News from Jackson County...

March 2, 2000


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OPINIONS
Support bond vote
To say that the student population in Jackson County is growing would be an understatement. Because of the growth coming to the county, classrooms are getting full at a pace we've never seen before.

U.S. Once Again At The
Mercy Of OPEC
The bad news is that a gallon of regular gasoline averages $1.41 as of last week in America. The worse news is that we can expect a 25-cent increase in mid-spring, and $2 per gallon is not out of the question.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Keep it rural!
A controversial rezoning request on Floyd Road was withdrawn Monday after neighboring residents voiced fears that the zoning change would spark more residential development in the agricultural area.

No county coverage
BOC says 'no' to health insurance for county's elected officials
Madison County's elected officials will continue to seek health insurance apart from the county.

County voters to show presidential preferences
Madison Countians will get their turn to select their favorite party hopefuls in the race for president Tuesday.
News from
BANKS COUNTY
Low voter turnout expected Tues. for Presidential Primary
A low turnout is expected Tuesday when Banks County voters go to the polls to cast their ballots in the Presidential Preference Primary.

Bush, Gore win in 'mock election'
Banks County Middle School students favor Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore as the top two candidates in the presidential race.

Volunteers help New Salem UMC rebuild
In a gesture of good will, teenagers and adults from three northeastern states spent last week helping to rebuild New Salem United Methodist Church.


SPORTS
Tiger Track Opens Season At Dome
CHS Sends 6 To Statewide Meet In Atlanta Friday
One can look at Friday's action by the Commerce track and field team at the Georgia Dome as a start to the season or a finish.

Jefferson Girls Bow Out Of State Basketball Tournament
Jefferson's Lady Dragons were one of several victims in a weekend of upsets in the state basketball sectionals. Jefferson fell to Landmark Christian Friday, finishing their season with a 20-9 record.

4-0 Panthers playing serious hardball
Rusty Hendricks must be delighted.
Hendricks' Panther baseball team won its fourth straight game Tuesday night, assuring the team of being in Saturday's Bi-County Tournament championship game.


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Scrambled Chickens

Workers from ConAgra clean up after a truck transporting broilers overturned on Georgia 334 early Thursday afternoon just east of the intersection with U.S. 441. Driver David Biggers of Cleveland lost control of the truck as it traveled west around a curve, crossed the center line and overturned on the shoulder of the east lane. Biggers was not hurt, but hundreds of chickens perished a few hours prematurely.

NO MORE MOBILE UNITS?

The Jefferson School System is using several mobile units as classrooms due to growth at the system. The March 7 bond referendum is to provide funds for expansion at the system's schools. Jenny Bellnap's kindergarten class is shown above. She has 17 students in the class. Two other mobile units are used as kindergarten classes.
Photo by Travis Hatfield

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Ho-Hum: Not Much Interest Seen In Presidential Primary

JEFFERSON -- A low turnout is expected Tuesday when Jackson County voters go to the polls to cast their ballots in the Presidential Preference Primary.
Jackson County probate judge Margaret Deadwyler, who is the election superintendent, said she expects no more than 25 percent of the county's 15,607 registered voters to cast ballots. The turnout could be higher in Jefferson than in other areas because of a bond referendum vote for improvements and expansion of the city school system.
If that proves correct, it will be in contrast to recent primary elections in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan, where record numbers of voters went to the polls, thanks to an unexpectedly competitive race for the Republican nomination.
The Republican candidates in the presidential primary are Arizona Senator John McCain, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Alan Keyes, but the surprising strength of McCain has generated a two-candidate race in a primary season when conventional wisdom said Bush's nomination was inevitable. Bush is the son of former President George Bush.
The names of Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer and Orrin Hatch will also be on the ballot, but they have dropped out of the race.
Democrat candidates are Vice President Al Gore and former professional basketball player and New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
Georgia is but one of 11 states holding presidential primaries on what is billed as "Super Tuesday."
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the various Jackson County precincts.
Locally, five board of commissioners seats, along with other county and state offices, will be up for grabs in the July 18 primary. Qualifying will be from 9 a.m. Monday, April 24, through noon Friday, April 28.


