As a precautionary measure in the interest of public safety, the Pickens County
Administrative Offices will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16
through Friday, March 27, 2020. The public will not be able to enter the
Administrative Office Building during this time. Our staff will continue to serve
the citizens by utilizing alternate forms of business communication during this
Our goal is to limit interruption in service, while protecting the citizens and our
Please use the drop box located in front of the building for the Tax
Commissioner’s Department and the drop box located at the side of the building
for the Water Department. Citizens can continue to utilize online bill pay or the
U.S. Postal Service.
If you need to speak with our staff, please see the list of department telephone
numbers posted at the front entrance. Our staff will be ready to assist, as
always. Our office can be reached at 706-253-8809.
Pickens County Government will continue to update the public as updates
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
JASPER, Ga. – Pickens saw celebrations and attendance from many officials as all three members of the Pickens County Board of Commissioners met to cut the ribbon on the new Tate Fire Station.
The new facility is the second-largest fire station in Pickens County now that it is open and hosts larger drive-through bay doors to accommodate future plans for equipment and hosts the fully drive-through bay area to prevent the larger trucks from needing to back out.
Pickens Fire Chief Sloan Elrod said, “I want to thank all the citizens that voted on SPLOST, without SPLOST this would be very tough to be in this building, to have our new trucks.”
Several officials from across the county were also in attendance including representatives from the Pickens Board of Education, Cherokee Fire Fighters, the Copeland family who sold the land to the county for the station, the Pickens Sheriff Office, and Jasper Fire Department among others.
With those wider bay doors on the new fire station, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones said this is part of a direction towards housing a Quint. A quint is a multi-use fire truck that serves multiple purposes based on needs including pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device, and ground ladders.
Jones said that the board is looking at better and bigger equipment for the community. Part of the opening of this station and the continuing goal that Jones noted is lowering the ISO Rating. This insurance rating, as noted in previous fire station openings and other counties, affects the insurance costs.
With Tate’s upgrade into the new station, Jones said the county’s rating is down to a four. Continuing along with past years planning to increase the fire department and lower the rating.
Additionally, the new station will also see the change to constantly hosting three paid firefighters every day according to Elrod. Jones echoed this saying they are still relying on volunteers in the county and want to continue utilizing them even though they will constantly have three on staff in Tate at Fire Station 2.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Education has called three meetings in less than 48 hours of each other regarding the subject of the Superintendent position.
This morning, at 8:59 a.m., the notice came from the Pickens County Board of Education for an Emergency Special Called meeting an hour later at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the Superintendent position. This coming after last night’s meeting that was called just over 24 hours earlier. Less than an hour after this morning’s meeting finished, another meeting has been called for tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m., giving slightly less than 24-hours notice.
Today, at 10 a.m., the Emergency Special Meeting was held to accept the resignation of Pickens County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson. The meeting was called to order and the agenda amended to delete an executive session and approval of executive session minutes, moving straight to the discussion as the superintendent resigned.
Board Attorney Phil Landrum III said, “Mr. Chairman, at your direction, and at the board’s direction, I have prepared a settlement agreement between the superintendent and the board. I presented that to all parties last night. It is my understanding that the Superintendent is tendering his resignation subject to the conditions upon the terms of that agreement.”
The vote came immediately after this at 3-2 to accept his resignation. Joeta Youngblood, Donna Enis, and Tucker Green voted for accepting the resignation. Steve Smith and Sue Finley voted against accepting his resignation.
Right before the meeting adjourned two comments were made. Sue Finley stated, “I am heartbroken. Dr. Wilson has done a fantastic job leading this county. He has turned around a lot of the issues that we had when he came in. He is one of the kindest men I know. He is one of the smartest men I know. When teachers demonstrate weaknesses that need to be corrected, they are brought into their administrator’s office. Their weaknesses are outlined and explained. And they are given a plan to remediate those weaknesses. They are rarely summarily dismissed. I believe that Dr. Wilson should have been afforded this courtesy and he was not. I completely disagree with this decision to release him. I believe that this is at least one backward step for our county. And I am so sorry, Dr. Wilson. I am very embarrassed that our county is going to be portrayed this way and that you’ve been treated this way. But, unfortunately, I am part of the minority.”
