County Commissioners consider changing meeting schedule

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — In the past Dawson County commissioners have held meetings four times a month but that could change to twice monthly if they decide to adopt the proposal discussed at Thursday’s work session.

Currently, the Board holds work sessions on the first and third Thursday each month and a voting sessions on the second and fourth Thursday. During the work sessions, they discuss issues that will be voted at the voting session. But that has resulted in voting sessions that, at times, have lasted less than 15 minutes.

Chairman Billy Thurmond said rather than bring staff and citizens together for two very short voting meetings each month, it would be more efficient to hold work sessions and voting meetings on the same night.

If approved, future work sessions will be held at 4 p.m. followed by an executive session at 5 p.m. if necessary and a voting meeting at 6 p.m.

“Chairman Billy Thurmond he proposed the change, “In an effort to make meetings more efficient and more productive.”

Planning Director Jameson Kinley asked commissioners to authorize the hiring of an Alcohol Licensing Administrator at a pay range between $17 and $26.35 per hour. The position is currently frozen.

He also asked for $8,100 to hire Ross and Associates to conduct the land use resolution update the Board had requested. The department put the update out for bids. Ross and Associates was the sole bidder.

Commissioners heard a request by the 4H Rabies Clinic to hold the 5th annual parade and assembly on April 27.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk requested Board approval to create a general fund contingency of $100,000 in the 2019 budget. Dawson County has had a contingency in the past but it was not included in the 2019 budget.

Generally, department heads would ask for money for their department and if she believed it to be in the county’s interest, she would present it to County Manager David could authorize the expenditure before presenting it to the Board as part of his County Manager report.

Other agenda items discussed include:

  • A request from MLH Farm/Uncle Shucks to hold a corn maze, sunflower maze and possibly a Christmas tree sale at their new location;
  • A request to surplus/demolish the Transfer Station weigh station modular office;
  • A presentation of the 2019 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) VI;
  • A presentation of a three-party agreement between Dawson County, City of Dawsonville and Dawson County Humane Society on animal control;
  • A presentation of the pay schedule for Constitutional Officers;
  • A presentation of a board appointment to the Tax Assessors Board.

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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County names retired Air Force Master Sergeant Lisa Green new human resources director

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DAWSONVILE, Ga. – Dawson County Manager David Headley announced today (March 22) that retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Lisa Green has been named as the county’s new Director of Human Resources.

“I enthusiastically welcome Lisa to our team,” Headley said. “She was chosen from a number of extremely qualified candidates. Lisa was selected for her proven track record of success and extensive human resources education and experience. We look forward to Lisa’s course of action in moving Dawson County forward.”

Green will begin her official duties with the county on April 8, 2019.

“I am truly humbled and honored to hold such a prestigious position. I am excited to be a part of Dawson County Government and help lead our county forward in success,” Green said.

Green has a Master of Business Administration degree, bachelor’s degree in Management/Finance and three associate degrees — Human Resource Management, Instructor of Technology and Military Science, and Criminal Justice. She also is a Certified Professional Manager.

During her tenure with the Air Force, she was a trusted advisor to senior leadership regarding training requirements, staff performance and long-term strategic planning. She served as the senior manager of human resources for three years while stationed in Warner Robins.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Dawson BOC to discuss legal representation at Thursday work session

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioner will discuss how to proceed with its legal representation during Thursday’s work session which begins at 4 p.m.

County attorney Lynn Frey, who was hired as in-house counsel in Feb. 2017, announced in a letter to commissioners that he is retiring due to an illness.

The BOC retained Jarrard & Davis, LLP to serve as interim Dawson County attorneys for a period of 60 days on December 27, 2018.

In following the county’s purchasing policy ordinance County Manager David Headley will ask the Board to approve a request for a professional exemption for Jarrard & Davis to fulfill the scope of services in the approved agreement and to approve a budget for their services.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk will recommend using the funds allocated for the county attorney in 2019. All costs will go into account called Legal Fees.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Presentation of LED Lighting Project Proposal for the library that was tabled from the Nov. meeting;
  • Consideration of the Comprehensive Plan, tabled from the Jan. 17 voting session[, Voting Session)
  • Presentation of Capital Improvements Element Annual Update;
  • Presentation of FY 2019 Legacy Link Nutrition Program ;
  • Presentation of Community Development Block Grant Language Access Plan Update;
  • Presentation of Professional Exemption Request for Interim County Attorney;
  • Presentation of Board Appointments to the Joint Development Authority (Christie Haynes Moore, John Drew, Betsy McGriff);
  • Discussion of Grant Application Procedures.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Dawson Co. to surrender control of Fire Station 8

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David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County is expected to surrender operational control of Fire Station 8 off Monument Road to Pickens County this month, once a new intergovernmental agreement (IGA) is ratified by the two governments.

