24 May 2017

[TPC] - The Last Two Editions of The Esoteric South



Howdy, gang! Hope all is well. I realized that I hadn't posted my last two Esoteric South pieces that I do for The Covington News here at good ole TPC. So...here ya' go:

[The Esoteric South] - What the old folks used to say vs. that's what they say

*ed note: originally appeared in The Covington News in May of 2017


What the old folks used to say vs. that's what they say

As a young boy I fondly remember my Grandmother talking oftentimes about what the old folks used to say. The old folks used to say this; this old folks used to say that. The old folks had a lot of things they used to say, and I always got a kick out of hearing about it. As a rule, the old folks were good people who believed in doing the right things and doing things right. They believed in hard work, fair dealing & living the Golden Rule (the original one, not the other one). They sounded like good old folks to me.

One thing that really stuck out to me, as a I child, was just how old these old folks must have been. Because if my Grandmother was talking about them, they had to be fairly old, because my Grandmother was old. But then she'd talk about hearing about what the old folks used to say when she was a little girl. "Man," I thought to myself, "these old folks sure were old!" She would also talk about her Grandfather, my 2nd great grandfather, and the man I was named after, talking about what the old folks used to say, and that got me really thinking about how old these old folks were. But once I heard from my Grandmother that he remembered his parents and other older relatives talking about hearing what the old folks said when they were children...well, I knew that we were talking about some really, really old people here.

The old folks used to say you never should plant your garden until after Easter. Now, I didn't have any real scientific data on this or anything, but I can recount at least a few instances in the past few years where people I knew who planted their crops before that holy day ran into trouble because of a late frost. So, don't plant until after Easter. That's what the old folks used to say.

A lot of what the old folks used to say were basically proverbial sayings, or proverbs. "You can catch more flies with honey than you can vinegar," or, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and many others of the like. Based on what I've found, at least some of these probably wind their way all the way back to the days of antiquity. Regardless of how old the saying, expression or thought was, it seemed to be carried through generations and generations of existence through oral tradition. Folklore. So, there again, when we're talking about what the old folks used to say, we are indeed talking about some really old folks.

A fair amount of what the old folks used to say seemed to be rooted maybe in superstition, or old wives' tales; however, at least a fair portion of those sayings and beliefs seem to be true. For instance, the old folks always knew that the lunar cycle had a major impact on our lives and many other things as well. Just ask anyone in law enforcement or public health if that is actually the case - they will respond in the affirmative. Chicken soup good for a cold? Scientifically proven. Vinegar for cramps? Works every time. Vinegar for a whole host of other things? Most definitely. There's a lot of stuff kind of below the surface or forgotten about that the old folks knew which would behoove a lot of us to know now, in this writer's estimation.

So, when talking about the "old folks" in the expression - "that's what the old folks used to say" -  just know that we're talking about good, godly & hard working folk going back dozens and perhaps hundreds of generations.

23 May 2017

[TPC] - Tuesday Morning Quick Bite: Update on the DEA sting/Joe Barr Situation; Newton Co., meet Lady Liberty



Considered to be one of the greatest criminal defense attorneys
in GA. 
Advocate for Justice & Liberty Activist, Ms. Catherine Bernard
(Covington * 5/23/17) - Howdy, folks, hope it's good out there.

I was telling one of my pals yesterday, regarding the whole DEA operation and subsequent languishing in jail of multiple Newton citizens, this:

"The wolf is on the mutha! She's gonna be here directly!"

"...that's all you had to say!"

The wolf in this case is Catherine Bernard. I have her listed in my phone as - "Criminal Defense Atty, Justice Advocate & Wonder Woman."

When several of us really started working this story after being told that bail was not being offered to any of the folks who'd been snagged due to the ongoing investigation, I reached out to Catherine because that just seemed like the smart move.

The lovely Ms. Bernard has developed a strong reputation all over the great state of Georgia as a true advocate for Liberty, a protector of the downtrodden, and a brilliant & effective legal mind. Yesterday she spoke with two of the inmates currently at the Newton Co. Detention Center including TPC friend & Piedmont Bluesman, Mr. Joseph C. "Joe" Barr, a guy as good as any God's ever made.


Gotta give props to some of the young brothers & fellas at the Newton Co. jail, too. They've really been looking out for Joe, helping him draft correspondences, even doing some research for him, and keeping an eye on the old fella in the jailhouse. Thank you, gentlemen! Well done.

Catherine will be representing Joe Bar, basically pro-bono. It will be contingent upon the Citizenry of the home county to try to help raise some funds for a proper legal defense, though. The ball is already rolling with planning for some potential fundraisers. The big thing will be getting the word out there about this travesty & injustice. And folks, I got a chance to look at the indictment. Man, it's flimsy. It's like they're not even trying anymore. It's just all about raising some revenue and the cherry on the top for some of these folks seems to be getting the chance to destroy lives. And maybe bonus points if the offenders are black?

But again, it' just so exciting that Ms. Bernard is on it. She's like a living Lady Liberty. 




Newton County, et al, meet Catherine Bernard; Ms. Bernard - Newton Co., Alcovy judicial circuit, DEA, NCSO, et al

Look for future multiple reports, friends.

DEVELOPING...

- MBM 



21 May 2017

[TPC] - Sunday Check-in: 21 May '17 Edition



Howdy, Buckaroos, it's scamp Marshall time again..."yeah we're gonna try to slide one by ya' once more."

Jerry Jeff Walker, an American Treasure, folks!

