Gilmer approves GMP for Clear Creek Elementary

News
GMP, Coronavirus

ELLIJAY, Ga. – In a special called meeting in March, the Gilmer Board of Education approved their Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for Clear Creek Elementary School with Charles Black Construction Company.

The GMP is set at $15,910,671. The project is set to begin this spring as reported from the BOE’s February Meeting. According to reports, that date could be as early as late March or early April.

During their meeting, the board confirmed a few extra details including the use of the luxury vinyl tiles similar to those used in the high school. Despite being more expensive to install, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said it is more durable and doesn’t require the same waxing a buffing over summers and holidays that the older style of tiles required.

Some parts of the project will require the school system to follow up with certain internal projects like furnishings, technology, and security which are not a part of the GMP. Downs said the GMP is strictly for the construction of the facility.

As construction begins in the next coming weeks to continue over the summer, the Board of Education has said they will be hosting their groundbreaking ceremony soon. Additionally, the project is still not confirmed on the scale or need for adjustments to nearby county roads for the increase in traffic. However, the Board of Commissioners have held preliminary discussions about possible needs for turning lanes and road widening among others.

County looks to overcome obstacles for pool

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer’s march towards the construction of the new pool at River Park is continuing as they continue facing two major obstacles.

It has been well established that two of the county’s three commissioners see great promise and benefit in the River Park location discussed for the county’s pool project. One hurdle facing that location received an update this month and Commission Chairman Charlie Paris informed the board at their meeting that conversations with the specialist attorney Matt Williams revealed that the proposed contract with Patriot Rail is looking promising.

Williams did say they currently have a standard agreement contract that they are looking at. However, Paris told the board, “He mentioned that in terms of a railroad crossing, the main concern is the question of liabilty.”

The area currently has a private crossing. If it was a public crossing, the county would come into the liability issue as well. Paris said that the county cannot indemnify the railroad with a public crossing. But with standardized government documents, this crossing would fall under standardized signage and warnings that are common across the country.

He went on to say that the county would undergo a diagnostic study to find what government requires for the crossing. As such, Paris said the county “would be covered” in cases of liability as they follow DOT and traffic engineer standards.

As such, Williams has reportedly suggested the county move forward in pursuit of a public crossing at the location and could see better terms in the agreement with that angle. However, this means the county would have to carve out space for a public road instead of the private road, complete with easements and right of way.

Paris recommended the county move forward with this option if the county could get a “more favorable agreement.”

The railroad is not the only obstacle that saw updates this week. The county is facing much of the land at that location in a flood plain. Public Works Director Jim Smith updated the county on progress beginning on the Highway 382 project just getting underway by the State Department of Transportation. As they carve out, flatten, and prepare the area for relocating the highway, the contractors are looking for a place to put the dirt they remove.

Smith told the board that they had offered to move the dirt to a location of the county’s choice. The county could have the dirt moved to the River Park location to use as fill dirt. However, questions arose and the county is set to first investigate and take samples to see if the quality is good enough for such a use.

Post Commissioner Dallas Miller continues to question the location as he raised questions about the soils composition, the locations foundation, and the repetition of the same plan used in the old pool. He further asked why the DOT would be giving away good soil?

Miller said he would support the creation and construction of a pool for the county, but would not support this site for the pool.

Paris agreed with wanting to test all the soil they are looking to use for the location. He also addressed what he called an incorrect statement about the land being free. While the land would be free to them, it will actually be East Ellijay paying for the land, Paris said $270,000, in order to make sure the pool would be built in town instead of at Clear Creek.

He went on to note the most all of the current River Park is inside a flood plain. While he admitted that he said the pool has problems in that flood plain, he noted that the pool was over 40 years old. He said, “If we build a pool there, and 40 years from now we have problems with it leaking, then my suggestion… will be ‘time to build a new pool.'”

Post Commission Karleen Ferguson thanked Miller for his concerns and suggesting the soils testings. However, she said, “I do believe I am kind of here and ready for us to face our rivers and to enjoy our rivers more, more than turn our backs on our rivers. The River Park is already started. It is a beautiful park for our citizens to enjoy and I do think it makes sense to have the pool there if all the other ‘ifs,’ you know we have this railroad issue that has come up and we’ll see how that goes and the soil testing that is being done. Ideally, I do think it’s the best location because it makes sense to continue on for our River Park and even across to our soccer fields.”

Despite the differences, the county is moving forward looking at both the available soil and the railroad agreements as they attempt to overcome these hurdles.

Gilmer sees early plans for CCES

News
CCES Plans Pg 1

CCES Plans Pg 1

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer citizens are finally getting a first look at designs and plans for the newest addition to the Gilmer County Charter School System.

While the plans are available to the public for viewing, Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs made sure to note that the plans are still in their preliminary stage. These plans can and probably will change in the coming months as the Board, Administration, Breaux & Associations Architects, and Charles Black Construction Company alter and address issues during the project.

During their recent meeting, the Board of Education noted that the plans for the new school were a “compact design” based on visits and analysis of another school they visited in March. The compact design is helpful with the school’s position as the Board wants to take advantage of the higher ground at the location.

