Community development on agenda in commissioners’ March meetings


ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners addressed community development this month with a possible final solution to roadside trash pick-up as well as applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Trash pick-up has been a developing issue over the last two months now as the board originally planned on hiring five seasonal employees for trash pick-up to work through the summer preceding the county’s mowing teams. However, a special called meeting in February saw new ideas as the commissioners began considering a new deputy in the Sheriff’s Department, similar in costs, to put inmates on the roads picking up trash.

During that meeting, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated this crew would consist of four or five non-risk inmates under the supervision of one deputy. He described this option as a better long-term solution and one that is typically more favorably viewed in the public perception.

At their regular March meeting, the idea was restated for the public saying the Sheriff’s Department would not need a new vehicle for the added deputy. The county will receive reports of the progress of the program to monitor and are still expected to have the teams move ahead of mowers in the summer months. This item was officially approved this month, so citizens should be seeing these teams on county roads, not state-owned roads, in the coming months. They will also be skipping over roads already cleaned and maintained by the Keep Gilmer Beautiful organization.

March also saw the commissioners approve a CDBG for the area of Sunlight Road and Roundtop Road. Proposed by the Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority, the approval by the board is the first step in the grant application process, meaning this is still early stages of a competitive grant process that the county will be entering into application for.

If accepted, it would allow expansion of the water/sewer system closer to the southwest corner of Gilmer County, closer to the county line, according to Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority Director Gary McVey. He estimated 200 residents of the area could be affected by the expansion. With the application due April 1, late fall could see the beginning of construction if approved with an expected one-year construction time.

In addition to these items, the Board of Commissioners approved applications for 2018 River Outfitter’s licenses for Cartecay River Experience and Coosawattee River Resort and an Alcoholic Beverage license for Mohammad Nizar Tharani at Ellijay Mini Mart.


Ellijay accepts two roads to maintenance system


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Updates to the project on Victory Circle came in Ellijay’s December Council Meeting.

The project, officially named the Victory Christian Center, requested the city take a new road into its maintenance system. The road will connect Victory Circle, behind the old Blue Ridge Carpet Mill, to Progress Road. This new connection will become the main entrance to the facility, and one of three access points, as Victory Christian continues plans to add another entrance on Maddox Drive near the city limits sign, to decrease traffic stress at the four-way stop of Progress Road and Maddox Drive. Following the back side of the old carpet mill, the road will connect from the first curve on Victory Circle.

The project, according to Randy Durden from the North Georgia Christian Foundation, will be paid for by combining donations, including property from the neighboring PDQ Manufacturing and Waterwheel and money from the Victory Christian Center for construction of the road pending the council’s agreement to accept the road for maintenance. The official approval came as a motion for agreement in principal that the city would accept the road contingent upon it being built to Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) specifications with 60-foot right-of-ways and Ellijay City requirements.

However, this was not the only addition to the city’s road systems. The council officially approved accepting 1.6 miles of state Route 382 into the city street system.

After consideration in November, the council further investigated and attained confirmation that the state would repave the road. According to Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle, the Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner assured him they would resurface the road and make sure everything is in good shape, including striping and guard rails.

Along with the accepting of the state road, the council separately approved accepting the Lighting Agreement. The new roundabout being built at the intersection of Highway 382 and Old Highway 5 will have street lights for the roundabout for which the city is agreeing to pay the lighting bill.

Ellijay City Councilman David Westmoreland requested consultation from Ellijay City Police Chief Edward Lacey if there would be a negative consequence. Lacey suggested he could not see anything negative stating, “It is contiguous with our current city system of roads.”

Lacey was also requested to speak on a second item, a request for speed bumps on Gilmer Street near the senior center. The council asked last month for Lacey to investigate and speak at this meeting. Officially recommending the street return to a one-way street as it has been in the past, Lacey suggested do not enter signs to prevent traffic from traveling toward Delaware Street. The council did not grant the speed bump request for the street, but instead went with Lacey’s recommendation to make it one way. This means traffic on Gilmer Street must flow toward Broad Street and toward the courthouse.

Cartecay Vineyards is moving downtown with approval for Cartecay Wine and Craft Pub at 19 South Main Street in Ellijay for a wine tasting room.

After an executive session, Ellijay’s city council approved three members to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). With four openings and only three filled, the city is still looking to fill another position on the authority board. Those three approved were Josh Quigley, Mark Luchauer and Joshua Moyer.


Joint Development Authority preps for 2018


EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) held a special meeting Dec. 12 to finalize items before the new year.

