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Your Views: SPLOST would enhance, protect Chicopee Woods
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In 1985, through the vision of local leaders Bubba Dunlap, James Mathis and Ray McRae, the 2,400 acres known as Chicopee Woods was generously donated to the people of Hall County by the Johnson & Johnson Company.

Since then, more than 1 million visitors have enjoyed use of the park land, playing golf at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course, walking the trails at Elachee Nature Science Center, riding their mountain bikes on the trails maintained by the Southern Off-Road Biking Association and attending events at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. Today, these sites attract more than 150,000 visitors annually.

The Chicopee Woods Park is true greenspace that benefits everyone in Hall County. Very few communities in our state can boast of this wonderful resource right at their doorstep.

Projections are that 40 percent of all SPLOST funding comes from workers and visitors outside Hall County who spend their money here. As such, SPLOST offers a great opportunity for so many of our quality of life and infrastructure projects to be partially funded by non-Hall County citizens and not through our property taxes.

One of the projects directly benefiting the Chicopee park area in the next SPLOST is Elachee's "Gardens that Teach," an outdoor classroom for teaching water-conserving garden techniques and North Georgia native plant ecology. This program will serve more than 30,000 students and 50,000 visitors annually.

In addition, construction of an elevated walkway linking Elachee's main campus and the recently completed pervious parking area (another educational opportunity) will include unique tree canopy-level viewing with accessibility to all museum visitors, hikers and students under Americans with Disability Act standards.

Continued enhancement of the Ag Center will include a new covered horse show arena, another SPLOST-funded project. And finally, to help control access and improve student and visitor safety with the growing population of our county, fencing of approximately seven miles of the Chicopee Woods Area Park Boundary is planned under SPLOST VI.

On behalf of the Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission Board, I thank the community for your support and involvement with all of the facilities at the Park. So that we, and more importantly our children and grandchildren, will continue to enjoy these wonderful facilities, I sincerely hope that you will continue to support and protect this investment by voting "yes" this month for SPLOST VI.

Al Crego
Chairman, Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission

Commission hasn't spent our money well on sewer
With much interest, I have followed the recent articles in The Times in support of SPLOST VI. Although many of the proposals may be worthy, my concern is for the support of obvious local pork barrel projects.

One I am most concerned with is the proposed sewers in South Hall. Those in control of the Hall County commission leadership are determined to install sewers with very little consideration for the taxpayers.

In June 2005, the mayor of Braselton attended a commission meeting with the intent of offering Hall County additional existing sewer capacity from her plant. The mayor was not allowed by the chairman to address the commission. Since then, Hall County has continued installing sewers in mainly residential areas, generally not a cost effective practice.

The county commission further complicated the sewer cost issue by agreeing to purchase a local developer's existing sprayfield sewer plant for 13.8 million dollars. In Flowery Branch's recent request to expand its sewer plant, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division concluded that using sprayfields in expanded sewer operations would "create an economic hardship."

The issue of misguided sewer costs recently climaxed when the commission attempted to establish homeowner sewer rates in South Hall. The suggested rate was high enough that the commission tabled any further action. Now all the taxpayers are being asked under SPLOST VI to pay for the mistakes of our Hall County commission.

In a show of leadership, the city of Oakwood signed an agreement with the city of Braselton to purchase 2.5 million gallons per day of sewer capacity for future growth in South Hall. The contract was signed in November, 2006.

It is because of this local pork barrel project that I again respectfully request the Hall County commission postpone the March 17 vote until the taxpayers of Hall County have an open dialogue before committing to almost $250 million in taxpayers' dollars.

Terry W. Kuehn
Gainesville

Voter bill would limit rights
In response to Rep. James Mills legislation, House Bill 45, there is not a single case of any noncitizen voting in Georgia. Rep. Mills fabricated examples of residents being provided false information by a candidate in Atkinson County. The candidate was prosecuted for his illegal voter fraud, but the noncitizens did not commit the fraud.

Rep. Mills and Secretary of State Karen Handel cannot produce any evidence of noncitizens voting. The issue will have a disproportionate impact on minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Rep. Mills and the Georgia legislature should be ashamed of making voting more difficult for vulnerable populations. Georgia is moving backward rather than forward on voting rights and protection of citizens' access to the polls.
HB45 is insidious legislation and should not go forward.

Jerry Gonzalez
Atlanta

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