TGIF! Which, as everybody knows, stands for THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY! And here FYI, which, as everybody knows, stands for FOR YOUR INFORMATION, is TTRA, which, as everybody may not necessarily know, stands for....
First of all, The Planet regrets to have so little to report on this morning's regular October meeting of the board of directors of the Dade County Water Authority, or so-called water board. Yes, the water board met for an hour and 40 minutes; and yes, your faithful Planet tore itself untimely from its cozy planetary bed to attend the 8 a.m. meeting. But, as happened last month, almost all of the water board's business was performed behind closed doors in "executive session," from which the public and press are excluded.
In the short public portion of the meeting before executive session was called, Chattanooga accountant Barry Huggins presented an audit report of the water company. He gave it a clean bill of health for the audit period but did warn it was approaching the limit for violating the revenue-to-debt ratio of 1.1 required by its bond covenant. "Y'all met that exactly this year," said Huggins. Which was fine for now, he said, but: "If expenses went over next year and revenues don't go up, you'd be out of compliance with the bond covenant."
Debt ratio is debt divided by assets, so a 1.1 ratio would signify owing a tenth more than total assets. Issuing bonds is a way local governments and public utilities borrow money, and bond covenants are analogous to loan agreements. So what the accountant was warning was that if the water company acquires new debt it could get in hot water with the creditors it already has.
Which advice might well affect the water board's discussions relative to the $450,000 loan it applied and was approved for this year to pay for land for a controversial reservoir on Lookout Creek. But any such discussion, if it did take place, did so behind closed doors. The water board convened at 8 a.m., went into executive session at 8:16, came out at 9:35, and adjourned a few minutes later, after Board Chairman Ted Rumley announced no decisions had been made.
The Dade County Commission paid $50,000 in June 2017 to option a $500,000 piece of land on Lookout Creek, then $25,000 this year to extend the option. The option expires in December. No way to pay the rest of the balance has emerged except for the water board's $450K, which it had specified could only be used if no alternative were found. The board has resolved not to dip into those funds without another vote. Public interest in what the commission and the water board will do about the reservoir has become fierce. Meanwhile, the water board's and commission's strategy in dealing with what is increasingly becoming a public relations monster has been to exclude the public from its business via that press-hated detour around open-meeting rules, the executive session.
In calling this one, Rumley announced it would be used to discuss personnel and real estate. Water authority assistant manager Sherri Walker--excluded like the public from the executive session--said in response to The Planet's question that she knew of no hiring needs or other personnel action looming before the company right now. The water board had its legal counsel, County Attorney Robin Rogers, present during the closed-door session.
And that is the extent of what The Planet can inform the esteemed denizens of Dade about the water board, the Great Lake Controversy and the mysterious doings of their local government for this month. Next!
International Observe The Moon Night!
If all that was a little much, you may want to come howl at the moon Saturday night at Cloudland Canyon State Park as the park holds another of its periodic "Star Parties." This one is dedicated especially to the moon in honor of "International Observe The Moon Night--yes, that's a thing, as you might deduce by the logo. There will also be telescopes set up for observations of Mars and Jupiter. Hours are 7-10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. Meet at the top of the disc golf course. Star parties are conducted by the Barnard Astronomical Society and sponsored by the staff and Friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park for the great price of FREE, except $5 for the Georgia State Park parking fee if you don't have an annual pass.
Booze Nooz Update
Trenton businessman Jay Patel announces the grand opening on Saturday of his Discount Tobacco Outlet, which despite the name also carries an extensive line of beers and wines. Saturday is the official day, but on Thursday The Planet found the store open for business and already well stocked. The new store is next door to the Subway restaurant on Highway 136 West, former housing for Trenton's one health-food store.
Patel, who also owns several convenience stores in the county, is collecting signatures on a petition to start the process of legalizing package sales of distilled alcohol, in the hope that the new shop may one day be a full-fledged liquor store.
Out From Behind the Barn!
