Frustrations in BOC over pool project

News
Gilmer County BOC, Intergovernmental Agreement

ELLIJAY, Ga. – County officials are looking deeper into the demolition of the county’s old pool and deciding what to salvage and what to dispose of as they look at placing the county’s new pool project there.

The county is also looking at the plumbing as Maintenance Director D.J. Spagnola said he wanted to be involved with the process as the dig down so that he could look at plumbing for the restrooms and pool project to determine needed fixes and replacements before they move forward with constructing the new pool.

Commission Chairman Charlie Paris said at the December meetings, “Originally, I really wanted to have this done by opening day. I don’t think we’re going to be able to make that… I’m getting really frustrated because it has been seven months now…”

Paris went on to say that most of the county’s time has been spent looking for a location when it started at Clear Creek and then on to River Park. The county began looking for property but came to the conclusion that they didn’t want the old location due to the costs of demolition, a project they could effectively delay until a later date. Now, considering the costs of buying property versus demolishing the old location for the new pool.

The county has almost completely decided on this location for the new pool. However, reservations are still being held as Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson has said in previous meetings that she wants to see what they find during the demolition before setting the location in stone. She did note that she is for the location, but is just wanting to hold a way out in case they find something big and to consider the price of the demolition.

As Paris said he still wanted to expedite the project to attempt to complete it before the season ends, Ferguson said, “I commend you for the work. We’ve tried different avenues. I think this is too important a project to speed through and rush it anyway… I think it’s better that we have taken the time and we have tried different options. We have considered all options that were possibilities.”

The county is focusing on this location, though, and are looking to get out and receive bids on the demolition as soon as possible.

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Bids approved at November BOC

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The final months of the year are seeing the Board of Commissioners approving items to begin the new year without seeing delays, from budgets and bids approved to TSPLOST talks, the board is already gearing up for changes and issues to be addressed.

Some of those details came through the county’s November meeting as it approved bids for materials and appointed board members.

Bid requests for the county’s material needs came sparsely as many only received one bid, and one material bid was tabled. Bids were received for stone, propane, emulsion, concrete, and

The BOC voted to approve Vulcan Materials Company for stone, Appalachian Propane for propane fuel, Hudson Materials Company for emulsion, and C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. for Asphalt.

With concrete, however, some confusion came when trying to compare the two bids received, West Block Co Inc. and Wayne Davis Concrete Company. As the board members struggled to compare the two, Attorney David Clark suggested they could hold onto the bids until December’s meeting to utilize the time to better understand the two. In past years, the county had relied on explanations from Public Works Director Jim Smith, who was not available during this month’s meetings.

The second bid item accepted approved Jacob Anderson Company LLC for the demolition of two poultry houses at the Airport.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners voted to appoint Eric Irish to the EMS Region 1 Council and Maria Mullins to the Airport Advisory Board.

 

 

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County requesting bids to demolish the old pool site

News
Gilmer County BOC, Intergovernmental Agreement

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The county is moving forward with and advertisement for bids to demolish the old pool after approval this month in their work session.

Despite some slight confusion in having the entire board on the same page about using the location as the site for the coming pool, County Attorney David Clark urged the county to move forward with demolition plans for the site due to hazards and liability issues that could arise with the site.

Chairman Paris said his original understanding was that the board was very much in favor of the location.

And although Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson wanted more discussion on officially declaring the site as the definitive location of the new pool, she did agree that they should go ahead with the demolition proceedings and the vote came unanimously in favor of advertising for bids.

In fact, Ferguson even said she did not have a problem with the location as the new pool site “unless there is something crazy that we find under the pool…” Ferguson’s concerns tended toward unexpected costs that could come through issues they had not found yet or may find as they demolish the old pool.

As she said she didn’t have a problem with the site, she later added that she didn’t realize that they had agreed on the location “no matter what.”

Paris did point out that a lot of time has been spent on site locations and inspections and that the county has yet to even advertise for bids on the project. Continuing along the process, the target of a pool constructed in May is fast approaching. In fact, the Memorial Day target has been spoken of less and less in recent meetings.

However, recalling the original meetings and planning session for the project, Paris did note several times that the Memorial Day opening was not a deadline, but rather a target date that he wanted to shoot for.

Still, progress is continuing on the project with this advertisement, and should the county move forward and accept a bid, it will be one step closer on a long journey that has become the pool project.

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Pool Debate jumps into the deep end

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The story is continuing with Gilmer County’s pool as the debate received another change in the July Board of Commissioners meetings.

