Council Discusses Direction for Blairsville’s Growth

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growth

Blairsville, Ga – City council addressed next steps for Blairsville’s rapid growth and how to handle the future.

Councilman Robert Moore brought up the Haralson Property lots and suggested leaving the remaining lots undeveloped.

Another restaurant will hopefully close eight-tenths of an acre, and if that goes through, then a little over an acre will remain.

“I think we need the greenspace myself. If we cut any more trees, it’s just going to ruin the town,” said Councilman Mary Ruth Cook.

Mayor Jim Conley confirmed that the lot across from Cook’s Resturant would be left, “It’s already been determined that the property across from Cook’s would be hung on to because we definitely need to have the parking.”

Moore stated that the city council needs to address future plans with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Councilman Tony Dyer announced that the next Downton Development Authority (DDA) meeting on July 9 will be open to the public, “The purpose of the meeting is to throw out ideas and see what we want to do from now on.  I think that’s a good thing to bring up.”

The city doesn’t have any authority as to how the property is sold but can provide input and suggestions for future plans. However, it’s the city council’s decision to relieve the DDA of the existing debt. If the current restaurant deal closes, $200,000 will be due to the DDA.

“I agree with you that we need to slow down with anything else we do,” said Dyer in response to Moore’s suggestion to consider the future of the city.

During Police Chief Michael Bear Baxter’s report, he commented that the new police department should be ready to move into within the month.  Rock’s currently being laid on the building.

“Power should be hooked up next week. Everything is ready to go. Of course, with us moving in, we have to have some things,” stated Baxter.

Councilman Rhonda Mahan asked if the remodel would include new furniture.

Conley confirmed that it would have new kitchen appliances, but office furniture would be moved from the current location.

“Some of that’s not worth moving,” said Mahan, “That stuff’s been here forever. The chairs are falling apart.”

Dyer joined in, “I think it may be up to us, whether they get anything new or not. All of us. Some of that stuff is too old to move over there to that structure.”

The current furniture came from the school, who stored it in a barn until giving it to the police department. Baxter conceded that some new desks, chairs, and other materials might be needed.

“Especially the chairs,” commented Baxter “The ones the public use, when we bring somebody in, they’re bad. They’re. bad.  I wouldn’t want to sit in one. You don’t need fabric chairs for the public. It’s not feasible. They look terrible. They’re stained up. Some of the things we need should be replaced.”

Baxter also commended Officer Shawn Dyer for spending the construction money wisely and stretching the dollar for the city.

Moore recommended that Baxter bring proposals for new furniture to the next council meeting.

Additionally, DDA Program Manager Darren Harper reported that the city earned $3,360 from the Spring Arts and Crafts festival.

“It’s higher than we ever had, and there are ways that we want to tweak it so next year it can be even better,” commented Harper.

Also, downtown business owners told Harper that they’re having really good numbers and are making more money than in 2018.

Union and Towns Partner for the 2020 Census

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2020 Census awareness

Blairsville, Ga – Union and Towns County formed the Trusted Voices committee for assistance with the 2020 census.

With the 2020 Census rapidly approaching – April 1, 2020, Union, Towns, Blairsville, Hiawassee, and Young Harris partnered with the Patrick Malone to form the Trusted Voices committee to ensure maximum participation.

“We had a meeting six week ago with a lady from the Governor’s Office, Anna Miller,” said Mayor Jim Conley “Commissioner Paris put together an agreement with Mr. Patrick Malone who is here tonight that puts [Malone] in charge of the working end of the Census.”

Mayor Jim Conley

Mayor Conley asks for committee members for Trusted Voices.

In the 2010 report, Union recorded around 85 percent of the total population. Towns recorded 87 percent.

Malone hopes to increase Census participation in 2020. The organization serves to encourage individuals to answer the survey through door-to-door visits and community engagements. These efforts will gear up in the fall to promote awareness.

“The committee’s known as the Trusted Voices Campaign. The responsibilities are really minor. It’s just being aware what’s going on with the Census and make sure that we exceed last Census’ participation rate,” explained Malone.

Blairsville City Council appointed Councilman Mary Ruth Cook and Councilman Rhonda Mahan to serve on the Trusted Voices committee to represent Blairsville’s interest. They will have one meeting with Malone and then spread the word in the community.

The city paid Trusted Voices $500 to utilize the service. Hiawassee and Young Harris also paid $500, but Union and Towns are expected to cover the rest of the cost.

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