Friday, July 24, 2009

This and That

A lot happening in the news locally and regionally. Some quick takes.
  • The memorial service and reception in honor of E.H. Culpepper yesterday were tremendous. Judge Stephens, Matt Sligh, and others offered wonderful tributes to a wonderful man, and of course, ribs were served afterwards at the Classic Center. All that was missing was a baggie of "extras" to take home.
  • The Select Sustainable Tree Trust is in the news again, this time in the AJC for its contribution to UGA. President Adams toured North Campus with the guys from the tree trust on Wednesday as they begin to plan for fall tree installations (pictured).
  • For all you eagerly awaiting the results of the Watkinsville City Council Strategy Session, it was a day well spent. We made progress on planning and prioritizing SPLOST, received an update on a number of other items, and will be moving forward on preserving our historic homes in Watkinsville and further evaluation -- and hopefully implementation -- of curbside recycling. It was a great opportunity to have dialogue in a more informal setting about the issues and opportunities ahead for Watkinsville.
  • Athens is planning to require all new commercial and residential rehab construction to be up to LEED standards. Costs are described as a "few percentage points," but those add up quickly in these times. I hope they have done their homework on this and have a meaningful dialogue with local developers and contractors. LEED can be great but pricey, depending on the standards required. In Watkinsville we evaluated this requirement as part of our land use planning overhaul, and opted against it until costs came down.
  • Water take 1: Don't be fooled -- a judge's recent ruling against Georgia in its effort to secure water from Lake Lanier for Metro Atlanta could have fallout for our region. If Metro Atlanta's faucet is indeed shut off, the largest beneficiaries of future growth and its attendant challenges could be Georgia counties close to Atlanta outside of the Lanier Watershed. That includes Jackson, Barrow, Oconee, Athens-Clarke, and Morgan. Dan Chapman and Leon Stafford do a good job summarizing all the challenges (and a few opportunities) on the water issue in today's AJC. Either way, this is a time for leaders to take stock and perhaps think outside the box as we plan for the future.
  • Water take 2: Speaking of those water negotiations, Georgia's continuing fight seems futile. And even worse, the napalm-oriented approach of several of our federal congressmen may come back to bite us, according to Georgia's two political Toms -- Crawford at Capitol Impact and Baxter at InsiderAdvantage. Registration is required at both links, but Voice of Moderation is not holding out much hope on this effort, which has kept entire teams of lawyers in business for decades now. My preference -- cut the best deal we can now and begin to plan smarter ways to grow, conserve, and store more water. My fear is that we will be under the gun come 2012. One telling excerpt: "Even at the congressional level, Georgia could be hampered by the hostility generated by several of its Republican House members – notably Tom Price, Paul Broun, Lynn Westmoreland and Phil Gingrey – who have engaged in verbal battles with the Democratic majority’s leadership. “They [the Democrats] hate them,” said a House aide familiar with the Georgia delegation. “They won’t do things for Georgia just because of those guys.”
  • Watkinsville's own Tifosi Optics gets some love in a paper out west. If you don't have Tifosis and need sunglasses, be sure to try them out!
  • Speaking of local businesses, we had a great lunch at Girasoles on Wednesday. All of you in Watkinsville, don't forget Chef Jose and his staff. Apparently, he has also opened a new outpost in Bostwick as well!

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