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Bear Creek Project
Go to Banks County
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State Biggest Threat To Local Water Supply
Even as the county braces for an expected
drought, governments in Jackson County are working hard to make
sure there is plenty of drinking water available in the years
TBS rules schools
Next week will be an important time in our
local schools. The annual ITBS tests will be administered to
students in a rite of spring that appears to take on more importance
Head of the class
Reclassification makes Madison County largest AAA school
Madison County is now the biggest Class AAA
school in the state.
Tim Costyn named MCHS STAR student
Tim Costyn, a senior at Madison County High
School, has been named this year's STAR student for the graduating
class of 2000.
Colbert woman killed in Hwy. 29 accident
A Madison County mother of four was killed
Saturday when her vehicle hydroplaned in heavy rain and struck
a northbound truck on Hwy. 29 .
Construction to begin this week on bypass
Construction of the Hwy. 441-Homer bypass is slated to begin
A pre-construction conference with all parties involved in the
project was held Friday.
New health department to be ready by mid-April
The new Banks County Health Department building should be ready
for occupancy by mid-April.
Republican party to hold convention Sat.
The Banks County Republican Party will hold
its precinct mass meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 18, to elect
delegates and alternates to the Banks County Republican Party
Dragons whip Commerce, 6-1
Sophomore pitcher Kyle Potts scattered six
singles over seven innings in Jefferson's 6-1 win over Commerce
Jefferson track teams start well
Banks County and Providence were scheduled
to visit Jefferson today, to take on the Dragons' varsity track
Jackson County lays first pawprints on track
Habersham Central will host the Northeast
Georgia Invitational track meet Saturday at 9 a.m.
Diamond Panthers in the rough
When his team started its current run of
eight consecutive subregion games, Panther baseball coach Rusty
Hendricks knew it wouldn't be a cake walk.
The Jackson Herald
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THE BIG LEAGUES
These boys watched and waited Saturday
during baseball tryouts for ages 7-8 held at the Jackson County
Recreation Complex. Hundreds of boys and girls from all over
Jackson County have begun practice for the upcoming baseball
season, with many teams drafted last week and practices beginning
Heart Walk Raises More Than $1,200
In spite of overcast and threatening
skies, more than 100 citizens of Banks and Jackson Counties turned
out at Hurricane Shoals Park Saturday morning to participate
in the Banks-Jackson American Heart Walk. Final figures were
not available at press time, but as of Saturday morning, the
event had raised more than $1,200, organizers said.
killed in fire
A Pendergrass man was killed in a fire
early Saturday morning in his apartment.
Donald Keith Harris was in his upstairs apartment at the Pendergrass
home, located across from the post office at 7154 Hwy. 129, when
the fire started. Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator
David Cochran said the cause of the fire is not known and the
investigation is continuing.
Residents in the other apartments downstairs in the home were
shot while climbing
in window of estranged wife's home
A Jackson County man was seriously injured
in an apparent domestic shooting Friday morning near Jefferson.
Ronald Lee Parker, 31, was reportedly shot several times in the
face and chest area as he attempted to enter a Hwy. 15 residence
through a bedroom window.
Parker was shot by someone inside the residence. His estranged
wife and a man were inside the mobile home, while Parker and
another person were outside.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator David
Cochran said law enforcement authorities were looking for Parker
when the shooting occurred. He said that Parker and his estranged
wife had been having altercations over several days prior to
the shooting. The sheriff's department had also received prior
domestic dispute reports concerning the couple.
No charges have been filed yet in the case. Cochran said Monday
that the district attorney's office will review the case and
decide whether to make an arrest and take the matter before a
grand jury. The investigation is continuing.
Parker was taken to Athens Regional Medical where he was in serious
condition Friday night. This week, he was listed in good to fair
DFACS board approves
expenditures for disaster shelter
By Jana Adams
The Jackson County Department of Family
and Children Services board approved expenditure of county funds
Thursday for two kits for local disaster shelters.
Board members gave DFACS director Jerry Payne permission to use
county funds to purchase various toiletries and related items
for the makeup of two shelter manager kits.
Payne has been involved in producing a Red Cross disaster plan
for Jackson County and in locating shelter sites across the county.
He said that the Red Cross will hold another training session
Tuesday, March 21, and that the disaster plan committee is still
in the process of identifying shelter sites, particularly at
Jackson Tract Declared
'Megasite,' To Be Marketed Globally By State
By ANGELA GARY
JEFFERSON -- A large piece of property near Commerce is one of
five sites across the state selected to be marketed globally
The 1,800-acre tract, located between Georgia 98 and U.S. 441
above Interstate 85, is one of five "megasites" declared
by the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism. The
other sites are in Coweta, Clarke-Oconee, Troup and Houston counties.
The state hopes to attract major developments to the sites.
The Jackson County tract has been considered by Bridgestone,
Honda and other top companies that eventually located in Alabama
and South Carolina.
The selection of the Jackson County site came after Jackson County
Area Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings responded to
a request from the department of industry and trade for potential
"megasites." To be considered a "mega-site,"
a tract must have at least 500 acres, have easy access to an
interstate or main highway, be near an airport and rail lines
and have infrastructure such as water and sewer. The projects
selected must employ at least 500 people, cost a minimum of $250
million to build and operate a minimum 250,000-square-foot building,
according to state officials.
Cummings said the number one thing that lead the Jackson County
site to be located is its location between two large economic
forces, Atlanta and Greenville-Spartanburg.
"It also has rail, which is almost a non-available commodity
for large industrial sites," he said. "Number three,
is that it has the potential to have a pretty good water and
sewer capacity. We have also historically been a non-union labor
force, but more significantly, in the last 10 years, northeast
Georgia has had a great reputation as a very quality labor force
for metal-working, machine and auto supply companies. All of
these factors enter into it being selected."
Cummings said the selection of the site will be a boost to economic
development in the county.
"I love having the 'megasite' there," Cummings said.
"I think it, without question, helps Jackson County's economic
development efforts because it is like having a brand name item
that attracts attention that might not otherwise come. I'm not
hell-bent on making sure there is a huge user on the megasite.
I would want to be very careful about the type of company it
is and what its use would be."
Cummings said it isn't necessarily important that the site be
developed in the immediate future.
"It helps having the site more than having a specific user,"
The chamber president believes the Jackson County site is at
the top of the list of the five sites selected by the state.
Memo To Commerce Trash Hauler: Improve Service
Or You're Fired
Missed pickups, trash left in the containers or scattered on
the road and dumpsters left blocking driveways or overturned
in ditches could cost United Waste its contract to pick up garbage
Following a brief discussion at Monday night's meeting of the
company's allegedly poor service, the Commerce City Council authorized
city manager Clarence Bryant to write a letter to United giving
it 30 days to resolve the matter or risk having the contract
At-large councilman Archie D. Chaney Jr. brought up the issue.
"We are having a lot of problems with our garbage,"
he complained. "They miss a lot of streets, they pick up
trash at dark and leave half of the garbage in the container,
and throw the container in the ditch," Chaney said. "The
people feel like they've got to pay (for the service) but don't
get the service."
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. agreed.
"They leave a lot of trash in the street and they leave
the container in the driveway so you have to get out of your
car and move it," he stated. "Can we get them up here
Bryant suggested a more direct course a letter giving the
company 30 days to resolve the problem or dismiss it.
As of Tuesday morning, Bryant was drafting the letter. According
to the city's contract, Commerce must notify the company by the
first of the month that it is terminating service by the end
of the month. However, there is also a provision by which United
has 14 days after receipt of the letter to show that it has corrected
or is making substantial progress toward correcting the problem.
In other business Monday night:
·The council tabled discussion of a city code of ethics.
The council will hold a work session at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday to
discuss the draft of the ordinance.
·The council approved the annexation of a lot on Jefferson
Road owned by Susan Harper, and gave it an R-1 zoning classification.
It had also been zoned R-1 in the county. In addition, the council
accepted the recommendation of the Zoning Appeals Board and gave
variances to lots on Chanticleer Drive to make them R-1 even
though they are smaller than required by the city ordinance.
The area was subdivided long before the city had zoning.
·The council accepted the only bid for a .09-acre alley
by Atlantic Avenue from First Commerce Bank, which plans to expand
into the area. The bid was $100.
·Bryant reported that expansion of the city water plant
is ahead of schedule, that work should begin in two weeks or
less on the B Wilson Road water line, for which he has already
had requests from about a dozen people for city water and that
the city is working with Jackson County to provide sewer lines
along Progress Road as it is being built parallel to Interstate
·The council authorized Bryant to make purchases at an
auction in Cornelia Thursday. The city needs a trailer, a dump
truck and a back hoe.
Drought Or Not,
City Water Supply To Be Adequate
Saturday's rain notwithstanding, weather prognosticators continue
to speak of a La Niña-induced drought this spring and
But even if that happens, Commerce and Jackson County water customers
should not experience water restrictions like they did last year,
because Commerce is spending more than $2 million to make sure
there is plenty of water.
Commerce is the major water supplier to the Jackson County Water
and Sewerage Authority, a situation that is likely to exist until
mid-2001, when the county expects to begin taking water from
the Bear Creek Reservoir and will itself become a major wholesaler
Last year's dry summer brought about restrictions on watering
yards and other outdoor uses of water from both the city and
Since then, the "high rating" of the city's water plant
has been in process. When it is completed in early June
and it is running ahead of schedule the city expects to
receive a permit from the state to double the amount of water
it takes daily from the Grove River.
Last year's restrictions were not due to the capacity of the
reservoir, but to the capacity of the plant and the 2.25 million
gallon per day maximum allowable withdrawal under the current
"The reservoir went through all last summer in good shape,"
noted Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant. "The Grove
River, even at its lowest conditions, has some seven million
gallons per day that could be withdrawn." And although the
area ended 1999 with a 12-inch rainfall deficit and had run up
a four-inch deficit in 2000 until Saturday's rains, the reservoir
"It may have been down a matter of inches, but it refills
and replenishes pretty quickly after a rain," Bryant reports.
"It's probably full now."
The city's new permit would be from 4.25 million gallons per
day to 4.45 million, Bryant said.
That amount should not only meet the city's needs for a number
of years, but should also meet the Jackson County needs until
the Bear Creek Reservoir is completed. That includes providing
water via the county to the new Georgia Power Plant Dahlberg
at Center, the first phase of which is due to be on line this
Jackson County has other sources of water. It's had a contract
with Athens-Clarke since its inception, but that contract is
loaded with penalties if the county buys more than 50,000 gallons
per day at $2.56 per 1,000 gallons. The authority is negotiating
to buy up to 288,000 gallons per day from Braselton at $3 per
1,000, but the Commerce water, at $2.35 per 1,000 gallons, remains
its best deal. The authority can buy up to 750,000 gallons per
day from Commerce, but currently lacks the pumping capacity to
take advantage of the maximum amount, which is not a problem,
since the county system currently sells an average of only about
500,000 gallons per day.
That the drought is posing no problems with the city lake is
good news, but people who depend on wells for their water are
having problems due to the drought.
"I'm having four to five people calling every month because
their wells are dry," reports Paul Mims, superintendent
of the county water system. "These are the fortunate people,
because they live right there on our system and we can shoot
them a meter out there. There's no telling how many people that's
happening to who will have to drill another well or extend a
Bryant said people with similar problems are calling City Hall,
most of them from parts of the territory assigned Commerce through
House Bill 489 (the shared services bill), but outside the city
limits east of town. He said the city's five-year capital plan
for water system improvements includes service to Blacks Creek
Church Road, Old Airport Road and Dan Waters Road.
2,400 homes the
target in 5-year water plan
Five years and $14.5 million from now,
some 2,400 Jackson County homes that do not have county water
available should be able to tie onto the county system.
The massive amount of construction required to make that happen
will be funded by the proceeds of the special purpose local option
sales tax (SPLOST) voted in last November. Collection of the
money, which is expected to pour $35 million into government
treasuries over the next five years, begins April 1, when the
sales tax will climb to seven percent.
The money is divided two ways. First, 70 percent goes to water
and sewer work, 23 percent for roads, bridges and sidewalks,
5.5 percent for recreation and 1.5 percent for a fire training
facility. Second, local governments share the money, based on
As a result of the allocation, some $20 million of the $35 million
would end up in the hands of the county water and sewer authority,
which prior to the referendum committed the money to providing
water to areas of the county now without public water.
Once the referendum passed, the next step for the water and sewerage
authority was to decide where exactly the projects would be built
and in what order they should be built.
The authority has completed the former step and has partly completed
The map indicates the various projects, numbered one through
10, but to date, the authority has decided only the first three
projects to be undertaken. Thus, while the priorities and numbers
of the project coincide for 1-3, the numbers 4-10 do not represent
First, Project 1, is already under way. It takes water to the
Plainview area. One of the authority's earliest commitments was
to provide water to each of the county fire stations. The Plainview
Fire Department is the last fire department in the county without
a ready source of water.
Project 2 is the Highway 60 area in northwest Jackson County,
where numerous wells are dry or almost dry. Residents of that
community have been after the authority for about two years to
get water, and the authority placed them in the second priority.
Project 3 and also the third priority, is a combination of four
individual projects that stem from citizen requests for water.
Those requests were all made before the SPLOST referendum and
are households where water quality or quantity is jeopardized.
Although the remaining projects are numbered four through 10,
the authority has not prioritized them yet. At last Thursday
night's meeting, the authority agreed to table that task until
the April meeting.
The Plainview project will cost an estimated $1.8 million and
serve 291 households, according to engineering estimates. The
Highway 60 project is budgeted at $1.22 million, and will make
water available to 129 households. It is the most expensive project
based on a per-household cost of $9,419.
More than any other project, Highway 60 work demonstrates the
capabilities that the SPLOST provided. Had the county been forced
to build projects based on the time of expected pay-back, the
Highway 60 project would never be built.
Project three, which serves all of the groups who approached
the authority with water problems over the past two to three
years, is budgeted at $2.03 million and will serve 380 households.
Projects four through 10 are designed to meet needs of existing
residents or areas of the county. None of the projects were created
in anticipation of or in response to ongoing development. In
fact, the authority has a policy of not running water to new
developments (see separate story) unless the developer pays the
cost. However, access to county water has spurred residential
development, and some lines laid out for system hydrological
needs or transmission needs have coincided with development plans.
It should be noted that if Jackson County sales live up to the
$35 million forecast, the water authority stands to have $20
million to use over five years. The SPLOST project list calls
for only $14.67 million because the $35 million cap was placed
beyond real expectations of county sales growth so as to allow
the tax to run the full five years. Had a lower cap been set
and reached, sales tax collections would have ceased at that
The plan for building the projects is to spread them out so that,
for the most part, they can be paid for as sales tax revenues
come in. Leftover money from the last round of SPLOST, which
ended last July, enabled the authority to begin engineering work
on the first three projects.
At the suggestion of engineer Charlir Armentrout, the authority
agreed to apply for interim financing from the Georgia Environmental
Finance Authority to cover periods when project expenses are
expected to be greater than SPLOST revenue.
The authority anticipates collecting approximately $248,000 per
month for the first year and a half, with revenues climbing to
$330,000 per month by 2003.
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Public Meeting Dates
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Center facility named 'Plant Dahlberg'
Georgia Power's gas-fired peak generation plant under construction
in Center has a name. It is officially "Plant Dahlberg,"
in keeping with the Southern Company's tradition of naming power
plants after its chief executives.
Bill Dahlberg is president and CEO of the Southern Company. Georgia
Power is a subsidiary of the Southern Company.
In a twist of irony, some of the power generated in Center will
go to a Southern Company competitor which once considered the
same location for a peak generating unit. Dynegy, Inc., a Houston-based
energy company, has contracted to buy 225 megawatts of electricity
from the plant. Dynegy pitched its cause to Jackson County officials
at about the same time Georgia Power officials were negotiating
for water service to their plant.
The Center plant will serve wholesale customers. Its first phase
of eight 80-megawatt jet-like generators is under construction,
and five of those are expected to be on line this summer. In
fact, one of the units was scheduled to have been test-fired
So far, some 800 megawatts of generation from Plant Dahlberg
are under contract. Recently, the company announced plans to
build two more 80-megawatt units at the Center site, presumably
the result of the sales contract with Dynegy. Eventually, Plant
Dahlberg is expected to have 16 of the units in operation at
The plant is designed to provide electricity
when electric demand is at its highest, which would normally
be in the summer.
rezoning for offices, subdivision
BY ANGELA GARY
A professional office complex and another subdivision will likely
locate in Jefferson following zoning requests approved by the
city council Monday night.
The council approved a request from Charles Whitlock, Commerce,
to rezone a one-acre lot on 389 Athens Street from R-1 to C-2
for the location of professional offices. Whitlock said he has
a buyer who plans to locate a chiropractor's office at the site.
In the other request, the council approved the rezoning from
A-R (agricultural farm district) to R-1 of 158 acres on Benton
Farm Road owned by Wiley Black and Clyde Turner, who hope to
attract a buyer to develop a large-lot subdivision. The request
is tied to a request to have the property annexed into Jefferson.
The council followed the recommendation of the planning commission
that the rezoning come with the stipulation that the developer
submit a concept plan prior to subdividing.
On another matter, the council approved the annexation of a 3.22-
acre tract owned by Randy Moore and B.L. Williamson on the Winder
Hwy. Williamson said plans call for locating a restaurant or
similar development on the property.
In other business, the council:
·agreed to a request from Brian Ferguson to construct
a picnic shelter and foot bridge near the Jefferson Clubhouse
as his Eagle Scout project.
·agreed to a request from Carol Burnett for the Little
League organization to hold a celebration and parade on April
8. The season starts April 10.
·tabled a request from Randy McKinney, Stacy Britt and
Jeff Potts to extend a water line to Hwy. 11 for a 87-home, 28-acre
subdivision. The council postponed action until it receives more
information on the cost of the project and the water pressure
available in the area.
·heard from Carlotta Shields concerning a vacant trailer
in front of her home. She said it is a nuisance and hazard for
children playing in the area. The council asked city attorney
Ronnie Hopkins to look into any legal action they can take on
·tabled a request from Hilda Corbett for a $500 donation
for the summer day camp program.
·approved resolutions validating the results from the
school bond vote and approving a business and retention project
sponsored by the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
·learned that the apparent low bid for a road improvement
project on Stringer Lane is $60,457 from E.R. Snell.
·approved proposed updates to the city's ordinances presented
by police chief Darren Glenn, including the city wrecker ordinance,
traffic control and a merit system of compensation.
·heard a request from councilman Steve Kinney to consider
implementing impact fees, such as for water and sewer for new