Marketing Survey Says Commerce Should Concentrate On Restaurants And Retail
By the year 2003, Commerce could support possibly seven downtown restaurants, according to the authors of a $10,000 marketing study conducted for the city at the request of the Downtown Development Authority.
Dr. Alice Ford-Collins of the Stetson School of Business at Mercer University, and Eleanor Matthews, of Marketek, presented the study Monday morning at the Harber House Inn before an audience of DDA members, city councilmen and officers of the Commerce Area Business Association.
Among the recommendations the study makes are that the city focus on recruiting retail businesses, particularly restaurants, that it utilize its upstairs spaces for offices and apartments and that building owners be more selective about to whom they lease property.
"Usually, whoever comes in and asks for it gets it," noted Ford-Collins. "Uh-uh." She added that the city should try to encourage retail business as a means of building the "critical mass" of businesses needed to make the downtown viable.
The two women said the marketing study had two purposes. First, it analyzed the current situation; second, it addressed potential opportunities.
Matthews used demographic data from Banks and Jackson counties to make the case for the city, pointing out the rapid growth, median income and even analyzing the lifestyles of residents. She said the low median household income of $30,228 "is the only bad news," and presented figures showing that retail sales in the two-county area more than doubled from 1992 to 1999.
From those figures, the two concluded that Commerce could add 47,779 square feet of "sustainable retail space" by 2003, of which 7,400 square feet could be for food and beverage businesses.
Respondents to the marketing survey identified a lack of restaurants as the biggest weak point of the downtown, followed by a lack of retail variety and a lack of entertainment businesses. When asked what services they desired, respondents led with movie theaters, followed by restaurants and an exercise center. As for items they wished to be offered in the downtown, respondents listed women's casual apparel and children's clothing as the most-needed items.
Interestingly, 88 percent of 15 businesses who responded to the survey reported that business had improved in the past year. Only one reported a decline.
Ford-Collins listed the "strengths" of the downtown as its proximity to Interstate 85 and the outlet stores, several large "anchor" businesses or institutions, significant nearby residential neighborhoods and the growth rate.
Its weaknesses also include the proximity to I-85 and the outlet stores, the fact that so much prime retail space is either vacant or has a non-retail use, a lack of variety in businesses, including a lack of restaurants, poor pedestrian flow, largely because of the railroad tracks and heavy four-lane traffic, and limited store hours that make it impossible for people to shop downtown after they get off work.
THE STRATEGY
Ford-Collins proposed three "clusters" of businesses to address the problem.
The first, Elm Street from Georgia Avenue to Pine Street, would focus on home furnishings and accessories such as bed and bath linens, fine china, galleries, consignment stores, upholstery shops and interior design.
The second, on Broad Street from State Street south to Sycamore, would feature specialty clothing for women and children, support businesses, and perhaps stores selling books or toys and games.
The third cluster, along North Broad Street from State Street north, would specialize in restaurants, cafes, perhaps a bakery, entertainment and specialty shops.
"It would be casual, low-key, somewhat funky," she stated.
"I should be right at home," cracked Commerce councilman Bob Sosebee, whose office is in that area.
"There is a large, unfilled demand for restaurants. The bulk of them should be in that cluster," Ford-Collins proposed. "That's your best bet for drawing people from the malls."
Drawing people from Banks Crossing is seen as a goal. The seven million shoppers that go to the Tanger Factory Stores each year are a potential bonanza, the researchers said, but only if they can be lured into the downtown.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Ford-Collins made the following recommendations:
·improve the "gateways" to Commerce from the north and south so people realize they're entering the downtown.
·focus on retail businesses, including restaurants, on bottom floors, and office and residential use on subsequent floors.
·recruit quality businesses.
·improve other outlying areas, particularly along entrances to the city.
THE NEXT STEP
Jan Nelson, executive director of the DDA, says the next step will be, in the 2000-2001 budget year, to develop marketing materials utilizing the survey results.
"We want to be able to actively work on bringing in those businesses that the survey says are needed and wanted," she said. "We want to be able to develop a marketing packet that can be tailored to whatever business we are trying to court."
She estimated an expenditure of $8,000 to $10,000, half of which she believes will be funded by a grant.


GROWTH

Construction to begin soon at Freightliner in Jefferson
Freightliner is set to begin construction on a new $13 million truck dealership in Jefferson.
Grading is being done on the 26-acre tract of land north of Jefferson on Hog Mountain Road and Jett Roberts Road. Construction is slated to begin soon and be complete in approximately six months.
Two buildings will be located on the property, one 72,000 square feet and the other 45,000 square feet. The company will employ 100 people and be in operation seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
In addition to a truck dealership, the company will also sell new and used parts and have 25 maintenance bays. The firm initially wanted to locate in Braselton, but faced opposition from town leaders.



