Memorial Day Weekend News Roundup


Dade County Election Supervisor Lowanna Vaughn says a recount will be made ​​Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. in the squeaky-tight race between Dade Board of Education District 2 incumbent Jennifer Hartline and challenger Larry Williams. They received 1040 and 1032 votes, respectively, in last week's Republican primary election. The recount could not be requested until the May 22 vote was certified, and Ms. Vaughn had originally predicted it would take place last Friday or today.

Johnson's Crook Dam Breach​

Memorial Day brought enough rain to drown many an outdoor party plan in Dade County but Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley says it wasn't enough to cause any disaster at the old Preserve at Rising Fawn, where a breached dam at one of the failed Johnson's Crook development's manmade lakes has county and state officials walking on eggshells and a pump going full-time to keep volumes down.

"We've got the water level down below the level of the hole," said Rumley.

He added that Rising Fawn had not received the amount of rain experienced by other areas of the county. "If we got two or three inches, it'd blow," he said.

Rumley said engineers from the Safe Dams branch of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) had met with the county and with Katherine Eddins, director of the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust and current president of the property owners' association of the Preserve. As he understood it, said the county boss, the plan now is to do away with the dam and drain the lake entirely. Probably this will irritate the homeowners, said the Boss, but they are not contributing to the upkeep of the dam.

Katherine Eddins of the land trust and POA confirmed that the decision had been made to dismantle the dam and do away with the lake entirely, adding: "We're well on our way to doing that." She said if the weather is dry enough Rumley had advised her that could be accomplished within the next couple of weeks.

​​Ms. Eddins said the lake in question, which is near the main entrance to the gated Preserve entrance off Newsome Gap Road in Rising Fawn, is just one of a series of manmade lakes in the Crook but the only one causing headaches right now. This one was made by Eugene Johnson during his tenure as owner of the Crook acreage in the late 1990s and early 2000s but the others are older, she said, possibly circa the 1930s and 1950s though she wasn't sure without further research, and seemed fine.

"Let's just focus on this one and get it behind us," she said. She said the situation might have been worse had the county not stepped in and been so helpful. "The county's been wonderful," she said.

Steel Road Rail Crossing Blockage

The county may have been wonderful with Ms. Eddins at the south end of the county but up north at the Steel Road rail crossing, just this side of the Tennessee state line, it was in fightin' mode with Norfolk Southern.

County Boss Rumley said a train stopped on the tracks had blocked all traffic in and out of the neighborhood on the east side of the Steel Road crossing from 5 p.m. Sunday until about 11 o'clock that night.

"It's the same old story," said Rumley.

He said about 18 to 20 families were affected and had been unable to get out or get home. Some had been prevented from attending church services Sunday night and others from going out to dinner. "Some of them had family in for the holiday," he said.

Rumley said people had called 911 and he had tried repeatedly to get anyone from Norfolk Southern on the phone. Finally, he said, he'd gotten an official who'd promised it would never happen again--another story Rumley had heard often.

It's not just a matter of inconveniencing residents, said Rumley, but of public safety. Suppose someone on the east side of the tracks had a heart attack? Rescuers would have to climb over the train cars or hand victims through the linkages between them. "There's no place to land a helicopter over there," he said/

It had been an extremely frustrating Sunday night both for the affected residents and for county officials like Rumley trying to help them, said the Boss. He had gotten as much media interested as possible, said Rumley.

"They don't like publicity," he said.

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