19 December 2016

[TPC] - Trash Centers to be closed from midday Christmas Eve until Wednesday, December 28th

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Greetings, fine folks.

Well, just like last year, the Newton Co. trash centers will be closed for multiple days during the peak of trash accumulation season. At least this time around, they seem to be trying to give a good bit of notice. Good for them...

They'll be open a half-day on Thursday, December 24th, and won't again reopen until Wednesday, December 28th.

They've put the word out that they'll be investigating any illegal trash dumps at the gates and will be prosecuting. I'm told the fine will be $250.

So for all of you folks who just dropped that $50 for a tag for the right to dump your trash until, technically, February 15th - here's what you need to know:

A lot of governmental entities and some businesses will be closed on Monday, December 26th, but the trash centers get an extra day on top of that to be closed. Why? You'd have to ask Junior Hilliard, Keith Ellis, or the BOC, I suppose. Although, in the spirit of full disclosure, they're really not getting two extra days off as the centers have been closed on Mondays since October 1st of this year. And in the public sector, by golly, they're gonna get that day off even if the holiday falls on a Sunday. We peons in the private sector don't get that, do we? But t
hat's just the way it is. 

And just like last year, I'll have to publicly state my opinion that this seems like a really bad idea. All these people hosting all of these gatherings; all of those packages and wrapping paper. All of that food being cooked and consumed. As previously mentioned, it's the peak of trash production and accumulation of the entire year, and they're going to close it down until Wednesday morning - 90 hours without trash service. What, so 11 people can get an extra day off? Are they even getting paid for that day off? Because I'd almost feel better if they did, but we don't know because we pay the contract holder a set amount and he pays the center operators. Was this a part of the operating agreement? I guess I know what one of my next ORRs will be, perhaps. And on a side note, this money was already budgeted, so if the contract holder isn't paying the operators, this would just be money in their pocket, right? I'd sure like to know the answer to that one...

Regardless, if you're out in the unincorporated areas of the home county, you won't be able to dump your trash from midday Saturday until Wednesday. So, just know that.

If the time has come where you think it's time to do something else, here's a listing of the private trash pickup services that do business in Newton Co:
Republic Services678-221-4087
Peach State Disposal (offers curbside recycling)

14 December 2016

[TPC] - A Follow up on the Jones Co. Property

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

(Covington, GA * 12.14.2016) - 

As previously reported by The Chronicles, many questions have been raised about Newton Co.'s purchase of a tract of land in Jones Co., GA for mitigation purposes for the now-defunct Bear Creek Reservoir. This purchase was covered by David Sawyer in his forensic audit of Newton Co. At the time of our last report, we had some of the needed information. Since then, an Open Records Request has been filed and processed, and we now have all of the particulars. Here is what we now know: 
Vis-a-vis the purchase and sales agreement of 24 July 2009:

  • According to Special Stipulation (SS) 22. F, Newton Co. did grant the seller, Southern Vision LLC, and its authorized signor, David Frazier, an option to repurchase the "PROPERTY." 
  • As mentioned in the last write-up, it was stipulated in SS 22. C that the Seller could not remove any standing timber from the "PROPERTY." 
  • This agreement was signed off on by the following: 
    • SELLER: Southern Vision, LLC 
    • BUYER: Newton Co., GA 
        • The Security Bank of Jones Co. 
        • The Security Bank of Bibb Co. 
The closing statement from January 6, 2010 gives us the following information: 

  • The closing agent was J. Scott Pippin and per the contract, the closing attorney was Wm. Thomas Craig.. 
  • The seller's closing costs were $35,221; the buyer's closing costs were $11,589.55
  • Of the $2 million price to purchase, the net proceeds to David Frazier and Southern Vision LLC was $1,475,818.55. Of that amount, $1,475,818.55 was directed to State Bank & Trust; leaving an amount of $0.00 delivered to the seller out of the proceeds. 
  • An non-refundable option payment of $500,000 that was paid in 2009, as specified by the purchase and sales agreement, is listed as a part of the settlement statement; however, that payment - made to the seller, Southern Vision LLC - is not included in the reconciliation of funds for the closing. 
The "ASSIGNMENT OF RIGHTS TO CONSERVATION EASEMENT PROPERTY" agreement from 2014 gives us the following information: 

