Dearing residents should expect reduced rates for homeowner's insurance beginning in December because of improved fire-protection services, Mayor Sean Kelley said at a town council meeting Monday.
Ratings are assigned by ISO, a company that collects and analyzes information on fire protection in communities throughout the country. The scores range from a one, which indicates superior fire protection, to a 10, which indicates that the area's program fails to meet the company's minimum criteria.
Dearing's Public Protection Classification was lowered from an eight to a four, effective Dec. 1.
"It took a lot of work between me and Judson [Story]," said Danny Cason, the chief of the Dearing Volunteer Fire Department. "Now our job is to keep it there."
Story is a councilman and volunteer firefighter.
After remaining at an eight for years, the new rating is the best Dearing has ever had, Kelley said. Since his election as mayor, he has worked with Cason to improve the department.
Kelley said Dearing residents should contact their insurance companies in December to reevaluate fire insurance premiums, which should decrease with an improved rating.
Kelley also provided an update on the discussion surrounding the proposed Conditional Use Permit filed by Advanced Primary Minerals USA Corp., a mining company based in Dearing.
The company operates a kaolin processing plant in the town and has been mining kaolin at its property on Tudor Road for about two years. Kaolin, a white clay mineral, is one of Georgia's most abundant natural resources.
At a public meeting Aug. 30, APM officials presented details for the development of a secondary mining site at Margaret's Road. According to APM's plan, the clay to be mined would be used primarily for ceramic applications.
Though Kelley supports the company's proposal, it has met with opposition from many people who live near the site.
"We've got 550 people who stand to benefit from this place growing," Kelley said.
He said the industry is vitally important to the community, and its expansion would create about four new full-time positions and economically benefit the entire town.
"It's the one industry that we have," Kelley said. "We hope for it to be the lifeblood of our town as we continue to grow."
In other business: Kelley said he is in the process of assembling a land use development and zoning committee. As soon as public meetings are scheduled, they will be advertised.
"We want to make sure this is done right to start with," he said.
So far, no decision has been made regarding the proposed changes in water and sewage rates in Dearing and Thomson, Kelley said.
He said Thomson officials will address the issue within 90 days.
On Thursday, Sept. 15, the McDuffie County Board of Education awarded the field on the old Dearing Elementary School property at 4683 Augusta Highway to the town of Dearing.
Kelley said he is in the process of obtaining the deed for the field, where he hopes to develop a play area for children and a walking track.