Mike Eason named Dawsonville’s interim mayor

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Mike Eason is sworn as Dawsonville interim mayor as grandson Caleb looks on.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Mike Eason, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for 31 years and the state’s first inspector general, was appointed interim mayor of the city of Dawsonville at Monday’s city council meeting.

Eason earned a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration/criminal justice from Brenau University and also served as Cumming’s chief of police from 2005 to 2009.

Eason will replace James Grogan, who was voted out of office by city council for alleged violations of the city charter. He will serve until voters choose the next mayor in a special election. Council approved a resolution to schedule the special election for March 20

Council also held two public hearings on key issues. The first would reduce the mayor’s compensation from $2,000 per month to $600 per month and clarify compensation outside the first regular meeting of the month.

The second would amend sections of the city’s charter to create district posts for council members and make the removal of city officials consistent with state law. Both require a second public hearing.

Council was scheduled to vote on an request by Gold Creek residents to reduce the fee for combined annexation requests but the applicant withdrew the request for the time being.

A bid was awarded to Cumming-based Rakestraw Sanitation for garbage and solid waste collection at a cost of $9.85 per month.

Council unanimously agreed to pay $320 each plus mileage for two newly elected council members to attend mandatory training.

Council also approved changing the time for regular meetings and work sessions in 2018 to 7 p.m. on the first Monday each month.

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City proposes massive pay cut for next mayor

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Former Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After Dawsonville’s City Council held the first public hearing on slashing the mayor’s pay by 70 percent from $2,000 to $600 a month Monday, former mayor James Grogan accused council members of trying to keep him from running in the March 20 special election.

“It’s a punitive action to keep me from running,” Grogan said Tuesday. “It all revolves around their ongoing effort to discredit me and keep me from wanting to run. I’m disappointed in what is going on with council.”

City council impeached Grogan in May, alleging that he had violated the city charter and policies. Grogan has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

He filed an appeal in Dawson County Superior Court, but Judge C. Andrew Fuller ruled the appeal had been improperly filed. At that point, Grogan chose to discontinue his appeal and announced he would campaign for his old job in the next special election.

City Mgr. Bob Bolz

“My heart is still in serving the citizens of Dawsonville, and I believe, ultimately, it is their decision and not some random judge to decide,” he said at the time. “So, instead of continuing the fight through the legal process and to prevent city council from spending any more of your tax payer funds frivolously on legal fees, I am here to take the high road and say, let’s stop this now. Let’s put this back up to the voters.”

City Manager Bob Bolz says the proposed reduction in pay is not punitive but reflected the new responsibilities of the job.

“When the late Joe Lane Cox was mayor, he also fulfilled the responsibilities of city manager,” Bolz said. “That carried forward into Mayor Grogan’s tenure.”

Now that the city has a full-time city manager, Bolz said, the responsibilities have changed and council felt the pay should change as well.

A second public hearing on the issue is set for Dec. 18.

 

 

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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UPDATE: James Grogan Issues Statement About His Plans to Run for Mayor in 2018

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James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – James Grogan announced today that he is giving up his appeal to remain mayor of Dawsonville in order to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and will, instead, run for mayor in a 2018 special election.

Grogan was voted out of office by City Council members Angie Smith, Caleb Phillips and Jason Power following a report presented to council on May 1 that outlined a number of alleged violations of city code by the mayor. Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel appealed council’s action, but earlier this month, C. Andrew Fuller, Chief Judge for the Northeast Judicial District ruled the appeal was improperly filed.

Today (Oct. 31), Grogan issued the following statement:

“Obviously I am not pleased with the decision of the judge, however, it is very important to note the ruling did not side with the city council’s decision or their action. It was simply a technicality on a complicated issue that has never happened before in the state of Georgia. My heart is still in serving the citizens of Dawsonville and I believe ultimately it is their decision and not some random judge to decide.

“So instead of continuing the fight through the legal process and to prevent city council from spending any more of your tax payer funds frivolously on legal fees, I’m here to take the high road and say, let’s stop this now. Let’s put this back up to the voters.

“This morning I have stopped my appeal and I am announcing that I will rerun for Mayor in the special election in March and to serve you with all my heart. I have been serving you for many years and we have seen many great things happen in this city under my leadership. So, instead of three power hungry city council members and a random judge deciding the direction our city should take, and whether I should continue to serve you, I have decided to put the decision back where it belongs, with the citizens of Dawsonville.

“You and only you will decide whether I should be allowed to continue to be your leader. So please vote for James Grogan for Mayor in 2018.”

 

  

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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BREAKING NEWS: James Grogan To Run for Mayor Again in 2018

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James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. —  James Grogan, who lost his appeal last week to remain mayor of Dawsonville, announced today that he will run for mayor again in 2018. Fetch Your News will have a statement from the Grogan later today.

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Judge Dismisses Mayor James Grogan’s Appeal

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Judge C. Andrew Fuller today (Monday, Oct. 9) dismissed James Grogan’s appeal to remain as mayor of Dawsonville.

Fuller, the Chief Judge for the Northeast Judicial District, ruled the appeal was improperly filed.

When reached for comment Grogan was recovering from eye surgery and said he had not heard of the judge’s decision yet.

Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel was not available for comment.

Fetch Your News will have more details as they become available.

 

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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Cost to Impeach Mayor Grogan Skyrockets Taxpayers Now on the Hook for $73,000

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Just three months into the process, the cost to taxpayers for Dawsonville City Council’s effort to impeach Mayor James Grogan is skyrocketing. According to city documents obtained by Fetch Your News, the cost has already topped $73,000.

