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Homer seeks grants for water and sewer improvements

Homer officials met on Aug. 25 to finalize plans to apply for a state grant to upgrade water and sewer services in the city.

The money would come from the Georgia Office of Planning and Budget as part of the American Rescue Plan to offer COVID-19 relief in the areas of public health and economic challenges. Town officials have been working with Rick Billingslea of the Homer Downtown Development Authority to write the grant application.

Funding requests will come in three phases. In the first phase, the mayor and city council want to replace several water lines. The replacement includes a portion of lines on the following streets: Sycamore, Blue Bell, Athens, Mason, Hwy. 51 South and Wiley. The plan also includes new lines around the new well to the treatment house, 20 new hydrants and a sewer feasibility study. The estimated costs for this part of the project are $500,000.

In the second phase, officials are looking to fund a new well including boring, water lines and a vault under Hudson River. The cost for this request is estimated at $1.2 million.

In the third phase, official want to focus on the city sewer system. With the feasibility study being accomplished in the first phase, officials will direct spending of $1.8 million towards trunk lines and lift stations.

The grant proposals are due in October.

Buck Ledford finished second in the North Georgia Championship at Lamar Murphy this past Saturday when the Banks County High School cross country team began its season.

106 new cases of COVID-19 reported

The number of COVID-19 cases in Banks County is up 106 since last week.

According to reports on Monday from the Georgia Department of Health, 1,975 cases have been reported since March 2020, when data first began to be reported.

So far, there have been 234 people in Banks County hospitalized due to the virus (up eight from last week) and 43 deaths reported (up one from last week).

There have been a reported 45 students with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis among the 2,820 enrollment. This is up 10 over the number reported last week.

This week, there are 14 employees out of the 428 employees who have tested positive. This is up nine over the number reported last week.


In Banks County, 25 percent of the residents are fully vaccinated with 4,626 have received both shots. This is 134 more people than reported last week.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) approved an additional Moderna and Pfizer dose for individuals who have weakened immune systems. This additional dose will require medical documentation from the individual’s provider and should indicate their immune condition.

To find more information regarding COVID-19 for your county, please visit phdistrict2.org.

Alto approves water deposit rates

At the monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 24, the Town of Alto council approved commercial and industrial water deposit rates.

The commercial deposit rate is $250 and the rate for an industrial business is $500.


In other business at the monthly meeting, the council:

•discussed two retirement programs from the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA); deferred contributions and pension program. The council agreed that Lisa Turner, chief financial officer for the city, should get details for the deferred contributions plan and present them at the meeting set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14.

•was presented a copy of the release on the new method of issuing burn permits and the requirements that will begin on August 30, 2021.

•met in closed session to discuss contract negotiations. No action was taken.

•received the monthly police department report from police chief Josh Ivey.

•was presented a certificate of commendation from the Sons of the American Revolution Joseph Habersham Chapter in recognition of the display of the United States flag.

•heard resident Sheila Mathis voice her concern with children riding bicycles without helmets on the city streets. City officials agreed to check on safety options.

Baldwin takes first step to approve millage rate rollback in split vote

The Baldwin City Council, in a 4-1 split vote during the monthly meeting on Monday, August 23, approved the first reading of the 2021 millage rate ordinance that will roll the millage rate back to 1.608 mills for Banks County residents – from 1.675 mills; and to 6.793 mills for Habersham County residents – from 7.504 mills.

Council member Stephanie Almagno voted against the rollback rates.

After council member Larry Lewallen made the motion to approve the rollback rates and Theron Ayers seconded the motion, council member Alive Venter said the city needs to look at other revenue streams.

“We need to dig into our insurance,” Venter said of one area the city staff needs to take a look at.

Mayor Joe Elam reported the city’s property tax digest had increased by $30,000 so this would bring in extra property tax revenue.

The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed millage rate rollback ordinance at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 7, before the council’s work session meeting at the courtroom of the Baldwin Police Department.


In other business at the August 23 meeting, the council:

•held a public hearing for Adam’s Homes AEC LLC variance requests for setbacks on three lots in the Highland Pointe Subdivision. No one turned out to speak in favor of or against the requests. In a unanimous vote during the meeting, the council approved the variance requests.

•unanimously approved the following four Fiscal Year 2021 budget amendments: decrease in legal fees expenses by $10,100; increase in garbage expense by $4,000; increase in audit expense by $3,000; and increase in administrative regular pay expense by $3,100.

•approved recognizing $43,805 in Local Maintenance Improve Grant (LMIG) revenue in the FY2021 budget.

•unanimously approved a Banks County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) expense of $687.50 for a 2020 paving project on Smokerise Dr., Crooked Pine Trail and Summit St. for the warranty inspection.

•approved intergovernmental agreements with Banks County Fire Department ($1,000 per year); Habersham County Fire Department ($1,000 per year); and Demorest Fire Department ($500 per year) for use of the city’s training facility. An agreement was also approved with Crew Solutions Inc. ($500 per year) for use of the training facility.

•unanimously approved Monday, October 4, beginning at 12 p.m., and Tuesday, October 5, beginning at 9 a.m., for the council’s fall retreat to be held at Brasstown Valley Resort.

•met in closed session for approximately 30 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken.

Applications being taken for county boards

The Banks County Board of Commissioners is taking applications for residents interested in serving on the planning commission or the zoning appeals board.

Those who feel they may be qualified and are willing to serve on either of these boards are asked to call 706-677-6800 to request an application and a description of the position. More information can also be found at http://co.banks.ga.us/volunteer.html, where you can also download the application.

Returned applications should be returned to the commissioners’ office, located at 150 Hudson Ridge, Suite 1, Homer, Ga., by noon on Friday, October 8. The completed application can also be email to jgailey@co.banks.ga.us.

Homer Holiday Festival coming up

The 49th annual Homer Holiday Festival will be held Sept. 3-4 in downtown Homer.

The parade will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4. Other activities include events for children, food and booths.

Banks County Farm Bureau cancels Annual Meeting

The Banks County Farm Bureau has canceled the Annual Meeting set for Monday, Sept. 13.

"Every year, the Banks County Farm Bureau looks forward to connecting with members at the BCFB annual meeting," said Julie Jackson. "For the safety of members and the Banks County community, the BCFB Board has made the difficult decision to cancel the Annual Meeting, which was scheduled for Monday, September 13. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. The BCFB Board, Women's Committee and Young Farmer Committee are considering alternate opportunities to connect with Farm Bureau members and local farmers."

Baldwin Festival coming up Oct. 23

The City of Baldwin will hold its fourth annual Fall Festival on Saturday, October 23, beginning at 9 a.m. in the downtown park.

The festival will include the Runway 5K, farmer’s market, a chili cook-off, pumpkin painting, a Jeep ride, cake walk, games, jump house, local vendors – both food and retail, a photo booth, a greased pig wrangling contest, and lots more.

For more information on festival sponsorships, chili cook-off entries, Runway 5K entries, and Jeep ride entries, contact Amanda Foxgrover at Baldwin City Hall at 706-778-6341 or email at afoxgrover@cityofbaldwin.org.