What a day! What a week, though, I guess it's technically the new week now - we all know how that works.

I don't even know where to start...

Newton County - a primary political subdivision of the great state of GA - is probably about to go down. I'm really thinking we will. I'm truly starting to believe that we will beat Dekalb & Clayton in the race to the bottom - the first county to...dissolve, go bankrupt, both, etc & et al? Who knows? I just know that - per the agreement, per the GA Constitution, we have to maintain 159 counties. How's all that gonna go down?

I think it's probably civil disobedience time. I believe at least a few hundred folks will be appealing their property assessments, as well they should. Most are a slam dunk. Yeah, we get that there's been property valuation increases - we get it - but why should a select few who have never played ball with the powers that be see increases ranging from 20 to 50% while the favored power elites are seeing undervaluations almost completely across the board. Do you think we're as dumb as y'all look and act?

What a joke!

And
Covington...just damn. I love it, I even got the hat that everybody likes so much, but at this point? Dissolution? Go back to unincorporated Newton Co. but still be a "community," "hamlet," "town," or "village?" Whatevs...Can we just do away with all zoning laws & 75% of all traffic laws?

If they had just fixed the light at the Elm & Floyd like some of us have been trying to get done for about a decade, we may have been willing to not be ready to go full-on mode, but...you blew it. You continued to insist, in the words of the band Phish, that we be a "slave to the traffic light."

The next council meeting needs to be taken over & turned into a public forum. Go w/ Robert's Rules and just see what happens.

All benefits need to be done away with at all levels of government. All government employees shall become independent contractors and get paid private-sector wages.

That's non-negotiable.

That's how we fix it & stop things from turning into "The Road Warrior."

"WE WANT YOUR GASOLINE!" 

So, but y'all are all gonna quit, right?

Fine...

There is a myriad of solutions and contingency plans that many of us have been working on for many moons. I think there's a ton of folks who would work at between $15 & $40/per hour on an IC basis to take care of the core services of our local governments.

Go ahead.

Like my ole pal used to talk about - the fundamental transformation is almost here, and that, my friends, is ultimately a good thing. And as another buddy of mine has more recently said - they must have not gotten the memo! It's time to make Covington & Newton Great Again!

Things aren't as they should be & we just have to fix them.

As a wise & weird carpenter I know here in the home county would say:

No Problems - Only Solutions 

Hope this communique finds you & that it finds you well.

Yours Very Truly,

M.B. McCart



Our pick for Governor of the Great State of Georgia

17 May 2017

[TPC] - City of Covington Council Recap


[State of GA] 
[Newton Co] 

(Covington * 17 May '17) - Greetings, readers, and we sure hope everything is lovely out there. 

So, the City of Covington had their regular council meeting Monday night. Here's what you need to know: 

  • By a 5 to 1 (Josh McKelvey, the lone dissenter) vote, the council ensured a lawsuit which we will most likely lose. 
  • By another 5 to 1 (Josh McKelvey) vote, the council wasted at least approx. $10,000 of your tax dollars. 
  • They didn't even bring up the hospitality thing because it has to go to legal counsel and then there has to be a "workshop" about it...gimme a break! 
My word, it's like we get the Newton Co. BOC fixed and then the city's gonna go full-on mo-ron. Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. That's just life.

Best Regards. 'Till next time.

Your pal,

MBMcCart 

14 May 2017

Sunday Check-in, Mother's Day Edition: Civil Right Violations in the Home County?; Time to Disband GDOT?

The Piedmont Chronicles 
- est. 2010 - 





[State of GA]
[Newton Co.] 

(North Covington * 14 May '17) - Greetings, fantabulous readers, and a special shout-out to all of you wonderful, glorious & marvelous Mothers. We love you ladies; you're simply the best - the top shelf. True Blue!

POSSIBLE CIVIL RIGHTS CONCERNS IN THE HOME COUNTY
 


This publication, along with at least a couple of others, has been researching and investigating what may end becoming a huge story. In March, the Newton Co. Sheriff's office, working in conjunction with at least one federal agency - the DEA, as we're told, but there's a U.S. Marshal involved somehow as well?...), conducted a drug operation here in town.

For starters, this thing was different because of this:

They snagged a mid-level type drug guy, but then they used the contact list on his phone to go after folks UNDERNEATH him - not his dealer.  Yes, you read that right - the opposite of the usual M.O., they decided to spend your taxpayer dollars going after folks wanting to pop a pill or two to , in at least one case that we have firsthand knowledge of, snare a guy trying to soothe his back pain because he couldn't afford to see a doctor or pay for a full month's prescription, which, by the way, the doctor probably wasn't going to give the prescription for anyway. Ain't that America?

Between two snares, approx. 15 folks, most Newton Co. citizens, were arrested and thrown in the slammer. No indictment, no possibility of bail, because, as I've been told by law enforcement sources, the Feds wanted to continue their investigation without these guys being able to get back out on the street. Some of "these guys?" A young father who manages one of the best known bar/restaurants in town. Another? Joe Barr, a 65 yr old Piedmont Bluesman who's as good as gold & wouldn't hurt a flea.

At least the U.S. Government is paying the customary fee to Newton Co. to house these inmates as it is their operation. That should help our Sheriff's budget woes, at least. So...there's that.

But here's the kicker folks - no drugs or cash ever changed hands. No, now, these days, by a real, chincey stretch, they can just use electronic communications of setting the deal up to arrest folks. I'm told from an anonymous source that this is actually a "test case" for the Feds to really try to ramp back up the miserable failure that is the War on Drugs (which, Trump, Sessions, et al are really wanting to ramp up again because it's been such a resounding success.)

