SPLOST, LOST Collection Exceed Projection

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County Manager David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – County Manager David Headley delivered some welcome news during the Dawson County Board of Commissioners work session Thursday. The county has made great gains in collection of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Both have performed above expectations.

Bearden said revenue from both is up 17.6 percent over the same month in 2016 and 12.58 percent for the year. Last month’s collection came in 26.2 percent over projection.

Total SPLOST VI collection for the year is $16,281,296. September SPLOST collection was $682,219 while LOST collection was $600,343.

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond has stressed the importance of reaching SPLOST and LOST collections during his first year in office. “If we keep on the current pace, we might reach the projected amount of sales tax we put into the 2017 budget,” he said. “That will be the first time that has happened in the last several years. In fact, I’m glad to hear we might actually beat the projections.”

Public Works Director David McKee requested Board approval to apply for the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) from the state Motor Fuel Tax collections. The grant requires a match of 30 percent. This year the amount allotted to Dawson County is $413,739.21. Dawson County’s 30 percent match would total $124,121.76. Total budget for 2018 LMIG projects is $537,860.97.

Sr. Services Director Dawn Pruett

The funds will be utilized to repair the following roads: A.T. Moore, Mt. Vernon, Pelican Court, Biscayne Dr., Keys Court, Sandcastle Ct., Bay Drive, Harbour Drive and Seabreeze Way.

Senior Services Director Dawn Pruett will present a continuous grant application for the Board’s approval. The grant is with the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) to provide public transportation for Dawson County citizens.

If approved, the grant will continue to pay a 50 percent match with federal funding for administrative and operating budget.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Stop the Bleed Training an Essential Investment for County Employees

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County Mgr. David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County employees recently participated in a program called “Stop the Bleed,” an initiative funded by the Georgia Trauma Commission and developed as a result of the increasing number of active shooter and mass casualty events across the nation.

Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford and his team completed the training at local schools along with county law enforcement. October marked the kick off for the training, which was conducted during a routine senior staff meeting.

EMS Director Lanier Swafford

In the press release, Dawson County Manager David Headley pointed out that employee training often is viewed as optional rather than essential and an expense rather than an investment.

“This is understandable since training and development are not necessarily focused on producing a targeted result,” Headley said. “Without immediate measureable results, it is nearly impossible to view training as anything more than an expense.”

But county leadership views training as a capital investment – taking into consideration what is an acceptable rate of return on the investment made by citizens. Among the questions leaders ask before undertaking a new training initiative is: What is going to change in the organization or in the behavior and performance of employees as a result, and how will it better serve the citizenry?

“One saved life or one preserved limb due to hands-on Stop the Bleed training can make a difference beyond measureable results,” Headley said.

Successful training and development programs nearly always include a component that addresses employee attitude.

“That is why, in conjunction with initiatives like Stop the Bleed, we attempt to always ask a fundamental question: What attitude did you bring to work or the task at hand? Our senior staff answered this very question during a recent training session. Attitude is the indispensable ingredient to success in our organization. A positive attitude is not an option but, rather, mandatory; and we make an effort to build on this key point regularly,” Headley added.

Headley, who recently had his contract with the county renewed for another year, said,  “Since I have been appointed county manager, one of my primary goals has been to create an environment that employees and citizens alike would want to promote. In other words – brand building. Our training is targeted for specific results that can be measured. Our employees are our principle asset, and we make every effort to invest in them so they can expertly serve our citizens. Moving ahead with programs and workshops – such as Stop the Bleed and the upcoming Community Connections Workshop on Nov. 9 (to which the public is invited) – will play a continued role in how we better serve our community.”

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Congressman Collins Honors Satterfield, Pichon

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Bill Kokaly presents award to Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Deputy Chief of Emergency Services Tim Satterfield and Gary Pichon, a member of the county’s Long Range Planning Committee and former county commissioner, were among those honored as Heroes by 9th District Congressman Doug Collins for going above and beyond the call of duty in service to their community.

“First responders represent some of the most selfless and skillful public servants I know,” said Collins. “As the son of a Georgia State Trooper, I have seen their commitment to their neighbors throughout my life, and Deputy Chief Satterfield is an example of humble service. I’m grateful that Northeast Georgia is home to such brave first responders.”

County Manager David Headley added, “Tim has risked his life and put himself in harm’s way so that others may live. He has minimized pain for others and given them comfort intheir time of need. Knowing Chief Satterfield both on the job and in his personal life, his hand is always stretched out to serve others. He is someone who has given his life to something other than himself and truly is a hero. A grateful community says congratulations and thanks to Chief Satterfield.”

Satterfield, a 41-year service veteran said he was both surprised and humbled by the honor. He began his fire service career with Clayton County in 1976. He also worked for the city of McDonough and the city of Clearwater (Florida) before coming on board with Dawson County in May 2005. Satterfield specializes in canine search and rescue and has taken part in more than 250 state- and federal-level missions. These include water search, arson, bomb disaster search and work with missing and abducted children. He is the state coordinator for the urban search and rescue team and was one of the first of 12 teams in the U.S. certified in child abduction response. His K9 unit received the Marguerite Brock Rescue Award from the Emergency Management Association of Georgia.

