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 This week's Journal
 This week's Journal

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.
Photo by Mark Beardsley

Recall is reeling
Mattox ordered to pay over $6,000
in legal fees for filing 'frivolous' litigation
The recall fire may have fizzled Monday in Madison County as recall chairman Jerry Mattox was ordered to pay over $6,000 in attorney's fees for filing a "frivolous" lawsuit against commissioner Patsy Pierce.
Jackson County Superior Court Judge David Motes found that Mattox's claim that Pierce violated his civil rights as well as those of other Madison County voters was "frivolous."
Mattox had claimed that Pierce was making false statements about him in order to damage his reputation. He had also contended that Pierce and former BOC members Ken Clark and Jack Fortson had their legal fees illegally paid by the county.
Mattox was ordered to pay approximately $1,400 to Pierce's attorney, Jeff Rothman, and approximately $5,000 to Clark and Fortson's attorney, Cynthia Weaver.
"We're going to seek appeal," said Mattox.
Rothman said the judge's ruling opens Mattox up to a suit from the county, which could seek recovery of expenses related to the suit.
"Madison County now has the authority to sue Jerry Mattox," said Rothman.
Rothman said Pierce's libel suit against Jerry Mattox has been temporarily dropped, saying it will be refiled later, apart from "this election matter."
Mattox's attorney, Chet Dettlinger, asked for a postponement of a hearing to determine the legal sufficiency of the recall effort, saying that he was unprepared for such a proceeding Monday.
The judge agreed to grant more time for discovery of evidence, Another hearing is set for March 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Madison County Superior Court.
Rothman contended that the recall effort is basically dead, pointing out that no recall effort can take place within 180 days of an election.
"The (recall) issue is about to become moot," said Rothman during Monday's hearing.
And Dettlinger, asking for a new time clock on gathering signatures for the recall petition, admitted to the judge that "all the momentum is gone" from the recall effort.
According to the press office of the Secretary of State, Georgia law states that no application for a recall can be filed within 180 days before or after an election. However, the press officer said that petitions for recall are not mentioned in the code.
Thus, if the recall application is deemed legally sufficient, the timeliness of the petition may become an issue for the court to resolve.

Mattox sues the county
BOC refuses to back down on pay increase for clerk's office
Political activist Jerry Mattox filed a lawsuit against three Madison County commissioners Friday afternoon, claiming the trio met illegally in private to discuss pay matters with clerk of court Michelle Strickland on Dec. 27. He also asked that a judge overturn a $7,000 pay increase for the clerk's office.
But the board stood by those increases Monday and refuted Mattox's claim that an illegal meeting was held.
"I voted 'yes' and I won't reconsider it," said commissioner Nelson Nash, when asked by chairman Wesley Nash to reconsider the raises Monday.
Commissioners Nelson Nash, Patsy Pierce and Melvin Drake are targeted in Mattox's suit.
Pierce followed commissioner Nash with a similar statement and the board sat silent as chairman Nash asked for a motion to cut the clerk's pay increases in half this year.
Chairman Nash has said that approving the increases would "open up a can of worms," basically undermining a recently passed pay system that took a year to put in place. He contended that the clerk's employees shouldn't receive 100 percent of scheduled pay raises for this year, while other county employees receive half this year and half next year.
But Strickland has said the county's pay study failed to properly classify her employees and that clerks in her office have been significantly underpaid.

This just in...
Mustangs learn about video journalism
A group of Madison County Middle School eighth graders knows what it's like to be in front of, and behind, a video camera.
They are the Mustang Morning News crew, and they work hard each day to keep their peers informed of daily school happenings.
The driving force behind the project is teacher Brenda Hill, who started the morning news five years ago, when she transferred to MCMS from a Griffin middle school.
"We started with two VCRs, one TV, the school video camera and an editing machine," Hill said.
The next year, the news crew was allowed to have the proceeds from the after school snack bar for half the school year.
"Since then, everything else we've bought," Hill said proudly. Their purchases include a PC computer, scanner, double deck VCR, two video cameras (one mobile), two tripods, two independent VCRs, a character generator, a 13-inch TV and microphones.
"We're completely self-supporting," Hill said.
Being a part of the Mustang Morning News crew is by invitation only and usually based on teacher recommendation.
There are currently 14 crew members for this year's MM News. These include: Knox Belk, Josh Collins, Lamar Dorsey, Chiquita Johnson, Bridgette Ledford, Melanie Mach, Justin Pirkle, Rena Shelton, Mandi Clark, Catherine Morris, Zack Richards, Mat Seawright, Bonnie Westbrook and Jennifer Wood.
Each of the students rotate jobs, which include an editor, technician, computer graphics person and end credits person. The crew of students rotates every six school days, with those not involved in production using the daily time as a study hall.
All of the students are given an opportunity to rotate jobs every four and a half weeks - although some may prefer to keep the same positions.
Hill is proud of the fact that once she has a script ready, the kids can "do it themselves," from start to finish.
"It's left me less shy to be in front of people," Bridgette Ledford, the news crew's current anchor, said. Another anchor, Rena Shelton, agrees. "I've really learned a lot (about the equipment) and am a lot less shy," she said.
Morning news segments are produced the day before they are aired. Location shots are shot as they come up. Hill may request that a camera person be allowed to leave his or her class to film an event or other special happening around campus.
Morning news segments include opening graphics, pledge of allegiance with a guest class and announcements.
Coming up in February, the news crew will travel to Toccoa to be the guests of the WNEG Channel 32 news crew during the production and taping of their six o'clock news. Afterwards, the students will be treated to a question and answer session.

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