Commission Tables Funding Request by Helen Arts & Heritage Center


HELEN, Ga. – The Helen City Commission Tuesday tabled for further consideration a request for funding from the Helen Arts and Heritage Center.

At the first meeting in April, the Center’s Craft Care Specialist Nancy Ackerman said the Center, which is manned almost exclusively by volunteers, needs funding to continue its work. She asked commissioners to consider funding of $20,000 for the remainder of this year and $30,000 for 2018. At that earlier meeting, disabled veteran William Reed gave powerful and tearful testimony about what the Center’s program for veterans had meant to him personally.

“The program helped me a lot,” Reed said. “It’s gotten me out of the house and involved in art. I feel it’s very important just to help keep me going, and to help other veterans. It helps us all get together.”

Commissioners approved holding the 2017 Southeast Victory Rally from June 1 through June 4, and closing Narr Wegg Street during the event to allow running the dyno machine. Event coordinators had requested the event take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day but commissioners decided 7 a.m. was too early to start the noise making dyno machines and set the hours at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

A request for a fence encroachment between Escowee Property Holdings, LLC and the City of Helen was unanimously approved.

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a comprehensive adjustment to the fiscal year 2016-17 budgetary appropriations and held a second reading of an ordinance to amend the official code of the City regarding alcoholic beverages.

City Manager Jerry Elkins provided a financial report that showed total revenue collected by the city is $2,438,869 as compared to $2,299,386 at this time last year. Total expenditure are also slightly ahead of projections. Expenditures for the first nine months of the fiscal year are $1,922,518 compared to $1,896,838 at this time in 2016.




City Reviews List of Projects Planned in 2017


HELEN, Ga. — City Manager Jerry Elkins presented a review of the projects planned for the City of Helen at Tueaday’s City Commission meeting. The five biggest projects come with a total price tag of about $1,578,350. The city will be responsible for approximately $925,000. The remainder will be funded by various grants.

The Main Street Water Line Replacement and Well Project is estimated to cost $780,000. The city will pay $480,000 and an ARC Grant will cover the remaining $300,000.

The badly needed Main Street pedestrian bridge which will be constructed outside Paul’s Steakouse is estimated to cost $570,000, $300,000 will be funded by a grant.

The city alone will be responsible for the $75,000 it will cost to complete the Escowee Street Sidewalk and Landscaping project. The commission has approved a low bid of $32,308.03 from contractor J.D. Con for the materials needed on the project.

The Roadside Beautification project will cost $53,350 with about $42,850 coming in the form of a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The city also plans an addition to the Fire Department that will cost about $100,000, all of which will come from city revenue.

Commissioners also appointed Catherine Cleiman, David Grearr and Linda McAllister to the Planning, Design and Review Board and agreed to provide a letter of approval for the United Way of White County to obtain a special event, non-profit license from the state of Georgia Department of Revenue for the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises at Holiday Inn Express Conference Center in conjunction with the Celebrity Golf Tournament Dinner scheduled for April 17.r


Decorating the Alpine Village Becomes an Issue


HELEN, Ga. — Helen city officials agree that decorating the Alpine Village year-round is a critical element in attracting visitors. What they do not agree on is whether it should be done on a volunteer basis or if a professional should be hired to do the work under the supervision of City Manager Jerry Elkins.

Former Commissioner Donna Burke has submitted a proposal to decorate the town twice a year at cost of $8,000 a year.

Commissioner Cinnamon Spurlock said she would prefer the work continue on a volunteer basis.

“I would like to leave it volunteer,” Spurlock said during this week’s city commission meeting. “I understand the hours that go into it, but I just think that the money that’s being requested here can be spent elsewhere.”

Commissioner Helen Wilkins favors outsourcing the work. “If we want the town to continue to look as good as it does, I think we’re lucky if Dona will do it.”

Commissioner Jeff Ash also favors outsourcing.

“I agree with Helen,” Ash said. “You get what you pay for. I’d like to see it. We’ve reached the level in this town where everybody expects this town to improve each year. Ash added that whoever is selected for the work should be under City Manager Jerry Elkins’ direction.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting.

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