Questions arose to revisit the idea of a deeper area in the pool with a diving board for citizens and children use to jump into the pool. This idea was originally not at all a part of the plans for the pool as liability and insurance issues made each member of the board question the addition.

As such, until now, plans have never included the area, instead having an offset area with two slides set up for play. The offset area was, and still is, connected to the “competition pool,” the first pool to be put in during the construction project that is now almost certain to span years to ultimately achieve a full recreation center.

Concern was also raised about continued debates on designs and inclusions for the project. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris noted how late in the year we are without the county having even put out requests for bids. Paris is continuing to try to hold to his plans to meet a Memorial Day 2020 deadline or sometime soon after to open the basic pool for the public. Tempering the plans with cost concerns, Post Commissioner Dallas Miller continued the debate questioning exactly how much extra the addition would cost the county in building a diving well in addition to the slide area and the pool.

Plans have only inflated since the pools’ original design was released early last week. Citizens are continuing to debate, question, change, and increase plans for the pool despite many of them being against beginning construction of the pool this year.

Paris commented on the changes that citizens are requesting as he said in an earlier meeting he didn’t want to wind up spending millions of dollars on a pool “that doesn’t meet our needs.” Miller also said he would rather spend $4 million on the pool that people want even if it adds years to the completion time.

County Attorney David Clark offered an answer to the debate as the county is still early in the design phase. Clark suggested the county request bids for both options including and excluding the diving well.

The county is also holding fast to the $1.2 million budget for the pool for now as they march towards Memorial Day. Debate is starting to grow if the county will stay within the $1.2 million. Constantly being asked over and over again, Paris has simply repeated his statement saying that he wants to get everything he can for the pool for $1.2 million. He has taken several opportunities at several meetings and interviews to list the county’s priority of getting the main pool in with all the extra they can, but coming back in subsequent years for the other additions like a cover, a kids pool, a splash pad, and other items.

With designs set and citizens already speaking out on their plans, the county is already hearing and changing ideas. It seems the presentation of the design proposal has already doubled as the town hall meeting promised to citizens to consider design changes. Despite that, the county’s monthly meetings are also seeing comments and changes right up to the last minute before bids are received.

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Ethics and Security questioned in Gilmer Administration

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Citizens are questioning the Gilmer County Board of Education this week after reports have surfaced of the involvement of and connections between the school systems Superintendent, Dr. Shanna Downs, and her husband’s, Jeff Downs, career in a company that the school is now engaging to install a security system in the schools.

Jeff Downs

Jeff Downs,  Senior Vice President of Sales

While allegations pointed that Shanna Downs financially benefited from this contract between the school and the company known as Centegix, where sources say Jeff Downs serves and Senior Vice President of Sales.

FYN looked deeper into the contract and Request for Proposals (RFP) process that was headed up by Gilmer Schools Director of Technology John Call. According to hid RFP listed, the criteria of the RFP included:

1. Bidder’s total proposed price
2. Product quality/appropriateness/compatibility/performance
3. Bidder’s qualifications/experience
4. Bidder’s ability to provide support/service
5. Bidder’s warranty/maintenance
6. Proposed product meeting the district’s present needs as well as future needs through
enhancements and upgrades.

Call headed the reviews and RFP process, according to Downs, who said, “When I realized that my husband would likely accept a position with Centegix in November,  I notified the board and I placed our technology director, John Call, in charge of the competitive bidding process for the security system.  I asked that I be left completely out of the process.”

Downs further stated that Call and Stuart Sheriff, Assistant Superintendent, contacted Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins Attorneys at Law on November 12 for legal advice. As they saw no problem after Downs recusal, Downs says she informed the Board of her husband’s potential future employment with Centegix.  She says, “Mr. Call assembled a committee of building level administrators to review and score the responses to the Request for Proposals (RFPs).   Details of that process can be found in our board minutes from December 13, 2018.  Until that process was complete, I stayed unaware of the selection of the product.”

Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs

Downs made one further note on her husband’s involvement saying, “My husband began work with Centegix on December 3rd and will not make any commission off of the purchase.”

