BOC proclaims Mar. 4-8 Exceptional Children’s Week

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – In a moving declaration, White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner read a resolution proclaiming March 4-8, 2019 as Exceptional Children’s Week in White County during Monday’s work session.

In reading the resolution, Turner pointed out some interesting facts, including: 10.3 percent of White County residents under the age of 65 have a disability; 566 students in White County students are currently receiving special education services and 75 percent of special education students graduate from White County High School every year. That graduation rate is double the state average and ranks in the top five in Georgia.

During Exceptional Children’s Week, the White County School System and community partners will host activities celebrating the acceptance of students with disabilities. A disability A to Z book will be published, workshops and lectures will be held at Truett McConnell University which will educate parents, school staff, college students and the community at large about a variety of disability topics.

“If you have never had a chance to participate in or at least watch a Special Olympics, I would encourage you to do so.”

In other business, staff presented a draft short-term rental ordinance for the Board to consider that sparked a 45-minute discussion during the work session and set the state for the called meeting that followed.

Several residents of White County subdivisions including Panorama Estates attended the meeting and voiced their concerns about short-term rentals. Commissioner Edwin Nix, who has often expressed his feelings about this type rental, said, “I understand why you people don’t want this around you. If I lived in there, I wouldn’t either.”

In the end, nothing was settled and Turner said, “We’re trying to get our arms around this. I don’t know where we’re going yet but, gentlemen, I do believe we’re going to have an additional meeting.

In January, the Board imposed a 90-day moratorium on short term rentals that ends April 8.

Commissioners did pass a resolution to express opposition to House Bill 302 which would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances or regulations relating to or regulating building design elements as applied to one or two family dwellings.

Photo: Front: Shawn Ellis, Brook Ellis (girl) Ashley Ellis (mom), Bailey Ellis, Joe Grillo (chair), Jane Grillo. Back: Commissioners Terry Goodger, Craig Bryant, Travis Turner, Lynn Holcomb and Ed Nix.

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White County commissioners grapple with short-term rental issues during Tuesday’s called meeting

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Short-term rentals have become a booming industry, forecast to reach $23 billion in the U.S. by 2022.  The rise in popularity has left governments struggling with how to regulate rentals, rental operators and neighborhood activists.

White County commissioners spent one hour in a special called meeting Tuesday morning, wrestling with what is a much more complex issue than it may seem on the surface. County staff is charged with drafting regulations for short-term rentals. Tuesday’s meeting was called so commissioners could provide some direction.

Commission Chairman Travis Turner expressed the difficulty of regulating short-term rentals, saying, “I’ve gone from one extreme to another trying to find a common-sense middle ground.”

On the one hand, those who would like to rent rooms in their home on a short-term basis argue they have a right to use their property as they see fit. On the other, their neighbors counter that kind of activity can affect security in the neighborhood as well as property values.

Commissioner Edwin Nix said, “I’ve probably put more thought into this than anything since we started land use. It is our responsibility and the citizens of this county are looking to us to protect their interests. One thing I would want if I lived in a subdivision is to know who my neighbor was each night. This commissioner would almost vote not to allow this in a subdivision. Period.”

Nix advised staff to pay attention to health issues in drafting regulations. “You’ve got health issues when drafting criteria,” he said “Are (rentals) on public water? Are they on well water? Is the sewage system designed to handle what they are doing?”

There are also licensing issues, insurance issues, parking issues and zoning issues to be addressed.

County Manager Michael Melton said, “What we need to know from the Board is do you want this regulated under land use or do you want it regulated under a permit system?”

Commissioner Terry Goodger pointed out that Hall County and the City of Savannah are struggling with the same issues and they have left it under land use.

Board voted unanimously to have staff draft a stand-alone ordinance and present it to the Board in two weeks for review.

 

 

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Kemp Bus Tour stops at Truett McConnell Tuesday

News, Politics

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp’s “Road to Victory” bus tour visited the campus of Truett McConnell University, a Christian liberal arts and sciences school in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, Tuesday morning.

Following morning chapel service led by Anthony George, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, in the beautiful George Blaurock Student Wellness Center, Kemp briefly addressed students and staff and delivered a message of faith and hope.

The Republican candidate for governor said, “I know God has a plan for our family and I’m just here living It out. We’re going to know shortly what that plan is and we’re trusting in the Lord every single day. That is giving me a lot of peace in my heart. Its people of faith – in a lot of ways – this campaign is about.”

Kemp said he was encouraged to see how many young people are interested in the campaign.

“I’m optimistic that we see a lot of young people all over our state that are interested in who their leaders are going to be. They want good government. They want to have good opportunities and that’s why I’m running, so my kids and you all and your kids, one day, will have all the same opportunities that I have had.”

Many government heavy-hitters at both the state and local level were on hand to show their support for Kemp, who will face Democrat Stacey Abrams and Libertarian Ted Metz in next Tuesday’s election.

