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 Sole Commissioner Story in the AJC 1/22/06
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daughterofconfederate

USA
29728 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2006 :  5:06:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
O ... OOOOO :0 Shader, I do see the point you are making too. FLITTER!

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.

Saint Francis of Assisi
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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  02:01:39 AM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Two other things to add to this discussion:

One - there's another topic here from last February that also discusses the Sole Commissioner versus Multi-Commissioner topic. The link to is here: http://www.blairsville.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1019

Second - Our current Commissioner weighed in on whether Union County should shift to a multi-Commissioner model during the last election season. His arguments were well reasoned, although they did not address all of the points raised here thus far. It's worthwhile recalling his words on it:

Note: the original posting has been deleted. I've pulled this from archives of that topic.

quote:
Is the Commissioner job too big for one person and does that have any bearings on the length of time it takes to get permits.

It has nothing to do with permits as I am not in the permitting process.

Probably seventy five percent of my job is more that of a county manager than a typical Commissioner. Most county's with a Commission board have a county manager or administrator. This person runs the day to day operation of the county and the Commissioners only handle setting policy and making and adopting ordinances. In most counties, the Commissioners only meet once or twice a month. Usually, only the chairman really keeps up with what is going on, and the rest only show up to vote. There are always exceptions, but this is the norm. So whether you have 3, 5, 7, or 9 Commissioners, it does not take a load off the county manager. He still has the same duties. Usually, the more Commissioners, the harder for the manager because he has to try to satisfy so many people.

I do not need help at the Commissioner role, I need help at the county manager role. The day to day task or taking questions and solving problems both of the public and employees, takes an enormous amount of time. Within a couple of years I will probably need an assistant.

The problem that you do not have with a Sole Commisisoner is the direction that you take the county in. I can make that decision alone, but I seldom do that. Normally I try to take a cross section of opinions before making a policy decision. With a Commission board, the problem comes when they do not get along. I have met many Commissioners in the past 4 years and very few of them have an entire board that gets along. Those few that do get along operate like a sole Commissioner form of Govt. The rest usually spend so much time arguing and being afraid of who will get credit, that they end up not being efficient, not making good decisions, and arguing more than getting things done.

There has been ample evidence of that happening in Fannin County, White County, and Rabun. The size of the county does not seem to really matter. Bartow county has a Sole Commissioner and they have over 70,000 population. Walker Co also has one and they are over 45,000 -she is a lady-

Then there is the argument about ending up with one bad apple in a sole commisisoner and how it would be easier to not get a bad apple in a multi commission. But if you ask people you know about how their Commission board worked in the towns they were from, often they were not happy with the board. Having more than one does not assure you of no problems.

The problem I have when going to Commissioner meetings in the state, the Commissioners (unless they are the chair) know very little about the day to day operation of the county. They are voting on decisions that affect the day to day operation, but they never fully understand them, because they do not deal with them. If you ask them about the fire department members, they often do not know how many work there, what they make and usually don't even know them. They do not know the road building guidelines, any details about right of way, and in one county, the Commissioners were voting and giving variances on trout stream buffers, only to find out it was illegal. Only EPD can give those variances.

If I am seeking input or advice on a certain issue, I will call on
a couple of county managers that I know and trust more often that Commissioners.

With a Sole Commissioner, you get a county manager, plus a policy maker rolled into one. He (I) must understand every aspect of government in Union County, and I can deal with most issues. Even after four years I still have a lot to learn, but it is a facinating job.

The biggest single plus to a Sole Commissioner is being able to find where the buck stops. If three or five of you get in a room to make a ,it is easy to go along with the group even though you may not be sure it is best. Then when there is a problem, finger pointing starts. In Union County I can not point fingers. Therefore, you can be assured that I try to make the correct decision and have information to back it up.


Shadow

This is my kirttimukha

Edited by - ShadowMan on 01/25/2006 02:04:14 AMGo to Top of Page

wranger


94 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  10:09:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So why does our school system have a five member board and a superintendant who gets paid 125K a year and has two assistants?

Why does the little city of Blairsville have a city council and a Mayor?

Why does the State have a house and a senate? Why not just have a Governor?

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fawn

USA
2223 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  10:23:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit fawn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Perhaps some of these entities shouldn't have so many people/positions. In the little town (less than 20,000) we lived in Florida, there was a mayor, 5 city council memebers, a highly paid city manager, city attorney, etc., etc. Trying to contact the right person to resolve an issue was difficult because of all of the layers of authority.