CCES Plans Pg 2

CCES Plans Pg 2

The green line in the plans indicates a hill that will be cut and “tabletopped.” This allows the school to sit on earth that the Breaux & Associates Architects representative said is already “compacted by nature,” instead of sitting of fill dirt or looser foundations that might cause differential settlements.

The compact design will only cover 86,000 square feet in the school building alone, with a 212 car parking lot and space for bus traffic, playgrounds, and extra space unused in the current plan.

The third page shows the interior layout of classrooms with the central “core” being facilities including the cafeteria, gym, media center, offices, and more. Additionally, the architects have already left space on the ends of the wings for further expansion.

CCES Plans Pg 3

CCES Plans Pg 3

Additional design points are yet to be finalized, but the architects pointed out considerations for stonework on the exterior and skylights in the central area of the four-classroom “pods.”

Current plans are to finish designs by the end of 2019 in order to bid and begin construction in early 2020. They also indicated that they hope to have construction done and the school in use by the 2021-22 school year.

Gilmer County sees pool proposal

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County finally has an actual image of what their future pool might look like when built.

The proposal was approved last month for Premier Pools & Spas (PPAS) to be the designer. Now, nearly a month later, the team has returned with a video presentation of a walk-through of both pools and a priority list set for what citizens should expect in the coming months. The design showcased the basic layout, but still a few issues were mere placeholders as Scott Walk, PPAS Representative, said there will be both an adult and a kid slide, but the computer program only shows the adult slide.

Walk also said that the building representing the Recreation center is just a placeholder in the video and does not represent an actual design. One addition since last months meeting is the design added a “splash pad” near the kids pool. This pad is a fountain like zone with no depth for kids to play in who may not be ready for the actual pools.

Additionally, if you watch the video, the showcase will be of the uncovered pool. However, if you look at the 5:30 mark of the video, you can see what the covering for the pool is designed to look like in the background off to the far end of the “Recreation Center.” Complete with “garage-style” doors to open when needed and allowing a makeshift “breeze-way,” the cover is part of the priority lists that the commissioners have mentioned in meetings before.

‘Pool’ing the county’s time and resources

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is continuing discussions on the community pool with plans forthcoming and progress towards an initial design. FYN sat down with Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller to speak on the subject and his views as one-third of the board.

Jumping straight to the point, Miller said that he feels like most people are looking at the question, “What happens now?” While some still question the closing of the previous pool so close to the summer season, Miller also said he, personally, felt the county lacked any hard facts on closing the pool.

Gilmer County Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller

Miller did note that he felt the pool should have been closed in previous years, he is more concerned now with the speed of action by the county and how quickly it has gone from closing the old pool to expediting a plan for a new one to budget amendments to design plans.

Miller noted a saying he has throughout his life as he said, “Anything you have got to do in a hurry is probably going to be done over.” He said he doesn’t want this to happen. He called it an issue with an early warning to citizens so that they do not have adequate time to respond to address the issue as well as having a vote on the subject at a Public Comments Hearing. Another point of debate as he noted it was advertised correctly as a meeting, but he felt it wasn’t said that a vote would happen in that meeting and the county isn’t used to voting on things during public comment meetings.

When questioned about the properties available at both Clear Creek and River Park, he admitted that he would likely still be looking for another location. Several Commissioners meetings and public comments have well established that many citizens were not thrilled with the Clear Creek property being so far from the city, though he did say that the size of clear creek and correlation to the baseball fields there would be a good point of growth for that site.

The River Park location has its own concerns despite being primely located in town and adjacent to the already under renovation River Park. That location has seen changes over the last year, with playgrounds and an extended walking path, and plans for future changes, like the planned tennis/pickleball courts, and features still being discussed and pursued by the county.

Many of Miller’s concerns on the River Park location revolve around preparation for the project. He said, “We haven’t done, in my opinion, a full good job of due diligence on either Clear Creek’s proposed site or the East Ellijay proposed site. There has not been a rigorous research and rigorous vetting or looking into those properties.”

He furthered concerns about the floodplain, public access, utilities, and railroad crossing when accessing the East Ellijay property, River Park location, from Progress Road.

Miller says he wants time and opportunities to address these issues. For example, there is not an official public road past the railroad tracks. Miller said that while a road is there. The official right-of-way extends,  to his knowledge, to the railroad tracks and no further. Additionally, crossing the railroad and building on that land must respect a 100-foot right of way on the railroad tracks, and an 80-foot right of way on the road.

If there is no maintained road with right of way across the tracks, questions still linger on what would have to be done to bring that crossing to proper code. Miller said it could be as simple as a sign or could require more. He did say that railroad crossings have certain standards, and that crossing would require updating of some sort.

As far as the concerns of the location being in a floodplain, Miller noted that there are different levels of flood plains depending on the land’s slope and elevation. Building inside of floodplains requires its own standards. As part of the land is in different levels, he said he wants soil samples on the site showing the quality of the ground, foundation, leveling, and needs that the land itself would require.

