Johnson's Crook May Be Sold To Contractor, But Georgia Land Trust Says Deal Will Include Conservation Easement

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Some 1,800 acres at scenic and historic Johnson's Crook may be sold by the Georgia Land Trust to a contractor, but officials said a conservation easement would be part of the deal.

Katherine Eddins, executive director of the land trust, said Royce and Gloria Cornelison of P&C Construction have bought a barn and some ruins at the Lookout Mountain site at Rising Fawn, Ga., in Dade County, and are interesting in acquiring the rest of the property.

She said in an email to "Friends of Johnson's Crook" that the state is not in a position to take title to the land - even if the land trust deeded it over to them.

The property goes from near the top of the mountain near the old site of the Plum Nelly Art Festival to the valley below and includes a number of caves. A road that was used by soldiers during the Civil War goes from the top of the mountain through the property.

The Southern Land Company had acquired the property with plans to develop it as "The Preserve." But two people involved with that scheme were arrested and convicted of fraud, and the property went into bankruptcy. The land trust acquired the property out of bankruptcy and through gifts from banks who lost millions of dollars in the fraud.

Ms. Eddins said in the email, "There are rumors flying around about the land trust and our use/intentions about the Preserve.  Apparently, there is a rumor that we have sold the land to a developer, and/or plan to develop the land.

"We still own the land, and are in no contract concerning the land.  We do not intend to develop the land.  The mission of the Georgia Land Trust is to protect land for present and future generations.  We are not a development company.

"We have been speaking with several families about acquiring all or a portion of our 1800 acres, and the purchaser permanently conserving the land with a conservation easement.   One such family, the Cornelisons, acquired the barn and ruins from the Bankruptcy Trustee.  Royce and Gloria Cornelison and their sons have been talking with a framer about restoring the ruins to a functional home.  Some confusion might abound because the Cornelisons are in the construction business.  This family has conserved several farms and forests, and are considering working with Georgia Land Trust to preserve this land permanently.

"One question that has come up concerns transferring the land to the State to use as a WMA and hunting preserve.  The State does not have the funds to manage the land, even if it were gifted to them by us.

"We will continue to explore the best ways to protect AND steward Johnson's Crook and will be sending out periodic updates."



Alexander Responds To President Trump’s Executive Order To End Separation Of Families At Border

Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement on President Trump’s executive order on Wednesday that will end the separation of children from their parents at the border:   “Families need to stay together whenever possible while an immigration judge determines whether they can stay legally in our country. The president’s executive order is ... (click for more)

Corker Says Trump Administration Is Abusing Its Authority To Implement Taxes On The American People

In remarks on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Bob Corker challenged the Senate to assert its constitutional authority on trade policy by passing his bipartisan legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Excerpts of the senator’s remarks follow.   “I rise today to talk about ... (click for more)

The Boss, Claude Ramsey

I try not to overuse the word great, but we lost a great man today, Claude Ramsey. I had the pleasure of serving under him as director of Commercial and Industrial Properties for 14 years while he was the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. He was probably the smartest person I have ever known. He was tough but patient, kind, caring and compassionate. He knew how to get ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Please ‘Connect The Dots’

Get your crayons out and let’s play “connect the dots.” Next Thursday (June 28 th ) the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition, in partnership with Chattanooga’s publicly-flawed non-profit educational foundation, UnifiEd, will hold its regional meeting at Chattanooga’s Bessie Smith Hall. The coalition was formed to advocate for “students of color” in Tennessee, and among those on ... (click for more)

Voice Of The Vols John Ward Dies

John Ward, the former “Voice of the Vols,” has died. Senator Lamar Alexander said, “When it came to UT sports, listening to John Ward was almost as good as watching the game. In fact, many Vol fans at many games brought their radios to make sure they could do both. John was a generous, courteous, enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Tennessee. He brought joy ... (click for more)

Belmont University's Mark Price Named Baylor School's Boys' Basketball Coach

Baylor School has named Belmont University's Mark Price as the boys' varsity basketball coach, following veteran basketball coach Austin Clark's announcement in April that he would be retiring after 36 years of coaching the Red Raiders. "I am very excited that Mark will be leading our boys' basketball program.  Throughout this process, we interviewed many individuals who ... (click for more)