Serving Braselton, Hoschton, Chateau Elan, Traditions, Reunion, Deaton Creek and West Jackson $1.00 copy
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Vol. 14 No. 3 A publication of MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. www.BraseltonNewsTODAY.com 12 pages
COVID cases top 310 at NGHS
Northeast Georgia Health System
reached another COVID-19 peak this week.
NGHS is treating 312 positive COVID
patients in its facilities, with 67 of those
at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Bra
selton. Fifty-four patients are awaiting test
There are 700 occupied beds at NGHS
with 39 available. At NGMC Braselton,
156 beds are occupied with 22 available (24
occupied in ICU with four available).
Meanwhile, NGHS continues to work to
get its staff members vaccinated. The hos
pital system received approximately 5,000
doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 1,500 doses
of the Moderna vaccine with more ship
ments expected in early January. As of Dec.
28, NGHS has administered 2,168 vaccines
to its employees.
ASK COMMUNITY TO BE
CAREFUL DURING HOLIDAYS
NGHS sent out a plea ahead of the
Christmas and New Year's holidays, urging
the community to use caution and warned
that another post-holiday spike could force
the system to ration care.
“We’re struggling to find staff and space
to care for people, and our frontline work
ers are exhausted,’’ said Clifton Hastings,
MD, Chief of Medical Staff for NGMC. “If
COVID cases continue to increase, we may
be forced to start making decisions about
who we can treat effectively and who we
have to send elsewhere or turn away. That’s
See COVID, page 2A
Two WJ residential
projects cross hurdle
Two proposed residen
tial projects in the West
Jackson area crossed the
first hurdle last week.
The Jackson County
Board of Commissioners
approved map amend
ments for two separate
residential projects in West
Jackson at its Dec. 21
Both projects will still
need to go through the
rezoning process for final
Maddox Road project
One of those projects,
located on 95 acres at 1288
Maddox Rd., Hoschton,
could include approxi
mately 167 single-family
Chafin Communities re
quested two map amend
ments for the property,
seeking a character area
change from ag to subur
ban and a future land use
change from ag/forestry to
Hwy. 124 project
The second project, lo
cated on 23 acres on Hwy.
124 West, Hoschton, is
proposed as a fee-simple
with 103 residences. The
board approved a request
from LTR Investments for
a character area change
from suburban to urban for
That property, located
directly across Old Wicke
See Planners, page 2A
Tickets on sale for
Braselton’s Chocolate Walk
Tickets are on sale for Braselton’s seventh annual
This year’s event will be held Saturday, Feb. 6, from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Braselton.
“(The Chocolate Walk) is a fun way to discover all the
wonderful shops located in Downtown Braselton,” town
leaders said. “At each stop along the Chocolate Walk,
walkers collect a chocolate treat from that participating
business. Chocolate will come in many forms so grab a
group of friends or plan a date with your sweetheart and
enjoy some sweet treats while you shop!”
Tickets are $15 per person. For more information or
tickets, visit DowntownBraselton.com or the Braselton
Chocolate Walk Facebook page.
Election Day is Jan. 5 for runoff
The hotly-contested run
off races for Georgia’s two
U.S. Senators will be final
next week with balloting
on Jan. 5.
There are three races
on the ballot: Incumbent
Republican Sen. David
Perdue faces Democrat
Jon Ossoff: incumbent
GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler
faces Democrat Raphael
Warnock; and incumbent
Republican PSC member
Lauren “Bubba” McDon
ald faces Democrat Daniel
See a sample ballot and
find your polling location
A look back at
The year 2020 is nearing its end, but it won’t be forgotten
any time soon.
Each year, The Braselton News reflects back on the head
lines from the past 12 months.
2020 brought several major residential development
projects in the Braselton and Hoschton areas.
The year also showed continued controversy in Hoschton
as the town looked to fill its mayoral and vacant council
seat, following the resignation of the town’s mayor and
mayor pro tern late last year. Shannon Sell became the
town’s mayor and two new council members, James Law-
son and Tracy Carswell, were elected. In recent months,
the council has initiated discussions on major items that
will impact the community for years to come — including
a police department and new city hall. The council also
faced a lawsuit from its biggest developer, Kolter, over its
Sept. 21 decision to impose impact fees on new residential
But most of the headlines from 2020 surrounded the
COVID-19 pandemic, which hit the Braselton area in mid-
March. The area has reached an all-time peak in COVID-19
cases in recent weeks. But there is hope — with the arrival
of the first vaccines — that the pandemic may soon reach
Read the headlines from 2020:
•First baby 2020 — Rashad Williams and Undria Clark,
of Gainesville, welcomed a baby girl, Lyric Dashari Wil
liams, into the world on New Year’s Day. Lyric was the first
baby born at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in 2020.