Miller said he wants to bring up these issues simply because he doesn’t know the answers fully. With time and studies, more answers could be gathered before dedicating to this location. He also asserted that the county has not fully committed to either property. With final agreements requiring the full board vote, the county is still looking into the land. Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris had already noted this early when he pointed out that no IGA (Inter-Governmental Agreement) has been signed. As details are being finalized with both entities of the County and East Ellijay, the IGA would be the document sealing the agreement of using the land, and what would be expected.

Being responsible for the budget and going through amendments are a part of processes of government. Miller says the issue arises when you look at the influence that a Commissioner has over the county’s offices. Being responsible for those revenues and expenses of the county as a whole is hard when we start changing these budgets regularly and often. “I contend that that is what contingencies are for, to avoid those kinds of situations where you have to rearrange somebody else’s budget just to handle an emergency.”

Miller said that the county has created contingency funds in the last couple of years to handle these situations and has improved their budget process over those years, pulling out capital projects, trimming requests, forecasting revenues. They also continue to improve the process as steps are underway to improve the 5-year plan, looking at budget meeting dates and time frame this year.

In fact, the first contingencies were set with the understanding that the money was set into contingency and understood that whatever wasn’t used for a specified emergency, would be kept to build a pool in 2021.

While Miller said there were ways the county could adjust and fit the pool budget if situations arise like the Cherry Log Fire Station where the county used Road Department workers to clear land, the county has to do these things publicly and transparently. Situations like this aren’t free labor. They cost the county money and time as they redirect those labor resources. Similarly, adjusting budgets redirects funding promised to one department into a different department. Miller said he wanted to keep the process as public as possible, but also to take time to analyze, study, and prepare for the pool properly.

As such, he felt strongly that the idea of completing the project before Memorial Day 2020 is not feasible. “There is no slack in this thought of open by Memorial Day,” said Miller. Without time contingencies, without similar county pools built in similar time frames, without comparables to guide and show what to expect with it, there is no real way to see the project being done that quickly.

Looking to the future plans for the pool, Miller speaks on the county’s integrity saying he wants to do everything he can to keep the county’s promises. While the pool is a priority in the county, he does not want this to become a “do it at all costs” kind of project.

Construction to Begin Soon on State Route 382 Extension in Gilmer County

Announcements
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
On Time, on budget: Road Improvements Continue
Construction to Begin Soon on State Route 382 Extension in Gilmer County

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Work could begin soon on improving and extending State Route (SR) 382 in Gilmer County. Georgia DOT has just awarded a contract to C.W. Matthews Contracting CO, Inc. of Marietta, Georgia, valued at over seven million dollars for a project to widen and extend the highway.

The project will extend SR 382 from Old Highway 5 to SR 515 on new location for 0.35 mile. The proposed SR 382 would begin on new location just west of SR 515. A roundabout would be installed where the new roadway crosses SR 515, just south of the existing intersection of SR 382 and SR 515 and the new roadway would then extend in an easterly direction until it connects to SR 515. The SR 382 remnant would be closed and would become a cul-de-sac. The typical section will consist of two 12-foot travel lanes with 10-foot shoulders. There will also be two 6.5-foot paved bike lanes designed within the 10-foot shoulders to accommodate bike traffic. The total project length is approximately 0.822 mil.

“Upon completion, this project will improve the flow of traffic in the area, make it safer and help the public get where they need to go in Gilmer County,” said Grant Waldrop, district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in White.    

This reconstruction project is scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2021 at a construction cost of $7,452,228. Information on construction and lane closure schedules on this project will be forthcoming before work begins.

More details on this and other projects in the Department’s most recent bid awards are available via the Award Announcement Download at: https://www.bidx.com/ga/letting?lettingid=19041901.

The public is urged to “know before you go.” For real-time information on active construction, incidents and more, call 511 or visit www511ga.org before you get into your car.

Roadway work zones are hazardous for workers and for the public. In fact, most fatalities in work zones crashes are drivers or passengers. Obey the rules in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. It can make the difference between life and death. Remember – work zone safety is in your hands.

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Pool or Pools?

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – With new information coming from an unrelated meeting last week of Gilmer County’s Board of Commissioners, citizens have been seeking clarifications on issues regarding the community pool that has become a central topic in Gilmer County since the official closing of the current pool this month.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris took measure this week to clarify a few of these questions. Though two of the county commissioners listened to a presentation from a local pool company and later said that they did like the designs in that presentation, Paris said the county must still go through engineering and design processes as a part of the bid process for the county. Paris also sternly said that the project has a budget and many of the talks about things he or other commissioners may “want” to be included, could be left out because of budget constraints.

While holding a Special Called Meeting regarding the possibility of a new pool, seemingly everyone who showed up raised their hand saying they did want construction of a new pool.

However, preliminary discussions, along with a rough design the county presented earlier this month as a visual of how they would like to go, showed that the new recreation center will not have one, but two pools. Each pool would house its own filtration system. But each pool would be drastically different. The primary pool would be five feet deep, would have rope floats to designate swim lanes when used for that purpose but be removed for use by the general public, would host a slide in a side “recessed” area, and would be an indoor pool. The secondary pool would have a ramp entry to wade into the pool, would only reach three feet deep, and could eventually host accessories like fountains, extra slides, or other accoutrements. Additionally, this secondary pool would not be open year-round as the heaters would only be used on the indoor pool.

