Bone Island Grill Opens on Lake Oconee

Bone Island Grill opens on 44

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2012 7:45 am | Updated: 7:49 am, Fri Jul 13, 2012.

Bone Island Grill, a new casual lakeside restaurant on state Route 44 next to The Lodge at Lake Oconee, has been open for about a month with large crowds.

Response to the restaurant has been “excellent,” Jody Winfield, the executive chef, declared Monday. “We’ve had a lot more successes than failures,” he said.

General Manager Kara Fuller agreed and said the staff is “thankful” for the support received from the community.

The Bone Island Grill was originally at Crooked Creek Marina. Fuller said the restaurant did well at the marina during the summer, but traffic was not as good the rest of the year. The location on Route 44 had both the lake and road access needed for the type of menu the Bone Island Grill offers. The restaurant was “gutted,” Fuller said, and renovated almost completely inside.

The menu is “definitely a wide ranging menu,” Fuller said, noting, “we have a little bit of everything on the menu.” She pointed out that diners may choose from many things including seafood, steaks and pasta.

The Bone Island Grill has a staff of 58, Fuller said. Winfield and Fuller emphasized they continue to accept applications and interview potential employees.

Winfield, who has been a chef for 22 years, said the company’s aspirations include being the “preferred restaurant” for customers and the “preferred business” for employees.

The two also talked about their “goals and values.” Fuller listed three – purpose, passion and pride. She said each employee should understand his or her purpose because each has an “impact on all guests … in some way.” Once the purpose is understood, she said, employees should have a passion for the purpose and pride in the job.

Winfield added that the restaurant staff expects to “treat the guests that walk through this door as if they were in their own home.”

Bone Island Grill seats about 200. It also has a banquet room that can handle up to 45 people.

The restaurant is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, with the bar closing at 10, and 4 to 10 Friday and Saturday, with the bar closing at 11.

Lake Oconee Academy Expansion

New $30 million expansion planned at LOA

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:46 pm

GREENSBORO – A proposed $30 million building project is planned for the future at Lake Oconee Academy, the charter school in southern Greene County.

Lake Oconee Academy Chief Executive Officer Dr. Otho Tucker made a power-point presentation during the work session of the Greene County Board of Education on Monday night. He talked about the scope of the building project, as well as about how such a project could be funded. In addition, he also talked about the many accolades and academic successes enjoyed there during the school’s five-years of existence.

“The numbers will show that we have a demand for we’re doing,” LOA Board of Governors Chairman Mike Kelly told school board members prior to Tucker’s formal presentation.

The charter school, which is located off Carey Station Road near Lake Oconee, is in an area where much growth is planned. Construction on a new hospital is planned near the intersection of Georgia Highway 44 and Carey Station Road, as are two new subdivisions. And there is talk that a third subdivision may be in the planning stages, along with a planned new interchange along Interstate 20 that will benefit motorists who travel along Carey Station Road.

“It’s been five wonderful years,” Tucker said, noting that the school is about to reach its enrollment capacity, which is why he and other school officials believe now is the time to begin working towards expanding the size of the school.

Tucker called Georgia a unique state in that it’s the fastest growing states in the Southeast and one of the fastest growing states in America.

He alluded to the recent announcements about Baxter International and Caterpillar building plants in neighboring counties and what that might mean to Greene County. Since Greene County is so close, employees of those large, well-paying plants could choose to live in the southern portion of Greene County, which could mean even more growth for the local charter school.

School officials have been working on this proposed building project idea for the past five months. They have studied it from a regional, state and local demographic perspective, as well as from a population and jobs indicator analysis.

From 2000-2009, Greene County has experienced an 11 percent growth, Tucker said. He also said Greene County has the small town characteristics that people like. In his presentation, he cited the following local characteristics: low crime rate, good schools and community educational attainment, cultural activities a leisure activities, potential for job-growth and income growth and affordable housing.

By the year 2018, Georgia is predicted to be sixth among the top 10 states for project school enrollment of students, he said.

That’s another reason for the need to expand.

“If we progress the way we’re going, we’ve got to be ready for that growth,” Tucker said.

For the school year, 2014-15, LOA officials are projecting more students than the school’s capacity calls for, he added. The classes will exceed the number of available classrooms.

The proposed building plan calls for 28 new middle/high school classrooms. The comprehensive plan also calls for an addition to be made on the existing gymnasium so as to provide for health classes, training and storage. The plan also calls for cafeteria facilities with a full prep-kitchen, a middle/high school gym, an auditorium, a middle/high school library, as well as support spaces for storage, maintenance, data and utilities.

There also would be site changes, including additional land for parking, a new gym and athletic practice fields, as well as additional parking areas for faculty members and high school students eligible to drive to school.

The total cost of such a project was listed at $29,963,100.

Tucker explained that it could be funded by a new bond incremental debt payment, which would be approximately $1.65 million dollars annually over a 30-year period.

“With one mill producing approximately $1.2 million, it would require 1.38 mills to cover the incremental debt service,” Tucker said.

The first out-of-pocket payment is forecasted to begin on Feb.1, 2015. The monies to be charged for this payment would be collected in the fall of 2014, if the proposed project is approved.