Under the current IGA, Dawson County has operated the station located in the remote Wildcat Community, parts of which are in both counties. But Dawson County came under heavy criticism from area residents who complained the county was slow to respond when a home on Burnt Mountain Road burned to the ground last November.

During a subsequent town hall meeting angry homeowners grilled Dawson County Manager David Headley and Fire and Emergency Services Chief Danny Thompson about why Fire Station 8 was not notified since they are the closest station to the fire.

Danny Thompson

Thompson blamed the oversight on the Dawson computer aided dispatch (CAD) system. But he explained that even if the station had been notified, the home could not have been saved because the support volunteers are not certified by the Georgia Firefighters Standards and Training Council to suppress fires. Without that certification their response is limited to laying hose and preparing for the arrival of certified firefighters.

Thompson, who was hired to replace Lanier Swafford in May, said he did not learn right away the support volunteers at Fire Station 8 had been putting out fires against state regulations and that he had been working to rectify the situation.

In December, he directed the volunteers to attend mandatory training provided by Dawson County so they could obtain certification. But 12 of the 13 volunteers refused to obey the order.

Lt. John Tarantini, who supervised Station 8, said he and his men preferred to attend training by Pickens County instead. Thompson said that was unacceptable and would violate the original IGA.

Thompson called Tarantini to his office in order to demote him to support staff but Tarantini resigned and all but one of the volunteers also resigned, leaving the station unmanned.

Since then, Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond and Pickens County Chairman Rob Jones along with Thompson and the Pickens County Fire Chief have been meeting to draft a new IGA.

Under the proposed new agreement, Pickens will take over operational control of the station and become responsible for training and equipping the volunteers and providing workers compensation insurance. Pickens also will continue to provide insurance for the building and contents of the station.

Dawson County will transfer title of the fire engine and other contents of the station to Pickens which will insure both the engine and tender. Existing hoses and equipment will remain at the station.

Both counties will continue to utilize the station to provide automatic aid to adjoining areas under the Dawson/Pickens County Automatic Aid Agreement.

Dawson County Board of Commissioners could ratify the agreement at the Jan. 17 meeting.

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Hamby, Headley honored for outstanding achievement during Thursday work session

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Dawson County Board of Commissioners had a busy work session agenda Thursday, but took time out to honor two individuals for very special accomplishments – County Manager David Headley and District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby.

Hamby will be retiring from the Board at the end of the month following eight years in office. The Board presented him a plaque in honor of his dedicated service to Dawson County and held a reception for him following the meeting.

County Manager David Headley was named as the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission Appointed Official of the Year recently. The region covers 13 counties and 51 municipalities. “We’re proud of David and his recognition as Official of the Year,” said Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond.

Public Works Director David McKee addressed the Board on several issues. The first was a course aggregate contract bid submitted by Vulcan Materials in the amount of $161,664. The current contract has expired and all renewal year options have been exhausted. The department has a full-time paving crew on staff to perform the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant work and several miles of other road work and parking lot repairs.

The current contract to purchase hot asphaltic mix has also exhausted all renewal years and Mckee asked the Board to accept contracts with Baldwin Paving, Blunt Construction and CW Matthews Contracting to provide the product. Each company offered the low bids on the various items required.

Mckee brought another long-standing issue of the intersection of Lumpkin Campground Road and SR 53 before the Board. He pointed out the county has partnered with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to install a right-hand turn lane along the Lumpkin Campground mainline. SR 53 traffic will not be changed. Upon completion, GDOT will adjust all traffic signals. The project qualifies for SPLOST VI funds, Impact Fee funds or General Fund.

Commissioners also discussed a highway beautification project. The county has been looking for ways to landscape areas along the GA 400 Corridor that are within the GDOT right-of-way for 10 years. The project requires special encroachment permits, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the long-term maintenance of this corridor. In September, the project was bid and two bids were received with a total bid cost was $116,246.85, which is $69,556.85 over the total grant amount. The project is not SPLOST VI eligible, and additional funding will have to come from another source such as the general fund. McKee asked the Board for direction on the project.

