News from Banks County...

 March 31, 2000


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OPINION
Legislators shouldn't have backed down on animal protection act
It's a shame legislators took the claws out of a proposed animal protection act calling for harsher penalties for cruelty to animals.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Planning Panel Won't Recommend Ga. 98 Annexation
The property of two homeowners will be recommended to the Commerce City Council for annexation, but not that of a woman who wants to operate a repo lot, tanning salon and beer store.

Tax Hike: Extra Penny Of Sales Tax Collection Begins Saturday
JEFFERSON -- An extra one-cent sales tax will go into effect across Jackson County beginning Saturday.

McEver family seeks annexation of tract into Pendergrass
A member of the McEver family approached the Pendergrass City Council Monday night about annexing a large tract of land into the town.

Jobless Rate Up In February
After months of virtual full employment, the unemployment rate in Jackson County edged upward ever so slightly during February, mirroring a state and local trend.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Proposal keeps Madison Co. in Region 8-AAA
Raiders may be joined by seven new foes
If the Georgia High School Association's proposed region breakdown is made official in April, Madison County, Stephens County and Jackson County will remain in Region 8-AAA.

County employees to receive over $12,000 in back pay for overtime
Eleven Madison County employees will receive approximately $12,000 in back pay from the county government.


SPORTS
Swinging into spring

Boys, girls take edge over area teams
Banks County will face Rabun Gap Thursday before taking a break from action for spring break.

Subregion race to clear after Dawson, Rabun showdowns
With a record of 15-2, Banks County will have a chance to win as many games this season as they did in the past two combined.


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PASTOR SPEAKS OUT

The Rev. Bobby Griffin, pastor at New Vision Worship Center, spoke out at the Baldwin City Council meeting Monday night against putting liquor by the drink on the ballot for voters on July 18. He was one of approximately 100 people who showed up at a public hearing Monday night in opposition. Following the hearing, the council voted not to put the question to voters at this time.
Photo by Sherry Lewis

Baldwin mayor charged with DUI
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants at 12:32 a.m. Wednesday, March 29.
The arrest came after the Baldwin Police Department received a citizen's complaint that Mayor Reed had been observed in an "intoxicated condition" at the Beef Baron. A deputy was sent to check out the report.
The officer reportedly saw Mayor Reed driving in Baldwin and stopped him. The officer reported that he had a "courteous discussion" with the mayor and, in order to prevent any conflict of interest, called an officer with the City of Demorest to assist with the situation.
A release from the city states that the mayor was "at all times courteous to the officers involved," but he exercised his right to not take a breath test. He was then charged with DUI.
The city council released a statement following the arrest stating that it regretted the incident.
"Mayor Mark C. Reed, like every other citizen, has the right to a presumption of innocence," the release reads. "The city council of Baldwin recognizes this presumption. However, the city council regrets this situation both as to its citizens and for its mayor. The mayor is a positive force for the city and has contributed numerous unpaid hours in his position for the betterment of the city."
The release also points out that while the incident is unfortunate, it is not one which requires the council to take any disciplinary action.
"The situation does not involve any act by the mayor as to the performance of his official duties of mayor of the city," the release reads. "...Therefore, although the city council of the city regrets the situation, it is a personal situation of the mayor and not one as to which the city council is authorized by law to base any city action upon."

