TREES DOWN ACROSS
The ice storm that hit Jackson County
Saturday and Sunday left trees down throughout the area. Members
of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department are shown around 10
a.m. Sunday sizing up a tree that had fallen over a utility line
on the corner of the Brockton Loop and Brockton Road. They had
been out since 5 a.m. clearing up debris from the storm.
Another wintry weekend?
Three-day snow storm predicted
BY ANGELA GARY
This weekend may look a lot like last weekend as forecasters
predict a mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain. Only this time,
the impact on Jackson County may be a lot worse.
The National Weather Service forecast predicts snow, sleet and
freezing rain for north Georgia Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If the winter storm does hit, it would come after a week of extremely
cold temperatures that have kept the ground and roads cold. The
forecast predicts that temperatures would stay in the 30s during
the wintry weekend.
Jackson County road superintendent Sam McClure said his crews
will be ready for the ice and snow if it does return this weekend.
He is getting all of the materials refurbished and resupplied
and making plans for the next storm.
"We've already mounted our spreaders on our trucks and got
our snow plows on," he said. "We are laying our battle
plan and getting our crews lined up. It looks like it will be
a long storm, so we will have to go to shifts and rotate them
in and out."
McClure said he will be keeping a close watch on the weather
"It seems like each storm is a little different," he
said. "The crew is doing pretty good. They rest up pretty
quick. They've all been notified that it is coming and they will
be prepared to come in. They will get as much rest as they can
Predictions of another winter storm come on the heels of a winter
weekend that left hundreds without power following a heavy dose
of freezing rain and sleet that brought down power lines in north
Georgia. Although a number of areas in the county were without
power early this week, Jackson County escaped the worst damage.
Other nearby counties were hit hard as trees and broken limbs
took a toll on electric service. At one point Sunday, over 60
percent of Banks County residents were without electricity.
The Jackson County School System canceled classes Monday due
to the power outages and weather conditions, but the Jefferson
and Commerce school systems held classes on Monday.
Jackson County road department crews worked Saturday and Sunday
to put sand and salt on the county roads and to remove trees
and limbs. 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 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 that all of the roads were clear by Monday and most
of the debris had been cleared away.
"We still have some debris adjacent to the roads,"
he said Monday afternoon. "We will be a day or two clearing
and hauling it up. Some of the back roads have limbs leaning
over them that we need to get."
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.
911 CALLS INCREASE
E-911 director David Murphy said calls increased to his department
over the weekend, but most were not emergencies. The department
received 372 calls on Friday, which is average, but it jumped
to 527 calls on Saturday and then to 820 on 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 pointed out that people who call 911 with non-emergencies
are taking time away from the dispatchers who could be needed
for real emergencies.
"If someone actually had an emergency, they might not be
able to get through," he said. "People need to remember
not to use 911 to report their power outage or find out when
it will come on. We have no idea."
Murphy said the department did get more wreck calls than usual
over the weekend, 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."
Water Wise accepts
$1.5 million for sewage plant
No word on when firm will build promised
plant in Pendergrass
BY ANGELA GARY
Water Wise officials have apparently decided not to appeal a
judge's order approving the condemnation suit filed by Jackson
County on the former Texfi sewage plant in Jefferson.
The company accepted $1.5 million Friday from Jackson County
for the plant. Jackson County leaders said this means that the
company can't challenge the ruling. Water Wise attorney Chris
Elrod said Tuesday that the company has not decided whether it
would appeal the ruling, but he admitted that the law probably
wouldn't allow such an action.
"I think it's fair to say that is probably what the law
is on that," he said when asked if such an appeal would
Water Wise can apparently still appeal the value and seek more
money from the county. If they do proceed with this, a court
hearing would be held in March.
The company apparently kept $200,000 of the $1.5 million settlement
with the remainder going to PrinVest, the New York firm which
financed the project.
The county took operation of the sewage plant in early January
and has been making minor repairs. Metcalf and Eddy, Inc. will
operate the plant for the county on a temporary basis until bids
Throughout the legal maneuvering, Water Wise leaders said they
would build a sewage plant in Pendergrass whatever the outcome
of the Texfi case. But there have apparently been no efforts
made toward doing that, nor any announcements made by the company
on the Pendergrass project. Elrod said there has been no decision
on when construction would begin on a sewage facility in Pendergrass.