According to those documents, City Attorney Dana Miles’ law firm of Miles, Hansford and Tallant has billed the city a total of $31,296.63 so far.

The law firm of Hulsey, Oliver and Mahar has billed a total of $10,929.12 for Ab Hayes to serve as the independent third party to investigate the actions of the mayor and prepare a report based upon the investigation of the mayor.

The law firm of Ragsdale, Beals, Seigler, Patterson and Gray billed $1,420 for fees to the City Court Judge for handling matters prior to and in conjunction with the hearing for removal of the mayor and the recently hired law firm of Webb and Powell has thus far billed $3,674.

Grogan has said all along that he did nothing wrong and has filed an appeal. As an elected official, he is entitled to legal representation at city expense. Attorney Steven Leibel represents the mayor and thus far, he has billed the city approximately $26,000, which brings the cost to Dawsonville taxpayers to just over $73,000.

“The mayor said at the last meeting this would be very expensive for taxpayers and he suggested finding a resolution short of impeachment,” Leibel said. “Unfortunately the taxpayers now have to shoulder the legal expenses because they didn’t resolve this unconscionable impeachment effort.”

City Council has accused Grogan of violations of city code and policies including lowering rezoning fees for at least three applicants without prior approval of city council, allowing a business to pay a lower rate for water/sewer service without prior approval of city council, and approval of payments to non-profit groups, something that has been a common practice of the city for many years.

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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Cost Continues to Mount as City Hires Another Attorney to Pursue Impeachment of Mayor

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The effort to impeach Mayor James Grogan took center stage at Monday’s Dawsonville City Council meeting as council voted to hire Gwinnett County attorney Tony Powell to push for impeachment.

Prior to that vote, Councilman Mike Sosebee made a motion to abandon the impeachment effort, but it died for lack of a second.

Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel attended the meeting, but did not speak. After the meeting, however, he said, “It’s unfortunate. This is going to cost taxpayers a lot of money. It could take up to a year and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The city paid attorney Abbott Hayes approximately $6,000 to conduct the investigation that led to the impeachment effort. Powell said his fee is $260 an hour.

In May, council voted to impeach Grogan 3-1, with Sosebee opposed. However, he remains in office, pending an appeal.

Council members have accused the mayor of — among other things — charging the city for attending meetings that were not pre-approved by the council and changing an application fee for water and sewer from a business rate to a slightly less expensive residential rate without council approval.

In other business, council tabled a request to amend existing zoning stipulations on property owned by Len Reeves at 280 Maple Street South, appointed Beverly Bannister deputy city clerk and approved an annexation ordinance for the purpose of setting an application fee for annexations and changing fees for zonings.

Council also appointed Tim Costley, Misty Moore and Kevin Hammond to serve on the Downtown Development Authority.

The mayor announced that the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada has awarded Bonnie Warne and the City of Dawsonville the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Finance Reporting. The award is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. Its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

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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County Tax Assessor is Featured Speaker at Community Connections Workshop

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County residents gather for Community Connections Workshop at the Senior Center Thursday.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Tax Assessor Kurt Tangel was the featured speaker at Thursday’s Community Connections Workshop which was held at the Senior Center. Tangel, who has worked for the county the past 12 years, explained the difference in his responsibilities and those of the Tax Commissioner.

“The Tax Commissioner is the one who sends out the bills and collects the taxes,” Tangel said. “The Tax Assessor applies the value to those properties.”

Tax Assessor Kurt Tangel

The Tax Assessor does not work directly for the Board of Commissioners, but is directly responsible to the Board of Assessors, five individuals appointed by the commissioners.

This year the Board of Assessors contracted with a private company to perform a county-wide property revaluation which started in June.  The company has completed about 15 percent of the data collection and is expected to complete the residential evaluation by the end of next year. Commercial and industrial revaluation won’t be complete until 2019.

Those conducting the revaluation will be in clearly-marked county vehicles to identify themselves. They are permitted to come onto the homeowner’s property, but not inside the home. If the homeowner is not home, they are supposed to leave a door hanger to let the property owner know they have been there.

“We assess the value of property based on what we know the square footage of that home to be,” Tangel said.

Tangel encourages property owners to view their assessment on the Tax Assessor’s web page and if the information is incorrect, to contact his office at any time.

Asked if the current revaluation is expected to produce any major corrections, Tangel said, “There could be some changes based on increased desirability or scarcity, but I don’t anticipate any major corrections.”

Mayor James Grogan

Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan gave a brief review of city projects. “There’s a lot of good things going on,” he said. “We’re completing a sidewalk project that will go totally around the city that should be finished by the end of the year and we’re still working on the park. We sent the paperwork to the EPD and when that comes back, well put it out for construction bids. We hope to have dirt moving on that by the end of the year.”

Grogan also pointed out there is a lot of homebuilding going on in the city. He estimated that 300-400 new homes will be built in the next 12 months.

County Manager David Headley told attendees that county representatives had met with Georgia Department of Transportation Officials earlier in the day to discuss transportation issues in the county.

County Mgr. David Headley

“We discussed the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) in our district,” Headley said. “These are federally-funded dollars that go to the state to do projects such as bridges. We talked about a truck bypass around the city. They’re looking at that, collecting data and looking at a possible alignment. We also talked about some of the roundabout projects we have going on. We  talked about the CFI (continuous flow intersection). The state is looking at spending a lot of money here for obvious reasons. They don’t just do these things because they have a lot of money to spend and want to build them. They anticipate a lot of growth here.”

 

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