Additionally, Steve Smith commented saying, “I totally agree, this is the most egregious act I have ever witnessed on a board. And for it to come out of nowhere is shocking. I was as shocked yesterday, uh, I absolutely do not support the release of Dr. Wilson and I absolutely think our board has taken a ten-year step backwards. I think our school system has suffered because of this decision. I admire you Dr. Wilson.”
While few citizens were on hand for the meeting, some who were present spoke privately with Dr. Wilson. One citizen was overheard asking why the meeting was called as an emergency. Another was heard saying this subject should have been handled after the new year.
Landrum did say in the meeting that he had presented the settlement the night before this meeting was called 61 minutes before it was held. Finley was also discussing the topic with citizens saying that the board has gone through four superintendents in six years.
Dr. Wilson declined to comment at the moment, instead saying that he would offer a written statement later.
Additionally, the meeting was closed without any interim or stand-in appointed. Some would speculate that the notice sent out at 11:04 a.m. today, calling for a new meeting at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, is to address the issue as Wilson’s signatures are no longer valid on any board documents, agreements, checks, or other legal actions.
FYN can confirm that yesterday’s meeting delivered an ultimatum of “resign or be terminated.” The meeting, called to order at 3:00 p.m., held over two hours of executive session in which Dr. Wilson spent the majority of the time excluded from, but then later included in the final part of the executive session.
Further on that topic, it is FYN’s understanding that the settlement agreement is likely to have been different from the termination clauses specifically in the amount of money involved. However, FYN is attempting to confirm this as we submit an Open Records Request for the settlement agreement.
Stay with FYN as new details become available in this story and we await comment from Dr. Wilson and look to tomorrow’s last-minute meeting as the board deals with the situation mere days before Christmas.
JASPER, Ga. – Final approval came this month for the 2020 Operating Budget with the Jasper CIty Council’s transition to the new year.
The Council unanimously approved the operating budget resolution having gone through proposal, public hearings, and regular meetings.
The All Funds total revenue is $10,937,353. That is $1,079,390 less than 2019’s total $12,016,743. This total includes the General Revenue of the city, but also other sources such as the SPLOST, Hotel/Motel Tax, Water Fund, Solid Waste Fund, and Municipal Court Fund among others.
The General Revenue of Governmental Funds totals $4,680,032 with the budget balanced. This fund is also down from 2019’s $5,048,658 ($368,636 less).
Additionally, many departments are carrying the decrease including the largest departments of the Police Department at $1,365,266 (2019 – $1,410,181) and Fire Department at $1,159,810 (2019 – $1,220,937).
In fact, only three departments increased, Legislative at $117,313 (2019 – $94, 626), Animal Control at $43,921 (2019 – $37,735), and Planning and Zoning at $133,324 (2019 -$49,802).
However, with this budget approved, only four members of the council will operate under this budget as Tony Fountain and Mayor John Weaver are leaving this year.
Mayor Weaver is retiring after 27 years of service in the city, having not sought re-election. He will be succeeded in January by Mayor-elect Steve Lawrence.
JASPER, Ga. – Concerns arose within the city council meetings regarding an item on the agenda to sublet property.
As the city considers leases on the parks and its continuing relationship with JYSA, more confusion is mounting around what the city can and cannot do with the property. One idea is to sublease the property in favor of having an entity control and manage it for the city.
City Attorney Bill Pickett said, “My gut reaction is no. I don’t know if we have the authority to do that. Cities of population of more than 300,000 people have specific statutory authority in order to lease parks… These are the taxpayers of the City of Jasper that own this. This would alienate the property and take us out of the loop and not have control of our own destination. It will violate the insurance and it could waive sovereign immunity.”
Much of the issue seems to revolve around scheduling events and public use with citizens wishing to use the fields with the options now pointing to continuing with JYSA or having the city take over for planning and scheduling of these events. This was noted as Jasper City Mayor John Weaver summarized the issue saying that years ago, the parks were an effort to provide inexpensive recreation for local citizens. This included a league of local counties. Now, however, the league is not around anymore, but no effort has been made to create travel teams. However, other travel teams around the area are wanting to use the park facilities.
Weaver went on to say, “At this point, JYSA may have run its course with the City of Jasper. And it needs to be brought back under the umbrella of the city council and our staff to decide who gets to use the facilities instead of having people that we don’t know schedule our fields. We have the potential to do that.”