The RFP continued under Call and received two proposals, one from Centegix and one from ETC in Ellijay. When questioned as to why only two proposals were received, Call noted that other companies did inquire about the RFP, but never submitted a proposal. Without an official submittal, there is no record of these inquiries and their company’s interests in the request.
The RFP advertisement did reach statewide as Call publicized the request in not only the school’s website, but on the state procurement website as well. According to the Georgia Procurement Registry, they directly emailed 231 contacts over 122 companies about the RFP while also being searchable to any vendors accessing the website.
Call further stated that the full product and network that Centegix offered isn’t easily found in other places. He indicated that Centegix, LLC, together with its parent, 34ED, LLC, and affiliates Kloud-12 and Dooley Education Solutions, has done something that many companies are just beginning to get into.
It isn’t so much any individual technology they have that others don’t, according to Call, but rather the way they “marry the technology together.”
Centegix’s proposal offered an alert button system alongside classroom camera systems that operates on a singular network incorporating a campus-wide CrisisAlert System, classroom cameras, and classroom educational video capabilities. It also provides exact location information through ID Badges that hold the alert button system with configurable presses to notify emergencies on two levels, campus-wide emergencies and local individualized incidents.
ETC’s proposal offered Camera system integration and wearable IneractWear control buttons to initiate camera recording and notifications to administrators for incidents or sever emergencies requiring 911 intervention.
According to Call’s recorded scoresheets filed with Gilmer Schools, the difference between the two proposals came down to only $10,698. However, with a full 1.742 points difference, the scoring was based on the six criteria of the RFP noted earlier.
FYN has also received the individual scorecards of each of the six people on the committee to judge the RFP responses, including Ashley CoatesTiffany Boyette,  Stephanie BurnetteNicole Pike John Call, and  James Jones.
With the final vote having been taken for the security proposals in December, Call presented these results to the Board who accepted Centegix’s proposal and are already well into the installation process in every school except Gilmer Middle School and a partial install in Ellijay Primary.
The school system has decided to move forward with installing the CrisisAlert system buttons as they attach easliy to the drop ceilings and operate on battery. With the ease of removal and moving the system, they intend to transfer this system to the Clear Creek Elementary School when constructed.

Centegix Proposal:

ETC Proposal:

ETC – Alert System – RFP – Additional InformationETC – Alert System – RFP – Additional Information

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BOE final decisions on Buses and Millage

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Education formally accepted their 2018 Millage Rate this week with unanimous approval from the present board members.

The final vote came 4-0, Nick Weaver was absent, on Thursday, August 23, setting the rate at 14.458 mills for the year.

After discussing the rate on Monday’s Work Session and over the last month since their July Meeting, where Gilmer County Charter School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs informed the board that their calculated rollback rate was 14.458 mills, decreasing from 2017’s 16.12 mill., the final decision lowered the rate by 1.662 over last year.

Downs mentioned in the board’s regular session that no citizens have commented on the Rollback Rate this year or the boards advertisement of it over the last month.

Continuing along the financial discussions, a bid for two extra buses was approved. Coming from extra funding the state found and spread among school systems, this unexpected item set the board with an opportunity to try a different engine. Originally, Director of Operations Bob Sosebee’s Bid Analysis offered the board the bids for both a diesel engine bus and a gasoline bus.

Sosebee said in the meeting that he wanted to offer the board the option of trying gasoline buses instead of diesel with this extra funding as a trend is beginning to see other school systems do similar. Mentioning emissions and testing stresses on the increase, causing a major increase in time spent on repairs, as one point pushing to change, he presented three company’s bids including both engines. the bids include warranty’s on both engines.

The system currently runs its entire bus fleet on diesel engines. When asked for his recommendation, Sosebee suggested the board try the gas buses to be able to compare the two types. Ultimately, approval came from the board as they said they would be willing to use these, as the extra funding came in from the state, as a test pair.

While continuing to replace and grow the bus fleet, Downs noted the Board is still struggling to find bus drivers. Upon a request, Downs is moving forward of increasing the sign on bonus for new drivers from $500 to $1000. As the board discussed the rise and answers to problem, one suggestion arose that the board may look at possibly considering changing the salary as well. Though no real action came except to notify the board of increasing the sign on bonus, indications lean that we could learn more at next month’s meeting.

 

 

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Finance decisions dominate BOE’s July Meeting

News

ELLIJAY, GA. – Casting the final vote for the coming ESPLOST, alongside votes on bids and lunch prices, set the theme for the Board of Education’s last regular meeting before school starts back.

As previously reported in last week’s BOE to call for an ESPLOST Election, the survey results were provided to board member along with the choices for the final item on the list of projects. While Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs reiterated that the priorities of the new ESPLOST will remain with the continuing technology, security, safety, and bus purchases, this sets two major projects into Gilmer County’s Educational future.