GEBCorp Regional Client Manager Ryan Reynolds presented commissioners with options for a county employee retirement plan

Planning & Development Director Jameson Kinley presented a review of the 2018 comprehensive plan.

The purpose of the plan to provide guidance for everyday decision making by local government officials and other community leaders. It represents the efforts of the government, the residents and various stakeholders by identifying the critical issues and goals for the communy. The plan has been approved by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The Board can amend the plan at any time.

Commissioners unanimously approved a request by Kinley to add a summer intern to work on Geographic Information System issues within Planning and Development. The position is fully funded by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson asked for Board approval to apply for the annual Georgia Forestry Commission 50/50 grant program. The maximum allowed on this grant is $10,000.00. Thompson said the grant is needed to purchase replacement fire hoses, nozzles and scene lights. This grant will not be awarded until spring of 2019.

Commissioners unanimously approved Thompson’s request to apply for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Injury Prevention Program. The program is designed to provide funding to public safety agencies in Georgia. DPH provides Dawson Fire/EMS with six convertible and four high-back booster child safety seats monthly to issue to citizens. The grant requires no county match.

Senior Services Director Dawn Pruett asked the Board to approve the annual contract with Deanna Specialty Transportation, Inc. to provide specialty transportation within the county. The company reimburses the county for senior client rides.

Commissioners also discussed the following board appointments/reappointments:  Tax Assessor Board, Jim Perdue; Department of Family and Children Services Board, Nancy Stites replacing Vickie Porter; Planning Commission John Dooley Chairman, Jason Hamby, John Maloney, Tim Bennett and Neil Hornsey.

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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David Headley chosen GMRC Official of the Year

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (GMRC) named Dawson County Manager David Headley Appointed Official of the Year at a meeting in the Dillard House in Rabun County Friday.

The GMRC is a sub state district created by local governments to promote proper development of human, natural, physical, social and economic resources in 13 counties (Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White) as well as 51 cities. Being chosen Appointed Official of the Year in a group of public servants of that size is a very big deal.

In presenting the award, GMRC Executive Director Heather Feldman said, “This year’s Appointed Official of the Year award celebrates an individual who is dedicated to serving the public and who has shown passion and commitment not only to the county for which they serve, but the GMRC Council and staff as well. He has one of the most uplifting, caring, and cooperative attitudes in the public service realm.”

She added, “He is a hard worker who understands the value and importance of community and his compassion, stellar leadership abilities, and willingness to help others is to be commended. He is a man of true integrity and this is amplified by his desire and passion to help people. His policies and initiatives exemplify and demonstrate the values and ethics held so esteemed within the local government profession.”

In a phone interview Monday, Headley said, “It is an extreme honor to have been recognized and selected among such other dedicated and supportive GMRC applicants. I can’t say enough about the great work they do for Dawson County and the member counties it serves. I’m moved the team that selected above the other candidates collectively felt that mine and Dawson County’s commitment rose to this level. The GMRC is the true recipients of this award for the outstanding service it provides. It is with great respect and admiration for their organization that I accept this award on behalf of Dawson County.”

County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said, “David is very deserving of the award. He does a good job representing the citizens of Dawson County. He has also worked well with the GMRC on several projects, including the comprehensive plan.”

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said, “We’re lucky to have him. The drive, dedication and energy he has put into his role as county manager has been a good thing for Dawson County.”

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Fire Station 8 volunteers a no-show at training submit their resignations instead

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Danny Thompson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – As of Thursday (Dec. 6), Dawson County Fire Station 8 which serves the Wildcat Community is unmanned.

A tense situation came to a head on Tuesday when the 13 volunteer firefighters who work there refused a directive from Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson to attend a mandatory training session.

Thursday morning, Thompson summoned Lt. John Tarantini — who supervises Station 8 – to a meeting. “It was my intention to demote him back to support staff for failure to follow an order and insubordination,” Thompson said. “He declined to sign the paperwork and instead tendered his resignation.”

Tarantini also brought with him the resignation of the 12 other volunteers who work at Station 8, which Thompson accepted. That effectively closes the station for now. Station 6 on Hubbard Road in Big Canoe is the closest manned fire station to the Wildcat Community which lies in both Dawson and Pickens counties.

