Saturday, August 30, 2008
Council member Bill Lusk said he was "sickened" by the news (of City Manager Billy Beckett's resignation) according to an article in the recently released Alpharetta Beacon. "It was the intent of certain Council members to chase out the most competent city manager we've ever got in the city," Lusk said. "The actions today by one Council member was so degrading that nobody could have sustained any more crap like that." The councilmember Lusk is referring to is Alan Tart. "It's nauseating and sickening and it's time for the city to recall every council member," Lusk added.
Council member Alan Tart had a different view. "The fact that Mr. Beckett made statements to citizens relative to the sewer issue that were incorrect is reflective of Mr.Beckett's incompetence," said Tart, "and the fact that he would rather resign than to correct the mistakes he made demonstrates his lack of professionalism. He took this way too personally, in my opinion. An extreme move like this is from someone who was supposed to be as professional and seasoned as Mr. Beckett purported to be is appalling to me. The expansion of sanitary sewer into currently un-sewered areas is one of the most important issue facing the City of Milton. The citizens deserve city staff and elected officials who will be truthful with them on this issue. Only then can we have healthy, honest debate on this issue."
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with Lusk regarding a complete recall? If so, who would you suggest take their place? If not, why? Have your say today in the Accessmilton comment section below.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
By the end of June, with three months remaining in its fiscal year, the city of Milton had already overspent its annual legal budget.
The city’s legal bills reached $190,000 by the end of June. The budget for the year is $180,000. Officials anticipate legal expenses could reach $300,000 by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The city’s law firm, Jarrard and Davis from Cumming, bills the city $150 an hour.
“We dealt with more issues on the legal side than we anticipated,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “You can’t anticipate everything. The majority of those issues were protecting the city and the citizens.”
Among the issues that have surfaced in the past year are the city’s policy on sewer, a controversial zoning of a greenhouse, litigation to keep billboards out of Milton, and modifications of the city’s ethics ordinance.
Lockwood said that requests by the city council for legal research also contributed to the cost of the attorneys. Since February, the city has spent between $22,000 to $38,000 a month. Before that, bills hovered around $10,000.
“I assume what happened is, Milton has a lot of significant and substantive legal issues that needed more attention than they were getting,” said City Attorney Ken Jarrard. “The legal store is being minded better.”
Jarrard said he was comfortable with the quality of the service the firm provides the city.
“At the end of the day, we have to defend the value of the service we provide,” Jarrard said. “The city has options and we can work with them on those. They could choose to budget more or use our services less.”
The city has received more revenue from taxes and fees than expected, and should be able to cover the overage, said Stacey Inglis, city finance director.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We would be so grateful to anyone that could make our family whole again!
MILTON, Ga., August 26, 2008 - Mayor Joe Lockwood has reluctantly accepted the resignation of City Manager Billy Beckett. Beckett, who has served as City Manager since April 30, 2008, will continue in his role as City Manager until September 24. The City will immediately begin the process for selecting a new City Manager and anticipates that this process will include an interim manager. "I think I can speak for everyone from Council and City Staff in saying that we will surely miss Billy," said Mayor Joe Lockwood. "I believe he was the best choice for the City and he had Milton moving in a great positive direction. I'm not sure we can fill his shoes but we will certainly try." Lockwood continues, "Billy's resignation is not only a loss to me personally, but also to Council, City Staff and Milton citizens. It is very unfortunate Billy has decided to leave but we support him in his future endeavors. He certainly had my and the majority of Council's support."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Accessmilton.com is a community focused site that is meant to be 100% objective. Provided an individual does not use off color language, any comments left remain. In being a city focused site, we are open to posting any articles requested of interest, be it sent or referred to us provided it has something to do with Milton, Georgia. In doing so, it allows all opinions to be heard from both the business and residential communities. Thus, any articles posted here unless noted as an editorial do not hold reference to the opinions of those at Accessmilton.com or Magnolia Media, LLC.
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Beckett resigns over conflict with football
By EILEEN SCHULTE, Times staff writer Published August 3, 2007
SAFETY HARBOR - After enduring criticism for taking time off from city business to work at his other job officiating football games, City Manager Billy Beckett has decided to resign.
His last day is scheduled for Oct. 1, but he indicated he'll depart sooner if the City Commission desires.
Beckett, 58, had no comment other than to say his resignation letter to Mayor Andy Steingold and city commissions "says it all."
The letter cites "extenuating circumstances" which "caused me to critically evaluate the overall operating environment here and the likelihood of a sustained tenure here does not appear to me to be the option that I once believed it to be."
He wrote that "it would be in the best interests of all parties involved if I stepped aside."
Since he began his $120,000-per-year job in late October, Beckett has taken about a month off. Many of the absences were on Fridays before college and Arena Football League games he refereed.
Mayor Steingold noted the absences in public comments about Beckett's performance, but did not call for his resignation.
At a meeting last month, a commission majority vigorously defended the manager saying he was doing an outstanding job. But Beckett "didn't think he had the commission's support," City Commissioner Joseph Ayoub said. Ayoub also said Beckett felt taking unpaid leave from the city to officiate football games would negatively impact his finances.
Beckett's wife couldn't find a job in the area and remained in Georgia along with his children.
"I think it's too bad," Ayoub said. "I think we're losing a good city manager."
