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FRONT PAGE - JANUARY 5, 2000 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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OVERPOWERING

Madison County wrestler Joey Cash overpowers his Pickens County opponent on his way to a first period pin. The Raiders downed Pickens County and Gainesville Tuesday night to improve to 11-9 on the year. See page 8A for the story.
Photo by Zach Mitcham

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Commissioners' meeting turns ugly
BOC chairman calls law on probate judge
BY FRANK GILLISPIE
A routine meeting of the Madison County Board of Commissioners erupted into controversy Monday night as one elected official called sheriff's deputies to apprehend an elected judge.
The incident centered on a dispute regarding pay in the clerk of court's office.
After the BOC completed work on the 2000 county policy as required at the beginning of each year by state law, commission chairman Wesley Nash asked the board to reconsider changes in the pay schedule for the clerk of court's office. The board awarded approximately $7,000 in pay increases for that department at its last meeting.
Nash indicated that the pay raises approved by the board resulted in the clerk's employees receiving 100 percent of scheduled pay raises this year while the remainder of county employees will receive half this year and half next year. Nash asked that the change be modified to bring the clerk of court staff in line with other county employees.
Madison County's constitutional officers have the freedom to use their salary budgets as they see fit. The board has the power to set the total amount available for payroll in each department. The amendment sought by chairman Nash would have reduced the budget for the clerk of court's office.
Probate Judge Donald "Hoppy" Royston objected from the audience, saying that Clerk of Court Michelle Strickland spent an hour at the previous meeting seeking the right to pay her staff the extra money, and it was not fair to change the rules without her present. Chairman Nash said Judge Royston was out of order. Judge Royston responded that John Scoggins had been allowed to speak from the audience earlier.
Nash then asked Judge Royston to leave. When he refused, Nash suspended the meeting to call for a deputy. Judge Royston asked board members present who were trying to mediate the dispute if they thought he should leave. Commissioner Bruce Scogin said that as a friend, not a commissioner, that it might be best. Judge Royston then left the room. After the meeting, Judge Royston said, he decided to do the "gentlemanly thing" and leave without further conflict.
Judge Royston is scheduled to meet with the board in a work session at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10, to discuss the pay schedule for his staff.
The entire dispute became mute when Chairman Nash's request died for lack of a motion. Commissioner Scogin said that he was not comfortable with the action because the two commissioners - Nelson Nash and Patsy Pierce - who proposed the changes were not present.
Before the dispute erupted, the board approved extensive changes in county policy, replacing the old policy of legal fees for commissioners with new rules reflecting the recent amendments put forward by commissioner Scogin. The policy quotes extensively from state law and allows only expenditures in defense of commissioners to be paid by county funds. It moves most of the personnel statements from county policy to the new personnel policy. It modifies the rule on closing meetings to discuss personnel matters to bring them in line with Georgia law.


Leaders voice visions for 2000
Madison County government leaders have plenty of New Year's resolutions for 2000.
For example, county commission chairman Wesley Nash said he'd like to see quick action on the construction of a new county jail this year.
Nash wants the board of commissioners to hire an architect by Feb. 15 to oversee construction of the new jail, which is expected to take 12 months. Six architects are currently being considered for the job.
Nash said improving county roads is also a major goal. He said 12 roads are slated to be paved this year. Roads scheduled for paving are Lloyd Road and Cecil Stuart Road in Ila; Old Royston Road, county road (CR) 147- Old Ila Road, CR 158, CR 174, CR 173, CR 140, CR 99, CR 59, CR 222 and CR18.
Three state-financed bridges and culverts are also on the list for this year. Nash said he is seeking state funding to widen Neese-Commerce Road and Nowhere Road from the county line to Sanford. If he is successful, he will seek a paving contract for these roads next year.
Nash also said he'd like to see a solid plan on the table for traffic around the new Hull-Sanford Elementary School.
Other goals include getting a grant to link sewage services along Hwy. 98. Nash is seeking grant money for a community center at the recreation department. He also wants to revamp local legislation and implement a purchasing policy for the county.
Asked what his goals for 2000 are at Monday night's commissioners' meeting, District 1 commissioner Bill Taylor said it is important that the commissioners work together to develop positive growth for the county. He supports expansion of the new county water system in the Dogsboro area.
Commissioner Melvin Drake of District 4 also listed harmony in government as the most important mission for the year. He wants to concentrate on completion of current projects including the water system and the new jail.
District 5 commissioner Bruce Scogin said a uniform purchasing policy is badly needed, along with a line item budget for each department.
Danielsville Mayor Glenn Cross said he wants to see something done about the traffic congestion in Danielsville every morning and afternoon. He said he would also like to see the completion of sidewalk projects for Hwy. 29 north, Crawford Long and Madison Streets.
Colbert Mayor John Waggoner said he'd like to see the city begin renovation and restoration of the old Colbert elementary school as well as the city depot. He said the exterior of the depot needs "complete redoing." Waggoner said the streets in the city cemetery should be paved. He also said he'd like to see the completion of water line relocations for the Hwy. 72 road widening project. He said about 75 percent of the water lines have been relocated.
School superintendent Dennis Moore said the school system will continue to "seek programs and opportunities for kids to be successful" in 2000.
He said he looks forward to the new Hull-Sanford Elementary School opening in the fall of this year. Likewise, he pointed out that school leaders are considering opening before school programs - perhaps beginning at 6:30 a.m. - to complement the after school programs already in place. Interest in such a setup has been expressed at Colbert Elementary School, Moore said.
The superintendent also said he is looking forward to the opening of the regional evening school on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Moore added that schools will introduce more technology in the classrooms over the coming year - BellSouth recently awarded Madison, Clarke and Barrow County schools $150,000 in technology training.
And he praised the commitment of new University of Georgia College of Education head Lewis Castenell to working with area school systems. Moore said UGA will assist Madison County with grant writing and reshaping teacher preparations, with juniors and seniors at the college spending more time in area classrooms.
Industrial Development Authority chairman Steve Sorrells sums up the authority's goals for this year in one phrase, "to finish what we started."
The authority is overseeing the construction of a water system in Hull.
"If we can do that, we've got a plate full," Sorrells said Tuesday, adding that the authority also wants to "seriously consider" the possibility of sewage for the Dogsboro area.
Then there is the 80-plus acre Madico Industrial Park located between Comer and Danielsville, which is an area the authority wants to turn its attention to as goals for the Dogsboro area come together.
"That area has a tremendous infrastructure that can serve the entire county," Sorrells said. "And we want to look very closely at that.
Compiled by Margie Richards, Frank Gillispie and Zach Mitcham.



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