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Interview with Gwen O'Looney, Part 2, December 10, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:39 - Environmental impacts of Athen's Landfills

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Segment Synopsis: O'Looney discusses how she felt about her small winning margin, as it heightened her awareness of communicating with the public. O'Looney describes how she came to be concerned with the environmental impact of Athenian landfills after the realization that east Athens was used as common place for landfills. O'Looney recalls how the later negotiations with the public works contracting firm, with Jordan, Jones and Goulding, inc. taught her about how to run meetings in a productive manner. O'Looney discusses why she ran for office as she believed her projects would fail if there were a change in administration. O'Looney continues to talk about the Athenian landfills, narrowing in on the topic landfill encroachment into lower-income areas. O'Looney relates how the landfill problems often lead to polluted groundwater systems, which were used as a source of water for Athens. O'Looney describes how the east Athens community stills suffers from the problems associated with landfills, and she voices her disapproval of the lack of present involvement in the issue.

Keywords: Athen's Groundwater; Jordan Jones and Goulding, Inc.; landfills; police community; recycling; tonnage

00:10:05 - Bear Creek Reservoir

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Partial Transcript: But the other thing that happened that I really

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls the land partnerships formed by Athens Clarke County and Oglethorpe County over landfill concerns. She describes how the arrangement, in which Oglethorpe and Athens Clarke County shared a landfill, benefited both communities. O'Looney talks about the building of the Bear Creek Reservoir between Jackson, Oconee, Barrow, and Athens- Clarke County. O'Looney describes the long process of creating the reservoir which was initially proposed by Dwayne Chambers, the last mayor of Athens City.

Keywords: Allen Reddish; Athens-Clarke County; Barrow County; Bear Creek Reservoir; Billy Bryant; Dwayne Chambers; Jackson County; Jim Holland; Oconee County; Oglethorpe County; Subtitle D Landfill

00:17:03 - Facing Criticism for Bear Creek Reservoir / Building Station #7 Firehouse

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Partial Transcript: The other thing that really upset me...

Segment Synopsis: O' Looney recalls the criticism she faced when she proposed the building of Bear Creek Reservoir with the intention of adhering to conservation standards. In her defense, O'Looney states the moral obligation she felt towards ensuring the dam would be able to provide services for future generations. O'Looney describes working with Chuck Knaff, who was the president of the University of Georgia. She recalls an incident where she went to Atlana with Chuck Knaff to visit the Georgia Legislation. O'Looney talks about how, on the way, she initiated conservation with Knaff about building a new firehouse. According to O'Looney, Knaff provided the land used to build the firehouse, which was eventually built on Barnett Shoals Rd. Athens, Georgia.

Keywords: Athens-Clarke County Fire Department Station #7; Barnett Shoals; Bear Creek Reservoir; Charles "Chuck" Knaff; College Station Road; Five Points; Lumpkin Street; Milledge; conservation

00:24:17 - The Olympics in Athens, Georgia

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Partial Transcript: And he said that Athens is going to be the second largest venue for the Olympics.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls finding out in a conversation with Chris Knaff that Athens, Georgia would be the second largest venue for the 1996 Olympics. O'Looney discusses the building of the Ramsey Student Center, which was one of the largest exercise facilities in the world at the time it was built. O'Looney relates how the building of Ramsey and additional dorms led to stress on the water services of Athens. O'Looney describes how the onset of the Olympics pressured Athens and the University of Georgia to address problems (including the water issue) together. O'Looney talks about how the Olympics led to the formation of partnerships between the University of Georgia and Athens-Clarke County. She discusses how the cooperation eventually led to the building of water treatment plants on the Oconee River.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Allen Barber; Bob Snipes; Chris Knaff; Jane Russell; Lee Epting; Oconee River; Ramsey Student Center; Water Reclamation Facilities

00:31:09 - Preparing for the running of the Olympic Torch

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Partial Transcript: All of a sudden, I looked out across Lake Herrick...

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls the point at which she changed her disposition towards the University of Georgia as she began to officially recognize the University of Georgia as a part of Athens-Clarke County. O'Looney discusses Athenian participation in the running of the Olympic torch. O'Looney recalls her resistance to overspend in preparation for the Olympics, as she believed doing so would lead to excessive debt for Athens-Clarke County.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Hilary Ruston; Lee Epting; Paul Dorsey Sr.; Tim Johnson; University of Georgia

00:38:12 - Renovating the Sanford Stadium / Traffic control

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Partial Transcript: And what was going to be in the stadium?

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls the discovery of infrastructure problems under the Sanford Stadium, used for the Olympic soccer matches of 1996. She talks about the subsequent renovations made to the stadium, which included the removal of the hedges surrounding the field (a significant landmark in the University of Georgia's football culture) in order to allow for more field area. O'Looney describes the specifics of dealing with traffic for the Olympics and praises the traffic coordinators in controlling the flow of traffic to Athens.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Bill Payne; Sanford Stadium; Sanford Stadium Hedges; Women's Soccer; traffic

00:44:43 - Coca-Cola funds Olympic in Athens / Spending for the Olympics

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Partial Transcript: So anyway, this wonderful guy from Coca Cola came.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls receiving money from a Coca Cola representative in order to fund the Olympics. O'Looney expands by explaining how Athens-Clarke County was provided with a total of 150,000$, which immediately given to a private sector that organized all of the Olympics event for Athens. O'Looney discusses how the Olympic spending by Athens totaled to one-million dollars in contrast to the city of Atlanta, which spent three-million dollar on Olympic related services and activities.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Atlanta; Coca Cola; Harry Bisset's

00:51:42 - Dealing with Traffic / Transportation concerning Athens and Atlanta

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Partial Transcript: And we came out of the Morton, and there was a but sitting there in the middle of the street.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney recalls showing Olympic coordinators the bus system of Athens. She discusses a moment where she spontaneously hailed a bus to drive around Athens in order to provide a first-hand experience of the Athens-Clarke County bus system. O'Looney recalls how using Athen's football parking protocol during the Olympics was successful in dealing with a large volume of visitors. O'Looney proceeds to discuss becoming chair of the Transportation Committee for the Association of County Commissions, before she was promoted to Municipal Chair the following year. O'Looney recalls how she successfully pushed an increase on the gas tax into legislation, to decrease the debt for Athens-Clarke County. O'Looney talks the addition of GA-316 which linked Athens to the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Association of County Commissioners (ACC); Athen's bus system; Atlanta Metropolitan Area; Bob Snipes; Epps Bridge Road; GA-316; Home Depot; Lowe's; Oconee County; Transportation Committee; parking

01:01:05 - Transportation in Athens

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to get our buses out of the middle of downtown.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney talks about her accomplishments in office, including the creation of the Multi-Modal System, which became the designated bus system for Athens-Clarke County. O'Looney discusses the preservation of the Boundary Street warehouses, which, under the threat of being torn down, were renovated through the funds provided by SPLOST, and were later used as an addition to the Classic Center. O'Looney recalls the process of building Epps Bridge Road, and talks about the challenges faced during the construction process. O'Looney talks about how gaining experience in office helped her gain respect from other politicians and transition from a passive observer to an active politician.

Keywords: Bob Snipes; Boundary Street; Bus system; City Council; Classic Center; Epps Bridge Road; Multi Modal Center; Paul Cramer; Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST)

01:09:27 - Policing Athens during the Olympics / Gentrification in East Athens

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Partial Transcript: That was another thing with the Olympics.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney talks about how Athens-Clarke County formed a contract which Georgia Power which initiated wiring construction that eventually had to be placed underground in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. O'Looney talks about how, while in office, she pushed the University of Georgia Police system to become more independent and efficient in dealing with campus affairs. O'Looney recalls the signing of a partnership between the University of Georgia and the Athen's Police Department, in which both parties agreed to guard a 100 ft perimeter around the University of Georgia Campus during the 1996 Olympics. O'Looney proceeds to talk about man named Joseph Reed who worked as an Athens volunteer for the homeless shelter, and was known for bringing in money to the economically blighted areas. O'Looney voices how she feels that assisting the blighted area led to the eventual gentrification of East Athens, which she claims might have benefited those who were able to sell their houses at much higher prices than they were initially bought.

Keywords: 1996 Olympics; Bethel Homes; Community Development Office; Dwayne Chambers; Georgia Power; Henry King Stanford; Human and Economic Development; Jack Lumpkin; Joseph Reed; Lauren Coyle; University Police

01:16:54 - Renovating Bethel Homes / Facing Opposition in Office

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Partial Transcript: Jack Lumpkin and I went over to Bethel Homes.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney describes Bethel Holmes (a low-income apartment community) before it received the money raised by Joseph Reed, a volunteer. O'Looney then discusses how she wishes that the Greenway trails would be completed in her lifetime, as she feels they would be a great addition to Athens-Clarke County. O'Looney talks about her accomplishments in office and also discusses her most controversial moments.

Keywords: Bethel Holmes; Epps Bridge Road; Greenway; Jack Lumpkin; Joseph Reed; Lauren Coyle; Rails to Trails; Ronny Chandler

01:24:38 - Controversial issues on office / Revamping Washington Street

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Partial Transcript: Did you have any meetings where they're filled with people opposed to you?

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney talks about her few most controversial issues while in office, including her veto of the destruction of Fire Hall Number One. O'Looney notes the lack of many controversies, and which she contributes to being a product of her conservative leaning many contentious issues. O'Looney also discusses the social burden placed on her husband after she ran for office, and she recalls an incident where her husband was unjustly accused of driving under the influence, which was published in the newspaper for the purpose of getting an audience. O'Looney begins to talk about the Widespread Panic Concert which took place in Athens in 1998. She then discusse the building up of Washington Street in preparation for the Olympics, which was provided with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Keywords: 40-Watt Club; Fire Hall Number 1; Hot Corner; National Endowment for the Arts; Thomas Chastain; Washington Street; Widespread Panic; opposition

01:32:52 - Widespread Panic Concert of 1998

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Partial Transcript: So Sam comes and says he'd like to talk to me about something when convenient.

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney talks about how Washington Street, though never used for the Olympics, was used for the Widespread Panic CD Release in 1998. O'Looney talks about the opposition she faced in organizing the event. She also discusses the aftermath of the event, in which she recalls the massive amount of litter left from the attendants. O'Looney relates her experience speaking at the event, which had an estimated 300 thousand people attend. O'Looney reflects how she believed the concert should have been charged, as she felt the large number of visitors posed a risk.

Keywords: Over-Crowding; Thomas Chastain; Washington Street; Widespread Panic

01:42:01 - Widespread Panic Concert Continued / Moving on from Manager

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little bit more about the policing during that event?

Segment Synopsis: O'Looney talks about the police presence during the 1998 Widespread Panic CD release party. O'Looney recalls what she describes as an overbearing police presence among the attendants whom O'Looney reckoned as "hippies". O'Looney talks about how, overall, there were no large problems associated with the concert. O'Looney discusses leaving her position as manager of Athens-Clarke County, and becoming director of the Department of Family and Children Services.

Keywords: Cardee Kilpatrick; Department of Family and Children Service; Police; Widespread Panic; Wilson Lattimore