Monday, August 25, 2008
By DOUG NURSE / www.ajc.com
Monday, August 25, 2008
After five months on the job, Milton City Manager Billy Beckett threw in the towel Monday, saying he was tired of conflict. His resignation is effective Sept. 24. “I believe disagreement is healthy, but there’s no need to make it personal,” he said. “I’m not blaming anyone, but I wasn’t the right person for the job given the circumstances. It was just bad chemistry.”
The Milton City Council is embroiled in a contentious debate over whether to extend sewer in the city. Many residents believe sewer would bring density, which would ruin the semi-rural feel of the community. Others argue that some extension in some places is reasonable, and would help raise needed tax revenues.
Beckett was in the latter camp, which set him at odds with some council members. He said even though he had a majority on his side, it wasn’t worth it.“It’s a great city council, by and large,” said Beckett, a 30-year veteran of government administration. “There are some fundamental issues that are creating problems. Candidly, I think we were exhausting our resources and energy in a negative way.”
Beckett came with high expectations. A former Fayette County administrator and Riverdale city manager, he had a reputation as a straight-shooter and capable manager. He also is an NCAA and Arena Football referee. He said Monday he has no job prospects.
Milton has been riven with dissension since it’s inception Dec. 1, 2006. The November 2006 election re-arranged the alliances, but the split has remained.
Beckett was the third city manager the young city has had.The first resigned under pressure after the city council learned it had forfeited some tax revenue because of a missed filing deadline with the state. The second was Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom, who filled in for about eight months until the city found Beckett.
Mayor Joe Lockwood’s face showed his disappointment.“I can’t say I was too surprised,” Lockwood said. “It’s unfortunate. I felt the city was moving forward.”
Councilmember Alan Tart said he had had problems with Beckett giving him bad information and being unwilling to correct it. “He showed disrespect to the city council,” Tart said.
August 25, 2008 MILTON — For the second time in its 20-month history, Milton is without its city manager.Milton City Manager Billy Beckett announced his resignation from his position with the city effective Sept. 24, ending a roughly four-month tenure at a crucial time in the city's budget process.He was the second city manager Milton has had in less than two years. Aaron Bovos resigned in August 2007 following fallout from an $850,000 filing mistake.
Among the reasons Beckett cited were ongoing e-mail exchanges with several council members he felt hamstrung his ability to do his job in a competent, timely manner. He said the tipping point was an exchange with Councilman Alan Tart Aug. 23.Tart said the e-mail exchange involved several statements Beckett made to citizens regarding Milton's sewer policy. Tart said he'd found the statements to be false, and wanted to know how Beckett was going to deal with it."I was not going to take the fall to the citizens," Tart said. Beckett wrote back saying he would resign if Tart's feelings were so strong. "It's almost like I called him on an error, and rather than fix the problem, he resigned," said Tart. "It's like we're dealing with a 5-year-old."
Beckett, who has more than 30 years of government experience, most of it as a city or county manager, said there were many reasons for his stepping down, but mainly it was a culmination of a lack of ability to communicate with a restive minority on the City Council. Beckett said he was discouraged by the continual barrage of e-mails from council members demanding information or requests, and often cast in an adversarial light."I determined this was not a good fit. It had more to do with the chemistry with three of the council members ultimately," Beckett said. "It was challenging that I did not have the resources to meet all of their requests."
Beckett said the lack of an assistant to help deal with the ongoing requests for information, reports and research of issues contributed to his decision. But Beckett also said he felt he was not able to keep the City Council on a course to deal with the issues, and instead got sidetracked too often.Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said Beckett sent an e-mail to council Saturday, Aug. 23, saying he'd had enough. He officially resigned Monday."I have nothing but excellent things to say about Billy Beckett," the mayor said. "Every one of our citizens, all of our staff liked him, he had a great working relationship. I Guess there just wasn't chemistry with others."With Beckett citing the heavy demands on his time placed by only several members of the council, Lockwood said there city needs to take a look at how it currently works."I am prepared to work on the procedures and processes to allow the city manager to do his job," said Lockwood. "I feel a majority of council would support that."Beckett was appointed unanimously by council April 21 after a roughly seven-month search.
We have received reports that Milton City Manager Billy Beckett has resigned. Please keep an eye on Accessmilton as further reports develop.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As Milton city officials cobble together next year’s budget, they have $1 million to $2 million more than last year, unlike many cities that are dealing with cutbacks.
All but $2.2 million is earmarked already. Public safety and public works are asking for double the uncommitted money, plus there are various council members’ pet projects, such as parks, sidewalks and trails, and road improvements. “Right now, it’s a little bit of a challenge,” Beckett said.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Bell wants to use 17 acres of his property as a green cemetery and is scheduled to have a community meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Fire Station 43, 750 Hickory Road.
Jim Bell wants to preserve the 17-acre pasture of his old horse farm by making it into a green cemetery in Alpharetta. People would be buried in shrouds or bio-degradable caskets, no embalming, nor concrete liners. Instead of headstones the alternative would be flat field stones and plots that are marked by gps.
Mayor Joe Lockwood said he’s heard nothing but good things about it from the community.
“I support it,” he said. “It’s a practical solution to the inevitable. It’s very natural, very green and with that use of the property, you have some beautiful land for wildlife, like a park, versus a traditional cemetery with fences and headstones.”