On the subject of Dade's cautious entry into the brave new world of (legal) adult beverages, Michael Smelcher, one of the three partners who operate the newly refurbished Mtn Top Café, nee Geneva's, on Highway 136 East atop Lookout, reported the restaurant's debut of beer last Saturday night went without a hitch. The beer taps functioned fine, said Smelcher on Thursday, and: "No one abused it."
The Mtn Top is the first restaurant in the unincorporated county to obtain a malt beverage license after Dade approved liquor by the drink in a November 2016 referendum. Evening 1 of the new era started with beer only; the wine didn't arrive on time. Smelcher said it has since come in, so diners at the Mtn Top this weekend and henceforth may be accompanied by un peu de vin. Which calls for a toast!
"Li'l Chicken" becomes "Big Chicken?"
And since we're talking about places to eat at the center of the universe, here's another snippet: Zack Ditmar, whose wife, Lynda, makes some of Trenton's favorite chicken sandwiches, announced recently that the expansion of the Li'l Chicken Coop is almost complete and the enhanced restaurant should open for lunch sometime next week.
The Ditmars formerly ran Jo Mama's Wraps; then Lynda opened the Coop first from a mobile food trailer and then in its present Crabtree and Main location across from Citizens Bank. Now the Ditmars are expanding the lunch eatery into the former premises of a dry cleaning shop behind it, to include more seating and a salad bar. so: "Li'l" no more!
Just because Halloween's coming...Is this not the ookiest and spookiest fungus you've ever seen? Thanks for this one to The Planet's fabulous and incomparable Art Department, Jerry Wallace, who is also continually on the watch for any household or general utility object representing eyeballs, and who noticed these fungi growing near the entrance of Sitton's Cave at the bottom of Cloudland Canyon State Park. They are called "dead man's fingers," and are starting to creep The Planet out, so 'nuff said!
And speakin' of Halloween, don't forget that next Saturday, Oct. 27. is Dade County's blowout Halloween gala on the Trenton square. The Dade County Public Library hosts trick or treat inside the library 5:30-7:30 p.m.--the theme this year is Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory--and the Dade Chamber of Commerce traditionally stages "Trick or Treat Alley" with booths, a costume contest and a zombie parade out on the square. Thousands of youngsters and their families from all over the Tri-State area show up. (Photo is from last year's do.
Also on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., the North Dade Fire Department will be holding a “Fill the Boot” event at the entrance/exit ramp from I-24 at the north end of the bridge by the Mapco. All proceeds go toward purchasing toys for low-income families in the community. If you don’t have money to donate, take any gently- used toys or new and unopened toys to the North Dade Fire Department at 44 Lea Road, Wildwood, Ga. 30757 (behind the Wildwood P.O. on Hwy.11). For further information, contact Chief Chris Lowrance (423) 240-5148 or Assistant Chief Lance Taylor (423) 887-0114.
And on Sunday, Oct. 28, the Trenton Police Department holds its annual fundraising motorcycle ride through the mountains. The event starts at noon Sunday at the Trenton Civics Center across from Jenkins Park. Riders will leave at 2 p.m. for their cruise. A chili cookoff by Dade's volunteer fire departments is included in the event, and the beautiful wooden motorcycle rocking toy hand-carved by Officer Danny Ellis each year will be raffled off. All proceeds go to the PD's annual Silver Bells Christmas drive for the elderly.
One more snippet: Dade poll officials reported on Friday that early voting for the Nov. 6 general election, which started Monday, has been "beyond record" this week. Early Friday morning they said the count stood at 642, and that over 100 voters had showed up each day so far. By contrast, the Planet reported on the Thursday before the May 22 primary that only 344 voters had showed up for the entire early voting period. If early voting is this heavy, they wondered, what will Election Day look like?
Early voting is at the Dade Administrative Building only, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, through Nov. 2. Saturday voting is Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Georgian are voting for a number of state offices including the governor's, but there is only one local race unsettled after the May primaries: Republican Lamar Lowery v. Democrat Patrick Hickey for the District 1 Dade County Commission seat.
That's all for this week, esteemed Planet readers, so TGIF (which we've covered the meaning of), HAGW (have a good weekend), and The Planet will hereby STFU (look it up!) until the next scintillatin' edition of ....