Commission chairman presents review of 2019 events

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WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner used his time during the 2020 Eggs and Issues Breakfast Friday to give attendees a review of the important events that took place in White County last year.

The event was held at The Bridge Church and was sponsored by the White County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President Beth Truelove served as hostess.

With State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and State Reps. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) and Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville) in the audience, Turner thanked all three for the service to the county.

“We appreciate the fact that we can reach out to our state delegation and they respond to us,” he said.

Turner outlined some of the projects the county completed in 2019.

“Over the last year, the county paved 13 roads for a total of 21 miles out of our special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) dollars.” The cost of $2.5 million included paving dirt roads and resurfacing existing roads.

“One of the highlights of the last year was the completion of Yonah Preserve Baseball and Softball Complex. “If you haven’t had an opportunity, please go out there. That is a $4 million project that has put the county on the map. We want to make this a destination location for our county.”

The county just completed installation of a new 911 telephone system that will help emergency services locate a caller even when the caller is not aware of their exact location, simply by pinging their cell phone.

Phase 3 of the Appalachian Parkway is now underway, a $16 million project that will improve transportation in and around White County. Last year, the Board of Commissioners committed to a partnership with the City of Cleveland to invest $100,000 for improvements to the water lines along the project.

The White County Fire Department has received a SAFR grant that will allow the county to hire four additional full time firefighters.

Unemployment in White County has reached a historic low of 2 percent.

“SPLOST receipts are up tremendously,” Turner said. “Our LOST receipts are up 10 percent. Hotel/motel tax receipts are up 13 percent and we, as your Board of Commissioners maintained the same millage rate in 2018 and 2019.”

The county ended last year with a $3.9 million fund balance that would allow the county to continue to operate for 2.7 months should an unexpected disaster hit the county.

 

 

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BOC approves purchase of voting machines

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County commissioners unanimously approved an amount of up to $55,000 for the purchase of new voting equipment and supplies to be used during the 2020 primary election cycle during Monday’s combined work session and regular meeting.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill last April that authorizes the statewide purchase of new touchscreen voting machines that prints paper ballots. Probate Judge Garrison Baker, who oversees elections for White County, told commissioners the county will need to purchase 60 of the voting machines and 12 security cages at a cost of $35,370. Baker said there is an additional cost of approximately $20,000 for supplies to be used in conjunction with the machines.

There is a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant of about $15,000 Baker said he plans to apply for that could help offset some of the cost. But he pointed out that his request is time sensitive. “We are kind of under the gun,” he said. “We are less than a month away from having to mail out absentee ballots for the presidential preference primary.”

The purchase can be funded as a capital expense from special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds. The county expects to receive the new machines early next month.

Commissioners unanimously a resolution adopting qualifying fees for candidates who will run in the 2020 election cycle. The new fees are as follows:

Clerk of Superior Court ($1,591.05); Sheriff ($1,943.28); Probate Judge ($1,591.05); Tax Commissioner ($1,591.05); Chief Magistrate Judge ($1,591.05); Board of Commissioners District 1 ($360); Board of Commissioners District 4 ($360); Board of Education Chair ($148.50); Board of Education District 1 ($121.50); Board of Education District 3 ($148.50); Coroner ($226); Surveyor ($25).

The Board also approved Public Safety Director David Murphy’s request for renewal of the statewide mutual aid agreement.

“It simply puts mutual aid into effect throughout the state for anyone that agrees to it,” he said. “We have agreements with any county in the state to provide us assistance during any man made or natural disaster that could occur.”

Commissioners tabled a vote on a proposal by Brewster & Crocker Associates for engineering services for the Yonah Preserve football field, press box, concession stand and restrooms.

The Board also considered four land use applications.

It approved a conditional use permit for Benjamin Goodman to place 4.61 acres at 177Rabun Road in Sautee Nacoochee into the county’s short-term rental program. Commissioners also approved a land use application filed by Bryan Lee for property locatedat28 Lothridge Road in Cleveland from Community Commercial District to Community Business District for the purpose of expanding his mini storage facility.

Two requests for a conditional use permit were denied by the Board.

Mark Carriger’s request for a conditional use permit to operate a wedding chapel/event facility at 520 Adair Mill Road was denied by a unanimous vote.