Green burials harken back to the days before embalming. The recently departed are stored in a special refrigerator, then placed in a shroud or a biodegradable coffin within 48 hours of death. After a ceremony, they are lowered into the grave and then covered with earth. The headstone may be a flat, engraved (or not) fieldstone recorded in the cemetery’s GPS. There’s no formaldehyde, no concrete vaults, no caskets of brass or tropical wood, no stone monuments.
Driving by the property on Birmingham Road, it would look like a field surrounded by a hardwood forest. “I thought it would be a pretty place for a cemetery,” Bell said. “It will look like it does now.” And he will donate a portion of the sale of each burial to a Milton green space fund.
He said keeping the site looking natural would be easy. It would simply require having someone with a tractor mow the tract like one would do for a pasture.
Marty Byars of Byars Funeral Home in Cumming will help Bell operate the cemetery. Byars said green burials are not really much different from burials by orthodox Jews or Muslims, who also avoid embalming and other Western practices. Many funeral homes are used to handling burials according to Middle Eastern customs.
But Byars said he’s unsure how soon local funeral homes will embrace the new approach. Burials in America average $7,500, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. A green burial would cost up to $4,000. “They have absolutely no incentive to offer it,” Byars said.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The City of Milton won’t depend on Fulton County’s 911 call center after September.
Officials of the North Fulton city inked a pact earlier this month that will shift emergency dispatching from the Fulton County Emergency Communication Center in Atlanta to the 911 center in Alpharetta.
As Fulton’s emergency call center comes under scrutiny because of a recent botched call that ended with a Johns Creek woman’s death, Milton public safety director Chris Lagerbloom took heart in his city’s plans.“Some of the catastrophic failures we’ve seen further solidify that we’ve made the right choice,” Lagerbloom said Saturday.
Fulton officials did not respond to telephone or e-mail requests for comment.
Milton’s move, set for Oct. 1, didn’t result from the Aug. 2 emergency call in which Fulton 911 operator Gina Conteh took 25 minutes to dispatch help to a dying Darlene Dukes. Milton city leaders have been planning the change since December.
In addition to emergency dispatchers, Milton and Alpharetta will share fire responders, sending fire engines from the closest station to the call regardless of the city. But the ability to dispatch fire, police and ambulances more quickly is a key to the change, Lagerbloom said.
Alpharetta police spokesman George Gordon said having a Rural/Metro Ambulance dispatch desk inside the city’s 911 call center makes for a quicker, seamless connection to emergency medical aid.“This way, there’s no miscommunication,” Gordon said. “Once an Alpharetta dispatcher logs it, the Rural/Metro dispatcher gets it and calls an ambulance.”
Evidence of additional miscommunications in Fulton’s 911 call center surfaced last week in an interoffice memo from embattled director Alfred “Rocky” Moore. It noted shortfalls of a new system requiring operators dispatching Rural/Metro ambulances to Milton and Johns Creek to dial a 10-digit number in Alpharetta.
In the Aug. 5 memo, Moore said, “There were nine episodes of failure to notify the Rural/Metro Ambulance company” when medical help was needed.
The new system took effect Aug. 1 and may have contributed to a 20-minute lapse in Conteh’s Aug. 2 call that further delayed an ambulance, even after police and fire were called.
Lagerbloom said at least one of those nine calls mentioned in Moore’s memo involved a Milton woman whose car struck a deer.
Fulton 911 operators, Lagerbloom said, “dispatched police, like they normally would,” but failed to notify Rural/Metro. After arriving at the scene and finding the driver was not hurt, “police cancelled the ambulance, then realized no ambulance was coming anyway,” he said.
Lagerbloom also pointed to a number of technological enhancements that will be an improvement, for less money, over what Fulton’s 911 center offers.
He said that for about $100,000 less than Fulton’s roughly $600,000 annual fee, the Alpharetta 911 center will be able to “push” dispatch information to computers in police cars and locate emergency vehicles.“We can dispatch the closest resources, because our dispatchers will always know where they are,” Lagerbloom said.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Today ends the tomato season for me. This week will end the cucumbers. I still have these idems and they will be available for a little longer:
Summer yellow squash
Butternut winter squash
Red Kuri winter squash
Blue Hubbard winter squash
A little okra
Apples next week
Turnip and mustard greens in about 30 days
Several have asked about using compost on your own flowers and garden spots. Now is the time to put down at least 6 inches on top of the garden/flower area for it to incorporate into the soil, then in January or February put down another 6 inches on top of the ground. You will have your garden spot ready for summer if you do this without having to plow or prepare the soil in any other way. I have some almost ready, let me know if I can help in this area.
I am selling a 50 pound bag for $2.00 or a trailer load which is 3 cubic yards for $125.00 delivered in North Fulton. A trailer load will cover a 10 foot by 30 foot area 4-6 inches deep.
Thank all of you again for making this years project a success.
Have a blessed day.
--Floyd Keisler 770-815-2815 Keisler Realty, Inc.
Take a Closer Look at Law Enforcement in Milton
The Milton Police Department will host its first Citizens Police Academy beginning Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Milton Police precinct located at 750 Hickory Road. This seven-week program, which will be held every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will give citizens a closer look at law enforcement and the Milton Police Department.
Topics covered during the program will include criminal investigations, criminal law, police K-9, traffic law, 911 operations, and various other topics. Additionally, participants 18 years old and over will have the opportunity to take part in a ride-along with the police department. The seven-week program will end with a graduation ceremony at Council Chambers on the night of Oct. 20.
Class size is limited to 15 people, with preference to City of Milton residents, so citizens are encouraged to register right away. Interested citizens may complete an application and background form at City Hall during regular business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
MILTON -- With triple digit growth over the last 10 years among Atlanta area high school teams, there seems to be little doubt that lacrosse is here to stay.But what about the adults? With Atlanta being a mecca of professionals who have relocated from all over the country, there is no question that there are "displaced" adult lacrosse players among us.
To meet the need of adult lacrosse, Milton's Stars Soccer Club on Birmingham Highway has introduced a men's indoor lacrosse program. It is not "box lacrosse," but outdoor lacrosse played inside."Adults want to play," said Stars' lacrosse director, Richard Thomas. "Many of us played in college on club teams or sanctioned teams, and we miss it. It is a great way to get exercise and bond with guys that love the sport like we all do."
Stars Soccer Club, home to The Soccer Barn, offers an indoor arena and will host the new adult program. Lacrosse teams will play games on Tuesday nights from 7-10 p.m. All games will be officiated by certified LAX umpires.Any player can join by registering online at www.starsLAXclub.com. Players can sign up as a team or as an individual. Registration is $85 per player and includes eight weeks of play, made up of seven games and playoffs.
Thomas said the club is looking for six teams of 11-14 players and would like to expand into other seasons."It's only fair that the Dads out there give their kids a chance to yell at them on the field for a change," said Thomas.For more information, contact Thomas at 404.229.5744 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Milton man, tired of the City Council's refusal to let him connect to sewer that surrounds his property has asked to be kicked out of the city.
At a work session Monday, the City Council seemed reluctant. Dennis Potts, who is assembling a 10-acre parcel partly in Milton and partly in Alpharetta, asked the City Council to de-annex him so the entire property could be in Alpharetta.
Mayor Joe Lockwood argued Potts' situation was unique. Tart and others questioned whether the city should allow property owners to de-annex just because they don't like city policies. And some, such as Council member Karen Thurman, expressed reservations about letting go of commercial property when the city's tax digest is so lopsided toward residential taxpayers
Monday, August 11, 2008
Published on: 08/11/08
A discount organic food store could open in Alpharetta before the year's end.
Natural Foods Warehouse has signed a letter of intent to take about 20,000 square feet in the Silos at North Farm Marketplace. The Silos shopping center is a renovation of an existing center that once housed an Ingles grocery, at the intersection of Crabapple and Houze roads.
The shopping center is one of several retail projects being developing in the Crabapple area. Construction continues despite the ongoing economic slowdown.
The letter of intent means Natural Foods intends to move into the center after a few details of its lease are resolved, according to Michele Del Monaco, senior vice president of leasing for the Roswell-based Mimms Enterprises. Mimms bought the shopping center in September 2006 and is almost done with its renovation, Del Monaco said.
Natural Foods Warehouse sells organic foods and features an array of dry groceries, frozen and perishable goods, vitamins, and other items from the natural foods industry, according to its Web page.
IN THE NEWS: GEORGIA POLICE PROBE CAR BOMBINGS LINKED TO VIDEO GAMES
MILTON, Ga. (AP) - It's another case in which the video game "Grand Theft Auto" is being blamed for a crime spree. Investigators in the Georgia city of Milton, located north of Atlanta, have arrested three teenagers in a string of car bombings. The blasts involved the use of Molotov cocktails. And authorities say 1 of the suspects says he learned how to make the explosives from playing "Grand Theft Auto." The suspects, one 15 and two 16, face dozens of felony charges in connection with the blasts. Since it was first released, Grand Theft Auto has been blamed for various crimes of violence in the U.S. and abroad.
ON THE WEB: BEST BUY AT AIRPORTS
Saturday, August 09, 2008
From the Kitchen of . . . Pam Forester, Alpharetta
Pam Forester, a cooking enthusiast who still makes her biscuits from scratch, lives in Alpharetta with her husband, Joe Hazelquist. A payroll manager at TRC Staffing, she also enjoys reading and traveling.
If you like tomato and mayo sandwiches in the summer, then you’ll love this savory pie. It’s based on the same ingredients, plus a couple of “extras” — cheese and fresh basil. And it’s pretty enough to serve to company.
Forester developed this recipe with a co-worker friend, Becky Lester, who had gotten a verbal description from a woman in Birmingham. “The woman wouldn’t tell her everything that was in there,” Forester said. “So she and I just developed it based on what Becky remembered of how it tasted.” Over the years, Forester replaced dried herbs with fresh and replaced half the cheddar cheese with mozzarella. “The final product is awesome,” Forester said. “People always ask for the recipe.”
Choose the most fragrant, fresh-picked tomatoes you can find. But be sure to drain the slices well on paper towels. “The real secret is to get the tomatoes as dry as possible,” Forester said. “Otherwise it can be a little watery.” — Deborah Geering, for the Journal-Constitution As pretty as cherry pie but as savory as a slice of summer, this pie is best when made with fresh-picked tomatoes, of course. If you make your own pie crust, try stirring in a teaspoon of dried basil with the flour.
Hands on time:
1 hour and 30 minutes Serves: 8
5-6 large ripe tomatoes1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves1 cup mayonnaise (or reduced-calorie mayonnaise)2 cups shredded cheddar, mozzarella or Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil; set a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place into the ice water. Peel the skins from the tomatoes. Slice off the stem-side tops, turn the tomatoes upside-down over the sink and gently squeeze to remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into thick slices, removing any remaining seeds, if necessary, and drain on paper towels. Line the crust with foil and pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove foil and weights and continue baking 5-10 more minutes, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. With additional paper towels, pat the tomatoes as dry as possible. Cover the bottom of the pie crust with a layer of tomato slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and basil. Arrange another layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Top with remaining tomato slices and sprinkle with remaining salt, pepper and basil. In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise and cheese. Spread evenly over the pie. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the pie forms a golden brown crust. If the edges start to get too brown, top with a piece of foil with an 8-inch circle cut out of the center. Serve warm.
Per serving: 428 calories (percent of calories from fat, 79), 9 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 39 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 39 milligrams cholesterol, 618 milligrams sodium.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Two Cities Work Together for a Good Cause
MILTON, Ga., August 8, 2008- This past April, Milton resident Olga Espinola, who is legally blind, contacted Milton's Public Works Department regarding a sidewalk issue on Windward Parkway that impeded her from normal access to various stores. Espinola was having difficulty walking to and from Kroger on Hwy. 9 because of a gap in the sidewalk. The City of Milton and the City of Alpharetta came together to solve this problem by installing a granite dust path on Windward Parkway between the two pieces of sidewalk.
Roddy Motes, Milton's Public Works Manager, began working to get this issue resolved with Earl Chatham of the City of Alpharetta because the area of sidewalk that needed installation was in Alpharetta City limits. After helping coordinate the installation, the Alpharetta Public Works department approved the repair and filled in the missing sidewalk in July with granite dust rather than concrete. The idea of a granite dust path instead of a traditional cement sidewalk saved Alpharetta both time and money, making the solution a "win-win" for the City and for Espinola.
"Since the path was installed, I've cut my commute time in half," said Espinola, who has been a tax-paying citizen and a property owner in Milton for over a year. "This path meets my needs and follows the desire of Milton citizens to keep the City from becoming a concrete jungle."
This is just one example of how neighboring cities work together every day for their citizens. "It is a great feeling to see that Milton and Alpharetta are able to come together and work on the small issues and build on a partnership to solve even bigger ones," said Motes.
Espinola has been an active member of the Milton Disability Awareness Committee since January of this year and is grateful to both Milton and Alpharetta for their speedy service. "This is an outstanding solution that will probably even work in many cases for smaller wheelchairs and definitely will work for bicyclists as well as pedestrians," exclaimed Espinola in a letter of thanks sent to City of Milton employees.
Espinola continues to rally on behalf of other Milton citizens with disabilities. The next project for Milton and Alpharetta is to install four Pedestrian Push-Button Stations that will assist Espinola and other citizens in crossing several busy roads in the communities. These stations will beep on either side of the road when it is safe to cross.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
One cites Grand Theft Auto computer game
By DOUG NURSE / www.ajc.com / Published on: 08/07/08
Milton police on Thursday arrested three teenagers on 57 felony counts connected to the firebombing of three cars with Molotov cocktails â€” devices one boy said he learned to make by playing the Grand Theft Auto computer game.
Police Chief Chris Lagerbloom said three boys, a 15-year-old and 16-year-old from Milton and a 16-year-old from Cumming, will be charged with first- and third-degree arson, first- and second-degree criminal damage to property and possession of explosive devices.
Milton police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the firebombings that occurred overnight July 24. Seven Molotov cocktails were made. Two Mercedes and one Honda Accord were burned, three devices missed their target and one was found unused.
Grand Theft Auto is a computer game series that has been blamed for inciting juvenile crime sprees in the United States and globally, including murder and carjacking, police said.
"This case is another strong example of the serious ramifications that can come from letting impressionable teens play violent video games like this one," Lagerbloom said. "We urge parents to pay particular attention to their children's extracurricular activities and to intervene before it's too late."
If the boys had been adults, they would have faced federal prosecution. Lagerbloom said the kids thought the firebombings would be fun. "They did it for the entertainment value," he said. "Their parents were reasonably shocked."
Police said they found checkout videotape of three youths buying Sprite in a glass bottle, red garage rags and Coleman lantern fuel. Police showed the video to local high school officers, who identified the youths.
None of the boys has been in trouble with Milton police before, Lagerbloom said. They were in the Fulton County juvenile detention center Thursday with a pretrial hearing set for today.
At least one expert Thursday night disputed the alleged a link between video games and criminal behavior.
There is no evidence such games are responsible for violent behavior for the typical child, said Lawrence Kutner, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
"If you look at the whole population, youth violent crime had gone down dramatically since the 1990s while playing computer games has gone up exponentially," Kutner said.
"It may be that a kid attracted to criminal behavior is also attracted to violent games," he said. "You can't make the simple statement that if you expose a kid to violent games, then he'll become violent in the real world."
MILTON, Ga. -- Fulton County officials said they have arrested three teens and charged them with 57 felony counts in connection with a recent series of car bombings with Molotov cocktails in the city of Milton, north of Atlanta.
Investigators said after the incidents, they went to a local Wal-Mart and pulled receipts. They found a receipt that contained the purchase of Sprite bottles, red rags and lighter fluid.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
This email is intended to give you a quick recap and update following the Monday, August 4th Work Session re: Sewer Extension.
1. Thank you to those who attended the meeting and to those who expressed your opinions via email. You sent a strong message to Milton City Council and staff that sewer is a critical issue for citizens and you all are watching closely.It was one of the largest crowds we have had at a Council meeting reflecting the importance of this topic for citizens and developers.
2. A few points of clarification from the Work Session:
There was a suggestion by some that the proposed Fulton County map did not reflect sewer expansion. It was all a bit confusing with the land lot references, but if you listened to our legal counsel closely, it is clear that the new map DOES reflect expansion into areas currently not planned for sewer. This violates our existing No Inter-Basin Transfer Policy and is how negative precedents and "sewer creep" start.
Many of you expressed concerns over the City Manager's proposal that we replace our existing sewer policy based on a model from Prince William County, Virginia. This was not mentioned at the work session, but demonstrates an exposure to new sewer in Milton.
3. Discussions will continue on this critical issue. Please stay tuned. The issue and risks of sewer extension have not gone away.
4. Thank you again for attending the Work Session and voicing your concerns and expectations.
Julie Zahner Bailey
Milton City Council
And, remember the proceeds go to support our local Milton Police and Fire Departments.
For more information and registration, please call 678 612 6072 or contact Jan Fowler at email@example.com or 770-740-0214.
August 05, 2008 MILTON – Mayor Joe Lockwood said he has received "downright threats" in the form of e-mails and comments from residents concerned the city was going to strike a deal with Fulton County that could lead to more sewer in the city and diminish its "rural character."
The mayor revealed the threats Aug. 4 to the 50-plus people in attendance at a special-called work session on Milton's sewer issue. The belief that somehow council was looking to sell out its citizens, Lockwood said, made him frustrated at the misinformation he said surrounds the hot-button issue of sewer in his city. And after talking with Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley at the meeting about why the city's and county's plans on sewer might be different and could be reconciled, Lockwood said he felt comfortable everyone's fears would be assuaged."I believe we're all on the same page here," he said. "We all want to do what's right for Milton."
The roughly 2½-hour meeting focused on Fulton County's sewer service in Milton and included a litany of public comment from both sides of the fence. Each council member had five minutes to ask Riley, who was aided at times by Fulton's Public Works staff, questions about the county's sewer service delivery strategy and the rationale behind discrepancies between several documents important to zoning decisions involving sewer hook ups.
Those documents include the 2006 "no inter basin transfer" sewer policy aimed at stunting sewer expansion in the Etowah basin, in which a good portion of Milton falls, and the 2006 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) entered into by the city and Fulton County for sewer service. The question of whether sewer should be extended to number of Milton's now developing land lots were left unresolved in the two documents, according to council and city attorneys Ken Jarrard and Angie Davis.Those discrepancies have left the city in a lurch, and many zoning decisions along Ga. 9 have stalled in the past few months because no consensus could be found. The plan now is to continue working together until either a new IGA can be hammered out or the old one fully agreed upon. There is no publicly set time line for the process.The meeting at times got tense, but through council's questions, a number of important points emerged:
Fulton County believes the 2006 sewer service delivery strategy map given to Milton with the IGA does not violate its own no inter basin transfer policy. Prior to the meeting, citizens were concerned certain lots that were allowed sewer on the map might have service illegally according to the other policy document.
** Granting sewer to those lots not designated for sewer service in Fulton's 2006 service delivery map would constitute an unwanted "extension of sewer." However, granting sewer to the lots designated for service by Fulton County would not be expanding the lines.
** A property might have a sewer line running underneath it, but not be entitled to sewer according to the map. "The physical line is a vehicle for sewer service," said Jarrard. "But your policy is what counts."** Certain lots may be split in their ability to receive sewer.
** The city's and county's policies prohibiting sewer service to a lot that has a line under it trump state health codes saying buildings within a certain footage of a sewer line have to hook up.
** City Council will submit to Fulton County a complete list of land lots that might fall into a sewer "grey area." Fulton's Public Works staff will guide Milton on which of those lots indeed could be sewered, taking guess work out of the process.
** The smallest sewer line Fulton could service is eight inches in diameter. Such a pipe would serve a maximum of 1,000 houses.** A pump station to carry waste could only be built on a wholly owned lot that is already partially gravity serviced. Also, that gravity service must occur naturally — nothing can be built up to induce gravity service.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
During a work session Monday in Milton, Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley told a crowd of about 60 people that some businesses on Ga. 9 are eligible for sewer service, but there are no plans to expand it beyond that area.
She also said there is no contradiction between the map of the county's sewer service and its policy on not allowing sewer from one river basin to flow into another basin. Ga. 9 runs along the eastern side of the city.
The perception that there was a discrepancy had fueled concern among many residents that once sewer crossed from the Big Creek basin to the Etowah River basin, the flood gates would open, and sewer would expand throughout the city.
Many residents argue that sewer brings dense development, which would spoil the pastoral feel of the community.
Mayor Joe Lockwood invited Riley to the work session to provide accurate information and dispel rumors."I want to make sure we are supporting our longstanding policies that Fulton County had before we became a city, and that we are not expanding sewer," Lockwood said. "I want to make sure we're on the same page."
Riley's statements indicated that the city could approve sewer to many developments on Ga. 9 without violating policies inherited from the county.
