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Braselton approves large housing project

Braselton leaders recently gave the go-ahead for a large residential project near Chateau Elan.

The Braselton Town Council voted March 9 to approve annexation, rezoning and a master plan change for 141 acres off Duncan Creek Rd. (Only 30.63 acres of that was annexed.)

Meritage Homes of Georgia plans to construct a large residential development on the property. Developers initially planned 321 detached, single-family lots.

Meritage submitted a new site plan March 9, and the council's vote was contingent on the project "substantially conforming" with that new site plan.

The request was approved in a split vote after a disagreement among council members over the buffer size alongside the Legends at Chateau Elan.

Council member Jim Joedecke first made a motion to approve the request, proposing a 150-foot setback/buffer alongside the Legends property. But Peggy Slappey recommended lowering that to 125-feet.

“This is at least five times the required buffer for any other residential community,” she said.

Joedecke argued that given the density being proposed, the 150-foot buffer was reasonable. He was the lone "nay" vote on the revised motion.

The request was approved with several conditions, including the construction of an 8-foot black vinyl-coated chain link fence to run a minimum of 100 feet from the Legends of Chateau Elan lots and a maximum of 30 feet from from the property line of the Meritage homeowners.


Also at its meeting, the council approved:

•a massage ordinance as approved by the FBI which will allow the town to run national background checks on massage establishments.

•a bid for VP Buildings totaling $858,000 for the Braselton Civic Center’s pre-engineered metal building. Various other trades for the project were over budget and are being reconsidered.

•a special event request for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

•appointing Neville Erasmus to the Braselton Visitors Bureau Authority.

•appointing Matt Kicklighter to the Zoning Board of Appeals District 4.

Seth Marooney, 17, recently installed a little free library in the new Hoschton Depot City Park as part of his Eagle Scout project. The library holds an estimate of 70 books for both children and adults and features a glass door front and colorful flowers and books hand painted by Marooney’s friend, Morgan Estock. Marooney has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 231 Grace Fellowship in Snellville for six years. His Scout master, Craig Knowlton, said “this project is a great way to benefit the community. Marooney has to show two things with his Eagle Scout project: leadership and project management. The next step to complete his project and earn Eagle Scout status is to do a write up and demonstrate the project.” Marooney has worked two weekends building the miniature library. Rick and Sharon Marooney, Seth’s parents, said they are very proud of him for completing this task. “He was very diligent with the project,” said Rick. “He is meticulous about the details.” Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program. “It takes four percent of your life to make Eagle, but it is something you will use the rest of your life,” said Knowlton. The Jacob Braselton Chapter of the NSDAR hosted the event. Once the park is complete, the DAR Chapter plans on creating a butterfly garden in the area as well. Shown here are city officials, city staff, Boy Scouts of America leaders and NAR members, who asked prayer during the dedication to bless the little library.

Area races set after week of qualifying

A number of local, state and federal races are set after the close of qualifying last week.

Party primaries will be held May 19 and the General Election will be Nov. 3.

Local races include:


U.S. Representatives District 9

Michael Boggus, Republican

Paul Broun, Republican

Andrew Clyde, Republican

Matt Gurtler, Republican

Maria Strickland, Republican

Kevin Tanner, Republican

Ethan Underwood, Republican

Kellie Weeks, Republican

John K. Wilkinson, Republican

Devin Pandy, Democrat

Siskin, Democrat

Dan Wilson, Democrat

U.S. Representatives District 10 

Jody Hice (I), Republican

Andrew Ferguson, Democrat

Tabitha Johnson-Green, Democrat

U.S. Representatives District 7

Lisa Noel Babbage, Republican

Mark Gonsalves, Republican

Lynne Homrich, Republican

Zachary H. Kennemore, Republican

Rich McCormick, Republican

Renee S. Unterman, Republican

Eugene Yu, Republican

Carolyn Bourdeaux, Democrat

John Eaves, Democrat

Nabilah Aishah Islam, Democrat

Zahra S. Karinshak, Democrat

Brenda Lopez Romero, Democrat

Rachid Malik, Democrat

State Senate District 45

Sammy Baker, Republican

Clint Dixon, Republican

Noemi Puntier, Republican

Ernie Anaya, Democrat

Matielyn Jones, Democrat

Richard Smith, Democrat

State Senate District 47

Frank Ginn (I), Republican

Dawn Johnson, Democrat

State Senate District 49

Cecil T. Butch Miller (I), Republican

State Representative District 103

Timothy Barr (I), Republican

Derrick McCollum, Republican

Donald Schmidt, Republican

Clifton Marshell, Democrat

State Representative District 116

Terry England (I), Republican

State Representative District 31

Tommy Benton (I), Republican

Pete Fuller, Democrat


BOC District 1

Jim Hix (I), Republican

Jamie Mitchem, Democrat

BOC District 2

Chas Hardy (I), Republican

Tommy Rainey, Republican

Brodriche D. Jackson, Democrat


Shannon Stephens, Republican

Keith Whitfield (I), Republican


Janis Mangum (I), Republican

Johnny Wood, Republican

Tax Commissioner

Wesley Thomas Colley, Republican

Candace Taylor Heaton (I), Republican

BOE Post 1

Rob Johnson, Republican

Mark J. Kuczka, Republican

Blake Rodenroth, Republican

Rick Sanders, Republican

Solicitor of State Court

Gabriel Bradford, Republican

Jim R. David, Republican


Unopposed seats include: BOC chair, Tom Crow (I); Superior Court Clerk, Camie Wilkes Thomas (I); Probate Court Judge, Sherry C. Moore (I); Surveyor, Warren S. Wood (I); BOE Post 4, Lynne Massey Wheeler (I); State Court Judge, Robert D. Alexander (I); and Magistrate Court Judge, Ben Green (I).


BOC At-Large

Bobby Banks, Republican

Richard Higgins (I), Republican

Judy D. Sartain, Republican

BOC Post 2

David Gibbs IV, Republican

Billy Powell (I), Republican

Clerk of Court

Charles Baker (I), Republican

Jennifer Garrett Gibbs, Republican

Brad Rounds, Republican

Laura Stiner, Republican


Doug Forrester, Republican

Marion G. Merck (I), Republican


Gerald Couch (I), Republican

Kris Hall, Republican

Mitch Taylor, Republican

David P. Williams, Republican


Unopposed races include: BOC Post 4, Jeffrey R. Stowe (I); Probate Court Judge, Patty Walters Laine (I); Surveyor, Chris M. Patton (I); Tax Commissioner, Darla Jean Eden (I); BOE Post 3, Craig Herrington (I); BOE Post 4, Nath Morris (I); State Court Judge, B. E. Gene Roberts III (I); State Court Judge, John Gage Breakfield (I); and Chief Magistrate, Margaret S. Gregory (I).