  • An assignment and modification was made that transfers the rights of repurchase from Southern Vision, LLC to Timbervest Partners III Georgia, LLC, 
  • The deletion of SS 22.C - the removal of standing timber from the "PROPERTY." 
    • Signed off on by: 
      • CONSENT & MODIFICATION: William K. Ellis, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Newton Co. 


11 December 2016

[TPC] - Sunday Evening Edition: 11 December 2016

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

- Sunday Edition
Greetings, you wonderful, fabulous readers, and welcome to another Sunday edition of The Chronicles. We've been simmering it nice for you - low & slow - and we're so glad you're with us this fine evening. Grab a plate and enjoy! 

The Piedmont Chronicles 
Sunday Edition
11 December '16

In this edition:
- News & Politics
- Living, Art, Music & Culture 
- Sports
- Religion 
- Our Thoughts

News & Politics 

On the local level at least, a big item of discussion has been Wm Thomas Craig and his continuing denial of reality. We addressed this earlier today. As I mentioned - and while quoting one of my favorite films - "Desperation is a stinky cologne." 

That's not all that's happening. The Rec Commission. Also known as the NCRC. They put out a statement in which they said that they had no problem with Avery personally profiting from doing camps for personal gain. They really didn't have much of a choice as they, that county-sanctioned board, had already approved it. You have to remember, folks, this is the Rec Commission. This is just how they've always done things. I'm told from a source that this will all change soon, but it is incumbent upon the Citizenry to ensure that this does indeed comes to pass. It's not your Father's Rec Board, as it were, but we've still got a ways to go... 

On the national level, we are seeing what I consider to be a diametric doppelganger to what we witnessed during the election. According to some, the Russians now have total control...of everything, and they are blackmailing Trump and the entire RNC. Presumably Hillary probably won the electoral college in a landslide, but these damn Russians, though! It's a sordid state of affairs, according to these people. The CIA will vouch for it, they say. Well, friends, we all know that if there is a respectable and truthful entity in our Federal Government, then it would assuredly be the CIA. They're totally on the up and up as we understand it. Not to worry, though, as the electoral college will come through to save the day and elect Kasich, or somebody else, to be our next POTUS. Hamilton Electors, FTW! 

[TPC] - A Moment From Us: Talkin' Wm Thomas Craig

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

A Moment From Us: Talkin' Wm Thomas Craig

So, to use a Star Wars analogy, I guess this past week could be called, "Wm Thomas Craig Strikes Back." 

But not really... 

In light of the damning forensic audit that came out a couple of weeks ago, former county attorney Tommy Craig has gone on the offensive the last several days. Early in the week, he appeared on WSB TV (Ch. 2) to rail against the audit, its creator - David Sawyer - and to declare his innocence. This was on top of a press release he sent out last week in which he said Sawyer, working in conjunction with the Newton Co. BOC, and others, were trying to destroy his life, his "wonderful" wife and kids, and claimed them all of being racists, including, presumably, black member of the board, Lanier Sims.

Apparently none of this was enough as Craig decided to turn it "up to 11" by putting paid advertisements in both The Covington News* and The Newton Citizen. The one in the News was two full pages. I'm not sure of the exact advertising rates of that publication, but I know enough to feel fairly confident that Craig had to have spent over a thousand bucks on that one alone, and a similar sum for the one in the Citizen. Doesn't he owe the IRS over a million dollars?

I'm reminded of a line from one of my all time favorite movies, Super Troopers. "Desperation is a stinky cologne." 

