The following are some random thoughts and assessments about the current state of affairs in Oconee County.
- Oconee County, Georgia is a great place to start or relocate a business. We want you to move here, or at least bring your money here in terms of sending your kids to Gainesville State University, Oconee Campus.
- All the municipal governments are non-partisan and cautious, but accepting, in terms of most industries.
- North High Shoals, Bishop and Bogart are not yet on sewers.
- The county firemen and first responders remain professionally trained volunteers.
- Bike riders are from both sides of the political and religious stripe here. Please watch out for them on our roads.
- There is no Oconee County Housing Authority, and the idea of affordable housing here is paying rent on a few streets in Watkinsville or in a trailer park.
- No public swimming pools parks have ever been built by the government in Oconee County, but dozens of private swim clubs will accept most anyone, even if you do not live in the immediate area of the pool. However, the Georgia Aquatics Center more than makes up for the lack of county or municipal pool.
- Where once we had one percent of the nation's turkey population, the poultry industry has shifted. Cotton, peaches and more widely grown in our clay today.
- The soccer fields and churches dominate a suburban landscape where one can pedal a bicycle or ride a four wheeler, but walking is still at a premium outside of a few municipalities and gymnasiums.
- Streams and sides of the roads are cleaned repeatedly by concerned groups of people, sometimes in parks and sometimes in private yards.
- Politics remain a passionate topic for the couple dozen hardcore members on each side. Jay Hanley has a handle on the Republican Party locally for his second term, while yours truly is going through his second term as the head of the Democratic Committee.
We will meet in battle again for the right to say we have picked up the most garbage Saturday, May 8 on the morning of the Tour d'Oconee. Jay and his young Republican colleagues will meet at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church and generally flank out to the right from there. The Oconee County Democratic Committee and friends are going to blast off from Rocket Field at 8 a.m. and pick up what's left from the bike ride and spread out from there.
Both groups are going to reconvene at Jittery Joe's in Watkinsville a few hours with free coffee drinks paid by the city and to see who has gathered the most garbage. Cigarette butts by far are the most abundant and pain in the back item of refuse to collect along the sides of the road.
I think we won the dubious honor last go-round, but it looked like Jay had about two people with him, while we brought in volunteers from Clarke County as well with more than a dozen garbage pickers.
Undoubtedly Jay and the local G.O.P. have maintained a 2-to-1 advantage in every possible measure or comparison with the Democratic candidates since 1994. Prior to then it was darn near unanimously local Democratic candidates. The pendulum will swing back again.
- Jay's co-worker at the Oconee Enterprise, Blake Giles, scooped the world with the announcement of the 15 candidates applying for the Western Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge slot formerly held by now- Federal Judge Steve Jones.
The seven Oconee-related candidates include R. Judson Huff, a cattle farmer and former city attorney for Bishop and Watkinsville; former UGA football player Michael Brown, who is a family law attorney; and Eric Eberhardt, who works in Athens but has been an assitant district attorney.
Newsflash No. 1: Oconee County does have one elected democratic government official, and that is District Attorney Ken Mauldin. I would like to hear who he favors in this 15 to 4 to 1 sweepstakes. We go back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.
Patrick Haggard lives and practices law in Oconee County. All things being equal I think he is the best candidate and most likely to be named to the Final Four from Oconee. I do work in the legal industry but have had next to zero dealings with any of these attorneys.
Watkinsville resident Pamela Hendrix faced a huge uphill battle in her run against David Sweat and lost by a 3-to-1 margin. She faces similar long odds at making the cut. Eric Norris has experience behind the bench as a local Magistrate Judge. Resident Ryan Swingle is a criminal defense attorney who practices law in Athens. Regina Quick is another candidate.
- I missed a robo-call from Congressman Paul Broun the other evening but obviously I did not have very much of a coherent article to write yet. Next time I swear I will answer the phone when my caller ID barks out "caller unknown."
- I also missed the HeHaw Ho-Down at Ashford Manor and the car show there as well. I need to get out more often.
- Thank you to all the people who turned out to welcome the Heart & Soul tour at Eagle Tavern Thursday morning. I had to run to work before the bus arrived, but it was great to see so many people turned out to welcome the tour group there.
- If you want to hear from Mayor of Watkinsville Joe Walter about what is happening there with the T-SPLOST, or what is happening with the Oconee County Board of Commissioners with regard to the transportation projects we are pitching, come to Jittery Joe's in Watkinsville 7:30 p.m. on Thursday , April 21. Yes, this is the Democratic Committee meeting, but you are certainly welcome to attend regardless of affiliation or where you reside. We welcome everybody.
- Another newsflash -Oconee Farmers Market opened this past weekend.
- Taqueria La Parilla is all that and a big bag of chips with fresh salsa. They get you in and out of there remarkably fast for a sit down restaurant.