News Line for Athens-Clarke County

No waiver, but no worries, for Athens-Ben Epps Airport
Athens-Ben Epps Airport officials won’t be seeking a waiver that could keep federally subsidized commercial passenger air service on the airfield for a year beyond Sept. 30, when the current Essential Air Service contract with Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines is scheduled to conclude.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Longtime local activist Melissa Link wins Athens-Clarke Commission seat
Longtime local activist Melissa Link, a regular presence in the audience at Athens-Clarke County Commission meetings, has won a seat on the commission, claiming victory in a Tuesday runoff against political newcomer Rachel Watkins.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens airport to lose commercial passenger air service subsidy
Athens-Ben Epps Airport is losing the $1.6 million in federal funding that supports the commercial passenger air service provided by Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines, according to a Tuesday news release from the Athens-Clarke County government.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens corrections director Bolton receives state recognition
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice recently presented its Distinguished Service Award to Athens-Clarke County Corrections Department Director W.C. Bolton.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commissioners stall decision on energy program to seek more public input
The Athens-Clarke County Board of Commissioners will take another month to consider a proposed 2011 sales-tax project for a $920,000 energy sustainability program.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Athens commission votes to replace some downtown parking meters
Changes to the Athens’ downtown parking program are being considered by the Athens-Clarke County Commission. Commissioners voted on Tuesday to replace “pay-and-display” parking meters with single-space parking meters on East Broad and East Clayton streets.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

District 3 commission contest is lone Athens-based race on runoff ballots
Voters in central Athens-Clarke County voting precincts will decide the only purely local Athens race in the July 22 runoff, the contest for the open District 3 seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Trevena named director of Athens-Clarke County Housing and Community Development Department
Rob Trevena, a 28-year veteran of Athens-Clarke County’s Housing and Community Development Department has been named director of the department by Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens offering hiring incentives to attract new police officers and sheriff's deputies
Athens-Clarke County is now offering hiring incentives to attract new police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke Commissioners OK Steve Martin for county auditor
Steve Martin, a former top county administrator who retired eight years ago, was chosen as the new county auditor at a special-called meeting of the Athens-Clarke County Board of Commissioners Thursday.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Proposed hotel tax break fails to pass Athens-Clarke development authority
A resolution to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to a proposed downtown hotel failed Thursday to pass the Development Authority of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Downtown board: Time limits may not fix delivery lane woes
The Athens Downtown Development Authority continued its discussion Tuesday about how to solve the district’s delivery lane issues, including the possibility of restricting center-lane stopping to morning hours, but a solution seems far off.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Prince Avenue options explained
Athens-Clarke County officials will approach the Georgia Department of Transportation to jointly participate in the state’s planned road safety audit, scheduled to begin in September, to find a solution to traffic safety issues along Prince Avenue.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Commissioners OK budget
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved on Tuesday the mayor-recommended operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2015, along with a handful of projects that included awarding a contract for the purchase of automated garbage trucks and expansions of both the downtown public safety camera system and animal shelter.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Grazing ordinance passes
A zoning ordinance allowing temporary grazing of sheep and goats for landscape management purposes wasn’t well-received on Tuesday by all Athens-Clarke County commissioners , although it did end up passing 6-4.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Five Points parking case heard by Supreme Court
The highest court in the state spent 40 minutes Monday hearing arguments over who owns 22 parking spaces on South Lumpkin Street in Athens’ Five Points.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