Per two other sources, they're trying to go RICO (racketeering), on this case. If so, why is this going through the Alcovy circuit? Why is Madam DA Zon involved? According to another two sources, at least one, if not two, Alcovy Circuit judges said they were not impressed and felt like it was time to drop charges and let these folks go home. But, and this has been confirmed w/ the Clerk of Court's office, these cases will now be on the docket of Judge Benton, the fella out of Walton Co.

And by the way, finally last Friday after multiple reporters had been calling and emailing all kinds of different elected officials and other folks, Madam DA did present a few indictments to her rubber stamp club Grand Jury.

Interesting...

TIME TO DISBAND GDOT?
We've seen what can happen if we get the GOV out of the way w/ the I-85 situation. 45 days. Nothing short of incredible, but that's just how the private sector do, you feel us?

And the new bridge on 36 is gonna take a year and a half. The 278 project is going to be 2 to 3 years.

What a f*cking joke!

Okay for now, 'til next time.

Your pal,

MBM  

06 May 2017

[tPc] - Show Review: Chris, Jon & Scott at Amici Covington

The Piedmont Chronicles 
6 May 2017


Greetings, dear readers, and what a glorious day we seem to have on our hands here in the home county.

Last night magic struck, once again, at the little groovy pizza joint on College Ave as the great ones - Chris, Jon & Scott - brought that good groove, soul & cosmic feel-good back to the vortex, like they've done so many times before.



I'm not sure if Christon is human; I think he may be an angel or something. Little kids are captivated by him, women love him & the men folk want to be like him. He sings like almost no other and he can play that drum box thing & it sounds like a full kit somehow. And Jon Lansburg is easily one of the best guitar players in C-town & he probably sang lead on upwards of a third of last night's tunes. Scott, who is THE best bass player in our neck of the woods, was even throwing in some third parts on the harmonies. It was just incredible.

There was great fellowship & palaver amongst the assembled body, and much dancing, and much rejoicing. The spirits were flowing and the lovely ladies behind & in front of the bar were top notch, per usual, and they've got a fella now helping with things. He's gonna be a great barkeep, we think.

Basically, there was just no other place on the planet that could have afforded the feels & sounds  found last night at Amici Italian Cafe - Covington. 

Show highlight: "Could You Be Love," by Bob Marley

Lots of new covers were thrown in the mix last night as well.

CJ&S! They just keep getting better & better and they've been so good for so long already. It's something special, for sure.

Til next time

- MBM -

27 April 2017

Thursday Quick Bite - C-town, Booze, Open Container et al

~ TPC ~
C-town
Thursday...


Hey You! You look really good today...I like what you've done with your hair...

So...

Where to start?

Yes, Mr. Mayor got a ticket for open container a while back. I still get a kick out of the thought of that fella, dressed up in his suit after a council meeting, hittin' the store right quick to get him a nice, frosty cold unit. "Council meetings are stressful, man! Let me crack a cool Budweiser on the way to the house!" Hell yeah! Now that's my kind of man, man!

He either didn't see or didn't care that a State Trooper was parked and looking at him the entire time. Blissful ignorance and all. Plus, Ronnie seems to lead a charmed life. Like one of those guys that's always going to fall upwards, landing nicely almost every time. He's different; he's kind of special if you ask me.

For me, I was raised that it was a rite of passage into manhood to - very sporadically & really only in special occasions - to violate that arbitrary, asinine, and stupid rule of subjugation that is a holdover from Prohibition. The "Temperance Movement," folks. They're still out there, you know. And a bunch of 'em are apparently on the book of faces. Some of those faces are very ugly...

The Square Getting Too Boozy?
So, and the timing is something else, we've got Chris Smith who thinks that there is "enough alcohol on the square" these days. What? Can you ever have enough? Is there too much of a good thing? Well, sure. It's all about moderation. It's also all about Freedom & Liberty, can I get an Amen? And folks, this is getting beyond ridiculous. For all you folks who basically love to be dominated and told what to do - uh...weird. But fine. We get it. It's a free country.

However, for those of us who aren't, we're starting to lose our patience with the dullards. But more so that patience is wearing thin with the political opportunists who would use those base and vulgar mob dynamics for their own benefit. And don't mind us. We're just the folks that pay all the bills and taxes and keep the engine humming. Your downtown business owners ( with a few exceptions, a lot of folks just like to have something to bitch about) etc & et al

***_FOR THE RECORD_ ***





- Chris Smith said he had nothing to do with the getting the word out about Mr. Mayor's ticket. If so, and I think he's on the level here, then him and Sam Hay have the same source. Wonder who it is?

- And asked if he thinks the Mayor should resign - "No! Definitely not," said Mr. Smith. Well, that's all fine.

So...nothing to see here, right?

Thanks for reading, guys. Take Care & take care of each other...

Your friend,

MBM


25 April 2017

Recap of the Newton County GOP April General Meeting

25 April  2017 



Greetings.

Last evening, Monday, April 24th, the Newton Co. Republican Party convened their regular monthly meeting. The featured speaker for this convocation was newly announced gubernatorial candidate for the great state of Georgia, Mr. Hunter Hill.

