Changes to the county’s Agricultural Residential (A-R) Zoning Ordinance were finalized and approved by the Upson County Board of Commission at their regular meeting on August 28. Chairman Rusty Blackston stated there was one business that was not in the correct zoning, the livestock sale barn on Highway 74, so changes were made to include the business.
The changes include adding a section for agritourism, defined as any agriculture-related activity on a minimum of five acres which is used as a bona fide farm or ranch, or a working farm which allows members of the general public for recreation, entertainment or education purposes to view and enjoy activities including farm ranching, historical, cultural or harvesting your own types of attractions. The ordinance would state that activities such as, but not limited to, farmers markets, rodeos, corn field mazes, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, vineyards, wineries, petting zoos, camping and similar use and activities are allowed.
The board also proposed adding to the section which outlines legally permitted uses for the A-R zoning to include: Those permitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for wildlife storage, limited process and cold storage; legally permitted custom feral swine, and custom licenses for swine, cattle, sheep, goats, large birds such as emu or ostrich slaughter and processing facilities, not to include slaughter houses; raising quail, pheasant, partridge, wild turkey and other game birds licensed only where required; agriculture-related auctions such as livestock or produce licensed only where required; and licensed hunting and shooting preserves for permitted use in special sections for indoor/outdoor events and venues.
Also during the meeting, the board heard a presentation from Paxen Site Manager Alexis Antoine. Paxen is a program of Eckerd, which is sponsored by the Three Rivers Regional Commission and it aims to serve underprivileged youth ages 15-24 within the counties of Upson, Pike, Spalding, Lamar, Meriwether, Coweta and Butts. Antoine stated there are three programs: one for in school youth, one for those looking to get their GED and one for career pathways.
The In School Youth program works mainly with juniors and seniors in high school and holds meetings one day per week during the school year and once a month in the summer. It provides opportunities for career exploration, to gain skills needed in the working world, as well as developing a portfolio to include a resume, cover letter, letters of recommendations and thank you notes. There is no charge for the program and once a youth graduates the program will pay them $100.
The GED program is for young adults ages 16-24 who have dropped out of school and want to receive their GED. There is daily instruction for 10 weeks and it covers math, science, social studies and reasoning through language arts. Paxen covers the cost of GED ready tests and the GED exams and upon graduation, will pay the student $100.
The final program offered is the Career Pathways program which is for young adults who have a high school diploma or GED, but are unemployed and are 24 years old or younger. The program offers a two-week training course in which work readiness training and placement in a paid/unpaid work experience within the community. There is no cost for the program.
Antoine stated for more information on the program, patrons should call 706-938-6324 or visit www.paxen.com.
In other business, the commissioners approved a bid with McLeRoy, Inc. for the work on the Highway 36 turn lane project. McLeRoy was the low bid at $277,023, beating out Georgia Asphalt who bid $371,212.
Donna Auth was approved to serve on the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities Region 6 Advisory Council and Robert Haney was re-appointed to the West Central Georgia Broadband Joint Development Authority.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1