Emory Dooley will run for Board of Commissioners

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Dawsonville – Dawson County resident Emory Dooley formally announces his intentions to run for the Dawson County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat in the May 2020 Republican Primary

“The top priorities within my life are my Christian faith, my family, and my community.” said Dooley. “Upon learning that Commissioner Nix – who has served tirelessly and with a great passion for our county – was not going to be seeking re-election, I felt that the timing was right to use the talents with which God has blessed me, along with my experiences gained from service in this community to bring conservative, fiscally responsible principles to our county government with a common sense approach to leadership.”

A native of the Coal Mountain and Silver City area within northern Forsyth County, Dooley has lived in Dawson County for the past decade, where he has been active in serving his local community. Dooley presently serves as the Chairman of the board for the United Way of Dawson County, as well as an appointed member of the Dawson County Planning Commission. He has also served as a longtime past board member for Kare for Kids, Inc., a non-profit which sponsors the annual Mountain Moonshine Festival as part of its fundraising efforts that provides over $100,000 annually to children in need within the Dawson County community.

Dooley is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Georgia and currently serves as the General Manager of 400 Waste & Scrap, LLC, where he oversees the day to day operations of the business.

When asked about his interest in serving Dawson County, Dooley responded: “In my professional career and civic involvement, I have been blessed to work with and develop friendships with many of the citizens of our county, and I would like to help ensure that this community continues to be vibrant, successful and one that our residents are proud to call home.”

He is married to Mary Claire Dooley, who works as a public elementary school teacher. They attend Concord Baptist Church, where he is a longtime member.

 

 

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 COUNTY, Ga. – The $29.9 million 2020 budget Dawson County Commissioners adopted in October grew by more than $900,000 during Thursday’s regular meeting.

The Board voted 3-0 – with Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix absent due to an illness in her family – to amend the budget by $836,000 to fund a pay raise for county employees. The increase was based on a salary study conducted by Management Advisory Group late last year. The Board also voted to approve upgrades to employees’ defined benefit and defined contributions plans that will add an additional $70,000 to this year’s budget.

Commissioners accepted a staff recommendation to award Jarrard & Davis a legal services contract at a rate of $200 per hour for attorneys and $100 per hour for paralegals. The contract is for one year with four one-year renewal options.

Each election year, local government is required to set qualifying fees for candidates who plan to run for elected office. The 2020 fees are set as follows: Sheriff $1,779.86, Probate Judge $1,491.65, Tax Commissioner $1,491.65, Magistrate Judge $1,491.65, Clerk of Court, $1,491.65, County Commissioner $288, Commission Chairman $360, Surveyor $10, Coroner $108, Board of Education $99.

Following public hearings, the Board unanimously approved Tim Stowers’ request to rezone 10.5 acres on Harmony Church Road from Residential Agricultural to Residential Sub- Rural and Michelle Taber’s request to rezone 2.67 acres on Frank Bruce Road from Residential Agricultural to Residential Sub-Rural.

Commissioners had a very busy slate of agenda items to consider during the 4 p.m. work session.

Court Administrator Jason Stephenson led off by advising commissioners Hall County had under billed Dawson County for the cost of one Administrative Assistant and a law clerk for each Superior Court Judge for several years. The amount that was improperly billed totals $15,200.

Other work session issues discussed include:

— The potential sale of a 77.67 acre tract of land located along Shoal Creek to Caballero Holdings, LLC for $311,111. The Tax Assessor’s Office appraised the property at $647,074. An appraisal performed by J & T Smith, Inc. valued this property at $1.1 million.

— A request by Public Works Director David Mckee to award a debris removal and disposal contract to Graham County Land Company. The contract will not have any cost to the county unless the company is called to report during a disaster such as a winter storm. The contract, if approved includes removing and disposing of vegetation in rights-of-way; hazardous tree removal; vehicle removal; freon management; electronic waste removal.

— A request to award a debris monitoring contract to Debris Tech, Inc. The contract, if approved, would fast-track federal and state disaster relief funding and allow county staff to work in other needed areas.

— A request  by Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson to renew a statewide Mutual Aid agreement with GEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance and support in managing a disaster that occurs within Dawson County and other participating agencies.

— A request to accept a 50/50 Georgia Forestry Commission Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant that requires a $5,000 county match.