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ORGANIZATIONS

1st Candidate Announces For Commissioner
JEFFERSON -- The first candidate to announce for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners under the new five-member structure made his intentions known this week.
Stacey Britt, 38, of Jefferson, announced that he will run for the Post 1 seat on the board, a district that covers from just south of Jefferson up to the Plainview community. Jefferson is the only incorporated town in the district.
Britt works in a family real estate business in Northeast Georgia. He served as a councilman and mayor of Grayson for 10 years and was a member of the Gwinnett County Planning and Zoning Board for eight years. Britt also served for eight years on the Gwinnett County Industrial Development Authority.
"I'm running for this position because I'd like to be a member of this new county commission structure and a team player to make Jackson County a better place for all of us," he said.
John Blackstock, Jefferson, will serve as the chairman of Britt's campaign committee.
Britt was born in Lawrencville and is married to the former Melanie Willis of Cairo. They have two children, Abraham, 8, and Fallin, 5.


Two ambulances wreck Sat. night
Nine injured from three county wrecks in less than 30 minutes
In less than 30 minutes Saturday night, nine people were transported to area hospitals as the result of three wrecks, two of which involved ambulances rushing to the scene of the first accident.
The series of events that led to the multiple wrecks began at 8:38 p.m. when the Jackson County E911 Center received a call about a wreck on Hwy. 441 South at Dee's Chevron in Center. Callers indicated that several cars were involved in the wreck and that there were multiple, serious injuries.
Two ambulances were dispatched to the scene, one from Commerce and another from Jefferson. Nicholson fire and rescue units were also called to the scene.
A Jackson County sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene at 8:41 p.m. and confirmed the multiple injuries and entrapment of some of the patients. The E911 center then called for an ambulance from Athens Regional Medical Center to the scene and for Commerce rescue units to respond.
Octaviaro Otel of Nicholson was driving south on Hwy. 441 when he crossed the double yellow line and struck the left side of a vehicle driven by Joseph Miller, Homer. According to the Georgia State Patrol, Otel reportedly continued on and struck the left front of a car driven by Teresa Williams of Athens.
Williams was transported to Athens Regional Medical Center with serious injuries. She was listed in fair condition on Tuesday. Otel and a passenger in his vehicle were also transported to Athens Regional Medical Center with visible injuries.
Otel was cited for failure to maintain a lane and giving false information to a law enforcement officer.
AMBULANCE WRECKS
Five minutes after this wreck occurred, at 8:46, the Jefferson ambulance heading to the Hwy. 441 scene radioed that it had been involved in a wreck on Hwy. 129 at the red light in front of Jefferson High School. The ambulance was heading south on Hwy. 129 on its way to the Hwy. 441 wreck when it hit a pickup truck driven by Steve Deacon, who had just left a Cub Scout function at the school. Jefferson rescue units and the West Jackson ambulance responded to that wreck and transported Mr. Deacon and his daughter to ARMS. They were treated and released. The Jackson County ambulance was apparently totalled in the wreck.
The ambulance driver, Dennis Leroy Brookshire, had the sirens on and lights flashing as he traveled southbound on Hwy. 129. He also began to blow his horn as he approached the intersection and saw that the truck pulled out to turn left. The truck pulled into the path of the ambulance, according to the state patrol reports. Brookshire and a passenger in the ambulance were transported to Athens Regional Medical Center.
No charges were filed.

ANOTHER AMBULANCE WRECKS
With the Jefferson ambulance out of service and the West Jackson ambulance now tied up responding to the Jefferson wreck, the E911 center called for Banks County and St. Mary's Hospital in Athens to send ambulances to the Hwy. 441 wreck.
But at 9 p.m., the E911 center was notified that the St. Mary's ambulance had hit a car on Hwy. 129 South near the Overhead Door company. St. Mary's sent a second ambulance to the scene of that wreck and members of the South Jackson rescue squad were called to the scene.
Paul Sartain of Athens was driving the ambulance and Diane Greene of Jefferson was driving the car. Greene and a passenger in her car, Brett Huntley of Athens, received minor injuries.
Greene was charged with failure to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle.
"When I went by the office at 7:30, it was quiet for a Saturday night and I thought it might be an easy night for our people," said E911 director David Murphy. "But then it all broke loose an hour later."

WEDNESDAY AMBULANCE WRECK
Adding insult to injury, another Jackson County ambulance was involved in a wreck Wednesday morning on Gordon Street in Jefferson. Although no one was injured in the incident, the ambulance did receive enough damage to be towed by a wrecker to the county shop for repairs.