Monday, April 29, 2024

GDOT Releases Preliminary Plans For SR 316 Interchanges At McNutt Creek Road, Mars Hill Road, Julian Drive

***Access To Be Closed At Mars Hill Road, Julian Drive***

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) showed plans at its In-Person Public Meeting in Statham last week for a Right-In, Right-Out Access to SR 316 from McNutt Creek Road and for closing access to SR 316 at both Mars Hill Road and Julian Drive.

The presentation was labeled as “Initial Findings of the SR 316 Planning Study,” and those in attendance at the meeting were advised that “access point improvements may be refined during preliminary engineering.”

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Oconee County Voters Will Confront Long Ballot Requiring A Lot Of Reading As Early Voting Begins

***Incumbents Being Challenged***

Voters participating in early voting for the 2024 General Primary/Nonpartisan General Election starting at 8 a.m. Monday will confront a long and complex ballot.

Those selecting the Republican Ballot will see contests for County Commission Chair and County Commission Post 4, Board of Education Post 1 Chair, Post 4 and Post 5, eight nonbinding Party Questions, and, for those in six of the county’s eight precincts, a contest for House District 121.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Oconee County School Board Candidate Forum Included Criticism Of Current Board, With Current Board Member Engaging In Exchange

***Audience Asked Their Own Questions***

Oconee County Post 5 School Board Member Michael Ransom was in a unique position among the members of the panel at the candidate forum on Thursday night.

None of the other seven candidates seated at the front of the room in the Community Center at Oconee Veterans Park is currently on the Board.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Oconee Commission Chair Takes His Presentation About 10 Items On May 21 Ballot Dealing With Homestead Exemptions To GOP Meeting

***Discusses Benefits For Seniors***

Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell took his informational campaign on the 10 items on the May 21 ballot designed to increase the homestead tax exemption and freeze assessments for seniors to the Oconee County Republican Party on Monday night.

Daniell has been working to explain the proposed changes to the public for more than a year now at a variety of settings, including at the quarterly Board of Commissioners Town Hall Meetings and at a session with Oconee County Democrats last month.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Books Displayed In Children’s Section Of Oconee Library Might Not Be Put There By Staff, Patron And Librarians Say

***Display Also Has Two Meanings***

When a parent told the Oconee County Library Board of Trustees earlier this month that he didn’t want his child to see the book, A Child’s Introduction to Pride, on display on a shelf at the Oconee County Library, he acknowledged a problem.

He said he didn’t know who opened the book so its cover was on display next to other books with only their spines showing on the library shelf.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Oconee County Democrats Hear From Wide Range Of Candidates, Ending With Incumbent And Independent Challenger In DA Race

***Forum, Not A Debate, Party Leader Advises***

As the Oconee County Democratic Party meeting got underway on Thursday, Party Chair Harold Thompson told those gathered that what was about to take place was a candidate forum, not a debate.

Most of those who came to the front of the room one-by-one are running unopposed in the May 21 Democratic Party Primary, and, in one case, the person they want to debate won’t be decided until the May 21 Republican Primary.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Oconee County Town Hall Meeting Starts With Explanation Of Items On May 21 Ballot But Quickly Turns To Discussion Of Library

***Supporters Of Library Dominate Meeting***

Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell on Tuesday evening started yet another Town Hall Meeting with a review of the efforts he and fellow commissioners have made to increase the county’s homestead exemptions and expand property tax relief for seniors.

Those efforts will increase the size of the homestead exemption from $2,000 to $5,000 in 2025 and to $10,000 in 2035, add an additional $10,000 exemption for those 75 years old and older, and freeze property tax assessments automatically for those 65 years old and older.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Candidate For Chair Of Oconee County School Board Asks Board To Explain Effort To Take Chair Away From Her If She Is Elected

***Board Gets Review Of FY25 Budget***

Joyce Reifsteck asked the Oconee County Board of Education on Monday night to indicate when and how it made the decision to seek legislation that will strip her of the position of Chair of the Board if she is elected to that position in November.

Reifsteck pointed out that she qualified to run in the Republican Primary for the open Post 1 on the Board of Education–a Post that is labeled as Board Chair–on Friday, March 8.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Oconee County Commissioners To Begin Town Hall Meeting On Tuesday With Review of Ballot Items For Homestead Exemptions

***Same Topic As Town Hall In January***

Oconee County Commissioners are holding their second Town Hall Meeting of the year at 6 p.m. on April 16, with the initial focus once again on the 10 items on the ballot on May 21 that will increase homestead exemptions and automate the freezing of property tax assessments for those 65 and older.

