Tag Archives: Government

Victory on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1, and more voting for clean water

Voters in every county in Georgia approved Amendment 1, to dedicate state fees and taxes to their stated purposes. The statewide victory was 81.6%.

There is more work to do, to get the legislature to use this new law to stop taxes from being diverted to the general fund, so for example counties and cities can get more grants for tire amnesties. But now the mechanism is available.

That wasn’t the only good referendum news, and there is more voting for clean water to do.

[Victory: 82%]
Victory: 82%
Special thanks to the Suwannee River Basin cities of Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, for passing resolutions in support.
See also previous blog post.

The other good clean water news is that Amendment 2 passed with 74.5% Yes, also passing in every county. That’s HR 1023: people may petition for declaratory relief from certain acts of this state or certain local governments or officers or employees.

Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service, 4 November 2020, Georgia voters pass three ballot questions by wide margins,

The sovereign immunity amendment stems from a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court decision that essentially granted the state blanket immunity from citizen lawsuits in a case brought by the Center for a Sustainable Coast. The group had filed suit alleging the state Department of Natural Resources was illegally allowing alterations to private property in fragile coastal wetland areas protected by state law.

So that’s two victories for clean water by the people of the state of Georgia.

More voting for clean water to do

As everyone probably knows, there are Georgia runoff elections on January 5, 2021, with the usual early voting and absentee ballots. Both Georgia U.S. Senate seats are in the runoff.

A Public Service Commission runoff that was scheduled earlier will also be on January 5, 2021. WWALS has long advocated for GA-PSC to make responsible decisions on power plants and pipelines that affect all our waters, from water levels to coal ash to mercury.

Once again, we urge you to vote for clean water.

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, WWALS cannot Continue reading

Please vote Yes on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1: dedicate fees to their stated purpose

Update 2020-10-07: On Steve Nichols radio show, with video.

Don’t you think taxes and fees charged by a state should go to the purposes the state said they would? Well, in Georgia, many such funds have been mostly diverted to the general fund, and then who knows where. You can vote in this election to stop that: vote Yes on Amendment 1.

[Six cities and counties for Amendment 1]
Six cities and counties for Amendment 1: Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties.

For example, the state of Georgia charges a fee on every tire sold, with funds supposed to go to cleaning up old tires and other waste management. Yet more than $50 million of those funds have been diverted to other purposes. It’s not just tires. Other examples of diverted funds include ones for indigent defense and judicial programs, peace officer training, and teen driver training.

There is no organized opposition to Amendment 1. Pretty much the only opposition stated during passage of the authorizing bill was about being able to use funds during an emergency. The bill explicitly allows that. The bill passed the Georgia Senate unanimously and the House with only one vote against.

Organized support for Amendment 1 includes six cities and counties in the Suwannee River Basin: the cities of Hahira, Valdosta, Adel, and Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, each of which passed a resolution in January 2019 in support of the bill that authorized putting Amendment 1 on the ballot for 2020. Also, the Valdosta Daily Times supported it in an editorial. WWALS supports Amendment 1, as do, so far as we know, all the Riverkeepers of Georgia.

Amendment 1 on the ballot

This is how Amendment 1 appears on the ballot:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?

( ) YES

( ) NO

Please vote YES.

Addition to Georgia law

Below is the text that Amendment 1, when approved, will add to subparagraph (r)(1) to paragraph VI in section 9 of Article III of the Georgia state constitution: Continue reading

Sewer line repair between manholes, Bevel Creek Lift Station @ LCC 2020-06-22

Lowndes County is fixing the June 8, 2020, sinkhole at the Bevel Creek Lift Station in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone, with $82,000.00 to replace two manholes, to discuss at its Work Session 8:30 AM Monday morning, with voting at its 5:30 PM Regular Session Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

The county’s agenda sheet says:

Due to extensive flooding and undermining, the manhole before Bevel Creek lift station collapsed on June 8, 2020 creating an emergency situation. After accessing the problem it was determined the most feasible and economical method of repair was to replace two manholes and redirect the flow. RPI Underground submitted a quote not to exceed $82,000 to make the repairs. Staff recommends approval of the Bevel Creek manhole emergency repair by RPI Underground not to exceed $82,000.00.

Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.
Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.

Continue reading

Troupville River Camp not on GOSP approved projects: try again this year 2020-01-22

There is a list approved by Georgia DNR for grants from the Georgia Outdoor Stewardshp Program (GOSP), but Troupville River Camp is not on it:

[GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects]
Georgia Reporter: GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects; see also PDF.