Bill Kokaly presents award to former county commissioner Gary Pichon.

Pichon, was presented a copy of the Congressional Record – an official copy of a speech recently given by Collins on the floor of the House of Representatives honoring Pichon’s 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the U.S. Pichon also was given the Record Certificate of the speech.

The men were recognized at the Dawson County Republican Party meeting on Sept. 19.

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in May, Collins spoke of Pichon’s coast-to-coast ride, saying “Gary set out on a mission, not for the thrill of ride, but to see what he could learn about the landscape and people of our great nation. As he mapped a course across the states, Gary soaked up the beauty of America’s cityscapes and country sides.

“In the towns that he traveled through, people were kind and ready to work. He also noted the plight of rural Americans, who are resilient and strong and often underappreciated, Mr. Speaker, I echo Mr. Pichon’s respect for the hardworking Americans who give our nation enduring character. Mr. Pichon and I call northeast Georgia home and could not ask for better neighbors in a finer nation. Gary’s ride from coast to coast serves as a reminder of the diversity that makes our nation beautiful and the unassuming kindness that fuels our nation’s endurance.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Lt. Governor Casey Cagle Visits Dawsonville

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From left Sen. Steve Gooch, Bill Elliott and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Former NASCAR great Bill Elliott — better known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville —  and a large contingent of community leaders welcomed Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to Dawsonville Wednesday morning.  Cagle is in the midst of a 17-stop bus tour of north Georgia to promote his campaign for governor.

You have to wonder if Elliott gave the Hall County Republican some inside tips on how to make a quick pit stop because after spending a little quality time with Dawson County community leaders and a quick stump speech, Cagle sped off to Pickens, Gilmer, Gordon, and Whitfield counties.

Before getting back on the road, Cagle visited with Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond, Commissioners Jimmy Hamby and Chris Gaines, Mayor James Grogan, County Manager David Headley, Sherriff Jeff Johnson and Chamber President Christie Hayes.

Former Commission Chairman Mike Berg introduced the lieutenant governor who didn’t need much of an introduction since he once represented the county as State Senator and has been lieutenant governor for eight years.

Cagle’s said he would focus on transportation, jobs, education and providing broadband to rural areas of Georgia

Cagle said, Georgia needs a transportation plan to accommodate a population growth of about 4.5 million people in the next 15 years.

“We have to get busy with a two-year strategic plan built around transportation that is able to go under, go over, go around, whatever is required to prepared ourselves for the kind of growth that is coming.”

On jobs, Cagle said he wants to build a world-class workforce second to none. “As I woke up this morning there were 150,000 jobs available today and out of that 150,000, 25 percent need four-year degrees but 75 percent need industry certification or a two-year degree. So, I want to make sure we are aligning education with what industry needs.”

On education he said, “The college and career education network I created reshapes the way we deliver education, giving our kids more options.”

Cagle also repeated his pledge of 500,000 new jobs during his first term in office and $100 million in tax cuts in the first 100 days.

Cagle said he understands how important broadband access is to education and to attracting business to Georgia and he fired a salvo over the heads of broadband internet providers.

“We’re going to have best in class as it pertains to rural broadband,” he said. “I’m going to set a standard that I expect every single provider in this state to reach. I know we have a problem with last mile so we’ll be looking at technology that will allow us to provide that. But I’m not going to accept any excuses. The providers are going to get in gear to make this a reality or we’re going to find someone that can. It’s just that simple.

Asked if the state school board members should be elected or appointed, he said, “Many people believe that the superintendent should be appointed almost like a cabinet position. I don’t believe that having an elected state school board is going to fundamentally improve education.”

On what has been a highly controversial religious freedom bill, Cagle said, “I and the other candidates have signed a pledge that if there is a federal mirror Xerox copy of what is already federal law that comes to my desk, I will sign it. There are a lot of social issues out there that are very divisive. As a born-again Christian, with a strong belief in religious freedom, I don’t want anyone trampling on that. As governor, I am also not for discrimination. So we’re not using this in a way that will cloak ourselves in a way that allows us to discriminate. So, these are balancing acts. We’ll do it in a way that doesn’t cost us business.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Board Denies Request for Change in Pay Grade

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Commissioner Chris Gaines

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected a request to reclassify the Administrative Assistant position in Dawson County Emergency Services to Executive Secretary.

The Administrative Assistant is a 15-year employee and the sole support staff of the administrative team, responsible for processing of all personnel paperwork, approximately 110 positions, accounts payable, ongoing budget management, quality assurance for all fire and EMS reporting (over 3000 calls per year), state reporting of fire reports, customer service and front desk functions.

