Entangled in accusations that Republican Nathan Deal used his Congressional office for personal business is a small gravel road that runs behind his Athens Highway business.
Deal and his business partner Ken Cronan, co-owners of Gainesville Salvage and Disposal, hoped to have the county take over the maintenance of a small road on the property known as Old County Dump Road that runs behind the business.
Chris Riley, Deal’s campaign manager and former U.S. House chief of staff, kept close tabs on the progress of Old County Dump Road through correspondence with Hall County officials.
The road was also tied to adjacent property that Cronan planned to use for a construction and demolition landfill.
Deal, now a candidate for governor, has maintained no wrongdoing. The Deal campaign said Riley commonly helped constituents in the district like Cronan with regulatory issues.
But the small road was never accepted into the county maintenance system.
Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff said Deal was granted no special favors in his application.
“Went through the identical channels as if anyone else had gone through it,” McInturff said.
Before it can be accepted into the county maintenance system, a road must go through a determination.
“It’s for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation on whether a road is indeed a road. It doesn’t imply any public maintenance, it just allows certain legal privileges,” McInturff said.
He said the Public Works Department looks at factors such as whether the road is gated, how it was constructed, how it was maintained, etc.
Once the Planning Commission votes to approve the road determination, an application for road acceptance can be submitted.
For the county to accept a road into the maintenance system, it must be brought up to industrial standards: 24 feet of pavement, 2-foot curb and gutters on each side and paved with inches of stone and 6 inches of asphalt.
“That part was never done so the county never accepted the road,” McInturff said. “If you go out there today the road is still gravel.”
Hall County Right-of-Way Supervisor Larry Poole said requests for road acceptance are pretty common.
“We get a fair number of requests,” Poole said. “But they have to bring it up to standard. It’s quite expensive, so most times they don’t go forward from that point.”
On Oct. 20, 2005, the Hall County Planning Board approved the road determination for Old County Dump Road.
One month later, Riley sent an e-mail to Hall County Attorney Bill Blalock asking about the process of road acceptance.
“Nathan and Ken Cronan owners of Gainesville Salvage and Disposal made application to the County to for (sic) petition to accept Old County Dump Road into the Hall County Road system and thus maintain the road as it once did during the open years of the Hall County Landfill,” Riley wrote. “At this point Nathan has been informed that the petition needs no further action by the County due to the approval of the planning and zoning board. However, there are some of the opinion that since the road will be maintained by the County, approval from the full commission is required. Can you add some clarification to this dilemma?”
In March of 2006, a road acceptance package was prepared by Hall County Engineering.
However, the acceptance was never approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners because the road was not brought to county standards.