Paris was adamant that many of these design thoughts were simply preliminary ideas that have come from citizens, board meetings, and his own thoughts. Paris said that he hopes the county could move forward with engineering and designs to have the basics understood and be able to answer questions and make changes for items that citizens want during one more “town hall” meeting, possibly in July or August.

With continued talk of additions, second pools, basketball courts, paved parking lots, fountains, and coverings, Paris specified the plan for the pool as he said all of these things are additional items. What needs to happen by next year is the “primary” pool, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. This is the core of what citizens could see if the county is able to open the pool next year. Paris repeated previous statements to FYN that while he has set the goal of opening by Memorial Day, 2020, he understands the aggressiveness of that plan and the possibility that it may be later.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

However, Paris did note his personal preferences on the pool should the budget allow for an added items. He said that while priority one is the primary pool with dressing rooms and bathrooms, he did have mixed feelings about the shallow pool and covering saying, “If I have a choice, initially, by this time next year, if I can have the cover or I can have the shallow pool, and then, the following year, I can come back and get the other one. Then I would take the shallow pool. If we don’t have enough for either of those, we’re going to have to come back and add them later on, then I would give priority for adding the cover before adding the shallow pool.”

Though he offered his opinion on this, Paris did state that this is his own opinion. The BOC still has two other commissioners and the citizens input for designs to consider.

When questioned about the priority of paving the parking lot, he noted that the county did a similar thing with the Clear Creek Ball Fields project as they used a gravel parking lot as the fields were completed, and came back the following year to pave the lot.

Paris also repeated the county’s plans to have engineering done all at once and engineered in such a way that the construction projects could be done later when the county is able to fund them. This has become a stressed point in the county’s movement toward construction of this new pool. While plans and engineering designs are to be done all at once, both the county’s current verbal agreement with East Ellijay and the Commissioners meetings have concluded with understandings that the construction of a full “Recreation Center” would come later and in pieces, one project at a time.

More questions have arisen with the possibility of two options for land for the pool location, 29 acres from the Gilmer County Charter School System and 21 acres from East Ellijay. While Paris said that it is currently the county’s intention to move forward with the River Park location, they do still have the option should “extreme need” force them to reconsider. While it is a “Plan B” option, Paris said that it was still their just in case.

Gilmer County’s previous pool, earlier closed for this summer season and now, after resolutions to build a new pool, closed indefinitely.

Some citizens have also raised concerns about the land being so close to the river just as the last pool was. Paris noted that while flooding and weather were never really a major issue with the pool, much of the problems they have encountered recently could be attributed to the pools age. Additionally, the county is currently employing its surveyor to investigate the land. While the current pool sits in a flood plain, Paris said that it is his understanding that part of the land coming from East Ellijay is only partly in the flood plain. Depending on how much of it is in the flood plain, the county could push the parking lot for the center closer to the river while building the center closer to Progress Road, along Soccer Field Road, allowing the pools and part of the center to be out of the flood plain. Later, Paris did also mention a side note that this lot may be used for additional parking during the Apple Festival as well.

He went on to say that this is another part of the process that they will need to deal with during planning and designing. As the county awaits the surveyors reports, Paris said that he would engage the surveyor to provide the report and mark the flood plain with stakes so the county could inspect the size and plan mitigation accordingly.

The county is also working through basic needs for the pool as it talks with the Ellijay Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority and insurance liabilities as well. On that note, Paris did say that he does not believe they will pursue options for a diving well and diving board in the new pool due to liability reasons.

FYN also questioned if Paris would use the Road Department again, similar to the Cherry Log Fire Station, to make preparations or clear the land. Paris said it would be something he’d do if needed, but “it’s not something that I would prefer.” He made note that the county used the Road Department during the Cherry Log Fire Station project after they put the project out to bid, but got prohibitively high bids on the project.

Paris did confirm that the county has been offered this land before, but the current agreement from East Ellijay would offer the land free of monetary costs. He also confirmed that the agreement would have the county agreeing to build a full recreation center instead of just a pool. However, he did note that, as previously stated, it is understood that the Recreation Center would come later through stages of construction.

 

 

Make sure to stay with FYN as we continue to reach out to Gilmer’s other commissioners for their opinions and for updated information on the pool project as it becomes available.

County debates future plans for pool

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Continued response from citizens are still pushing towards having a community pool open in Gilmer County. However, these citizens are now splitting on response to the county not opening the current pool this year.

As the commissioners listened for public comments during a special called meeting on May 20, 2019, to discuss budget amendments to accommodate changes to the county’s project of building a new pool including massively expediting the process. Many citizens showed support for the project to build a new pool even if some still held reservations about closing the current one. At one point, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris asked for a show of hands on who at the meeting supported the idea of building a new pool. Not only was he met with what appeared to be every hand in the audience, but a few citizens loudly added, “Year Round!” An exclamation that was immediately followed by murmurs of agreement and repetitions of the phrase.

