Sheriff Johnson has sole authority to give employees a pay raise

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson has had the budget and the authority to give his employees a well-deserved pay raise for the last two years but chose not to do so.

As a constitutional officer, elected by the citizens of Dawson County, Johnson has sole discretion over how he manages his budget. Board approval is not required.

But on July 2 Johnson did come before the Board to request approval of a 15 percent across-the-board pay increase for employees. In a passionate plea to the Board he said, “In a time when law enforcement agencies are aggressively competing for staff through increased pay, benefits, signing bonuses, recruiting bonuses, etc., DCSO continues to fall further and further behind in these areas.”

But at last Thursday’s meeting, Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond explained to the sheriff that he can give his employees a pay raise any time he chooses.

Johnson has had serious budget management issues in the past. In 2017, his first year in office, he initiated a lawsuit against the Board in an effort to have them increase his budget. The lawsuit failed and, at the end of that year, the sheriff discovered he had $526,565 left over in his budget. That money had to be returned to the county fund balance.

Again in 2018, the Board allocated more money to the sheriff’s budget than he actually spent. At the end of that year, Johnson had $200,995 left over. In two years, Johnson wound up returning $727,560 to the county fund balance.

2020 is an election year and Johnson has not yet announced whether he will seek reelection. Two candidates — Jeff Perry, a veteran parole officer, and Marcus Sewell, Chief Investigator for the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office — have announced they will campaign for sheriff. Johnson’s opponents are expected to attack the sheriff for what they perceive to be his fiscal mismanagement.

 

 

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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Board of Commissioners will hold rare Tuesday meeting

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Etowah Water and Sewer Authority General Manager Brooke Anderson will bring some welcome news to the Dawson County Board of Commissioners work session Tuesday (July 2). The meeting begins at 4 p.m. in the Government Center.

In an effort to support the expanding opportunities offered to the senior citizens of Dawson County, Anderson will offer a $10,000 donation on behalf of Etowah Water & Sewer Authority toward the construction of the new senior center.

Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson will appear before the board to request a pay raise for his staff. The sheriff says his office struggles with staffing, recruitment and retention.

Dawn Pruitt will request commissioners approve the 2020 contract with Deanna Specialty Transportation, Inc. for senior center rides. Deanna contracts with the Department of Human Services to oversee funding and reimburses the county. Reimbursement rates: Regular ($7.75), Wheelchair ($11.75), Hourly ($35) and Daily Field Trips ($200).

The Board will also consider the appointment of Carroll L. Turner to the Library Board.

During the 6 p.m voting session, commissioners are expected to consider

An alcohol license transfer retail consumption on premises of beer and wine for Point Bluff LLC d/b/a Crave Hot Dogs;

A special event business license application for Carol Stream Amusements Inc. Carnival;

 A special event business license application for North Georgia Premium Outlets Food Truck Events;

 A special event business license application for Papa Pat’s Corn Maze;

Emergency Services Pay Compensation Proposal;

A request for proposal for a salary study for Dawson County Award;

A settlement agreement with ALA Riley Place LLC with respect to a stop work issued on June 3 for the Riley Place Subdivision.

 

 

 

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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Developers last-minute changes to Etowah Village plan leads to another delay in vote by BOC

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga – Developers of the controversial Etowah Village announced during Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners that they have made major changes to their rezoning application. But they came unprepared to present a visible display for the public to view.

Commissioner Sharon Fausett

“We have revised our plan based on comments we received at the last public hearing as well as your comments,” said architect Jim King, speaking on behalf of Etowah Village.

As a result, District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett motioned to table a vote on the project until July 18. Her motion was unanimously approved.

The revision included taking out everything west of the Etowah River and changing the public entrance on Hwy. 53 from a public entrance to a gated emergency vehicle-only entrance and only emergency personnel will have a key.

King said by eliminating everything west of the river, the overall density of the project will be reduced from 2.8 units per acre to 2.4 units.

Fausett took King to task for not being prepared. “It’s really bad you don’t have anything the people can see,” she said. “People need to know that this is gone. This is left. This is still here but it’s being shifted to here. This is such a huge project whether you are for it or against it you would still like to have all the information.”

