Update from the City Manager

Hello Ball Ground:

A lot has changed over the holidays and as many of you may know first hand, COVID is now exploding in Cherokee County and across the State of Georgia. We have begun to feel the effects right here in our City of Ball Ground Employee Family.

In recent meetings with State and Georgia Municipal Officials, Mayor Roberts has been briefed that the crisis in Georgia is not only worsening but that it is fast approaching catastrophic levels and many hospitals across our State have little to no ICU bed capacity. We know first-hand that last week most of our local hospitals were completely full and diverting patients to other hospitals. This is not only dangerous for the treatment of individuals ill with the virus but also extremely dangerous for the numerous medical emergencies our community faces on a daily basis.

We are now seeing the results of the Thanksgiving holiday surge which is 60% higher than the surge we experienced last summer. Just to put things in context looking at the past two weeks in Cherokee County we are up 2,366 cases. Pickens is up 305 cases. Those numbers by themselves don’t sound huge, but you factor in that we are having to wait on testing again, and in Cherokee, the positive rate over the past 2 weeks is 21.9% of all folks being tested are positive, compared to just 9.3% prior to. Next door in Pickens of all folks being tested in the past two weeks, 30.3% are positive compared to their previous rate of 10.2%. So we are simply at a tremendous growth rate, and the full fallout of Christmas and New Years hasn’t fully hit us yet.

The Governor has issued new executive orders and where originally the Governor wanted no local enforcement, the State is now really pushing for local governments to begin enforcement of his orders. Some of the key areas where the State is pushing for local law enforcement to begin enforcement include:

Enforcement of the 50 persons per gathering limits
Enforcement of limiting bars and sporting events to 50 persons or 35% of their fire capacity, whichever is greater
Enforcement of the requirement of restaurants to ensure at least six feet of separation from seating to seating or utilize physical barriers to separate groups sitting within six feet of one another

While our numbers are currently horrible – there is help on the way as the vaccine is beginning to arrive and distribution is taking place. Mayor Roberts and I both plan on taking the vaccine as soon as it becomes available for our age groups and we strongly encourage each of you to consult your personal physician and make a choice that is best for you. Personally, we firmly believe that the vaccine is our best way out of this pandemic.

In other news:

The monthly meeting of the Mayor and Council will take place via phone conference Thursday. This morning our contractor will be here to take cameras live, create the YouTube channel for the City, and hopefully by the end of the day, we will be able to provide instructions on how our customers can view the meeting live thru YouTube. Regardless, we will be providing the phone number for anyone who would like to call in instead.

The new water line project on A.W. Roberts Drive is currently underway and approximately 30% of the new line has already been installed, but obviously, we are having rain setbacks today, and we expect rain again tomorrow as well.

The sidewalk project behind City Hall is 95% complete, simply waiting on the handrails to arrive and we keep getting “backorder” answers on them. While the sidewalk is available we do urge caution in the area as we do need the handrails to make the area safer.

Finally, and one of the things that is not so pleasant to talk about. We really need the help of our sewer customers in the City in ensuring that we only put down the drain things that are made to go down the drain. It continues to amaze me the things we find in our sewer lift stations. We had an incident last Monday in one of our new lift stations where large quantities of grease formed around a substantial quantity of shop towels and got sucked into one of our pumps, shorting out and destroying the pump. Meanwhile, the pump right next to it caught up a pair of underwear and jammed up the impeller. By the end of the day, Monday, the shop towels and underwear combined to create a little over $10,000 in damage to the station. This includes parts, a pump, contract labor, and hiring a septage hauler to pump down the station while pumps were being taken care of. Meanwhile, the same shop towel situation at two other lift stations has cost over $30,000 in the past 3 months. Grease blockages in the sewer mains have run another $12,000. We really need your help. Grease has no place in a sewer system, likewise with shop towels, clothing, coke bottles, and just last week we pulled out some golf balls and tennis balls. Ultimately this type of damage impacts you, our customers, as our rates must cover typical daily operations, treatment, and all of these repairs. We appreciate your help.

As a reminder, with Cherokee County Schools having gone back to distance learning, at least for this week, we have wifi hotspots in place if needed. Simply pull into the parking lot at the Ball Ground Senior Center – no password required.

Stay safe Ball Ground – and strongly consider accepting the vaccine when available for your profession or age group.


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