— A request to apply for a 50/50 Georgia Emergency Management Performance Grant to cover a portion of the cost for RAVE emergency alerting, weather siren maintenance, and Crisis Track damage assessment. The grant is $15,568.00. Dawson County’s match is $7,784.

Items discussed during a work session are not typically voted on until the next regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

 

 

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 Commissioners adopt $29.9 million 2020 budget

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Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – County commissioners had another full slate of agenda items to deal with during Thursday’s voting session. The 2020 budget, a vape shop ordinance and legal representation generated most of the discussion.

The Board approved a 2020 general fund budget of $29,903,653, an increase of $1,787,867 or 10.48 percent over last year.

The largest expenditure will be for Sheriff’s Office which will receive $8,346,363 or 28 percent of the general fund budget, an increase of 10.43 percent over this year. The next largest expenditure will be for Public Safety which will receive$5,560,482, followed by general government operations at $5,464,061.

The new budget conforms to the reduced millage rate of 8.089.

A month ago, the commissioners considered shutting down the county’s vape shops. But after a series of meetings between shop owners, elected officials and county staff, the Board decided to move forward with a new ordinance that will regulate the businesses.

Commissioner Sharon Fausett

Commissioners approved an additional $150,000 in funding for the firm of Jarrard & Davis for legal services this year. The firm was retained last December and $370,779 was encumbered for legal fees. Since that time, the county has paid the firm $359,652.32. The money will have to be moved from Fund Balance.

There were two zoning requests to be considered. In the first, the Board denied a request to rezone property on Price Road from Commercial Planned Community Development to Commercial Highway Business for the purpose of constructing a boat and RV storage facility.

In the other, commissioners approved a series of stipulations for property on Dawson Forest Road, first zoned in 1999. The stipulations included a requirement that the residential component be a minimum area of 20 contiguous acres; 50 percent of the project must consist of commercial, office, public, restaurant or other similar use; the property can be developed up to a maximum density of six units per acre up to a maximum of 100 units; open or natural space required shall be no less than 30 percent of the development.

In other business, the Board approved:

A request by Kare for Kids to use the county facility parking lots during the Mountain Moonshine Festival;

An intergovernmental agreement between Dawson County and the Development Authority of Dawson County;

Scheduling a public hearing for Special Event Business License Ordinance revision.

During the 4 p.m. work session, commissioners were reminded the legal services contract with Jarrard and Davis will expire Dec. 31. The Board must decide whether to renew the contract with that firm or hire in-house attorney.

Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix raised concerns about the cost of legal services during the last year.

“The service has been first class,” she noted. “And you pay for first class. “I’m troubled by the it and I have had citizens tell me they are troubled by it too. By this year’s end, we will have spent $500,000.”

The legal services contract has a $250,000 cap, but that does not include litigation costs.

“Really more than $250,000 will be spent,” Commissioner Sharon Fausett said. “We would be remiss if we were not concerned about that amount of money.”

Angela Davis said, “What is carved out is litigation. We can’t control that. We have no way of knowing who is going to sue (the county) or who you may decide to sue.”

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Commissioners hit pause button on vape ordinance

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – County commissioners were prepared Thursday to end the sale of flavored vape products and prevent vape shop owners from having their business license renewed. But the compelling and passionate argument of dozens of consumers and vape shop owners caused them to reconsider – for now.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to table an ordinance that would have put four specialty vape shops out of business and impacted thousands of their customers.

The proposed ordinance would define a specialty vape shop as one whose sales of alternative nicotine products and vapor products, combined, exceeds 25 twenty-five percent of sales.

Those who pleaded with commissioners came from Dawson, Cherokee, Paulding and Gwinnett counties. One man came all the way from Warner Robins. Many repeated the same theme: Vape products get smokers off cigarettes. Another man who smoked cigarettes for 40 years said flavored vape products were the only way he could quit. Other smokers said without flavored vape products they were afraid they would go back to cigarettes.

Jamie Wheatley, owner of The Vaperz Den, said, “The proposed vapor ban would push people back into a more harmful choice. There is something in this ordinance that no specialty vapor shop could operate in this county. There are four that it would force out of business.”

Wheatley continued, saying, “We know the underage thing is a big deal. We’re the ones that card at the door. You can’t walk into any one of these specialty vape shops without being of age. I would like to ask if there is a way we could table this ordinance and schedule some one-on-one meetings with you guys to educate and inform you about what it is we do and come to some sort of compromise that we can continue to do business.”

Their comments obviously had an impact on commissioners.

Julie Hughes-Nix who made the motion to table a vote on the proposed ordinance said,

“I appreciate your comments. Everyone up here is listening to you because we care. I want to learn more. I think we need to do a better job of checking into what we need to do here.”

Her words were interrupted by a long, very loud applause. “So my recommendation to this board is that we table this and go back to the drawing board.”

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said, “There has been a lot of information brought forward tonight that needs to be investigated.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Commissioners approve addition of a $100,000 emergency contingency to the general fund budget

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – By the narrowest of margins, Dawson County commissioners voted Thursday to add $100,000 contingency to the general fund budget that County Manager David Headley will have the authority to spend in case of an emergency without receiving Board authorization.

Prior to the vote, Dist. 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines asked for three stipulations:  The expenditure would require dual signatures from CFO Vickie Neikirk and Headley, a maximum amount of $25,000 for each emergency expenditure with an aggregate amount of $100,000 annually and the expenditure be included in the public record at the next Board of Commissioners meeting.

Chairman Billy Thurmond, Dist. 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield and Gaines voted to approve the contingency.

But Dist. 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix and Dist 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett, who wanted Headley on a shorter leash, voted no.

Nix reminded commissioners that the money they spend is not theirs, but belongs to taxpayers and that commissioners should maintain a tighter control on spending.

“I would really like to know up front what it is,” she said. “I’m really guided by the fact that the money belongs to our citizens and we need to be more accountable.”

In other decisions, commissioners voted to approve a Landbridge Development, LLC request to rezone property located between Krystal and the movie theater just off Hwy. 400 from Commercial Highway Business to Residential Multi Family for the purpose of building five apartment buildings with 12 rental units each.

Commissioners unanimously approved Amber Popphan’s request for a variance to the Land Use Resolution that will allow her to build a mobile home on property of less than five acres that was given to her by her father.

The Board also approved a request by Planning Director Jameson Kinley to hire an Alcohol Licensing administrative assistant at a rate of $15.84 per hour.

Two weeks ago, the county received a low bid from CT Darnell to execute a design-build contract for Fire Station 9. However, no contract was awarded and since then, the county discovered it could save as much as $75,000 by entering into negotiations with Darnell. Commissioners unanimously agreed to allow the negotiation to proceed.

The Board also voted 4-0 to approve a local share commitment letter for Legacy Link.

Thurmond read a proclamation to celebrate Arbor Day on April 26. The event this year will be celebrated by the Dawson County Tree Preservation Committee and Keep Dawson County Beautiful planting a tree on April 26th and encouraging others to plant trees across the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County legal fees are twice the budgeted amount

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Joey Homans

Joey Homans

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Legal services in 2019 will cost Dawson County taxpayers about $250,000 more than what county commissioners had budgeted.

The budget was set at $160,413. But, after four months less than $20,000 remains so the Board of Commissioners were forced to approve an additional $250,000 during Thursday’s commission meeting.

Most commissioners agree the fault does not lie with the interim law firm of Jarrard and Davis. Some blame the overrun on former in-house counsel Lynn Frey who resigned in December due to poor health.

Commissioners Julie Hughes-Nix and Sharon Fausett say Frey frequently did not show up for work and rarely worked an eight-hour day in the office. Both say they told County Manager David Headley and other Board members about the problem in 2017 but nothing was done. They also say that much of the work he was supposed to do was left for Jarrard and Davis to complete.

Julie Hughes-Nix

Nix said, “In the fall of 2017, department heads were saying to me we have an issue. (Frey) isn’t coming to work. He’s not getting the work done. I alerted the rest of the Board to that. I wanted him in the office from 8 until 5 because that’s what we hired him for. I think that was doable. I kept trying to get the attention of the Board but they didn’t have an issue with that. As a result, we let this linger on and this is what we created. If we had addressed the issue in 2017 when I tried to, we would not be in the situation we are in now.”

After the meeting, Fausett said, “We definitely sounded the alarm a long time ago but got nowhere. We made it crystal clear many times that we wanted him in the office five days a week. We even wrote him up on performance evaluations.”

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said, “Mrs. (Angela) Davis did say last week that as soon as we cleaned up the remainder of the stuff that is pending, we would see a downward trend.”

Two years ago, county commissioners decided the $180,316 they paid attorney Joey Homans for legal services for one year (2016) was too much. After 20 years of service, they declined to renew his contract and hired Frey to replace him.

But Homans’ fee was a bargain compared to what the county will spend this year and he was on hand to take a victory lap during Thursday’s meeting.

“Two years ago, when you made another appointment other than me after 20 years, you asserted that it was done to save the taxpayers money,” he said. “With this request (for additional funding) your total legal fee will be $410,000.

“The comment that it was done to save taxpayers money, I took as an attack on my integrity and my character. It was an indicator that I was gouging or overcharging. The fact, that legal fees now are twice what they were, I submit, absolves me of that. I submit that what you’re paying for legal services to very competent legal counsel reflects there was no overcharging. There was no gouging. In fact, taxpayers are now paying more.”

 

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

 

 

 

Tanner, Gooch discuss bills passed in 2019 General Assembly

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and State Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville were the featured speakers at last night’s Dawson County Republican Party Meeting at the Bowen Arts Center.

Gooch represents 200,000 north Georgia residents, including those in Dawson, White, Lumpkin, Union and Forsyth counties. The district is made up of about 75 percent Trump voters.

“It’s the most conservative district in the state senate and the third most conservative in the country,” he said. “So, it’s pretty easy for us to go down there and vote a conservative agenda cause that’s who we are and who we try to represent back home.”

Sen. Steve Gooch

He said he had took some heat from liberals for his vote in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill – the bill that bans abortions as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat — but added, “I was proud of my vote on that heartbeat bill, saving hundreds of thousands of unborn children. It was probably the best vote I had taken in my nine years in the senate.”

Gooch also talked about passing enabling legislation to create business courts in the state. The legislation will allow businessmen and women to take a case directly to a business court rather than the Superior Court. “A lot of business issues are highly specialized and not many Superior Court judges have business experience,” he said. “In a business court, they would be able to bring in experts that know a lot about the subject matter.”

Another issue he has spearheaded for several years is the expansion of high-speed internet access to rural communities. He and other legislators who understand that high-speed broadband internet service is essential to schools, businesses and hospitals made it a priority this year. They passed legislation that allows power companies and phone companies to begin selling internet service in rural areas.

Rep. Kevin Tanner

Tanner also weighed in on the fetal heartbeat bill, saying, “I have several in Lumpkin County who are very much opposed to that legislation. There is no way I could ever change their mind and I’m very much pro-life and there is no way you could ever change my mind. It’s a moral fiber issue for me.”

Tanner worked hard on getting new voting machines for the state. The bill passed in the House along party lines with Democrats opposed. The new machines, which will cost between $150 million and $200 million, will allow voters to cast a ballot electronically, print out a copy for their approval then scan it to have it recorded.

“I have yet to be able to get my democrat colleagues to give me a reason they would be opposed to that particular machine,” Tanner said. “The reality is (opposition) is coming from the national party that they should oppose the legislation. I will say this, it is proven statistically that the best way to rig or cheat in an election is paper ballots. If you want to stuff ballot boxes and rig an election, paper ballots are the best way to do that. These machines make it very difficult if not impossible for that to happen because if there is an audit, there is a trail we can follow.”

Tanner has been a champion of mental health reform in Georgia which has led to the creation of a behavioral health reform and innovation commission made up of 23 members. Four will be legislators but the majority will be experts in the field of mental health.”

“The problem is once you graduate from a mental health court, there is no follow up,” he said. “If you have schizophrenia, or you have bipolar, or acute depression, you have to be followed your entire life to make sure medication is being taken and you’re not having an episode.”

Last night’s meeting was the first since the election of a new slate of officers at the County Convention. The new officers include Seanie Zappendorf (chairperson), Mike Berg (first vice chair) Pepper Pettit (second vice chair), Dale Smart (secretary) Katie Hulsebus (treasurer) and Norman Samples (committee member at-large).

