Originally created 11/26/05

Across Georgia



Gasoline costs drain Clarke County budget

ATHENS - Gasoline prices of more than $2 a gallon already have hit commuters, businesses and schools hard, and now they're cutting into the Athens-Clarke County government's budget, too.

County officials are hoping that small cuts in gas usage by county employees, along with taking money from reserves, will alleviate the problem, but if prices rise more, cuts in services such as little-used bus lines and construction site inspections might be necessary.

County officials told departments earlier this month to cut the amount of gas they use by 15 percent, which will save an estimated 88,000 gallons and $250,000 in the next eight months, officials said.

Park ideas escalate ownership dispute

ATHENS - It might take a lawsuit to settle a dispute between the Oglethorpe County town of Crawford and the county's chamber of commerce, say the parties involved.

The issue has been lurking in the background for more than 15 years, officials said.

Last week, the chamber requested a building permit to add a pavilion at one end of a park in Crawford and to install a concrete walkway and park benches. A number of local businesses and craftsmen have agreed to donate time and materials for the project, officials said.

But the council voted unanimously to table the request until the chamber could submit evidence it is the rightful owner of the land.

The chamber bought the park from CSX railroad in 1988, and the legal documents to show that are on file in the Oglethorpe County Courthouse, chamber officials said. Minutes of a Crawford City Council meeting show it rejected the idea of buying the depot in 1988, chamber officials said.

Group repairs bikes for pupils, homeless

ATHENS - Thanksgiving means: turkey, dressing, cranberries, yams and ... bicycles?

BikeAthens member Peter Norris put something new on the menu Thursday when he and a handful of other volunteers repaired bikes for area children and homeless people.

Last year, BikeAthens repaired 32 bikes, and it is on pace for 55 or 56 this year, Mr. Norris said. The bikes that volunteers worked on Thursday are earmarked for the nonprofit group's Christmas program. Members hope to give 16 refurbished children's bikes to Fowler Street Elementary School pupils as part of the Share the Road program that encourages children to cycle to school. Full-sized adult bikes go to the Athens Area Homeless Shelter.

Each bike takes an average four to five hours to fix, and requires about $20 to $30 in parts, Mr. Norris said, though it varies depending on the shape the bike is in.

- Edited from wire reports