Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oconee Most Prosperous County

Despite all the bad news about the housing market, Oconee County apparently is faring well by many measures, as it was ranked no. 1 by the DCA in terms of the state's most prosperous counties according to an Associated Press article.

Articles like this help us remember how much we have to be thankful for in Oconee. We all get frustrated at times with the pace of progress (too fast? too slow?), the bad economy and the toll it is taking, and decisions we don't like. But when you step back it is apparent that this truly a special community.

We have a wonderful mix of talented professionals, dedicated artists, hard working public servants, skilled educators, outstanding students and other driven individuals and families whom we can thank for making Oconee County what it is today. And that is certainly something to be thankful for. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Homebuilding Depression

Okay, sorry for the lax posting. There has been a lot to blog about and I have been too busy to really go after it. A few thoughts:

NBAF: Bad loss. Everyone has weighed in with their opinion (blogosphere, Athens Banner Herald, Flagpole), and overall I don't think our situation out here is as bad as everyone thinks. I will say this: those pointing at the state package are largely right, although FAQ certainly played a role. I don't put a lot of stock in the workforce and research coordination arguments. The bottom line is that in these processes, decision makers are looking for reasons to eliminate a community. Note that community opposition was probably an easy one to point out to an angry elected official who calls you about the decision.

Holiday Cheer:
Last weekend was a huge one for Watkinsville. The tree lighting and Christmas parade on back to back days, with thousands of folks downtown on Saturday morning. The Christmas Parade is an annual highlight and thanks to all for coming out! The Oconee Leader has some great pictures up on its website. Major kudos to Maridee Williams and the Oconee Enterprise for all their efforts to coordinate and promote the parade, which has to be one of the best in the state.

On a related note, consider shopping locally this Christmas. In downtown Watkinsville alone, you can find unique gifts at the Chappelle Gallery and the seeming-to-be-reopening Circa Antiques. My wife and mom love gift certificates from Emma Laura, and Dory's and other spots in Watkinsville have a lot to offer. Restaurant gift certificates from Le Maison Bleu, Girasoles, Big Easy and Mirko's are also great ideas.

City Council: Tonight's meeting was interesting. We had several small business licenses before us, including one for a new dried flower, antique and art store in the buildings John Byram has renovated downtown. It will be called Stone Soup. Girasoles is changing its name, and there is also a strong potential for an indoor skate park to be added in coming months if we can work through our codes. We are also updating our solid waste management ordinance -- good stuff.

Recession: Okay, the housing market is terrible. But throwing good money after bad by building more as detailed in this AJC article is a terrible idea. Yes, the banks need to lend. But does anyone really believe that there are not enough homes on the market in most areas? Housing is a very clear "supply and demand" market. Building more for the sake of building more makes no sense. Kind of like Detroit building more cars it can't sell. It just isn't sustainable.

As for sustainable, in general, American government, business, and consumers have been spending more than we have been earning for years. It makes no sense to go on spending without a plan to start paying off the debt -- Lee Shearer covers this on his blog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Major UGA Investment in Oconee

Who would have guessed that Oconee County would soon house one of UGA's most successful athletic programs?

Not me, but it looks like High Point Farms in Bishop will soon be the new home for the UGA Equestrian team according to the Athens Banner-Herald and UGA's official web site. This is great news for Oconee, and based on a message at the High Point web site it looks as if they will be relocating as well and staying in the area.

When I was the editor of the Campus Carrier in college, I had my run-ins with the equestrian team (they didn't think I gave them enough coverage, and I probably didn't). Now one of those riders is the coach at UGA, and has certainly represented our alma mater well. And I must say after attending a competition earlier this year with my daughter, I came away very impressed with the poise and skills of these young women and their horses. I would certainly be proud to see my little girl ride for UGA some day.

UGA Equestriennes
, welcome to Oconee!

Photo Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications