Commissioners-elect look at bypass questions, selection of new manager

Future issues

When Fayette County’s three new commissioners take office in January, they will face one looming issue that will give them a big opportunity to make their mark right off the bat.

That’s because they will be picking a replacement for interim County Administrator Jack Krakeel, who retired in July but is staying on until a new administrator is hired.

At last week’s commission meeting, the outgoing commissioners said they wanted their newly-elected counterparts — Charles Oddo, David Barlow and Randy Ognio — to go ahead and get involved in the hiring process, conducting interviews and selecting who they want as the next administrator.

Commissioner Lee Hearn, who was defeated in the runoff election by local businessman Randy Ognio, encouraged the new commissioners to work on the matter so they’ll have plenty of time to assure a smooth transition by the first of the year.

“I know if I was in your shoes, I would want to handle it,” Hearn said.

Commissioner Herb Frady, who did not seek reelection and will be replaced by runoff winner David Barlow, said he agreed leaving the choice up to the new commission, including the two holdover commissioners, was the best way to handle the matter. Those two commissioners, Allen McCarty and Steve Brown, also agreed.

Newly-elected commissioner David Barlow, who will be sworn into office with new commissioners Charles Oddo and Randy Ognio, credited the commission for “doing the right thing” in leaving the decision up to them.

“What they did, they showed me, they did a good thing. They did the right thing,” Barlow said. “It’s never wrong to do the right thing.”

Ognio, who also will take office Jan. 1, said he thought the offer from Hearn and Frady was a good idea, but he wants all the current commissioners involved in the process because of the importance of the hire.

“They may bring up some angles that us newcomers aren’t aware of,” Ognio said. “... I think we’re all part of the process and we need to make sure we get the best person in that position.”

Ognio said he was thankful that the existing commissioners want to include the newly-elected commissioners in the process.

“It’s a big gesture on their part, and I went to Lee and told him I think we all ought to look at it, because we’re investing in the future of the county,” Ognio said.

Election outcome

Two political newcomers became Fayette County commissioners-elect last week by winning the Republican Party primary runoff. With no Democrat opposition for the posts in the Nov. 6 general election, that means that three political rookies will take seats on the board come Jan. 1.

Local businessman and frequent commission critic Randy Ognio won the runoff election for the Post 3 seat, beating incumbent Lee Hearn with more than 71 percent of the vote.

For the Post 2 seat, Tyrone resident David Barlow defeated attorney Sheila Huddleston with 61.7 percent of the vote to win the Post 2 seat that is being vacated by the retiring commissioner Herb Frady.

Barlow and Ognio will join fellow newcomer Charles Oddo, who defeated Robert Horgan outright in the July 31 primary.

Barlow said his intentions on the West Fayetteville Bypass are to not break any existing contracts for construction activities and the like, but to make sure the project is being managed frugally.

“We’d be pretty sorry individuals if we tried to break a contract,” Barlow said.

Barlow said while he appreciates the support of those who voted for him, he also wants those who didn’t back him to understand that his goal is to “treat everyone with respect and dignity, because I now represent all citizens.”

Barlow also said he is looking forward to working with interim County Administrator Jack Krakeel and County Attorney Scott Bennett, because contrary to rumors Barlow does not plan to vote to replace either employee.

While Barlow admits he has had a difference of opinion with the two on some matters, he believes in capitalizing on the assets of a person.

Barlow said he has spoken with both Krakeel and Bennett, asking for the opportunity to work with them.

Ognio said he was “overwhelmed” by the supporters who helped him in the race.

“I just want to let them know ‘thank you’ and now it’s up to me to live up to their expectations and I’m going to work hard to do that,” Ognio said.

Ognio agreed with Barlow that it would be difficult to halt the ongoing work on the second phase of the west bypass, but he wants to see on paper the proposed intersection improvements for the third phase before he can consider them. Ognio said the deteriorating bridge on Ebenezer Church Road over Whitewater Creek will be replaced as a separate project and not part of the proposed third phase for the bypass.

Ognio also said he has been getting calls from citizens concerned about the East Fayetteville Bypass bringing more crime to their area. Ognio said he wants the county to change the project from a two-lane to a four-lane design so it can keep traffic from going through downtown Fayetteville.

Ognio said he told the citizens with concerns that if they had any other ideas to help move traffic around Fayetteville, he’d love to hear them.

“I don’t see much other choice and I don’t want us to become like the city of McDonough. You go through traffic hour there, that’s a disaster,” Ognio said.

Ognio said he is concerned about alleviating traffic in the heart of Fayetteville.

In the runoff race for the newly-created 63rd District in the Georgia House of Representatives, attorney Ronnie Mabra of Fayetteville handily defeated educator T.J. Copeland. Mabra took more than 64 percent of the 2,580 votes recorded while Copeland managed 35.1 percent.

The new district encompasses nearly all of Fayetteville along with the unincorporated area north and east of Fayetteville. The remainder of the district snakes northward in a sliver of unincorporated south Fulton County that runs up to College Park and also to the southwest into the southern tip of Clayton County that rests between the Fayette and Henry county lines.

Mabra did not come out of the election completely unscathed, as he had to defend his residency in a state hearing due to a complaint filed by fellow candidate Linda Pritchett, who ended up having the lowest vote total in the general election.

Although an administrative law judge ruled that it appeared Mabra did not live in the district at the Fayetteville home of his mother as he claimed, Secretary of State Brian Kemp determined there was not enough evidence to remove Mabra from the ballot.

Fayette residents supported Mabra by a margin of greater than 2 to 1, as Mabra won 70.7 percent of the vote compared to Copeland’s 29.3 percent here.

Spyglass
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Take heed of Ognoi's comments about McDonough traffic...

As someone who left there around 10 years ago, it is/was a nightmare. I still have occasional business there and he's right, it's horrible. We do not need to just "do nothing" and hope it doesn't happen. Proactive is what we need.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but doing nothing is not an option.

fayette77
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WFB repair

I hope in the assessment of these roads, they include fixing the intersection at Veteran's parkway and North Sandy Creek Road back to the way it should be. My guess is that a majority of the cars travelling that bypass will head to GA 74 and not continue on to GA92 and Northbridge. Therefore, a majority of the cars will need to turn left and the fewer cars will get the straight shot to no where.

pips1414
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Lets give new commissioners a chance to show what they can do

Next January will be here before we know it. That's just over four months. But this time, the election was loud and clear...a veritable landslide permeating every hamlet within Fayette County. Mr. Ogino won every precinct within the county, and Mr. Barlow lost just one. Mr. Oddo had landslided Commissioner Horgan in the Republican Primary last month.

I personally sided with the majority of Fayette Citizens in making the selections they did. There were those who searched every closet they could find for skeletons on the candidates. They found information as much as ten years old or more. When I read the blogs, that caused me to think , "now just how many of us are so perfect that they are proud of everything they've done during the past ten years? I don't believe that any of those who criticized the sitting commissioners or candidates, myself included, are without at least a few skeletons of our own. Like it or not, we've made our choices, and there is little that can be done to exchange Commissioners again for the next two years.

At the last commissioners meeting, Chairman Frady made statements that the West Bypass was the voters' fault for approving it, and the newly elected commissioners will be "under a microscope" from the time they take office. What he didn't say was who will be doing the viewing. Without a doubt, there will be criticism coming in 2013...it always has before, and it always will. But I hope that most folks will heed Mr. Frady's warning, and give the new guys a fair shake before attacking them personally, or blindly following attack leads without investigating the source. I feel certain that the new commissioners will not disguise multimillion dollar roads like the West Fayetteville Bypass as "roads street, and bridges purposes" on the voting ballot as was done in the 2004 SPLOST election.

Word has it that after January 1, certain commissioner(s) and their supporters will be making disparaging public comments, and sending in negative Letters to the Editor. Payback time is fine, but not unless it's deserved. When you consider all the negative issues that plagued the lame duck commissioners, there has to be resentment. Let's take all the bad press and commissioners meetings over the past few years with positive public comments almost nonexistent. Then, the sitting commissioners got landslided out of office in two successive elections. Who would be happy with that kind of ending to their tenure?

When the criticism starts coming, track it very carefully, and consider the source. But in the meantime, lets give the new commissioners the support they deserve. Over 70% of the voters did.

ginga1414
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Yep, Nuk, What's Done Is Done!

What would one do with a mud hole that extends 6.2 miles from Sandy Creek Rd. to the Hwy. 92/Westbridge Rd. intersection?

Green space and homes have been destroyed. Property has been taken by eminent domain.

Commissioners Steve Brown and Allen McCarty provided information and proposals that could have stopped the destruction with Phase II of the W. Bypass. In fact, the State Legislature helped provide a way out with HB-240.

However, Phase II of the W. Bypass was designed to accommodate developers. Former Mayor Ken Steele publicly admitted on several occasions, as did former Commission Chairman Jack Smith, that the W. Bypass would "not relieve traffic" and that it was for "future development." Need I say "West Fayetteville Neighborhoods," the Rivers, Horton, Lester, and Wyatt (Green) family developers?

When some of our controlling commissioners were/are connected to developer banks and developer property, do you actually think they will go in the opposite direction?

In the end, Herb Frady was the only one who acknowledged the writing on the wall. He retired.

There is a group of about ten folks here who are determined to demonize anyone who doesn't go along with the status quo. Yet, they are constantly talking about progress.

Yes, oh yes, they talk about progress but they won't even give the new guys a chance. They are ridiculing them even before they have taken office. They put Steve Brown in a little box before he took office and have tried to keep him there ever since. We have Bob Ross and Steve Brown to thank for exposing the fat running through the Regional T-SPLOST.

And now the same ten folks are doing their best to tear down Fayette voters. They must undoubtedly be connected to the current and previous administrations. The voters spoke loud and clear this time around. They didn't want regional governance, the Regional T-SPLOST, current and previous administrations.

Spyglass
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I truly appreciate Ognio's comments on this..

It never hurts to get additional input. I am not surprised at this, especially after seeing his letter thanking the Citizens of the County.

ginga1414
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Husband and Fat, Ognio, Barlow, and Oddo

ran as being opposed to the W. Bypass.

There are three phases to the W. Bypass.

Phase I has been completed.

Phase II is in the construction process.

Phase III is in limbo. It has been suggested that Phase III of the W. Bypass should be re-evaluated, scaled down, or even stopped.

Husband and Fat...
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First let me say that I am

First let me say that I am sorry for the loss and heartache this road has caused your family. I for one never thought the road was wanted or needed, as I enjoyed the rural setting.

Some of the newly elected officials insinuated during their campaign that they were totally against the bypass and would not agree to continue with this wasteful project. If there is nothing that can't be done to stop the project then these men should've let it be known during their campaign

What good does it do to say that they wouldn't have voted for this road and then state They don't want to investigate ways to terminate the project because It would make them look like sorry individuals.

I know the land is lost, and there is an awful lot of bitterness, rightful I might add, but I would rather see the project come to a halt, and further studies taken to make this a more feasible project

By not looking into possible termination tells many voters that these men pandered to one of the most vocal groups when they were just playing Monday morning quarterback

MajorMike
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Husband and Fat... Stopping Phase II

Well said!!! It could be halted this very week if the three amigos would stop pursuing their own agenda's and realize that the voters, their constituents, have spoken loudly and clearly rejecting the WFB, the EFB, and many of their other policies. Construction work and monies could then be turned to other County road work that is actually needed. The engineering firms involved in the WFB fiasco need not suffer if project focus was merely redirected.

There are short term solutions to this problem. Let up hope that both current and upcoming commissioners have the honesty and integrity to listen to the voters and act. All it takes is for one, just one, of the three amigos to admit he was wrong and to truly represent the people of Fayette County during his final few months in office.

Perhaps Barlow will receive directions from above.

Husband and Fat...
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Funny

I understand that the newly elected officials cannot do anything until January. However they all were big talkers about not wanting the bypass. Now it seems they just want to manage it better and don't want to investigate how to terminate the contracts which I am sure have provisions for termination. I also thought Mr. Barlows statement was not wise at all. (We might start calling him Haddix)

MajorMike
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Husband and Fat... - Mr. Barlow

Mr. Barlow's statement was offensive to people of faith (or should have been) - all faiths.

Husband and Fat...
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It's offensive (or should be)

It's offensive (or should be) to people of faith, people who have led fiscally responsible lives, and the people he led to believe he is truly against the by-pass.

Husband and Fat...
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Please correct me if I am wrong

Please correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Mr. Barlow and Ognio run on the platform to halt the West By-pass?

Both of you said you totally oppose the by-pass and claimed that it is totally ineffective. Mr. Barlow said that we will have a choice come election time. Well, what choices do we have Mr. Barlow?

Mr. Ognio, you are well aware that in the construction industry there are clauses placed in contracts that allow clients to terminate contracts for convenience. Was this not researched during your campaign? I think a lot of people would have like to have known there is nothing anyone could do to stop progress.

The most amusing quote was from Mr. Barlow who now thinks "We'd be pretty sorry individuals if we tried to break a contract". Mr Barlow, did you check to see what the contract stated in terms of termination? You seem to be able to break contracts in your personal life, but you now have a conscious with our money.