2015 county budget up for approval today
The Athens-Clarke County commissioners are poised to approve Mayor Nancy Denson’s $109 million recommended budget for fiscal year 2015.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke mayor makes recommendation for auditor post
A former upper-level Athens-Clarke County administrator is Mayor Nancy Denson’s recommendation to fill the county auditor’s post, which has been vacant for months following an Athens-Clarke County Commission decision not to renew former longtime auditor John Wolfe’s contract.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke policeman receives Rotary's Sherm Applebaum Award
The Athens Rotary Club presented its annual Sherm Applebaum Award for dedicated service in public safety to Athens-Clarke County police Lt. Chris Nichols during a Wednesday luncheon in Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Heritage Foundation takes field trip to Greenville
A group of Athenians took a field trip to Greenville, S.C., on Saturday and returned as ambassadors to Athens-Clarke decision-makers to urge downtown revitalization.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Commissioners to consider allowing temporary grazing for sheep, goats
Herds of sheep and goats might soon be used to replace swathers and lawn mowers in Athens if commissioners approve a zoning ordinance to allow for temporary grazing for landscape management purposes.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Newtown residents eyeing local historic registry
A handful of Athens-Clarke County officials intend to explore ways to make it easier for lower-income neighborhoods to achieve historic preservation status.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens Clarke-County Library's new public art dedicated Saturday
Athens’ newest publicly-funded art works will be officially dedicated today during the Athens Clarke-County Library’s Family Fun Day.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Watkins, Link getting ready for Athens-Clarke commission runoff election
Rachel Watkins, a marketing professional who works with the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau and Prince Avenue’s Avid Bookshop, will face off against Melissa Link, managing editor of an environmental ethics journal and longtime local activist, to decide the District 3 race.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Nancy Denson wins four more years as Athens mayor
When it came down to election day, Mayor Nancy Denson’s campaign to continue the momentum she fostered in her first term left voters wanting “more of the same” after all.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Crowded Athens commission race goes to runoff
The marquee race for the Athens-Clarke County Commission in Tuesday balloting is headed for a July 22 runoff between longtime local activist Melissa Link, an environmental journal editor, and political newcomer Rachel Watkins, a marketing professional.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Easy solution to downtown delivery problems
Until about a decade ago, delivery trucks working in downtown Athens parked on the right-hand side of the street. In 2003, Athens-Clarke County commissioners, prompted by business owners and others who said the right-hand-lane deliveries lanes blocked cars from exiting parking spaces and presented a danger to pedestrians who couldn’t see around the delivery vehicles to safely cross the street, adopted an ordinance establishing the center lanes of several blocks of Clayton and Washington streets as delivery lanes.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Mayoral candidates talk growth, policy in two-part forum
The candidates vying for the helm of Athens-Clarke County answered audience questions in what may be the final joint campaign event before the May 20 primary election.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

New flashing yellow traffic lights arrive on Athens roads
Two new traffic signals are the first of their kind in Athens-Clarke County, with flashing yellow arrows for left turns to replace traditional green circular lights.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Mayoral candidates answer questions
The mayoral contest pits incumbent Nancy Denson, longtime Clarke County tax commissioner and former Athens City Council member, against local activist Tim Denson, who first came to public attention in connection with the Occupy Athens movement.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Commission races show election diversity
An open seat in a reconfigured district that includes some of the most politically active neighborhoods in Athens-Clarke County has led to a crowded field in one county commission race, while another commission seat being vacated by the incumbent drew just one candidate.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

City Hall vault unveils 'hidden' artworks
When Athens City Hall was built in 1904, the vaults included on each floor of the structure doubtless were intended to restrict access to important municipal records and other instruments of local governance.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

BOC approves bus contract with UGA without changing Prince Ave. route
Athens-Clarke County Commissioners voted to renew the contract between Athens Transit and the University of Georgia without disrupting the shuttle service between the main campus and the Health Sciences Campus on Prince Avenue.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens mayoral and commission candidates debate public transit, county manager
While mayoral challenger Tim Denson argued that merging the University of Georgia bus system with the county’s public buses would solve transportation woes in Athens, Mayor Nancy Denson stuck to her previous statements on the issue, saying it wouldn’t be easy, or cheap.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lt. David Gabriel helps those in trouble find a 'better way'
David Gabriel is a decorated veteran police officer who didn’t actually plan on a career in law enforcement.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Little new ground covered in Athens mayoral debate
With early voting already underway, and election day just three weeks away, candidates’ positions and messages are all but set in stone. And so it was that very little new ground was explored Wednesday in an Athens-Clarke County mayoral debate sponsored by the Junior League of Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens could lose scheduled airline service
A federal subsidy supporting passenger airline service at Athens-Ben Epps Airport could end this year, potentially leaving the airport without the regular daily service to Nashville provided by Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines since fall 2012.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke police lieutenant graduates from FBI National Academy
The commanding officer of the Athens-Clarke County police Traffic Unit recently graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Atlanta Highway businesses to react to notions of change
Motivated by some degree as a response to businesses that have departed the well-traveled road – and taken their sales-tax receipts with them – for new digs in Oconee County, the Athens-Clarke Commission last year established a committee to consider potential options for thoroughfare improvements.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