About a third of the crowd addressed the council. Speaker after speaker alternately pleaded and demanded that the Milton City Council limit sewer service to preserve the city's pastoral venues. Some said the meeting had been informative, and laid to rest rumors the council had been planning to expand sewer beyond Ga. 9.
But a few developers pleaded hardship from being at a standstill while the city hammers out its sewer policy.
Another meeting will be required before the question of sewer service on Ga. 9 will be settled.
Then the council must decide whether it wants to stop there, or develop a more expansive sewer policy.
DATE: Tuesday, August 5, 2008.
LOCATION: Bethany Road between Mayfield and Providence.
TAG: CY5-4NX / Fulton Tags.
TIME: Approx. 9:30am.
SITUATION: A young white male on a yellow motorcycle was driving at a high rate of speed north on Bethany Road. The Milton resident who witnessed this estimated that he was driving in the range of 70 to 80mph. The offending driver attempted to pass cars twice heading north. Bethany Road does not allow passing and has a double yellow line with a posted 45mph speed limit. Witness was able to catch up with the suspect due to him being unable to pass other cars headed north. Witness was able to follow him up to Bethany Bend at which time he pulled into the Wendy's parking lot off of HWY 9. Witness called Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom and reported the incident.
It is believed that this individual works at Kauffman Tire off of Hwy 9 as his motorcyle was there an hour after this incident.
Do you have a driver who is making your neighborhood dangerous? If so, please write down the tag number, make and color of the vehicle as well as location and time of day. If you have a camera, take a picture of the vehicle. DO NOT CONFRONT THE OFFENDING DRIVER. After which, contact the City of Milton at 678 242 2500 and ask to speak with our Police Department.
You can also email this information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org / Subject Line: Dangerous Driver and we will share this information with the public in our news section.
Remember, together we can make Milton safe for all who live here!
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
No one was hurt in what police are deeming the "random" firebombings. There are no suspects, but a witness described "a loud Ford or Chevrolet pickup truck in the area during at least one of these events," authorities said.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
I hope this update finds you and your families well, and I hope that you all are having a great s ummer!
This update is very important.
On Monday, August 4 at 4:00 p.m., the City Council will be having a special called work session to discuss proposed sewer extension in Milton. Click here to download the meeting agenda.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to attend this meeting and express your thoughts to the mayor and council on this important issue. If you are unable to attend this meeting, it is imperative for you to write the mayor and council to tell us how you feel about this issue. Click here for the e-mail addresses of all elected officials. Don't assume that we all know how you feel or that there is enough support on the council to prevent this happening.
How does extension of sewer threaten our city?
The Vision Statement for the City of Milton is "Mi lton is a distinctive community embracing small-town life and heritage while preserving and enhancing our rural character." 86% of the citizens that filled out a recent community survey agree with this Vision Statement. Expansion of sanitary sewer into areas of Milton not currently connected to sewer, i.e. the Etowah River Basin Area, greatly threatens our Vision. Some argue that this is just a "battlecry for the uninformed," that we can control density with zoning. While I don't disagree with the premise that density could, in theory, control density, I am also realistic. One only needs to look at a map of Georgia to quickly realize that, plainly put, sewer + politics = eventual high density development, and consequently, more crime, traffic, and storm water runoff to endanger our already sensitive waterways.
But don't we need more dense, commercial development to keep our property taxes low and expand city services?
Obviously we don't have the expansive park system that Alpharetta has or the expansive city services that Atlanta has; however, Alpharetta and Atlanta don't have Milton's characteristic small town, equestrian qualities either. In fact, recent surveys show that citizens are willing to forego some of those services if doing so keeps Milton the way it is.
I think the rumor that we don't have enough money to survive as a city is interesting to say the least. The Finance Subcommittee of the Steering Committee to form the City of Milton determined that we did have the existing tax base to form our own city and provide the same level of service as Fulton County or even better. If we now have concrete data and studies to show that for whatever reason that's not true, I, as one of the seven elected officials in this city, haven't seen them. In fact, financial modeling by our Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee has not been done yet. Also, if having more commercial development means that property taxes are kept low, then you would think that cities like Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs would have lower property taxes. We know, however, that this is clearly not the case. Some of the most densely populated, densely commercial cities in the Atlanta area have some of the highest property taxes of any cities in GA. In contrast, some of the less densely populated and less densely commercial cities have some of the lowest taxes around.No doubt that if we allow our city to be like "Every Other City, USA," property values in Milton will not be as solid as they would if we take proactive steps to ensure that we now and forever more will remain unique.
What are our existing policies and laws that address sewer expansion?
As many of you already know, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution on July 19,2006 reaffirming a March 1995 resolution and policy. This policy, which was later adopted as an ordinance by the City of Milton and serves as our current "sewer policy," is known as the "No Interbasin Transfer Policy." Click here for a copy of the "No Interbasin Transfer" Policy/Resolution. The term "no interbasin transfer," in this case, applies specifically to wastewater and means you cannot take wastewater from properties located in one basin, i.e. the Etowah River Basin, and pump it to treatment plants in another basin, i.e. the Big Creek Basin.