Weaver said he thought the travel teams would come under JYSA, but now the coaches and teams are not controlled by that organization. As independent teams, Weaver suggested the city needs to control those teams scheduled uses of the fields.
Councilmember Sonny Proctor questioned if the city could charge teams to use the fields as part of the city hosting tournaments.
Weaver said they probably could but may need some more insurance or similar needs.
The need to control scheduling comes so that citizens who may wish to use the fields as they meet up with friends could access the field when no events were scheduled. A governing body to control that schedule would provide that singular schedule to be abided and to have the fields vacated for those events.
The City Council ultimately decided to table the issue this month as they continue looking deeper into JYSA, the parks, and the city’s next steps.
Why is it that every time there is a shooting in this country, my feeds get flooded by blame. All I see is article after article on who or what I should be blaming for the latest shooting. “It’s because of video game violence!” “No, it’s the gun control laws!” “It’s about religion.” “Blame the parents.” “Blame the government.” “Blame anybody who doesn’t agree with me.”
Ultimately, I understand that people want to find a cause. That way they can turn off the valve, right? Cut off the source, stop the flow, end the violence. I need to run to the hospital for the whiplash as I get dragged in one direction after another. Is there a real answer, no. Maybe that’s why we’re all so confused.
In a society so focused on the individual, so inundated by the idea of one above all, there is no room left for love. Hate crimes, hate groups, home-grown terrorism, it all points to one thing for me. Stop being so selfish. We have so many people hating so much about this country, its people, its leaders, and its laws that I find no surprise anymore in these shootings.
How is a man supposed to respond to the world that he has found. And yes, I say ‘man.’ In 2019 alone, it seems like every time I look at a shooting of more than five people, its a guy. No, it’s not 100 percent, but it is overwhelming. When I look around, I see people screaming at each other about beliefs. Take a moment and search it yourself, I can promise you right now, I can find at least 20 videos of people filming with their phones a confrontation with people protesting. At least 18 of those videos are going to end up in screaming match with one or, more likely, both sides not even listening to each other.
It’s all about me today. I am god. I am the truth. How dare you not agree with me?
And if you are reading this thinking, “Oh, you tell those leftist idiots! They never listen.” Then you are part of the problem.
Again, if you are reading this thinking, “It’s about time someone stood up to those Right Wing nutjobs.” Then you, too, are part of the problem.
People talk about how racism is flooding our nation hating on Hispanics, degrading Blacks, ignoring Whites, and despising anyone else. Heck, I’m probably racist for not listing every single oppressed group like LGBTQ. But this is exactly the problem. We all hate everything that isn’t all about ‘me.’
Let me tell you about something I read on Social Media recently. It was a story about a teacher educating students on the Salem Witch Trials. I read that this teacher decided to play a game with the students. The teacher said they were going to go to each student in the class and whisper to them if they were a witch or a normal citizen.
The teacher proceeded until every student had a designation and then told them that they were to collect into groups. The largest group of students that didn’t have a witch in the group would receive an ‘A’ for the day. The rest of the students not in that group would fail. Likewise, if there was a witch in every group, then the witches would receive the ‘A’ and the other students would fail.
Soon, several groups had formed but quickly began distrusting anyone not already in their group. The hate spread quickly as they shunned each other for the slightest hints of being a ‘witch.’
As the time limit neared its end and the groups were solidifying into solid “cliques” of ‘us vs them.’ The teacher called for the students attention. The time of judgment had come. The teacher then asked every student who they had designated a witch to raise their hand…
The problem was that nobody raised a hand.
The students then turned on the teacher saying that the teacher had done something wrong and the game wasn’t fair. The teacher then explained, “Do you think there was actual witches anywhere in Salem? All I did was release you to act on what you were told, the same they did in Salem.”
Just like the students in this story, I find it quite telling how quickly people in this country abandon humanity. They lose cooperation in favor of segregation. You’re a republican so everything you say is biased drivel that promotes racism and gun violence. You’re a Liberal, so you must only be out to subvert society and erode life.
I feel like the more young people I talk to tend to identify as a middle ground or third party political standing. Maybe it has something to do with our society being more interested in classifying, separating, and statistically quantifying people so much that they are willing to listen to anything with numbers instead of sitting down and taking the time to understand the intricacies of each other.
We are selfish. Instead of generalizing those “Millenials” as lazy, greedy kids who want everything for free, listen to the underlying concerns of wanting to make things like healthcare and education more accessible so that the entire country can be healthier and more educated. Instead of calling those Second Amendment advocates violent sociopaths, try to understand the point that guns mean protection from intruders and shooters, but also from a government that may subdue the population and abuse their right to govern.
Don’t get caught up in the screaming, but also don’t passively agree just to avoid an argument. I know people who will continue arguing a debate just to argue and anger the other person. Even if these people know they are wrong, they don’t care, they don’t want to lose. They are selfish people who don’t build to an answer, they build tension.
One should go into a debate absolutely convinced of their belief with examples to support them, but they should also be open to listening and understanding the other side of the debate. A debate is not a fight, it’s a learning experience. I argue and debate with people to test my thoughts and beliefs. I may still come out believing what I believe or I may come out with a changed mind, but I always learn something and add to my knowledge.
And on that note, don’t degrade and put down people who change their minds. Maybe if we talk to people, try to understand them, they wouldn’t feel so alone with us and violent against us. Maybe we could reduce the mass shootings or find an actual answer instead of just blaming video games or gun laws.
Stop fighting against other groups and start intermingling because, I promise you people, there are no “witches” in this game.
(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”
The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”
Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.
“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.
“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.
Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.
For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.
Why Should We Accept Corrupt Government?
In light of the unraveling of the corruption inherent in the “Administrative Deep State,” it’s past time for a serious rethinking of the need of a giant federal administrative state and reexamine the common sense methods of governing the framers gave us to rule ourselves.
Article1, of the Constitution has already laid out the basic outline for such a republican government as the founders created. While taking apart the monstrosity that politicians have engineered over the decades that changed that original form of government might be painful, it’s far less painful then the future that awaits us if we don’t. Who governs, the people or Socialists?
The Administrative state and its regulators, a creation of previous congress’s, have grown into a bureaucracy so entrenched that worker’s can’t even be fired. They lurk in the darkness of their own regulations and use their powers to punish those who fail to comply. Regulators are great for making and executing rules and regulations, and taxing, but not so good at designing those regulations to advance unproven political theories, that most often come undone.
The unrealized dangers of delegating rules and regulations making, is that Congress removes itself from accountability. Legislators govern by theory, proposing ideas that are then delegated to an agency charged to “make” it work. To ensure their schemes work, Congress politicized the Federal judicial benches, including the Supreme Court, to support their legislative agenda regardless of the unconstitutionality, through judicial activism. Judges don’t make laws!
Apparently the Administrative state works without limits so every conceivable American activity can be controlled by government. Some agencies become rogue because no one stops them. The EPA and IRS comes to mind as fascist agency’s. The EPA has been tweaked but the IRS only suffers changes of top leadership. No one gets fired, no one goes to jail.
Americans see this as clearly as fish in a pond. Government is no longer close to the people, especially Socialist ones like the Democrats want for us. Local and State governments are starting to fill that role but they are also becoming the new method for the introduction of Socialism into the body politic, city by city and state by state. That is the Achilles heel for our republican form of government. San Francisco, Ca., Seattle, Wa., and Portland, Or. are prime examples of socialism run amuck. They’re also near bankrupt.
This explains what’s happening in the Socialist State of California where the dregs of society, the perverts, drug addicts and transgender nut cases command control of the streets because a caring socialist city government wants to protect their rights. But what rights? Socialists have also claimed the right to infanticide but decry the idea that to clear the streets of societies worst cases would be more beneficial to a happy society than killing babies. It is these types of unAmerican activities that is eroding public confidence. Chaos must certainly follow.
The problems of government are systemic. The reason for government should be a primary concern of anyone wanting a better government but this cannot be accomplished with people of socialist persuasion who scream, yell and interrupt other speakers in an effort to kill free speech.
Trump has thrown a wrench into the gears of socialism’s advancement. Socialists are reeling in confusion but don’t count on them staying there. A revolution is coming. The question is, who’s going to lead it, them or us?
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way, now, go get ‘em!
A thought provoking perspective from the San Diego source / Worth a Peek.
Civil War: How do civil wars happen?
Dr. Jack Devere Minzey
Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge. That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war.
The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that.
But it’s not the first time they’ve done this. The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here.
What do sure odds of the Democrats rejecting the next Republican president really mean? It means they don’t accept the results of any election that they don’t win. It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections. That’s a civil war.
There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.
This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement. You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.
Your very own dictatorship.
The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to Democrats, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate. The Democrats lost Congress. They lost the White House. So what did they do? They began trying to run the country through Federal judges and bureaucrats. Every time that a Federal judge issues an order saying that the President of the United States can’t scratch his own back without his say so, that’s the civil war.
Our system of government is based on the constitution, but that’s not the system that runs this country. The Democrat’s system is that any part of government that it runs gets total and unlimited power over the country.
If the Democrats are in the White House, then the president can do anything. And I mean anything. He can have his own amnesty for illegal aliens. He can fine you for not having health insurance. He can use the IRS as his own police force and imprison citizens who speak against him. He can provide guns and money (Fast and Furious) (Iran nuclear deal) to other countries to support his own agenda, and watch while one of America’s Ambassador’s is dragged through the streets and murdered doing nothing to aid our citizens. His power is unlimited. He’s a dictator.
But when Republicans get into the White House, suddenly the President can’t do anything. He isn’t even allowed to undo the illegal alien amnesty that his predecessor illegally invented. A Democrat in the White House has ‘discretion’ to completely decide every aspect of immigration policy. A Republican doesn’t even have the ‘discretion’ to reverse him. That’s how the game is played. That’s how our country is run. Sad but true, although the left hasn’t yet won that particular fight.
When a Democrat is in the White House, states aren’t even allowed to enforce immigration law. But when a Republican is in the White House, states can create their own immigration laws. Under Obama, a state wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom without asking permission. But under Trump, Jerry Brown can go around saying that California is an independent republic and sign treaties with other countries. The Constitution has something to say about that.
Whether it’s Federal or State, Executive, Legislative or Judiciary, the left moves power around to run the country. If it controls an institution, then that institution is suddenly the supreme power in the land. This is what I call a moving dictatorship.
Donald Trump has caused the Shadow Government to come out of hiding: Professional government is a guild. Like medieval guilds. You can’t serve in if you’re not a member. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into its arcane rituals. If you aren’t in the club. And Trump isn’t in the club. He brought in a bunch of people who aren’t in the club with him. Now we’re seeing what the pros do when amateurs try to walk in on them. They spy on them, they investigate them and they send them to jail. They use the tools of power to bring them down.That’s not a free country.
It’s not a free country when FBI agents who support Hillary take out an ‘insurance policy’ against Trump winning the election. It’s not a free country when Obama officials engage in massive unmasking of the opposition. It’s not a free country when the media responds to the other guy winning by trying to ban the conservative media that supported him from social media. It’s not a free country when all of the above collude together to overturn an election because the guy who
wasn’t supposed to win did.
Have no doubt, we’re in a civil war between conservative volunteer government and a leftist Democrat professional government.
Well now Pilgrims and Patriots, having read the above I suggest two things;
forward this very timely, very important analysis to those whom you believe think like you do and make sure you vote on every Election day!
(Dr. Jack Devere Minzey, born 6 October 1928- died 8 April 2018, was the Department Head of Education at Eastern Michigan University as well as a prolific author of numerous books, most of which were on the topic of Education and the Government role therein.)
JASPER, Ga. – Several issues have mounted up on the Jasper Fire Department in the last month.
The issues are also mounting into a major budget issue for the city as they seek repair Fire Engine #2 from engine troubles and deal with an unbudgeted Fire Interface Purchase. Both of the issues come amid a new vehicle purchase for the Fire Department as well.
While the Council did agree that the engine repairs could be covered as Chief Steve Roper suggested he had a few projects that he could put off until next year in order to pay for the major issue of the repair, including a driveway repair and a painting project.
As the Fire Engine requires an “in-frame repair” as Roper called it, the need could cost nearly $30,000 if the engine block needs to be fully rebuilt. However, Roper also said there is a chance the issue could be a smaller issue needing a gasket replacement costing $7,500.
The council approved up to $30,000 for the repairs to come from the line items of the other projects.
However, this was not the biggest issue the Fire Department saw as the next item on the agenda listed a 911 Interface Purchase.
