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Council to spend more than $30K on new sign
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The Dawsonville City Council last night agreed to amend its budget to spend more than $30,000 on a digital sign.

The sign replaces an old marquee on Hwy. 53 outside City Hall that requires city employees to replace plastic letters by hand a time consuming, expensive task that doesnt allow for frequent updating as events change.

We have the money, said City Clerk Bonnie Warne. Its being pulled from a reserve fund.

Council member Chris Gaines said the city re-financed two bonds in 2012, saving its taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I have no qualms about pursuing the signage, he said. The county has a digital sign at Rock Creek Park, and the Chamber also has one in front of their building.

Its an important, highly effective way to promote whats going on in the city to tourists, residents, and business owners. We want to create an environment for businesses to be successful.

Council Member, Angie Smith agrees.

Weve had a communication deficit in the city, she said. Its really worth it to get everyone engaged in whats happening. I expect well see a great return-on-investment.

The council approved amending its budget unanimously and passed a variance to the citys ordinance to allow the sign.

Lang Signs Inc. of Cumming was awarded the contract to remove the old marquee and install the digital signage.

We are installing a state-of-the art, LED matrix message center, said Richie Rosebud, president of Lang Signs, Inc. Its similar to the technology used on the Jumbo Tron at Turner Field. It will allow the city to display text and graphics and to change the message or graphics from anywhere, anytime.

Rosebud added that LED (light emitting diodes) are low-voltage, low-maintenance, environmentally friendly, and cost a fraction of regular light bulbs.

Mayor James Grogan said its a good investment and may encourage more residents to participate in government.

I believe it is important for us to present a good image to our community and to those people that visit and travel through our city, said Grogan. I receive many requests each week for information to be put on our existing sign. We do not have the personnel to change the sign as frequently as needed, and its also dangerous to do on busy Highway 53. Posting the City Council meeting each month may encourage someone to stop in and see the actual workings of city government.

Installation will take approximately six to eight weeks.

Gaines suggested guidelines be put in place to govern the type of messaging the city may display.

Dawson County purchased digital signage in 2008 for approximately $20,000, according to County Chief Financial Officer Dena Bosten. The sign is now located on Hwy. 9 at Rock Creek Park.

Similarly, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce paid an estimated $25,000 for its digital message center, which is digital only on one side, according to Chamber President Christie Haynes.

The citys sign will be digital on two sides.

Council members also gave the green light to several agreements with the county, which will provide services to city residents. Called inter-governmental agreements (IGAs), these include law enforcement, animal control, providing security for city events and council meetings, as well as placing antennas on a city water tower to improve communication with the countys fire and sheriff departments. The city agreed to allow the antennas on the tower rent-free.

In most cases, it is better not to duplicate services, said Commission Chair Mike Berg. Both city and county residents are best served when we work together. This is another case where we both did that.

In other action, the city douncil:

Approved an ordinance to allow non-profit organizations to sell or distribute alcoholic beverages on the premises for up to three days after obtaining a permit.

Rezoned approximately 3.9 acres at 359 Burt Creek Rd. from its current zoning of Office District to Residential. Applicant Peggy Grissom said she plans to build a 1,800 square-foot home.

Heard a report from City Clerk Warne that the city received an additional $14,409 in LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) revenue from brisk retail sales in December.

Mayor Grogan reported that:

Big Ds BBQ will open a new location in downtown in the old Dawsonville Diner location.

Installation of sewer lines is complete along Hwy. 53 for the Farmington Woods apartment complex.

Stephanies Boutique will open soon next to Creative Visions salon.

Dawson Cross Fit Training will open shortly behind Fajitas Grill.

The city is hoping to attract a permanent Farmers Market to fill a space vacated by Bull Dog Autos.