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Hoschton may build new city hall

The City of Hoschton could get a new city hall building.

Mayor Shannon Sell told the city council on Nov. 9 that he wants to start working on ideas for a new city hall building.

"Unless anybody tells me to stop, I'm going to start gathering some serious information on putting a city hall building here next to us," Sell said. "I want to start talking to engineers, surveyors and we'll do some measuring, getting some true ideas, maybe getting an architect. I can sketch plans, but there are a lot of requirements."

Council member Shantwon Astin asked about possibly moving city hall to the "outskirts" of town so that the downtown area could be retail businesses.

"I think that day's coming," Sell said.

The mayor said that if a new city hall were built next to the existing building, it would be designed to be used for other purposes in the future.

"I just kinda want to get the ball rolling," Sell said of the effort.


The council is slated to vote on the preliminary plat for Twin Lakes Phase 4 at its meeting on Nov. 16.

The city has been embroiled in litigation with Kolter, the developers of Twin Lakes, over impact fees and has been holding up approval of the plat for several weeks.

On Nov. 9, Sell said the city has all the information it needs and will vote on the plat issue next week.

The council has not discussed the plat in public, but has had several closed meetings that were apparently about the issue and potential litigation.


In other business Nov. 9, the council discussed:

• buying exterior security cameras for the city hall building and for the gate area at the city's water plant.

• raising the town's business license fees for in-home businesses to match the regular retail rate of $115 per year. The city also wants to impose strong penalties on those who fail to pay the tax by Jan. 1 deadline.

• zoning variances for two proposed water tank sites.

• variances for 9 small tracts of property the city owns. 

• a quit claim deed for property where city streets were never built. The move is to clean up an old plat that has long been outdated.

Pop-up Rolling Library takes libraries out into communities

Visitors to area events may see a pop-up library that showcases resources offered by public libraries in Banks, Jackson and Barrow counties.

The Piedmont Regional Library System has a new truck, known as PuRL, that is being used as a pop-up library to go to community events.

Beth McIntyre, director of the Piedmont Regional Library System, says that PuRL (Pop-up Rolling Library) revamps the book mobile program that was popular in the 1960s that took books out into communities. The modern version of the book mobile has a speaker system on the truck and offers not only books but electronic services offered by the public libraries.

The Piedmont Regional Library System first began taking the pop-up libraries into the communities in 2016 in a Honda Civic. The new truck is an improvement as it has much more space and offers more services.

“We can do anything you can do at the library,” says Kelli McDaniel, regional director and assistant director of the Piedmont Library System. “You can check out books access the Internet and access our Apps.”

Library staff have taken the pop-up library to farmer’s markets, festivals, day care centers and senior citizen’s centers.

“People were surprised to come upon us at day care centers and festivals and events,” McDaniel said

Alicia King, administrative and outreach services coordinator, added, “We want the community to understand all that the library offers. We wanted to bring the library with us and show all that it offers. It offers so much more than books.”

Eight shelves are located on each side of the truck, which also features a sound system. The truck, a Ford 250, also has a large storage area.

The process to get the truck began in 2018 when King and McDaniel attended a conference and met Summit Bodyworks leaders, the company who built the truck. In 2019, the library system received state funds for capital assessment projects. This is when the effort really began to purchase the truck for the book mobile. 

PuRL is used by all 10 public libraries in the Piedmont Library System in Banks, Jackson and Barrow counties

McDaniel says, “PURL is unique enough that people at events will stop and check her out. It connects the staff to the community so that people will stop and meet them and see what the library offers.”

Around town
Tickets on sale for Braselton's Cravin' Bacon Walk

The Town of Braselton is hosting its first ever Cravin' Bacon Walk.

"The Cravin’ Bacon Walk is a great way to explore Downtown Braselton, finish up holiday shopping or just have a fun night on the town with friends," town leaders said. "Squealer Tickets will include a map of trough stop locations where walkers will pick up a delicious bacon treat from each participating business. All walkers will be eligible for a bacon themed gift basket drawing to be held the following day."

This year's event is planned Thursday, Dec. 3, from 4-9 p.m. in downtown Braselton.

The cost is $35 per person and participants should be at least 16 years old.

VIP tickets are also available and include bourbon tastings.

"In addition to receiving the delicious bacon bites at each trough stop, VIP tickets will include special access to our bourbon tasting rooms where they will get samples from some of the finest distilleries around," town leaders said.

VIP tickets are $75 per person. VIP's must be at least 21 years of age and present a valid ID at check in. They will also receive a souvenir tasting glass.

This is a rain or shine event and there are no refunds.

Tickets available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/braselton-cravin-bacon-walk-tickets-120273325755.

Braselton approves road ordinance, other routine items

Braselton leaders recently gave the go-ahead on a road naming and addressing ordinance, along with a handful of other routine items.

The Braselton Town Council voted Nov. 9 to approve the road ordinance.

Town manager Jennifer Scott said the town is currently in the service delivery strategy process with Jackson County and that the county requested Braselton approve a uniform addressing and road naming ordinance. Since Braselton is located in four counties, the town's ordinance is modified for that four-county area.

The ordinance formalizes the town's existing process for naming roads (ensuring any road in town doesn't exist anywhere else in the four counties; naming streets after a person; road name changes; etc.).

“It meets all the county requirements,” Scott said. “It also kind of makes the process that we’ve been doing all along actually get put into an ordinance so that it’s very clear.”


Other items approved at Braselton's Nov. 9 meeting were:

•an amendment to the town’s development code, adopting a state model ordinance on stormwater management.

•an alcoholic beverage license for Colleen Marie Hunter Lyons for Longhorn Steakhouse. This is a license-holder change.

•a request from Michael Rotunda to declare surplus .265 acres off Quarry Falls Ln. Since multiple properties are adjacent to the parcel, the town will have to open the public bid process to allow eligible property owners to bid. The council approved the request to declare the property surplus at a minimum of $8,000, the high end of the appraisal.

Braselton woman charged after shooting man with BB gun

A Braselton woman faces charges after shooting a man with a BB gun over the weekend, resulting in serious injuries.

Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested April Kathleen Dills, 50, for aggravated assault, aggravated battery and battery for the Saturday, Nov. 7, incident at a house on Daylily Drive. All of the charges are under the Family Violence Act.

Deputies were called around 2:30 p.m. and located Dills, who was with the injured victim, 61, inside of the home. Hall County Fire Services arrived, began caring for the man and transported him to Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville. HCSO detectives also responded to the house and began the investigation.

According to initial details, Dills shot the victim with a pump-action air BB rifle in his chest. Prior to shooting him, Dills hit him in his chest with the rifle. Dills and the victim lived together in the home.

Following her arrest, deputies booked Dills in at the Hall County Jail, where she remained early Monday afternoon with no bond.

The case remains under investigation.

Biden wins presidency

A divided nation has spoken and Democrat Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States.

The race was called around noon on Saturday, Nov. 7, as the results in Pennsylvania became clear with Biden taking that battleground state.

The Democratic president-elect has also apparently taken Georgia, although those results aren't yet official.

"Surprisingly, Georgia became a key swing state as well with the results still undecided, but with Biden leading by a few thousand votes in the state, which has been dominated by the GOP for three decades," said Jackson County Democratic Party chairman Pete Fuller. "The Jackson County Democrats are incredibly proud of this state and our role in pushing Georgia into the status of being a blue state. Two years ago a massive organizational effort occurred that laid a good bit of the groundwork for this year. This year, Dems garnered 20.1% of the Jackson County vote, an improvement of 4% from the 2016 16.1%."

Jackson County voted strongly for incumbent GOP President Donald Trump with around 79% of the vote locally.

“As we continue to await results from all around the state and country, it’s clear where Jackson County stands," said Jackson County GOP chairman T.J. Dearman. "Despite non stop, personal attacks coming from local democratic candidates, the people of Jackson County saw right through it and reelected our Republicans by a whopping 80%."

That kind of result was typical across most rural areas of the state, but Biden took the more urban areas around Georgia, offsetting Trump's rural strength.

Most Braselton-area counties voted in favor of Trump’s re-election (with Jackson County at 78.3%; Hall County at 70.9% and Barrow County at 70.1%). Gwinnett County favored Biden with 58.4% of the vote, but the Braselton portion of Gwinnett favored Trump.

Although Biden has won the presidency, the nation remains divided politically. President Donald Trump has not yet conceded that he lost the race and some commentators expect him to attempt to litigate the election results.


Meanwhile, the two Congressional Senate seats up for grab in Georgia are both headed for a runoff.

Incumbent Republican David Perdue will face Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in the Jan. 5 runoff after neither secured 50% of the vote. (Perdue got 49.73% of the vote to Ossoff’s 47.95%.)

Meanwhile, Incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler will face Democratic Raphael Warnock in the runoff. (Loeffler secured 25.91% of the vote, while Warnock garnered 32.9%. Republican Doug Collins got 19.95% of the vote in the General Election.)


Last week’s paper was printed while many counties were still tallying votes for local races. An update on those races includes:


• U.S. House District 7: Rich McCormick (R), 48.61%; Carolyn Bourdeax (D), 51.39%

• U.S. House District 9: Andrew Clyde (R), 78.59%; Devin Pandy (D), 21.41%

• U.S. House District 10: Incumbent Jody Hice (R), 62.3%; Tabitha Johnson-Green (D), 37.7%


• State Senate District 45: Clint Dixon (R), 55.6%; Matielyn Jones (D), 44.4%

• State Senate District 47: Incumbent Frank Ginn (R), 65.86%; Dawn Johnson (D), 34.14%

• State House District 31: Incumbent Tommy Benton (R), 80.32%; Pete Fuller (D), 19.68%

• State House District 103: Incumbent Timothy Barr (R), 67.5%; Clifton Marshall (D), 32.5%


• District attorney: Incumbent Danny Porter (R), 44.01%; Patsy Austin-Gatson (D), 55.99%

• Sheriff: Lou Solis Jr. (R), 42.62%; Keybo Taylor (D), 57.38%

• Tax commissioner: Incumbent Richard Steele (R), 45.05%; Tiffany Porter (D), 54.95%

• County commission chair: David Post (R), 42.12%; Nicole Love Hendrickson (D), 57.88%

• Commission district 1: Laurie McClain (R), 44.24%; Kirkland Carden (D), 55.76%

• Commission district 3: Ben Archer (R), 41.12%; Jasper Watkins III (D), 58.88%

• Board of education district 1: Incumbent Carole C. Boyce (R), 41.13%; Karen Watkins (D), 58.87%

• Board of education district 3: Incumbent Mary Kay Murphy (R), 50.54%; Tanisha Banks (D), 49.46%

• Soil and water: Travys Harper, 22.49%; incumbent Ellis R. Lamme, 41.49%; incumbent Matthew R. Retter, 36.02%

• Gwinnett-Buford BOE SPLOST: yes, 76.62%; no, 23.38%

• Gwinnett transit referendum: yes, 49.87%; no, 50.13%


• County commission district 1: Incumbent Jim Hix (R), 79.52%; Jamie Mitchem (D), 20.48%

• County commission district 2: Incumbent Chas Hardy (R), 81.88%; Brodriche D. Jackson (D), 18.12%


• Soil and water: Todd Chapman, 33.85%; Michael Crow, 21.09%; incumbent Mike Haynes, 45.06%

COVID numbers up at NGHS

Northeast Georgia Health System has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past week.

Across the hospital system, there are 109 positive COVID patients being treated as of Nov. 9, with 21 of those at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton. That's up from Nov. 2 when the hospital system was treating 81 COVID patients with 20 of those at NGMC Braselton.

NGHS reports 2,717 patients have been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been 386 deaths.

The hospital system reports 636 occupied beds with 65 available as of Monday (Nov. 9). There are currently 144 occupied beds at NGMC Braselton with 22 available beds. In the ICU department at NGMC Braselton, 24 beds are occupied with none available.


Statewide, there have been 374,181 confirmed cases; 32,483 hospitalizations; and 8,223 confirmed deaths. The Department of Public Health also reports 454 probable deaths.

Details for Braselton's four-county area include:

  • Barrow: 2,763 cases; 55 confirmed deaths; and 281 hospitalizations. There have been 179 new cases in the past two weeks (that's 207 new cases per 100,000 residents).
  • Gwinnett: 32,367 cases; 459 confirmed deaths; 20 probable deaths; and 2,951 hospitalizations. There have been 1,854 new cases in the past two weeks (that's 191 new cases per 100,000 residents).
  • Hall: 11,201 cases; 184 confirmed deaths; six probable deaths; and 1,144 hospitalizations. There have been new 558 cases in the past two weeks (that's 270 new cases per 100,000 residents).
  • Jackson: 2,638 cases; 44 confirmed deaths; four probable deaths; and 217 hospitalizations. There have been 275 new cases in the past two weeks (that's 368 cases per 100,000 residents).