BOC Chair

George Awaku, Republican

Marcia L. Neaton, Republican

David Post, Republican

Nicole Love Hendrickson, Democrat

Andy Morgan, Democrat

Desmond A. Nembhard, Democrat

Curt Thompson, Democrat

Lee Thompson Jr., Democrat

BOC District 1

Laurie McClain, Republican

Jacqueline Tseng, Republican

Kirkland Carden, Democrat

BOC District 3

Ben Archer, Republican

Matt Dereimer, Republican

Kim Walker, Republican

Roger Marmol, Democrat

John Henry Moye Jr., Democrat

Justin Walsh, Democrat

Jasper Watkins III, Democrat

Derrick J. Wilson, Democrat


Luis "Lou" Solis Jr., Republican

Keith Van Nus, Republican

Curtis Clemons, Democrat

Benjamin J. Haynes, Democrat

Floyd Scott, Democrat

Keybo Taylor, Democrat

Tax Commissioner

Richard Steele (I), Republican

Regina M. Carden, Democrat

Maureen McIvor, Democrat

Tiffany Porter, Democrat

BOE District 1

Carole C. Boyce (I), Republican

Segun Adeyina, Democrat

Karen Watkins, Democrat

BOE District 3

Mary Kay Murphy (I), Republican

Tanisha Banks, Democrat

BOE District 5

Tarece Johnson, Democrat

Louise Radloff (I), Democrat

State Court Judge

Shawn Bratton (I), non-partisan

Matt Miller, non-partisan


Unopposed races include: Superior Court Clerk, Tiana P. Garner; Probate Court Judge, Christopher A. Ballar (I); State Court Judge, Carla Brown (I); State Court Judge, Emily Brantley (I); State Court Judge to succeed John F. Doran, Veronica Cope; and Chief Magistrate, Kristina Hammer Blum.


There are no opposed local races in Barrow County.

Qualifying in Barrow County were BOC: Pat Graham (I), chair, Joe Goodman (I), District 1, Bill Brown (I), District 2, and Rolando Alvarez (I), District 3; BOE: Vince Caine, District 2, replacing Garey Huff, Lynn Stevens (I), District 5, and Rickey Bailey (I), District 6, Jordan Raper (I), District 8 at-large; Sheriff: Jud Smith (I); Chief magistrate: Caroline Power Evans (I); Probate judge: Tammy Brown (I); Clerk of Superior Court: Janie Jones, replacing Regina McIntyre; Tax commissioner: Jessica Garrett, replacing Melinda Williams; and Coroner: Kenneth Cooper, replacing David Crosby.

Hoschton political forum cancelled after candidates decline participation

A political forum for Hoschton council candidates was cancelled last week. The Hoschton Women’s Civic Club forum was set for March 4.

The cancellation came after Hope Weeks, Jared Thompson and Raphael Mayberry declined to participate.

Weeks is running for mayor against Shannon Sell in the March 24 election.

Thompson faces Tracy Carswell in a May 19 election for the city council seat vacated by Weeks. (Weeks was forced to resign in order to run for mayor.)

And Mayberry could face James Lawson in the March 24 election for a city council seat. The Jackson County Board of Elections voted to disqualify Lawson from that race. But Lawson has appealed and Judge Joe Booth has issued a stay of the election board’s decision until a March 11 court hearing on the matter.

Weeks, Thompson and Mayberry all cited their unwillingness to participate in the forum was due to Lawson being included as a participant.

In an email to a civic club leader, Mayberry said, “…my presence at the forum is unnecessary since James Lawson’s candidacy has been disqualified by the board of elections of Jackson County. I have been sworn in as a council member as of Feb. 24. The stay Judge Booth placed on the early voting does not throw out the decision made by the board of electors.”

Weeks was also critical of including Lawson in the forum and urged the civic club to postpone the forum until after the March 11 hearing.

“Councilman Mayberry was sworn in on February 24 in accordance with applicable law,” Weeks wrote in a separate email. “The stay issued by Judge Booth placed on early voting, or interference thereof, does not negate the decision made by the board.  The city released a statement indicating it stands behind its decision to swear in Councilman Mayberry and recognizes him as a council member, not a candidate. 

“The Hoschton Women's Civic Club's decision to recognize him as a candidate and Mr. Lawson as a qualified candidate is in direct conflict with the City's stance on the issue.  I do not believe the club should be interfering in the decisions of the city in this manner.”

Thompson sent a similar response.

“James Lawson was disqualified by the Jackson County Board of Elections as a candidate based on his residency qualifications, and although he has appealed that decision to the Superior Court and a stay has been issued by a judge ‘inasmuch as early voting begins Monday, March 2, 2020’ that does not vindicate him as a candidate,” Thompson said in an email to the club. “To include him, and additionally to invite Councilman Mayberry, who has already been sworn in and whose position the stay makes no mention of, is a flagrant attempt to undermine the authority of Hoschton's newest city official. Mr. Mayberry can no longer be considered a candidate by any definition of the word, and attempting to include both Mr. Lawson and Mr. Mayberry indicates that the forum organizers seem to know more than or be able to judge evidence more faithfully than a Superior Court Judge. That reason alone is more than enough justification for me to distance myself from such an event.”

