Voting In Oconee County Before Election Postponed

***Republican Ballots Greatly Down From 2016***

Just less than 5 percent of Oconee County’s registered voters had cast a ballot before voting for the March 24 Presidential Primary was suspended by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at the end of early voting today.

The Presidential Primary now will coincide with the already scheduled May 19 party primaries and nonpartisan judicial elections.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Oconee County Gun Coalition Meeting Inserts Gun Rights Into County Elections

***Commission And Sheriff Race Targeted***

Oconee County’s approach to guns became solidly embedded last Saturday in the upcoming elections for the Board of Commissioners and for Sheriff.

Carol Bennett and Johnny Pritchett, both seeking the Republican nomination for Chair of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, attended the meeting of the Oconee County Gun Coalition at the Oconee County Library and endorsed that group’s desire to declare the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Oconee County Board Of Education Tables Action On Joint Use Agreement With County For Sports Facilities

***Charging Of Fees Put On Hold***

The Oconee County Board of Education Monday evening tabled a proposal from school administrators that Oconee County Schools begin charging the county Parks and Recreation Department for use of school athletic fields.

Dallas LeDuff, director of student services for Oconee County Schools, presented the School Board with a revision of his proposal from a week earlier that phased in the usage fees across the three years of a new joint use agreement with the county.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Acting District Attorney For Oconee And Clarke Counties Outlines Activities He Has Planned For Office

***Governor’s Decision On Appointment Not Known***

Brian Patterson, acting District Attorney for Oconee and Clarke counties, told Oconee County Democrats last month that, if he becomes District Attorney on a permanent basis, he will resurrect a number of unsolved murder cases in the two counties.

He also said he will increase the investigation of organized criminal activity and gang activity, continue to prioritize crimes against women and children, and promote alternative court programs to keep people from having a criminal records for lesser offenses.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Three Democrats Qualify For Oconee County Offices In Final Day Of Filing

***Commission Chair And School Board Posts***

Democrats qualified for three Oconee County offices on Friday, setting up competitive races in November for the Board of Commissioners Chair and two Board of Education posts.

Eric Gisler, co-chair of the Oconee County Democratic Party, qualified for the Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Laura Williams Ormes qualified for Post 4 on the Board of Education, and Joan Parker qualified for Post 5 on the Board of Education.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Oconee County Gun Coalition Asks Board Of Commissioners To Declare County Second Amendment Sanctuary

***Tackle Football Fee Not Increased***

Ryan Anglin, founder of the Oconee County Gun Coalition, appeared before the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night and asked that body to adopt a resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary.

Anglin spoke during the citizen comment section of the Board of Commissioners meeting and followed five speakers, including Marisue Hilliard, a volunteer with the Georgia Chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, who anticipated Anglin’s request and spoke against it.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Four More Candidates Qualify For Oconee County Offices; No Democrats Have Filed, With One Half-Day Left For Qualifying

***More Democratic Than Republican Ballots Cast In Presidential Primary***

Four more candidates qualified for Oconee County offices Wednesday and Thursday, providing a second candidate in the race for Sheriff, a third candidate for Board of Commissioners Chair, a second candidate for Post 1 on the Board of Commissioners–all in the Republican Primary--and a third candidate for the nonpartisan Probate Court Judge race.

James Hale joined Jimmy Williamson in the race to replace retiring Sheriff Scott Berry. Both filings were expected, as the two have been campaigning for months for the May 19 primary and yard signs are already spread around the county.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Four More Candidates Qualify For May 19 Elections; 149 Cast Ballots On Second Day Of Presidential Primary Voting

***Competition For School Board Nomination***

Four candidates qualified for Oconee County offices on Tuesday, the second day of filing, setting up the expected competitive races for Republican nomination for Board of Commissioners chair and for the nonpartisan election of Judge of Probate Court.

Adam Spence qualified as a Republican for the open Post 5 on the Board of Education, making that race also competitive, as Michael Ransom had qualified as a Republican on Monday.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Oconee County Board Of Education Wants Phase-In Of Any Fees Charged To County For Use Of School Athletic Facilities

***Suggests A Three-Year Contract***

The Oconee County Board of Education pushed back at least slightly last evening on a proposal by school administrators to begin charging the county Parks and Recreation Department fees for use of school athletic facilities on July 1.

School Superintendent Jason Branch, as part of a discussion of a new Joint Use Agreement between the county and Oconee County Schools, said he was seeking Board input on the length of a new agreement and on whether the Board wants to begin charging the county a fee for use of school athletic facilities.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Nearly Equal Numbers Of First Day Oconee County Presidential Primary Voters Use Democratic And Republic Ballots

***11 Candidates Qualify***

A total of 110 voters cast a ballot today in the first day of early voting for the March 24 Presidential Primary, with 54 of them using the Democratic ballot and 56 using the Republican ballot.

Eleven candidates filed their paperwork today to qualify for county offices, all but one of them as a Republican. Today was the first day to qualify for local and state offices.

Life Church Of Athens Going Before Oconee County Board Of Commissioners After Positive Vote From Planning Commission

***Scaled Back Proposal For New Church***

Life Church of Athens, confronting vocal opposition from potential future neighbors in Summit Oaks and Summit Grove subdivisions, scaled back its plans for a community-scale church to a neighborhood-scale church.

At the Planning Commission meeting last month, many neighbors continued to object to the plans, focusing largely on traffic that even the smaller church will put onto Summit Grove Drive as it intersects with SR 15 (North Main Street) just north of Watkinsville.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Oconee County Parks And Recreation Department To Pay $60,000 More For Use Of Athletic Facilities At Oconee County Schools

***Cost Of Tackle Football Fee To Increase By $20***

Oconee County Schools is initiating a new fee schedule on July 1 for use of its athletic facilities by the Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department that, according to the county, will increase the costs to the county by about $60,000.

Supt. Jason Branch informed the county in a letter dated June 26, 2019, that the School system plans to terminate a 2010 agreement with the county that covers the use by the county and the school system of county and school system facilities.