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FRONT PAGE - FEBRUARY 23, 2000 - HOMER, GA

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DANCING FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Kelsey Massey and Laura Rose Pickens danced for a good cause at the American Heart Association "Dance for Heart" last week. The girls are first graders at Banks County Primary School.
Photo by Sherry Lewis



EDUCATION
Education proposal would require 18 new classrooms in Banks County
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Banks County School System could have to provide 18 new classrooms and teachers in kindergarten to eighth grade under one version of Governor Roy Barnes' education reform bill.
Superintendent Deborah White presented the board of education with the figures during a work session on Thursday.
"This number is based on the maximum class size requirements specified in the House version of the govenor's education reform bill," White explained.
Currently, there are 1,691 students enrolled in K-8 and that number is expected to increase by 10 percent, or to 1,864 students, when school begins in August. She divided those figures by the maximum class size proposed in House Bill 1187 to come up with the difference.
Each grade is expected to have to add one teacher, with second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, having to add two teachers. Kindergarten and third grade are projected to need three additional teachers.
The projected state allotment will pay for 84.07 teachers, although 92 will be needed to continue the current exploratory programs at the middle school. The funding for the additional teachers will have to come from local funds at this time.
The high school program will also require additional staff but the exact numbers cannot be projected at this time, White said. They will be contingent upon how the additional teaching responsibilities, such as physical education, art and music, are addressed at the state level. The high school has adequate space for additional classrooms, officials said.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Lula annexes property for proposed shopping center
BY SHERRY LEWIS
While Lula council members are willing to provide sewer to a proposed neighborhood shopping center, it will require that the property be annexed into the city limits.
Robert Grizzle, who represented developer Jimmy Williams at the council meeting on Monday, asked for a letter of commitment for sewer for the proposed development on a 35-acre tract of land on Belton Bridge Road at Hwy. 365.
Grizzle said the development would most likely have a grocery store, video store, fast food restaurant and a bank.
After some discussion, the parties agreed that a 5.79-acre tract could be annexed into the city. Grizzle said that portion of the land could be used for a fast food restaurant, which would require approximately 100,000 gallons of sewage a month.
The point of contention at this time is that the city does not have package alcohol sales, which could be a deterrent for a major grocery store, officials said.
Even with the promise of jobs and accessibility of the center for Lula residents, the council said they would still require that the rest of the property be annexed before they would agree to service the area.
Councilman Milton Turner said: "If it is not in the city, we don't offer sewer. We still don't offer it to all our citizens."
The council did agree to write the letter of commitment for the 5.79-acre tract and continue negotiations on the other portion of the property.
In other business, the city council:
·heard a report from Mayor Tim Allen that the well the council voted to purchase several months ago has passed all water sample tests. The next step is to apply for a permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
·discussed the drug screening policy for employees.
·voted to purchase two-way radio/phones at a cost of $350. The monthly fee will be $39 per phone on a 12-month contract.

Land owner sues county over increase in taxes
A Banks County land owner is suing the county for property tax relief.
In a suit filed last week, J.D. Sanders has asked that Andy Scroggs, tax assessor, and the Banks County board of assessors be required to lower the assessed fair market value on an 8.13-acre tract of land to the level it existed in 1998.
Last year, Sanders paid $170 in taxes, and this year, the cost escalated to $250.
Sanders contends that approximately five acres of the 8.13 site is in the flood plain of the Middle Fork of the Broad River and approximately three acres has scrub trees and no marketable timber.
"That (the tax rate) is unreasonable for property I can't even build on," he said Monday. "I don't mind paying taxes, but I don't believe in being taken advantage of."
The suit also points out that there is no road frontage to the property. Sanders said that the property has no access and is located eight or 10 feet below the road.
In 1962, the tax on the land was approximately $1 per acre, and it increased to $31.25 per acre in 1999, Sanders continued.
If Sander's wins the suit, he is also asking for reasonable costs, included but not limited to attorney's fees or other relief that the court deems just and proper.



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