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12.14.05 Is the I-20 Four County Authority Competing with the Orkin Tract in Oconee & Clarke Counties?

Athens Banner-Herald 4.27.05- When it comes to finding a suitor for the 920-acre development site known as the Orkin Tract,…… Merck & Co., the second-largest drug maker in the United States, considered building a $ 300 million vaccine manufacturing plant there, but decided to build in Durham, N.C. …………………… Newton Citizen 12.9.05 - (Four County 1,500 acre site on I-20) While Merck may have passed on the site, the fact that the company was even considering it is a positive sign, he said. ..-With no entrance road, no sign and very little advertisement, we were the No. 2 site in the United States for Merck. So Technology Park is a heck of a partner,” Dobbs said……..

AVOC

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December 13, 2005

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Is the I-20 Four County Authority Competing with the Orkin Tract in Oconee & Clarke Counties?

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

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Recently, much publicity has been generated about the Four County Development Authority.However, a big complaint of Jasper County and citizens of Jasper (and Walton County on the Reservoir project involving Tommy Craig) is that too much goes on at unpublicized meetings.   Apparently the Press does not attend unless they want to make a major announcement.

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Since several articles or letters appeared in Newspapers in the four counties recently, favorable articles have increased.Note the Newton Citizen’s article by Denny Dobbs on December 9, 2005.The mention of Merck looking at the site sounded familiar.   It has also appeared in Athens Banner-Herald Articles on the Orkin tract in Oconee and Clarke Counties.

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Many of the claims of officials in the I-20 group are making the same claims we have been hearing for 15 years about the 900 acre Orkin Tract in Oconee and Clarke County.We have had a lot of talk and dreaming but little dirt has moved on the Orkin Tract.That is a frequent complaint about the Four County project on I-20.

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://onlineathens.com/stories/042705/oco_20050427018.shtml

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April 27, 2005

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Counties (Clarke & Oconee) waiting for best use of Orkin Tract
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By Merritt Melancon
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When it comes to finding a suitor for the 920-acre development site known as the Orkin Tract,……..

Merck & Co., the second-largest drug maker in the United States, considered building a $ 300 million vaccine manufacturing plant there, but decided to build in Durham, N.C……...

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4-22-02 Do Freeport & Incentives Really Promote Economic Development?

The Quarterly Review March 2004 -Part 2

7-9-04 Oconee Studying and Postponing Most Projects and Problems Part 2

2-17-05 Economic Development Secrecy Needs Limits


12-9-05 Newton Official Says Four County Tech Park is a Win-Win Situation

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The Newton Citizen

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December 9, 2005

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Official says tech park is win-win deal

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By Crystal Tatum
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COVINGTON- On the heels of Jasper County’s attempts to withdraw from the Joint Development Authority and questions over the progress being made on Stanton Springs,……. one authority member is speaking out in hopes of clearing up any public misconceptions about the project.

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Denny Dobbs, who was appointed to the JDA by the Newton County Board of Commissioners and serves as treasurer, says Stanton Springs is a win-win situation for all four counties involved………

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The park will be a mixed use development, including office and industrial and eventually retail and residential uses.

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The park is expected to bring an estimated 15,000 jobs to the area over the next 30 years.
The authority has contracted with Technology Park Atlanta to develop and market the project. Under the agreement, TPA will buy up the property in increments over the park’s 25- to 30-year buildout……..

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The start of development of Stanton Springs has hit a few snags, Dobbs acknowledged: The JDA lost interest points on the bond issuance up front due to a legal challenge by a local resident which delayed issuance and
cost the authority an additional $ 600,000 in legal fees, Dobbs said.

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The installation of the roadway that will run through the development, seen as the necessary first step toward attracting tenants, has been delayed due to lack of funding.

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Pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co. Inc. pulled out of negotiations to locate there and instead went to North Carolina.

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“I had hoped that we would have our first tenant in five years,’ Dobbs said. “The thing that I think that has hurt us is the economy took such a nose dive over the last two or three years, and the state has not had any money to help us. If the state had money to help us, then I think we could have done more on the road than we have to date.
The other thing is, with the economy bad, a lot of big industries have stopped looking.”

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But Dobbs said he’s confident the project is picking up pace. TPA has agreed to purchase 125 acres of land ahead of schedule, in addition to the 100 acres it was slated to buy, in order to generate revenue for construction of the road……..

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Dobbs predicted the park would get its first tenant within two years after the road is in place.
Georgia Department of Economic Development representatives have said the location is the perfect spot for a business park because of its proximity to Atlanta, Augusta and Athens, Dobbs said
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While Merck may have passed on the site, the fact that the company was even considering it is a positive sign, he said.

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“With no entrance road, no sign and very little advertisement, we were the No. 2 site in the United States for Merck. So Technology Park is a heck of a partner,” Dobbs said….

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But Dobbs said the recent economic upturn and the progress on the roadway should ensure that “worst’ case scenario won’t come true.

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Dobbs said it’s critical to keep the long-term vision for the park in mind……….¦

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The things we can afford to do today will save us millions and millions of dollars in the future,” he said.


