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County chairman addresses controversies
Library and water among topics discussed
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Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver spoke about the state of the county at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Thursday while addressing a few recent controversies.

Oliver said his address would "push the envelope a little bit" before asking the commission to take one more look at a library on Nopone Road.

"I would encourage the city of Clermont and the new commissioners to get on board and revisit possibly the library at Nopone. You've got the votes to do whatever you want to. You've got the opportunity to make it as classy a project as you will ever see in the United States. And you still have the ability to fund some projects for the city of Clermont," Oliver said. "I want to encourage us not to be shortsighted. I think this commission will come together and do things that are best for the entire county and not just certain segments."

Earlier this month, the commission voted to stop work on the combined library and community center on Nopone Road and move the library to Clermont.

Shifting to water issues, Oliver said the proposed Glades Reservoir is a priority for Hall County.

"It's going to have many challenges, but with a challenge comes an opportunity. This could be one of the biggest projects this state has ever seen," Oliver said. "I think for us to slow down or do anything for us to hinder it is not the way this community wants us to go."

He said the city and county are also working together to find common ground on the Cedar
Creek Reservoir.

"Let me tell you if we'd had boxing gloves we could have settled this a lot earlier because we have been round and round on Cedar Creek," Oliver said. "But I promise you we will work it out."

He also alluded that he will be fighting to keep his full powers as chairman.

At the commission's Monday work session, Commissioner Craig Lutz proposed changes that would strip the chairman of his ability to make and second motions and deliberate.

Oliver told a story about his first term on the commission as the district commissioner for South Hall in the early 1990s.

He said a constituent confronted him after he abstained from a vote and said, "I didn't vote for you to abstain, I voted for you to vote."

"Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, I'm gonna be here to vote and make motions and second," Oliver said.

At the same event, Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner told chamber members about the state of the city.

Bruner used a Powerpoint presentation to talk about some of the city's capital projects, including the new public safety facility and the nearby Midtown Greenway.

The greenway is a walking trail that the city is building along an old railroad track.

"The goal is really to connect Lake Lanier, downtown and Midtown," Bruner said. "You'll be able to walk from Industrial Boulevard to the square downtown all the way to the park at Rock Creek and all the way to Longwood at the lake."

The city hopes to see a pedestrian bridge in Midtown completed by early 2012.

Bruner said in fiscal year 2010, 1,327 jobs were created or maintained and new retail located in the city, including two new businesses downtown.

She said sales tax collections were also up.

Collections from the most recent 12 months were 7 percent higher than the previous 12 months.

"We think that's a real positive sign for Gainesville and Hall County," Bruner said.

And in 2011, Bruner said Gainesville hopes to make improvements to the city and county's jointly owned rowing venue on Lake Lanier.

"We feel like it's been neglected in terms of infrastructure of the buildings and support we've given as a community to that venue," Bruner said.

"It's a jewel and a gem that really needs to be preserved and enhanced where it can bring in all kinds of tourism dollars."

 

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