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Saturday May 23rd, 2015 11:14PM

Hall Commissioners get questioned about preservation

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - A south Hall County woman concerned with historic preservation wanted assurances from county commissioners Tuesday that sites within a new, developing county park would be saved.

Teresa Owens from Friendship Road told commissioners more needs to be done to clearly identify a rock overhang at Cherokee Bluffs Park as a historic site, possibly qualifying for the National Register of Historic Places.

Owens was also concerned about preservation of a family cemetery on the park grounds near a proposed parking lot and accused south Hall Commissioner Craig Lutz of ignoring archeology reports. Lutz was not at Tuesday's work session.

"I'm asking the other four commissioners to be responsible and get the archeological report done, identify the cemetery boundaries and protect the rock from vandalism before any more construction takes place in this park," Owens said.

Commissioners approved a contractor's infrastructure design request Tuesday, pointing out that the park project is nowhere near the construction phase.

Commission Chairman Dick Mecum said the cemetery was identified and marked off on a project drawing presented by Public Works Director Ken Rearden and it will be protected by the County.

As for the rock overhang study, Mecum said he has not seen or heard about it before.

"That has to be established," Mecum said. "We really have to take a look at that study."

SMOKERS INSURANCE COST GOING UP

Hall County employees who smoke could pay a bigger tobacco surcharge in their medical plans next year because of 'Obama Care'.

Human Resources Director Bill Moats told county commissioners the surcharge may go from $30 to $80 dollars a month to control costs.

"Some of this is in reaction to the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care as a way for us to continue to find ways to be more financially responsible," Moats said.

Moats added during his annual review of employee benefits that tobacco users taking a smoking cessation program might get a surcharge rebate.

Moats said the surcharge increase is consistent with what the State of Georgia charges their workers. United Parcel Service charges its smoking employees a $150 surcharge in addition to the regular payment.

Also, according to Moats, the definition of a Hall County retiree would change effective January 1st.

"Regardless of how old or young someone is, currently they could work for the county for ten or more years, leave Hall County, elect to take our retiree medical insurance and go work somewhere else," Moats said. "What we would like to do is change the definition of retiree from ten years of service only to a 'Rule of 75' with a combination of age and service."

Moats said right now the county is incurring the cost and getting no value out of that employee.
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