Tag Archives: GA EPD

Finances and Okefenokee Swamp @ SGRC 2021-12-09

Here are LAKE videos of (most of) yesterday’s Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC) Council meeting yesterday in Pearson, Georgia.

For some of the items, I have included photographs of the first sheet of the relevant handout(s). For the rest of each handout, please contact SGRC.

Thanks to SGRC Council Chair Joyce Evans and Assistant Director Chris Strom for inviting me to come speak about the Okefenokee Swamp in my other hat as Suwannee Riverkeeper; see the WWALS blog post.

[Collage]
Collage: Audit; New member John Clayton (Nashville); DCA Small Cities Conference; Okefenokee Swamp Resolutions –Suwannee Riverkeeper; Jody Redding, GA Gov. Field Rep.

Here is the complete agenda. Continue reading

Okefenokee resolution, Planning Commission, Airport, Sewer system, Road renaming moratorium @ VCC 2021-11-11

With a packed agenda, the Valdosta City Council passed eight resolutions, approved five bids or purchases, and appointed people to four boards, yet the longest discussion was after all that.

[Mayor, Howard, Gibbs, WWTP, Manager & Tooley, Suwannee Riverkeeper]
Mayor, Howard, Gibbs, WWTP, Manager & Tooley, Suwannee Riverkeeper

Perhaps the most far-reaching item was one of the briefest, presented by Mayor Scott James Matheson: 3.f. Resolution in Opposition to a proposed strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposing the proposed Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) strip mine or any others within ten miles of the Swamp, asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reverse its abdication of oversight, asking GA-EPD for a moratorium on all mining permits until effects are settled of the recent court overruling of 2020 Clean Water Act changes, as well as to reject the TPM permits, or at least to review those applications as thoroughly as the Army Corps would, and asking the Georgia legislature to prevent such strip mines near the Swamp or any blackwater rivers in the Suwannee River Basin. Continue reading

Videos: Water on private roads, ditches, transparency, Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC Regular 2021-08-10

Lowndes County apparently forgot to turn on the audio feed to the media corral in the back of the room during their August 10, 2021, Regular Session. Gretchen noticed during the 811 Day Proclamation and switched to the camera’s microphone, which was better than no audio. They did turn the audio feed back on during the approval of the Minutes.

The Lowndes County Commission has not videoed their own meetings for about a year now, despite authorizing $110,147.78 for Commission Chambers Audio and Visual Upgrade back in April with a report in July of expected total delivery in August. Meanwhile, the City of Valdosta livestreamed all their meetings during the pandemic with an iPhone.

The longest item by far at twelve minutes was 7.b. REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park – PD amendment for solar. After Attorney Jack Langdale spoke for, Gretchen Quarterman also spoke for.

REZ-2021-12 PD amendment for solar @ Lowndes County Commission 2021-09-10

Second was 10. Reports – County Manager, which includes some discussion about rural broadband funding.

Plus five Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, two about impassible private dirt roads, two others about drainage problems, and Brad Folsom: citizens request for more transparency.

It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict (as I did) that Wild Adventures Jon Vigue would be appointed to the Valdosta Lowndes Tourism Authority, since the last two appointees were also Wild Adventures GM.

Commissioners approved the 8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study, but there are murmurings that they are not going to do any subdivision water systems more like that.

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item with a few notes, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the LAKE videos of the preceding Monday morning Work Session, the agenda and the preceding Planning Commission meeting. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

Videos: Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC Work 2021-08-09

The longest item at fourteen and a half minutes was yet more public money to be spent on water for the private Lake Alapaha subdivision next to the Alapaha River, in the Lowndes County Commission Work Session yesterday, Monday morning, August 9, 2021. They vote 5:30 PM this evening, Tuesday evening, August 10. See also The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10.

Lowndes County Commissioner Demarcus Marshall questioning more money for Lake Alapaha Water Treatment

The three rezonings also got 4, 5, and 7 minutes.

It’s an even safer bet they will appoint Wild Adventures General Manager Jonathan Vigue to the Tourism Authority.

Below are links to each LAKE video of each agenda item, followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda and the preceding Planning Commission meeting. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10

Back in 2013 and 2014, Lowndes County spent at least $35,500 to “fix” the Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant, which had been getting notices of violation from GA-EPD since 2004. In 2018 the county spent another $16,915 to upgrade a water line for a private developer there. These are just the costs we know about.

Back in 2013 Commissioner Demarcus Marshall asked, “The water is good now, right?”

Well, apparently the water is not good, because here we are again, with a proposed $173,000 to fix the same plant. I have sent the county an open records request to get the two proposals and the corrective action plan by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and related correspondence.

At least this time the county did not do yet another no-bid contract to the same engineering firm that did not fix it seven years ago. Maybe this contractor can finally fix this seventeen-year problem. But that won’t fix the county’s chronic problem of assuming responsibility for private water wells for subdivisions.

Remember Lake Alapaha when you see the three rezonings on the agenda for voting Tuesday evening listed as having no “BUDGET IMPACT”, the same as every rezoning before them. Every subdivision affects the county’s budget, for water and sewer, or for roads, or for sending fire or Sheriff vehicles, or the school system’s budget for school busses, not to mention likely increases in flooding due to impervious surfaces. Yet Lowndes County never seems to mention any of that when considering a rezoning.

8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study

This is the kind of extra expense Valdosta avoided by sinking its water wells at Guest Road twice as deep after Withlacoochee River water was discovered reaching them from Shadrick Sink, on the other side of the Withlacoochee River, and the other side of what is now the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank, recently sold to Uvalde Land Company, which wants to deannex half of it from Valdosta.

The Alapaha Water Treatment Plant is at 6328 Lake Alapaha Boulevard, Naylor, GA. Go east of Naylor on US 84, right into Lake Alapaha Hidden Cove subdivision, then on the right.

Your location will be on your right (No trespassing All violators will be prosecuted).

The agenda sheet for voting tomorrow evening at 5:30 PM says: Continue reading

Tourism Authority appointment, 3 rezonings, wetlands, solar, UPS, Lake Alapaha water treatment, body cameras @ LCC 2021-08-09

Update 2021-08-09: The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10.

The biggest ticket item is yet more public money to be spent on water for the private Lake Alapaha subdivision next to the Alapaha River, in the Lowndes County Commission agenda for Monday morning, August 9, 2021, and voting Tuesday evening, August 10.

On the Tourism Authority appointment, Molly Deese succeeded the previous General Manager of Wild Adventures, so it’s a safe bet that the current GM, Jonathan Vigue, will succeed her on that Authority. But he’s got some competition with Rita Hightower of the Garden Center and The Crescent.

As usual, none of the three rezonings are counted as affecting the county budget, although all three will have long-term effects, two negative because of school buses and Fire and Sheriff Department calls, and one maybe positive because it’s for solar panels: REZ-2021-12 US 84/I-75 Industrial Park ~542 ac., County Utilities, I-S, M-1, M-2 and P-D (Amended).

[The three rezonings]
The three rezonings

Note the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determination that the remaining part of Val Del Villas off Val Del Road is not jurisdictional wetlands, so more houses can be built. Northside Property Development has the same registered agent as Uvalde Land Company that bought the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank next to the Withlacoochee River and wants to deannex the upland half of it from Valdosta. The uplands in that Bank tract are not jurisdictional wetlands, either.

The other subdivision also involves wetlands, two creeks leading to Bay Branch and the Withlacoochee River, plus at least one retention pond: REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta Subdivision (0070 018), R-A to R-21, Community Well & Septic, ~64.84 acres.

Cost What
$173,000.00Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study
$102,812.00Purchase of Body Cameras and Dash Cameras for Various Departments
$24,778.59Vertiv Service Contract for the Liebert UPS at the 911 Center & the 4 Tower Sites
$300,590.59Total

The $300 thousand total is a bit apples and oranges, since the cameras are for five years and the UPS is annual.

Here is the agenda. The board packet, received after a LAKE open records request, is on the LAKE website:
http://www.l-a-k-e.org/govt/loco/2021-08-09–lcc-packet

See also the preceding Planning Commission meeting.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 2021, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2021, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

Videos: Opioid Attorney, Soccer, Airport Authority, Probation, Ankle Monitoring, Wetlands, Hay, GEFA, Pump @ LCC 2018-05-08

Two weeks ago, they spent the most time (5.5 minutes) on the two sections of 5. Proclamation Presentations for National Drug Court Month.