12-2-05 FCDA - AJC Article of February 8, 1999

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The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution

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February 8. 1999

Section: Business Horizon

Edition: The Atlanta Journal Constitution Page: E2

Memo: Home

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Former candidate forces commission to defend land buy

Watchdog claims county's plan to purchase property to develop is risky land speculation.

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Duane D Stanford Staff

A Walton County Watchdog is forcing leaders in four east metro Atlanta counties to go to court to defend a proposed joint research end development park on 1-20.Wendell Ford, who lost his Republican bid last year to join Walton's commission, has asked the Courtto reject a plan to purchase 1,500 acres straddling Walton, Newton and Morgan counties………

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Ford's attorney, Michael Lambrose, says the state's Constitution prohibits counties from taking on taxpayer-backed debt that citizens haven't voted to accept. The four-county coalition's attorney, Tommy Craig, said the constitution allows counties to take on limited debt for industrial development projects without a referendum………

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Ford says the counties' goal is fine; its the method he has problems with. "It's just I'm opposed to how it's being done with no voter participation" he said.

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Ford and Lambrose said government shouldn't be in the business of land speculation, pointing to the counties' own acknowledgement that they have no firms lined up for the site………..

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Ford has also alleged the price to be paid for the 1,5OO acres in question is inflated. An appraisal commissioned by the four-county committee in April valued the land at about $ 3,5OO acres in question is inflated. An appraisal commissioned by the four-county committee in April valued the land at about $.500 an acre……..

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Recommendation ignored

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After the controversy broke, Newton Chairman Davis Morgan, who spearheaded the development project, asked real estate attorney James Alexander to evaluate the two disparate appraisals.Alexander suggested a price per acre between $ 2,100 and $ 2,300.

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"I would not recommend such a purchase in the $ 3,500 per acre range," Alexander wrote to Morgan.

Despite the letter, the four-county committee decided the earlier estimate was more reliable, said the committee's attorney, Tommy Craig. They based that decision, in part, on the opinion of another real estate appraiser from Morgan County, also a committee member.

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Ford also questions the propriety of the committee's appraisal.David Childers, the Atlanta appraiser who prepared the estimate, is the brother of attorney William ChiIders, who represents the Walton Industrial Development Authority.David Childers said he was unaware his brother worked as the authorities counsel.William Childers declined to comment.

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Craig said he hired David Childers months before the committee had any inkling that it would turn to the Walton Industrial Development Authority for temporary financing. "There shouldn’t be any appearance of wrongdoing," Ford maintains, "but apparently they don't give a dang about that"……..

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12-7-05 Jasper County Wants Out of JDA

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The Walton Tribune

http://www.waltontribune.com/story.lasso?ewcd=93f426cd36d851e4

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December 8, 2005

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Jasper wants out of JDA

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By Brian Arrington

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WALTON COUNTY - Despite Jasper County’s requests to get out of the Joint Development Authority, officials with the authority say Jasper is legally bound to remain in the four-county group.
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In a letter dated Nov. 21 from Jasper County Manager Greg Williams, the county’s board of commissioners said it wanted to get out of the authority and told the other three counties it wanted to delay the county’s contributions to the authority for 10 years and/or sell its portion of the authority’s real property and use the proceeds to reduce debt.
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JDA officials say Jasper is bound by contract to remain in the authority.
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In short, Jasper County has pledged its taking power of one mill to service its obligations under the bonds [acquired for a JDA project],” JDA attorney Thomas Craig said in a letter to Jasper County officials. “Any deferral or withholding of payments under the bonds would constitute default...”.
As of this year, the four counties have pooled $ 12 million into the project.
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Those in favor of the project say the development could create 20,000 jobs and will have an economic impact in the state.
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So far, Jasper County has spent $ 241,733 on the project, compared to Morgan’s $ 355,896, Newton’s $ 863,219 and Walton’s $ 864,681.
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Walton County Commission Chairman Kevin Little said the project, which he says is drawing national attention, is a “gold mine” to all involved and there are interested parties looking at the site on a regular basis…………..
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Samuel M. Hay III, who attempted to block the project with a lawsuit at its inception and currently has an environmentally based lawsuit against the project, said Jasper County can get out off the authority, despite Craig’s claims.
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After reviewing letters from Kevin Little, and Tommy Craig, vice chairman and attorney, respectively, for the Multi-County Industrial Authority, denying any possibility for Jasper (or any other county) to withdraw, there is one avenue that clearly comes to mind for dissolution,” Hay wrote.
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Hay claims fraud has been committed at the hands of the authority based on research he has compiled during his lawsuits.
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Hay said the JDA has attempted to mislead the public and investors in the Stanton Springs project. Because, Hay said, fraud has been committed, Jasper County has an out.
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It appears to me and everyone else the consultants and attorneys and others who put this deal together should have to eat it,” Hay said.
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Currently, JDA officials are working to secure funding for Stanton Springs Parkway, the first phase of which could be under construction early next year, according to JDA Chairman Steve Jordan.


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