Moment Of Happiness
Commerce High School competition cheerleaders
Erin Redmon and Laura Westbrooks share a moment of joy Friday
afternoon after their Tiger Squad was declared the Class A state
champion in competitive cheerleading.
Photo by Drew Brantley
New City Utility?
Commerce City Manager Studying Pros, Cons
Of Fiber Optics Network
Should Commerce join Thomasville, Newnan,
Moultrie, Marietta, Elberton and a few other Georgia towns in
establishing a fiber optics network? If so, what will it cost,
and what kind of revenue will it produce?
Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant hopes to have those and
other questions answered next week when he meets with a consultant
to discuss the city's participation in the statewide fiber optics
network being constructed by the Municipal Electric Authority
of Georgia (MEAG).
The city council has previously indicated a desire to join the
project, with the potential of creating another utility department
that could provide income for the city.
"We first started talking about this three or four years
ago. Technology has changed so much since then," notes Bryant,
who admits to having little practical knowledge about fiber optics.
"I'm hoping he can give us the do's and dont's, what kind
of system to build, the cost, what we hope to accomplish and
what kind of revenue to expect," said Bryant. The meeting
is set for Tuesday morning.
Fiber optics cables, as opposed to standard telephone cables,
can carry a lot more information, whether it's data, voice, fax
or video. A fiber optics system could open up Commerce to industries
requiring high-speed data transfer, not to mention high-speed
"We're looking at this to start supplementing some of the
revenue we're losing on the electric side," said Bryant,
referring to pending deregulation of the electric industry.
Bryant expects the cost to be significant.
"It's pretty expensive. The head-in would cost several hundred
thousand," he said.
There has been no time frame established, although Bryant said
he hopes to have that following Tuesday's meeting.
"I would expect Commerce would have cable available in the
next nine to 15 months," he projected.
County Help With Zoning
NICHOLSON -- As
it seeks to implement a zoning ordinance, the Nicholson Town
Council plans to call on the expertise of the Jackson County
Office of Planning and Development.
At Monday night's meeting, the council agreed to council member
Margaret Ward's suggestion to invite David Clabo, head of the
county department, to its next "work session" on zoning.
Furthermore, there seems to be growing interest on the council
to see if it can implement parts of the Jackson County zoning
ordinance, as opposed to drafting its own.
"The gentleman (Clabo) talked to me at length about it (implementing
zoning) and said he would be glad to help us in any way he could,"
said Ward. "He was very appreciative that we were interested
in zoning. He is very knowledgeable. He knows what is changing
and what is taking place. I think it would be very helpful if
he would come."
The council agreed to ask Clabo if he could attend a work session
Thursday, Feb. 17, or Tuesday, Feb. 22.
"It could be very helpful. It would give us some insights,"
Ward stated. "... It is good to get the input of people
who have been there."
The council has been going over a draft copy of a proposed zoning
ordinance, a draft written by Lee Carmen of the Northeast Georgia
Regional Development Center. It was Councilman Thomas Gary, who
was not present Monday night, who originally questioned why Nicholson
could not just adopt the Jackson County ordinance.
Arcade apparently used a similar process last year when it became
the latest Jackson County government to see the need for zoning.
Only Nicholson remains without zoning.
Nicholson officials have yet to determine how many classifications
of land use they want, although members of the town council proposed
two residential zones (one for mobile homes, one for stick-built
homes), commercial and agricultural zones. Jackson County has
City Clerk Dana Wilbanks said Mrs. Carmen had reported that the
city could just take the parts of the county ordinance it wants
to use and adopt those portions as the Nicholson zoning ordinance.
Since it appears likely that the town will use the county to
enforce its ordinance, having a parallel set of zoning regulations
would make it easier for Clabo and his staff to enforce the Nicholson
ordinance, officials believe.
Mrs. Carmen is also in the process of mapping the city according
to land uses.
In other business Monday night, the council approved a motion
by Ward to draft and present to Annie Ruth Ward a resolution
honoring her for her years of service in providing seasonal decorations
at the Harold S. Swindle Public Library.
Apartments By Elementary
School Designed For Low-Income Residents
Commerce's newest apartment complex
80 units under construction behind the city shop area and housing
project on Minish Drive at Waterworks Road will be marketed
to the low-income and "very low-income," according
to the firm that will manage the $2.8 million project.
But don't get visions of a housing project or a typical government-subsidized
Section 8 apartment complex, says Mark Tiffany, of PCM Management
Group, manager of the complex.
This complex will have limited access, a clubhouse, an after-school
program for children, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, playground
and a multi-purpose outdoor court. And, says Tiffany, there will
be special tenant-only activities, usually centered around holidays.
"A person won't know by driving in it that it is an affordable
housing community. It has the look of a conventional apartment
complex," Tiffany states. "It will prove to be a nice
development when it is all done."
The owner of the complex is Cooperative Resource Center, a non-profit
organization getting tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service
for providing "affordable housing."
Exactly what is "affordable" for Jackson County has
yet to be decided. It will be established by the Georgia Department
of Community Affairs, which oversees the program. Tiffany predicted
that the rates would be $500 to $550 per month for the 10 one-bedroom
apartments, $600-$650 for the 50 two-bedroom apartments and $700-$750
for the 20 three-bedroom units.
The target market is residents making at or below 60 percent
of the area household income as determined by DCA.
"We intend to market this to the local community, those
in inferior housing situations now who can afford to live in
newer, more efficient housing or people who may want to commute
a shorter distance," Tiffany explained.
The complex meets zoning standards for parking places per unit,
and will have a manager at the site.
"We will use a state-approved apartment lease that has teeth,"
Tiffany said. "Management controls all activities on site.
We also use a pretty extensive screening process. They have to
provide us with full credit reports and we do a criminal background
The firm will begin pre-leasing units in March and April, expects
to allow occupancy in May and to be fully completed in June.
Units have gas water heaters, gas cooking and electric heat and
air. Tenants will be responsible for all utilities. Entry through
the gate will require a card or use of code through a touch pad.