Among the elected officials who attended the event were Mayor Mike Eason, Commissioners Julie Hughes-Nix, Sharon Fausett, City Councilman Stephen Tolson and former Commission Chairman Mike Berg.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

County budget approval postponed two weeks

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Approval of Dawson County’s $27.1 million FY 2019 budget will have wait a few more weeks after commissioners made several recommendations, including the elimination of one new position in the fire department, hiring the position of public information officer and extending library hours during Thursday’s third public hearing.

Commissioners voted to table budget approval while Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk calculates the impact the recommendations will have on the final budget.

Chris Gaines

The proposed budget called for hiring a new fire training officer at a cost of approximately $61,000 annually. District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines recommended that current personnel provide the training in addition to their normal roles. He also proposed awarding the department an additional $15,000 of overtime pay to compensate officers for the additional responsibilities. The savings would be approximately $46,000.

“By allocating those resources, it would be a little more efficient,” Gaines said.

The county is attempting to address important needs that have existed for a long time but could not be addressed due to the recession and recovering economy.

Julie Hughes-Nix

“We’re trying to plug as many holes as possible and still be responsible with the citizens’ money,” Gaines said. “My goal and my desire is to go into next year’s budget with the mentality of how can we not ask more of the citizens when it comes to property taxes.”

County commissioners have long felt the need to improve communications with the public and District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix recommended the county hire a public information officer to perform those responsibilities.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett asked for a breakdown of cost to provide extended hours for the Dawson County Library’s satellite office on Hwy. 53. “I don’t think it speaks very well of us when people come and it is closed,” she said.

Shron Fausett

The satellite office is currently opened on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

No citizen rose to speak in opposition to or in favor of the budget.

Commissioners voted 3-1, with Dist. 2 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby opposed, to postpone several requests for annexation of property into the city of Dawsonville for two weeks.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

  • A request to accept a 2019 Victims of Crime Act Grant funds in the amount of $74,088.84. No county match is required;
  • A request to apply for a Department of Natural Resources Land & Water Conservation Fund Grant to repair/replace the fishing pier at War Hill Park. The minimum fund grant that can be applied for is $25,000. The maximum grant if $100,000 and the county will have to provide a 50 percent match;
  • A request to hire a legal assistant. The position is already included in the 2019 budget, but the request is to fill the position this year at an additional cost of $6,956.20 for five pay periods through the end of December;
  • A Service Delivery Strategy Agreement;
  • A request by Michael Turner, executor for the estate of Kenneth K. Turner to have property located at the intersection of Perimeter Road and Allen Street annexed into the City of Dawsonville. The Dawsonville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue on Oct. 8. The Dawsonville City Council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 22 and the annexation could be awarded final approval on Nov. 5;
  • A request by Board of Tax Appraisers Chief Appraiser Elaine Garrett to approve a contract for the services of an additional appraiser for the current year and next tax year.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Citizen Stowers has recommendations for Board of Commissioners

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Speaking during the Public Comments portion of Thursday’s Dawson County Board of Commission meeting, a long-time resident Hugh Stowers offered a number of recommendation for commissioners to consider.

Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix felt many of the recommendations were sound and she thanked Stowers. She also suggested the Board take his recommendations under consideration then meet back in one month to review.

Stowers recommended the Board:

  • Work with the City of Dawsonville to equip and operate the new fire station on Sweetwater Juno Road which would respond to Atlanta Motorsports Park and a proposed airport, both of which belong to the city limits;
  • Request the Department of Transportation (DOT) Add right turn arrows on Hwy. 53 approach to Hwy. 9 in front of Burger King;
  • Discuss with DOT a way to make the entrance onto Hwy. 53 from the Ingles Parking lot safer;
  • Consider a way to make the intersection of Grizzle Road and Lumpkin Campground Road safer;
  • Launch a Facebook page similar to the City of Blue Ridge Facebook page to promote the county and demonstrate to citizens the amount of sales tax brings to the county;
  • Identify unsafe roads in the county and place them in a databank and showing the projected cost to make them safer;
  • Appoint individuals in each district to be the commissioners’ “eyes and ears” and keep them abreast of what is going on in their community.

Stowers expressed disappointment with the new housing development approved by the city on Hwy. 9.

