by Ryan R?Rees
The Times-Courier sat down with both candidates for the vacant Post 1 board of commission post and asked Dallas Miller and Leon Watkins three questions pertaining to the special runoff election next Tuesday, Dec. 3.
We asked both where they stand on operation of Whitepath Golf Course, possibly working with the board of education on completing the Clear Creek ball fields and how to keep Gilmer County beautiful.
Question 1 – Should the county put out bids to privately operate Whitepath Golf Course?
Miller — I have consistently stated the county should place it out for bid. Let it be operated by a qualified private company. I don’t think the county should be in the golf course business, operating it,.
It’s an asset, a beautiful asset. I don’t want to see it diminished. We need to make the best of it.
Watkins — The county taxpayers have invested heavily in the prop shop, equipment and supplies for the golf course. We must protect their investment and the property owners surrounding it.
I support having a reputable company to operate it as long as capital expenditures are covered and we invest no money. I’d rather see it leased.
But it’s really not in the shape it should be to put out for bid. Trees need cutting, there’s grass in the sand traps. I really want something nice out there. I want it to work and give the county something to be proud of and not mess it up for the property owners.
Question 2 – Would you be willing to work with the board of education on completing the Clear Creek ball fields?
Miller — I want to see them finished. That’s a priority. If it comes down to that, I would entertain that. Don’t see a reason we have to go that route. County has known for years what needs to be done. If we need some decisions made, let’s do it. Don’t delay it. We need to act now.
If it can’t happen, then I would certainly entertain working through the school board. I don’t want to purse that if we don’t have to.
Watkins — I have no problem with that. I want to see them done as soon as possible. I’d like to see them done by spring. I don’t know if the money is there to do it. I know the county has received some money from Amicalola. I would like to see if other companies would like to participate or go to Atlanta and see if there aren’t some funds available from the state.
Question 3 – Should the sign ordinance be changed to limit the number and type of billboards in the county and clean up unsightly property?
Miller — I think we need to look at that, do some more work on the (sign) ordinance. We all want a beautiful county. On the other side, we don’t need to infringe on the rights of individuals and dictate what they can do on their private property.
There are some things we can do to provide some better guidelines. Better ways of doing things to keep our county beautiful. We don’t want the county filled up with billboards. I want to keep it attractive to those who drive here and live here.
But we must do it in a manner that we don’t cause a problem for people’s private lives. I don’t want to make a quick judgment on that. It’s a legal issue and will take time to fix. We can take our time and make it right. We don’t need to change (the ordinance) every year. Same with zoning. Use our zoning effectively, let people know there’s a standard here and make a decision on that.
Watkins — I’m for an ordinance that will help clean it up. It needs to be in a better form. I know they’ve been working on it, but I don’t know the details. I’ll be glad to work on it.