Per multiple accounts, upwards of sixty persons attended this meeting, which was held at the Irish Bred Pub in downtown Covington, GA.
By all accounts, Mr. Hill greatly impressed everyone in attendance. As fate would have it, the very next morning - today, as a matter of fact - Sen. Hill announced his intention to run for Governor of  our great state. An Army veteran, and a state legislator representing the 6th district in the Georgia Senate since 2012, Mr. Hill seems to be a true Conservative who, in this writer's estimation, may provide a real alternative to Republican voters who have no real interest in the quasi-liberal/big-government/power elite choice - current Secretary of State, Brian Kemp.

This meeting also saw the conducting of business of this county party, an affiliate of the state of Georgia GOP, and the first meeting in which Scott Jay, the new Chair, presided over, after taking over the reigns from previous Chair, Mr. Ray Cowan, a truly great American.

As an aside, this writer must once again marvel at how good things are now and how much this party has grown after its earlier, continuous slide into irrelevance under the previous leadership of supposed Covington power elite types such as Delia Fleming and the notorious plagiarist, William "Bill" Perugino.

Things are looking good for the GOP in the Newton County, GA, USA, and that, my dear readers, is a good thing for all of us here in the home county.

###





Newton GOP ExCom members with Hunter Hill, GOP candidate for Governor 


16 April 2017

[TPC] - Sunday Check-in: Happy Easter Edition

The Piedmont Chronicles 
16 April '17

[State of GA] 
[Newton Co.]

(North Covington) - Greetings & Salutations, you fine, fabulous readers, and Happy Easter!

"He Is Risen!"

Just a quick check-in for today, folks, and I'm planning for a big, thick & juicy Sunday Edition next weekend. 



A Note of Thanks

A very special shout-out to you, the lovely and wonderful readership of The Chronicles, for making last week's post - More Bad News Bear Creek - the most viewed article ever in the seven year history of TPC.

Thanks for that, and as always - thanks for reading.

What's the road ahead? Where do we go from here? Stay tuned, friends, we're going to be here with you - the Good Lord Willin' - the rest of the way. 



DIVISION!(in the house)



To use the terminology from Robert's Rules, the home county and the proverbial #newtoncounty12 finds itself with much division and infighting. Is all this by design? A concocted and crafted "Divide & Conquer" strategy? Some seem to think so, and there are maybe a few working theories out there. I'm not sure if I do, but hell - who knows? I think it's just the nature of the beast sometimes. Again, we'll be keeping an eye on it...

I will say this. It seems as if all this got started maybe not quite a year ago and, that just maybe, it kind of coincided with when the Newton Conservative Liberty Alliance (NCLA) was basically put on ice. It actually got to the point where a full-on civil war of sorts had begun and it was put on hiatus and basically put into a Trust of sorts. The Trustors? The original founders & leaders of that group. The Beneficiary? That would be that glorious lady that is Newton County. So...the big question - who's the Trustee? That would actually be Yours Truly & a couple of other folks. Maybe it's time to hit the reset button and reorganize that organization...

Per usual, a ton of other moving parts. We'll be keeping an eye on things and will be back in touch very soon.

Til next time,

MBM

09 April 2017

More Bad News Bear Creek: Newton Co. set to deed back approx. 200 acres of land outside of Mansfield, GA

The Piedmont Chronicles
9 April 2017



More Bad News Bear Creek: Newton Co. set to deed back approx. 200 acres of land outside of Mansfield, GA

Hot on the heels of the concerning information regarding the Jones Co. mitigation property that was reported here at The Chronicles last year, and also, after recent revelations, more recently covered by several media outlets, including All on Georgia - Newton, is this information regarding another mitigation property for the ill-fated Bear Creek Reservoir - this one in Newton Co. and totaling approx. 200 acres - that appears to be contractually bound to be deeded back from Newton Co. to the original landowners in July of this year.

Background

The property in question is basically a series of streams and wetlands in the fertile fields just west of Hwy 11 and just south of Mansfield, GA. Known and recorded on several maps back in the early 1900s as Leaksville, and also Leakton, this general area is in the vicinity of Spears Lane. These properties were acquired for the purpose of being used as mitigation for the destruction of wetlands that would be caused by the creation of the Bear Creek Reservoir, as mandated by federal law.

The original purchase, in 2006, was for 79.66 acres with a price to purchase of $437,000 with Circle S Enterprises as seller, being represented by local attorney Phil Johnson, with Newton County as the buyer, being represented by Wm. Thomas Craig, Esq. In that agreement, the seller retained an option to repurchase the property, for one dollar, once the county converted it into acceptable wetlands and secured a mitigation easement and recorded a declaration of covenants approved by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Another transaction occurred in 2009 with Circle S Enterprises, Leakton, Ltd, and JHS3,collectively, as sellers, and Newton Co. as buyer, for another 120 acres at a sales price of $660,000. The driving force of this transaction, per Phil Johnson, was Tommy Craig, the attorney for Newton Co. at the time. Apparently, the sellers originally really had no interest in this second transaction as they were under the impression the Section 404 permit needed for the construction of the reservoir would and should have already happened years before. The case was made that more mitigation property was needed for that to become a reality.

