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10-19-02 Bear Creek Reservoir & Treatment Plant Dedicated

GWINNETT DAILY POST: …..guest speaker was Harold Reheis, director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He stressed the importance of the reservoir for maintaining stream flows to middle and south Georgia and lamented the often “painful process”of taking on such a large project. . “Bear Creek is the biggest, most important, most complex multi-county reservoir ever built in Georgia,”Reheis said.

AVOC

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October 19, 2002

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Bear Creek Reservoir & Treatment Plant Dedicated

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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       FINALLY, the Bear Creek project is dedicated! (Whatever that means).   Most citizens have been acutely aware of the reservoir during this last year because of the draught.   It came online in the "nick of time" for this past summer.   The Bear Creek project is a beautiful siteFor the last four years, I have enjoyed taking family and friends on "tours".   It is a large project representing the product of many years of area effort and cooperation.

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    It was enjoyable to be present and talk with so many who worked with the project over the years.  Harold Reheis, whose EPD was involved the whole time, made some excellent remarks that are reported in the Gwinnett Daily Post article.   Bob Snipes, Assistant Manager for Athens-Clarke County, long-time member and "resident engineer" was present. Many members of the Authority are new people who have joined the Authority since the October 1998 ground-breaking.

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 During the ceremony, my mind went back over my 12 years of involvement and the faces and memories of so many who played crucial roles:  Henry Robinson, Chair of the Jackson Commission initially and later a member at a critical time contributed much before he died a couple of years agoBill Mahaffey who succeeded Henry as Jackson Chairman, was very supportive and active.  Bill's death, a group member for two years, probably delayed the project for at least two years; Winder Mayor Bill Landress was an early and active participant. Bill died about a year ago;    Ernie O'Neal of Winder, died while a member of the Authority, was important in financial matters at a crucial time;

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Hildred Waits, Barrow Commission Chair served at a critical time and was very supportive was unable to attend; Dwain Chambers, Mayor of Athens, was a key supporter in the early years;   Gwen O'Looney, Athens Mayor, was the "environmentalist' of the group and played a key role during the years of establishing the Authority Legislation and the Intergovernmental Agreements;  Jerry Waddell, of Jackson County, succeeded Bill Mahaffey as Commission Chair; Jerry was there during a critical timeJerry is a strong-willed individual who advocated strongly for Jackson County but was a stalwart at times when we needed strength to move on;

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Representative Pat Bell of Jackson County came "onboard" at a critical time and helped move the construction alongMayor Doc Eldridge of Athens served during the construction years and provided needed political support at an important time.

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    Current Authority members who helped at a crucial time are:  Elton Collins of Commerce who joined the group when the Authority was created in 1994 has provided invaluable financial and other guidance; Amrey Harden of Oconee County succeeded Ernie O'Neal as the At Large member and provided a financial understanding and steadying influence during the financing and construction period;  Eddie Elder of Barrow who succeeded Hildred Waits as Barrow County Chair and succeeded me as Authority Chair has provided strong leadership in recent years;  Gene Hopkins and Bill Kemp, former Barrow Commissioners, were reliable and faithful members of the authority.

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    There were others.   The names and memories remind us ofhow time and life are fleeting for us mortals.  However, the efforts of the "Bear Creek Warriors" will stand the "test of time" and will be around after all the programs, plaques and newspaper articles are forgotten.  

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    That is a proud legacy for many people!!   I am proud to have been a part.

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The Gwinnett Daily Post

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/

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October 19, 2002

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Officials turn out for Bear Creek Reservoir dedication

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By Andria Simmons, Staff Writer

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WINDER - Fifteen years of grunt work culminated in an afternoon of celebrated achievement Friday at the dedication of Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County.

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The ceremony was held under a tent that was erected on the site, just steps away from the reservoir that officials from Barrow, Oconee, Jackson and Clarke counties toiled for years to create. Officials who saw the project through to fruition attributed their success to three buzzwords - vision, cooperation and dedication. “None of us could afford this project by ourselves,” said Melvin Davis, Oconee County Commission chairman. “Together, it could be done.”
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As a result of the joint effort, the four counties can accommodate growth for decades to come with a new water supply source, a 505-acre reservoir capable of treating up to 45 million gallons of water a day. Water for the reservoir is pumped from the Middle Oconee River into a reservoir pool with a capacity of 4.8 billion gallons of water and impounded by an earth fill dam.
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Wendell Dawson served as the first chairman of the Upper Oconee Water Basin Authority that was responsible for creating Bear Creek Reservoir and remembers the difficulties along the way.


“It was tough to get everybody together, but when the time came we all did the give and take and came together to benefit all four counties,” Dawson said.

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“One of my jobs was to keep Clarke County as the biggest of the four counties from dominating the group, and also keep the other three smaller counties from ganging up on it,” he joked
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 The guest speaker was Harold Reheis, director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He stressed the importance of the reservoir for maintaining stream flows to middle and south Georgia and lamented the often “painful process”of taking on such a large project.

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Bear Creek is the biggest, most important, most complex multi-county reservoir ever built in Georgia,” Reheis said.

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Population in the four-county area served by the reservoir grew 30 percent from 1990 to 2000, ahead of the Georgia’s population growth of 26 percent during the same period. Small streams like those found in Northeast Georgia won’t support that kind of growth without reservoirs, according to Reheis.

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Reheis wants to make the process of getting permits to build a reservoir less difficult, thereby encouraging communities to build reservoirs that can provide needed water while maintaining a steady flow downstream for the environment and other users.
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Other speakers at Friday’s ceremony included present authority members Harold Fletcher, chairman of the Jackson County Commission and Melvin Davis, chairman of the Oconee County Commission. Eddie Elder, the Barrow County Commission chairman and chairman of the joint water authority, had been scheduled to speak but was absent due to illness.


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