Those projects take up two of the five items as set on the official ballot question which reads as:

(a) upgrading the technology used to support teaching and learning at all facilities, including the purchase and
installation of computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, servers, wiring, wireless antennas, and other technology upgrades with necessary hardware, software, and programs; (b) the acquisition, construction, equipping, and installation of safety and security equipment to improve security in all facilities located within the School District (c) the purchase of new school buses; (d) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new elementaryschool to replace the current Ellijay Primary School; and (e) the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new performing/fine arts center, all in accordance with the facilities plans of the School District…

The official resolution was approved in a 4-1 vote with board member Nick Weaver as the dissenting vote. With earlier disagreements on which final project was to be implemented and the polled decision leaning towards the Performing Arts Center, this vote count was not entirely unexpected as the board’s poll on the project inclusion was a mirror outcome.

Moving forward with the ESPLOST at this point will see the Board of Education formally submitting their Notice of Sales and Use Tax For Educational Purposes Election to Gilmer County Probate Judge Scott Chastain, as Election Superintendent, to have the referendum voted on by the public in the November 2018 elections. Citizens will take this opportunity to voice their opinions on the ESPLOST and decide on the continuing the already in place ESPLOST for another cycle with its new projects.

Financially, the board is estimating $28 million in collections but is aiming high so as not to have an interruption in collections during the cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finance discussions continued through the meeting during the board’s nutrition and financial reports. The board voted unanimously to support a recommendation by Director of Nutrition Services Linda Waters to increase staff lunch prices from $3.50 to $3.75 and visitor lunches from $4.00 to $4.25. The quarter increases on each of these follow federal regulations which Waters’ recent changes to menus. She stated in the work session, “By Federal Regulations, we have to charge what it costs us to produce a meal.”

Additionally, the July meeting saw the board vote to approve fuel bids for the year. They awarded Petroleum Traders Corp the bid for diesel and gasoline at $0.0315 over costs of diesel and $0.0196 over costs of gasoline. They also awarded Thomas Oil for Propane at $0.95 per gallon.

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Rezoning and Repaving Take Focus in November for BOC

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, GA – Rezonings and LMIG took a large portion of the Board of Commissioners November Meetings as opposition and details came in abundance for both.

A request to rezone for Lalit Devgan, Tax Map 3150 Parcel 007a, wanted to add a conditional use to the R-1 Residential Zoning. The conditional use would allow for a bed and breakfast home. Though Devgan and the Realtor spoke on behalf of the Bed and Breakfast, numerous others spoke against it. Bill Craig spoke at the meeting about a petition with over 20 names set against the rezone.

Craig also noted the county definition of a bed and breakfast home states the owner must live in the building while maintaining short overnight stays for no more than four guests. Craig and others noted that Devgan openly admitted he would not continually occupy the house as his family lives in Atlanta.

While the idea of “owner occupied” could be overcome by giving a share of the business to a manager. Still more citizens spoke about the business and their opposition to it. Aiden Stuart spoke on the concept of wanting to maintain his area outside of the city to be non-commercial. Saying he moved to Gilmer for the mountain home, he opposed the rezoning as it would be changing the concept of his neighborhood.

As the Commissioners debated the rezoning request, Chairman Charlie Paris stated he would vote to protect what the citizens believe to keep the rural parts of the county in a rural setting. Opposing the rezoning, Paris stated that citizens who move to the county and “do their homework,” to see that the entire surrounding area is marked R1 for a residential zone, want to avoid something commercial coming in later, “I think we have an obligation to protect that for them.”

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller noted he believed the ordinance should be changed to avoid the commercialization of residential zones, but as the ordinance currently stands, he could not vote against it as it is allowed by the ordinance. The application being “pretty cut and dry,” he would have to allow it as a Commissioner. While he noted he really did not want to vote either way, he was not allowed to abstain, therefore voting in favor of the rezoning.

Post Commissioner Travis Crouch also noted the land use ordinance, stating a bed and breakfast home was in the ordinance as an allowed conditional use. He stated he felt conflicted over the issue, but weighing in the ordinance and the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board as a unanimous decision to approve, Crouch voted in favor of the rezoning.

With the vote, Chairman Paris actually first moved to deny the request, but had no second. Therefore, his motion died. Crouch then motioned to approve with a second from Miller. The final vote came 2-1 with Paris being the dissenting vote.

Another major issue discussed over the month’s meetings came through next year’s LMIG. The County received estimates for the LMIG funds, along with the currently awarded bids for materials next year. Public Works Director Jim Smith originally gave a list of roads he recommended to pave next year. However, seeing the bids in the work session, Smith recalculated and returned to the Regular Session to estimate the county will be able to re-pave 7.63 miles of road in the unincorporated areas. Especially citing stone increasing by a dollar per ton, Asphault increasing on the 12.5 milmeter super pave by $3.76 per ton, and Emulsion expected to increase even after rebidding, Smith recommended the following roads for LMIG next year: Tower Road, Johnson Mill Road, Blackberry Mountain Road, Pisgah Road, and Cherokee Drive in addition to the second half of the Mountaintown Road as Phase 2 from this years paving.