Sam Kondamudi’s request for a conditional use permit to place 1.01 acres located at 635 Yonah Mountain Road into the county’s short-term rental program was denied by a vote of 4-1.

 

 

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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White County SPLOST collections far exceed projection

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – Kevin Hamby presented a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) report during Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. When the program was approved, commissioners anticipated collecting about $19 million. But Hamby said it now appears revenue will total between $24 and $25 million by the end of 2020.

“It’s easy to give this report when the checks are coming in like they are coming in,” he said. “As you can see, we’re only about 81 percent through the program.”

The report was timely in that the Board had a number of spending items to vote on. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve:

Acceptance of the $383,260 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that requires a county match of $238,243;

Resurfacing of Westmoreland Road from Hwy. 129 to Hwy. 284 in the amount of $545,750 as part of the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) to be paid for out of the voter-approved SPLOST fund;

The purchase of two vehicles for the Department of Community and Economic Development in the amount of $5,319, to be paid for out of the voter-approved SPLOST fund;

The purchase of a vehicle from Jacky Jones Ford for the code enforcement officer in the amount of $30,185;

A contract with Ansley Communications to provide a security camera system installation at Yonah Preserve in the amount of $88,034;

Funding repairs and improvements to the Historic Courthouse and Museum in the amount of $16,000.

Commissioners also approved a resolution of revision to Chapter 30, Environment Artile VIII Standards and Regulations for the Protection of Mountains and Hillsides of the Official Code of White County.

Under the consent agenda, commissioners approved:

A land use variance application for Rondal Garmon for property located at 1745 Skylake Road in Sautee Nacoochee;

A rezoning request by Gregory Chastain from Agriculture Forestry (A-1) to Highway Business (C-2) for property located at 8343 Duncan Bridge Road;

A rezoning request by Gregory Chastain from Agriculture Forestry (A-1) to Residential Single Family (R-1) for property located at 8362, 8386 and 8402 Duncan Bridge Road;

A land use application by Susan Fleck for a conditional use permit for short-term rental on property located at 3214 Paradise Valley Road in Cleveland;

A land use application by Dennis Greene to redistrict property located at 610 Industrial Blvd in Cleveland from Agriculture Forestry (A-1) to Industrial District (I-1).

Commissioners also took time out to honor the county’s retiring teachers, the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) and the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

(Please see photos at top and bottom of this article).

 

 

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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BOC meets twice Thursday to consider 2019 millage rate

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold split sessions Thursday (July 18) with a public hearing on the 2019 millage rate at 8 a.m., followed by a called meeting at 6 p.m.

The millage rate is scheduled to be adopted on Aug. 5.

Other items to be considered during tomorrow’s morning session include:

  • Approval of contracts for inmate housing at White County Detention Center;
  • Approval of request for proposal (RFP) process for stand-by debris management;
  • Authorization of the application for FEMA/SAFR grant;
  • Approval of a contract for provision of fiber-optic internet service for Yonah Preserve with Habersham Trail Wave;
  • Appointment to the Region 1 Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Planning Board.

The 6 p.m. called meeting is primarily for the purpose of holding a second public hearing on the 2019 millage rate.

 

 

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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State deeds 1,000-acre Yonah Preserve to White County

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CLEVELAND — White County Commission Chairman Travis Turner opened Monday’s meeting with a blockbuster announcement that will benefit the county for generations to come.

“I have the distinct pleasure of presenting to you, the citizens of White County the official deed — signed by Governor Deal and with the state seal — the 1,000-acre Yonah Preserve.” The announcement drew loud applause from those in attendance.

The county entered into a 50-year lease of the property from the state five years ago.

“Since then, the state of Georgia with Governor Nathan Deal and other state officials have seen White County’s commitment to developing an outdoor destination program from ball fields to hiking and biking trails to fishing,” Turner said. “These activities will not only benefit White County for generations to come, but also give us an opportunity to draw people from outside our area.”

The only caveat attached by the state is the land be used for the public good.

Only about 20-25 percent of the acreage is buildable due the terrain, which consists of mountains and ridges.

“This is a golden opportunity for the county as we move forward if we’re going to be a tourist-based community,” Commissioner Edwin Nix said. “I’m proud the governor has done what he’s done.”

In other decisions, the Board unanimously adopted the annual Legacy Link contract for operation of the Senior Center.