New assistant manager coming to Athens-Clarke government
The assistant administrator for a Virginia county government will be coming to Athens soon as Athens-Clarke County’s assistant manager for administrative and community services, according to Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Long-awaited Athens rail-trail project gets closer to construction
Almost four years after Athens-Clarke County commissioners approved preliminary construction plans for a mile-long Special-Purpose Local Option Sales Tax-funded rails-to-trails project in the edge of downtown Athens, a starting date for construction may be in sight.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Proposed transit contract amendment could keep UGA buses stopping on Prince Avenue
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson and a group of four Athens-Clarke County commissioners have signed on to a proposed amendment to a pending contract between the county’s and the University of Georgia’s transit systems that could keep UGA buses picking up passengers at stops on Prince Avenue.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Local officials work to keep political signs out of rights of way
Signs, signs — it seems that everywhere you look throughout the Athens area, there are signs advocating for a particular candidate in the multitude of political races leading up to the May 20 primary and nonpartisan elections.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke candidates face off in wide-ranging Monday forum
Athens-Clarke County’s two mayoral candidates reiterated some familiar themes Monday, while the four candidates vying for the intown District 3 seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission worked to differentiate themselves from each other during a wide-ranging forum at East Friendship Baptist Church.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Transit contract would end free rides on UGA's Prince Avenue route
Beginning July 1, University of Georgia buses no longer will stop on Prince Avenue if Athens-Clarke County commissioners approve a new contract between the county’s transit department and the university’s bus service.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County taking first steps on local housing study
Motivated in part by the long-observed cycle of college students moving into newer private housing complexes, with the result that older complexes may deteriorate, Athens-Clarke County commissioners are moving forward on a study of the local housing market.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Final draft of master plan for downtown Athens accepted
Almost two years after the process began, the final draft of a master plan for downtown Athens was turned over to the Athens Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday, with little comment from the authority board.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Mayor says Prince Avenue study has become 'political football'
Despite her efforts to keep it out of the political arena, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson acknowledged Monday that a proposed pedestrian safety demonstration project for part of Prince Avenue has become “a political football.”
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke candidates face questions at Youth Academy forum
They may be young, but a group of area high school students had some tough questions for local political candidates during a Youth Academy forum Saturday at the Athens-Clarke County Library.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens economic development director says first year went well
Ryan Moore said the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department has come a long way since he took the position as director in May 2013.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Preliminary plans for downtown Athens student housing complex get review
Initial proposed plans for a student housing-oriented mixed-use project show plenty on a little more than 8 acres in the eastern edge of downtown Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Small steps taken toward revitalizing Atlanta Highway corridor
He didn’t say when, exactly, but Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mike Hamby told the dozens of people gathered for this week’s Federation of Neighborhoods meeting that traffic-flow improvements will be coming to the Atlanta Highway corridor between the western county line and Georgia Square mall.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

An economic metric that's easy to understand
The Federation of Neighborhoods met Monday to hear about plans for, and recent developments along, the Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road corridors. Not surprisingly, the discussion eventually turned to the kind of retail and other business development coming to Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens planners table rezoning request for in-town farm
The Athens Land Trust’s effort to expand the mission of its Williams Farm project has run into some friendly challenges, and requests for more information, from the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department and the county’s planning commission.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Keys to Athens-Clarke County echo medieval tradition
Soon after each new mayor of Athens-Clarke County takes office, the executive assistant to the mayor’s office, Mae Walter, will remind them of one of the informal duties and perquisites of their position — designing the key to the city that they’ll distribute during their administration.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke planners recommend changes to demolition application process
The Athens-Clarke County Planning Commission is recommending the county commission approve changes to the review process for applications for structural demolition or relocation.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County planners propose grazing ordinance
A growing local interest in using sheep or goats to control unwanted or invasive plants has prompted Athens-Clarke County’s Planning Department to propose regulation of that activity while allowing it in all areas of the county.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

'Party Down South' might prompt tighter controls on TV, film production in Athens
As the cast and crew of Country Music Television’s alcohol-fueled reality-TV show “Party Down South” were making their presence known in Athens this week, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson said Tuesday that establishing tighter controls on film and video production here is “a discussion probably worth having.”
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Assessing emerging reality in downtown Athens
This week’s announcement that the Armstrong & Dobbs property in the eastern edge of downtown Athens is on track to host a mixed-use development, centered around student housing, offers additional proof of what’s become more and more apparent over the last few years: The character of downtown Athens is changing, with student-oriented housing, now virtually ringing the eastern edge of the area, becoming a dominant part of the mix.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County gets $60K grant for greenspace project
A Tennessee-based nonprofit foundation with ties to Athens has issued another grant to the Athens-Clarke County government for planning the future of a 310-acre tract acquired by the county two years ago in support of a goal of protecting 20 percent of the county’s land area as greenspace.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Planned work to close Athens intersection for summer of 2015
Athens-Clarke County commissioners have all but formally approved a road construction project at a major intersection linking Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties for which there is no easy detour.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