The 2018 LMIG will also return to County Personnel laying and paving the roads as opposed to bidding the projects this year to free up resources and people to continue working on the Cherry Log Fire Station.

The Board also approved an offer for Duplicating Processes for a new copier contract as seen below. The Commissioners noted that several private entities in the county use this company as well as certain offices in the county who already use them.

Additionally in the meeting, the Commissioners appointed Max Holstein to the Whitepath Golf Course Advisory Board. Though the Commissioners originally had another candidate, Chairman Paris noted he would like to not fill the Board with locals around the Golf Course, but instead maintain a variety of people from across the county.

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County Materials Bids Approved for 2017

News, Police & Government

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners approved Materials Bids for the coming 2018 year. After accepting bids for the five areas, only one has been rejected.

Emulsion was the one rejected bid. Hudson Materials delivered a bid to the county for emulsion over $1.50 for all three of their materials. Deemed higher than expected, the commissioners voted to reject this bid. Chairman Paris assured those present there would be enough time to rebid this before the new year.

C.W. Matthews Contracting Company out of Marietta, Georgia, was awarded the county’s asphalt bid for materials ranging between $55 to $62 for 2018. Increases in these prices are also affecting paving projects and the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) for 2018 as Public Works Director Jim Smith estimated the county will be able to pave 7.63 miles with LMIG next year.

West Block Company was awarded its bid for concrete, beating Wayne Davis Concrete Company. Though discussion arose on certain aspects of the bid such as a “truck time charge after one hour,” the commissioners ultimately awarded the bid after continued investigation still resulted with West Block being the lower bid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another contested bid came with propane. Though Heritage Propane delivered a fixed price bid of $1.49 per gallon, they were largely outbid by Appalachian Propane at $1.08 per gallon.

The final bid, stone, was another uncontested bid, same as it was last year, by Vulcan Materials Company. With prices ranging between $15 and $30 depending on the grade and type of stone, Director Smith also reports this is another bid continuing to increase costs for the county in the coming year.

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GHS Renovations Ready for ECAC Committee

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Education spoke in there September meetings about the coming renovations to the local high school.

Still in the very early stages, the renovation project is currently in its application stage for state funding. According to Assistant Superintendent Administrative Services Stuart Sheriff, the application has been approved. However, the approval included a project to replace the standing seam metal roof. However, Sheriff states they are not planning on replacing the roof as it is “basically a 40-year roof, and we’re at 20 years.”

Instead of replacing the roof, the plan is to replace the flat roofing in the high school such as the front office where issues have arisen. The resolution of the Board is to go back to the state officially stating they don’t want to replace the standing seam roofing, but the flat roofing instead.

Next month will see the final application from this issue according to Sheriff, and the RFQ (Request For Qualifications) for Construction Managers has been released. October could see great steps into the project as Sheriff says he expects the RFQ to return, the ECAC (E-SPLOST Construction Advisory Committee) to meet, and they expect to be back in October’s meeting for the Board to look at the Construction Manager.

As the project continues, Sheriff tells FYN that actual construction is expected to begin before students leave for the summer. The early stages could included work on the roof and other projects that will not distract or interrupt classes and students studies. However, these preliminary ideas are subject to change as the Manager, Architect, and  ECAC continues to meet monthly and details are ironed out.

 

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Redirected Resources and Eminent Domain Shadow Paving Projects

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners is moving heavily onto the topic of roads and paving in August with bid approvals and an Eminent Domain on a right of way.

Due to issues involving the Cherry Log Fire Station, Gilmer County is adjusting projects in August. During their meeting, the Commissioners put final approval on its new amendment to Purchases of the Board of Commissioners in the County Code. This amendment is allowing the Commissioners to increase the spending limit with a single vendor in a year without bidding from $20,000 to $50,000 if the capital project is already in the County Budget. Additionally, the Commissioners added a new requirement that any purchases over $25,000 would require two separate signatures from the County Commissioners.

The next step of the Fire Stations effect on the county came with a stall after the county bid out the project to clear the land. With the one bid received being close to $100,000 over the expected cost, the Board of Commissioners declined the bid and are now set to have the Road Department clear the land instead.