County Manager David Headley warned Tarantini that failure to attend Tuesday’s training session could have serious consequences.

In an email sent Tuesday (Dec. 4) Headley wrote: “Chief Thompson has directed you and the volunteer staff to attend training (per his commitment to the citizens) conducted by Dawson County. Should you choose not to do so or direct the volunteer staff not to comply with the direction you have been provided, then I will move forward in making other arrangements.”

How long the station will remain closed is uncertain. In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Thompson said some volunteers had already called to ask if they could rescind their resignation. “I told them to get together and decide what they want to do as a group,” he said.

Fire Station 8 is operated under an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Pickens County that has been in effect since 2008. The IGA stipulates that Dawson County shall assume operation of the station and operate it as a substation of Dawson County Emergency Services. It also stipulates that Dawson County shall provide training, equipment and workers compensation insurance for the volunteer firefighters.

Under state law, volunteer firefighters are not allowed to engage in fire suppression activity (spraying water on the fire) until they receive their certification. The training Dawson County planned to provide would have helped them become certified.

“Be assured, that we will continue to keep our commitment to the citizens of Dawson County as we have always done,” Thompson said.

Tarantini was contacted for this article but declined to answer questions. However, in an email response, he wrote, “We are preparing an announcement to the communities concerning our decision to resign, why and what prompted that event, trust that I will copy you on that announcement.”

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Pickens Co. decision to train volunteer firefighters violates a 10-year agreement with Dawson County

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County Manager David Headley

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – What has been a simmering disagreement between Dawson and Pickens counties for months, erupted into something far more serious Monday when it was learned that Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones plans to violate an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that has existed between the two counties since 2008.

Jones has made it clear Pickens County will take over training for the volunteer firefighters at Station 8 in the Wildcat Community, part of which lies inside both counties.

Dawson County Manager David Headley said Jones’ decision violates Section 5 of the IGA which states: “Dawson County shall provide training, equipment and workers compensation insurance for up to ten volunteer firefighters.”

It could also violate Section 12 of the IGA if Pickens plans to pullout of the agreement completely. Section 12 states: “The terms of the agreement shall be renewed automatically each year unless 180 days written notice of termination is provided by the other party.”

Pickens Co. Chairman Rob Jones

“I’m disappointed with the position (Jones) has taken,” Headley said Monday morning. “Dawson County has always been there for that community. Unfortunately, the Pickens County Chairman has chosen not to adhere to the IGA.”

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson said he has a training class scheduled for the volunteers at Station 8 tomorrow (Dec. 4) at 6 p.m.

Jones decision to violate the IGA places volunteers in the difficult position of deciding whether to attend training provided by Dawson or Pickens counties. Sources have told Fetch Your News the volunteers are being pressured to attend the Pickens training which won’t begin for several more weeks.

Fetch Your News reached out to Chairman Jones but he did not return our phone call.

Station 8 was constructed in 2008. Under the terms of the IGA, Pickens County assumed responsibility for acquiring the land, making improvements to the land, construction of the station, building and contents insurance and LP gas.

Dawson County’s responsibilities include operation of the station, providing fire apparatus, including a fire engine and tanker truck, training and equipping the volunteers as well as administrative support and leadership.

The agreement worked well until recently when a dispute arose over the need for an additional water tank. The existing tank at Station 8 holds only 45,000 gallons of water and once it is drained, it takes several days to refill. The need for an additional water source was driven home last month when a home on Burnt Mountain Ridge Road was destroyed by fire.

In a townhall meeting following that fire — which Headley said was meant to ambush Dawson County officials — Clayton Preble, president of the Wildcat Community, said there was a firm agreement that Dawson County would provide a tank and move it and that Pickens County would construct the foundation.

Headley said that is nonsense. “There was an informal discussion but it never went any further than that,” he said. “Something like that would have to be approved by the Board of Commissioners and the issue was never placed before them.”

Headley said former Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford located a tank the county could have obtained for the price of moving it, which Swafford estimated to be about $10,000. But the actual cost turned out to be much higher — between $50,000 and $60,000. Moreover, no contractor was willing to bid on moving it.

Headley and Thompson spent more than an hour being grilled by the residents of Wildcat Community during the townhall meeting while Jones sat in the back of the room and was never questioned.

“It seems like their refusal to adhere to the IGA is in retaliation for us not giving them what they want with regard to the water tank,” Headley said.

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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