They spent 2.5 minutes on bids and almost 2 minutes (almost 5.5 total) on the wetland credits for the North Lowndes Park Soccer Complex.

Third most time was 4.5 minutes on recognizing retiring volunteer firefighter Scott Caldwell(?). The speaker was Chief Ashley Tye, so I guess he’s now the regular county Fire Chief.

They tabled the Airport Authority appointment waiting for more information. Maybe they noticed George Page had also asked the City of Valdosta to appoint him.

The alleged County Attorney, with his microphone three feet from his face and pointing 90 degrees away, muttered something about the mysterious Wisconsin bond issue.

The Probation agreement and Electronic Monitoring Contract got more than three minutes total. They spent a bit more than a minute voting on a law form for the opioid litigation.

The Hay Lease Agreement Amendment is a water item, because it’s about the county’s spray field, also known as its Land Application Site (LAS). And the Bevel Creek Lift Station Pump that feeds it. Final water item: dates of completion for the GEFA Loan Agreement; they did provide a clue what that loan was for.

Here are links to Continue reading

Videos: Opioids, Soccer, Airport Authority, Probation, Ankle Monitoring, Wetlands, Hay, GEFA, Pump @ LCC 2018-05-07

Opioid litigation will be added to the agenda for this evening, although not for voting, as 8.i, Selection of Legal Firm for Opioid Litigation: Select legal firm,

The Studstill Law Firm and the Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley Law Firm have both submitted proposals to represent Lowndes County in the opioid litigation.

That was the longest agenda item at the Monday morning Work Session. The Probation Resolution and Services Agreement, which had been tabled two weeks before, got almost two minutes, including questions about cost. Add the minute and a half for the Electronic Monitoring Contract and those two items with the same presenter got the longest total.

The two North Lowndes Park Soccer Complex items, Wetland Credits and Bids, that will massively change Hahira, did not get a total of two minutes. The Hay Lease Agreement Amendment is another water item, because it’s about the county’s spray field, also known as its Land Application Site (LAS). And the Bevel Creek Lift Station Pump that feeds it. Final water item: dates of completion for the GEFA Loan Agreement, whatever it’s for.

The mysterious Wisconsin Public Finance Authority Bond Issue is to finance a project on Old Statenville Road in the Valdosta City Limits.

They’re going to reappoint Steve Everett to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority; he did not speak. And George Page would also like to be considered.

Here are links to Continue reading

Video: Solar panels, heck yeah! –Tom Fanning, CEO, at SO stockholder meeting 2017-05-24

Tom Fanning, our genial CEO host, said some things I’ve never heard him say before like Southern Company is “pivoting towards wind” and SO’s board soon has to decide whether to go forward with Plant Vogtle “or not” probably by August. Fanning gets the first and last word in this blog post, plus a complete transcript of what I asked and Tom Fanning’s response, along with summaries of the other questions and answers.

Well see how it develops --Tom Fanning
Please hear me! I think renewables are exceedingly important in the future.
— Tom Fanning, CEO, Southern Company

In SO’s own meeting video of the 25 May 2017 Stockholder Meeting, you can see much praise about solar power and wind and R&D and a smart grid, along with stockholders wondering: Continue reading

Let’s stop Sabal Trail before it makes any more mistakes

Thanks to Julie Bowland for the picture of my VDT op-ed today. -jsq

jsq op-ed in VDT The same day the Sabal Trail was quoted in the VDT August 5th as saying it had done enough subsurface analysis on our fragile karst limestone topography, a sinkhole opened up next to Shiloh Road. Sabal Trail already had to move its Albany compressor station because arrowheads had been found there. The pipeline itself is a much bigger mistake: let’s stop it before it damages our property values, forests, rivers, or our people.

Spectra Energy’s paid staff are continue to assert that Sabal Trail’s proposed gouge through our fields, farms, and under our rivers will proceed according their plan to profit executives and investors in Houston, Texas.

Actually, Continue reading