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Welcome center work gets an OK from Oakwood council
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OAKWOOD — Oakwood City Council voted 3-1 Monday night for preliminary work related to a planned regional visitors center off Interstate 985’s Exit 16.

National company Rosser International, which has offices in Atlanta and its hand in the city’s downtown/commercial center plans, was approved for the $11,500 project.

Councilman Gary Anderson voted against the measure, saying he was concerned Hall County could end up "trying to control" the center, which, at this point, is on county property.

"I can see us putting up all the seed money, getting the study done, getting all the planning done, getting the building plans done and the architectural renderings … and the county basically takes it over and we have no say-so whatsoever," he said.

The county has included the welcome center on its list of projects that would fall under the next sales-tax program, which is set for a public vote in March.

Mayor Lamar Scroggs pushed for the city’s investment in the effort, which he said would directly benefit Oakwood.

"You get people off the exit and then you’ve got all your fast-food restaurants and motels," he said. "This could be a real plus for the businesses (in the area)."

Scroggs added later, "With all the development that’s taking place (in Oakwood), even if the county is totally in control, (the center) is at Oakwood’s exit."

In other business, the council voted to pay Long Engineering $6,876 for additional work related to the Thurmon Tanner Parkway’s last four-lane segment, which will run between Plainview Road and Mundy Mill Road.

The state Department of Transportation is set to consider construction bids on the project Oct. 17 in Atlanta.

The additional work will involve three median breaks between Plainview Road and Old Oakwood Road.

City Manager Stan Brown said the median breaks would fit into the city’s plans for the new downtown and commercial center, an ambitious development effort that will comprise 253 acres around the city’s older sections.

Brown and city officials plan to give more details about those plans at an official unveiling set for 8 this morning at City Hall, 4035 Walnut Circle.

The presentation will take place before the South Hall Business Coalition.

City Council also held the second of three hearings on its new tax rate, which will support the 2009 budget.

No one showed up to speak at the hearing.

Oakwood plans to keep the rate the same, at 2.48 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value. Property is assessed at 40 percent.

The final hearing is set for 6 p.m. Monday, also at City Hall. The city must hold the hearings, per state law, as the rate is expected to raise more revenue than it has this year.

The council is set to give initial approval to the rate on Monday and its final OK on Oct. 20.

The 2009 budget takes effect Jan. 1.