COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog Topic: Oconee Observations

  • In the Loop: Oconee Roads Will Get Sidewalks and Bike Lanes

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    The regional long range transportation plan now before the public for review makes significant changes to the current document and provides for both pedestrian and bicycle travel on two key roadways in Oconee County.

    Both bicycle and pedestrian facilities would be added to Hog Mountain Road from Mars Hill Road in Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441, passing the Presbyterian Homes complex now under construction at the Hog Mountain Road intersection with U.S. 441.

    Similarly, both bicycle and pedestrian facilities would be added to Daniells Bridge Road from its intersection with Mars Hill Road and the Oconee Connector to Hog Mountain Road.

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  • In the Loop: Rep. Hice: Both Parties Addicted to Spending

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Republican Jody Hice of Lake Oconee represents Clarke and Oconee counties in Congress.

    The economy in the country, the state of Georgia, and the region is very strong, 10th District Congressman Jody Hice and Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler told a gathering of Oconee County Republicans last week.

    That strong economy is threatened, both speakers said, by the shortage of labor to fill the jobs the strong economy is producing.

    The pair offered a variety of solutions to the problem, including training in schools, training on the job, hiring those getting out of correctional facilities, hiring people with disabilities, and helping people get off the safety net and into jobs.

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  • In the Loop: Former State Rep. Bob Smith Challenges Dave Shearon for Watkinsville Mayor

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Bob Smith.

    Watkinsville alone among Oconee County’s four cities will hold an election this fall, with two candidates competing for the mayor of the city and two more competing for Post 2 on the city council.

    Incumbent Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon and Bob Smith, a real estate agent and former state representative, filed paperwork last week qualifying for the mayoral contest.

    Incumbent Post 2 council member Connie Massey and Jonathan Kirkpatrick, a retired federal government employee, qualified for the Post 2 position.

    Incumbent Watkinsville Post 1 council member Brian Brodrick also qualified, but he will have no opposition on the ballot in November.

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  • In the Loop: GOP Official Tells Oconee Republicans That Democratic Women 'Forgot to Reproduce'

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    Photo Credit: Sarah Bell

    Brant Frost V.

    A Georgia Republican Party official told Oconee County Republicans that the GOP will continue to win elections because Democratic women "forgot to reproduce," and "Christian and conservative women" are having more children.

    Brant Frost V, the party's second vice-chair, claimed at an Oconee GOP meeting last month that Republicans have a 35 percent "fertility advantage" over Democrats.

    According to Lee Becker at Oconee County Observations:

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  • In the Loop: Candidate for Oconee Sheriff Seeks Democrats' Support

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    Photo Credit: Robert Wyatt

    Jimmy Williamson speaks to Oconee County Democrats June 20.

    Jimmy Williamson is running for Oconee County sheriff as a Republican, but he asked Democrats assembled at the party meeting last month to help him with his campaign.

    “Anybody that wants to help me get my name out, and help people understand that I’m the most qualified candidate, I appreciate the help,” Williamson said.

    The former University of Georgia police chief even asked those present to consider selecting the Republican ballot in the May 2020 primary and picking him because of his experience and leadership.

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  • In the Loop: LGBT Lobbyist Praises Gaines' Syringe Bill

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Shannon Clawson.

    Shannon Clawson, lobbyist for Georgia Equality, told Oconee County Democrats recently that her group had a mixed record during the 2019 Georgia legislative session.

    Clawson pointed to passage of a number of bills that she said served the interests of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of the state.

    She included among the successes passage of a bill sponsored by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) making it possible for “syringe services” programs to distribute syringes or needles without civil or criminal liability.

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  • In the Loop: Three Stores Closed or Closing at Epps Bridge Centre

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The gap where The Gap had been.

    LifeWay Christian Store in Epps Bridge Centre currently is holding a going-out-of-business sale and will be the third store in the Oconee County shopping center to close this year.

    Gap closed in January, and Kinnucan’s last month.

    The second phase of Epps Bridge Centre—across the Oconee Connector from the initial phase—has only one tenant, Hobby Lobby.

    Much speculation has centered on Costco as a tenant for that second phase, but Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said last month that Costco isn’t coming to the county any time soon.

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  • In the Loop: Oconee Dems Briefed on Firefly Trail

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Stephanie Doerr, a board member of Firefly Trail Inc.

    Stephanie Doerr’s commitment to multi-use trails was obvious from the outset.

    “For my bucket list, I’m determined to ride on every trail in every state,” Doerr told the gathering of the Oconee County Democratic Party.

    Doerr listed 27 states as “done.”

    Doerr was joined by Ivette Bledsoe. Both are members of the Board of Directors of the Firefly Trail Inc., a Georgia non-profit incorporated to create a multi-use trail from Athens to Union Point.

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  • In the Loop: Voting Machine Bill Passes on Party-Line Vote

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    Oconee County’s three legislators in the Georgia General Assembly last week voted in favor of House Bill 316, which selects new voting machines and responds to allegations that voters last year were denied access, absentee ballots were not counted and vote tallies were incomplete.

    The vote on the House bill was partisan, and Sen. Bill Cowsert from the 46th District, Rep. Houston Gaines from House District 117, and Rep. Marcus Wiedower from House District 119, all Republicans, sided with the Republican majority.

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  • In the Loop: Athens Republicans Vote for Abortion Bill, Against Hate Crimes Bill

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    Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville).

    Oconee County’s two representatives in the Georgia General Assembly cast their votes late Thursday night with the House majority in favor of a bill that prohibits most abortions after a doctor can detect a heartbeat in the womb and with the minority against a hate crimes bill.

    House Bill 481, officially called the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, passed narrowly at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday with 93 representatives, almost all Republicans, voting in favor, and 73 voting against.

    The bill required 91 votes for passages in the 180-seat House of Representatives, where Oconee County’s Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower are joined by 105 other Republicans.

    House Bill 426, which would amend existing Georgia Code to provide criteria for imposition of punishment for defendants who select their victims based upon certain biases or prejudices, also passed narrowly with 96 voting in favor and 64 voting against.

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