Commissioners also approved:

  • A resolution to request the Georgia Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Hwy. 129 and Tesnateee Gap Valley Road;
  • A resolution issuing a call for a referendum for the 2020 SPLOST;
  • A planting plan to provide a buffer between Yonah Preserve athletic field area and nearby homes;
  • Allowing staff to proceed with rebidding construction work on the two New Bridge Road bridges;
  • Scheduling process for setting the 2018 millage rate.
  • New summer operating hours for Yonah Preserve. Effective July 12, the preserve will be open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Labor Day.

 

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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Second public hearing on 2019 budget set Monday

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold a second public hearing and consider adoption of the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget Monday (June 18) at 4:30 p.m.

The general fund budget is proposed at $18,925,734 combined with a separate fund balance of $4,737,665 for a total budget of $23,663,399, which represents an increase of 11.8 percent in the 2018 budget.

County Manager Michael Melton said during the first public hearing last week the $2 million increase in this year’s budget is the result of adding positions in the fire department, roads and bridges and parks and recreation and a $2 an hour pay raise for employees other than public safety, which received their pay raise earlier this year.

The county has a reserve fund of approximately $4 million and commissioners are considering using about $1.2 million from that fund to balance the budget which would leave about 2.6 months of operational funds to cover an emergency.

Commissioners will also consider approval of a design change presented by Carter & Sloope for the Yonah Preserve football field area, a cost estimate provided by Charles Black Construction for finishing one football field at Yonah Preserve and a lighting service agreement with Georgia Power for Yonah Preserve.

Other issues to be addressed by the Board include the approval of the renewal contract with the Chattahoochee Group for landscaping at Freedom Park and revisions to the current special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) road project timeline.

Finance Director Jodi Ligon will present the monthly financial status report.

 

 

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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Yonah Preserve trails opening postponed

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The long-awaited opening of the hiking and biking trails at Yonah Preserve will have to wait a little longer.

At their last meeting, the White County Board of Commissioners set Saturday, June 2, as the soft opening date for that section of the 1,000-acre recreation area. However, subtropical storm Alberto has changed that. The opening date has been postponed.

White County, working with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, has been working to get the trails ready for a grand opening. However, SORBA project coordinator Clark Neal said today (May 31) the opening will have to wait until he can get out there and make an assessment.

“My biggest concern is how many trees may have fallen,” Neal said. “We’ve had about six inches of rain this week. I would like to say it will be open next Saturday. But I can’t say that until I can get out there and make an assessment. The rain may have soaked in by then. But my biggest concern is how many trees may need to be removed. We removed nine trees last month.”

Neal told commissioners last week he was looking forward to opening June 2 since the day will be celebrated as National Trails Day.

 

 

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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Commissioners Set Series of Monday Meetings

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CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners will hold a series of meetings in the County Administration Building Monday starting at 3 p.m.

The first will be a called meeting to finalize plans for the Yonah Preserve project. During that meeting, commissioners will review current draft plans, receive additional input on design plans and summarize guidance for the project.

That meeting will be followed at 4:30 p.m. by public hearings to consider rezoning applications filed by Mark Byrd for two parcels of land at 36 Cannon Road. The first is an application to rezone 3.5 acres of land from C1 Community Commercial District to C2 Highway Business District. The second is to rezone 1.8 acres of land from C1 Community Commercial District to C2 Highway Business District.

A work session/called meeting will follow the public hearings. Commissioners will consider a request by the Northeast Georgia Veterans Society to fund and erect a statute of the late Private Rondall Glaze at Freedom Park.

Other issues to be discussed during that meeting include:

  • An application for the 2018 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to fund the multi-jurisdictional drug task force and a memorandum of understanding for the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office;
  • A presentation by Sheriff Neal Walden on recommended improvements to the county courthouse;
  • A final three-year lease-purchase document with BB&T for a 2017 Kenworth 4,000-gallon pumper/tanker for the fire department at a cost of $251,450 plus interest;
  • Quotes for the replacement of Information Technology equipment;
  • A lease with WRWH for tower space at the Long Mountain Tower site;
  • An addendum to the FY 2018 contract with Legacy Link for nutrition program services at the senior center;
  • Bids for certificates of deposit held at Mountain Valley Community Bank;
  • Appointment of the county’s voting delegate for the 2017 ACCG legislative leadership conference;
  • Year-end amendments to the FY 2017 budget.

 

 

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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