BLAISVILLE, Ga. – Annexation of the Conley property off of Pat Haralson Memorial Drive was approved and Sheriff Mack Mason was recognized during the Blairsville City Council meeting Tuesday, April 3.
Last month, annexation was delayed when Daniel Davenport, owner of a 1.47-acre tract of land within the annexation route, requested access to city utilities before annexation of his property took place.
In this month’s meeting, City Attorney David Barrett explained Davenport had sold his tract of land to the developers of the Conley property clearing the way for annexation. Also falling in line with the annexation is Butternut Creek Golf Course. Mayor Jim Conley explained a 50-foot wide easement of land running through the golf course from the current city limits would connect the Conley property contiguously in the annexation process.
On hand for the meeting was the developer of the property, David Brown. When asked about the urgency of the annexation by Barrett, Brown stated, “We need to be annexed tonight.”
Brown also explained the development on the property is for approximately 70 proposed apartment units that will be marketed to seniors. The council approved the annexation unanimously.
The council also approved the purchase of a 4×2 Gator utility vehicle from Nelson Tractor in the amount of $5,525. The vehicle, according to Conley, will be used primarily by the Street and Maintenance department to carry gardening supplies and equipment. Funding for the purchase will come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.
Jody Cook, wastewater supervisor, told the council it has been determined a faulty tank valve at the Aviagen Hatchery located near the Colwell Detention Center was the main contributing factor leading to increased levels of chemical oxygen demand (COD) at the wastewater treatment plant. In February, Cook first reported pollutants running from the Aviagen facility into the sewer system were causing increased COD levels at the plant. Cook stated Aviagen was working to resolve the issue.
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Conley took time to recognize Union County Sheriff Mack Mason for his department’s continued efforts as well as cooperation and assistance with the Blairsville City Police Department.
“I personally would just like to say I appreciate the cooperation that the police department and the sheriff’s office has,” Conley told Mason. “As you very well know, we’ve never had that in the past.”
Mason responded by describing the level of cooperation between the two agencies as a “unique deal … one that I don’t know of that exists anywhere in the state of Georgia.”
Mason continued to say the state, in recent years, has “regressed” both in the number of Georgia State Patrol troopers and in the number of Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents, leaving more of a burden to the local law enforcement agencies.
“I’m not knocking the troopers,” Mason explained. “I’m knocking the legislators because they’ve let us get in this shape … It’s an undisputed fact that 95 percent of arrests in the state of Georgia are made by the city and county officers.”
Speaking of the working coordination between the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Blairsville Police Department, in which several officers work full-time for one agency and part-time for the other, Mason said, “I appreciate the relationship that I’ve had with you all.”
Following this, Conley proposed a $1 per hour raise for all part-time officers in the Blairsville Police Department. The raise was approved unanimously by the council.
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BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Annexation of the Conley property on Pat Haralson Memorial Drive was discussed during the Blairsville City Council meeting Tuesday, March 6.
According to Mayor Jim Conley, a developer interested in the property has requested city annexation of the property before proceeding with a development project. From the city limits to the Conley property, a portion of Butternut Creek Golf Course, which is owned by the county, and a stretch of a 1.47-acre property owned by Daniel Davenport falls in line with the proposed annexation route.
While the county has agreed to an easement of the golf course property, Davenport, who was present at the meeting, requested of the city to bring water and sewer utilities through his property before allowing annexation of his property.
“I’m all about annexation if the city sewer and water would pass through the 1.5 acres, which to me is a legitimate path to take (to the Conley property),” Davenport told the council Tuesday. “If (the city is) going to annex my property, I’ll be paying city taxes, so I’ll, of course, want to be able to hook up to the sewer on my property.”
Davenport was told by City Attorney David Barrett if his property was annexed, he would have the right by law to attain water and sewer utilities from the city. However, Davenport explained that in his previous discussions with Barrett, the city attorney told him the city would not provide the infrastructure needed to connect to city water and sewer lines. Davenport further stated that, to his understanding, the city would be extending water and sewer lines all the way to the Conley property. To this, Mayor Conley replied, “No we’re not either … we’re not bringing the sewer to their property. They’re coming to our manhole.”
After further discussion, Councilman Tony Dyer made a motion to withdraw the annexation proposal followed by a second from Councilwoman Betty Easter. The motion failed 3 to 2, with nay votes coming from Councilmembers Rhonda Mahan, Robert Moore and Mary Ruth Cook.
On Friday, Mayor Conley stated Davenport had discussed the situation in the days following the meeting with the owners of Conley property and a possible agreement was in the works, which would clear the way for the annexation.
The council approved two equipment purchases for the Blairsville Police Department. Sergeant Shawn Dyer informed the council of a recent audit of the department conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in which the GBI recommended the use of departmental phones for city officers as well as the addition of wi-fi hotspot devices within city patrol vehicles.
Dyer explained the phones would be used by full-time officers for official police business. Currently, officers use their personal cell phones for police business while on duty, and GBI, in the audit, claimed this presents a security risk and the possibility of a personal information breach for the officers.
Concerning the addition of the hotspot devices, Dyer stated the technology upgrade will ensure a safer and more effective environment for officers while conducting routine traffic stops. The hotspot devices will provide instant Internet access to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) database and allow officers to access information of the vehicle and the recorded owner before initially approaching the vehicle.
“(The hotspot devices) could probably save somebody’s life,” Dyer explained, “because right now, if we stop a car, we call in the tag number to dispatch, we pull that car over, we go up and we talk to that driver not knowing anything (of the driver). We don’t get that information back until we sit back there in the (patrol) car after we’ve talked to them, got their driver’s license and all that.”
According to Dyer, six cell phones (iPhones) and eight hotspot devices will come from Verizon at a monthly cost of $564.57.
Dyer also told of the need for a large metal cabinet that can be locked to store evidence or guns in the squad room at the police department. The sergeant stated a large lockable cabinet in the squad room would allow all shifts the ability to store evidence if the evidence room of the department cannot be accessed. Dyer said he found a cabinet suitable for such a purpose for around $2,000.
Both expenditures were approved unanimously.
The council gave approval to proceed with RevoPay as an online electronic payment method for payments of all fees, permits and/or taxes to the city. Last month, the council discussed and approved an option for accepting credit or debit cards for water services payments.
Kaye McCann, city clerk, explained to the council the RevoPay system would allow customers to pay all bills to the city in a lump sum by credit or debit card or by electronic check either online or over the phone. Also, city hall would have access to RevoPay, so that any customers making payments in person would also be able to make payments via those options as well.
According to McCann, there is no charge or fee to the city to use this service; however, a percentage-based fee from RevoPay would be passed along to customers using the service. When asked about the percentage of the fee, McCann explained the fee would likely fall between 3 to 5 percent and that the percentage would be determined over time by the amount of customers using the service. McCann further explained customers using RevoPay would know before the transaction is complete exactly how much the fee is.
Jody Cook, wastewater supervisor, delivered an update of a wastewater issue involving the Aviagen Hatchery, a poultry hatchery facility located near Colwell Detention Center. Last month, Cook reported increases in the chemical oxygen demand (COD) at the treatment plant were discovered in January. At that meeting, he said it was determined pollutants stemming from outdoor wash downs of the hatchery’s delivery crates were the cause of the increase of COD. Cook also stated last month the issue does not pose a health risk to anyone, but rather puts a greater strain on the wasterwater treatment facility.
This month, Cook told the council the hatchery had changed its clean-up policies. “It has made a difference, but I think we’re going to have to do a little bit more there because our readings are still high,” Cook said.
Cook stated officials from Aviagen have been cooperating with the city in an effort to correct the issue and told Cook to inform the hatchery if the changes in their cleaning processes did not resolve the issue. To this, Cook told the board he wanted to do a few more tests before going back to Aviagen since recent rains have disallowed the possibility of accurate testing.
In other business, the council approved a change in the type of envelopes used to mail water bills to customers. The new envelopes will feature a clear window panel on the front of the envelope and, as Mayor Conley pointed out, are easier for mail sorting machines to process.
The council entered into a 12-month contract with Jeff Burks, of Total Geek Tek, for regular IT maintenance and upgrades for all city departments. Burks’ hourly rate will be $40 an hour, and he will service city computer systems two days a week for a total of 16 hours a month, according to the parameters of the contract.
Councilman Tony Dyer stressed the need to move forward with a paved public parking lot, public restroom facility and a greenspace on city property located behind city hall. Dyer stated he would like to see the space, when completed, dedicated to longtime state representative and Blairsville native Carlton Colwell.
Dyer also mentioned the idea of honoring Union County Sheriff Mack Mason at the next city council for the sheriff’s office ongoing cooperation with the city police department.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – In his wastewater treatment plant report, Supervisor Jody Cook told the Blairsville City Council at their Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting that recent testing has found an increased level of chemical pollutants flowing into the city’s wastewater facility.
Cook reported to city officials that it was determined that the chemicals were coming from the Aviagen Hatchery, a poultry hatchery facility located near Colwell Detention Center, after increases in the chemical oxygen demand (COD) at the treatment plant were discovered in January.
Mayor Jim Conley explained changes in Aviagen’s clean up process after delivering boxes of chicks to clients have resulted in the increased amount of chemicals coming into the wastewater plant.
“We’ve never had problems out of (the hatchery) before,” Conley said. “Those places are keep very, very sanitary, and I’m sure that the chemicals that they use are not harmful to you or me, but it’s harmful to our (wastewater treatment) plant because we have to operate under certain numbers for the EPD (Environmental Protection Division) in order to stay in compliance with our permit.”
In follow-up interview with Cook on Thursday, he stated unknown chemicals were being outside of the hatchery facility during the hatchery’s clean up process. Cook also said that the hatchery has been contacted about the issue and changes at the hatchery concerning its clean up process were being made, including the installation of a sewer drain. Cook also confirmed Mayor Conley’s comments from the meeting stating that the pollution poses no health risk but puts a strain on the treatment facility.
When Council Member Tony Dyer asked Cook if the city could be assured the water draining from the treatment plant into Butternut Creek was EPD legal, Cook responded by saying, “I’ve called EPD and told them of the issue … I told them that we would be probably closing some of our permit tests, and I assume (EPD is) okay with it. They didn’t send anybody up here to start testing or anything.”
Other department reports featured Darren Harper, supervisor of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), telling of the DDA’s plans to install a lit bulletin board near the downtown square. Harper described the bulletin board as “a place where people could see what events are coming up, a directory of businesses in the downtown area, (and) things of that nature.” Harper stated the cost of the board would be just under $500 and the proposed location would be between King’s Five and Dime and Hole in the Wall.
During Harper’s report, the council unanimously approved a move to replace DDA member Bob Head with former member Robert Rogers and move Head’s membership to an honorary status with the DDA.
In the water treatment plant report, Supervisor Danny Dillard stated increased water demand has resulted in ground water wells not producing as much as in the past, and he added that adjustments would be made at the plant wells to account for the increased demand.
Blairsville Airport Manager John Hamler reported that the newly installed Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) equipment has been operating well and that the hangar extensions have been well-received. Hamler also stated airport staff hopes to have the new Jet A fuel tank installed by April. According to Hamler, he and Mayor Conley had discussed hiring a commercial window cleaning service from Murphy, North Carolina, to clean all the windows – inside and out – of the airport terminal. “The new windows have a film on them,” Hamler explained. “It’s just been real impossible to them clean.”
During Hamler’s report, the council unanimously approved the hiring of Edgar Marshall as airport operator. Marshall, who worked previously at the Western Carolina Regional Airport near Andrews, North Carolina, for five years, will replace current operator Storman Glass, who will be leaving Blairsville Airport at the end of May. “I’m excited about getting started,” Marshall said after the council’s approval.
City Attorney David Barrett gave an update on the proposed annexation of 83 Conley Road in Blairsville. “Where we are on that is there is a gap between the property of the county and the city,” Barrett explained, “that we’re having to figure a way to get that 50-foot wide stretch opened and I’m in the process of trying to negotiate … You cannot annex less than 50 feet in width in the state of Georgia.”
The council also discussed the upcoming merger of Rite-Aid with Walgreen’s. A representative from Walgreen’s explained the recent merger of the stores to the council, and the council approved an alcohol license application for Walgreen’s managing agent Evia Kirkland. In addition to this, the council also approved the occupational tax certificate for Walgreen’s.
A complaint concerning the city’s inability to accept credit or debit card payments from water customers was addressed by the council. It was explained that the Notla Water Authority currently charges a 3 percent fee for credit or debit card transactions. After further discussion, the council approved for preliminary steps to be taken to establish a method to receive card transactions for water payment. “I just think, personally, it’s high time we did that,” Council Member Rhonda Mahan said.
Later in the meeting, the council approved the Rushton and Company accounting firm from Gainesville, Georgia, to perform the city’s 2017 financial audit.
The council also accepted occupational tax certificate and sign permit applications from Cousins’ Cuisine LLC (dba Sammies Sub Shop), Farmers Daughters Etc., Waves for Weight Loss, Inc. (dba Smoothies & Supplements), and John E. Mahan, Attorney at Law.
Blairsville, GA – The Blairsville City Council convened on May 9, 2017 at 6 p.m. for their regular May Meeting. The May Meeting had been postponed the previous week because of the passing of Council Member Martha Cone. Pastor Marty Duncan gave the invocation and Police Chief Johnny Carroll led the Pledge. Mayor Jim Conley, City Attorney David Barrett, City Clerk Kaye McCann and all Council Members were present, with the exception of Councilwoman Martha Cone.
Conley asked for a Moment of Silence to honor Ms. Cone at the beginning of the Meeting. Her absence was nearly tangible as everyone in the room stood with heads bowed. Later, after some discussion on balloting, the Council agreed to wait until the November election for voters to select a replacement for the vacancy left by the passing of Ms. Cone.
Mark Jarrett of the Union County Environmental Health Department (UCEHD) sent a letter to the City of Blairsville, said Conley, and requested that they direct the City to allow the UCEHD to enforce a law that is already in existence. The letter stated: “Under Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 26-2-391, a county or municipality is authorized to issue permits for the operation of non-profit food service at events that last 120 hours or less if sponsored by the county, municipality or a non-profit organization. The law specifies the food safety standards that must be met to protect the public’s health. The county or municipality may delegate the authority to issue such permits to the County Board of Health.” This means that food vendors engaged for a non-profit event in Blairsville would be required to undergo an inspection by the UCEHD (at no charge) to get permitted. The Council unanimously approved a motion to allow UCEHD to enforce this law. UCEHD is a separate entity from Union County Health Department.
Conley recited a Proclamation that the week of May 7 – 13, 2017 be named Municipal Clerk’s Week. The Proclamation was warmly received by McCann, who said she appreciated the opportunity to serve the Council, the Mayor and the City of Blairsville.
Conley recited Resolution R2017-03 adopting the 2017 Comprehensive Plan for Union County and the City of Blairsville as of May 9, 2017. This is something that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) requires every year, said Conley. The Resolution was approved.
An Agreement between the City of Blairsville and Notla Water Authority was signed by all Members of the Council. The Agreement is to accommodate the City of Blairsville in furnishing water and sewer to a commercial property on Pat Haralson Dr. The Agreement sets the rate the City of Blairsville will pay Notla Water Authority for the water they will supply.
Conley recited Resolution R2017-02 to adopt an amended Alcohol License Fee Schedule, which, as was addressed in last month’s Council Meeting, will align with the Union County License Fee Schedule. A motion for the adoption of this Resolution was unanimously approved by the Council.