They haven't even taken office and they are backtracking. Commissioners elect, we are watching.

tonto707
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Right, Husband and Fat...

Both promised to halt construction of the WFB. As I recall, both bought into Brown's notion of diverting whatever monies could be saved to the EFB.
So, it makes sense to do whatever we can to move unecessary traffic out of the city of Fayetteville by building a bypass that will enable the people coming into the county from Clayton and Spalding counties to get where they want to go(they already have a clear shot to Hwy 314 and Hwy 85) but ignore the citizens of Fayette County who will constitute 90% of the traffic on the WFB? If you look at the traffic studies done several years ago I bet they will show that WFB would be the greatest benefit to our own citizens. But campaign promises are not promises to be kept, just to get elected. It will be interesting to see what their supporters think when they abandon plans to halt WFB, which would be a waste of tens of millions of $$ and choose to do the sensible thing, ie, complete it.

stranger than f...
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Banker Barlow's irony

How laughable that Commissioner-elect, Barlow states, "We’d be pretty sorry individuals if we tried to break a contract," after stiffing his creditors twice in bankruptcies. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction!

NUK_1
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They ran against the WFB decision

I don't recall any of the 3 saying they would halt it, unlike what Brown/McCarty campaigned on, promises that obviously should have never been made since there are 5 commissioners, not 2, and nothing can be guaranteed by only 2 members. That's OK, the voters don't mind being lied to.

They did state they disagreed with the decision made to continue on with WFB made prior, but what's done is done in regards to Phase II.

Husband and Fat...
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I just checked Mr. Barlow's

I just checked Mr. Barlow's website. Under issues, Mr. Barlow States that he is totally opposed to continuing on with the next phase of the West bypass and that we have a choice come election time. Seems like Mr. Barlow didn't know the facts and we have no choice

Spyglass
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You need to get right with the Lord

and get off of MR. Barlow's case. :)

Husband and Fat...
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I asked a question. Last

I asked a question. Last week while campaigning he was totally opposed to continuing on to the next phase. Now it's different. What changed? I personally oppose the project. However I also know that there are provisions in contracts that allow for contract termination. If it is too late to stop it, what changed? I am hoping for an open government here, people want to know.

And BTW, I am very good with God.

Spyglass
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It was a joke......

As in don't question Barlow, or any of the new commissioners for that matter. We heard on here for the last 2 months how perfect they all are. Just let them govern and keep quiet. :)

Husband and Fat...
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Got it, lol

Don't know if I can keep my mouth shut. I have a bad habit of speaking my mind. Just ask my employees and wife.

NUK_1
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Think he means Phase 3 of the WFB, not Phase 2

Phase 2 is already underway and I'm pretty sure those are the contracts and work Barlow is referring to. Phase 3 hasn't been funded or voted upon yet. Voting against Phase 3 would qualify as halting what can be halted as far as the WFB. Phase 1 and 2....too late.

I was never for it(or EFB) either, but the only option left now is not finishing the WFB with Phase 3 and also never starting EFB.

Robert W. Morgan
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Slow on the uptake - weren't they? Meaning the voters.

There hasn't been the slightest hope of halting the WFB for the last few election cycles. Anybody with half a brain knew this. Yet Brown gets elected on a promise to stop it. Barlow did in fact say he was opposed to it, but he wasn't specific in what he would do. Now you have 3 rookies and 2 inexperienced commissioners and a new county manager about to administer these multi-million dollar road contracts and it is safe to say none of the 5 have any real enthusiasm for those roads. Seems like some inefficiencies might spring up in this process.Of course their outlook will change after they get in office.

I'd have been fine with 2 rookies and Lee "That's my baby" Hearn, but we have voted and we deserve what we get.

Spyglass
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dp

double post...Occasionally some weird stuff goes on with this site.

Spyglass
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Slow on the uptake is an understatement..

I said just a week ago that it wouldn't all be "candy and nuts" with this new group.

As stated above, I do appreciate Ognio's comments.

NUK_1
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Credit where credit is due

Glad to see Frady, Hearn and Hogan decide to take the high road(and smart road) here and seek involvement from the commissioners-elect on selecting a new County Admin as they are the ones who will be dealing with whoever is selected, not the retiring Frady or the recently defeated Hearn and Horgan. Great move and rather magnanimous from them, even if that's been rare at times.

PTC Observer
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Citizen Bob

I hope you will consider the manager position.

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