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MiddleAgeCrazy

USA
1435 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  10:55:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've heard Lamar discuss this topic on two occassions and he's not for a multi member commission.

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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  12:05:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
They had one when I moved to Fannin and I feel things were run very poorly. The "head" commissioner always got his way.

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luvngamtns


309 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  2:27:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
What you are suggesting is one way to go about attempting to change to a multi body legislative government. However, we already had that opportunity at the end of Haroldís term. It was defeated soundly. Several things attributed to the defeat. The biggest being the lack of a Florida income tax and the high homestead exemption there also. These two factors keep the people that have dual homes from registering to vote here in Georgia

Believe me, there are plenty of us who would be more than willing to pay the state income tax to live here full time. It's the lack of decent paying jobs within a reasonable driving distance that is keeping us in Florida.
I must admit I am a little amused by this quote. We are forever hearing about 'outsiders coming here and trying to change things' yet it appears by your quote that it's also 'outsiders' fault that you can't get things changed???? Not trying to stir anything up, just found it humorous! I am in favor of a muti-commissioner system as well.

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  4:15:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
I aint speaking for Shader but I reallu dont think he entended it that way.

It was Sonny/Fairplay that wrote the words that Luv quoted, so the burden of proof is on him.

Luv, I found it amusing also once you pointed it out. Between a rock and a hard place, aren't y'all?

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

sick and tired

USA
32 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  6:09:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If we don't force a change to multi-commission we will eventually wind up like Towns County or Lumpkin found it's self in the past. We are not going to get any help from local or state politicians so it is up to us to push the issue. We deserve an opportunity to speak and we want to know who is going to the commissioner for him to have it on the ballot. If not there is always a course you can follow and that is can you spell RECALL.Go to Top of Page
daughterofconfederate

USA
29728 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2006 :  9:17:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sorry Shader, MY BAD. I didnt pay attention and never would have intentionally put the burden on you hun so I made it go away (my words only). :( Sorry friend.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.

Saint Francis of Assisi
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fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2006 :  01:04:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Shadow--
Lamar went over to Towns County and presented the same arguments at a forum before the Towns vote and probably helped sway the vote. No one ever said he wasnít a good BS artist. He had Eddie and I both fooled for a while. I started to catch on when he appointed me to the sign board committee and I found out the chairman he appointed also owned a the sign company that put up those ugly signs on 515. That committee was a joke from the start. I donít think he had any intentions of doing anything other than what he intended from the start. Certainly he is going to fight tooth and nail to convince everyone a sole is the best method. His ego and his job are at stake. I should have known better, I saw his wrath when Richard Belcher confronted him about Meeks road. What I am trying to say is a sole comish can get advice from all kinds of people but in the end he is still that 600 pound gorilla that can do anything he wants. I agree that we need a professional county manager. The ones that argue costs will escalate with a multi board are about to have a huge cost increase if Lamar hires a professional assistant. You are talking about another 100 thousand dollars out of the county budget. Salary, benefits, auto; Good ones donít come cheap. I personally think a part time chairman (to kiss all the babies and shovel the dirt at openings) and a board of four part time commissioners that hire a county manager that is responsible to them is a better plan. They could be paid say, 2000 a month for the baby kisser (and a car 10,000) for a total of 34,000 a year. As much as 1000 a month for the others, for a total of 48,000. Add a good professional county manager, (as planed anyway) 100,000 and you have a package deal of 182,000. I am sure our sole comish takes home expenses, benefits and transportation more than that. I have looked at a lot of literature on the different ways the counties in Georgia are set up and I find that the ones that have 3 commissioners all seem to have trouble. The vast majority of the counties have 5 and more (mostly 5) and run fairly efficient. No system is perfect. I donít know if itís still the case but one county paid their commissioners 35 dollars for every meeting
Wranger & Fawn-- It is not only the school board and the city council that have multi members in the county, itís any and all you can name. All are successful, yet the one position that handles and controls all of our taxes is entrusted to one person. Donít make sense to me. Let me name some of them. Start with the development authority. They originally had 5 members and couldnít operate efficiently so they increased it to 9. Now this is an agency that had to get a special bill passed to even be legal. The law said you had to have a 24,000 population to form one. These members claim they work hard for the community, and they donít draw any pay. Look at all the industry they have attracted. Then you have the hospital board, the health board, the water boards, election board, registrar, jury commissioners, recreation board, etc etc.
LuvgamtsóI know a lot think I should have stayed in Fla. It was worse when I left in 1978. I was making 10.50 per hr as a carpenter and the going price here was 2.00 an hr. They wouldnít hire my wife with a science teaching cert. because she wasnít local. She ended up teaching in Atlanta; we struggled but itís a great place to live and great people and neither of us is going anywhere. The good ol boy system hate us interfering but Itís not about change, we keep trying to make it fair for everyone. Some times I laugh under my breath when they accuse the outsiders of trying to take over. I remember how the south Florida people resented the influx of Cubans, and now they run the whole state Break loose come on up permanent we need new blood.


sonnyGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2006 :  01:22:18 AM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
...when he appointed me to the sign board committee and I found out the chairman he appointed also owned a the sign company that put up those ugly signs on 515. That committee was a joke from the start.

I happen to think that's a very smart move. You want people that represent all sides of the issue on a committee. So some are on there because they're pro-sign, some are there because they're anti-sign, and some are there..I don't know - just to be involved? (Or perhaps they divide up into just the two camps).

The point is, the committee should be working through the pros and cons and coming up with something that appeases both perspectives. Notice I didn't say "pleases", but "appeases". A committee chairman is just to move process along, not direct or make the committee's decision for them.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2006 :  09:36:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

shadow--
None of the appeasement suggestions were followed. As far as I know nothing was ever written up for his consideration. The chairman hid the fact he owned the company. All the new signs were supposed to be single height and the very first one installed was a double height one in front of the meat store. We all wasted our time. Reading your reply again I find your description of the committee the exact way a board of commissioners should be organized and operate good point.

sonny

Edited by - fairplay on 01/26/2006 09:47:17 AMGo to Top of Page

Social change

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  12:36:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:

Hey All,
Here's the link. http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/0122commish.html

Looks like yet another disaster courtesy of one man rule. I say yet another for those of you that recall Lumpkin County's multi-million dollar loss thanks to their sole commissioner. Of course Union Co. could say the same thing if you qualify astounding over-spending and financial mismanagement...but then that's just my opinion; I could be wrong... What do y'all think? The article's a fun read if nothing else.

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.


J. adkinsGo to Top of Page

Social change

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  12:44:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, Mountain Thinker is on track. The sole commissioner form of government is archaic, unresponsive, and taxation without representation. Actually, I think it is unconstitional in the Sate of Georgia, they just don't push it. Only nine counties in the state have a sole commissioner and all are in the mountains. Look at where the growth is? We sit here in Blairsville with poor roads, poor infrastructure, fair school system, no sewer system, no county water, a P/C 9 fire rating ( no fire department) inadequate size water mains, no major stores, no quality sub divisions, no new industry, no jobs for our school children. The high school seniors probably cannot wait to get their names on the list to get out of town when they graduate.Go to Top of Page
GrayEagle

USA
9966 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  1:10:03 PM  Show Profile  Visit GrayEagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:

Well, Mountain Thinker is on track. The sole commissioner form of government is archaic, unresponsive, and taxation without representation. Actually, I think it is unconstitional in the Sate of Georgia, they just don't push it.
What part of the Georgia Constitution do you base your statement on?

For what it is worth, I am not in favor of the sole commissioner form of government.

GrayEagle
"Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears."
Edgar Allen PoeGo to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  2:04:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
We sit here in Blairsville with poor roads, poor infrastructure, fair school system, no sewer system, no county water, a P/C 9 fire rating ( no fire department) inadequate size water mains, no major stores, no quality sub divisions, no new industry, no jobs for our school children.

What county do you live in? It doesn't sound like Union County to me.

Poor roads? Not the ones I drive on. Go over there towards Blue Ridge...or cross the NC line up towards Murphy. That's more in line with my thinking of bad roads.

We've always had a volunteer fire department here - it's not that unusual for a rural area. I spent a summer in Illinois just 15 miles from St. Louis, and that town had a volunteer fire department. I suppose when it gets to where they can't sleep at night anymore, or spend time with their families because of all the folks here leaving brush fires to burn without consulting the Foresty Fire Ratings for that day, I guess we'll have to switch to paid firefighters instead.

I don't know about that county water thing. You might live out closer to the mountain tops than I do. I've got Coosa Water and they do pretty good by me.

No major stores - hmmm. Home Depot looks pretty major. I travel a lot and I've seen that same orange lettering at every spot. Not a lot to point to after that, but it's more than "none". We don't have any malls, it's true. But we don't have holiday-around-the-mall-traffic either.

