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FRONT PAGE - JANUARY 19, 2000 - JEFFERSON, GA

Search / Jackson Co. Sex Offender Registry
1998 Building Permits / 1999 Building Permits
1998 Property Transactions / 1999 Property Transactions



SUN SETS ON ANOTHER DAY

Herald photo editor Travis Hatfield captured this scenic shot of the sun setting over a pasture on Hwy. 129 near Jefferson. Although Jackson County has been hit with some cold, wet rain this week, the area has missed the frigid snow and sleet that caused problems in North Carolina and up the East Coast.

GROWTH

Construction permits rebound
New homebuilding up 29% in 1999
Following a slowdown in 1998, building activity in Jackson County rebounded in 1999, pulled by a record number of new residential building permits. Some 628 new homes were permitted in 1999, up 29 percent from 1998. The growth in new home construction also surpassed the previous record of 573 homes in 1997.
The spurt of homebuilding also led the way in pulling up the overall construction picture in Jackson County as total estimated construction values topped the $100 million mark for the first time. Based on estimates reported on the various industrial, commercial and residential projects during 1999, some $118.8 million in building activity took place during the year. That tops the 1997 record of $95.1 million and is up 33 percent from 1998 numbers.
The bulk of the year's construction came from new residential activity, which accounted for $70.4 million of the total. Commercial and industrial projects made up another $26 million during the year and the balance came from residential additions, institutional construction and farm buildings.
HOMEBUILDING
By a wide margin, most homebuilding activity was in unincorporated areas of Jackson County. Of the 628 new homes, 479 were in unincorporated areas.
Jefferson led the incorporated areas with 61 new homes, followed by Commerce with 36 and Maysville at 22. Pendergrass was the only town to show no new homes during the year.
The most active seekers of building permits during 1999 were: Bowen & Bowen Construction with 26 permits; Gadell Inc. with 17; and Cally Builders, James Butler and Ronnie Scroggs with 13 permits each.
The average new home price was $112,100 during 1999.
Commerce had the only apartment complex permitted in 1999, an 80-unit project at $2.8 million.
While the new home activity was a record for Jackson County, it was still behind the pace in most other counties surrounding the metro Atlanta area. Through the first 11 months of 1999, Cherokee County had recorded 1,907 new home permits; Coweta County 1,293; Fayette County 1,072; Forsyth County 2,692; Hall County 1,702; Henry County 2,736; Paulding County 1,665; and Bartow County at 885.
COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL
While overall construction dollars grew in 1999, major industrial or commercial projects appeared to be flat. Only $26 million of the total $118.8 million came from commercial and industrial projects during the year. Most of that activity took place in Jefferson and Commerce.
The largest single industrial project for the year was a $6.4 million building for Quick & Tasty at I-85 in Jefferson. American Synthetic Fiber, also in Jefferson, had two large industrial additions during 1999 topping $2.8 million. Altogether, Jefferson had $12.4 million in commercial and industrial permits issued for the year, followed by Commerce at $7.8 million.
Most of Jefferson's growth came with industrial growth while Commerce had mostly commercial projects. Out of a total of $12.7 million in industrial projects, $10.6 were in Jefferson. Commerce had $7.8 million out of a countywide total of $13.2 million in commercial projects.
MOBILE HOMES
Although mobile home permits were up in 1999 over the previous year, 249 compared to 217, that was still below 1997 levels when 295 mobile homes were permitted. Local officials have been closely watching the rate of mobile home growth in recent years in an effort to get a handle on the county's tax base problems. While mobile homes provide a low-cost housing alternative, they pay little in the way of property taxes to support public services, such as new school classrooms.
In 1999, the ratio of mobile home permits to housing permits remained about the same as in previous years at 32 percent. Overall, mobile homes make up around one-third of the county's total housing.


Firm rates Jackson tops in potential
A northeast Georgia real estate firm has ranked Jackson County as having the most economic "promise" in the coming years and predicts that 10 golf-centered developments will thrive in the county by the year 2020.
Those are some of the predictions of The Norton Agency, a Gainesville real estate firm that issues annual reports on economic conditions in Northeast Georgia. In the firm's 2000 report, Jackson County was ranked as having a Native Intelligence Opportunity Index of 81, the highest of 14 counties rated. The index is "an annual measure of growth, values and investment potential," says the report. It combines real estate sales, loan values, land prices, and potential in the formula.
The firm also promotes the concept of Planned Unit Developments (PUD) for the county, saying such projects are the "best solutions for insuring" quality growth in Jackson County.
Frank Norton predicts that Jackson County will become the second largest manufacturing distribution center in metro Atlanta, linking the east coast market along I-85. He also believes Jackson County will be one of the major bedroom communities for metro Atlanta.
"Average prices for homes in close-in counties of Forsyth and Gwinnett will remain double that of Hall or Jackson," he said.


EDUCATION

Jefferson BOE calls for March 7 bond referendum
Plans include new middle school, other renovations
BY ANGELA GARY
Jefferson City School System parents were asked for support Thursday night as the school leaders gear up for a bond referendum to construct a new middle school and make renovations at other school facilities.
The parent meeting followed unanimous approval by the board of education to call for an $8.64 million bond referendum on March 7. The majority of the bonds would be repaid from education special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
The BOE has called a meeting for 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) to discuss the bond referendum further. School leaders say the limit on the bond amount may be increased.
The BOE also met in closed session for 30 minutes prior to the parent meeting to discuss purchasing property for the new middle school. The site was not disclosed, but BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins was given the go-ahead to proceed with negotiations with the property owner.
At the parent meeting, Hopkins outlined the BOE's plans for construction and renovation to handle growth in student population. The 24-classroom middle school is the major project, but renovations are planned throughout the system's facilities. The bond funds are expected to cover the cost of purchasing the land for the new middle school, constructing it and equipping it.
"What we're doing today is laying the foundation for 10 to 20 years out," Hopkins said.
Plans at the elementary school include six additional kindergarten classrooms, two resource classrooms and additional space for music, art and the brain gym. The project will also include renovations in the cafeteria.
The existing middle school would be renovated for use as a "fifth grade academy." Hopkins said this would include special programs for the fifth graders. The gym at this facility would also be renovated.
"This excites me more than anything we are doing," he said. "The goal is for them to be the best sixth graders in the state."
Renovations are also planned for the high school gym and physical education facilities and the field house at the stadium.
Hopkins also outlined long-term plans, including the construction of a new elementary school facility to house third through fifth grades. The current elementary school would house pre-K through second grade. Funds for that new facility are not part of the March 7 bond referendum.


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