Commission Chair John Daniell has been using Town Hall meetings to explain the initiative going back to March of last year, and he opened the Town Hall Meeting in January with a summary of the changes that will take place if voters approve all 10 items on the ballot.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Oconee County School Board Calls Meeting To Discuss Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

***Also Gets Update On Strategic Plan

The Oconee County Board of Education has scheduled a called special session starting at 4 p.m. on Monday that is being labeled a budget workshop.

Superintendent Jason Branch announced the special session in his report to the Board at its work session on Monday

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Candidates At Conservatives Of Northeast Georgia Forum Challenge Republican Incumbents They Will Face On May, November Ballots

***Oconee Library Discussed At Length

The Conservatives of Northeast Georgia didn’t invite the incumbents to participate in their candidate forum last week, and even though none of the incumbents physically was in the room, their presence was much in evidence.

All of the speakers at the forum are challenging incumbents, and the speakers criticized the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, the Clerk of Superior Court, and the three incumbent legislators representing the county in the General Assembly in Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Library Board Reclassifies Two Books In Oconee County Library Following Citizen Requests For Reconsideration

***Six Citizens Speak Before Board Makes Decisions***

The Oconee County Library Board of Trustees accepted the recommendation of the Athens Regional Library System Reconsideration Review Committee on Monday and voted unanimously to move the book Other Boys by Damien Alexander from the Juvenile to the Young Adult section of the Oconee County Library.

The Board put aside the recommendation of the Review Committee that Nick and Charlie remain in the Young Adult Section and instead moved the book to the Adult Section of the Library.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Oconee County Library Board To Consider Two More Requests To Move Books In Oconee County Library

***Total Requests In Last Year Now Stands At 12***

At its 4:30 p.m. meeting tomorrow (April 8) at the Bogart Library, the Oconee County Library Board of Trustees will take up two new Requests for Reconsideration of books in the Oconee County Library filed by Oconee County citizens.

Rebecca Billings has asked the Board of Trustees to move the book Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman from the Young Adult to the Adult Section.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Citizens At Oconee County Commission Meeting Continue Discussion Of Oconee County Library

***Challenges To Voter Registration Also Raised***

Concerns about the Oconee County Library and about election integrity were prominent again at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Five citizens used the public comment opportunity at the beginning of the regular meeting of the Board, with one focusing on recent legislation designed to make it easier to challenge voter registration, two voicing criticism of the Oconee County Library, and two voicing support for that Library.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Georgia Department Of Public Health Ends Reporting On COVID-19

***Says Disease No Longer An Emergency***

The Georgia Department of Public Health has announced that its COVID-19 Daily Status Report of March 27 is its last.

“According to the CDC and leading public health officials,” the Department of Public Health states, “COVID-19 remains an important public health threat, but it is no longer the emergency that it once was.”

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Oconee County Elections Board Adopts Policies For Public Comment, Use Of Executive Sessions

***Citizens Asked For Opportunity To Speak***

The Oconee County Board of Elections and Registration on Tuesday adopted policies for citizen comment at its meetings and for when it goes into executive session.

The Board agreed to set aside 15 minutes at the beginning of its regular monthly meetings for citizens to speak. Citizens will be required to use a sign-up sheet at the meeting and will be called up in order of sign-up.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

GDOT Asking Local Planning Organization To Bundle Funding For Jimmy Daniell Road, Virgil Langford Road, And Oconee Connector

***Public Comment Will Be Sought***

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is asking MACORTS, the metropolitan transportation planning organization for Oconee County, to bundle funding in its planning documents for the Jimmy Daniell Road, Virgil Langford Road, and Oconee Connector intersections with SR 316.

The request is to facilitate moving forward with construction of the three projects, Kimberly Grayson from GDOT Planning told members of the Technical Coordinating Committee of MACORTS at its meeting last month.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Oconee County’s Three Incumbent State Legislators Have Large Campaign Accounts As Elections Get Underway

***Among Them, They Report Having $1.2 Million***

Oconee County’s three incumbent Republican state legislators entered the campaign season with huge financial resources, having raised $367,629 in the seven months leading up to the just completed legislative session and reporting a net balance among them at that time of $1.2 million.

House District 120 Rep. Houston Gaines, who represents Bogart and Marswood Hall precincts in Oconee County, led the three legislators with $184,099 received from July 1 of last year to Jan. 31 of this year, and with a net balance on hand of $613,558, according to his report to the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission.