Blog Topic: Oconee Observations

  • In the Loop: COVID-19 Kills 12th Person in Northeast Georgia

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    Clarke County added one new death as a result of COVID-19 in the noon Daily Status Report for Friday, bringing the total deaths in the 10-county Northeast Health District of the Georgia Department of Health to 12.

    The death was of a 98-year-old male with underlying conditions.

    Elbert County, the sole county in the region without a confirmed COVID-19 case, added a single case in the 24 hour period from noon of Thursday to noon of Friday.


  • In the Loop: Oconee Chairman Explains Decision Not to Require Sheltering in Place

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    John Daniell is interviewed via Zoom.

    Citizens will not be allowed to attend the agenda-setting meeting of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, but they will be able to watch via a livestream on YouTube.

    Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell announced that decision to hold the agenda-setting meeting as usual, but minus an audience, in an interview of just more than 30 minutes length via Zoom on Sunday morning.

    Shortly after that interview, the county sent out a public announcement of the meeting.


  • In the Loop: First Coronavirus Death Reported in Athens as Oconee Residents Press for Restrictions


    The Northeast Health District reported the first COVID-19 death in Athens today.

    The victim was a 67-year-old man who had an underlying medical condition, according to public health officials. The elderly and people with pre-existing heart or lung disease or diabetes are most likely to die from COVID-19.

    Overall, positive coronavirus tests in Georgia jumped to 1,026 today, with 32 deaths. Sixteen of those cases were reported in Clarke County and three in Oconee County.

    Medical professionals and others are pressuring Oconee County commissioners to pass a "shelter in place" ordinance similar to the one Athens-Clarke County approved last week.


  • In the Loop: Acting DA Brian Patterson Outlines Plans

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    Brian Patterson speaks to Oconee County Democrats on Feb. 20.

    Brian Patterson, acting district attorney for Oconee and Clarke counties, told Oconee County Democrats last month that, if he becomes district attorney on a permanent basis, he will resurrect a number of unsolved murder cases in the two counties.

    He also said he will increase the investigation of organized criminal activity and gang activity, continue to prioritize crimes against women and children, and promote alternative court programs to keep people from having a criminal records for lesser offenses.

    At the time he spoke, Patterson was chief assistant district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit serving the two counties, but he moved up to acting district attorney on Mar. 1 when Ken Mauldin resigned rather than complete his term.


  • In the Loop: Gun Group Wants Oconee County to Be 'Second Amendment Sanctuary'

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Ryan Anglin.

    The Oconee County Gun Coalition is making plans to ask the Oconee County Board of Commissioners to pass a resolution declaring the county a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.

    If the Board of Commissioners were to approve the resolution, the county would join at least 21 other counties in the state in supporting decisions by the sheriff “to not enforce any unconstitutional firearm restrictions.”

    The resolution also calls on the commissioners to agree not to use government funds or resources to enforce any law “that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”


  • In the Loop: Mayor Bob Smith Is at Odds With the Watkinsville City Council

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith suggested delaying a decision on the development plan for the Wisteria Ridge apartment complex on 75 North Main St. at the Watkinsville Mayor and Council meeting last week.

    The mayor votes only in the case of a tie, and the council approved the plan in a 3 to 1 vote.

    Smith strongly opposed the site development plan submitted by Oconee State Bank for its new headquarters at 41 North Main St. Council approved the plan 3 to 0, with council member Brian Brodrick recusing himself from the discussion and vote. (Council member Christine Tucker was absent from the meeting.)


  • In the Loop: Candidates for DA, Congress Speak to Oconee Dems

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Deborah Gonzalez.

    Deborah Gonzalez and Andrew Ferguson used the opportunity of the meeting of the Oconee County Democratic Party last month to introduce themselves to those in attendance.

    For Gonzalez, it was a matter of a re-introduction, and she said she was going to respond to the “first question most people ask me.”

    She said she was running for district attorney of the Western Circuit, which includes Oconee and Clarke counties, rather than to reclaim her seat as District 117 representative to the Georgia House because she thinks she will have “the biggest impact” as district attorney.

    Andrew Ferguson was new to the group, so he spent more time talking about his background, his motivation for wanting to challenge U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, the incumbent Republican in District 10, and his stands on a number of issues.


  • In the Loop: Live-Work-Play Development Planned in Watkinsville

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The Watkinsville City Council on Wednesday authorized City Manager Sharyn Dickerson to move forward with creation of a development agreement for the 66.6-acre former Southwire property on Barnett Shoals Road.

    The council took the action following a presentation by developer Duke Gibbs and planner Bob Smith for what they are calling Wire Park.

    The project includes single-family detached housing units on both large and small lots, townhomes and condominium flats, and an adaptive reuse of the existing wire manufacturing building on the site.


  • In the Loop: Michael Thurmond: Dems Can Flip Oconee County

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Michael Thurmond speaks to Oconee County Democrats.

    Oconee County is an excellent opportunity for Democrats, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond told a gathering of party members at the Bogart Library earlier this month, because of the demographics of the county.

    The county has one of the highest educational levels in the state and in the Southeast, Thurmond said, and the college educated, and particularly college-educated women, are being targeted by Democrats nationally.

    In the Atlanta suburbs, Thurmond said, college-educated white women were crucial in 2018 in turning areas that normally vote Republican to the Democrats.


  • In the Loop: Watkinsville Republican Turns Mayor's Race Partisan

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Bob Smith demonstrates how close the race could be.

    Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for governor a year ago, is watching the outcome of the mayoral race in Watkinsville, Bob Smith, one of the two candidates in that contest, told Oconee County Republicans last month.

    The race is nonpartisan, but Smith made it clear he is running as a Republican and told those gathered they needed to make sure he wins to send a message back to Abrams.

    Abrams “has these billionaire socialists pumping money” into her nonprofit voting rights organizations, Jason Thompson, Republican National Committeeman from Georgia, told the same gathering. He told them to take action to thwart her.


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