The GOSP web page says pre-applicants will be notified February 3, 2020, but the GOSP board apparently made their choices more than two weeks ago. Like everybody else, they’re making it up as they go this first year of GOSP.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 22 January 2020, Georgia park projects axed as tax on outdoor gear comes up short, Continue reading

Letter: Valdosta Mayor and Council support Troupville River Camp 2019-12-19

Well, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle sent this letter to GA-DNR week before last, although the part of DNR I talked to Monday was unaware of that. Today I got a copy from the City Clerk and forwarded it to GA-DNR.

[The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching.]
The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching.
PDF

On behalf of the Valdosta City Council, it is with great pleasure that we supply this letter of support for the WWALS Watershed Coalition’s pre-application for grant assistance for the Troupville River Camp in Lowndes County.

The Troupville River Camp would be a great asset to our community. The proposed property is in an excellent location near the Confluence of the Little River with the Withlacoochee River and not far from I-75 and GA Highway 133. The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching. Not only would the Troupville River Camp be a boon to Valdosta and Lowndes County, but also for other communities in South Georgia and North Florida,

We want to make Valdosta a place where people will want to live, work, and play and the Troupville River Camp would help us to achieve that goal. We wholeheartedly recommend and humbly ask for your consideration of the pre-application for grant assistance for the Troupville River Camp in Lowndes County.

This is the letter that Valdosta City Council Continue reading

Videos: Troupville River Camp at Valdosta City Council 2019-12-05

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber described the Troupville River Camp project and the letters received at that time (more have since come in). After brief discussion, the Council approved unanimously the Mayor sending a letter of support.


      7b. Request for letter of support by WWALS
LAKE Video.

In Citizens To Be Heard (CBTH), WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman thanked Council for approving the letter.


      10. CTBH. - Gretchen Quarterman - WWALS ED
LAKE Video.

All the letters received thus far, including Continue reading

Letter: Lowndes County, GA, Commission supports Troupville River Camp 2019-12-30

The county of the site of the proposed Troupville River Camp supports the project.

[Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.]
Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.
PDF

On behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.

Quality of life amenities are an integral component of economic development initiatives. The ability to provide a river park for citizens that could also serve as a destination for others is an amazing opportunity for our community. Further, programs proposed that will continue to protect one of South Georgia/North Florida’s most valuable natural resources should not be overlooked in the consideration of this application.

Lowndes County appreciates and admires the initiative demonstrated by WWALS Watershed Coalition. Those associated with the organization are both knowledgeable with regards to preservation and passionate about their mission.

Thank you again for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support of their efforts.

I had requested this letter at the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019. As I mentioned, Chairman Bill Slaughter was already familiar with the site. Continue reading

Troupville River Camp at Lowndes County, GA, Commission 2019-12-10

At the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019, as Suwannee Riverkeeper, I complimented Code Enforcement and asked for support for the Troupville River Camp project. 
      8. CWTBH - John S. Quarterman - Troupville River Camp
Video.

A WWALS member had called in a complaint to Lowndes County Code Enforcement back in August, about trash at the bottom of the Flying J parking lot at I-75 Exit 2.. It was a big job, involving removing many truckloads of tires, and completely rebuilding the fence, but it was almost finished when I went by there that same Tuesday morning.

About Troupville River Camp, I summarized the WWALS pre-application to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a river camp like those on the Suwannee River, but this one at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, just west of Valdosta.

This method of asking had been requested Continue reading

Troupville River Camp on Valdosta City Council agenda 2019-12-05

On the Valdosta City Council agenda for 5:30 PM this Thursday is:

7.b. Consideration of a request from the WWALS Watershed Coalition for a Letter of Support for the Troupville River Camp.

[2019-10-31--center-of-wlrwt]
Troupville River Camp at the center of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT), leading from the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers upstream in Georgia, down the Withlacoochee River to Florida and the Suwannee River, with its own River Camps.

If I understand correctly, the Mayor plans to discuss this item with Council, and then write and send a letter of support. Anyone who wants to attend to support this action by Valdosta, please come. I may stand up afterwards in Citizens to Be Heard to thank them.

At 5:30 PM, Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session, I will Continue reading

Video: River Gauges @ Lowndes County Commission 2019-10-21

Flood Inundation Maps (FIM) are related to Lowndes County taking over funding from Valdosta of the Skipper Bridge Withlacoochee River gauge, said EMA Director Ashley Tye.

[19.7feet]
19.7feet

Joint funding of $135,000 from Valdosta and Lowndes County started work on FIM for Skipper Bridge in 2016, with completion announced 22 May 2018.

The item about joint funding with USGS and SRWMD to fund the Skipper Bridge Withlacoochee River Gauge, in addition to the Folsom Bridge Little River Gauge, was the longest item at five minutes yesterday morning. Continue reading