The full title of this resolution is, "Resolution to Reaffirm Policy Prohibiting Expansion of the Big Creek and John's Creek Sewage Treatment Plants to Accommodate Portions of the Etowah River Basin and to Prohibit Interbasin Transfers to the Big Creek and John's Creek Treatment Plants." As the title indicates, this resolution and policy prohibits expansion of the Big Creek and John's Creek sewage treatment plants to accommodate portions of the Etowah River Basin and construction of pumping stations or interbasin transfers from the Etowah Basin Area to the Big Creek or John's Creek treatment plants. The stated purpose of this resolution is, "to ensure that growth and development in the Etowah Basin Area does not impact adversely upon or require expansion of either of these treatment plants and that the low-density and rural character of that portion of the Basin Area that lies in Fulton County is preserved."There are a limited number of exceptions to this policy listed in the resolution itself. These include certain land lots west of State Route 9, located between Windward Parkway and the Forsyth County line. Per the policy, these properties may connect to sewer and use pumping stations to do so if: 1) a portion of the property fronts or abuts State Route 9; 2) the property if wholly located in District 2, Second Section; and 3) the land lot # is 758, 759, 828, 898, 903, 970, 975, 1041, 1042, 1048, 1111, 1112, or 1113. What is the current "Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA)" with Fulton County and how has this affected decisions to date?
We have a legally required agreement, i.e. the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), with Fulton County that indicates that they are the sewer and water provider for the City of Milton. The IGA also states the geographical boundaries/locations where such services may be provided. Outside of these boundaries, Fulton County has no legal authority to provide sewer in Milton.A few months ago, our attorneys pointed out to us that the language contained in the current IGA did not allow Fulton County to provide sewer service to most of Milton, including most land lots that are clearly in the already-sewered part of Milton, i.e. land lots in the Big Creek Basin and even the land lots along State Route 9 that are specifically exempted in the "No Interbasin Transfer Policy" as being able to be sewered. This interpretation came as a big surprise to Fulton County and to our staff; however, to date, they have not disagreed with our attorney's interpretation. At the time the interpretation was rendered, there were several developments that had already been issued a Land Disturbance Permit (most all of which were issued by Fulton County before we became a city). Significant development to infrastructure, buildings, and roadways had already occurred at a significant cost to these developers. In the case of Target, it was nearly complete and only days away from opening. The council made a unanimous decision to issue permits to these properties with the strict understanding that none of these developments were located in the Etowah River Basin, thereby adhering to our "No Interbasin Transfer Policy." Had we voted to deny these developments access to sewer when they had already been given sewer by Fulton County (before our attorney's interpr etation relative to the shortfalls of the current IGA), the city would have undoubtedly been sued by each and every developer. In my opinion and our attorney's, chances are we would have lost these lawsuits due to the fact that our policy does not prohibit sewer in areas that are already sewered (all these developments were in the Big Creek Basin), substantial development had already taken place (including the erection of buildings and below- and above-ground infrastructure), and the fact that approved Land Disturbance Permits had already been issued.What is being proposed at the meeting on August 4?
Based on recent relelations regarding the inconsistencies between our current IGA with Fulton County and our "No Interbasin Transfer Policy/Ordinance", we obviously need to revise our IGA to be consistent with our own policy and law. Fulton County's proposed fix to this problem is the map entitled, "Proposed City of Milton Sewer Service Area 2008," that is on our website. Click here to download the proposed map
Fulton County falsely asserts that the area denoted as the sewer service area, along with the specific land lots mentioned by name on the map itself, a re all part of the Big Creek Basin. However, this map proposes extension of sewer into numerous land lots in Milton that are not currently sewered, including land lots in areas of the Etowah River Basin west of State Route 9 to Cogburn Road and north of Crabapple. This is against our current "No Interbasin Transfer" Policy and Ordinance and threatens our the preservation of our rural, equestrian character.
People need to understand that just because Fulton County says the proposed Sewer Service Area is all in the Big Creek Basin doesn't, by default, mean that it's true.
What is Alan Tart's position on this issue?
1) Changes are needed to the current IGA but only to make it consistent with our "No Interbasin Transfer" Policy and Ordinance.
2) Any policy that we come up with should:
Be specific to Milton - Since we have attorneys, seven elected officials, and a staff of many, I see no reason to use a policy from a densely developed city as our template;
Prohibit sewer extension into areas of Milton that are not currently sewered (land lots in the Etowah River Basin);
Stay true to our current "No Interbasin Transfer" policy/ordinance - Per our existing ordinance, pumping stations may not be used as way to promote illegal interbasin transfer of wastewater to the Big Creek or John's Creek treatment plants. Also, no private sewage treatment plants should be allowed;
Recognize that sewer is an acceptable method of collecting and treating wastewater in high density areas of Milton that already have sewer, including properties abutting State Route 9 that are specifically exempted in our "No Interbasin Transfer" policy and existing high density neighborhoods and development along State Route 9 - east, Windward Parkway, Deerfield Parkway, and Crabapple - all of which are clearly within the Big Creek Basin and sewer service in these areas is allowed by our existing policy and practice;
Promote registration and regular maintenance of septic systems to protect the health and welfare of our citizens and our waterways;
Clearly show areas and specific land lots served by sewer and those served by septic systems - we need to end this discussion once and for all; and
Recognize the uniqueness of our city and the need to preserve it.
Click here to tell the mayor and city council how you feel.I consider it an honor to serve you as we work together to preserve the uniqueness of our beautiful city. &nbs p;Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Council Member, District 6 (At Large)