THE PICKENS REPORT
Spring has arrived in Pickens County. This time of year is marked with beautifully blooming foliage across the county. In the spirit of the season, Pickens County Government is collaborating with Keep Pickens Beautiful for “Tire Amnesty April”. This recycling program allows for any Pickens family to recycle four tires (off the wheel) for free. The tires can be recycled at the Pickens Recycling Centers off Camp Road and Cove Road throughout the month of April. Additionally, during the month of April, Pickens County Government is taking bid applications for the construction of Tate Fire Station. This is a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax) funded project. Bid packets can be picked up at the Pickens County Administrative Building. All bids are due by 2:00 p.m. on the 25th day of April.
During the month of March, Public Works and Utilities departments completed renovating the historic “Marble Building” formerly the Convict Camp off Camp Road. This facility will house both departments until a new maintenance facility is built on the compound. Additionally, the Water Department installed four new water meters. The Department of Planning and Development issued 40 new building permits. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 26 animals, and 74 went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 27 cases. The 911 Operations Center received 1,640 total calls, 770 were medical responses or fire related. The Pickens County Recreation Department is in full-swing with their spring sports season. PCRD is also currently accepting applications for summer camp counselors and life guards. Please contact PCRD at 706-253-8863 for more information. Pickens County Government departments continue to stay busy working for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continues 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.
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
Photo courtesy of Mari Livsey – Knowpickens.com
JASPER, Ga. – The citizens of Pickens County breathe a sigh of relief today as County Commission Chairman Rob Jones shares information on funding for repairs of the damage that has shut down Jones Mountain Road close to two months ago.
Citizens have been avoiding the area since February 22, 2019, when the county closed the road after major storms washed out the ridge under the road and caused part of the pavement to crumble away. The road is still closed today, but Jones says this will change soon as the funding will allow them to move forward with a proposal from GeoStabilization International to reopen the road.
The county has secured $1.3 million in funding from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank with the SRTA (State Road and Tollway Authority as well as an additional $500,000 from the state’s emergency LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) to cover the estimated $1.8 million project. These estimations came when Chairman Jones called the event a “major disaster” in early March.
Jones says that additional companies have spoken with the county about their own proposals for the repairs. But utilizing these funds requires the project to meet and adhere to DOT guidelines. Additionally, operating under the emergency status for the county, they will not wait for a bid process that could take up another two months before any repairs begin. Instead, the county is moving forward under the proposal with GeoStabilization International.
While the road will take upwards of two months to fully repair, Jones reiterated his intentions, as he explained in the March Commissioners’ Meeting, to get the road open for use of a single lane within the next two weeks. As part of the proposal, this quick turnaround will address the extra 4.7 miles that both citizens and emergency services must travel to go around the slide area.
While some points of the project are still up for negotiations in the upcoming pre-construction meetings, Jones asserts that the funding will cover the entirety of the project. However, he did note that the county could reach into the $100,000 contingency funds should the need actually arise.
Jones noted that receiving the state funding would not have been possible without a major concerted effort. Pickens County Finance Director Faye Harvey in conjunction with state representatives Steve Gooch, Rick Jasperse, andChuck Payne worked alongside Emily Dunn on the State Board to make a last-minute push for state involvement to bring funds to relieve the citizens from such a major financial impact from this emergency.
Citizens of Pickens should begin seeing the repairs and construction beginning soon and in a matter of weeks, access through the entirety of Jones Mountain Road should be returned, if only a limited one lane access.
PCSO arrest report/photos provided by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70) allows for www.fetchyournews.com to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Pickens County. Those arrests are posted on www.fetchyournews.com for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.
JASPER, Ga. – The City of Jasper has officially reopened Cove Road after rock slides have had it closed for nearly a month.
However, with yesterday’s reopening of the road, there is a catch. Today will see only one lane of traffic available to citizens as clearing, repairs, and stabilization of the area begins in earnest. Today, Georgia Power will be replacing power lines on Cove road in the S curves, so please watch for these workers.
In the coming months, citizens will continue seeing the road open and close to lanes of traffic as the city continues with the plans it set into motion in last weeks monthly meeting. The city is calling for caution today as you travel the road, not just for the single lane of traffic, but for the workers and linemen who are continually moving along the road today.
JASPER, Ga. – With roughly 25 years of the annual Fish Rodeo, the city is preparing once again for this beloved event.
The Council heard the required request, and subsequently approved, for the Pickens County Sportsman Club Annual Fish Rodeo this month to allow the event in May. Sportsman Club representative Walt Cagle offered fliers to the council as he presented the request. The four-day event will see support for the community, special needs, and senior homes in the area.
Mayor John Weaver called the rodeo “a very special event” in recent years as it has been about a decade at the Cove Creek location. Cagle notes the wired off location will provide stock trout for all who wish to participate. He went on to say that the event not only serves Pickens County, but all who wish to attend and he evens sees response from senior homes in Cherokee.
The council officially provided the proclamation needed for the event to have the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to close off the creek for the event.
Cagle provided the following flier for the council and citizens for information on the event:
JASPER, Ga. – April’s expenses for the Jasper City Council are on the rise as they approve purchases and bids alongside an approval for over $100,000 for the Cove Road incident.
These purchases came from three different departments looking to update equipment for the coming spring months.
The Jasper Police Department sought approval, and received it, from the council for $33,900 for a new vehicle. According to Police Chief Greg Lovell, the need comes after several issues in the fleet including two cars in the shop for repairs and the Explorer being totaled after an accident in January. The new truck, Lovell said, will is coming from Ronnie Thompson Ford.
The Water Department requested funding for rebuilding three lift station pumps in the city from Highway 108 to Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. Water Superintendent David Hall spoke to the council about the builds with three different prices. The total cost for all three comes to $32,136.28. The first pump is $7,825.04. The second needs an internal part replaced as well, making the cost $10,634.90. The third pump needs the part replaced and a bearings replaced, making the cost $13,676.34.
Hall said the department already has moved other pumps in the city to cover the need that these pumps served, but this reduces the efficiency more each day. However, these pumps have served this need since 2002, according to Hall. With 17 years behind them before needing the rebuilds, Council member Tony Fountain noted that he hoped to get another 15 years out of these now.
A third purchase request came from the budgeted purchase of a zero turn lawnmower for the street department as the move into spring and prepare to for the maintenance needed. City Manager Brandon Douglas told the council that the city has received bids for the lawnmower. Goss Equipment’s bid was for $11,886.20 for a Grasshopper brand. Nelson Tractor Company’s bid was $12,615 for a Kubota brand. Ag-Pro $13,649.99 for a John Deere brand. Rolling Tire’s bid was for $13,000. Mason Tractor Company’s bid was for $12,526. The council approved Goss Equipment, the low bid, for their Grasshopper brand lawnmower. Fountain clarified with Douglas about the servicing program for the equipment. Douglas confirmed that Goss said the would work and provide for the needs saying that even if they had to outsource the work, they would provide a replacement available immediately for the needs of the city.
The council is also honoring a local citizen, Kyle Brock, with an official resolution to name the city dog park after him. Utility Development Planned Lonnie Waters presented the request to the council for a small marble plaque in honor of the service provided. The council quickly approved the request and pushed further to have Brock come before the council to receive the plaque so that they might further recognize the hard work and dedication he has provided to the animals of the community.
JASPER, Ga. – Citizens of Jasper listened as Mayor John Weaver offered updates on proposals and plans for the Cove Road rockslide recovery.
The council addressed the rockslide with information from City Manager Brandon Douglas who said the city has retained the services of Geostabilization Engineering for stabilization and repairs from the rockslide. Douglas said that the Thursday, the firm offered a proposal to stabilize and ensure safety in the area.
The proposal would present a 6-day period of operations for the cost of $95,000. Douglas said they employed a third-party firm to vet the proposal. This third-party did confirm the competitiveness of the proposal according to Douglas.
However, the contract came under question by City Attorney Bill Pickett who pointed out that any disputes about action or inaction in violation of the contract would require the city to go to Colorado, the home state of the company, to sue or pursue legal action against the company.
Though this is an “if” situation, meaning it would only be needed if the company does not live up to the contract. However, Douglas countered saying that his understanding was that this point of the contract was open to negotiation.
Another contention point came as the $95,000 is not a set price. The proposal is based on site investigations, but if additional work is needed, then additional costs would be incurred.
Mayor Weaver noted that he felt much of the danger of the specific area of Cove Road was taken out by the slide. While stabilization is needed, Weaver said he felt there were much more dangerous areas nearby this site on Cove Road. Douglas said that the six-day period would allow the company to address additional nearby areas without incurring additional “mobilization costs.” This means that if Geostabilization Engineering secures the area’s safety in two or three days, the City can have them move on to the additional areas of danger on the road.
Addressing the rockslide directly, Weaver said, “You can drive the road today. They cleaned it up the next day. But what they’re worried about is your safety because if you’d been on the road when that rock fell… What you’re worrying about is how fast we can get it done. So, that’s the issues that the administration is going to be working with, but there is a lot of issues to be worked out.”
Weaver went on to note that funding and taxpayers are in his consideration as he wants to go seek emergency funds from the state and federal government as well as other agencies who could help. He said he wants citizens to consider that they are working on the area to provide safety for those who are traveling on the road. He does not want to have a phone call one day of somebody being crushed by another landslide as they were driving.
City Councilmember Tony Fountain said that he wants to have the city sleep at night knowing they have done everything they can.
However, the city must also consider, as Weaver later said, once the city begins any work on the area, it becomes a city liability. Weaver stated that because of this liability, the city is going to take its time in the process to get each “stamp of approval” they need to ensure the safety of all who utilize the road.
He went on to say it isn’t going to be a cheap and quick fix, but asked for patience as they continue along this project.
The council did approve ‘up to $120,000’ in a motion from Councilmember Kirk Raffield and a second from Councilmember Anne Sneve. This motion will allow the city manager to move forward with negotiations on the proposal and finalizing details on the contract. The final vote came to 4-0 with John Foust abstaining as he said he could be part of crews working on power lines in the area.
Weaver noted afterward that he is shocked that more landslides haven’t occurred with all the rain and snow and weather the city has suffered in the last year. As such, he is more worried about other dangers in the area than the recent slide that has already taken away much of that spots danger.