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This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News


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Chicken House A Total Loss

Neese-Sanford fireman Neil Mathis applies water to a poultry house owned by L.S. Pittman on Seagraves Mill Road just inside Madison County. The Friday fire totally destroyed the building. Firemen from the Danielsville and Ila fire departments also responded to the blaze. The column of smoke could be seen for miles.


Out With The Old, In With The New, And Up With The City's Electric Rates
There was a lot of talk Monday night about the "old" city council and the "new" city council, but after the "old" finished their work and the "new" were sworn in, there was a remarkable similarity.
That's because they were the same people. The installation at Monday night's Commerce City Council meeting of a "new" mayor and "new" city council members was a formality, since the new and the old were exactly the same.
Nonetheless, with as much pageantry as they could muster, and a paid photographer to record the changing of government for history, "new" mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. and "new" city councilmen Bob Sosebee, Sam Brown and Richard Massey were sworn in by Superior Court Judge Bob Adamson after their "old" selves had adjourned one council meeting so their "new" selves could be installed to begin new four-year terms.
After completing that bit of business, the council proceeded to re-elect Billy Chandler as municipal court judge, John Stell as city attorney and Archie D. Chaney Jr. as mayor pro tem. Then, with the city government firmly in place, the council got down to the real business at hand.
One of the first orders of business was to raise the electric rates.
City Manager Clarence Bryant was home battling the flu and not present to explain exactly how the new rate structure worked, but Hardy gave it his best shot. The raise in rates, he tried to explain, was something the city thought it had done earlier.
"Last February, we adopted what we thought was a four percent increase, but it never came about. We're not exactly sure why," the mayor said.
The result was that increasing costs to the city for wholesale electricity caused the city's revenue from electricity to fall. The new rate structure is made up of a "cost adjustment rider" allowing the city to increase (or decrease) rates quarterly to maintain its margin of profit. That rider will be implemented effective with all January billing.
"Basically, what it means is a four percent increase. Most of that will be generated by the cost adjustment rider," the mayor stated.
The matter was approved with no discussion on a motion made by Riley Harris and seconded by Chaney.
In response to a question by Councilman Donald Wilson, the mayor pointed out that the city's electric rates will remain below both Jackson EMC and Georgia Power.
"We don't want to be high, but we don't want the lowest rate," the mayor said.
The rate increase was the second item relating to electricity. The first was approval of a contract with the city's electrical supplier, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) to participate in the construction of a power plant.
Again, the absence of the city manager left it to Hardy to explain that MEAG plans to build a combustion turbine plant similar to what the Southern Company is building in Center. That plant will lower the city's cost of power during times of peak demand, and will also serve as a non-peak generating plant.
The council approved a resolution authorizing Hardy to sign a contract with MEAG, but no mention was made of what the city's share of the construction cost might be, a cost that will be based on the city's power consumption.


Construction Up 257% During 1999
It may be too early to call it a building boom, but the value of construction that occurred in 1999 in Commerce increased by 257 percent over 1998.
The city issued permits for $14.53 million in residential, commercial and industrial construction during the year, compared to $5,637,715 during 1998. In 1997, the city issued permits for construction valued at $3.85 million.
Dollar figures are based on what the contractor places on the permit application and are not necessarily accurate, according to David Lanphear, the city's building inspector.
"A lot of them think that is what taxes are going to be paid on, so they are very conservative," Lanphear said. "This figure has nothing to do with assessments for taxation."
Almost half of the construction was for commercial projects. Five of them totaled $7.2 million, based on the cost figure on the permit form.
Residential construction was up this year. Some 36 single-family units were permitted, compared to 31 last year, at an estimated value of $3.5 million. There were nine mobile home permits, down from 17 last year, valued at $296,270. That figure should climb rapidly in the next two years, thanks to a 201-unit mobile home park under construction.
The permit for the 80-unit apartment complex across Minish Drive from Commerce Elementary School put that project's value at $2.8 million. In 1998, only one permit for two apartment units was issued.
Five commercial alteration projects were estimated to be worth $600,000, and 12 alterations to residences were valued at $169,630.
There is no sign that construction will slow down in 2000. In fact, it could well accelerate, at least at the residential end. A number of developments are in the planning stage, including the large mobile home park and a 153-unit subdivision of stick-built houses, both near Mount Olive Road. Other residential developments will add to the number of houses built, and a 125-acre tract was recently rezoned for an industrial park.

Bassett-Walker Building Sells To Distributor Of Trousers
A Wichita, KS, businessman has purchased the former Bassett-Walker building in Commerce for use as a warehouse.
Officials of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and the city of Commerce confirmed this week that Quick Response, a trousers distributor, bought the 90,000-plus square foot building that has been vacant since Bassett-Walker closed in June.
"The company has leased warehouse space in Athens and Winder. My understanding is that they are consolidating both to Commerce," said Pepe Cummings, president of the chamber.
The company currently employs about 30 people in its two local operations and is expected to employ about that number at the Commerce site.
Officials say the company sells mid-priced trousers to a variety of customers, specializing in just-in-time deliveries. The CEO is Randy Nevil.
Operations are expected to begin this month.

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