Quarry with view coming
By a 4-1 vote, county commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding in reference to the construction and operation of a viewing platform for an Elbert County quarry at Monday night’s meeting.
All were in favor of the measure with the exception of Kenneth Ashworth, who at last Thursday’s work session said he would not vote for the measure until he knew the City of Elberton was on board as well. Ashworth asked Elberton Granite Association Executive Vice President Chris Kubas if the city was on board with the project and Kubas replied he believed they were and had received positive feedback from the city on the project.
County Administrator Bob Thomas told Ashworth he had discussed the project with Elberton Mayor Larry Guest and Guest told him he was behind the project.
The two acknowledgments were not enough to sway Ashworth, who voted against the memorandum of understanding.
The project was discussed as late as October of last year with all three entities showing interest to some degree.
The platform would be placed at the Pyramid Quarry with a gated access off of Athens Highway.
An old roadbed already connects the highway with the quarry but the county would need to rework the surface and apply gravel.
The platform itself will be a 25x25 foot steel structure embedded directly to the quarry’s granite rim. Safety railing would be installed to prevent anyone accidentally falling into the quarry.
Commissioner Horace Harper said he had talked to Kubas earlier in the day about safety concerns and was assured by the executive vice president that all safety precautions would be taken in construction of the platform.
According to the wording of the memorandum of understanding, the county will assist with the roadbed and its maintenance but the construction and maintenance of the platform will be the responsibility of the granite association.
The EGA will also assume any liability at the platform as well, according to the memorandum.
The platform will not be open to the public but used for both granite industry and tourism groups.
Kubas said the estimated price of the project would be $60,000 with each of the three entities chipping in $20,000 each. When asked if the $60,000 price tag was a firm figure, Kubas would not commit. Commissioners then made a motion to authorize up to $25,000 for the project.
Commissioners also voted 5-0 to rescind the lease on the depot building to the Elberton Historical Society. According to Thomas, the group has asked the county to release them from the lease due to an aging and declining membership.
“At this point they are just unable to maintain the property,” said Thomas.
He also said the group was not financially able to pay the utilities as well.
There was some discussion at the work session this past Thursday on the future of the depot but no firm decisions were made. Thomas said commissioners would continue to discuss the building at future meetings.
In another 5-0 vote commissioners also approved a $160,000 project to demolish the houses along the runway at the airport purchased last year and to seal cracks in the older (4,000 foot) portion of the runway.
Of the $160,000, the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost, the state will cover five percent of the cost and Elbert County will pitch in the remaining five percent, or $8,908.
The county’s portion can also include in-kind services.
The county purchased all but one house along the runway in October 2015. At the October meeting Thomas told commissioners, “We made him (the property owner) an offer but he wants about four times what the property is worth,” said County Administrator Bob Thomas, “so we haven’t been able to make any headway there.”
Commissioners also approved the disbursement of $2,500 to both the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Authority/Main Street Elberton from the hotel/motel tax fund.
The funds going to the chamber will be used for the annual fireworks show at Richard B. Russell State Park in July.