A reading of Craig's 2-page manifesto is an exercise of...hell, I don't even know. It's dripping with the type of narcissism we've come to know and expect of Craig and it is, in my estimation, further proof of him being a sociopath. He refers to himself as a "whipping boy" of the BOC and claims that four members of the Board "does not welcome diversity in our community" and that he, Craig, has angered those members in the past by "publicly criticizing them for discriminating against black officials and employees." So, to sum up, a wealthy white lawyer is calling out Lanier Sims, a multi-generational Newton Countian, business owner, and African-American, for being a racist. Got it!


Craig calls out Sawyer also for incorrectly claiming he had questionable dealings with vendors and consultants related to Bear Creek. Nice try, Tommy. That was with the landfill. Read the report. Still waiting on your answer to that.

And a few other things:

- We're still waiting for you to address the Jones Co. property that Sawyer mentioned in his audit and that I wrote about a few days ago. I've called you three times, sir. You seem to be avoiding me. Why don't you address that? 
- And the other mitigation properties. Why don't you talk about those? And could any of those properties revert to the original landowners? 
- And we notice that you try to blame Larry McSwain and Mike Hopkins and a few others for derailing Bear Creek when we were "three yards from the goal line." That's interesting considering the fact that the US Army Corps of Engineers administratively pulled the permit. And that was after years of them telling you that your application was woefully inadequate. Why don't you talk about that, Wm Thomas Craig, Esq? 
- And let's talk about Eco South and Eco Tech regarding the landfill. What is your relationship to those two companies?  
- And speaking of the landfill. Talk to us about the East Georgia Land Co. and the family who owned the land previously. Is it true that you represented them until they sued Newton Co.? Who took over the representation for them after that, Mr. Craig? What, if any, relationships and communications did you have with Green Hill P3? 
- How much money were you paid by the Joint Development Authority over the years? 
- How much money were you paid by the Industrial Development Authority?
- Is it true that you the attorney for the Hospital Authority? If so, how much money were you paid by them? 

I've probably got a few dozen other questions but I'm going to save those. For you see, Tommy, I'm about to start a GoFundMe so that maybe I can put out a 2-page paid advertisement in both of the local papers to call you out on all of your foolishness.

And I'll be calling your office tomorrow morning. And I'm supposed to maybe be getting your cell phone number this week. As you possibly know, I'm right across the corner from your office usually 7 days a week for a least a brief amount of time. So I'll definitely be keeping a keen eye out for you, sir.

Questions, Mr. Craig. So many questions. They need answering. 


MB McCart,
TPC Editor-in-Chief
- Tonto Network -

*Discolsure: Marshall McCart is an Independent Contractor Stringer/Correspondent for The News

07 December 2016

[TPC] - Delving into the Newton Co. Forensic Audit, Pt. I: The Jones Co. Mitigation Property - News Report & Commentary

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]


(Covington, GA * 12/7/16)

First off, for those of you who have not seen the full report of the audit, MP Pat with The Taxpayer's Watchdog Group has uploaded it to her website:

Newton County Forensic Audit

As reported last week, the forensic audit of Newton County was released. The lion's share of the audit pertained to the Bear Creek Reservoir. Of special and particular note to TPC is one of the properties purchased for mitigation purposes known as The Jones County Property.


The Jones Co. tract, approx. 518 acres of stream buffer property, was originally purchased by Newton Co. from Southern Vision, LLC back in 2010 as part of the needed mitigation land in order to receive the Federal 404 permit from the US Corps of Engineers for the Bear Creek Reservoir. The price to purchase for this real estate was $2 million dollars, $3,860 per acre, and was, as the audit pointed out, an amount that seemed to be excessive being that it was over a year after the great crash of 2008 at a time when real estate values were plummeting, especially when one considers that it was bought by Southern Vision for $2,900 an acre in 2007. As the audit correctly pointed out, 2007 has long been considered the high water mark of real estate values.

Fast forward four years to May 8, 2014 and Southern Vision sold the remaining part of the tract not including the 518 acres of stream buffer land that Newton Co. owned, a parcel of approx. 1037 acres, to Timbervest LLC for an amount of $1.7 million.

Now this is where it gets interesting:

When Newton Co. originally bought that land in 2010, a restriction was placed prohibiting Southern Vision from timbering and harvesting any timber on "the property" as that would presumably create problems for Newton County using their land for mitigation purposes. 

On May 7, 2014, one day before Southern Vision sold the land to Timbervest, Newton County, as signed off on by Wm Thomas Craig and Keith Ellis - and apparently without knowledge or approval of the rest of the BOC - executed an agreement that terminated the restriction of timbering on the aforementioned property by Southern Vision or Timberland. As far as can be discerned, no compensation was given or received.

To be fair, I'm still not completely sure of all of the exact particulars of this specific situation. I've reached out to Wm. Thomas Craig three times now in the past 8 days. I've left three different messages. No call back. I've called Keith Ellis twice, left a VM, and dropped by his office (he wasn't there). No reply. I even reached out to David Sawyer, the CPA that did the audit. Haven't heard anything.

I'm still waiting to get a couple of additional documents pertaining to the settlement statement and the closing documents from 2010. 



Regardless of anything else, and based on information I've seen from the 2009 purchase and sales agreement and the 2014 agreement, the timing of the changes and the modification to the original agreement of May 7, 2014 seems to imply that both Craig and possibly Ellis knew that this land would not be used for mitigation purposes. It seems intuitive that if this is indeed the case then this may very well by a "smoking gun" of sorts as the 404 permit was not administratively pulled until 2015 and that comments made on the public record by Craig as recently as October 2015 show that he was telling the public that the 404 permit was just around the corner. If so, why would he have made a change to a key mitigation property that could have caused issues? I think the answer to that was that he knew full well that Newton Co. was never getting that permit. And again, look at the dates. May 7, 2014 - Newton Co. - as signed by Tommy Craig and Keith Ellis - makes the modification to the original agreement; May 8, 2014 - Timbervest purchases the other 1037 acres from Southern Vision for $1.7 million. 


04 December 2016

[MBM @ The News] - The Esoteric South: How a Little Derpy Dog Stole My Heart

My latest posting of The Esoteric South over on the pages of The Covington News. This edition is entitled "How a Little Derpy Dog Stole My Heart."

The Esoteric South 
How a Little Derpy Dog Stole My Heart 
In all truthfulness, I've never really been a dog person. In fact — and I can already hear the Covington Peanut Gallery snickering — I suppose I've always been more of a cat kind of guy.
I think it has something to do with the fact that I grew up with cats. As a young boy, a lot of my memories center on the two Siamese cats we had, named Ho and Ming. Interesting names no doubt but it had something to do with my father serving in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Anyway, those were really great cats! Ho in particular was just the best. He was pretty much one of my best friends. He would always wait for me to get home from the bus. We played hide and seek and, always to my Grandmother's amusement, Ho would act like he couldn't find me for a while. But then he would always make a beeline right towards me. Once I cut off his whiskers with a pair of scissors but only on one side. Alas, I digress, this is a story about a dog...
Later on, my folks would bring a couple of dogs into the fold — Toby and Tinker. They were both okay, nothing special really. But then one day Tinker had a boy pup. His name was Otis and things would forever be changed in the McCart household. At least a few of you reading probably remember Otis. The conventional wisdom was Otis supplanted my brother and myself as the favorite child; I think he was actually put into Dad's will at one point. We all loved that dog to pieces — myself included — and I was finally starting to get this whole dog thing.

