Highlights of May 19, 2014
Guest speaker, Hartwell Mayor Brandon Johnson began by complimenting the city council members for their motivation and efforts to further Hartwell’s prosperity. He recognized council members Bill Griggs and Tray Hicks for their work on various city projects.
Mayor Johnson outlined accomplishments of the last 5 months:
1. Establishment of a pro-business task force to engage business owners and implement their suggestions to further business growth.
2. Implement ways to energize and grow downtown with measureable projects.
3. Annexation of Swamp Guinea Restaurant and possible future annexation of Hartwell Marine by owners’ request.
4. AnMed project has experienced delays but is expected to begin and consist of specialty and diagnostic clinics and labs.
5. A focus for Hartwell is to target family friendly events and venues rather than compete with the South Carolina exit one higher end conference center development.
Mayor Johnson addressed the issue of the city acquiring Hart State Park currently leased by the Corps to the State of Georgia. He advised a feasibility study is underway to determine what the Park can support and development of enhancements. Upon completion of the study, a lease can be negotiated with the Corps. Councilman Hicks was complimented for pushing the city to have an interest in the park’s future. He explained the issues of the “bond” liability that was taken out by the State of Georgia to build the ranger’s house noting it is now below $78,000. He clarified the State of Georgia owns the bond and the State leases the property from the Corps. Under Corps law, only a government entity can lease the property; the city of Hartwell can lease the property but cannot operate the park for profit. They are allowed to generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses and maintenance related to the park.
Mayor Johnson and councilmen Griggs and Hicks answered member questions.
President Hamilton introduced the second focus of our meeting agenda by welcoming Rich Vandenventer, Dottie Williams, and Mike Buckel to update members on the work of the subcommittees studying the needs of the three new facilities to be funded by E-SPLOST revenue.
Rich Vandenventer advised on two significant AG center developments:
A. The Board of education has a contract to purchase property on Bowman Hwy. for the Ag Center. Closing is expected to be within 30 days. It is not confirmed but there may be an impediment as there is question to the proximity of 2 old closed landfills. An environmental company will be engaged to determine any possible contamination hazard.
B. The AG Center working committee met for the second time to identify what features should be incorporated into the building.
Dottie Williams is participating in the CTA or college career academy. She defined several significant points:
A. The difference between a CCA or college career academy and a CTAE. CTAE is an education program with career, technical and agricultural offerings as well as State of Georgia work force initiatives and is currently offered at Hart County high school. A college career academy is a unique special partnership between a charter school system, business and industry and a local technical school. Hart County will partner with Athens Tech.
B. Visit to 5 schools with college career academy programs; review of CTAE courses and requirements. Reviewed a student and CAD program produced preliminary building design. Funding of career academy is expected to be 2/3 from State of Georgia; 1/3 from Splost funds.
Mike Buckel reported on the health, wellness, multi-purpose facility.
A. Visits to newly constructed gyms; developed a preliminary building wish list determining that the “needs list” included a multi-purpose room; more space and seating.
The committee members responded to questions and President Hamilton thanked the members for their updates and serving on these committees.