Fast forward another five years to 2014 and another transaction occurred related to this property. In order to fully and accurately explain this, I'm just going to print Phil Johnson's written account of it. As The Chronicles understands it, this information has also been given to the Newton Co. BOC: 

  1. The final transaction occurred in 2014 (the “2014 Transaction”).  The County Attorney approached me in the spring of 2014 to ask me to contact my clients to discuss the purchase by the County of the 17 breaches and access points for watering cattle, and the movement of cattle among pastures.  He told me that the Corps of Engineers had undergone a change in philosophy regarding what was acceptable as mitigation land during the lengthy time between the original application for the Section 404 permit, the submission of the mitigation plan, and now.  He indicated that the breaches rendered the mitigation use of the land conveyed in the 2006 and 2009 Transactions questionable due to the fact that cattle and horses could go across the Mitigation land and contaminate the water.
At first I had indicated that I did not believe the Spears family would have any interest in the sale of any breaches because of the negative impact it would have on the use of the remainder of their land for agricultural purposes (cattle grazing).  In addition, I told him they were considering suing the County to get the mitigation land back because of the failure of the County to complete the recordation of the Declaration of Restrictions and return the land as promised.  It has now been close to 8 years since the initial assurance by the County Attorney that the issuance of the Section 404 permit, the recordation of the Declaration of Restrictions and the reconveyance of the land was imminent.
Therefore before my clients were even willing to talk about terms for the sale of breaches, they wanted the original mitigation land back in our control.  Also, the Spears, since the deeds from the 2009 Transaction were in my possession, were still getting taxed for the property.  Finally, the Spears were trying to sell their land and the cloud of the Memorandum of Agreement made marketing the land much harder due to the uncertainty of when the county would reconvey the Mitigation land.

So the County Attorney suggested that the County have Quitclaim Deeds back to the Spears executed and delivered to me.  I would release the Warranty Deeds to be recorded.  The Warranty Deed for the 2006 conveyance was already recorded.  The Warranty Deeds for the 2009 Transactions were released and recorded, and the Quitclaim Deeds executed by Newton County reconveying all the land for the 2006 and the 2009 Transactions were delivered to me.  Finally the County reimbursed the taxes paid for the period from 2009 until 2014.
Having agreed to deliver the fully executed Quitclaim Deeds reconveying the property back to the Sellers, we then negotiated the sale of the breaches.
Of the 17 breaches and access points for cattle watering and crossing, the Spears agreed to relinquish 10 of the breaches for the purchase price of:
  1. $290,000.00 for the breaches; and
  2. $7,650.00 for three water taps to be obtained by the Seller for areas where the cattle would be cut off; and
  3. $20,000.00 for the installation of a well in an area where the cattle are cut off and there is no city water available.
The Seller would be able to continue to use the crossings for a term of the lesser of thirty-six (36) months or until the mitigation activity is begun.
Paragraph 3, subparagraph 8, provides that:
“Newton County shall have one-hundred and twenty (120) days to file the Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants as approved by the United States Army Corps of Engineers on the Property what is subject to the 2007 (sic 2006) Contract, the 2009 Contract and contemplated herein from the date Newton County accepts the delivery of the Warranty deed from the Escrow Agent as set forth in the Escrow Agreement.”
The Warranty Deeds for the 2006 and the 2009 Transactions and the conveyance of the breaches have been delivered to Newton County, and in fact, recorded by Newton County.  The Spears family and me were assured that the Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants would be recorded and that we could then record the Quitclaim Deeds from Newton County reconveying all the Property to my clients within the 120 day period, but Newton County has failed to record the Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants.
The Sales Closing Statement for the Conveyance of Breaches into Mitigation Areas Previously Conveyed Spears Farm – Bear Creek Reservoir, dated July 15, 2014, provides at paragraph 2:
2) The Purchaser shall complete the application for the Section 404 Permit with priority emphasis and shall secure said Permit, record the Covenants restricting usage of the Mitigation Lands and instruct (sic) the Escrow Agent, Philip A. Johnson, to record the reconveyance deeds to the Seller within thirty-six (36) months of the date hereof.

Under the terms of the Contract for the 2014 Transaction, the County had 120 days from the delivery of the Warranty Deeds in which to record the Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants approved by the COE, which they have not done.
Then under the terms of the Closing Statement, the County had 36 months from July 15, 2014, to obtain the Section 404 permit, record the Declarations of Restrictions and provide instructions to the Escrow Agent to record the reconveyance deeds.
Thus the outside date for the authorization to me to record the Quitclaim Deeds is July 15, 2017.
It appears now that Newton County has elected not to pursue the construction of the Bear Creek Reservoir based upon action taken by the Newton County Board of Commissioners in the Fall of 2015.  Further, according to research by Larry McSwain, a former biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the COE and other governmental bodies with review authority appear unlikely to accept the inclusion of the Mitigation land conveyed under the 2006 and 2009 Transactions.
Consequently, I would request that Newton County record such Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants in the format of the model United States Army Corps of Engineers Declarations of Restrictions and Covenants for wetland and stream mitigation properties within the next 120 days, and provide the recordation information to me with an acknowledgment of our stated intent to record the Quitclaim Deeds from Newton County to Leakton, LTD, JHS3, Inc. and Circle S Enterprises, Inc. reconveying the property in the 2006 and 2009 Transactions.
Attachments:
  1. REAL ESTATE SALES CONTRACT AMENDMENT dated July 15, 2014 (without attachments)
  2. CLOSING STATEMENT Dated July 15, 2014
  3. Quitclaim Deeds to Leakton, LTD, Circle S. Enterprises, Inc. and JHS3, Inc.
This is obviously pretty clear cut.

Also, this is quite interesting especially in light of the forensic audit performed by David Sawyer a few months back. We now know, in this writer's estimation, that William Thomas Craig knew full well by this point, 2014, that the Bear Creek Reservoir was never going to happen. I feel as if we know this to be a fact based upon the revelations of correspondence with Craig and the U.S. Corps and other federal and state agencies with the aforementioned audit. What was Craig thinking?