[TPC] - The Story of Millsaps; Chapters I & II

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

The Story of Millsaps
Ch. I & II
By TPC Cont. Writer Ellis Millsaps 

*Ed. note: What follows is basically a familial history of his family that Ellis wrote several years back. Most of it centers on his parents, and his father in particular. Below are Chapters I & II. The rest will follow over the next few weeks. As always, thanks for reading! -MBM 

Chapter One: In which Doris gets her oats

The man Wallace Millsaps, known to thousands as Preacher Millsaps and whom his Appalachian relatives called “Wallus,” was born in the spring of 1909 in a log house built by Millsaps before him on Upper Jack's River in what is now the federally owned Cohutta Wilderness Preserve in Fannin County, near the Tennessee/ Georgia/ North Carolina line.

The spot where the cabin stood is fertile bottom land situated as high above sea level as such land could be in Georgia and is sometimes occupied by a U.S. Forrest Ranger station until miscreant locals burn it down again.

My father's parents Mount Aubrey and Lovey Jane Millsaps. 

His father, Mount Millsaps, and his mother, Lovey Jane, lived on a parcel of land that was part of a 4,000-acre tract of Cherokee Indian land “given” to a Thomas Millsaps by the State of Georgia for his service in the War of 1812.

My father's great-grandmother was a member of that tribe.
The entire Cohutta range was then owned by descendants of the men who had received the original land grants, most of whom were land rich and dirt poor, and almost all of whom lost their land to the government for inability to pay its taxes during the Great Depression.

02 December 2016

[TPC] - Guest Post by Fred Wheeler Concerning the Newton Co. Forensic Audit

The Piedmont Chronicles   
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Another $100,000+ of County Taxpayer Money Wasted 
A guest post by Fred Wheeler

Oh no,

   I just reviewed the forensic audit report concerning the extreme mismanagement and wasteful spending our county government has perpetrated against us over the last decade. The audit team spent over 1000 hours at somewhere between $75 and $340 per hour carrying it out. It is very well done. But, of course, we know nothing will come of it. So, we have wasted our money having someone certify and quantify what we suspected already.

   The audit primarily deals with the self-dealing of J.C. Henderson and the scam that Tommy Craig carried out over the last twenty years concerning Bear Creek. Of course, neither could have been successful without the collusion or malfeasance of our elected officials. I've been to enough BOC meetings to have heard numerous citizens plead with the members to stop the insanity. But, they turned a deaf ear to reason.

   J.C. runs the fourth district like a ward healer. The audit documents repeated instances of self dealing between him, his church, the Nelson Heights Community Center, and the county. Unfortunately, because of demographics, J.C. has a lifetime appointment to the commission. Apparently, his self-dealings have cost the taxpayers over $40,000.

   This pales in significance compared to what Tommy Craig has hauled off. Professionals carry E&O insurance (the "O" stands for omissions). The auditor documented over twenty occasions when Craig made "false and misleading statements between 2008 and 2015" to the BOC concerning the Bear Creek permitting process. Many of these involved omissions of facts that he knew and should have conveyed the board.

   Craig operated as both county attorney (who should have represented the interests of his client, Newton County) and as water consultant (a contractor with a definite axe to grind). There was obviously a conflict of interest. As a result of his regular contact with the Corps of Engineers, EPA, and other agencies, he was well aware "years in advance" that the Bear Creek Project would not be approved. The EPA, for instance, advised him that the Reservoir Plan was fundamentally flawed and inadequate back in 2008.

   He continually "provided flawed, incomplete, or inadequate information to government regulators" about population estimates and water use. This is the same problem we confronted when the people had to fight against the imposition of the 2050 Plan. It's difficult to put a price tag on how much Bear Creek has cost us. If you add in the opportunity costs of lost tax revenues from the property it could approach $60 million dollars.

   Things like this are very discouraging. I, for one have resolved to vote against every incumbent and tax measure until the BOC cleans this mess up and puts the county on an even keel. By the way, the same geniuses who went to asleep at the switch on these matters will soon propose to "sell" our water and sewer system to the W&S Authority. Wait till J.C. gets his hands on that honey pot of money.