Housing is going crazy right now, if you hadn't heard. Opening up the newspaper is evidence enough, but some of the folks on here that are builders or are otherwise associated with the real estate/building community can tell you that there's been significant growth in this area.

No new industry - the door and window-making place that's going up in the BARIP, I don't suppose that qualifies. Maybe it could and should be more, but it's that "no" word that caught my attention.

The last part about the jobs is interesting too. When I go the bank, I see people I went to school with. When I see teachers and staff up at the schools, I see folks I went to school with. When I see the pictures of the Blairsville City Council, I'd see someone I went to school with.

Clearly, there are some jobs here for our kids. But if they're anything like me, they're going to run off to the big city anyway thinking about how deprived they were for growing up in the country. Then, after a bit they start seeing the differences between there and here - and end up coming right back.

Shadow

This is my kirttimukhaGo to Top of Page

coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  2:43:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You are right, they will want to come back. Lots of changes here in the past 20 years.

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Social change

USA
274 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  4:53:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:

quote:

Well, Mountain Thinker is on track. The sole commissioner form of government is archaic, unresponsive, and taxation without representation. Actually, I think it is unconstitional in the Sate of Georgia, they just don't push it.
What part of the Georgia Constitution do you base your statement on?

For what it is worth, I am not in favor of the sole commissioner form of government.

GrayEagle
"Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears."
Edgar Allen Poe


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GrayEagle

USA
9966 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  6:06:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit GrayEagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Your point for quoting me? You didn't have anything to say? The question still stands. What part of the Georgia Constitution say that a sole commish is unconstitutional?

GrayEagle
"Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears."
Edgar Allen Poe

Edited by - GrayEagle on 02/01/2006 6:07:37 PMGo to Top of Page

MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2006 :  11:57:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I believe Social Change is referring to the following portion of the GA Constitution; Article I, Section II, Paragraph III which reads as follows, "Separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers. The legislative, judicial, and executive powers shall forever remain separate and distinct; and no person discharging the duties of one shall at the same time exercise the functions of either of the others except as herein provided."

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court found this argument null in a case brought against Bleckly Co. Georgia just a few years back, as the separation of powers is speaking of only the Federal, and in this case, State Governments, not local and municipal. A perversion of the 10th amendment I'm sure, as the dissent in the 5-4 found as well that this seems against the spirit of the law and that the Sole Commissioners-concept seems diametrically opposite of the concept of liberty espoused by our Founding Fathers. However, that was not the majority opinion, although that was the Rehnquist court...not the present...*grins* Oh, but is illegal (so said the same Supreme Court)if the county has at least 20% non-white residents...yeah, not going there...

As for S/C's social critque of Union Co., I disagree with the bit on roads (by and large, though certainly not altogether) and agree with Shadow's comparison to Clay and Cherokee Co., NC as well as Fannin. Regarding infrastructure, the lack of broadband/large bandwidth internet capacity is doing more harm than most citizens realize. The lack of proper sewage/water has led to a virtual moratorium on large commercial/business building/expansion in Union Co. as well.

I cannot endorse S/C's comments about housing choices/quality however, though I do see a need for more affordable/rental housing in the county. Here I would merely suggest the age-old expression; "Caveat Emptor". (Buyer Beware for those without a grounding in Latin *winks*)

All that said, S/C's final comment was by far the most accurate and of the most vital importance. It is my belief that the primary responsibility of any level of government is to uphold the social contract by protecting the lives of the citizenry under it's charge, upholding the basic standards of fiscal management and the accepted governing laws, and lastly (and perhaps most importantly) to foster, encourage, and aid in generating a climate of opportunity wherein a citizen has the reasonable ability to provide for his/her family with the accepted standards of food, shelter, and security; which in today's society is accepted to mean health insurance and life insurance that will ensure the family unit is not left destitute by the first emergency in life. It is in this last measure that the Union Co. Gov't is, in my personal, a rather considerable failure.

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of available job opportunities in Union Co. pay at or not considerably higher than minimum wage, offer little or no benefits, to say nothing of opportunities for advancement. A very small portion are blessed (and I mean that sincerely) to have a relative that can and will provide them work in a family-owned business where a de facto form of profit sharing is practiced and advancement happens until eventually they reach management or even control of the company. And before anyone begins espousing the principle of higher education (something I believe more fervently than most), the truth of the situation is that the number of positions open annually for those with a Bachelor's Degree or higher can be counted on my fingers and toes, if that many. Meanwhile, our community is graduating 60-80 young adults of higher education annually, the majority of whom cannot AFFORD to come home, especially with the starter home going for $160K; unless of course you're one of the truly fortunate few whose family is able to give them land.