The Council unanimously approved:
• A motion to accept the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Contract AP017-9031-33(291) Union for avigation and land acquisition service and obstruction removal design for the Blairsville Airport.
• A request by the Youngstown Baptist Church for sewer service to their new location on Par Haralson Dr. It would involve running a two inch graywater sewer line to a location on City property. Water would be provided under the Agreement with Notla Water Authority approved earlier in the Meeting.
• Tentative approval of Payroll Direct Deposit contingent upon the amount of fees charged to the City of Blairsville for this service.
Department Head Reports were as follows:
• Police Chief Johnny Carroll reported there were a total of 129 calls logged in April, a total of 5426 patrol miles driven in April and a total of 391 calls logged year-to-date. The majority of those calls were Courtesy Escorts, Funeral Escorts, Miscellaneous Traffic calls and Warrants served. Carroll received approval from the Council to hire Andrew Glass for the position of Part-time Police Officer at the rate of $14/Hr.
• City Water Department Head Ottis Franklin reported nothing out of the ordinary; routine maintenance. He said that 53 of 73 water meters had been set at the new subsidized housing complex behind Butternut Creek Shopping Center.
• Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Larry Stephens reported that they were going to clean out the raw water intakes and that bids were coming in to replace the valve actuators. He said the auto dialer and the ACT-PAC, both of which were hit by lightning would be replaced very soon.
• Downtown Development Authority Head Darren Harper reported that he would be attending a training class next week at Lake Lanier Islands. He said the next DDA Board Meeting will be Tuesday, June 13. He said they have been heavily promoting the upcoming Arts and Crafts Festival that will take place on Memorial Day Weekend; he said as of this Meeting, there were 59 vendors signed up and he expects to have about 68 by the kickoff of the event. Harper said there is an offer for a section of the Haralson property across from the Foodland store. He said three businesses are scheduled to open this month and he observed that the old cinema across from City Hall has been leased. Movie Night and Concert on the Square, he said, will begin in June.
• Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Jody Cook reported that an actuator that regulates discharge into a creek needs to be repaired, but in order to do that they are going to have to purchase a new one because they cannot operate while the broken equipment is sent off for repair. He said the cost will be about $3,800, but they will then have a spare so this won’t happen again. He said, also, that there is a relief flow pipe that has corroded and needs to be replaced for a second time. He said they are going to use stainless steel pipe this time so it won’t corrode so easily again. Cook requested that the Council address the Goforth Williamson Inc. (GWI) three-year maintenance contract. It was unanimously approved.
• Airport Manager John Hamler reported that the previous week had been busy with five jets and two (Beechcraft) King Airs using the facility along with seven car rentals. He said they had sold out of Jet “A” fuel from April 3 – April 30. He said the grounds and building maintenance was keeping them busy. He said that a sign at the new entrance should be considered by the Council that would be in compliance with GADOT. He said there are now 26 names on the hangar waiting list. David Brown Transportation will be taking over maintenance of the AWOS system. Hamler said that every fuel or oil sale at the Terminal is taxed through the Terminal POS system.
Approved Sign Permit Applications:
• Beil Chiropractic, 428 Pat Haralson Dr., Floyd Beil, Owner
• Blue Mountain Vapor, 63 Plott St., Unit C, David and Roger Craig, Owners
Approved Occupational Tax Certificate Applications:
• Crawford Collections, 35-A Blue Ridge St., Candace C. Youngberg, Owner
Approved Occupational Tax Certificate and Sign Permit Applications:
• Britt & Capri, 80 Town Square B, Debbie Wickersham, Owner
• Winslow Real Estate Services, Inc., 211 Cleveland St. #A, Faron King, Owner
• Granny’s House Restored Furniture & Home Décor, 40 Town Square, Melissa Mashburn & Tammy Tanner, Owners
• Blairsville Antiques and Treasures, 49B Blue Ridge St., Suite B, Joshua Durst & Gary Steverson, Owners
With no Executive Session called for and no further business to conduct, the Meeting was adjourned.