Towns County Courthouse renovations on the way

News, Police & Government

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Now that the new SPLOST tax passed, Towns County’s courthouse renovation can officially begin. Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw took a moment to speak about the new project at the June county meeting.

“I want to thank the Towns County Citizens for passing the SPLOST and Freeport Tax,” said Bradshaw.

Taxes didn’t increase with the passage of SPLOST; everything remains at seven percent.

“Now we can bring our courthouse up to date, not only in looks but the function of the courthouse,” Bradshaw added.

Bradshaw explained the architect’s plans during the first regularly scheduled meeting since March.

The bulk of the money will be spent on the interior of the current courthouse. They will gut the building to bring it up to code and add an offset to the back. The entire process should take around 18 months.

“The addition on the back will be courtrooms, holding cells, a judge’s office. It will be three courtrooms – two at 120 capacity and one at 60. The one at 60 will be the probate judge,” Bradshaw explained to the room.

Bradshaw and the architects went through several rounds of drawings before deciding on the final layout. Once the architects found drawings of the original courthouse, they incorporated its style into the add-on. The concept will break up the square box look and incorporate darker brick against the light brick.

“They will gut everything out of this building – the wiring, the plumbing, the heating and air, the windows. Everything will be new, more energy-efficient, and I can get Margie and Brooke out of the closet in our office.”

The new building will also create a commissioner’s conference room.

Rendering of the renovated courthouse.

The current plan is to build the new addition first and let everyone move that building. The commissioner’s office might move into the civic center. The exact details are still to be determined. After the completion of the addition, construction crews should take another nine months to finish renovating the existing courthouse.

The process will take longer than normal, but the county is saving money because it won’t have to rent trailers, sewer, internet, etc.

Around $500,000 of SPLOST funds will go to the road department and $140,000 for the recreation department.

Commissioner Bradshaw thanked everyone for passing SPLOST and the Freeport tax exemption.

Freeport Exemption

The Freeport Tax will put Towns County on an equal footing with surrounding counties as far as job creation is concerned.

“It will help our businesses in the future for the employees to have job creation because it will save them money on their taxes on their raw materials. It does open the door for a business to start here because we’re equal to every other county and if we put on a better sales pitch, we’ll get ‘em,” Bradshaw explained.

Around 93 percent of Georgia counties have adopted a Level One Freeport Exemption, which can be set at 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 percent of the inventory value. According to the state of Georgia, t can apply to the following types of property:

  • Inventory of goods in the process of being manufactured or produced including raw materials and partly finished goods;
  • Inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within this State held by the manufacturer or producer for a period not to exceed 12 months;
  • Inventory of finished goods on January 1 that are stored in a warehouse, dock, or wharf which are destined for shipment outside this State for a period not to exceed 12 months;
  • Stock in trade of a fulfillment center which on January 1 are stored in the fulfillment center.

Runoff details emerge; Anderson qualified for tax commissioner

Election, News

TOWNS COUNTY, Ga – Board of Elections announced that the August 11 runoff elections will take place in the same polling location as the General Primary.

After speaking with the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, Board of Elections Chairman Janet Olivia and Office Supervisor Rachel Edwards stated that the runoff election must “be consistent” with the primary. In other words, the decision to only open one polling station will still be in effect for the runoff.

COVID-19 forced the Board of Elections to close four of the five polling stations in Towns County. The decision took into account the safety of residents and poll workers as well as liability concerns.

“We had trained 30 [poll workers], but when we get got a reply back, we had less than 12 that were interested in working,” Olivia explained. “Also, the individuals in control of the polling places were concerned about the issue of using the polling place locations because of the liability and responsibility.”

If the government owns the polling location, then it takes on the responsibility of sanitizing the area to combat the spread of COVID-19. EMS Director Brandon Walls and his team assisted in ensuring the cleanliness of the Board of Elections and Civic Center building.

Rachel Edwards (Left) and Janet Olivia (Right).