I welcome a challenger to the floor, but first explain how you were able to raise a family w/ 3 kids, 2 cars, health & life insurance, and a $160,000 mortgage on a combined takehome income of $15 per hour (the high-range adjusted median income for a two-income household in Union Co. circa 2005). Folks work miracles around here just to survive and raise a family. It's time they had a local government that was lending a hand...

By the way, this isn't my personal rant; I earn well above that annually, and I'm single w/o kids, and I have a double bachelor's; I just look and listen to MY former classmates at UCHS, including 11 of the top 20 in my graduating class...

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.Go to Top of Page

coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  6:32:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We had a couple working for us for many years, he did carpentry and she did painting. We paid him $18 an hour and paid her $12 an hour. Plus they could work as much overtime as they wanted. My husband has always worked about 60 hours a week. Maybe that is the exception!

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CaseyDoodleBug

USA
287 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  8:10:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It is impossible to explain how any family can survive on $15 per hour.

However, by way of explanation as to why Union County, and for that matter all of Northeast Georgia has so little industry while housing prices are soaring, I believe you have to consider the history of the area.

It has only been within the last say, twenty to thirty years (I'm guessing here, based on my age) that the mountains were even accessible by anything other than two lane roads. The area did not draw tourists from Atlanta or points beyond. Helen was a small town with a one-room post office Ė no Alpine Village or Babyland General. All the other towns in North Georgia were exactly the same. The ďinfrastructureĒ was dirt roads, wells and outhouses.

In the 50ís, kids left high school to work in the woolen and feed mills in Gainesville and they were the first in their families to have high school educations. Their parents were farmers and may have attended school through 3rd or 4th grade, if they were lucky.

My point is this, when North Georgia became accessible via the current highway system, retirees and tourists ďdiscoveredĒ the area. Land prices only recently (say 10 to 15 years) started soaring. Therefore, the infrastructure is behind the curve. Also, many of the improvements we see today are a result of the federal government stepping in (e.g., TVA) to provide the infrastructure, because Appalachia still had no running water and electricity as the rest of the state had grown accustomed to these amenities.

I donít understand how the current situation be blamed on local government? Rather, circumstances of an aging baby boom generation with more disposable income than ever looking for a beautiful place to spend their retirement years and they are certainly not worried about industry, because they donít want, or need jobs.


DoodleBugGo to Top of Page

daughterofconfederate

USA
29728 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2006 :  10:12:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Casey, Thats a great responce and very true.

I was conserned about these folk buying these houses and land up here, wonderin how theyd make their payments cause there werent any industry to pay them what they are use to else where.. then my mother in law who has always studied and understood and been so into history of the Appalachias explained it to me after church on Sunday. She said its the people who retire and the people who want second homes who make so much they have to spend their money.. then I talked with my sista who is in the profession to know the sure amount of growth and she said the very exact thing.. people arent looking for carriers here.. so I was wrong for worryin I reckon but I care about people is all.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.

Saint Francis of Assisi
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MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 02/03/2006 :  12:13:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Casey,
My family has been in Union Co. for over 150 years, though the history was well pointed for most readers. You made my point for me however, in that the land prices have been soaring, and our way of life changing for the past 15 years. It is the mission of local gov't to try to foresee change, to meet it, and make sure the community(especially those who depend on the local economy for their prosperity) is prepared for it. However, there has been little to no long-term planning for Union Co., and little to no pro-active planning. Everyone knew NAFTA would destory the American textile industry, yet it hit this area like an unexpected bombing, closing down Georgia Boot, Orvis, Levi's, Owenby's, etc. Were our local politicians not participating or listening to the national debate that foresaw those impacts and making adjustments/plans to offset those impacts? Astoundingly, apparently not. When discussion turned to massive growth and raising property values in '90-'92 where again was the long-term understanding/effective attempts to offset such impacts. Nowhere to be found. Now as technology drives our economy, and infrasturctural demands cannot be met, larger companies who WANT to open in Union Co. cannot, because of a lack of preparation of infrastructure by our local gov't. We need more elected officials who govern in a non-ostrich manner...

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.Go to Top of Page

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