Jonah Lane Rezoning under legal questioning

News

The Jasper City Council went into closed session in February to discuss their action on Jonah Lane from December 2019.

Mayor John Weaver told citizens they were discussing a legal issue with Jonah Lane and recognized City Attorney Bill Pickett to give the City’s official stance on the rezoning.

Pickett said that the Council did vote to re-zone the property to R-3 with a condition of receiving a letter from the Appalachian Regional Commission that it did not violate a grant the city had received. With no motion from the council to rescind the rezoning and no request from the property owner to rescind it, the rezoning is moving forward.

This statement comes after January’s Council meeting when public comments surged against the issue and urged the council to reconsider the effects it would have on neighboring commercial developments. The rezoning in question was a C-2 lot as well. Now the rezoning sets it to residential amid other commercial developments. Citizens began protesting the issue in the meeting saying that police would undoubtedly be called as many of the neighboring commercial business owners gave examples of their businesses operating in unusual hours and causing noise that would be acceptable in commercial but considered excessive in residential zones.

More complaints came in February as citizens began questioning the legality of the issue. One business owner claims he was not properly notified of the rezoning. He also claims he has proof of the failure to notify. A claim disputed by Pickett as he says the city’s department says they did notify the adjoining properties of the request. The business owner also suggested he has had difficulties receiving requested documents. These allegations, as well as others from another neighbor to the property, suggested the city would be seeing legal ramifications if they move forward with the rezoning.

Mayor Weaver closed discussions of the issue saying, “The council’s action in December was specific… we are to follow what the council did that evening and we are aware of the issue.”

Mayor Weaver did voice opinions against the rezoning in December and to possible issues arising from it, but as the voting council members voted in favor of the rezoning, it is the council’s votes that direct the city’s efforts.

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Jasper sets election fees

Election, News

JASPER, Ga. – The City Council is already preparing for elections season as they met on January 7, 2019.

According to their official release;

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §21-2-131 (a)(1), the following qualifying fees for candidates seeking office in 2019 were set by the Mayor and Council of the City of Jasper at the January 7, 2019 regular council meeting:

Councilmember $35
Mayor $35

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High tension continues into 2019 at Jasper City Council

News

JASPER, Ga. – The City Council is continuing to see dissension among the ranks as a disagreement has now arisen about organizational meeting appointments.

As the January meeting reached item “VI. Organizational Meeting,” Council member Dr. Sonny Proctor stated he wanted more information on these appointments saying, “I think the council should have prior knowledge of who the appointments are, what the duties are. We need to make sure that we educate them  to do their jobs properly.”

The point of debate came from the council members wanting more information and control on the decisions before coming to open meeting. Mayor John Weaver contended against the point saying that he, as mayor, makes the decisions to put before the council during meetings.

Weaver consulted city attorney Will Pickett, Jr. who stated, “The mayor has the right of appointment and the council can decide whether or not to approve your appointment.”

Proctor disagreed with Pickett saying, “I don’t think that’s what the code says.”

Moving along on the item, Weaver presented three appointments for the council’s approval, Luke Copeland to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Karen Proctor to the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals, Don Boggus to the Housing Authority. All of these were re

All three appointments saw a motion from Tony Fountain, but no second. Each failed for that lack of a second.

Weaver stated during the failed motions, “This is the chaos that prevails.”

Pickett noted that without new appointments those serving would continue to serve until an appointment is approved.

Proctor stated after the motions failed that he was trying to prevent the chaos. He said, “The council deserves input on who serves on these committees. And we’re not saying we don’t disagree with your appointments, but we deserve input on it.”

With Proctor asserting he only wanted input on what goes on, Weaver responded saying, “Sir, you’ve got more input than you can imagine, so congratulations.”

There were committee appointments for council members that were approved. Finance committee includes Tony Fountain and John Foust. Water Committee is Tony Fountain. Public Safety Committee is Dr. Sonny Proctor. Street Department in Anne Sneve. Parks is John Foust. The JYSA Liaison is John Foust. Roper-Perrow Property is Jim Looney and Sonny Proctor. These were approved unanimously by the council.

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Jasper still waiting for new City Manager

News

JASPER, Ga. – Despite a special called meeting of the Jasper City Council with a “City Manager Appointment” item on the agenda, no new public information is available.

At this time, Mayor John Weaver said that the council is recomending the current City Manager, Jim Looney, to move forward with the process. This means that Looney will enter into negotiations with the candidates and move forward in the hiring process. There is no new information about the issue at this time, but with Monday’s December 10 day of interviews, it does meant he city is moving closer to an announcement of their new manager.

 

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Council progresses on City Manager at December meeting

News

JASPER, Ga. – With a review of city manager applications in November, the City Council was further updated at December’s meeting about accepted and Scheduled interviews for December 10 for candidates for the position.

With four interviews set for Monday, the candidate pool is shrinking towards a final decision to hire a full time City Manager. This position is currently being filled by former council member Jim Looney.

As the Council continues in executive sessions, they are to be advertised as meetings for the council to legally be in the same room for these interviews. However, the Council will immediately go into a closed executive session to perform the interviews.

After the interviews, it should not be long before the council makes their decisions and formalizes the personnel hiring at an official meeting.

Additionally at their December Meeting, the council officially adopted Sanitation Rate increases for six months of review. Council member Kirk Raffield noted in the meeting that during the six month period, he wanted a conversation and decision on the growth of the program and equipment. The new rates are as follows:

Residential – $20
Residential (Senior) – $18
Housing Authority – $14
Commercial (One Day) – $25
Commercial (Two Day) – $50
Commercial (Four Day) – $100
Commercial (Five Day) – $125
Restaurant – $150

City employees also saw a major change in Vacation Days and a Christmas Bonus for their careers in December’s meeting. Vacation policy changes were approved as proposed in the meeting by City Manager Jim Looney who stated, “Personnel Committee recommends that accrued vacation be changed from 40 hours per week to the scheduled hours that employees work. That would be a change for Firefighters to 56 hours, Police for 42, and Water and Sewer employees for 42 hours per accrued week.”

The bonus came later in the meeting. Looney also presented this proposal after a work session discussion. A motion was made to offer a Christmas Bonus and one-time Service Award for employees.

Less than one year of service – $150
One year to ten years of service – $250
Eleven to nineteen years of service – $500
Twenty or more years of Service – $750

Each of these amounts already have included within them a $100 Christmas bonus and the remainder is the one-time Service Award “to recognize the dedication of each employee.”

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Jasper Talks Garbage in Town Hall

News

JASPER, Ga. – The Jasper City Council held a town hall in the midst of circulating rumors about the garbage collection services.

City Manager Jim Looney presented two outside proposals for the city to take over the garbage service from the city and details about those garbage services and what they would mean for the city.

One proposal offered street side service costing slightly less than the other that offered backdoor pickup.

Despite the offers, citizens quickly began asking why Looney didn’t include a third option for the city to maintain the service. Looney quickly responded saying that it was an option, but he was simply noting the outside proposals with set prices.

Overwhelmingly, the citizens present for the meeting as well as downtown businesses began saying that they enjoyed the people working for the county and felt their service was beyond compare. As such, suggestions began rising that they would be willing to pay more if it meant keeping the current service going.

Others complained about bringing in an outside service saying that restaurants downtown would have nasty and smelly trash on the sidewalk every weekday waiting for trash pick-ups whereas the current service provides backdoor pickup. Even with one of the outside proposals offering a similar service, citizens said the current workers have consistently responded to extra needs and requests without complaint, a service they highly doubted would continue with a commercial business operation.

Giving examples like times when a box was forgotten or something was missed, the city’s servicers readily returned to fix issues.

It was added that the reason these issues could be resolved quickly and easily was citizens direct contact with the operators. With an outside company, the city would become a “middle-man” between the citizens and the company with the city collecting the fees and paying the vendor. Likewise, the city would still be handling much of the trash issues as citizens would contact them with issues and they would contact the vendor.

UPDATE: Discussing the issue one week before their monthly meeting, the city saw no action on changes to a vendor or fees as of yet regarding the garbage service. As they continue discussions on the topic the item sits on the agenda for November.

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Accident causes water loss in Jasper

News

(Photos provided by the City of Jasper)

JASPER, Ga. – Authorities in the city of Jasper are asking for citizens patience during a major issue causing water outages south of Roland Tire.

According to an official release, an auto accident took out a fire hydrant causing a massive loss in the water system. As officials already have men working on the break, they are informing citizens of the loss. The official release states,

“Due to an auto accident, which has broken a fire hydrant at Solomon and South Main Street. Anyone South of Roland Tire could possibly have little or no water until the problem is corrected, please note City crews are working and will get it repaired as soon as possible.”

Officials also confirmed there is “no need to boil at this time, we are just having water loss from the hydrant.” Despite citizen concerns and questions, there is no word at this time as to how long the water loss will remain. However, as the city indicates a localized area of effect, citizens in other parts of the city should not experience a loss.

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Editorial: Are we still remembering 9/11?

Opinion

Seventeen years ago, I’m certain you were inundated with people saying “Never forget” and newscasts saying “We will always remember.”

Indeed, the entire nation, and even the world, poured out its heart for America and the major wound we were struck with. It is the kind of thing that people everywhere will remember. The kind of thing that I will tell my children about. It is indeed something one cannot easily forget.

Even the numbers dredge up memories of all kinds. And honestly, not all of them are bad. I have fond memories of that day. Shock, gasp. I know you may have anger at hearing that but think of yourself on that day. Did you have people with you? Were you amongst friends? Do you remember people all over the world start saying ‘we.’

Today, we find anything we can to show how different we are from one another. We are a divided country. I don’t want to take a side and tell you that you are wrong, whatever you think. It is honestly probably why we have issues. We can’t disagree without getting angry.

But think back to that day…

I sat among fellow students in a freshman orientation class in high school. It is scarred into the wall of my brain that our desks were placed in a circle and I had only one or two of my “friends” in the class. There was even a guy in that class that I really did not like. We did not get along and we did not like each other at all. My how quickly and easily that melted away in the glow of a tv screen as I, first hand, watched a second plane fly into the building.

I feel its impact even today, and I was nowhere near New York. I couldn’t feel it at the time, but today I can remember my body shook when it hit, as if it hit me just as hard as it hit the building.

I remember hearing the report about another one hitting the Pentagon. I remember not doing anything in any class except one, Algebra. I remember the rage that permeated every person in that school that day. Not just anger, a burning rage threatening to engulf your soul. A rage that broke chains and welled up from somewhere incredibly dark near the bottom of my stomach. It was more powerful because it sensed itself in every other person.

Seventeen years, do you remember?

Do you remember the songs written and speeches made? Do you remember being an American? Forget the conspiracies about it, forget the doubt about what really happened. Do you remember that specific moment of impact?

It’s not a special anniversary, it’s not the ten or twenty year anniversary. This long since something and we as people tend to only really recall things on nice, round-numbered years.

Are we remembering? Have we forgotten even though we said we wouldn’t?

I don’t think so. I think seventeen years later, people still hurt. I know the people you don’t speak to on this day and the people who need you to speak on this day.

I know the guy who plans a trip every September. I know he doesn’t actually go anywhere except into the woods to be alone. We don’t talk about his trips, I just understand his Dad was in New York that day on business. Isolated near a stream maybe, maybe he’s up a tree. I don’t know where he is, but inside I hear him screaming at the top of his lungs in his isolation.

I know the woman who holds her son up like a banner for his service because she never had the chance to see him grow into anything else after he died fighting for us.

I see counties and cities holding memorials on this day, but I see something else. I see the separation. I see the people forgetting something along the way.

I can’t forget that pain. I can’t forget that day. I can’t forget that tv. I can’t forget the faces. I didn’t lose anyone close to me. I had friends who served, but I didn’t lose anyone so close as a brother, sister, father, mother, cousin. I have been so lucky, so why is this day forever seared into my soul?

Maybe I’m being emotional? Maybe I’m thinking too much? Will you judge me for that? Will you think less if I can’t let go? Or would it be worse if I didn’t care?

What if I didn’t write this and you never read it? You’d go about your day and maybe you would think about what today is or maybe it’d slip by as you try to finish that project just get through a tough day. What if we let this day fade into history as a footnote and we never look back to think about the feelings of that day, the pain, the rage, the hurt, the solace, the people?

What if we forgot?

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