Wanting to make it easier to obtain community development block grant money for projects, the Ball Ground City Council approved a CDBG cooperation agreement with Cherokee County at its most recent meeting.

Similar to other cities throughout the county, Ball Ground determined it would be better to partner with the county on this matter instead of going at it alone. As Cherokee County has been deemed an entitlement community, tagging on to the county for this makes it easier to receive grant money for a number of projects.

“Cherokee County is an entitlement community, and that means it’s big enough that there’s money that comes from the Department of Community Affairs automatically every year,” Mayor Rick Roberts said. “So, we can tag onto that instead of making separate applications for any projects we’re trying to obtain funding for directly to the state, we can actually partner with Cherokee County to do so.”

This partnership has proven beneficial to the city, Roberts said, as it has helped bring in money for projects such as the senior center and sidewalks throughout town. Without this agreement, Roberts said the city might not have been able to take these projects on, as Ball Ground would have had to compete with other cities across Georgia for CDBG money. A motion was then unanimously approved to accept the agreement for another year.

With the agreement in place for another year, City Manager Eric Wilmarth said there are a few projects the city has in mind to seek out CDBG money for, including an expansion to the senior center and a resurfacing of the senior center parking lot. He said these projects could begin to take shape later this year.

Roberts also presented a pair of proclamations during the meeting. The first recognized June 7-13 as National Garden Club Week, while the other recognized May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the entire week of May 11-15 as Police Week. Both proclamations were approved in a unanimous vote of the city council.

During his portion of the meeting, Wilmarth began by reviewing the latest financial reports for Ball Ground. While recent months have been typically lower in terms of revenue gathered by the city, the most recent financial statement showed that $745,000 was currently in the general fund balance, while all general fund revenue collected and expenses paid for the year were slightly above what had been budgeted for. Ball Ground recently petitioned the state to have its Qualified Local Government status restored, which was granted and will be in effect until October 31, according to Wilmarth. He added that things were getting back on track with the Roberts Lake Park project, with the trail open all the way to the ruins of the dam, while the city is working with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services to install a series of markers along the trail to help more effectively locate hikers who may need emergency services. Permits are now in hand for the project to relocate the water line under A.W. Roberts Drive to move forward. Lastly, he said the city still had its fireworks celebration tentatively scheduled for June 27.

Roberts had a few comments of his own, speaking on a variety of topics. He wanted to commend the city’s businesses and residents for complying with all of the orders regarding staying safe during the ongoing pandemic, and encouraged the public to continue supporting local businesses while practicing proper social distancing procedures. Despite getting behind on a number of agenda items, including adoption of a new sign ordinance, work on historical preservation and the development of a youth council, he expressed his hope to get things back on track as the year progressed and accomplish these goals. In addition, he said he was very happy to have the new electronic sign out in front of city hall and was impressed with how Roberts Lake Park had been developed and believed it will be an excellent talking point for the city moving forward. He concluded his comments by thanking city employees for their hard work throughout all the changes going on due to the pandemic.

“It’s amazing what we’ve accomplished by still observing the distancing and sanitation and lots of accomplishment by teleworking,” Roberts said. “I think we clearly have demonstrated we’re all in this together.”

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