However, other polling locations, such as the lodge and church, private citizens would be responsible for cleaning and separating large crowds of people.

The elections and civic center building was only government facility available for the General Primary and just enough poll workers to staff it.

4,754 Towns residents voted during the June 9 General Primary with 2,732 absentee votes, and 1,166 early votes. Around 10,500 people are registered to vote in Towns County.

Early voting for the runoff will begin on July 20. Absentee ballots for the runoff must be requested. The Secretary of State won’t mass mail absentee applications for the August 11 election.

Races appearing on the August 11 runoff will be Towns County Sheriff between Kenneth “Ode” Henderson (R) and Daren “Bear” Osborn (R), State Senator District 50 between Stacy Hall (R) and Bo Hatchett (R), Congressional Ninth District on the Republican Ticket Matt Gurtler and Andrew Clyde, and Ninth District on the Democrat Ticket Devin Pandy and Brooke Siskin.

Due to J.C. Berrong’s untimely passing, the Towns County Republican Party can run another candidate in his place and one individual has qualified. Michael Anderson of Scataway will appear on the ballot for Tax Commissioner in November. Bruce Rogers (D-I) will also be on the ballot.

The Board of Elections applied for several grants to reimburse the expenses associated with the new voting machines as well.

Bradshaw commended the work the election staff performs to deliver accurate results.

“These ladies do a great job. They put in a tremendous amount of hours down there and I’m very thankful to have them. As commissioner, I don’t know what I would do without them. They are very dedicated and do a good job, added Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw.

COVID-19 testing site coming to Towns County Health Department

Announcements, News

TOWNS COUNTY, Ga – In his public address on Friday, April 17, Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw revealed that Towns County would soon receive a COVID-19 testing location at the local health department.

“We’re going to have a drive-thru testing site at Towns County Health Department, and it will be up and going in a few days. It will help us identify who has the virus, who doesn’t have the virus. You need to go isolate yourself or your fine, you can go back to work,” explained the commissioner.

According to Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales the testing site is open and taking appointments. Please call ahead before showing up at the health department. The number is (706) 896-2265.

Fetch Your News contacted District Two MPH Dave Palmer for further details about the testing location.  However, once all the specimen collection details are worked out, testing should begin soon.

Towns and Union County Health Department staff are being trained in COVID-19 testing protocols, and the Towns location will serve citizens from both counties.

“Specimen collection will take place at the health department and specimens will be sent to a lab for testing. Test results average 24 to 48 hours, explained Palmer. “The process will require an appointment. Individuals who have symptoms are asked to call the health department. A nurse will screen callers and then submit the information to a scheduler who will call the individual with a time to come to the specimen collection site.”

Those who take a COVID-19 test will receive a phone call with the lab results. All positive patients will work with a nurse regarding contact tracing.

How Towns received a testing location

Bradshaw contacted State Senator John Wilkinson and District 2 Public Health Director Pam Logan on Thursday, April 16 about getting a testing site. Up until now, Gainesville, Ga has been the closest drive-thru testing site for Towns County residents.

“I said can we not please get a testing site on this side of the mountain? We’ve got elderly folks here who are sick, and [they don’t feel like driving across the mountain.] To be honest with you after watching the local news and all this stuff about testing sites, I thought it would probably be impossible,” admitted Bradshaw.

At 5 p.m., Logan called back and confirmed Towns County could receive its own drive-thru site.

For those with questions about the testing site, call the health department at 706.896.2265.

“I’m very, very proud that we’re able to get this done,” said Bradshaw.

testing site

Commissioner Bradshaw gave a COVID-19 update to Towns County citizens.

He thanked everyone who made it possible including Wilkinson, Logan, Laura Ide, the office manager health department, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby, and all the people involved in making it happen.

“This is a serious time. There’s no doubt about it and this is when Americans rise to the top. This is when we do our best. I’m thankful to all you guys, and I’m thankful to our citizens,” stated the commissioner.

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw gives update on COVID-19.

Posted by Fetch Your News on Friday, April 17, 2020

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