BOE to demolish old central office

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Demoliton plans are underway with the Board of Education (BOE) as they will be taking down the old Central Office Building and annex.

The building, located on Gilmer High School’s Campus, will be demolished by bid winner Anderson Atlanta, Inc. But the process getting there has been questioned by Board members due to a slightly unusual bid range. The six companies, whose bids were presented in the June BOE meeting, ranged from $28,500 to $92,050.

The large range caused concerns as Board Member Ronald Watkins questioned what guarantees the Board had for completion at that price. Facilities and Maintenance Director of Operations, Bob Sosebee told the board that it wouldn’t cost the Board anything to let them try. He later explained with FYN that Anderson Atlanta will be responsible for every part of the demolition including the actual tear down, disconnection of utilities like water/sewer and electrical, permits, and disposal of the detritus.

Demolition is set to begin on July 8. While Anderson Atlanta has 90 days to complete the contract, Sosebee has said he has had several talks with the company, who has sent representatives to inspect the site, in which they have estimated they could complete the contract in a matter of weeks. As such, confidence is high that the demolition will be completed before school starts again in August.

The board has not expressed specific plans for the area after demolition, but Sosebee said they do intend to continue using the area for parking until the board decides on something different.

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Designer Selected for Pool Construction

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – An official motion, and a somewhat unusual unanimous decision, has led Gilmer County into a contract with Premier Pools & Spas.

The company, located in Ellijay, Georgia, already presented a concept to the commissioners during their June meeting, but will now alter, detail, and finalize a design for the board to use as they move forward with a town hall meeting for citizens to look at the design and provide input, then return to design before giving the plans over to an engineer for building plans.

Premier Pools & Spas preliminary design was meant to show the companies capabilities and expertise. Approved at $3,500, the company will now spend the next few weeks designing both pools expected in the new recreation center. However, the design would end with planning the enclosure for the main pool. The County will still look for another designer for the remainder of the recreation center as they have previously stated they want the entire facility designed before construction begins.

The main pool will likely be four feet deep to accommodate swimming laps as well as water aerobics classes. Included in the building enclosing the pool would be concession stands and bathrooms. These will also be designed to prevent moisture transfer to the rec center to help protect other possibilities like basketball courts.

One change the commissioners have already asked for from the initial concept is to incorporate eight swim lanes at 8-feet-wide each for competitions. Additionally, for practices, Swim Coach Larry Lykins said this width could also allow for two swimmers in the lanes.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman also said he wanted to accommodate those wanting to swim laps at the same time. Lykins said that eight lanes could also allow extra space to have half the pool set for laps and the other half for classes, therapy, or aerobics at the same time.

When finished, the pool design will provide the county with a completed design to guide with layout and construction documents and engineering plans, as well as estimations of building costs. Post Commissioner Dallas Miller confirmed that these would be good enough for bid specs, but they will not be the actual Architectural Plans.

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Bids and appointments prepare commissioners for 2018

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners entered the year’s end awarding last-minute bids for 2018 and appointing board members and positions for the county.

Awarding the 2018 Tax Anticipatory Note (TAN) produced four bids. The two lowest bids came from Southstate Bank with a variable rate currently at 1.696 percent and Regions Bank with a fixed rate at 1.93 percent. Though Southstate is currently lower, the commissioners noted the variable rate has already jumped from 1.53 percent in the first week of November.

Since the commissioners are not expecting to utilize the TAN until August or September of 2018, and noting upward pressure on rates, the motion came to approve Regions Bank’s fixed rate of 1.93 percent.

Along the same item, the banking services for 2018 was bid as well. Five banks offered bids with two bids being offered contingent on winning the TAN bid as well. The three left included United Community Bank with $50 monthly service charges and a 0.65 percent interest rate, Parks Sterling Bank with no monthly charges and a 0.15 percent interest rate, and Chase with its interest rate made to offset the service charges.

Currently, the county is using United Community Bank. As discussion went through their work session, the board began considering the costs of transferring accounts, including ordering new checks. Making the motion for approval, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated, “Given the offer and also considering the expense of making a change, it would be my opinion that we should just continue with United Community Bank.” The motion was unanimously approved.

Another bid approved during December was the emulsion bids. Originally bid with other materials previously, Gilmer County Public Works Director Jim Smith stated the county only had one bid at the time and another vendor claimed it did not receive the notification for bid. Rebidding now, Ergon Asphault Emulsions, $2.30 per gallon for CRS2L and $1.85 per gallon for CRS2H, and Hudson Materials, $2.06 per gallon for CRS2L and $1.72 per gallon for CRS2H, made offerings.

As low bidder, Hudson Materials was approved for emulsion material beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The county is moving forward with a lease agreement with the Gilmer Chamber to occupy the Watkins House located downtown. The agreement will allow for the Chamber to create a downtown welcome center and display space. Although other entities are interested in the space, such as Gilmer ARTS and the historical society, both looking to display items in the building, the county is set to main lease to the Chamber while allowing them to decide on sub-leasings for space and display.

The agreement is still in its early stages, but indications suggest the county will be maintaining the space while the Chamber pays for utilities. Rent would be negligible, one suggestion indicated a dollar per year. With the agreement beginning, Chairman Paris suggested the Chamber interest could see utilization of the space as early as spring.

As the agreement moves forward, citizens can expect to revisit the item in coming months for approvals by the board.

The other items for the meeting included several board and position appointments to new and open terms through the county:

Lex Rainey and Don Callihan were appointed to the Gilmer/Pickens Joint Development Authority;

Jim DuPont and Alan Davenport were reappointed to the Planning Commission Board;

Tony Pritchett was appointed as County Legislative Coordinator; and

Cathy Green was appointed to the Northwest Georgia Region 1 Emergency Medical Services Council.

Check out more on the commissioners’ December meeting with “December meetings continue commissioners’ budget conversation.”

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BOC Changes Fuel Bid Ordinance and More at October Meeting

News

ELLIJAY, GA – October became very unusual for the Board of Commissioners. A shorter order of business saw few things on the agenda for the Board as they move into the final quarter of the year.

However, fewer items presented no less importance as the commissioners discussed a serious change to their ordinance that is exempting fuel purchaes from the bid process for the year. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris told FYN that environmental issues preventing the use of previous underground tanks to stock fuel for the year has actually caused the Commissioners an inability to open and receive bids for gas.

Currently, the Commissioners approved the ordinance change as it was the second reading and no citizens spoke at the public hearing. However, Paris also indicated in the meeting a desire to return to bidding fuel once the county is able to construct new above ground storage tanks. Though he stated a desire to move towards construction with the 2019 budget, he did not see a possibility of it fitting into the 2018 budget.

With approval of the change, the county is now compliant with its ordinances again having not bid for fuel.

Budget discussion continued as the Commissioners turned their attention to the continuing story of the Tabor and Watkins houses. Recent inspections have revealed termites in both buildings. However, the damage has not reached an extreme yet according to reports. As the Board nears the later part of October, they will begin detailed discussions of the 2018 budget. At this time, the Board has officially tabled any action on treatment for the termites as they are attempting to fit it into the 2018 budget instead of the current 2017.

This could mean that treatment may begin as early as January for the infestation, but citizens will not know the definitive time tables until October 26 after the budget work sessions.

As for the Watkins house, the County has begun moving Planning and Zoning Offices into their new building. While discussion has gone on for two months now as to three different requests for space at the Watkins house, Paris stated in the County’s Work Session that one option could include simply leasing the property to the Gilmer Chamber and allowing them to sub-lease space to the other two as they see fit.

Those other two requests include a request to hold and display some of the museum pieces from the Tabor House and a request to display art and other things from Gilmer ARTS.

Additionally, the October Meetings saw the Board approve Mark Troxell to the Airport Advisory Board, and approval for an Alcoholic Beverage License to Park’s Place Convinient Store & More LLC.

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Financial Decisions Dominate June BOE

News

The running theme for the Board of Education’s June meeting brought financial decisions to the forefront as they prepare for their next fiscal year.

One of the major decisions came with awarding two of four bids for Fuel/Oil Products. Awarding Fuel Supply to Petroleum Traders, the BOE’s set price for the year will be $0.0278 over rack price for Unleaded and $0.0329 over rack price for Diesel. The second award went to Appalachian Propane at $0.848 per gallon of Propane Fuel.

The one bid received for Automotive Batteries from O’Reillys was declined with a comment that these will be purchased as needed for the year. Towing Services for the schools will also be called on as needed as that received no bids.

Right after awarding the bids, the Board discussed a proposal for school lunch prices increases. According to the proposal, the USDA is requiring school’s charging less than $2.86 to recalculate their prices. This will put the Primary, Elementary, and Middle Schools on a 10 cent increase to total $2.10 per meal. The High School will see a 25 cent increase to total $2.25. The Boards approval also set the reduced meal price at $0.40.

Along with the 2010 ESPLOST, 2015 ESPLOST, and Financial Reports, the Board received a report on recent Expenditures and Board Approved Purchases including the changes coming to the School Resource Officers after the recent changes to the budget when the Board agreed to a request from the Board of Commissioners to increase their funding of the Officers.

The changes to the budget, having gone through one meeting in March and another in June, were adopted at the June Regular Session to prepare for July as the beginning of FY 18. The budgets details can also be found in FYN’s recent article: “Gilmer Schools Adopts Budget

Also in preparation for FY 18, the Board made final approval for a new Pre-k and State Salary Schedule.

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FOGAS Auction for Support of Animal Shelter

News

The Friends of the Gilmer Animal Shelter (FOGAS) raised $2,954 in their recent silent auction for the Animal Shelter.

Events like these are key to operating the shelter as Shelter Director Daniel Laukka reported it was only due to donations that the shelter was able to reduce cat and kitten adoption fees in 2015 which increased adoption rates from 30 in 2014 to 435 since then. This year alone, the animal shelter has reported rescuing 17 dogs, 3 cats and 13 kittens to date.

The funds raised by the silent auction and similar events are used by FOGAS to help vet pets chosen from GCAS for transport to a rescue organization in New Jersey by neutering, spaying, vaccinating, deworming and providing professional veterinarian services and medications as needed.

The auctions highest bid hit $100 for an “Atlanta Zoo Basket” which contained 4 admission tickets, a $40 MasterCard gift card, dog soap, and a dog scarf. The event involved over 20 volunteers and even saw FOGAS pay for Shane’s Rib Shack to cater for the event.

According to recent posts by Laukka

In 2016, The Gilmer County Animal Shelter took in 847 cats and kittens. 326 of these cats and kittens were rescued. 193 were adopted. 6 were reclaimed by an owner. We still have one cat left from 2016. The euthanasia rate for cats and kittens was 32% for 2016, which is down from 39% last year and 88% the year before.

In 2016, the Gilmer County Animal Shelter took in 1,213 dogs and puppies. 919 of these dogs and puppies were rescued. 136 of these dogs and puppies were reclaimed by an owner. 59 were adopted.  There are still four dogs at the shelter from 2016.

These are just a handful of statistics that volunteers at FOGAS say change lives for both animals and people. FOGAS needs volunteers to assist with fund raising, grant writing, benefit organization, set up, and take down.

Volunteers continue to support the shelter, but the shelter also needs people who are looking for animals to adopt. Events like these continue to show the vast number of animals in need of families, in need of homes, in need of you.

 

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Bonds and Bids at BOE Meeting

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At the June 11 meeting, the BOE approved several financial plans. (more…)

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