Governor Nathan Deal told attendees he is aware that politics has a bad rap but he said, “The truth of the matter is our great nation is based on the idea we are not just a democracy. We are a republic in which people have the right to elect their leaders. If those leaders do not reflect the moral values that our nation should have, our nation will not remain strong.”

Other leaders who visited with Kemp included, Congressman Doug Collins, State Senator Steve Gooch and White County commissioners Travis Turner, Terry Goodger and Edwin Nix.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Travis Turner elected chairman of GEFA

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BOC Chairman Travis Turner

CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner has been elected chairman of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) board of directors effective Jan. 1.

“I am very honored to have been voted chairman by our board of directors,” Turner said Tuesday. “I will have some big shoes to fill in Boyd Austin who has a great understanding of the water issues in Georgia. I hope to continue his strong leadership.”

GEFA provides low-interest loans for water, sewer and solid waste infrastructure, manages energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, oversees land conservation projects and manages and monitors state-owned fuel storage tanks.

To date, GEFA has provided more than $3.7 billion in low-interest loans to cities, counties and infrastructure authorities for improvements to water, sewer and solid waste systems. More than 1,600 projects have been funded by GEFA to date, including solid waste management projects and land conservation purchases and easements.

Turner is currently serving his second four-year term on the White County Board of Commissioners. He also serves as vice chairman of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia’s Group Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation Fund board of trustees.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Commissioners adopt new land use fee schedule

News

From left Commissioners Terry Goodger, Craig Bryant, Travis Turner, Sr. Center Director Bonnie York, Lyn Holcomb and Edwin Nix

CLEVELAND, Ga. – During Tuesday’s called meeting, the White County Board of Commissioners adopted a Land Use Fee schedule for the first time that will apply to future zoning applications. The fee will be $250 and will become effective Jan. 1.

Meeting for the final time before the new year, commissioners unanimously approved a request to apply for the 2018 Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) in the amount of $1,382,174 for the Town Creek Bridge rehabilitation project. Town Creek is the oldest bridge in the county. Commissioner Lyn Holcomb said, “It is also in the worst shape of any bridge in the county.”

Commissioners also awarded bids for prep work on Sam Craven Road to Nelson’s Grading ($86,584). Crumley Creek received the bid for prep work on Joe Franklin Road ($41,870).  Bids were also awarded to Stratton Construction for paving of Sam Craven ($181,777), Stanley Nix ($185,532), Joe Franklin ($71,997) and Mauldin Road ($38,480).

Commissioners unanimously agreed to purchase a dump truck from Gainesville-based Rush Truck Center for $135,395 and a 4-door Ford crew cab from Jacky Jones Ford for $28,895.

The county will make some badly-needed improvements to the Senior Center in 2018 after commissioners agreed to spend $129,223.45 to add parking spaces, improve the entrance way and construct steps leading to the Administration Building.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, the county honored Bonnie York, the woman whose devoted leadership has guided the county’s Senior Center the past 32 years. York is retiring.

Commission Chairman Travis Turner read a proclamation in her honor then added, “The proclamation says, Bonnie, you have made a difference, that’s all well and good. I feel that pales in comparison to what you’ve done in ministering to our community for over 32 years. We can’t say it enough; we greatly appreciate you serving our parents and grandparents over the years.”

Commissioners took turns expressing their heartfelt appreciation for the leadership York has provided.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

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Controversial CUP Request Draws Opposition

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – A request for a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow a home in a residential, single-family district to be placed in a “For Rent By Owner” program drew objections during a White County Board of Commissioners work session Monday.

Felix Love requested the CUP for a 2.75 acre parcel of land he owns at 55 Mill Creek Trail during the first of two public hearings. Love said he initially purchased the property to flip for a profit but has been unable to find a buyer.

Neighbors Michele Johnson and Cindy Bailey rose to speak in opposition. They cited several objections, including violation of homeowner association covenants, noise and declining property values. Johnson said many of the homeowners in Mill Creek are retirees who were attracted by the restricted covenants. She said security and privacy were also concerns.

Bailey acknowledged that at least one other home in the neighborhood is used as a weekend rental and that renters tend to throw loud parties, leave garbage outside and ignore community speed limit signs.

During a second public hearing, Sonya Chesser asked commissioners to redistrict a small parcel of the 8.24 acres she and her husband own at 2836 Skitts Mountain Road from C-1 (Community Commercial District) to Residential Single-Family District to accommodate construction of a new home.

Retired White County educators were honored during Monday’s county commission meeting.

More than a dozen retired White County Educators attended the work session and Commission Chairman Travis Turner read a proclamation in honor of Georgia Retired Educators Day Sunday, Nov. 5.