“I’m disappointed when I drive up Hwy. 9 and look at what I call the kudzu field and see all the new piping there to serve the new multi-housing development approved by the city,” he said. “I feel sure the Etowah Water Authority will raise the cost to all its customers to cover the cost of construction to serve this development. The city can approve this housing for people living like sardines in a can, but can’t supply water, can’t supply sewer, education or law enforcement.”

 

 

h 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

 

 

 

Dawson County department heads present their 2019 budget requests to Board of Commissioners

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Human Resources Director Danielle Yarbrough presents her 2019 budget request to commissioners.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After months of preparation, Dawson County’s department heads presented their 2019 budget requests to the Board of Commissioners Monday. Commissioners scrutinized every line item in search of efficiencies that would save tax payer dollars.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Gosselin, Tax Commissioner Nicole Stewart, Development Authority Director Brian Trapnell, Human Resource Director Danielle Yarbrough and Probate Court Judge Jennifer Burt were the first to present their requests.

Superior Court is asking for an increase of $16,297 in its 2019 budget to $516,971. Most of the increase is due to the addition of a fifth superior court judge to serve Dawson and Hall counties. Judge Clint Bearden was appointed to that post by Governor Nathan Deal in December.

Stewart was next in line and she brought good news, informing commissioners that her department –which is ranked number one in the state in percentage of taxes collected – is seeking a budget reduction of approximately $22,618 to $429,054 in 2019.

Chairman Billy Thurmond pointed out that the reduction was due to “some people (within the department) changing positions and some people making less money.”

As they reviewed the presentation, Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix noted that Stewart’s expenditures for legal fees also declined when the county hired County Attorney Lynn Frey.

“I noticed your attorney fees were $4,440 in 2017 and this year only $1,500,” she said. “I would recommend to the Board that we take a look at all departments and leave those line items out for attorney fees because we do have a county attorney now.”

The Development Authority operated on a $150,000 budget in 2017. Commissioners voted not to fund the group in 2018 but has chosen to reinstate it in 2019. Trapnell requested an operating budget of $200,000, part of which would be to engage an expert consultant to identify options for Development Authority funding.

Judge Burt is asking for a slight increase in her budget from $309,028 to $316,068. The increase is a result of the 2 percent countywide pay increase approved by the Board of Commissioner and the rest is in retirement contributions.

In 2016, the Director of Administration position was dissolved and Human Resources assumed responsibility for risk management. HR Director Danielle Yarbrough presented a budget request for 2019 which reflected a $25,000 decrease in risk management costs.

For non-risk management activities, she requested a budget increase of about $23,965 to $212,973. The increase would be attributed to group insurance ($6,000), retirement contribution ($5,000), general office supplies ($4,000), commission-approved salary increase ($2,000) and attorney review of the new county employee handbook ($4,000). In this case, outside counsel would be required to perform the review because it would be a conflict of interest for the county attorney to do so.

Yarbrough is also asking the Board to approve a position for a human resource specialist at a salary of $34,153 plus benefits totaling approximately $19,589 and retirement contribution. Currently, there are only two employees in Human Resources.

“The Society for Human Resource Management recommends one human resources person for every 100 employees,” Yarbrough explained. “So we are sorely understaffed.” The county has 284 full-time and 158 part-time employees plus 41 vacancies and 21 frozen positions.

“A lot of department heads are going to be coming to you to ask for positions to be unfrozen and for new positions which is going to increase the burden on my department,” she said. “Even if we had two new employees, we would still be understaffed. But we’re only asking for one.”

Budget reviews will be held at 9 a.m. each day through Thursday and the public is encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, commissioners will review the public defender, elections office, extension service, finance department and public works/transfer station.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thurmond will ask commissioners to censure Julie Hughes-Nix

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond will introduce a resolution to censure Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix for a breach of attorney-client privilege and executive session privilege during Thursday’s voting session.

Thurmond claims Nix sent emails to a county employee despite the fact the emails were marked confidential and attorney-client privileged.

The resolution states: “Despite this specific admonition, such communications were forwarded by Commissioner Nix in violation of the attorney-client privilege when such communications were concerning personnel issues about the very employee to whom she forwarded the communications, this employee was represented by an attorney, and this employee was taking positions adverse to Dawson County’s interests.”

Nix told Fetch Your News Tuesday, “I accept responsibility. I did inadvertently release information from executive session. I apologize to my fellow commissioners and, more importantly, to the citizens of Dawson County. I can promise that will never happen again.”

