By REBECCA HAZEN
The process of approving an amendment to the Parades and Special Events ordinance and an amendment for an event provision to sell alcoholic beverages at events, through the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, were both tabled until further notice at the Thursday, Aug. 5 Dade County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The commissioners noted that the ordinances could be further discussed and voted on during an upcoming public hearing, either on the 12th or 19th, or at a special called meeting on the 16th, but no decisions were made at the time.
Nate McDaniel, co-founder of Valley Vibes Music & Arts Festival, spoke to the commissioners regarding the special events ordinance. Valley Vibes will be held Sept. 3-5 at Bella Sera Venue in Wildwood.
“I know the main concern has been the traffic flow in and out of the property. The property owner has agreed to clear an exit. It is in process. He has an easement to Hallam Lane, which adjoins that property,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel noted that there will be traffic message boards placed before Hallam Lane and before Doyle Lane. During the event, the message boards will remind drivers to slow down.
“I have been speaking with Sheriff Ray Cross and Lieutenant Hughes about getting deputies out by the railroad tracks. That is a stipulation from Norfolk Southern. They have agreed to slow train traffic that weekend,” McDaniel said. “We are trying to cover all of our bases here.”
“We live on Hallam Lane. It’s a private road. Nobody has come to see us,” a citizen said.
McDaniel responded to the man that they could have a conversation about that.
“Unfortunately, you guys are like a guinea pig, because this sort of thing has not happened here. I appreciate that you’re trying to do it correctly and keeping everyone safe,” Commissioner Melissa C. Bradford said.
“You have reassured me that you are not trying to stop us from doing this. We are going to try to do everything we can to make sure we are doing it by the book,” McDaniel said.
“I think the ordinance has gotten miscued somehow, that we’re trying to tell you not to do something. That’s not the case. It’s more of a check list for the future,” Bradford responded.
“We want to help you do this right. We are all on the same page,” Commissioner Lamar Lowery said.
“Our concern is just for the safety … that is why we are doing due diligence on this,” Commissioner Robert Goff said.
One citizen mentioned the Plum Nelly Festival on top of the mountain, and noted how big it got over the years.
“How was that handled in the past,” he asked.
“A lot of this stems from the railroad crossing, the narrow road, pulling in and out on kind of a blind side if you’re going north,” Goff responded, referring to Valley Vibes. “It is different, and that is the reason why we’re looking at this.”
“That festival is right on 136 at the busy intersection, especially with all of those 18 wheelers flying across the mountain. We never see any sheriffs or anyone up there. There are constant accidents on the mountain. There is an issue up there. What we are concerned about is that you will use this platform to take away more of our rights. We want this stopped now. We want a moratorium on all of your ordinances until the election is forensically audited. We know that several people have cheated in this election in this county,” one citizen said.
The co-founders of the festival hope to sell alcohol at the event, and are waiting on a decision about another amendment, which would amend the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance, to allow for an event provision.
“We have been talking, Patty [Murphy] and I, we have been researching, looking at venues, every aspect of how this needs to go, and we have come up with hopefully a solution that we will take before Robin [Rogers],” Bradford said.
Also during the meeting, George Williams, Chair of Alliance for Dade, spoke about an agreement regarding the commission providing $10,000 to the Alliance, to help pay for a Director position.
“We’ve hammered out an agreement for the funding that we’ve requested. There are many items under the chamber’s obligation. Many of those we already have in place but there are a couple that we are still working on. The Alliance is in agreement with this contract and are willing to sign it,” Williams said.
The commissioners are still trying to find a person to appoint to the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority, to replace H. A. McKaig. It is a District 4 seat.
The third public hearing for the millage rates will be Thursday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. There will be a special called meeting on Monday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m., to consider for approval Dade County’s 2021 millage rates.
There will also be a public hearing for the five-year update to the Joint Comprehensive Plan on Aug. 19 at 5 p.m.
“This is just a five-year update, so it’s not extensive, but it matters,” Townsend said.
The commissioners also proclaimed Aug. 7th as Purple Heart Day, in conjunction with the American Legion.
Lowery reported that there were 3,348 911 calls for the month, which included 231 EMS calls, 268 Fire and Rescue calls, and 2,849 Sheriff, Police and Georgia State Patrol calls.
Commissioner Phillip Hartline reported that rec football has started at the Dade County Sports Complex, and rec softball is starting this week.
Bradford noted that she has gotten a lot of emails about the transfer station.
“I want to make it clear that if you do see a license plate from a different county, they can be there, but they have to pay and go on the weight station,” Bradford said.
Goff spoke about the work being done on Morganville Ridge Road.
“If you see any of those guys, give them a thumbs up. They worked that pavement the other day, 11 or 12 hours. They do very well,” Goff said.
County Executive Ted Rumley was absent at the meeting.
UGA Extension Agent Sarah Dyer told the commissioners that they are looking to hire a full-time 4-H educator, and to stay tuned for the job to be posted and application to become available on University of Georgia’s website.
Dyer reported that the 4-H Outdoor Summer Day Camp for grades 4-12 was held July 13, and the Cloverleaf summer day camp for grades 4-6 was July 20-23. The 4-H Livestock Show Team traveled to three shows in July. The next Tri-State Cattlemen’s association will be Tuesday, Aug. 17 at TJB Gelbvieh in Chickamauga. The next D.A.D.E. Grass Class will be Monday, Aug. 23.
Audrey Clark, with the Historic Preservation Commission and Historical Society, reported that the last meeting allowed them to reach a point where they can hopefully make larger steps toward making the courthouse operational again.
“Our hope is to have the building utilized once again, have some offices, have an area for our tourism and chamber offices. There is hope for the upstairs to be used for all kinds of events,” Clark said.
Williams reported that there were 60 visitors last month at the Welcome Center, and about a dozen of those were local people. The Alliance now has 75 investors, and the Alliance’s next goal is to reach 100 investors.
Townsend gave the financial report. As of July 31, the general fund balance was $1,929.333. Total available SPLOST funds are $749.337. The general fund revenue as of June 30 was $1,079,814.51.
During citizen participation, Susie Talbott spoke to the commissioners about moving the citizens participation part of the meeting, which occurs after votes have taken place, to the workshop portion.
“I noticed during the workshop, there was a bit of chaos about when it was appropriate for citizens to speak. I am asking the commission to pick that rock back up, and push it forward,” Talbott said.
Townsend noted that there is a rule that would have to be amended in order for citizen participation to be moved. Townsend said that he had given the paperwork to the commissioners last year, but nothing had been done about it.
Tim Easter, Chairman of the Board of Assessors with Tax Assessors Office informed the Commissioners that the District 4 seat has been vacant since last December. The Commissioners apologized for not knowing beforehand that there was a vacancy.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be Sept. 2.