Roper informed the council that the department has been in process of establishing a Computer Assisted Dispatch interface since 2018 and has seen stalls throughout last fall and winter. This system was picked up again this year with a total cost of $18,120.
The interface, according to Roper, will allow all information that 911 has taken into the system and dumps the information into Ipads for users to instantly access the information, history, and conditions among other things. This not only accumulates and accesses this information, but cuts down on radio traffic and aids in reporting for the city as well.
However, the $15,120 has been spent to proceed with this project, but was not budgeted in the 2019 budget. Jasper City Councilmember Anne Sneve clarified in the meeting that it was budgeted at one point but postponed. Having never returned to the budget, the City is now facing the $18,120 unbudgeted expense and seeking a way to cover the cost.
Roper said that he had a conversation with the City Manager, Jim Looney at the time, earlier this year about the project and its importance to the city overall. He said, “He gave me the go ahead to proceed with the project, and that’s where I am right now.”
While Jasper City Councilmember Tony Fountain noted that if the engine issue comes in to cost $7,500, they could could use the remaining funds to cover the $18,120 for the interface system, he also questioned what the city would do to respond if the engine took the entire $30,000.
Mayor John Weaver offered his opinion saying, “I think we need to give a stern reprimand that we did not know that we had approval for a $18,120 item before this council.”
Jim Looney was present at the meeting and took responsibility for the mistake as he said his understanding was that it was budgeted, but has now discovered it was not.
As the council moves forward, they are still seeking funds to cover the expense in case the engine repairs monopolized the excess funds from the canceled Fire Department projects.
JASPER, Ga. – The Jasper City Council held a town hall in the midst of circulating rumors about the garbage collection services.
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.
JASPER, Ga. – The latest in the city of Jasper’s separation of the positions of mayor and city manager came with council approval for advertisements for a permanent person to the position.
Currently, the position is held as interim City Manager by Jim Looney. As a part of the position, Looney presented Carl Vinson Institute of Government as the entity to take care of advertising and searching for candidates for the position.
The proposal for $9,487.50 includes the company interviewing the mayor and council to find what they are looking for in a candidate and then seeking people to fill those needs. They would accept applications for the city, evaluate the candidates, and make recommendations to the council for candidates. However, Looney reported the final decision on candidates would be up to the mayor and council.
The search would be localized to our region, according to Looney, providing candidates from the area. Another option of the package could have representatives from the Institute attend the interviews for candidates costing $1,500 per day. Though this option was in addition to the main package and not required.
Jasper Mayor John Weaver offered his opinion, stating it was a lot of money for what the city could do. He also noted that the people of the city elected the council to handle the business of the city. Suggesting he did not want the operation “taken out of the city’s hands,” Weaver suggested the council not approve the proposal.
Looney countered saying it added transparency to the process as well as handling “a heck of a job” in finding candidates. He went on to say that having the Institute’s name on the advertisement could provide some added prestige in the candidate search.
One alternative to using the Carl Vinson Institute would be for the city to establish its own search committee and place its own advertisements for the search and controlling everything “in-house.”
The council voted unanimously at their May meeting to approve the Carl Vinson Institute of Government proposal for finding a city manager.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners held their December work session for department updates. With nothing else but General Discussion on the agenda, no action was discussed for later this month.
However, one point arose as Chairman Rob Jones took a moment in general discussion to address Post Commissioners Becky Denney and Jerry Barnes about a rising issue on the eastern side of Pickens County. Though nothing was set for specifics, Jones noted he wanted to get training sessions for Authority Boards in the county. With some Boards able to bond and perform other tasks in the county, Jones said he wants the people on these boards to know “what the process is and what it does to the tax base of the county or city.”
Jones also took time to address (25:25 in video) a rising issue in Pickens as he spoke pubicly that the Board has been approached about taking control of a Fire Station on Burnt Mountain. The issue has been rising between Dawson and Pickens Counties over the recent months. Dawson County Fire Station 8 is located inside of Pickens County and operated under an intergovernmental agreement. The area served by this volunteer fire station actually reaches across both counties.
Jones noted he still wants to maintain the automatic aid agreement between the two counties even as the Board goes forward with requests from several in the area. Jones stated, “Our main goal is for the protection and cooperation of the citizens in that community.”
Stay with FYN as we sit down with Rob Jones to speak about the rising issue between the two counties.