However, moving past the questions of if people wanted the pool, the meetings agenda item focused on how to fund it. Paris returned to his proposal from May’s regular meetings to redistribute capital funds in the amount of $300,000. One large item that would be lost to the redistribution is a new ambulance for the public safety department. Public Safety Director Keith Kucera was reported to have said that he could make it by without the ambulance, according to Paris.

While part of the ambulance funds will actually be redirected into gear such as oxygen tanks and breakout gear for the Fire Department, the bulk amount of $180,000 would be put back for the pool.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Paris noted that the county has put also built up contingency funds for building repairs and improvements. With $250,000 from 2018 and $100,000 from 2019’s budget, Paris said the county has improvements it needs to do this year such as carpeting and Tabor House Repairs. He proposed that funding these repairs and adding $120,000 to the pool fund could still leave just over $100,000 in building repair contingency fund for the remainder of the year.

As he made this proposal in the form of a motion, Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller asked Paris to detail what the county would get with the $900,000 total this year, plus the estimated $300,000 in next year’s budget.

Building upon plans delivered in the commissioners’ May meetings, Paris said he hopes the county can get the pool built by Memorial Day of 2019. What Paris wants to accomplish is to have the pool built and covered “right away.” However, he did note that if the county could not afford this, the pool would be designed and built so that the county could return the following year to cover it for an indoor pool.

Miller did point out that the county is not budgeting anything for land costs. While it has been noted in previous meetings that the county has land available in the Clear Creek area near the ball fields, Paris did note earlier in the meeting that there was not an exact location set for the pool yet. The county has heard from citizens and organizations alike that they would like the pool closer to town. Some have even suggested involving the cities as they would have a vested interest in keeping the pool within the city limits. The questions remains as to the availability of land or even if Ellijay or East Ellijay could donate land.

The county has had projects in the past, Miller noted Clear Creek Ball Fields and the Cherry Log Fire Station as he said projects that were over-budget, past schedule, or even less the the quality expected. He went so far as to ask citizens if they want an extra mil on their taxes to support the new pool. Miller said, “I don’t really believe that pool is ready to collapse” addressing the closing of the current pool, but did say it was a good idea to have the pool closed.

Calling Paris’ proposal and construction schedule “a dream,” he further said he is unwilling to change the budget for projects that were discussed and promised to the citizens saying, “I don’t know if we’ll be able to get a new one next year. I don’t know what the budget is going to be next year. We haven’t had any discussions on the budget next year. You may not get that ambulance next year. I don’t know.”

Gilmer County Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller

Gilmer County Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller

Miller also took issue with using funds out of the building maintenance contingency fund as he pointed out that the Building Authority requested funds for the courthouse and Tabor House and that the money be restricted to use for improvements and renovations for those two buildings. Miller said, “It’s not to be used for other buildings in the county right now. It is restricted.”

Building on all of this, Miller asked that the county build in an additional 20 percent contingency to every major project it undertakes “so that we don’t get ourselves into the situation that we’ve been in in other construction projects I’ve mentioned before.” He also added later that he did not want to discuss anything about a future budgets at this meeting as he didn’t know what would happen in the future.

Paris replied saying that while he agreed that you can’t predict the future, “You have to have a plan. Planning is, in my mind, the most essential thing that we need to be doing up here.” While he did say he felt the schedule of opening by Memorial Day of 2020 was possible, he admitted it is “very ambitious.” While he wants to plan for that schedule, Paris admitted that if something happens or another priority arises, he may have to push it back t0 2021.

Miller motioned to amend the Chairman’s original motion with changes to move the 2020 operational expenses of the current pool into contingency, to have a completely separate account for the pool project, to only move $150,000 to that account at this time for preparation and engineering of the project, and to not use any of the funds of any other capital project. However, the amendment never received a second, and so failed.

The original motion for amendments passed with a 2-1 vote with Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller being the dissenting vote. Paris noted that the county will begin looking into what size and type of pool they will want. As the county moves forward, the county is looking for input as to what citizens want included in the pool. Citizens already began offering requests and Larry Lykins of the Three Rivers Athletic Club said the donated heaters for the current pool, can and will be both able to be moved to the new pool and be functional if the pool is not indoor to begin with.

 

Postponed budget talks for pool to happen Monday

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – After a recent announcement to keep Gilmer’s Community Pool closed this year, the Board of Commissioners are entering talks to revisit the Capital Budget for 2019 in attempts to expedite construction of a new pool.

Gilmer County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris likened the current situation with the pool to “Russian Roulette” saying, “Spin the cylinder and pull the trigger, odds are you’re going to be fine. The problem is when that one time comes up that you’re not fine, the results are so devastating that you just don’t do it to begin with.” Paris said he would not take the risk or endanger citizens and children who might use the pool.

Paris has told FYN in a previous conversation that he would almost be willing to have the county put up with the costs of the water loss in order to keep a pool for citizens if not for the danger of a hole.

During their May meetings, the commissioners began looking a budget amendments in capital projects for the county to expedite the plan that was put in place two years ago.

