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FRONT PAGE - FEBRUARY 9, 2000 - HOMER, GA

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HARRISONS CELEBRATE 70 YEARS

State representative Ben Bridges presented M.L. and Flora Harrison with a flag that was flown over the state capital in their honor on their 70th wedding anniversary. The celebration was held Sunday at the Old Banks County Jail.


Harrisons celebrate 70 years together
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Hundreds of family and friends filed through the Old Banks County Jail on Sunday to offer congratulations to M.L. and Flora Harrison for 70 years of marriage and for their service to Banks County.
The couple grew up in the Maysville area, where they were neighbors, then sweethearts, before becoming man and wife on January 19, 1930.
Over the years, the couple say they have just "drifted along" and months turned to years and years to decades.
"We've just been drifting along together," said Mrs. Harrison. "We've had a happy life."
A good portion of their lives has been in public service.
Mr. Harrison was a truck driver, a mail carrier, mayor of Maysville and a Banks County deputy before being elected sheriff in November 1960. He served as sheriff of Banks County for 16 years.
The very room where they sat on Sunday was where they lived for 13 years while Mr. Harrison was sheriff. They spent the remainder of their time at the jail that is still in operation today.
"We were the last ones to live in the old jail and the first ones to live in the new jail," Mrs. Harrison remembered.
Being the sheriff and the wife of the sheriff was a full-time job, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, she explained. While Mr. Harrison patrolled the roads and helped to make Banks County a safer place to live, Mrs. Harrison was cooking up some of the best food prisoners and law enforcement people ever ate, according to some who attended the anniversary celebration.
"You been cooking any biscuits lately?" was the first of many statements made about Mrs. Harrison's biscuits.
Mrs. Harrison replied: "If I only had a dollar for every one of them biscuits, I'd be doing good."
Former state patrolman Bill Grant praised Mrs. Harrison for her help.
"You really took care of us when we were working over here," said Grant, referring to the home cooking.
Mrs. Harrison said it was no bother, the law enforcement people were like family.
"The state patrol was just like our family and, if we needed anything, they were there to help us out," she remembered.
Mrs. Harrison not only cooked but wore many hats. In fact, she was Deputy Flora Harrison at that time.
"I cooked, kept the books, locked them up and let them out," she explained.
After serving as sheriff for 16 years, Harrison went to Jackson County as a deputy, where he worked another 16 years before retiring.
"I was out that door at 7 and done deputized to go to work in Jackson County," Mr. Harrison remembered.
State Representative Ben Bridges read a proclamation he had written to the couple praising them not only for their personal accomplishments, but for their public service. He also read a proclamation from Gov. Roy Barnes and from secretary of state Cathy Cox. The proclamation from Cox stated that a flag in honor of the Harrisons flew over the state capitol on Thursday. Bridges presented the couple with that flag on Sunday.
Bridges also reminisced about what the Harrisons had meant to him. Bridges operated a barber shop, now home of The Banks County News, when he became friends with Mr. Harrison. At that time, there was only one road deputy and Harrison on staff, so Bridges rode in the patrol car with the sheriff at night.
"One night, in 1965, he said, 'Ben, do you like law enforcement? Would you like to get on with the state patrol?'
"I said, 'I can't get on with the state patrol. That's way over my head.' I grew up on a farm and I didn't have my goals set that high. He helped me open that door."
Today, the couple resides in Maysville. They have two daughters, Lois Harper and Rachel Wilson, both of Maysville. They also have six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


Child injured when truck hits school bus
A 12-year-old child was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center complaining of neck pain following a school bus accident Monday.
Bus driver Amy O'Kelley was traveling on Hwy. 98 when a 1995 Ford F-250, driven by Stanley Phillip Morris, 46, Jefferson, rounded a curve at the Reed Street intersection and hit the bus in the rear, according to Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman.
The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.
The child was treated and released Monday afternoon, according to Doug O'Neal, director of emergency medical services. None of the other children were injured in the accident. Approximately 50 children were on the bus.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Census to be taken soon
Banks County will soon be canvassed by people gathering information for the census.
The census data is important to counties and cities because it is used to determine grant eligibility and funding for social welfare programs. It is also used to calculate how many state and national representatives a state is entitled. Leaders say that inaccuracies in the 1990 census led to Georgia missing out on two addtional represntative allocations for Congress. Salaries for county officials are also based on census information.
In 1990, only 65 percent of the people in the United States participated in the census.
The population of the county has not been counted in 10 years. All the information on the census is confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone, leaders say. It is not reported to the Internal Revenue Service nor will it be sold to telephone solicitors.
Those hired by the census bureau will be visiting homes to hand out forms. These forms are to be filled out and mailed in to the census bureau. Some countians will be given the short forms, which only ask for the number of residents per household and similar questions, while others will be given a longer form asking for more information.
Those who miss the census counters may pick up forms at area pharmacies, banks and grocery stores. Display boxes will be placed in participating businesses to provide these forms and a place to drop them off.
Les Norton of the census bureau will be taking interviews for census-takers at the Banks County Public Library on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the next several months.


Motel owners appeal to BOC
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Two Banks County motel owners agree that Banks Crossing doesn't need another economy motel but say that an upscale hotel could be an asset.
Gordon Eanes, owner of Days Inn, and Chandra Patel, owner of Holiday Inn Express and Dollarwise Inn, met with the Banks County Board of Commissioners on Friday to express those concerns. No action was taken.
Last month, the BOC discussed a request by some motel operators to place a moratorium on motels in the area. On Friday, the men said they were interested in limiting economy motels and vying for a full-service hotel which could bring conventions to the area. This could be done by adding requirements for motels, such as elevators, an interior entrance, larger lobby areas and a minimum amount of meeting space, according to Eanes.
A 200-room Marriott, a full-service hotel, would bring conventions to the area and bring additional business to the economy motels as well, Eanes continued.
This scenario happened in Gwinnett County on Pleasant Hill Road, Eanes continued. Many motels were struggling until the Marriott built in that area.
Patel agreed said: "We need an upscale hotel with full facilities. Those were barely surviving until the Marriott came to Pleasant Hill."
Presently, Banks Crossing has small economy motels and no meeting rooms, said Patel. When new economy motels are built, they take the revenues from other motels.
"There is not enough profit to upgrade and you have distress hotels which become weekly hotels," Patel said. "People come and bring their families and put a burden on the school system. It is extremely important that a hotel remain profitable to maintain itself."
Eanes said: "This is a scenario I've seen firsthand. Suddenly, you've got five or six people living in a room. It could impact the school by three bus loads in the morning."
BOC chairman James Dumas suggested addressing the problem with additional ordinances that require kitchens and a square-foot minimum for weekly motels.
The BOC must still deal with motels in the area which would be grandfathered in, Patel reminded Dumas.
BOC member Ernest Rogers agreed with Dumas.
"I believe in free trade," he said. "Competition will make motels upgrade instead of downgrade. It is up to the board to set regulations to limit these monthly stays."



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