Regardless, it seems to be a done deal that this real estate, with an original investment of upwards of one and half million dollars, will be deeded back from Newton Co. to the original owners of this land in July of this year.

And my word - the financial hits just keep coming for Newton County, don't they?

Commentary


This writer does not begrudge attorney Phil Johnson or any members of the Spears family one bit. Hell, it seems as if they really didn't want to sell this property. It only hurt the market value of the rest of their property, and the limbo they were in created a real ownership hardship in this writer's estimation. No, this was all Tommy Craig. Was this negligence? Or just old-fashioned stupidity on his part?

Either way, it is far past time for the Newton Co. BOC to start the process of filing a claim against Attorney Craig's Errors & Omissions Insurance policy. Between the Jones Co. property and this one, we are looking at major financial losses. And per the word on the street, we may be seeing more issues such as this going forward. 

That's the way we see it, folks.

Thanks for reading.

-MBM

 

24 March 2017

Recapping SPLOST

- TPC -  
24 March '17


Welcome back to the Chronicles, Dear Readers. It's good to be with you once again.


So...SPLOST passed Tuesday night. And it passed in a pretty big way. While not entirely unexpected, it was, nonetheless, a little disappointing. Several folks, including myself, felt like it wasn't in the best interest of the home county, but that's the way it goes. You win some; you lose some. Or, in the case of Yours Truly, you rarely win, but that's okay. It's just the nature of the beast.

Hell, last November I found myself on the double losing side of the presidential election. My guy, Gary Johnson, finished 3rd with only 3% of the vote. Here I am now on the losing side in Newton County's SPLOST election on the sorry end of a 25/75 split. 25% is a huge increase over 3%! That's a win, baby!

And I think of a Beck song:

"I'm a driver, I'm a winner, things are gonna change, I can feel it."
And I also think of the a Steely Dan song: "I am another gentleman loser."
When it's all said and done, it's not rocket science. Basically, it comes down to money. It's the American way. The pro side raised and spent a whole bunch of it. They GOTV (got out the vote). There was nothing like that on the other side. There never is.

Also, and several of the pro-SPLOST folks will actually tell you this, all those pork projects that irritated some of us so much are precisely why this thing passed. These organizations that are getting these funds really put the word out, send out email blasts, and push their people to go vote. And when you always hold this as a special election in the spring,  that's all you have to do to win. Throw out some scraps and spend a little change. And again, that's just the way it goes.

But there is a silver lining. Several have mentioned it. Newton County has no excuses. They got their SPLOST. There should be no way that we will see a tax increase.

Right?

We'll see...

As always, we appreciate you reading. 'Til next time.

Best,

MBM 




17 March 2017

Why I'm voting against the 2017 Newton Co. SPLOST


The Piedmont Chronicles 
3.17.17



Howdy, folks. Hope all is well out there. It's been a while since we've conversed in this space, and for that, I apologize. But, what can I say? I think of the old fable about the lady who nurses the snake back to health. I am Marshall McCart, after all, and these are The Piedmont Chronicles. You know who you're dealing with here, right? As I always have during the 7 year life of this blog, I tend to take breaks, but I always seem to forget to put out the proverbial "Gone Fishing" sign. Oh well, it's not like you people are paying for this or anything.

So, SPLOST is upon us once again. Last time around, about six years ago, I wrote an editorial to the Covington News explaining why I wasn't supporting it. This time around and I find myself as a stringer for that publication, and as you may have noticed, they're all for it. And that's fine. That's their prerogative, and I write about music and occasionally,Living Southern, in that publication, not politics. We can agree to disagree.

I have, however, been surprised with a few of the other supporters for this edition of the SPLOST. Namely, Mr. J. Aaron Brooks, but again, that's his prerogative. And truth be told, he's been making some compelling points, as he sometimes does. He is, after all, an economist in addition to being a "local politician," gentleman, and scholar. So, there's that...

It wasn't an easy decision, but I have, just here recently, really, made my decision on this thing. I will not be voting for the 2017 SPLOST. What kept me from making this decision were the monies earmarked for a new Animal Control building. Lord knows we need it; Newton County Animal Control has long been improperly funded, and a new building has been needed for quite some time. This is an issue near and dear to my heart, but I think sometimes you have forego things you may desire in order to make the best decision for the long run. And I think that's where we're at.

As I said on this page several months back, it should have been a better list. And that's not knocking anybody involved with this process. You have to remember that all the leg work for this thing was done last year, when we had a less than ideal situation with our county political structure. If only the SPLOST was coming up for renewal next year, we'd be golden. But that's not the case. Whereas we now have faith and confidence with things regarding the Newton BOC, last year we did not. It is what it is.

What are my problems with this year's SPLOST? Glad you asked. 


A full million for economic development? I'm sorry. Just no. Right at a million for District 2 and 4 projects? Again, I'm sorry, I just can't abide by it. And if we're doing that, why not $500K each for Districts 1, 3 & 5? A million three for the Yellow River Trail? Come on!  And upwards of $15 million for the municipalities of Newton County? Are you kidding me?! There were other issues as well; however, the biggest thing, to me, was the money NOT being spent. Only $1.3 million for solid waste? What?! The biggest drain on the county budget, and they're only going to throw it peanuts? Solving our nightmarish trash woes is the epitome of what SPLOST could AND should be used for. We could easily turn solid waste into at least a zero sum situation with proper funding for projects like gasification, landfill reclamation, methane extraction, etc.,  if not actually realizing a profit - but only with the proper funding and investment.

And that's without going into the amount for debt reduction. A major item of consideration.

But this is the kicker, folks. This thing, SPLOST, is for five years. This is big time, baby! It's for keeps. If we make the wrong decision now, then we're stuck with it. We need to get it right, now.

I will say this: if we vote down the SPLOST on the 21st then it is true that we'd have to wait 12 months, per state law, to do another one. That's been verified, and that's probably been the biggest and most compelling argument for the pro side. It wouldn't be the end of the world, though. This is a multi-year process. Sure, there would be some issues - primarily for the municipalities, and maybe for the county government as well - but it wouldn't be fatal. Solutions could be found. Creative financing could be used to get by. We'll be fine. So, in my estimation, we need to get our heads right and pass a better SPLOST list this time next year. But if we pass this list now, then we're stuck with it. For five years.

I think the wise, prudent and responsible decision is to vote NO on the 2017 SPLOST.

Thank you for your time.

Kind Regards,

Marshall McCart








25 January 2017

[TPC] - Wednesday Night Check-in: Talkin' Trash Edition

- TPC -
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]


[ Updated - see below] - 

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome back to The Chronicles. Hope all is well.

The big item of discussion pertaining to Newton Co. as of late has revolved around trash. Back at the first of the year word hit that the county Solid Waste Authority (SWA) had come up with a solution to solve the trash woes of the home county and a way to solve the approx. $2 million bleeding per year that we've been seeing. That solution was to close the convenience centers and go with mandatory curbside pick up. A Request For Proposal (RFP) was done last year by the SWA to this effect and the accepted bid was tendered by Advanced Disposal. Upon further review, it was obvious that this was not the way to go for Newton (more on that later).

As the first full week of the new year turned into the second week it started to look like this was going to be a done deal; however, the proverbial #NewtonCounty12 kicked into gear and things went from there.

It is in this writer's estimation that the tide was turned by the tireless efforts of many people; however, it was two of the home county's most well known activists - the River Lady and the one and only Samuel Hay, who really led the charge. But the articulation of the case against this was laid out by another activist, Ms. Ann Neuhierl. Here's her letter to the editor to the Covington News from several days ago: 

It has become apparent that the RFP(Q) for Solid Waste RFQP#16-06A was written to prevent the local companies now serving Newton County from being awarded any/all of the contracts for Solid Waste Management. Taken a while to figure this out, but the recent announcement of a “pending contract” (is this an “intent to award”?) has brought this to light. I’ve seen many RFPs written in a “preferential” way. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The RFP(Q) also doesn’t appear to have been well-advertised. Local haulers have stated they knew nothing about it. Again, just because you are only required to announce in one publication doesn’t mean you should. It’s not even on our County Website.
In this “voluntary” system, will the local companies be prohibited through their “district sub-contract(s)” with ADS from charging their current rates independently and running their current routes? If this is the case, the Centers will be much cheaper and heavily used, again, and the roads will suffer. My cul-de-sac currently has three waste-disposal trucks each week. There are more than three companies servicing the rest of my neighborhood.
Why do we need to increase costs by contracting with ADS or anyone else to set up routes and haulers? Why would those of us who already have curbside pick-up for $14/month want to pay more for the same service? AND when you have a “monopoly” the price doesn’t go down, does it? What time frame will the “agreed upon” fees be held to? How would this cost be controlled? Curbside should be managed by the SWA. If we don’t have the staff, hire it!
Why are we awarding curbside pickup to a company associated others set on bringing a Trash Mountain to our county? DAS also has a horrible environmental record. Are we not interested in working on cleaning up our environmental issues?
Why isn’t recycling part of the RFP(Q) and pending contract(s)? This is key to cleaning up our county. If we included recycling, we could close the centers and stop the financial losses and the road wear associated. What happened to all the talk about following other counties' lead(s) in becoming a zero-landfill county?
Will ADS have the same or a different rate as others for tonnage disposal at our landfill?
Why was a quorum avoided for the Private SWA/BOC meeting Tuesday with ADS and the local haulers? Why are meetings like this being held before any citizen input on the SWA intentions?
The reason so many fought so hard for a SWA was to stop the Trash Mountain and clean up and reduce our landfill. I think SWA members, for the most part, want to head in this direction. Unfortunately, some of the current plans have what could be called “Unintended Consequences” that will not be good for the county...
As it turns out, this RFP was not just for curbside pickup. It was also for operation and control of the landfill, and that, dear readers, seems to be the rub. Once you see that actual RFP, you can tell that this was done by design. A back door way to take over the landfill, or so it seems.

Fortunately for us, cooler, calmer and smarter heads have prevailed, at least for the moment. At the SWA/Newton Co. BOC meeting on Monday the 23rd, Mr. Ronnie Johnston, Mayor of Covington and SWA member, seemed to save the day, according to multiple reports. First, he insisted that citizen comments be added before any vote was taken, and he, seemingly, was the driving force behind making sure that this questionable bill of goods did not turn into a bill of lading. And say what you will about Mr. Mayor, and I've said a few choice words about him over the years, you can't deny the fact that he's got his finger on the pulse of things way more that a lot of folks in position of power around these parts. Simply put - this was bullshit; and he, along with several other folks, at least gave us a chance to steer clear of it. Kudos, also, to Commissioners Cowan and  Edwards. Doesn't it feel nice to have faith and confidence in our BOC? It's been a long time since we could say that, no?

