Good news: the Lowndes County Commission yesterday unanimously denied the request to close Wells Road. This means the road stays open, and with it access to Folsom Bridge Landing on the Little River, and to the Mary Turner Lynching Site memorial.
October 12, 2021
To: Chairman Bill Slaughter
Commissioner Joyce Evans
Commissioner Scottie Orenstein
Commissioner Mark Wisenbaker
Commissioner Demarcus Marshall
Commissioner Clay Griner
Cc: Chad McLeod, Director of Engineering Services
Belinda C. Lovern, County Clerk
Re: Please don’t close Folsom Bridge Landing on the Little River at Wells Road
Dear Chairman, Commissioners, and Director,
Related to your agenda for this evening:
6.a. Abandonment of a portion of Salem Church Road (CR #68) and Wells Road (CR # 68 & CR #69)
According to the description and map in the board packet, the intent is to close Wells Road completely. That would also close access to Folsom Bridge Landing, which turns off of Wells Road. That is one of only two public access points on the Little River in Lowndes County. Please do not close it. Continue reading
This is the family cemetery of an early settler family. Starting in 1835, Owen Smith owned land on both sides of the Withlacoochee River and east to Cat Creek and at least briefly across that, too, totalling more than 3,000 acres, according to the Wiregrass Region Digital History Project. It is called the Owen Smith Cemetery by FindaGrave.com.
Or earlier, since according to the apparently well-documented Smith-Gray-Dupree family tree on ancestry.com, Owen Smith married Jemima K. Mathis in Lowndes County, Georgia. They were not original settlers, since Lowndes County was established by the Georgia General Assembly in 1825, but they were apparently the first settler holders of much of that land.
The tallest remaining headstone is for Jemima Mathis Smith. The broken one near it was apparently Owen Smith’s. He was born 26 February 1810 in Columbus, North Carolina, died in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 8 September 1901. Continue reading
Some good news: “Low level mercury levels are well below acute standards at all sampling points.”
Some bad news: “fecal coliform sampling results indicated all sampling points exceeded water quality standards for the June and September sampling events.”
That’s in the 2020 ANNUAL REPORT from Lovell Enginnering Associates to Lowndes County for its Impaired Streams Monitoring project that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) required the county to do.
Thanks to Lowndes County Engineer Mike Fletcher for sending this report in response to a WWALS open records request. I don’t know why Lowndes County did not publish this report themselves. Maybe they did, and I just haven’t found it online yet.
Working through this data, so far it seems that Franks Creek, which comes down west of Hahira to the Little River, shows spikes in Fecal coliform after rains. Those spikes usually occur downstream of Hahira’s wastewater treatment facility. Continue reading
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.
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.
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
Update 2020-11-18: Landslide Yes on Georgia Amendment 1 to dedicate trust funds!
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: 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.
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.
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
You may want to allow more time if you’re driving to Banks Lake this evening from Hahira (I-75 exit 29) or Valdosta for the Full Corn Moon Paddle, since Walker’s Crossing is closed, and that’s on the usual route. Walker’s Crossing is where east-west GA 122 meets north-south GA 125 (Bemiss Road).
It looks like you can go around from Barretts on New Bethel Road. Or just follow the Detour signs. Georgia DOT – Southwest, facebook, August 31 at 9:52 PM
Lowndes Co (close to Lanier Co): the railroad crossing on SR 122 just east of SR 125 is scheduled to close tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 1, and is expected to reopen Thursday, Sept. 3. This is required for repairs to the crossing. Detour routes will be US 129, SR 122 Connector and SR 125. Watch for detour signs.
Thanks to Mike Kondrot for the heads-up.
If you’re coming up I-75 from Florida, you’ll probably also notice this: Continue reading
How is the mysterious Vickers Branch south of Hahira related to the Hahira Land Application Site? What is that creek the rest of that LAS is on? And what does all this have to do with Lowndes County’s new IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN? Why do we care about all this for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail?
About six weeks ago, the bridge on Old US 41 North just south of Hahira broke and Lowndes County fixed it. Revealing that nobody knew a name for it. Except Phillip Williams, who says, “Some maps show it as Vickers Branch. The Vickers family were the ones who owned most of the land in the area back in the 1800s.”
The Vickers Branch Bridge marker south of Hahira looks slightly too far south, but it’s where google street view and aerials show the bridge. It seems that the USGS stream trace I used in this map is not quite right.
Upstream of that Vickers Branch US 41 bridge, several branches or runs that drain quite an area. I have named them after Continue reading
Update 2020-05-04: Clean Withlacoochee River, less bad Crooked Creek 2020-05-02.
Update 2020-05-03: WWALS tester Suzy Hall says she got zero (no) E. coli at the GA 31 bridge (State Line Boat Ramp) for yesterday, Saturday, May 2, 2020.
Good news, boaters, fishers, swimmers: apparently the Withlacoochee River is clean this weekend. This is because of much river and Okapilco Creek water coming downstream; flow matters.
WWALS continues sampling, and you can help us afford testing supplies.
Photo: John S. Quarterman, WWALS Water Trail signs at Nankin Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-01
You may have some difficulty getting a boat into the water, but if you do, it appears that the small rain in Brooks County, Georgia, Thursday, April 30, was not big enough Continue reading