New pricing model proposed for Athens-Clarke Leisure Services Dept.
A community-based re-evaluation of the pricing structure for Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department has been proposed by the department’s executive director, who told county commissioners this week she’d like to move toward a philosophy for pricing services rather than merely implementing tools to get the job done.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke to consider acquiring fully automated garbage trucks
Looking for long-term cost savings, Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Director Jim Corley is asking Athens-Clarke commissioners to approve a nearly $2 million plan for replacement of the existing fleet of semi-automated garbage trucks with fully automated trucks that will pluck garbage cans from curbside, dump them and then replace the cans.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Pot possession a hot topic at Athens-Clarke mayoral candidates debate
Sharp distinctions were drawn Wednesday night between the two candidates in the nonpartisan race for mayor of Athens-Clarke County, but a debate sponsored by the Young Democrats of UGA also revealed a point of near-agreement between incumbent Nancy Denson and her challenger — no relation — local activist Tim Denson.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Fledgling downtown Athens festival gets share of local funding
Organizers of Slingshot, the music, arts and technology festival now in its second year in Athens, got a vote of confidence from the Athens Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday as the authority’s board voted to allocate $6,000 to help cover costs not covered by sponsors or other sources.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens officials establish goals for upcoming year
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a list of “budget goals and objectives” for the upcoming fiscal year during a Tuesday meeting.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Jerry Saulters proud to serve on Athens-Clarke police honor guard
Lt. Jerry Saulters takes pride in the uniform he wears each day. And every once in a while that pride reaches a new level when putting on a different uniform used only by members of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s Honor Guard.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens government budget process underway, in early stages
While the formal budget proposal is likely months off, Athens-Clarke County officials are starting to hold budget hearings for departments and independent agencies that use taxpayer money.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens officials ask departments to spend 2 percent less
Athens-Clarke County department heads were asked to plan for 2 percent reductions in their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens Leisure Services going through reviews with more on the way
A smattering of internal and external reviews could be on the horizon for the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lyndon House future discussed at meeting
Like many sections of the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services department, the Lyndon House has been on the short end of the budget cut stick in recent years and is one of the department’s most under-performing centers revenue-wise.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County officially moves state and local election date
The general primary and nonpartisan elections, including those for Athens-Clarke County commission and mayor races, has been officially moved to May 20, according to an announcement from the local government.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Girtz: Hire an auditor to examine Athens' Leisure Services Department
Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz wants an ACC auditor hired by July 1 who can then immediately focus on the Leisure Services department, potentially putting another question mark in the direction of the department.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lt. Willie Brinkley: a dedication to community oriented policing in Athens
Willie Brinkley was not necessarily looking to make a career in law enforcement. The Athens-Clarke County police lieutenant said that when growing up in the city of Madison he thought that he might become a teacher.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Plans to rebuild Oconee Street UMC submitted to Athens-Clarke County
Plans to rebuild the Oconee Street United Methodist Church dropped at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department on Friday.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Plan of Watkinsville not dependent on SPLOST
As expected, Monday’s public hearing at the Oconee County Civic Center on the list of projects to be included in an upcoming special-purpose local option sales tax referendum brought out some enthusiastic supporters of The Plan of Watkinsville, an initiative of fourth-generation Watkinsville resident and Notre Dame-trained architect Robert Smith aimed at enhancing the small-town atmosphere of the county seat’s downtown area while attracting economic development.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Nancy Denson reports raising $22,000 in January for Athens-Clarke Mayor's race
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson reported having more than $35,000 on hand from $45,000 in donations at the end of Jan. 31.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Girtz proposes government stepping in for high-speed internet, sustainable energy
With Internet companies showing little interest in dropping high-speed lines in downtown and potentially under-used sustainable energy resources, Athens-Clarke Commissioner Kelly Girtz is wondering if the government should fill those voids.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commission to decide where to put facility for hard-to-recycle materials
The Athens-Clarke County Commission will pick where residents can drop off their old mattresses and tires Tuesday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke police officer has strong communications skills
Keith Kelley wears several hats, sometimes a firefighter’s helmet and other times a police officer’s cap.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Documents show Leisure Services plans to boost Lyndon House use
Leisure Services director Pam Reidy calls the Lyndon House Arts Center a “jewel” for Athens. And like a real jewel, the center is expensive. It’s also underutilized by the community and funding to it has been cut in recent years.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Proposed Lyndon House Arts Center changes stir controversy
A snowstorm canceled a public meeting this week about the future of Athens-Clarke County’s Lyndon House Arts Center, leaving questions about proposed changes at the center swirling.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald