Athens City Council votes to close collection site

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

The Athens City Council voted to close the City’s collection site Monday night.

The action came for two reasons:

  • State rules call for community collection sites to be registered with the TCEQ, however that has not been the case in Athens in the past. Complying with this requirement could bring the site under closer scrutiny from the state and officials worry that could lead to liability issues.
  • The collection site does not support itself. Through fees, the collection site brought in about $14,000 last year, but it cost $55,000 to operate the site. That’s a $40,000 tax subsidy to keep the site open, which was something council members did not want to see continue.

The City staff worked with Republic Services to come up with alternative plans for curbside bulk trash pickup, but the council decided not to go that route because of concerns it would be complicated for residents and the price could escalate after an initial three-year contract.

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City of Athens offers Downtown Façade Improvement Program again

This downtown property: 221 E. Tyler St. and owner, Jon Garrett, received funding from the 2017 Downtown Façade Improvement Program to do major improvements to this property. Improvements included mortar joint repair, tuck pointing, waterproofing, painting, and awning repair. (Courtesy photo)

Press release

For the second consecutive year, the City of Athens is pleased to offer the Downtown Façade Improvement Program to qualifying downtown property owners. In Fiscal Year 2017, the Athens City Council approved the creation of the Downtown Façade Improvement Program. This new and exciting program is designed to help improve aesthetic qualities and preserve historic structures in the Athens downtown area.

“The first year of the program was a huge success,” said Community Services Coordinator Adrianna Hinds. “The City received over 10 applications for requests for improvements ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 and, after administrative review, was able to fund 6 of them.” She added, “we look forward to another successful year in 2018 and encourage downtown property owners to take advantage of this funding opportunity.”

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Athens EDC calls for grant applications

Press release

Athens Economic Development Corporation has announced its call for Community Development Grant applications.

The Community Development Grant program is designed to provide grants for eligible projects which promote sports, cultural, entertainment and community projects that attract tourism and contribute to quality of life, business development and growth of Athens sales tax revenue. All projects must be located in the city of Athens, in addition to creating an economic impact on the city.

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GBC resident Earl Brunner is candidate for State House

Press release

Gun Barrel City resident, local veteran and aviator, Republican Earl Brunner, announced his candidacy in the race to represent District 4 in the Texas House of Representatives. He will be seeking the nomination in the 2018 Republican primary elections on March 6 this upcoming year.

“I will work every single day for this community,” Brunner said. “This is about the future of Texas and our communities.”

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Athens council divided on Cain Center question

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCNow

The Athens City Council split on how to move forward on the Cain Center project during a workshop meeting Wednesday night.

The divide among the council members adds importance to the seating of Aaron “Bubba” Smith next month. Smith was unanimously appointed by the council to fill the unexpired term of Joe Whatley, who recently resigned. This will be Smith’s second stint as an interim council member.

The two Cain Center options gaining support Wednesday night were:

  • A construction plan that would cost the City a little less than $5 million. That plan became possible with the announcement Wednesday that the Cain Foundation has committed $2.5 million for the pool area. This option would also allow the City to spend about $5 million from the Certificates of Obligation on water issues and was backed by Mayor Monte Montgomery and Councilwoman Toni Garrard Clay.
  • Allow Athens residents to vote on whether to move forward on the Cain Center project with a bond election. With this option, all the Certificates of Obligation money currently set aside for the project would go to water system repairs. This option was backed by Council members Ed McCain and Robert Gross.

The biggest issue is one that council members appear to agree on, which is the belief that the decision-making process on the Cain Center was flawed from the start.

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