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FRONT PAGE - JANUARY 19, 2000 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

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EDUCATION ISSUES

Madison County state representative Ralph Hudgens (left) and state senator Eddie Madden (right) both voiced their views about education reform at Tuesday's "Eggs and Issues" breakfast. Photos by Zach Mitcham
EDUCATION

Chamber serves up eggs and issues
Education, tax reform hot topics at annual breakfast
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Education and tax reform were the hot topics at the fourth annual "Eggs and Issues Breakfast" sponsored by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.
State senator Eddie Madden, state representative Ralph Hudgens and U.S. representative John Linder addressed a nearly full banquet room at the Ila Restaurant on Hwy. 106 to voice their views on pressing issues.
Others who spoke included representatives from the offices of U.S. senators Max Cleland and Paul Coverdell as well as a spokesman from the U.S. Census office.
One of the primary topics of the morning was Governor Roy Barnes' plan to reform the state's educational system, a proposal that will draw considerable scrutiny this legislative session.
Madden, a Democrat from Elberton, took the podium first, saying he supports Barnes' plan, which will create an education accountability office under the Governor's control. Madden noted that Georgia is trailing other states that have implemented such an office, such as North Carolina, Texas and Kentucky.
"We've been left behind while other states are doing this," he said.
Madden also spoke in favor of revamping teacher tenure guidelines so that instructors aren't left on the job when they are no longer effective.
Hudgens, a Republican from Hull, said the Governor "has come out roaring" with the education reform package.
While he says the 125-page plan is "basically good legislation," he added that he has problems with creating an accountability office under the Governor's control.
"Let's not let the fox guard the hen house," said Hudgens. "We need someone who can truly assess if the job is being done."
Hudgens also voiced concerns over how to penalize schools that don't meet state standards. He questioned what would happen if the lone middle school or high school in a county falls short, saying that legislators will look at the options of allowing students to cross county lines or enroll at a private school if their own system is failing.
The representative warned that education reform will put an extra burden on taxpayers, pointing out that plans for reduced student-to-teacher ratios will require more facilities.
"This is going to cost more money and the state doesn't have any money," said Hudgens. "This will cost more for local taxpayers."
In other matters, Hudgens said he supports a bill that would make animal cruelty a felony. That is, if the legislation makes clear that farming practices such as dehorning and neutering animals are not considered offenses. He said the intent to torture the animal should be the basis of criminal charges.
Both Hudgens and Madden said they don't feel a proposal to raise the driving age from 16 to 17 should be passed, maintaining that those aged 17 are not necessarily more mature than those a year younger. Likewise, Hudgens pointed out that upping the required age would prolong the burden on some parents who must transport their children to numerous activities.
But Madden said limited driving privileges may be an option, such as allowing 16-year-olds on the road only during the day.
"This will be hotly debated," said Madden of the teen driving issue.
Perhaps the biggest crowd reaction of the morning came during Linder's speech. The 11th district representative said he'd like to turn "April 15th into just another nice spring day."
"Let's abolish the IRS," said Linder, receiving enthusiastic applause.
Linder said President Clinton could alter his tarnished legacy and be remembered as "the president who gave us freedom again" if he backed a national sales tax plan that would do away with all taxes on income.
"It would be the largest transfer of power outside of Washington to you in the history of the nation," said Linder.
Linder said Americans unknowingly pay a large sales tax due to "the embedded cost of the IRS."
"You're paying a 22 percent sales tax," he said. "You just don't know it...In our market place there's a 22 percent tax component in our prices."
Freddie Horton from Senator Cleland's office read a prepared statement from the senator, which addressed issues such as a patients' bill of rights, improving military pay, long-term planning for national security issues and bringing an end to partisanship.
Christopher Smith from Senator Coverdell's office told the crowd that education is a top priority of the senator. He said Coverdell also wants to see tax reforms to bring a "simpler and more just tax code." Smith added that Coverdell is concerned about agriculture and agribusiness issues.
James Tullos of the U.S. Census Bureau told the audience that filling out census forms is a very important matter, noting that counties that "undercount" could lose significant funds. He said counties could possibly lose $1,500 to $3,500 per uncounted person per year. Tullos also said the Census Bureau is seeking employees to help in the count. Those interested in serving as counters may call local census officials at the Madison County Clean and Beautiful office.

BOE views P.E. complex plan
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Local school leaders viewed a sketch for a planned Madison County school physical education complex Tuesday but took no action on the matter.
Jerry Coutant, a retired architect and master gardener, offered a design for the complex to be located across from the high school and middle school, charging no fee for the work.
School board members gathered around Coutant's large sketch of the complex in the high school media center Tuesday as the architect outlined his proposal.
The outline for the complex includes a 400-meter track, 10 tennis courts, two soccer fields, two football fields, two softball fields, a concession and administrative building, a cross country course and an area for biology and botany studies.
Coutant, who was approached by county extension agent Carl Varnadoe to help with the project, said he realizes changes may be made to the plan, but he wanted to offer a starting point for the board.
Superintendent Dennis Moore thanked Coutant for his assistance and said school staff members will view the sketch to give their input on what is needed.
Moore has said he expects the complex to be constructed in phases over three years.
In other business Tuesday, the school board:
·heard that construction of the Hull-Sanford Elementary School is on schedule.
·approved an agreement with the city of Danielsville that will allow the school system to drill a well on school grounds for the irrigation of athletic fields.
·approved the purchase of a scrubber for $3,200 to maintain tile hallways.
·approved the 2000-2001 school calendar (see page 2A).
·approved a contract with Eagle Waste Management to service school dumpsters for 12 months.
·heard from Moore, who suggested that the board consider increasing sick leave days for non-certified school personnel from 10 to 12 1/2 days per year.
·heard from Moore, who said the school system is trying to arrange the school bus system so that elementary school children will no longer ride with middle school and high school students.
·met in closed session before approving maternity leave for Lorie Skelton at Danielsville Elementary, Beth Thornton and Tammi Barker at the high school, and Leah Mattison and Rhonda Doster at Comer Elementary. The board also accepted the resignation of Cheryl Kesler at the middle school.


Danielsville man charged with murder
A 26-year-old Danielsville man has been charged with the murder of a DeKalb County woman.
Christopher Ray Fleming of AC Carey Road was arrested Thursday in Madison County for allegedly stabbing Zaulafallah Yancy, 48, to death and dumping her body off I-285.
According to a press release from the DeKalb County Bureau of Police Services, investigators believe the incident began at or near Bouldercrest Road and I-285 in Decatur, where the suspect and the victim encountered each other. The motive for the killing is not known.
Last Tuesday at approximately 9:51 a.m., DeKalb police units responded to a call of a person down beside the road in the exit ramp from I-285 west to I-675 south. Upon their arrival, they located the victim with no signs of life. A preliminary investigation revealed that the victim died of multiple stab wounds.
Fleming, a truck driver who operates out of Jackson County, was apprehended without incident by DeKalb officers with assistance from local authorities. He is being held without bail in DeKalb County.
The Madison County and Jackson County Sheriff's Departments and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted DeKalb detectives in the investigation.



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