Tucker said there is the possibility that the impact of the first payment could be offset, if another Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) were to be approved between now and then.

Tucker and other LOA school officials will be holding three different community presentations about the school’s proposed building project, beginning Monday, July 16 at Lake Oconee Academy at 5:30 p.m.

Another such community meeting will be held at Festival Hall in Greensboro on Monday, July 23 at 5:30 p.m. and again on Thursday, July 26 at Union Point Elementary School in Union Point at 5:30 p.m.

 Posted in Lake oconee news on Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:46 pm.

Reynolds Plantation & Ritz Carlton

Romantic or adventurous, Reynolds Plantation offers perfect vacation getaways

Just 75 miles from Atlanta and the world’s busiest airport, a stunning lake shimmers in quiet tranquility and a luxury Georgia getaway waits. Cradled by verdant hills where Georgia pines tower to the sky, this secluded weekend getaway transports guests to a place far away from daily cares and pressures. It’s little wonder that the family born to this land called it “Linger Longer.”

Whether you are planning family vacations or traveling as a couple, once here, you’ll yearn to stay, beckoned by the opportunities for golfing on championship courses, netting your daily limit of fish, discovering uncommon shops in antebellum towns or relishing in a delightful roster of outdoor activities. Amidst this engaging Georgia backdrop, the commanding presence of The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation offers an elegant invitation to meet in the heart of nature.

Housing Market Indexes Improve

National Housing Indexes Improve, which will filter to the Lake Oconee housing market.  The Lake Oconee housing market laggered the national housing market in decling values and the housing bust by a year or more, but we should begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the national housing indicators improve.  Once the national housing market stabilizes, and jobs improve, buyers with discretionary income to purchase lake front homes will increase demand to improve the Lake Oconee housing market.  The following article and audio is from the Wall Street Journal.

Housing Passes a Milestone  – Wall Street Journal Article – 7-13-2012

The housing market has turned—at last.

The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing “experts” that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing.

Nearly seven years after the housing bubble burst, most indexes of house prices are bending up. “We finally saw some rising home prices,” S&P’s David Blitzer said a few weeks ago as he reported the first monthly increase in the slow-moving S&P/Case-Shiller house-price data after seven months of declines.

Nearly 10% more existing homes were sold in May than in the same month a year earlier, many purchased by investors who plan to rent them for now and sell them later, an important sign of an inflection point. In something of a surprise, the inventory of existing homes for sale has fallen close to the normal level of six months’ worth despite all the foreclosed homes that lenders own. The fraction of homes that are vacant is at its lowest level since 2006.

The reduced inventory of unsold homes is key, says Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, a housing data-analysis firm. For the past couple of years, house prices have risen in the spring and then slumped; the declining supply of houses for sale is reason to believe that won’t happen again this year, he says.

Builders began work on 26% more single-family homes in May 2012 than the depressed levels of May 2011. The stock of unsold newly built homes is back to 2005 levels. In each of the past four quarters, housing construction has added to economic growth. In the first quarter, it accounted for 0.4 percentage points of the meager 1.9% growth rate.

“Even with the overall economy slowing,” Wells Fargo Securities economists said, cautiously, in a note to clients, “the budding recovery in the housing market appears to be gradually gaining momentum.”

Economists aren’t always right, but on this at least they agree: A new Wall Street Journal survey of forecasters found 44 believe the housing market has reached its bottom; only three don’t. (The full results of the Journal’s July survey will be released at 2pm ET)

Housing is still far from healthy despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to resuscitate it by helping to push mortgage rates to extraordinary lows: 3.62% for a 30-year loan, according to Freddie Mac’s latest survey. Single-family housing starts, though up, remain 60% below the 2002 pre-bubble pace. Americans’ equity in homes is $2 trillion, or 25%, less than it was in 2002 and half what it was at the peak. More than one in every four mortgage borrowers still has a loan bigger than the value of the house, though rising home prices are reducing that fraction slowly.

Still, the upturn in housing is a milestone, a particularly welcome one amid a distressing dearth of jobs. For some time, housing has been one of the biggest causes of economic weakness. It has now—barely—moved to the plus side. “A little tail wind is a lot better than a headwind,” says economist Chip Case, the “Case” in Case-Shiller.

From here on, housing is unlikely to drag the U.S. economy down further. It will instead reflect the strength or weakness of the overall economy: The more jobs, the more confident Americans are about keeping their jobs, the more they are willing to buy houses. “Manufacturing had led growth and construction had lagged,” JPMorgan Chase economists said last week.”Now the roles are reversed: Manufacturing growth has slowed as private construction comes to life.”

Plenty could go wrong. The biggest threat is a large shadow inventory of unsold homes, homes which owners won’t put on the market because they are underwater, homes that will be foreclosed eventually and homes owned by lenders. They have been trickling onto the market, slowed in part by government efforts to delay foreclosures; a flood could reverse the recent rise in prices. Or the still-dysfunctional mortgage market could get worse. Or overly zealous regulators or a post-election change in government policy could unsettle mortgage lenders or home buyers.

But the housing bust is over.