•Construction set to begin on senior living communi
ty — Mansions Senior Living’s 130-unit senior indepen
dent living community planned in Braselton was set to be
gin construction in the first quarter of 2020 after receiving
zoning approval in 2019.
•Hoschton mayor, council races contested — Hope
Weeks and Shannon Sell qualified for the Hoschton may
or’s seat during qualifying following the resignation of
Theresa Kenerly. Meanwhile. Raphael Mayberry and
James Lawson qualified for the vacant Hoschton City
Council seat following the resignation of Jim Cleveland.
•Hoschton council ‘on vacation’ — With only two sit
ting members left, the Hoschton City Council’s ability to
hold votes and conduct business was put on ice.
•Three failed votes lead to deferral on residential
project — After three unsuccessful votes, Braselton lead
ers voted Jan. 13 to defer a request for a large residential
Rashad Williams and Undria Clark look on at their
new baby girl, Lyric, who was the first baby born
at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton in
development near Chateau Elan. In a split vote, the Bra
selton Town Council voted to defer a decision on annex
ation, rezoning and a master plan change for the 141 acres
off Duncan Creek Rd. Meritage Homes of Georgia planned
to develop 321 detached single-family lots on the property.
•Chateau Elan completes $25 million renovation —
Chateau Elan celebrated the completion of its $25 mil-
lion-dollar comprehensive renovation with a Grand Un
veiling Celebration and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the
Chateau Elan Inn on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
•Town hosts comp plan meeting — The Town of Bra
selton hosted an open house presenting the 2020 Compre
hensive Plan to the public.
•Gwinnett sheriff won’t seek re-election — Long-time
Gwinnett County sheriff Butch Conway announced he
would not seek re-election.
•Hotel/motel tax increase clears first hurdle — Bra
selton took its first step towards raising the town’s hotel/
motel tax, a move that would generate additional funds for
tourism in the city.
•Hoschton planning director resigns — Hoschton’s
planning and zoning director Justin Kilgore resigned.
See Lookback, page 2A
Hoschton to vote
on council pay hikes
The Hoschton City Council plans to vote
on Jan. 11 to raise the council and mayor’s
pay starting in 2022.
The council vote calls for the mayor to be
paid $1,000 per month and council members
$500 per month. The mayor and council cur
rently get $25 per meeting per month with a
cap of $75 per month.
Mayor Shannon Sell said Dec. 21 that the
reason for the pay hike is to encourage people
to run for office and that serving on the coun
cil shouldn’t be a financial burden to people.
“In the future when I’m no longer mayor,
I want a qualified person on this council and
mayor,” he said. “I want somebody that’s
smart, that’s willing to work and that’s not up
here wasting time. I want an educated person
that’s got the best interest of the city at heart
and also that knows what they’re doing.”
Sell said he also wants to expand the coun
cil to six members from the current four.
He said the total cost to the city for a bet
ter-paid council would only be a total of
$48,000 per year, an amount he said was
Hoschton Oks 2021 budget
The Hoschton City Council ap
proved its 2021 budget in a called
meeting Dec. 28.
Overall, the budget calls for a
13% increase in spending over
the budget approved for 2020.
The city anticipates $1.8 million
in General Fund revenue and $1.6
million in spending next year.
Hoschton also plans to start up
a police department in the third
quarter of 2021 and build a new
multi-use facility/city hall.
Some highlights are:
• The city is budgeting $89,250
for a police department, although
the city council hasn’t formally
voted to create a police depart
ment. The idea has been discussed
at several city council meetings,
a public forum and at the coun
cil’s retreat meeting. But creating
a police department would likely
lead to the town imposing a prop
erty tax to help pay for it. “I am
always open to options, but if the
citizens want it, they will have to
pay for it and that usually comes
from property taxes,” Mayor
Shannon Sell said in September.
No property tax is included in the
• City officials have budget
ed $350,000 for a new building
called an “infill city square devel
opment project.” That is a multi
use facility and could contain a
new city hall, an idea which was
discussed briefly at a recent coun
• The city expects to generate
$868,800 in impact fees in 2021,
an amount that is in addition to
its general fund. Those dollars
are slated to be used for building
facilities, specifically for recre
ation. fire and police. The impact
fees would come from an assess
ment placed on new homes and
businesses in the town, mostly
from the massive Twin Lakes
See Budget, page 2A