Commissioners also discussed:

  • Priorities for potential spring road paving projects;
  • Renewal of the Parks and Recreation concessionaire agreement with Complete Comfort Inc.;
  • Ratification of the contract for debris removal and disposal with Southern Disaster Recovery;
  • An amendment to the White County Flood Plain Management Ordinance;
  • Upcoming Appointments to the Board of Assessors, Building Authority and Library Board;
  • Replacement of Road Department Vehicles.

These and other issues are expected to be voted on at the next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners Monday, Nov. 6.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Appalachian Parkway Phase 2 Opens

News

Aerial photo of Appalachian Pkwy. Phase 2 courtesy of Sam Owens

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Phase 2 of the Appalachian Parkway – a potentially life-saving, two-mile stretch of four-lane highway winding its way around the downtown business district of Cleveland, opened today.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and State Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville were on hand along with city and county officials from Helen, Cleveland, Dahlonega and White, Lumpkin and Union counties.

Gooch commented on how the new parkway would reduce travel time dramatically for emergency vehicles transporting patients from Union and White counties to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.

White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner credited Gooch, Rogers and State Rep. Lee

Hawkins (R-Gainesville) for their effort in the state legislature.

“Without those guys, this would not have been possible,” he said. “On behalf of the citizens of White County and north Georgia, we appreciate their support.”

Georgia Department of Transportation Engineer Brent Cook talked about the cost of the project. Purchasing the right of way for Phase 1 and 2 cost approximately $26 million he said. Construction of Phase 1 cost $20 million. Phase 2 cost $25 million plus $2.5 million for engineering. All told, you’re looking at about $75 or $76 million investment,” he said. “But this product, as you will see when you get to ride it, is a good product.”

State Sen. Steve Gooch (left) State Rep. Terry Rogers speak at ribbon cutting ceremony.

Gooch thanked taxpayers who supported HB 170, The Transportation Improvement ACT passed two years ago.

“As a state senator, I thank you for your support of that tax policy,” he said. “It takes a lot of financial resources to get projects like this done. The taxpayers of Georgia take money out of their pockets every time they put gas in their cars. That’s what paid for this project and so many others like it.”

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Public Safety Director Murphy Calls Emergency Meeting as City, County Officials Brace for Irma

News

CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County Department of Public Safety Director David Murphy called city and county officials to a meeting at county’s Emergency Operations Center Friday morning, to check on their preparedness for the impact of Hurricane Irma.

All law enforcement agencies in the county and all fire departments were represented along with a handful of emergency management personnel, members of the Certified Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), city and county managers and some county commissioners.

Irma is expected to make landfall near the Florida Keys late Saturday and Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the storm is “way bigger than Andrew.” Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a category 4 but maximum winds are about 150 miles per hour.

After landfall, Irma is expected to produce a destructive path as it rumbles northward through central Florida as it bears down on Georgia. Most hurricanes weaken as they pass over land and Irma is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reaches northeast Georgia.

“A reasonable arrival time when we will experience tropical storm winds is Monday morning around 8 a.m. and throughout the day and into Tuesday night,” Murphy said. Sustained winds are expected to be about 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 mph.

“Projected rainfall is between 2.8 and 3.5 inches. We have had that much rainfall before, but add that to the high winds and we could have a problem,” Murphy added.

All of those charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens reported that their agencies are as ready as they can be.

Friendship Baptist Church, 3513 Westmoreland Road in Cleveland, Mount Yonah Elementary School, 1161 Duncan Bridge Road and the Mauney Building 1241 Helen Highway, have been designated as safe haven/comfort shelters  for those who live in sub-standard housing, mobile homes or RV’s and feel threatened due to weather conditions.

Murphy said three conditions could trigger the opening of those shelters: damaging winds with tornado activity; the storm center issues a tornado watch and conditions on the ground along with multiple calls from the public about where to go. They have already been supplied with cots, blankets and water.

The Bridge Church, 607 Hulsey Road in Cleveland, will serve as the Red Cross congregate center and will be opened to the public if the area is hit by a tornado or the Red Cross requests it to open as an evacuation center.

The flight of Floridians to escape Irma has already reached White County. As of Friday morning two vendors have run out of gas.

Generators have been prepositioned at the county courthouse to ensure that the lines of communication remain open.

The county public works director said his department has adequate fuel supply and 10-12 people assigned to a chain saw strike team to help clear roads of fallen trees.

Sheriff Neal Walden said that as of noon today, all leave is canceled. One of his major concerns is if the county jail is damaged by high winds, he may need a bus on short notice to transport prisoners.

Asked if he had a message for those tempted to get out and survey the damage after the storm passes through, Walden said, “We will absolutely not allow gawkers. Stay at home.” He also cautioned residents to be alert for scammers who like to take advantage of disasters.

County Commission Chairman Travis Turner urged everyone to, “Be ready to assist one another and our neighbors. Let’s work together. We want to come out of this with a win.”

 

 

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