This plan was collecting money on an annual basis to fix the community’s pool issues by building a new facility. However, the current escalation of issues with the current pool will not wait for that plan to come to fruition in 2020. Instead, Paris wants to speed up the process with these amendments to add an extra $300,000 to the pool project this year. This adds onto the already saved $600,000 total from this year and last year. The board will use this $900,000 to begin engineering work, plans, and preparations for the pool while next year’s budget plans to also have $300,000 will finish the project by Memorial Day, opening day for the pool season, of 2020.

The board did not come to an agreement on amendments this month, however, as Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller requested more time to study and look into the plans and the budget.

Now, the board is set to host an additional Special Called Meeting on May 20 at 6:00 p.m. On the agenda for the meeting is one item:

1. Discussion and possible action on Budget Amendments for Pool Funding

It seems at this time that the board is planning to move forward with the proposal to expedite the construction as the discussions are expected to focus on budget amendments. However, Miller has already noted in their Work Session that he did not see the pool as “an acceptable priority.”

Not only has Paris put forth the proposal for funding of a new pool, but he along with Parks and Recreation Department Head Kevan White, have put forth a basic plan for a facility to be added on later. This plan will eventually enclose the pool for an indoor facility. Add on an outdoor zero-entry water play pool, four basketball courts, and have potential for more additions later. However, Paris said he would have it engineered and planned to have the pool built now, with plans to continue saving and building on the extra additions later.

The budget discussion are simply the first step before the county would discuss and finalize what they want the final facility to include. Then they would go forward with stages of construction projects. It all begins Monday with a board decision on what to amend in the budget for the pool or if they even do want to move forward with the proposal.

Gilmer Schools redistricts county

Bobcat's Corner, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Progress on constructing the new Clear Creek Elementary School is moving forward as the School System has officially redistricted the county based upon the concept of hosting three elementary schools.

This is the first step in kicking off the major changes to come in Gilmer’s Educations system in the next few years as renovations, redistricting, and redistributing students to different schools are all a part of the steps forward.

Some of these changes to come include a new elementary school to be built in the Clear Creek area and the current Gilmer Middle School facility to be converted to a College and Career Academy as part of Gilmer High School.

According to the Gilmer County Board of Education, “Each of the three elementary schools will serve students in pre-K through 5th Grade and Clear Creek Middle will serve all students in grades 6-8. Administration for each of the schools will remain stable. This plan will allow students to experience less transitions during critical early learning years and will improve efficiency of bus routes for community schools.”

Plans for the changes have been in place for over a year, included in the 2018 Spring Board Retreat, revolving around the Five-Year Facilities Plan which also include renovations upcoming and currently underway for Ellijay Elementary School and Mountainview Elementary. With the construction of the Clear Creek Elementary School, the BOE will not be using Ellijay Primary School. The school has been prone to floods and damage over its 50-year life.

This Board has presented a map (seen above) to clearly outline school zones using Highway 515 and Highway 282 as zone boundaries.

School System Administration said, “Letters will be sent to parents based on registered primary address confirming assigned school zone by April 12.”

However, with some citizens already saying they want a certain school, the system is looking to accommodate families who wish for their children to attend a school outside of their assigned school zone. The district will provide parents the opportunity to apply for “School Zone Preference.”

School Zone Preference:
Bus transportation will be provided only for the assigned school zones as presented on the map; however, a parent or guardian, may submit a School Zone Preference request to have their child possibly placed in another elementary school within our school system as long as the school district has determined that there is available classroom space at the requested school after all assigned students have been enrolled.

If a parent elects to exercise this School Zone Preference, the parent assumes all responsibility for transporting the student to and from the selected school. School bus transportation will be provided only for the school zone determined by the school zone map.
An application for School Zone Preference will be posted on the Gilmer Schools Website from April 15th- April 30th for parents to apply for the school they prefer their child to attend. Parents will be notified by May 15th if their request was fulfilled.

Students on an Attendance Support Team (AST) Contract at the time of registration for School Zone Preference will not be eligible for transfer. If a student, has been selected for the School Zone Preference and is placed on an Attendance Contract during the school year, they may be transferred back to the school zone determined by residence address so they can take advantage of school system transportation.

With these changes only months away, Parents are encouraged to look for these letters and follow up with the Board Representatives or the School Administration offices for more details on applications.

Officers and Construction updates for new year in BOE

News
GMP, Coronavirus

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Entering the new year, the Gilmer County Board of Education began discussions about the plans of moving into Phase 2 of the High School Renovations this summer.

With talks going back and forth on Calendars and the possibility of state involvement in school calendars, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs said that even starting in the first week of August as the current calendar plans are incorporating the summer construction plans. The uncertainty comes that if the State moves forward with recommendations to extend the summers with schools starting the first Monday of September, and ending around June 1.

While no indication comes on what the future may hold on this, Downs assured the Board that the plans for construction and summer renovations can be fit in with the school systems currently planned summer break.

Additionally, the Board elected its new officers for 2019 with nominations and approvals for Michael Bramlett to continue as Board Chairman and Ronald Watkins as Vice-Chair.

 

BOC discusses new school zoning for BOE

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – During their June meeting, the Gilmer Board of Commissioners saw an item requesting a rezoning to PI-1 for the Gilmer County Board of Education.