Fausett said later she was not told about the changes until just before the start of the meeting.

Planning Director Jameson Kinley said the revised project would include 338,000 square feet of retail space, 243,200 square feet of Class A office space, a convention and performing arts center, a site for a future fire station, a cultural center and public awareness of Chinese arts and gardens, four-story hotel, 800 units of multi-family housing (apartments), 180 units of single-family attached homes, 205 units of single-family detached homes, a 350 unit continuing care center and 156 acres for parks and green space.

Fausett said the delay will give the public time to understand the changes.

“If you don’t give people time, it’s like you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. I want to give the public time to digest this.”

Commissioners did approve PR Acquisitions, LLC’s request for an update of the Master Plan for 338 apartments. The original plan was approved in 2006. The owner Michael Moore told commissioners he is simply asking that conditions included in the original zoning that are no longer relevant go away. Moore proposed that Harry Sosebee Road be aligned to tie into a future traffic circle at his cost.

Judd Hughes request to rezone property located at Harry Sosebee Road and Hwy. 53 from Residential Agriculture (RA) to Residential Multi-Family (RMF) was approved 3-1 with Commissioner Tim Satterfield opposed.

Other items approved during the voting session include:

  • An update of the land use resolution;
  • A Dawson County food drive conducted by the Public Defender’s Office;
  • An Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation easement for the new Public Works Complex;
  • A request for No Thru Truck Traffic on Blacks Mill Road;
  • Improvements for Red Rider Road;
  • Reappointment of Gail Smith to the Library Board;
  • Assignment of contract to Professional Probation Services.

 

 

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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Changes to Etowah Village site plan leads to another delay

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Commissioners were scheduled to vote on the oft-postponed Etowah Village Thursday. But when it came time for the public hearing, a representative of Dawson Village Partners announced the company is proposing major modifications to the site plan, including no buildings west of the Etowah River. With that, the Board voted to table the vote until July to ensure the public learns more about the project.

Be sure to read Fetch Your News Friday for all the details.

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Commissioners set to vote on Etowah Village

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Two major developments that have attracted heated opposition from citizens will be on the agenda when the Board of Commissioners meets in a voting session Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Dawson County Government Center.

That session will be preceded at 4 p.m. by a work session and executive session.

Dawson Village Partners wants to have about 800 acres at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 400 and Lumpkin County Road rezoned to accommodate Etowah Village, a massive development that would include 538,700 square feet of retail space, 243,000 square feet of office space and 2,174 residential units in addition to a hotel, convention center and Asian cultural arts center.

Opponents believe such a major development would overburden the infrastructure lead to overcrowding schools and lower property values. Even more important, they believe it will destroy the quality of life they enjoy and that has attracted many others to move here.

And, Dava Hudgins gave commissioners something else to consider at the last public hearing when she said some part of the project would be built on a historic site.

“My ancestors opened a trading post on that site,” she said. “They married Cherokee women. There are Indian mounds there and I know where there are two different Indian burial grounds. It’s not just a flood plain. It is historically important.”

Historic sites are protected by state and federal laws.

Hudgins took Dist. 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett and Dist. 4 Julie Hughes-Nix to visit the site Saturday. They are expected to report on their findings at Thursday’s meeting.

There is also a request by Judd Hughes to rezone 40 acres on Dawson Forest Road from Residential Agriculture (RA-1) to Residential Multi-Family for the purpose of building a 240-unit apartment complex is less contentious but has drawn a significant amount of opposition.

Other items on the voting session agenda include:

A PR Acquisition, LLC request to update zoning conditions on property near the intersection of Harry Sossebee Road and Lumpkin Campground Road because some of the original conditions no longer apply to the property which was approved for 388 homes;

Consideration of a Dawson County Food Drive spearheaded by the Public Defender’s office;

Consideration of a request by an Eagle Scout to build a Bocce Ball Court at Rock Creek Park for an Eagle Scout project;

Consideration of Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation power easement for the Public Works Complex;

Consideration of No Thru Truck Traffic on Blacks Mill Rd;

Consideration of improvements to Red Rider Road;

Consideration of appointments to the Library 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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BOC split meetings scheduled for Thursday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawson County Board of Commissioners will hold a work session Thursday (June 6) at 4 p.m., followed by a regular meeting at 6 p.m.  in the Government Center Assembly Room.