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.”
2018 In Review
Pickens County Government concluded a busy and productive year with several projects ahead in 2019. Elected officials, department heads, and staff implemented policies and launched new resources to increase the efficiency of operations. The county government improved services provided to the citizens, and increased services offered. The collaboration amongst various departments, and the dedicated public servants paved the way for many accomplishments during 2018.
Pickens County Public Works resurfaced 27.66 miles of road across the county, in addition to tar and graveling 3.245 miles of dirt road. This brought a total of roughly 31 miles of road that were asphalted or tar and graveled during the year setting a paving record for Public Works. Additionally, Public Works cleaned up over 500 down trees on right-of-way, installed 111 drainage pipes county-wide, and constructed a new parking area at the Tate Depot. The Water Department installed 77 new meters and installed over 17,000 feet of new water line along Jones Mountain Road that will connect to Gilmer County’s water main. Also, the Water Department and Public Works have been working in conjunction to start an in-house brine operation which will allow roads to be pretreated more efficiently during the winter months. The project will be completed in early 2019. The Department of Planning and Development issued 475 building permits, 123 new business licenses, and renewed 605 business licenses for the year. Also, Planning and Development received 16 rezone requests and revised two county ordinances. The 911 Operations Center received 19,976 total calls marking their busiest year in department history. 8,899 of the total calls were medical responses or fire related. Pickens Fire & Rescue acquired property in Tate to rebuild Fire Station #2. Groundbreaking on the project is set for this Spring. Construction on Carlan Road Fire Station #12 continued throughout 2018 and is expected to open within a couple of months. Further, Pickens Fire & Rescue received an impressive upgrade of ISO ratings that indicates fire service readiness and is used to calculate homeowners’ insurance. The Pickens County Recreation Department had roughly 1,000 kids participate in youth sports and 185 kids attended PCRD Summer Camp. Additionally, with the help of an EMA grant a new Thor Guard lightening detection system was installed around the ball fields, the U6 and U8 soccer fields were redone, and new playground equipment was installed with the help of Pepsi and Southeast Outdoors Solutions. PCRD continues to offer many activities for the citizens: the popular adult sport Pickelball, fitness, karate, and dancing classes. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 1,006 animals and adopted out 1,001 animals during 2018. The Pickens County Board of Elections and Registration oversaw four successful elections during 2018. Currently, they are preparing for the 2019 election cycle of city races to be held on November 5th.
Overall, Pickens County Government made great progress in providing quality services for the citizens. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners did an excellent job of leading these efforts. As a new year begins, Pickens County Government looks forward to improving our overall operations further for the benefit of our citizens and our county. Stay connected with us by liking our Facebook page: Pickens County Ga Government, follow us on Twitter: @pickensgagov and monitor our website: www.pickenscountyga.gov for updates throughout 2019. As work progresses and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments.
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
The holiday season has arrived; marked by cool weather, and festive decorations. This is a busy time of year for most, and especially for those in the Pickens County Tax Commissioner’s office. The group has been working particularly hard this tax collection season. The total 2018 collections as of December 17th, equivalate to 87.47 percent, an above average and successful collection thus far. The collections are from taxes levied on heavy equipment, mobile home, personal property, real property, and timber. Also, the 2019 county budget public hearing has taken place, and all advertised requirements have been met. The budget is set to be approved at the Board of Commissioners meeting on December 20th. The 2019 budget can be viewed online at www.pickenscountyga.gov or a detailed version is available for review at the Pickens County Administrative Building.
During the month of November, the Water Department installed five new meters. The Department of Planning and Development issued 30 new building permits. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 100 animals, and 121 went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to five cases. The 911 Operations Center received 1,448 total calls, 680 were medical responses and fire related. The Road Department is maintaining and pretreating roads for the winter weather. They are also working to clean up debris and the over 200 down trees from the recent winter storm. Public Works expects to have all right of ways clear within a couple of weeks. The Pickens County Recreation Department is currently midway through basketball season. All games will break for Christmas starting December 22nd and will resume on January 5th. Additionally, new playground equipment will be installed later this month at Roper Park with a gracious donation from Pepsi. Overall the Pickens County government departments are working hard for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continue to do a great job of leading these efforts. As work progresses, and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments. On behalf of Pickens County government, have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!