UNG and developers ask for county’s financial assistance for DOT project

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UNG Commissioners

BLUE RIDGE, Ga – University of North Georgia Blue Ridge (UNG) hopes Fannin County will cover the $35,000 shortfall for its Hwy. 515 entrance.

The goal of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) project is to make it easier for students traveling from Blue Ridge (North on 515) to turn into UNG. Currently, they must travel past the college and make a U-turn.

A third of the 200 plus students at UNG are dual-enrolled. They’re young drivers who go visit the campus several times a day depending on their class schedule.

Of course, the entrance also leads to the KOA campground so RVs are using the road and making U-turns too.

Post One Johnny Scearce, who attended the meeting via Zoom, stressed that they needed to make the road as safe as possible.

GDOT engineered the entrance three times and concluded that an R-cut would best suit everyone’s needs. At this time, GDOT doesn’t believe there’s enough traffic for another red light.

With the city of Blue Ridge, UNG secured a $150,000 matching grant from GDOT. The winning big for the project was $220,000 from Colditz. The university’s already paid $35,000 and developers spent $58,000 in engineering expenses. UNG hopes the county will put up the remaining $35,000.

The project’s already in motion with an estimated completion date of 60 days.

Chairman Hensley moved to table the project until the next meeting.

Recreation Department

Recreation Department Director Eddie O’Neal presented two SPLOST projects and one reimbursable FEMA project. The commissioners approved a $67,080 remodel of the soccer concession stand, $31,080 for labor from Wolf Creek, and the remaining $36,000 for materials. The recreation department will buy the materials using its tax-exempt status. The project won’t exceed the approved amount.

$23,600 was approved for the drawing and assistance with Biome Architects for fields six and seven.

Extensive storm damage caused and undercut on the creek bank and a new storm drain is needed to guarantee part safety. Biome Architects agreed to rush through drawing for the project for $5,700. The second bid of $42,710 was approved for the labor and reconstruction portion. The first bid was $203,000.

Crews can only complete 1,000 square feet per day. They estimate the project to take three weeks.

Once completed Fannin can apply to FEMA for an approximate 80 percent reimbursement.

Public Works

Commissioners approved a $7,000 repair for one of the flatbed trucks. The vehicle’s in good shape with a new transmission and new brakes.

E911

E911 Director Patrick Cooke received approval to seek bids for new radio consoles. The current radios were installed in 2005 and have reached end of life. Parts and service will no longer be available for those units. The new consoles were budgeted for 2021, but E911 has funds for the project.

New radios could cost around $125,000.

Bids will be presented next month.

Budget Amendments

A $44,072 budget amendment was approved by the commissioners to cover salary expenses and line items for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit employees. The previous commission board let the 2021 budget flat because of COVID-19 unknowns, but the other two counties in the judicial circuit passed the increase previously.

On the same token, following executive session, the commissioners unanimously approved a three percent pay raise for county employees. The raise will cover a cost-of-living increase.

Building Moratorium

A moratorium was put into place for structures of more than 72 feet from the footers to the top of the roof. It will be in place for six months.

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