The Authority is filling a gap made last year as the seventh, at-large, member was needed to be appointed. While Penelope Marshall has served in the position, it turns out that no official resolution was ever made. While the JDA reappointed Marshall to the position, it must now go before the other entities of the two cities and the county to be approved by them as well before finalization.

The approval to the position officially lists Marshall as finishing the rest of the term for the next three years.

The JDA also approved their 2018 budget with the major changes of having the executive director employed by the JDA itself now. The smaller budget of the Authority reportedly will allow $15,109  for marketing and $7,500 for travel and entertainment, according to Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford. These main two items are what the JDA uses to grow and expand business.

Sanford mentioned at the meeting that the Authority’s immediate plan with the budget compared to “ground game” in football. He spoke about the restriction from finances meant taking every step one at a time and working on smaller gains in the near future to build into more growth.

The JDA also approved their regular meeting dates for 2018. Those approved meetings will be held on Feb. 5, May 7, Aug. 6, and Nov. 5. Each meeting is to be held at 8 a.m. at the Gilmer Chamber Office, 696 1st Ave in East Ellijay.


New Executive Director Officially Takes Office Today

Business, News

EAST ELLIJAY, GA – The Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) has gone months through its process of looking to replace its executive director after its previous director resigned.

Today marks the end of that search. While we have known for a while now that Kent Sanford, formerly of Park Sterling Bank, would be taking the position, it is today that the transition has been completed and he officially takes office.

With the job ahead, Sanford told FYN, “As I watched the sun come up from my new office this morning, I was reminded of the bright future Gilmer County has before us.  We have a great deal of work to do, but I am excited to get started and humbled to be part of the process and working with an excellent team of professionals.”

As he begins moving around town, introducing himself to the businesses and beginning to attract more growth to the county, the JDA will hold their fourth quarter meeting this Monday, November 6, at 8 a.m. Also, stay with FYN as we continue updates and sit down with Sanford later this month.

Also, be sure to check out more with our previous article, “JDA Announces New Executive Director.”


Ellijay Presents Proposed Budget for 2018


ELLIJAY, GA – The City of Ellijay is moving forward in its budgeting process with the presentation of its budget for 2018.

This Proposed budget is still awaiting public comments in the the hearing tomorrow morning, September 29, at 9:00 A.M. After that, the budget can move to October’s regular meeting for approval by the city.

The budget as it currently shows, is not completed numbers for the current fiscal year. However, changes are already being seen as budget hearings and the council prepare for future costs.

Citizens wishing to follow up and speak during comments at the City’s meetings are encouraged to dig deeper into the Proposed 2018 Budget.


Ellijay Management Changes Through City Council and Special DDA Meetings


ELLIJAY, GA – The Ellijay City Council is moving forward to swap out pumper’s for its Fire services.

After numerous problems with its current 2002 Lavern Class A Pumper, the City Council have voted to accept bids on the fire truck. Through their work session, discussion came that a minimum price be set for $85,000. The Council did approve the minimum price on the bids, but can also refuse bids at a later date. The revenue from the sale will offset the cost of the city purchasing a 1996 Smeal Class A Pumper for $60,000.

A First Reader also came at the Council’s July meeting for an “Ordinance For The Demolition and Removal Of A Dwelling Unfit For Human Habitation Located At 19 Hancock Drive.” Designated as parcel 1065. Although this is a First Reader, the demolition could move forward in 30 days if no change occurs in the situation.

Citizens also took time to speak at the meeting with one questioning the Come Play in Ellijay Golf Tournament and the DDA (Downtown Development Authority). Her question was to locate funds raised from last year’s event to support current and future events. The same day as the Council Meeting, the DDA held a special called meeting in which they discussed the Golf Tournament.

During the DDA’s meeting, the Authority officially turned over the Golf Tournament Event to the newly formed Ellijay Merchant’s Association. The Golf Tournament is the latest event to be turned over as the DDA has already relinquished the July 4th event, Light Up Ellijay, St. Petrick’s Day, and the Halloween Festivities.

While turning the events over, the DDA will be giving up the promotions and events committee’s in favor of the Merchant’s Association who have become their own 501c3 organization.

The second action from the DDA’s special called meeting returned the Management of the Welcome Center/Restroom downtown to the City.


Piping in Gilmer’s Detention Center


The 210 day contract for the new sewer line laid to the Gilmer County Detention Center has begun.

DSC01617While the initial notice to proceed (210 Days start point) was given on December 5, Ellijay-Gilmer County Water & Sewerage Authority Director Gary McVey did note, “This could vary some depending on inclement weather days, but the project is expected to be completed within this general time frame. Work is now underway after planning and surveying to actually dig in and lay the pipe.

Utilizing “approximately 7,497 linear feet of 8” gravity sewer pipe and approximately 5,267 linear feet of 6” force main piping,” this tie-in to the existing sewer lines is set to replace the existing septic tanks at the jail. However, according to McVey, this will also extend service to other businesses, buildings, or homes wishing to also use the new line.

Should anyone wish to tie in, McVey stated, “The gravity portion of the line which begins at the Gilmer County Jail and ends at a lift station to be placed just east of the Owltown Bridge will be open for homes, buildings, and businesses to tie on.”

PipingIt will be more difficult, but not necessarily impossible, for there to be homes, buildings, and businesses to tie in to the Force Main portion of the project which begins at the lift station and ends at a connection to an existing gravity sewer main located on Old Bennett Road (off of Yukon Road).  Those wishing to tie into this line will have to utilize a properly sized sewerage pump as well as the current tap on fee, customers with a ¾” residential water meter is $550.00.

Additionally, according to Director McVey, “If additional construction is required, such as boring under a roadway, the customer is charged for the cost of that additional construction.  Additionally, there is an impact fee of $1,587.60  for customers that have a ¾” residential water meter.”

FYN inquired as to any special precautions that might need be taken as residences and businesses may end up on this line from a Detention Center. While the pipe itself has no special needs, a specific device called an ‘Auger Monster’ will be used and is being purchased as a part of the total project costs.

According to McVey,

“There are special requirements that must be addressed before the sewerage from a detention center is introduced to the sewerage collection system.  In any situation in which inmate housing is involved, there are issues with “unusual” debris being flushed that normally is not seen in a collection system.  To address this issue (as they do at other inmate facilities), there will be a grinder pump called an “Auger Monster” placed at the jail site.  This Auger Monster will utilize a large screen in which items that cannot pass through the screen will be automatically disposed in a dumpster; items that pass through the screen will be totally ground up so that the material will flow in the sewerage collection system.”

This process is completed before the sewerage reaches the general collection pipe effectively preventing the objects from entering into them.

Prep WorkAs citizens travel out Highway 52 towards the Jail, they will see construction off the edge of the road as the pipe will continue to be laid in the coming months until ultimately the county takes the process to cut and reset its current septic tanks in favor of dedicating service to the line.

According to Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, he is expecting to connect the sewer line for the jail and pump out the existing septic tanks. However, he does not plan on removing the tanks from underground. After the county shuts down water to the jail and begins the process of changing over to the line system, the septic tanks will be rendered “dead” on the premises and no longer usable.



Budget Woes Still Plague DDA


Budget woes are still haunting Ellijay’s Downtown Development Authority. After having sent a letter at the end of last year, DDA member Larry Robinson states the city still has not responded with answers to why their budget was cut and options to return to proper funding for the DDA. A budget that was said to be expected close to $35,000, Robinson says the actual funding received was less than $10,000.


Available options for funding were also discussed in the meeting including an option to reallocate one of Ellijay’s Mils in taxes inside the Downtown district to support the DDA. Another option revolved around a surcharge on business licenses could be used instead to support the Authority. With this extra support, DDA Chair Jim Stover says a myriad of options could open to further Ellijay’s Downtown area from grants for businesses, small loans for new business, available funds for upgrades, support and finances for new and existing business as needed. Though, no specific decisions on use could be made until the funding becomes available.


Members also discussed public events at Wednesday’s meeting. Vice Chair Brad Simmons spoke about cutting a problem off before it raises with alcohol sales at events like the upcoming July 4th celebration. As the celebration encompasses the local businesses, the city parking lot, the boardwalk, and the adjacent alley, issues could arise as people carry drinks from businesses across these locations. Simmons advised that a wristband begin being used to identify citizens who have been checked for ID and would allow them to carry their drinks into the parking lot event grounds.


This band would also restrict the locations that the alcohol would be allowed. While grounds for the event could encompass certain restaurants adjacent to the event, Ellijay’s open carry restrictions would still be enforced outside of the designated area for wristbands. While this idea is still being investigated by the DDA, they are expected to bring this option before the City Council soon to progress with upcoming events.
Along with that proposal, the DDA also said they will be requesting the city provide email accounts for its members for business use. This would designate specific accounts for the Board members so they are not forced to use personal email accounts that could become part of an Open Records Request for public information.

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