With the Amendment to Purchases, additional materials and asphalt will be bought by the County as they accepted Bartow Paving as the low bidder for paving projects. While Public Works Director Jim Smith said the Road Department will still prep everything for the projects, they will have Bartow Paving actually pave certain roads while our County Department clears the land for the Fire Station. One addendum was added to the award taking 1.9 miles of road off of the projects, on Mountain Town Road. The original bid of $318,000 was cut down by $45,099.69 in order to place the paving within the county budgeted expenditures.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller originally stated he wanted the County to find an extra source of money so they would not cut out any of the paving project. However, at the regular session, Director Smith said there was additional cost for materials that would cost the county more in addition to the extra $45,000 for the bid. As such, the board approved the bid with the addendum.

Another paving project for the year is Ridgeway Church Road. Ridgeway has seen issues in the County’s attempt to pave an extra portion up to the end of County Maintenance in the form of one resident failing to sign off on the right of way. However, Smith stated they have been in contact with the property owner before and even showed him on site the county’s need for the right of way. Smith states the only issue with signing is that the owner lives out of town and has not responded to the County’s attempts to contact him again.

Along those lines, August saw the board approve Eminent Domain on the Right of Way, approximately 0.77 acres, to move forward with paving the road. The county has collected Right of Ways for every other property on the road.

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Chairman Paris Offers “State of the County”

News

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stops by to speak about a number of issues with Good Morning From the Office.

Chairman Paris goes over the recent audit for our county and its implications including a new line item in the budget for Contingency Funds, this year’s Tax Anticipation Note (TAN), and the separation of our Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) into a separate account from the General Fund and its effect on the TAN.

Paris also discusses the County’s Roads and how we have improved the Road Department’s quality and speed with new equipment and additional employees. Specifically, he updates you on the progress of Ridgeway Church Road: one property owner is delaying the road paving, but overcoming that obstacle could see paving by end of summer.

Gilmer County could see a heavy consent order, a $174,000 fine originally, completed in the next months now that the Audit is completed along with all the points on the order.

After a poor bid for clearing the lot for Cherry Log Fire Station, the Commissioners are planning to bid laying asphalt for this year’s LMIG to free up road department to clear the land. Attempting to keep the project moving towards December completion date, this paving bids are part of Chairman Paris’ attempts to not let the Fire Station become “Chairman Paris’ Clear Creek Ball Fields.”

A final note from Paris’ visit mentioned his proposal for next year to begin setting aside $300,000 for a new pool over next 4 years. At the end of four years, enough money should be saved to build a new pool and then begin moving forward to build onto it with other options such as a covering.

 

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Commissioners Discuss Purchase Limit and Bids

News

As the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners continue moving to construct the Cherry Log Fire Station, new issues and obstacles arise.

Bidding out their project to clear the land that the Fire Station will sit on, Commissioner Charlie Paris reports they received only one bid. That $295,468.25 bid from BM&K Construction and Engineering, out of Braselton, was deemed unacceptable by the Commissioners. Paris stated that he is expecting to return to the idea of utilizing county workers to clear the land and expects a far reduced price because of it.

However, currently, capital projects like this cannot use a single vendor to purchase over $20,000 within the year without bidding according to county ordinances.

The Commissioners have called a special meeting on June 21 to address this issue with a possible change to the ordinance to specifically allow capital projects, like the Fire Station, that have been fully approved by the Board of Commissioners and already within the budget to increase that cap for vendors without bidding.

Chairman Paris stated that the Fire Station is budgeted around $350,000 and even if this change passes, that would not change. Instead, they would be using the budgeted money in the same manner as they budgeted, but with set vendors for materials needed as the county completes the clearing project.

When asked why the Commissioners were considering the change, Paris stated that the completion date, set for June 1, would likely be pushed back if they had to bid out each material needed and he did not expect a vast difference in costs. Since the project has already seen delays from last year, Paris did not want this project to take any more time than necessary as he said he had promised the people of Cherry Log that he would have a fire station for them.

He also stated he didn’t want to have the fire station become like the Clear Creek Ball fields and take years to complete.

The Board has already approved advertisement of this ordinance change and is meeting on the 21st to discuss and detail parameters such as what amount of money would be acceptable for this one exception to the ordinance to be set at.

If the change is set during the meeting on the 21st, then citizens could expect the first reader to appear in July’s Commissioner’s Meeting depending on when the advertisement is set to meet the 14 day requirement.

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County Commissioners Finalize Approvals for Community Issues

News

The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners April Meeting saw new plans for two key areas of the county. Finalized approvals will move both the failing 911 system and community pool on their path in the coming months.

The Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve their new 911 system with Communications & Electronics for a Zetron system.

The split came through discussion among the Commissioners whose original budget conversations centered around the idea that the current 911 system is failing and needs replacement. Since, the Commissioners decided instead of just replacing the system, they should upgrade the hybrid system.

The hybrid system is both analog and digital. While the 911 signals are all digital, our county had a conversion system which allowed the interface. The newer system, however, is completely digital and comes with “enhanced 911” capabilities. This term is somewhat loose though as the service is still in development stages through the state and phone companies.

Some of the possibilities the enhanced service could allow are text capabilities to 911, GPS tracking for emergencies, and even Caller ID functions to tie in with a more detailed 911 mapping system for response.

This upgrade was budgeted at $168,525, but the approved bid is $137,695 for the project to replace the current systems. Dallas Miller became the dissenting vote stating, “I don’t like spending $115,000 to do what we’re already doing today.”

The Commissioners tabled a few items in their meeting like their Contract with Piedmont ER for Ambulance Services. AS they did not have the contract in hand for the meeting, the Commissioners put off the approval until they can finalize the contract and its details. According to Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett, the contract will guarantee Gilmer County first rights to all transportation from the hospital to other facilities as well as provide a guaranteed payment of services.

Another Tabled item was a possibility for Gilmer County to adopt a County Flag. As a point of pride for the county, Chairman Paris told FYN it was actually a citizen who called and offered proposals for the county to consider. However, the meeting showed little interest from the Commissioners who have not received additional support or interest in a flag.

Chairman Paris said he saw no downside for adopting a flag, but also didn’t see much priority for the project compared to other county business. The Commissioners have previously discussed possibilities of incorporating students from the schools to design the flag, citizens input, and other possibilities. However, having been tabled two months in a row, this item may ultimately see the Commissioners dismissing the idea if it does not garner more community support.

Citizens are also moving forward with plans to maintain the community pool through Gilmer’s winter months. Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Three Rivers Athletic Club, Inc., the Commissioners are following their promise to citizens that they would take a risk on the project citizens have been requesting since last summer. The Club has purchased a “bubble” to put over the pool and is currently completing installation of the heaters for the pool to provide access for community organizations and school athletes to practice, compete, and excersize year-round.

The Commissioners will be instituting quarterly reviews of the project so as to remain “revenue-neutral” for the county, meaning that the costs of operation of the pool will be offset through fees and such that the organizations will be providing to the county. With everything in place, it appears that the fall of 2017 will start the experiment when the pool extends its usual season.

Though progress is being made, many questions still circle the operations including some citizens questioning the viability as the pool such as the bubble will be heated, but athletes and swimmers will still be traveling from the bubble to the changing rooms wet. Post Commissioner Miller also offered concerns on the topic saying, “I personally think its a good deal for the Three Rivers Athletic Club and not a good deal for the county. We are bearing all the risks and the expense… I think we’re taking a risk, but I am willing to do this. We already have a plan in place to review this… if we find things that are not acceptable.”

Also in the community, the Comissioners did make two appointments in their April meetings, Don Van Landingham has been appointed to the Board for the Kids Kottage as well as Paul Nealey being reappointed to the Gilmer County Library Board of Trustees.

The Commissioners also formalized their newest Bond Refinancing through final paperwork and signatures at Aprils Regular Meeting. Paris told FYN these signings effectively end the refinancing process  until the County begins realizing its savings next March with a $50,000 reduction in its payments.

A final approval came for the Commissioner’s change in the “Litter and Waste Control” chapter of ordinances that is incorporating state laws instead of County ordinances. As mentioned in previous meetings and reports, this does leave a place holder in case future Commissions feel the need for one, but the County will now officially be enforcing the state laws as always while not maintaining additional county level ordinances.

For more on the County’s Meetings check out The Trouble at the Tabor House as well as the meeting’s video below.

 

Gilmer BOC April Work Session:

 

 

Gilmer BOC April Regular Meeting:

 

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Ordinances See Problems in December BOC

News

The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners have officially approved the new changes to the County’s Land Use Ordinance.

The Ordinance changes received approval on their second reading at the County’s December 8th Meeting. Having already gone through a Public Hearing and first reading in addition to several work sessions and input sessions from citizens, this comes as final approval and official adoption of the changes.

However, another change has already been proposed to the Land Use Ordinance as the Post Commissioner Dallas Miller brought an oversight to attention involving locations of Tasting Rooms in relation to “Farm Wineries.”

