What started out with beautiful, big
snowflakes early Saturday afternoon, turned into the first ice
storm of the season as snow turned to sleet, then sleet to rain,
which froze on trees, breaking limbs and snapping tree trunks.
But while counties to the north, west and south were hard hit,
eastern Jackson County escaped with relatively little damage.
Most Of Jackson
Escapes Wrath Of Season's First Winter Storm
By ANGELA GARY
Power outages were reported across Jackson County early this
week when the first ice storm of the season hit North Georgia.
The Jackson County School System canceled its classes for Monday
due to the power outages and weather conditions.
Temperatures dipped down below 30 with a mixture of rain and
ice falling Saturday and Sunday across the county. When the rain
froze on the trees, limbs and entire trees fell across roads
and utility lines throughout the county.
Jackson County road department crews worked Saturday and Sunday
to put out sand and salt and to remove trees and limbs from the
roads. The crews first went out around 2 p.m. Saturday and worked
through Sunday night.
"We were in pretty good shape just before daybreak on Sunday
as far as our roads go," said road department superintendent
Sam McClure. "We had worked on them all night and then the
ice started freezing on the trees, and about daylight Sunday,
we had trees start to fall and we had to call everyone in again."
McClure said the crew and the volunteer firemen who assisted
them did a good job during the storm.
"Everyone really did a good job," he said. "I'm
really proud of them. We worked 15 to 20 hours each over Saturday
and Sunday ... We had a lot of help from the local fire departments.
They pitched in and we certainly appreciate it."
McClure said all of the roads were clear by Monday and most of
the debris had been removed.
Employees with the Georgia Department of Transportation worked
56 hours over the weekend clearing the state routes and interstates.
Traffic signal technicians also worked to ensure that power was
restored to traffic signals and that they were operating correctly.
"It is a thankless job to drive a dump truck at 3 o'clock
in the morning on Hwy. 441 but our people did it and did it well,"
DOT commissioner Wayne Shackelford said. "I am proud of
the guys who cut the trees and worked to remove fallen trees
with snow plows."
DOT crews also placed salt and sand on state routes and interstates,
starting Saturday afternoon.
"We used over 4,000 tons of salt and stone this weekend,"
said district one maintenance engineer Darrell Pyeatt. "Our
plan is to reload so we can be ready if winter weather strikes
The local and state road efforts paid off. By Sunday morning,
most local roads were free of ice, except on bridges and shaded
911 CALLS INCREASE
911 director David Murphy said calls increased to his department
over the weekend but most were not emergencies. The department
received 372 calls Friday, which is average, but 527 calls Saturday
and 820 Sunday.
"Most of these calls were people asking about road conditions
and power outages," Murphy said. "People wanted us
to notify the power companies ... What people don't realize is
that we don't have any magic solutions or magic numbers to call
the power companies and let them know services are out."
Murphy said the department received more wreck calls than usual
over the weekend, especially Saturday night, but none were serious.
"We didn't even transport anyone from any of the accidents
that we did have," he said. "Most of them were people
who were sliding off of the road. No one was really injured."
Meanwhile, meteorologists are already talking about the possibility
of more winter weather Thursday, Friday and Saturday as a strong
cold storm system moves east.
Commerce Area Suffers Little
People in the east side of the Jackson County must have wondered
Sunday morning about all the fuss over "Ice Storm 2000"
as one Atlanta TV station dubbed it.
Roads were largely ice-free, very few trees were down, and power
outage were sparse, particularly in Commerce. The entire east
side of the county appeared to have missed the brunt of a storm
that devastated Barrow, Banks, Athens-Clarke and even Oconee
and Oglethorpe counties to the south.
Roads were largely clear by early Sunday in Nicholson, Commerce
and Maysville, although an occasional fallen tree or low-hanging
limb warranted driving caution. Jackson EMC and Georgia Power
had to deal with power outages, but not nearly as many as in
other areas of the northern half of the state.
"I think our consistent limb trimming or right of way trimming
really paid off this weekend," said Commerce city manager
Clarence Bryant. He noted that while the city's electric crew
worked most of the day Sunday, there were only sporadic outages
affecting two or three homes at a time.
Bryant said he was in Atlanta Sunday for the Georgia Municipal
Association's Mayors' Day programs, and was not of the opinion
that icing was worse in that area than in Commerce.
"It looked to me like we had as much or more ice,"
The damage was so severe elsewhere that Gov. Roy Barnes declared
20 counties disaster areas.
By Tuesday morning, there were still some 14,000 Georgians without
power. In West Jackson, some people were without electricity
for a few hours, while others didn't get their power restored
until Monday morning. Cable television had not been fully restored
as of Tuesday morning.
Nicholson To Resume
Zoning Discussion Some Time In February
-- The third "work session" of the Nicholson City Council
on its proposed zoning ordinance will not take place until after
the next regular council meeting, according to City Clerk Dana
The council met the past two Tuesday nights, Feb. 11 and Feb.
18, to begin a review of what may be the city's first zoning
"We wanted to wait until after our regular council meeting,"
said Mrs. Wilbanks, when asked about the timing for the third
The first two have consisted of general discussion not just among
the city council members, but also between the six to eight citizens
attending and the council. Those discussions appeared to frustrate
Mayor Steve Wilbanks, who says the floor will not be open to
the public at the next work session.
"I will not open the floor. I want the council to get this
thing going," Wilbanks stated Jan. 18. "If we're mixing
heads, we can't get nothing going, because we're always bickering."
The focus of the sometimes-lively discussion has largely been
on how to deal with mobile homes. Some of the council and most
of the public would like to limit mobile home subdivisions, but
over the first two work sessions, all council members have come
to the conclusion that mobile homes will always be part of the
housing mix in the community.
Given that, the next question is to decide whether to create
a separate zone for mobile homes and one for houses or to lump
them all together as the draft of the zoning ordinance does.
The council appears to be leaning toward having two or more residential
Determining the zoning classes will be a key decision. Once that
is done, Lee Carmen, zoning official of the Northeast Georgia
Regional Development Center, and author of the draft ordinance,
will go throughout the town and place every tract in one of the
zoning districts. The map she generates will be made public,
and citizens will have a chance to comment on how their property
According to Mrs. Wilbanks, the city council will also discuss
the possibility of enacting the county zoning ordinance, leaving
the Jackson County office of Planning and Development in charge
of administration and enforcement.
Yet another issue to be resolved is whether the final decision
will be made by a vote of the town council or a vote of the public.
That aspect has not been discussed.
It is a reminder that zoning is far from a sure thing this year
in Nicholson. The community has twice before gone through the
trouble of creating an ordinance, only to see the public vote
it down. Nicholson is the only Jackson County community without
zoning. One result of that has been the proliferation of mobile
home developments, which led Nicholson resident Scherry Jackson
to lead a citizen initiative calling for the town to enact zoning.