EMS Director Lanier Swafford

EMS Director Lanier Swafford said the position has performed the duties of two administrative positions since the other was frozen in 2010. Following the recently-completed wage and salary study, the administrative assistant appealed her pay grade and title to County Manager David Headley who indicated the position may have been wrongly classified. If approved, the change in grade would have cost taxpayers $7,577 annually, which the department indicated could be covered without increasing the budget.

But Commissioner Chris Gaines, who made the motion to deny, pointed the wage and salary study had come at significant cost and he felt the county should follow it’s recommendation.

By a 4-0 vote, Commissioners approved a request by Robert and Brittany Goss for a conditional use permit to allow a mobile home on property that is currently zoned Residential Agriculture (RA) on less than five acres.

Commissioners also approved a request by former Sheriff Billy Carlisle to amend a stipulation of zoning requiring a manufactured building he owns to be removed. The property is currently zoned Commercial Highway Business (CHB).

Headley received the board’s unanimous support for appointment to the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission for a one-year term.

 

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City, County Officials to Speak at Community Workshop

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City Manager David HeadleyDAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A Community Connections Workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 18 from 6-7 p.m. at the Margie Weaver Senior Center, 201 Recreation Road.

David Mckee, Dawson County Public Works Director, will be the guest speaker. County Manager David Headley will, Sheriff Jeff Johnson and Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan will present overviews of their areas of responsibility.

The public is invited to attend. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Ginny Tarver at gtarver@dawsoncounty.org of 706-344-3501.

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Commissioners Welcome New Staff Attorney

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Dawson County Board of Commissioners welcomed new staff attorney Monroe Lynn Frey III to the county at Thursday’s work session.

County Manager David Headley said Frey will be paid $85,000 a year to start and the salary could increase to $90,000 following a six-month probation period. Frey has expressed an interest in hiring a secretary or paralegal which could cost up to $50,000 annually.

Chip King of the Archer Company presented the results of a county employee classification and compensation study his company conducted. The study was first conducted in 2014 but only partially implemented.

The new study covered all 425 employees in 140 job classifications and compared the results to 10 north Georgia cities and counties.

Chairman Billy Thurmond noted that in the last six years, the county has lost more than 400 employees to the public sector or to neighboring cities or counties, costing taxpayers between $1 and $1.5 million.

King called called the county’s 100 percent turnover rate “unheard of.”
He recommended the county adopt and implement the plan to achieve internal equity and market place competitiveness.

David McKee provided a SPLOST VI update. The tax is expected to raise $46 million. The county’s share is 85 percent while the City of Dawsonville will receive 15 percent.

Thus far, the county has collected $9.1 million and spent $4.4 million.
Phase one projects completed include $2.3 million on road projects, $943,019 for a fire truck debt payoff and truck purchase and $707,590 for ambulance purchase.

Phase II projects planned include $5.7 million for road projects on Kelly Bridge, Tanner and Steve Tate, $1.5 million for design and build of the Public Works facility and $564,000 for sheriff’s vehicles.

Steve Fortmann, owner of Royston-based Palladin Wireless proposed a lease with Dawson County that would allow Palladin to place two antennas on the Courthouse in order to provide wireless internet service to customers who are either under served or experiencing unreliable and high cost internet service.
Palladin would pay the county $100 per month for the right to install the antennaes on the courthouse roof. The service would cost customers between $39.99 and $79.99 per month.

Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford appeared before the board to request approval to partner with the Georgia Firefighter’s Burn Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and KARE for Kids to conduct “Boot Drive” fund raisers for each organization.

Swafford also requested approval to apply for the 2017 Georgia Trauma Commission Grant Program to assist local 911 zoned provider ambulance services to improve the level of trauma care they provide.

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New Attorney Reports to Work Amid Uncertainty

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Monroe Lynn Frey III, Dawson County’s new staff attorney, reported to work Monday amid a great deal of uncertainty about compensation, the need to hire a secretary or paralegal, and a potentially costly transition period.

The Board of Commissioners has yet to vote in a regular meeting on Frey’s compensation, although County Manager David Headley said Frey would be paid a salary of $85,000 a year to start and that could increase to $90,000 following a six-month probation period, not including a benefits package. The board is expected to discuss that during tonight’s work session.

Frey has expressed an interest in hiring a secretary or paralegal, something that could cost up to $50,000 annually, not including a benefits package and could require board approval.

Then there is the transition period. Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said Joey Homans, who has been the county’s contract attorney the past 20 years, will stay on throughout the transition period. How long that will take is unclear. Meanwhile, county taxpayers will be paying two attorneys.
Commissioners voted 3-1 to approve Frey’s hiring with Commissioner Chris Gaines opposed.

Gaines, who was at the state capitol Thursday, said, “My vote was not against Mr. Frey. He was the most qualified of the three that we interviewed. I was just opposed to the process. We interviewed individuals only. I thought we should interview law firms also.”

Homans said he also had concerns about the cost of retaining two attorneys for an undisclosed period of time.

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