And there's a myriad of other things: 


- possibly putting multiple existing going concerns out of business
- the questionable legalities of a state political subdivision trying to enforce mandatory trash pick up (municipalities are basically like corporations, counties are not)
- the recurring feeling that there may be foxes in the hen house as it relates to these issues within Newton County 
- And what about the logistics of mandatory collection? Hwy 36 would turn into a damn disaster on pickup days!

A solution is out there. Like several others, I think you have to maintain at least some of the convenience centers. Maybe 5, perhaps 7. Mandatory collection? No way!

More to come later... 


Thanks for reading. Til next time.

UPDATE 1.27.16 - I forgot to mention that the local haulers who would have been adversely effected by this change were instrumental in keeping this from becoming a done deal.

-MBM




08 January 2017

[TPC] - The Story of Millsaps

- TPC -
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]





The Story of Millsaps
Chapters 1 - 13
By TPC Cont. Writer Ellis Millsaps 


*Ed. note (8 January '16): I was originally going to do this in a serial format and had done a post of the first two chapters, but upon further review have decided to do this as just one post. It is a fine piece of work, and very interesting.

*Original Ed. Note: What follows is a familial history that Ellis wrote several years back, much of which was originally published in the Covington News. Most of it centers on his parents, and his father in particular. Enjoy! - 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.



The boy Wallace's schooling ended at the sixth-grade level because the one-room church that doubled as a school only had six grades.
To go to high school required a 15-mile trip to the hamlet of Epworth and you had to buy your books, both insurmountable obstacles.


He kept attending the sixth grade for a couple of years after he'd graduated to pick up what learning he could – which is not as time consuming as it sounds because the young women the state sent to Jack's River to be schoolmarms never came back to face the mountain winters of Jack's River, once they went home at Christmas.
As a boy, while much of the country was engaging in the excess of the Roaring Twenties, Wallace worked as a shepherd, tending sheep that foraged in the forest, living off of what he could kill and catch, away from home for days at a time, sleeping on the ground.
He wore shoes only in winter. He was 16 years old before he saw a town bigger than a country store doubling as a U.S. Post Office – the town being the county seat of Blue Ridge 18 miles away, the barefoot teen-aged Wallace driving a mule, (who may have been named Doris, and who may have eaten oats) down the circular paths out of the mountains, pulling a wagon load of watermelons to be sold for whatever he could get.


03 January 2017

[TPC] - The Road Ahead

- TPC -
~ est. 2010 ~
[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]


Greetings, you fine and fabulous readers! It's been a while since we've conversed and we've missed you during the holiday break. Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year's.

So...now we get to spend the next few weeks trying to remember to write a 7 instead of a 6 on our checks and other documents. How could it possibly be 2017? It just doesn't seem right. Oh well, time marches on, and so do we. 


Newton County Politics


As I write this, the newest edition of the Newton County Board of Commissioners is having their very first meeting at the Historic Courthouse on the Covington Square. There seems to be a widespread sense of optimism throughout the home county, albeit somewhat guarded and cautious. A large and general consensus seems to feel very good about Mr. Stan Edwards being the new Representative from the 1st district. Several feel that he can be the statesman and communicator to put together a voting-majority coalition to finally start getting the hard decisions made and doing the right things while doing things right. A sizable but smaller group feels equally good about Ronnie Cowan bringing his strong intellect and ability for analysis to the table for the greater good of the home county. And more and more, there are good feelings and thoughts about Marcello Banes being a free & independent Chairman of the Board with a strong & genuine desire to help to get this ship in the right direction. 

We'll see... 


What are the most pressing issues for this current board? Hell, what isn't? It's going to be a tough row to hoe and I agree with the words that some have shared in the past few days that they will need at least a little bit of time to get their legs under them. But once that happens - and one would think that this needs to happen sooner rather than later - this board will have a laundry list of items to consider and there will be several tough decisions to be made. What's most pressing? Landfill and the convenience centers? JDA? Additional and more in-depth forensic audits? A move to zero-based budgeting? Streamlining operations and cutting bureaucratic redundancies? The list goes on and on. What's important to you? After all, you, as Citizen and Qualified Elector, are the most important person in this county. You are The People! And you are in charge. You need to talk to your representation. Here's their contact info: 

2017 OFFICIALS OF THE
NEWTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Marcello Banes, Chairman (Elected/2017)
O: 678.625.1201
M: 404-805-5094
F: 770.784.2007
Stan Edwards – District One (Elected/2017)
O: 678-625-1200
M: 678-294-9166
F: 678.625.1221

Email: asedwards@co.newton.ga.us

Lanier Sims – District Two (Elected/2011)

O: 678.625.1200

M: 404.585.1922
F: 678.625.1221
Email: lsims@co.newton.ga.us

Nancy Schulz – District Three (Elected/2009)

O: 678.625.1200    

M: 770.337.7562

F: 770.784.2014


J.C. Henderson – District Four (Elected/1997)
O: 678.625.1200
M: 770.896.3826
F: 770.784.2014

Ronnie Cowan – District Five (Elected/2017)
O: 678-625-1200
M: 678.313.4607
F: 678.625.1221
Email: rcowan@co.newton.ga.us


In terms of the road ahead for The Piedmont Chronicles, well...we're just going to keep doing what we're doing. An eye on local events, politics, and issues as well coverage of music, the arts, culture, local history, and human interest stories. Ellis Millsaps is still our main (and only) contributing writer, and we might be putting out a few new things and features, too.

I hope this post finds you well and I hope 2017 is the best year yet for all of us.

Best,

M.B. McCart