August 22, 2016

Oconee County Misled Public on Mars Hill Road Work

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Photo Credit: Lee Becker

Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis.

Oconee County administrators, to accommodate Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, intentionally mislabeled $15,000 in expenses in giving a public presentation in June of a bill for added design work for Mars Hill Road.

Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. billed the county $10,000 for requested design work to reconnect Old Mars Hill Road to Mars Hill Road and $5,000 for design work on a median break requested by businessman Doug Dickens.

In the presentation to the public, the reference to Old Mars Hill Road was eliminated, and the median cut was linked to the Athens Area Humane Society, not Dickens.

Commissioner Jim Luke prodded Public Works Director Emil Beshara at that June 28 meeting to link correctly the $10,000 in the invoice to the Old Mars Hill project, but he let stand the reference to the Humane Society for that $5,000 in the invoice.

The $15,000, which the county paid, was wasted money, as the commissioners had rejected back in September of last year Davis’ unauthorized attempt to reconnect old and new Mars Hill roads, and the state last week turned down the county’s request for the change in the design for the median cut.

The commission, with Luke’s support, spent another $5,000 with Moreland Altobelli on July 5 to try to make the case for that median cut design change for Dickens, bringing the total wasted amount for these changes requested of Moreland Altobelli to $20,000.

To continue reading, visit Oconee County Observations.