This item is a part of planning and preparations for a new school to be built on the school’s Clear Creek property next to Clear Creek Middle School (CCMS). The school is set to replace the current Ellijay Primary School (EPS) as part of a plan to reorganize the school system.

This item is far ahead of any concrete plans on construction as the BOE is awaiting approval of a new ESPLOST referendum before they could move forward with this construction project.

During their work session, the Board of Commissioners discussed the item. With all three in favor of the school, the only discussion came from understanding what impact the project would have on the counties surrounding infrastructure. Post Commissioner Dallas Miller asked what changes would need to be done to the roads like Clear Creek Road and Yukon Road. Miller inquired if they would need deceleration lanes or traffic lights. While no solid answer is available at this time due to the project not even being out of idea stages without ESPLOST money to support it, there did become an understanding between the two entities for continued communication.

With CCMS already at the location, there may not be much, if any, change in school vehicle traffic like buses on the road, however, effectively “moving” EPS to the new location would obviously increase traffic on Yukon Road and Clear Creek Road from staff and parents.

While the BOC did approve the rezoning request, Miller’s comments at the work session made it apparent that they will be looking for constant communication on the project so that they may prepare the streets accordingly. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs and two members of the Board of Education, Chairman Michael Bramlett and Vice Chair Ronald Watkins, were on hand during the BOC Regular Meeting to speak with the Commissioners before the meeting.

FYN’s current understanding of the project is that discussion is still going on how to maintain the communication. There is no information yet on if this would take the form of a report during commissioner’s meetings, a liaison between the two boards, or something else.

New Theater Officially Open in East Ellijay

News

East Ellijay, Ga. – Though expected for almost a year now, the Georgia Theater Company (GTC) has officially opened its doors on its newest addition, Mountain Cinemas in East Ellijay.

The theater boasts eight screens of digital projection film, an in-house bar and grill called Outtakes, and usual concessions like popcorn and candy. Each theater is filled with reclining seats operated automatically with arm-rest buttons.

While all food and drinks from the concession stand or the Outtakes grill are allowed inside the theaters, they also host a few small tables in the lobby for those who wish to sit there.

The movie theater hosted a “film-cutting” this week to celebrate their opening with corporate guests like Chairman of the Board of GTC, William Stembler, and GTC President Bo Chambliss.

Chambliss specifically thanked Mac Wood, City Manager of East Ellijay, as the key to making the construction of Mountain Cinemas “a whole lot smoother than most of the construction projects that we’ve been a part of.”

Stembler joked with those present about the theater’s seats saying, “We have these recliner seats that are really comfortable. If you go in the theater and you fall asleep, we’re not gonna give you a refund.”

However, one thing to note about the new theater is that the seats are numbered. Marketing Manager Kate Sabbe did say you could buy your seats online, meaning that you don’t have to show up early for seats as the ticket will save those seats. However, the flip side would suggest that if you have any sort of sizeable group, it may be wise to purchase tickets well in advance for popular movies if you want to sit together.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

Georgia Theater Company President Bo Chambliss, left, and Chairman William Stembler, right, say a few words of thanks before cutting the film ribbon to open Mountain Cinemas.

The larger main screens, headliners, hold 145 people while the smaller screens hold between 70 and 80 people for a grand total of 836 seats.  Mountain Cinemas Manager Lauren Chastain said the building will move some major movies, like the upcoming Jurassic World, into multiple screens meaning it will at times hold less than 8 movies. Currently, it’s showing six films on its opening weekend.

Established as the leading form of GTC theaters, Mountain Cinemas represents everything the company could bring to bear as a cutting-edge representation. Though they declined to include 3D movies, this branch is what GTC is currently in renovations mode at several of their other locations to meet. Mountain Cinemas also hosts an open kitchen for Outtakes, something Chastain said is not done at any other location. The new building has brought, including management, a current total of 53 jobs to East Ellijay.

A part of Outtakes, the bar inside of the theater already hosts local favorites like those from Blue Ridge Brewery “Grumpy Old Men” and a hard cider from Mercier’s Orchards in Blue Ridge. With eight total beers on tap, Chastain said the bar is trying to stay with local Georgia and Tennessee breweries over a few general ones like Budweiser.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

Mountain Cinemas larger theaters hold 145 people at max capacity.

One program the company holds already saw a special day of afternoon tickets for the Gilmer High School Film Program. Sabbe told FYN that the company as a whole has a program every fall where general manager’s of the theater locations get to choose a charity to donate one day’s entire proceeds to. This, however, was a part of the Grand Opening Celebrations to say thank you for welcoming Mountain Cinemas to the community.

While the building is completed, Chastain and Sabbe both indicated that the theater is not running every program the company has yet.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The fully reclining seats are operated electronically for back a foot rests.

The theater company also hosts a program at 14 locations called Flashback cinema where they play hit movies from older periods like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Big Trouble in Little China. With only 14 current locations operating this program, Sabbe was unable to say when or even if the program would travel to East Ellijay’s new location.