To that end, the final adoption of Amendments to the Chapter titled “Farm Wineries” was also tabled until February giving the Commissioners a chance to fix the oversight through proper channels before fully adopting the new Amendments.

As the whole thing ties together, the Commissioners felt they could not wait to approve the Land Use Ordinance Amendments and moved forward with them.

The Farm Wineries were not the only discussion tabled as two more items received the same motion. The Awarding of the Tax Anticipation Note was pushed back as the Commissioners considered three responses. With one of the bids “not in the ballpark,” according to Chairman Charlie Paris, the Commissioners considered the lower two bids in their work session.

Though it seemed they had decided on United Community Bank’s bid in the Work Session, their bid was not the lowest bid received. Park Sterling offered their bid at a lower rate as opposed to United Community Banks’ bid.

The decision came at the contingency of Park Sterling’s bid. They stated their offer was “contingent upon moving accounts to their bank.” The Commissioners understanding in their work session was that the savings from the lower interest rate would have been irrelevant considering all the costs and fees of moving their accounts.

More information came up as a representative from Parks Sterling attended Thursday’s meeting to inform the Commissioners on a part of their bid that may not have been considered. Speaking on the TAN bids, the representative from Parks Sterling spoke with the Commissioners about Service Charges and the bank’s offer of what is called “Earnings Credit” to offset the County’s Service Charges for Accounts. This “Phantom Money” could be used in place of those charges and, as he said, “leaves more principle to earn interest on.”

Stating that the County has been drawing on their TAN later and later in the past few years, Chairman Paris stated the Board could table the discussion in order to learn more about the accounts and to find out how to handle the situation with competitive bidders now that the possibility of Accounts is being considered. As they continue researching this, the TAN is set to be reconsidered in January.

As the Commissioners tabled the discussion the bids were not released, but stay with FYN as more information becomes available during this process.

The other tabled item on the Commissioner’s agenda came after the Commissioner’s received an updated copy of their consideration for a “Resolution Approving the Advertising of a New Chapter of the Gilmer County Code of Ordinances Regulating Activities on the Unincorporated Rivers of the County.”

This item has been under consideration for quite some time as the County is continuing to search for ways to legally protect itself as well as regulate the river’s usage and deal with a piece of County owned property on Mulkey Road that is being used as an outtake for those on the river. Ultimately, the Commissioners felt they had received the new documents to late to have sufficient time to look over them before advertising.

These documents have also not been released due to being under review and not approved for advertising yet.

Moving through the rest of their meetings, the Commissioners have made several appointments and re-appointments to Boards and Authorities around the County.

Mary Fuller-Stanley has been appointed to the Board of Public Health.

Alan Davenport has been re-appointed to the Joint Development Authority as one of the County’s Representatives. He is the member whose term is ending and will continue serving uninterrupted.

Lamar Walker and Paul Mooney both have terms ending on the Planning Commission. Chairman Paris indicated both are willing to continue serving and have been re-appointed to their positions.

Scott Stephens has been re-appointed to his position serving on the Emergency Medical Services Council for Northwest Georgia. Stephens attended the County’s Work Session and said, though serving was far more difficult than he originally thought, he felt the County gained great benefits and information from having him on the Council and he was willing to continue his service.

Pamela Rhodes has been appointed for Gilmer County to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) Advisory Council.

One final Appointment came to move the County Clerk position out of an interim clerk and the Board of Commissioners have approved Edwina Daman to the position. However, the County will await her officially taking the position until the 19th of December.

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Gilmer BOC Approves Bids

News

During their regular meeting on September 8, the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners awarded bids to five companies for their concrete, emulsion, propane, asphalt, and Stone.

GCC_-20160914134338
GCC_-20160914134338The concrete bid went to Wayne Davis Concrete Co. This is a new company that the county will use for its needs.

 

 

 

GCC_-20160914134354Ergon Asphalt and Emulsion received the county’s bid award for Emulsion $1.47 and $1.65 per gallon. The higher being the Emulsion Latex product the County uses in its tar and chip projects.

 

 

GCC_-20160914134405The county bid for propane went to Appalachian Propane for $0.788 per gallon to be locked for the entirety of 2017.

 

 

 

GCC_-20160914134417Vulcan Materials Company was selected for stone for the county. According to Smith, Vulcan came in lower than opponents on all available materials.

 

 

 

GCC_-20160914134318For asphalt, CW Matthews Contracting Co. was approved as they were the only bidder for asphalt according to Road Department Director Jim Smith. With two plants this bid will be with the contractor in general in case the county for some reason needs to pull from a different plant.

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