During the work session, commissioners will hear a presentation by Assistant Public Defender Kyle Denslow regarding a proposal for a Dawson County Food Drive spearheaded by the Public Defender’s Office.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne will present a request to build bocce ball courts at Rock Creek Park as an Eagle Scout project.

Payne and Purchasing Manager Melissa Hawk will present a request for proposal (RFP) for a playground and multi-purpose field at Veterans Memorial Park.

Public Works Director David McKee will provide a presentation of an easement for Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation and a request for No Thru Truck Traffic on Blacks Mill Road.

McKee will also give a presentation of a request for Red Rider Road Improvements.

Commissioners will discuss the reappointment of Gail Smith to the county library board.

In the 6 p.m. work session, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore will update commissioners on the status of tourism in the county.

Commissioners are expected to vote on a special event business license for Kathy Roos TNT fireworks sales in the Ingles and Walmart parking lots.

They will also consider a resolution authorizing the disposition of certain county property by sealed bid in Accordance with O.C.G.A § 36-9-3(a).

 

 

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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BOC will vote on massive Etowah Village development Thursday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Commissioners are set to make a decision on one of the largest developments in the county’s history during the voting session that starts at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Planning Commission voted 3-2 last month to recommend denial of the Dawson Village Partners rezoning request that would include 2,175 residential units, approximately 300,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, a luxury hotel, Chinese cultural arts center, continuous care retirement community and 450-bed assisted living facility.

The Planning Commission based its recommendation of denial on the impact the development would have on the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens and the environmental impact on the Etowah River and flood plain.

But the final decision is in the hands of county commissioners.

If approved, the development, which will be known as Etowah Village, will be located at the intersection of Lumpkin Campground Road and Ga. 400 then expand west to Etowah River Road before crossing the Etowah River.

In a public information meeting in April, Project Engineer Corey Guthrie said the project will take 10-15 years to complete and would be constructed in five phases.

Phase 1 will consist of building the fire station, hotel and retail along Hwy. 400. Phase 2 calls for construction of office buildings, apartments, a cultural arts center. Phase 3 will be the addition of continuous care retirement center. Phase 4 would include a 450-unit active adult community. The final phase calls for the addition of 171-single family units.

Guthrie said if the county commission approves the project, it will be at least nine months to a year before ground is broken.

 

 

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 commission holds first split-session meeting

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. –  County Commissioners held their first split meeting Thursday, with a work session at 4 p.m. followed by an executive session then a voting session at 6 p.m.

During the voting session, commissioners approved the retirement of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Kimbo and transfer of the dog’s ownership to its handler, Jessica Kraft.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Read and approved a resolution to declare May 5-11 National Small Business Week;
  • Tabled a vote on a proposed contract with CT Darnell Construction for design-build services for Fire Station No. 9 until the May 16 meeting;
  • Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Board of Education regarding use of a portion of the parking lot at the Public Works Complex;
  • Approved a services agreement with the Humane Society for treatment and housing of animals.
  • Approved an addendum to the 2019 Legacy Link contract for nutritional program services.
  • Approved the addition of $250,000 to the budget to pay for legal services provided by Jarrard and Davis;
  • Approved a request by Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne to hold a county employees night at the county swimming pool on May 17;
  • Held a public hearing on Olive Garden LLC request for an alcohol license for retail consumption on premises of beer, wine and distilled spirits then approved the request;
  • Held the first public hearing on a land use resolution update. The second public hearing is scheduled for May 16;

During the work session, Public Works Director David McKee asked the Board to consider allowing his department to retain the services of ShepCo Paving Inc., an on-call, full-depth reclamation service.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne presented a proposed agreement with the Rotary Club of Dawson County to provide the county with a venue that would house outdoor pickleball courts, batting cages, and an outdoor basketball area at Rock Creek Park.

Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk presented a first quarter financial status report for 2019.

Development Authority of Dawson County Chairman Brian Trapnell presented an update of its activity which will be outlined in a future Fetch Your News article.
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
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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