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Baldwin backs down on alcohol referendum
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Citizens of Baldwin and congregations from area churches spoke with a mighty voice and persuaded the city council Monday to vote "no" on a possible referendum that would allow liquor sales by the drink.
In an effort to attract quality restaurants to the Hwy. 365/441 area, several council members and Mayor Mark Reed had discussed giving their constituents a chance to vote on liquor sales by the drink on July 18.
While council members Mitchell Gailey, Kevin Gaddis and Robert Bohannon had been in favor of putting the matter to a vote after the public hearing on Monday, they changed their minds. Council members Deloris Thomas and Jeff Bohannon had both been adamantly opposed to the issue since the beginning.
So when the matter came to a vote Monday, the council unanimously agreed not to call for a referendum to give citizens a chance to allow liquor sales by the drink. When the council came up divided on the issue, they decided to give citizens a chance to voice their opinion during a public hearing and that they did.
On Monday, more than 100 people crowded inside the city hall and stood outside the door wanting a chance to voice opposition to the council calling for the referendum. The council listened to statistics and personal stories of how alcohol had destroyed the lives of families at the local and national level.
When the approximately 60 registered voters were asked to take a "straw poll," all but one voted in opposition.
Councilman Kevin Gaddis said as a diplomat for the city, he would vote with the majority of the people.
"I believe in the democratic way of doing things and everybody should have their vote," he said. "I was elected by the city to represent the whole city and not a select few. Everybody had a chance to be here tonight."
Mayor Mark Reed said the response was overwhelming.
"I hope we can have this big a turn- out at other city events," said Reed. "This sends a message to the council that we need to work on developing other business and industry."
Leslie Stephenson, with a Bible in her hand, said she was not opposed to the issue being taken before the public for a vote.
"I'm not a drinker, but I do not think it is fair to the council to have one or two churches come in and make the city's decision," said Stephenson. "It would be awesome it we had this much support for child abuse or in the schools. Trust God and he will take care of us."
The Rev. Bobby Griffin, pastor of the New Vision Worship Center in Baldwin and a Banks County resident, told the council that the outpouring of church members was more than a religious agenda.
"This issue goes beyond biblical convictions," he said. "The overall picture has been presented and you have the facts. They show that this is not best for the community."
Griffin also reminded the council that the funds that his church usually funnels into the city to help clothe and feed citizens would have to be directed elsewhere if a referendum was held.
"Those same dollars that we usually put into feeding and clothing the community will be the dollars used to oppose this," he said. "We will sacrifice that to shoot this thing down."
Baldwin resident Ricky Shaw presented the council with numerous facts about the negative effects of alcohol on a community, including the fact that there were 509 alcohol-related deaths in Georgia in 1998.
"More Americans have died in alcohol-related crashes than all the wars," he said. "If we want to go to Red Lobster, Out Back or Chili's, we can go to Gainesville. This is not Mayberry, USA, but this is Baldwin. We choose to live here because it's a quiet and peaceful place. When you bring in the big chain restaurants, it is the first step to the big chain hospitals and big chain auto repair shops as well."
The Rev. Larry Barnes, pastor at Baldwin Baptist Church, reminded the council that the restaurant operators do not have the citizen's best interest at heart.
"They don't give a rip about Baldwin," he said. "What they want is traffic to stop there and spend their money. They (customers) stop there, drink there and come out on our roads. They (restaurant operators) take all their profits back to the corporate headquarters and where they live in their big houses."
Barnes said he had statistics that for every dollar taken in for alcohol sales, it cost the taxpayers $10.09.
"Why jeopardize what we have so someone else can get rich?" Barnes continued.
He urged the council to focus on family-related restaurants.
David Stewart, a Cornelia resident, was in the crowd and said he had planned to try and open a restaurant in the area until Monday night.
"There are two sides to this," he said. "There could be a lot of revenue, but it looks like it definitely would be voted down."

GROWTH

Mobile home developers concerned about proposal
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Two mobile home park developers discussed their concerns about proposed changes to the mobile home regulations with members of the Banks County Board of Commissioners and planning commission during a work session on Friday.
Tim Whitmire and Keith Brown, who have plans to purchase a 90-acre piece of property on Hwy. 59 near the Franklin County line, said that they question the feasibility of the park if the new regulations are put in place.
Whitmire expressed concern about the increase in setbacks on the front and sides to 30 feet. Under his proposal, the manufactured homes would be set back 10 feet. Upon completion of the park, there would be 200 manufactured homes at approximately two per acre, he said.
Planning commission member Ed Lindorme told the developers that more stringent regulations have been put into place in other categories to protect agriculture as well as residential landowners.
"Legally, we have to treat everybody the same," Lindorme said. "We are trying to improve the quality of life of the people who live here."
Whitmire said the project would not be feasible if they had to adhere to the proposed changes in the setbacks.
"I don't think it would work," Whitmire said. "As a matter of fact, it doesn't work."
Lindorme told the developers that neighbors who live in close proximity to each other do not get along.
Planning commission member Harold Ivey agreed: "If they are looking in each other's bedroom windows, you are gonna have problems."
While mobile home parks are sometimes shunned because of problems, if run correctly, they can be an asset, Whitmire explained.
"A mobile home park can be a very, very good thing for the county if it is managed right," he said. "With any project, you've got to have the right management."
The developers plan to have green space all the way around the park and offer several amenities to residents.
That did not ease Lindorme's concerns because of the effect on the local school system, he said.
"The biggest problem we have is the tax burden to the school system," said Lindorme.
The developers have not yet applied for a rezoning application to have the agriculture land rezoned for the mobile home community.
The BOC also discussed potential changes to the proposed ordinance with county attorney Randall Frost. Those changes had nothing to do with a decrease in the setbacks. Frost will redraft the ordinance with the changes before it is approved by the planning commission and the BOC.
Other proposed changes include:
·all mobile home parks shall be served by county water and sewer systems.
·a mobile/manufactured home park shall have a minimum area of 10 acres with a lot width of at least 200 feet.
·each space within the park shall have a minimum of 14,000 square feet and not less than 50 feet of frontage on the interior road.



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Martin Bridge Road sewage plans a BOC topic
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is looking for a way to "jump start" development at the I-85/Martin Bridge Road interchange by getting county sewer to the area.
"That area has become a hot spot over the last two months," explained BOC chairman James Dumas. "But it remains stagnant because there is no sewer available at all."
In a work session on Friday, county engineer Ben Turnipseed told the BOC that it would cost $489,600 to get sewer to the area. This would include building a pump station in the area and pumping the sewage back to the race track sewer plant. This avenue is far cheaper than building a land application at Martin Bridge Road, Turnipseed pointed out.
Right now, the sewer plant at Banks Crossing is near the 70,000-gallon capacity but plans are in the works to expand the system to a 300,000-gallon capacity system within nine months.
The county has applied for a $1 million low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) to pay for the increase at Banks Crossing.
Turnipseed said additional funding might be available from GEFA and the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund the Martin Bridge Road project.