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This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News


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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 Internet access.
"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.

Nicholson Seeks 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 several others.
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 check."
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.

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