Censures are mainly symbolic. There is no loss of rights or privileges and therefore, a censure carries no more weight than a written reprimand.

The issue that is expected to draw a large crowd, Thursday is a request by Chamber of Commerce President Christie Moore that commissioners consider reducing impact fees on road projects and fire protection categories to 25 percent.

During last week’s work session, Moore said impact fees are the reason at least one company declined to open a business in Dawson County.

Moore provided the example of one large fitness center that had planned to build a new facility in the community but backed out when it was learned the impact fee would be $51,000.

District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett challenged assertion.

“What would have been their tap fee,” she questioned. Moore said she didn’t know. Fausett continues, saying, “But you know it would have been a lot more than that right.”

“It certainly would have been,” Moore said and that is another entity we’ve been advocating with.”

 

Other issues commissioners are also expected to vote on include:

  • A resolution extending the agreement with interim county attorneys Jarrard & Davis;
  • A FY 2019 public defender intergovernmental agreement between Dawson and Hall counties;
  • The FY 2019 state public defender contract;
  • 2019 Charity Boot Drives;
  • Special event business license application for a motorcycle event;
  • Acceptance of a Geographic Information System summer intern grant;
  • A new recycling agreement with Advanced Disposal;
  • A request for Highway 53 / Lumpkin Campground Road Intersection Improvement Project budget;
  • Approval of a legal services agreement to retain Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. as special legal counsel in opioid litigation;
  • A settlement agreement with Hodges-Mace, LLC to resolve a contract claim.

 

A resolution of censure. 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

 

Commissioner Hamby will not seek re-election

News

Comm. Jimmy Hamby

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby will not seek a third term on the Dawson County Board of Commissioners.

“I’ve done two terms and that is enough,” Hamby said Tuesday. “I lost my son a year and a half ago, and I want to try to spend more time with my family.”

Hamby, who has built a reputation for keeping a tight rein on taxpayer dollars, said, “I’ve tried to keep the people I represent in mind, and I hope whoever takes my place does the same. I’ve always felt like it was the people’s money I was in charge of and not mine.”

Hamby said he would miss helping to shape the future of the county but added he plans to stay active and involved in county affairs.

“I’ll definitely miss it, but people can still call me and I’ll do my best to help them if I can,” Hamby stated.

Asked about the future of Dawson County, Hamby said, “Here’s the way I look at it: You can’t get much better than Dawson County and the quality of life we have here. I think we’re in good shape as far as our leadership. We have a good board of commissioners and good people working for the county.”

As far as the growth that is headed for Dawson County, Hamby said. “I don’t want to stop the growth, but I want to see it done to the benefit of everybody who lives here.”

District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix said she would miss Hamby.

“Jimmy always works to provide the very best service possible to the citizens of Dawson,” Hughes-Nix said. “He has been a great steward of taxpayer dollars and has earned the respect of the community and local officials. His commitment to protecting our quality of life is beneficial for the future of Dawson County. It has been a privilege to work beside him.”

 

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

Candidates Make Their Case at Dawson Forum.

News, Politics

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — With the May 24 General Primary three weeks away, candidates for Dawson County Commission Chairman, Tax Commissioner and Commission Districts 2 and 4 presented their case for election Monday night in the Dawson County High School Auditorium.

County Commission Chairman
Commission Chairman candidate Billy Thurmond has served the citizens of Dawson County for 37 years. He started in the Parks and Recreation Department and for the last 14 years has served as the Director of Emergency Services.

Thurmond said a top priority will be improved communications between county government and the citizens as well as the staff and other elected officials. “Communications is the key to success in anything we try to do,” he said.

Thurmond added that the county needs an employment retention plan. ” We’ve seen over 300 employees leave in the last five years,” he said. “That comes at a huge cost to taxpayers of well over $1 million.”

Another proactive plan he wants the Board to implement within the current budget is a road restoration plan where roads can be fixed to provide 10 to 15 years of service.

Thurmond’s opponent Peter Hill is an architect in private practice for 18 years who says what is needed on the Board is business representation.

“I’m a business advocate and I want to see us become an even more pro-business community,” Hill said.