One program Sabbe did say East Ellijay will likely see next summer is a program for reduced-price kids movies. The program would provide $1.50 tickets, $1.50 drinks, and $1.50 popcorns for children.

With these to look forward to, the Georgia Theater Company officially cut the film tape to christen its newest cinema and open its doors to the public.

The “Film-cutting” kicked off the two-day celebration leading into this weekend as Mountain Cinema’s first weekend of operation. After much hype, debate, and waiting, the theater is officially open.

 

General Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors. Matinee showings are $7 for everyone.

 

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Apple Ridge Woodturners donate saw to Gilmer High School

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – More than just a saw, Gilmer High School students in Dennis Wilson Jr.’s class are enjoying the perks of a new table saw utilizing a SawStop.

According to Gordon Brewer, of the Apple Ridge Woodturners, the club was in need of a new place to meet as the fire station at which they normally met was a bit too far for some members. As they searched, Brewer stated that the school was kind enough to allow them to meet at the school. Strengthening the relationship, the Woodturners began discussing classes and mentorships for students who wished to take advantage of them.

However, discussion continued as the Woodturners began looking at the high school’s construction class equipment. Wilson spoke of the class’ table saw and issues with safety devices on the saw.

Noticing the need, the Apple Ridge Woodturners Club donated money from within the club, as well as one donation from an outside citizen Mac Logan, to provide a new table saw with several additions for the students utilizing the equipment. The entire package included the SawStop Contractor Saw with the cartridge that drops the blade below the table with any moisture, according to Wilson, who says the system works by grabbing the blade with a cartridge under the table that drops the blade under to prevent serious injury to the operator. While this does ruin both the blade and the cartridge, it holds injury to the operator to between a slight cut to a deep cut instead of possibly losing the entire finger.

The new saw also comes with a new plastic blade guard and a “writhing knife” behind the blade to separate the cut wood from pinching the blade and getting caught which could launch a piece of wood back at the operator.

Apple Ridge Woodturners President Richard Byers told FetchYourNews (FYN) that the club’s 45 members joined together for the $1,799 purchase for the construction class. Typically meeting once a month, the club has been planning since August and moving toward this week as when to officially donate the device. Byers told FYN, should the SawStop device ever be used, it would be, roughly, $200 to replace, which is comparatively cheap in relation to major injury and medical costs.

Moving into the new semester, teacher Dennis Wilson told FYN the main thing he was excited for was the safety upgrade. Stating the most common injury on such a tool is running one’s hand into the blade. Having the state-of-the-art saw helps every one of the 100 students in the shop daily.

“It’s huge,” said Wilson, who commented about constantly being asked by community members who are seeking students who are trained and ready to join construction jobs. Noting the help he gets from the community, Wilson hinted at future projects to return to the community. The constant cycle not only strengthens the relationship, but Wilson said, it is a huge success for the students who are completely responsible for projects from communicating with a client requesting the project to a final in the class that requires them to fully build two sheds like they would a house.

As students move further into the new semester, Wilson told FYN that the saw will be constantly used in his class. Reiterating what the donation means, Wilson noted the age of some of his equipment.

Having the community invest into its own future through the training of students not only shows the course importance but also shows that the community recognizes that importance and cares to improve the quality.

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.

 

Join us at the Villa Rica Bypass Open House

Press Release

VILLA RICA, Ga. – Please join us at the Georgia public information open house this afternoon to discuss the proposed project to construct the Villa Rica Bypass. This public meeting will take place from 5 until 7 p.m. at Powell Park, located at 524 Leslie Drive in Villa Rica, Georgia.

Carroll County’s residents interested in learning more about the proposed project are encouraged to attend the meeting and express their thoughts and preferences.

The proposed plans call for the construction of a new location roadway from the intersection of State Route (SR) 101/Industrial Boulevard with Rockmart Road to SR 61/Dallas Highway. The proposal also includes the construction of two roundabouts at the intersection of Industrial Boulevard with Rockmart Road and the intersection of the new location roadway with Dallas Highway. The length of this portion of the Villa Rica Bypass is 1.92 miles.

The villa Rica area has been experiencing increased development pressures. As a result of growth, there is an urgent need to improve access for commuters to I-20. Currently, vehicles traveling southbound on SR 61 towards I-20 must navigate through the city of Villa Rica making several 90° turns within a short distance, and crossing the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.  SR 61 currently carries 13,000 vehicles per day (VPD), with 9% heavy vehicles. This heavy traffic on SR 61 is projected to increase to 21,000 VPD by 2035.  The traffic volumes for the proposed Villa Rica Bypass are 5,900 VPD in 2016 and 14,000 in 2044. Without the bypass, these volumes would be added to the volumes on SR 61 navigating through the city of Villa Rica.

The Open House will be informal and the public is invited to attend anytime between 5 and 7 p.m.  The meeting site is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling David Acree at (770) 387-3619.

Written statements will be accepted concerning this project until Thursday, August 3, 2017.  Written statements may be submitted to:

Mr. Eric Duff, State Environmental Administrator
Georgia Department of Transportation
Office of Environmental Services
16th Floor, One Georgia Center
600 West Peachtree Street, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

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