Mayberry also criticized the civic club for not condemning former Hoschton mayor Theresa Kenerly and mayor pro tem Jim Cleveland. The two former elected leaders came under fire last year over racial comments made surrounding the search for a new city administrator.

“During the last year many in your civic group have failed to condemn the words and actions of Theresa Kenerly and Jim Cleveland,” Mayberry said. “With the exception of Hope Weeks and Susan Powers your civic group did not speak out publicly about the situation. Until your civic group can have the moral courage to proclaim racist, unlawful actions for what they are then our community should not let you conduct a political forum.”

Braselton area planning for Coronavirus

Although there are no known local cases of the Coronavirus CVOID-19, plans for dealing with a possible epidemic spreading here are starting to take shape in the Braselton area.

An updated protocol has been established by the state for how local doctors are supposed to report suspected cases of the virus and local emergency management officials have established guidelines for how to respond to suspected cases.

At the state level, officials are preparing Hard Labor Creek park in Morgan County as a possible isolation site if that is needed.


Jackson County Emergency Management Agency director Bryan Bullock said  the county's 911 center has added travel questions to ask people who call in sick and seeking medical care. In addition, the county's ambulance service crews will also ask about recent travel of patients and will handle suspected cases of COVID-19 as they do suspected flu cases.

"In the event of a large outbreak in our county, we will follow the plans that we have in place to deal with mass amounts of patients, "Bullock said. "Our area healthcare coalition is preparing the local hospitals in the event of an outbreak."

Bullock said  in a recent call with the CDC, he was told that the initial response has been to quarantine any patient who tests positive for the virus.


The Hall County School System is requiring students and staff who have traveled to a Level 2 infected country to stay home and self-monitor for 14 days before returning to school.

School volunteers who have traveled out of the country recently should contact their school supervisor before participating in any school events, including athletics.


One person in Gwinnett County may have the Coronavirus after returning from a trip to Italy. The state department of health is awaiting CDC confirmation. That individual is self-monitoring at home.

Gwinnett County students or staff who have returned from a Level 3 alert country should stay home for two weeks before returning to class, according to GCSS guidelines.


The Governor’s Office and state officials are working to prepare the site at Hard Labor Creek Park for the placement of patients, officials said March 9.

Seven emergency trailers have been delivered to the park and related materials are en route for future use. Once established, the Department of Public Safety will provide security for this location.


Testing for the virus has been an issue across the nation with a limited number of tests and testing labs available. Currently, only certain individuals are being tested and those tests are sent to the Georgia Department of Public Health for lab work. Those results are then sent to the CDC for confirmation.

Local doctors have been given guidelines for when to do patient testing. Those guidelines are to test those who:

• have a fever or lower respiratory symptoms and who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have traveled recently to areas with a widespread Coronavirus outbreak.

• have a fever with a severe lower respiratory illness such as pneumonia that requires hospitalization and there is no other diagnosis that explains the sickness.

Census info coming

Local residents will soon be getting information about participating in the 2020 census.

Most residents will get a notice in the mail starting March 12. The response this year can be done online, by phone or by mail.

The county's local census committee has been working for months to make citizens aware of the impending count. The group, which had booths at local football games and a float in local Christmas parades, will now focus on using social media to remind people to fill out the census form.

Local libraries are also assisting in the census where additional information will be available.

April 1 will be the national Census Day. Data given should record where individuals live as of that date.

Large group settings, such as college campuses, nursing homes, etc. will get on-site visits by census workers during April. Those who don't respond to the census questions by May should get a visit by a census worker to follow up in an effort to make sure everyone is counted.

If you get your mail via a P.O. Box,  you're likely to get a home visit.

The online census form will close in August.

Data from the census is used to divvy up state and federal funds and to reapportion political districts at the local, state and federal levels.

The census is mandated in the U.S. Constitution to be done every 10 years.

Although there was a controversy last year over a proposed citizenship question on the census, no such question is actually on the document.