Hill is a member of the Chamber of Commerce who served as Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2013. He served three terms as Chairman of the Development Authority and was appointed by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Commission.

“I have a balanced vision of economic development,” he said. “I want to bring opportunity to our county so when kids graduate they have place to start their business and grow their family but I would also preserve our crown jewel which is our natural environment.”

District 2 County Commission
Chris Gaines and Tim Davis are the candidates in District 2.

Davis is a truck driver and native of Dawson County. He was elected supervisor of the soil and water conservation district for two terms in the late 1970’s. He says the county is moving in the right direction but needs to prepare for the growth that is coming.

He wants to see most of that growth remain in the Georgia 400 corridor. “I’d also like to ensure our roads and bridges are well maintained, that our children receive a good education and our elderly are well cared for,” he added.

Gaines has lived in Dawson County since 2001. He has a business management degree from the University of North Georgia.

He earned the biggest laugh of the evening when he mocked Donald Trump, saying “My plan is to build a wall around Dawson County and make Forsyth County pay for it.”

Gaines said the county commission has laid a good foundation for the community but now that Chairman Mike Berg and District 2 Commissioner James Swafford are leaving, the commission needs someone who has demonstrated leadership capabilities. The former Dawsonville City Councilman said he is the right choice.

He wants to recruit high tech companies and light industry to the 400 corridor. “Moving forward, we also need a revitalized downtown area with a down home atmosphere and we need to appreciate our rural areas and enjoy them and keep them the way they are.”

District 4 County Commission
Incumbent Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix has served four terms on the Board of Commissioners but said, “I consider myself a career public servant, not a career politician.”

She encouraged voters to look at a candidate’s accomplishments when making their decision.

“We have a new library, a new government center, a new jail, a new fire station and we are redoing the Senior Center,” “The good news is that all of that is already paid for.”

Her opponent Heather Hulsebus is a professional in the healthcare industry, President of the Republican Women of Dawson County and a member of the Dawson County Tea Party. She has also done a great deal of volunteer work in the county for non-profit organizations like Relay for Life.

Hulsebus said she is running because it is time for change, new perspectives and new leadership.

“It’s important that we continue to grow at a rate that all our citizens can handle,” she said. “I know we can find a balance of growth that will allow us to keep the gift that this county has to offer.”

Tax Commssioner
Andi Hinson Juliette has experience managing budgets far larger than that of Dawson County. A graduate of North Georgia College and State University, she is a former analyst for a Department of Defense contractor and the FBI. She has managed budgets in excess of $50 million.

“I’m the only candidate with the experience of managing a budget this size,” she said. “I’ve proven my trustworthiness by way of my top secret security clearance. I’ve proven my ability to deliver the highest level of customer service. If you only remember one thing from tonight, I hope you remember the tax commissioner has a tremendous responsibility and that errors, lack of experience or poor judgement can have an extremely detrimental effect on our quality of life.”

Karin McKee, a native of Dawson County, is making her second bid to become Tax Commissioner. She ran for the office in 2012 and lost by 150 votes. She has worked in the healthcare industry for most of here career. She worked as business office manager for Ashton Woods Convalescent Center in Atlanta where she managed accounts payable and receivable, Medicare billing and served as consultant for medical records. In 1990, she was named assistant administrator and bookkeeper of Knollwood Terrace (Nursing Center) where her responsibilities included hiring staff, setting up policies and procedures, managing budgets and Medicare and Medicaid billing.

“I’m very familiar with budgets between $10 and $18 million,” she said. A top priority for her is to do away with the cold government environment she sees in the Tax Commissioner’s office today.

Johnny Glass is an entrepreneur who built custom homes until the economy drove so many small businessmen out of business. Since then he has owned a towing and recovery service. If he’s elected he said his top priority will be to maintain the current high rate of tax collection. “In my business now, I collect about 99.4 percent,” he said.

Nicole Stewart is also a Dawson County native who has worked in many volunteer organizations, including Relay for Life and the Boy Scouts of America. She is a graduate of North Georgia College and State University and is working on her MBA at Brenau University. In 2015, she was named Dawson County’s Outstanding Citizen.

“I will bring my professionalism, my enthusiasm and my leadership skills to this office,” she said. “I’ve developed and polished my leadership and customer service skills and I know if I’m elected I can do a great job.”

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