News from Jackson County...

March 29, 2000


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OPINIONS
New Look At Subdivision Development Warranted
It appears to be a consensus of the Commerce Planning Commission that a major overhaul of the city's subdivision regulations is overdue.

Say 'No' to Internet taxes
Within a few weeks, Congress may take up the touchy issue of allowing sales taxes to be applied to internet transactions.


Neighborhood News...
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.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin backs down on alcohol referendum
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.

Mobile home developers concerned about proposal
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.


SPORTS
CHS Athletic Program Third In Class A Race

Region 8-A Boasts Five Of State's Top 20 Schools
Last year, Commerce High School's athletic teams reached the state level in nine sports.
This year, continued success by the Tiger teams is getting tangible rewards.

CHS To Face Jefferson Thurs.
Even though spring break is coming up next week, the Commerce baseball team will not take the week off.
The Tigers will travel to Jefferson Thursday before hosting Providence on Friday.

Jefferson faces Brenau before break
The boys can rest a while. The girls have a little farther to go.
Jefferson's girls' tennis team will face Brenau Academy Thursday in the team's last event prior to spring break.

Jefferson second in Bryan Invitational
Jefferson Middle School track teams will take on Banks County, Madison County and East Jackson Thursday, in a meet postponed from Monday due to rain. The teams will then be off until after spring break.

Jackson County closes soccer season
Coach Ron Garren can breathe a sigh of relief.
Filling in as the boys' soccer coach at Jackson County, Garren guided the team to the first two wins in the history of the school.

Panthers' slide ends in Monroe
The Jackson County Panthers ended a three-game skid Tuesday night with a 14-5 non-region win over Monroe Area. Prior to the win, Jackson County had lost eight of their last nine games.


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Jefferson, Georgia
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Surveying The Construction

Wendell Dawson, right, chairman of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, talks with fellow Oconee County Commissioner Bubber Wilkes during a tour Thursday morning of the site of the Bear Creek Reservoir. The two are viewing the construction of the dam.

SPRING HAS ARRIVED

The arrival of spring has left flowers blooming throughout Jackson County. A patch of jonquils is shsown in bloom on College Street in Jefferson.
Photo by Travis Hatfield


GROWTH

Census count under way
Help with forms available for those who need it
BY ANGELA GARY
The United States Census Bureau has started collecting data in Jackson County for the population count and help filling out the form is available for those who need it.
Some countians have been given the short forms which only ask for the number of residents per household and similar questions, while others were given a longer form asking for more information.
Jackson County's return rate so far is 42 percent, which is slightly more than the state return rate of 37 percent, according to county officials. The national return rate is 44 percent. Census leaders hope for at least a 70 percent return rate.
The 16 counties in Georgia with the best return rates will each receive a $10,000 bonus from the state. This money can be used for recreation purposes in the county.
People who have a question about the forms or need assistance may see the following people: David Bohanan or Alice Meeks at the Jackson County Administrative Building in Jefferson from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Cindy Edge at Hoschton City Hall from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Jennifer Scott at Braselton Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Shirley Willis at Commerce City Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Lois Harper at Maysville City Hall from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Barbara Kesler at Arcade City Hall from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; or Dana Wilbanks at Nicholson City Hall from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
FORMS AVAILABLE
Those people who miss the census counters, may pick up forms at area city halls, pharmacies, banks and grocery stores. Display boxes have been placed in participating businesses to provide these forms and a place to drop them off. The county also plans to set up locations to be open in the evening with volunteers who will assist those needing help in filling out the form.
The census data is important to counties and cities because it is used to determine grant eligibility and funding for social welfare programs. It is also used to calculate how many state and national representatives a state is entitled to. Leaders say that inaccuracies in the 1990 census led to Georgia missing out on two additional representative allocations for Congress. Salaries for county officials are also based on census information.


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.
The Commerce Planning Commission gave its thumbs-up recommendation to the city council for two of three requests for annexation it handled Monday night, but voted to recommend that the third request be denied.
The final decision will be made by the city council at its April 10 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
A request by Annie Snelling to annex a lot on Jefferson Road was approved for recommendation to the council, along with an R-1 zoning. The panel also approved a request by Mary Hill to annex a lot on 171 Stark Road with an R-1 zone classification.
The third request didn't fare so well. Robert Marsh spoke on behalf of Christine Smith, who seeks annexation and re-zoning on two small tracts on the Maysville Road, across from Billy Cain Ford. Associates Recovery, an auto recovery lot, is on the property.
Smith sought to have the property rezoned to M-1 (manufacturing). One of the parcels is zoned A-2 in the county and the other B-2. Together, they are .90 acres.
Marsh explained that Smith wants to open a tanning salon, and also wants to get a license to sell beer and wine. It was the latter issue that attracted the planning commission's attention.
"Are we benefiting the city by bringing in another place that sells beer and wine?" vice chairman Greg Perry asked rhetorically.
Although Marsh insisted that the sale of beer and wine was not the primary reason Smith wants the property annexed, he speculated that she would not agree to annexation unless she could get that privilege. The planning commission has nothing to do with the issuance of beer and wine sales licenses, but members appeared to think that the sale of alcohol was the driving factor behind the annexation request.
Perry made the motion to recommend that the city council deny the request. It passed 4-1, with member Ronnie Seabolt in opposition.
"As we see it, and we don't have a crystal ball, that's not in the best interest of the city," he said.
Marsh told the panel that Smith had plans to improve the property; without the annexation, he said, "I don't see her fixing it up."
After the vote was taken, David Lanphear, the city building inspector and code enforcement official, speculated that the city council might "look at annexation anyway," and that the sale of beer and wine is not an issue in annexation.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Tax Hike: Extra Penny Of Sales Tax Collection Begins Saturday
BY ANGELA GARY
JEFFERSON -- An extra one-cent sales tax will go into effect across Jackson County beginning Saturday.
Voters approved the sales tax in November 1999 for water and sewer, roads and recreation projects and a fire training facility. The county hopes that $35 million will be collected over the five-year period the SPLOST is collected. The county actually set the SPLOST cap at $45 million 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 point.
While the extra penny will be collected beginning Saturday, it will be June 1 before the county receives any revenue back from the state. Sales tax money goes to the state department of revenue, which sends it on the county. The board of commissioners keeps accounts for all of those included in the SPLOST and allocates it for approved projects as requested. The county and cities share the money based on population. The population distribution will initially be based on the 1990 census, but when the 2000 figures become available, they will be used.
Seventy percent of what is collected will go toward water and sewer projects. The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority already has a plan in place to spend much of its estimated $17.3 million in SPLOST funds. The plan calls for providing county water to an additional 2,400 homes, with the Plainview and Hwy. 60 areas being the first two priorities.
The remainder of the water funds will be divided among the towns with water systems, which include Commerce, Jefferson, Braselton, Hoschton, Maysville and Nicholson.
In addition to the water and sewer needs, 23 percent of its SPLOST income will go toward road improvements. The Georgia Department of Transportation has promised to add 75 cents of state funds for every $1 raised by SPLOST for roads. The combined funds will be used to resurface roads, pave dirt roads, build or repair bridges and expand the rights of way on some major thoroughfares, say county leaders. Each of Jackson County's nine towns will share in the road funds.
Parks and recreation will get 5.5 percent of the SPLOST funds, and every town in the county will get part of that revenue. The money can be used for traditional ball fields and recreation facilities and also to buy land for future use.
A fire training facility is also included in the SPLOST. One and a half percent of the money will be set aside to build a "burn facility" for training firemen on tactics for battling structural fires.


Jackson Gets Grant For 10 Sirens
BY ANGELA GARY
JEFFERSON -- Jackson County has received a grant to locate 10 early warning sirens throughout the county.
The sirens will be installed at the following locations: Ednaville Road at Country Cove Drive, Jackson Trail Fire Station, Crooked Creek Road at South Jackson Fire Station, U.S. 441 South at New Kings Bridge Road, Georgia 334 at Cooper Farm Road, Hoods Mill at Hoods Academy Road, Brockton Road at Bethany Church, Georgia 82 North at Cave Springs Road, Hale Road at Plainview Road and Unity Church at Myrtle Drive.
These areas were selected by county officials because they have significant populations. An effort was also made to spread the sirens out across the county as much as possible, county leaders say.
Jackson County 911 director David Murphy said bids for the work will be taken as soon as he receives all of the paperwork from the state. He estimates that it will take two to three months to get all of the sirens in place.
The funds will come from the state's hazard mitigation grant program and will cover the majority of the cost to purchase and install the sirens. The grant will provide $68,878 of the total estimated project cost of $91,837. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed in February 1999 to pay its share of the project if the county received the grant.
"The new sirens will increase the capability of emergency management officials to warn the approximately 30,000 residents of Jackson County of severe weather in a timely manner and reduce the potential for loss of life and property," said Murphy.
There are already five sirens in place in Jackson County, four in Jefferson and one in Arcade.
Other city councils have also discussed seeking grants for sirens.
"I congratulate the county's elected officials and the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency for developing a warning system plan that will help protect lives and property," said Georgia Emergency Management Agency director Gary W. McConnell.
There has been a state-wide effort to improve warning and communication capabilities through a special task force formed after a tornado struck northeast Georgia March 20, 1998.




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Get Ready To Lose An Hour Of Sleep Sunday
Get ready to lose an hour of sleep early Sunday morning, thanks to the arrival of Daylight-Saving Time.
The nation officially moves to DST at 2:00 Sunday morning, when the time will jump forward an hour.
To be in church at the right time Sunday morning, set your clocks, watches and alarms ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
The nation will be on DST until October.


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.
Estimates by the Georgia Department of Labor say that the jobless rate in Jackson County rose two tenths of a point to 2.6 percent in February. Those figures are based on an estimated labor force of 22,703, of which 22,123 are actually employed and 580 are seeking work.
For the same time, the Georgia rate slipped up a tenth of a point to 3.4 percent in February, and the jobless rate for the United States was estimated at 4.4 percent, down a tenth of a point.
The jobless rates for surrounding counties were: Banks, 3.2 percent, up from 2.9; Barrow, 2.8 percent, up from 2.4; Athens-Clarke, 2.3 percent, up from 2.1; Franklin, 3.6, up from 2.7; Hall, 2.1, up from 2.0; and Madison, 2.6, up from 2.4.


McEver family seeks annexation of tract into Pendergrass
BY ANGELA GARY
A member of the McEver family approached the Pendergrass City Council Monday night about annexing a large tract of land into the town.
McEver Estates is asking that 191 acres behind North Jackson Elementary School be annexed into the city. Action on the request is expected to be made next month after the McEver family submits a written application.
In other business Monday, the council:
·approved a beer and wine license for Mike Chokshi, the new owner of North Jackson Food Mart.
·heard from Mayor Mark Tolbert that Hilda Gee and Olive Mae Boyd want to dedicate a 50-foot section of Cedar Drive to the town. Action on this is also expected to be taken at the April meeting.
·heard from Mayor Tolbert that the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center is continuing to assist the town in seeking grant funds for a police department and sidewalk project.
·agreed to get bids on several renovation projects at the depot, including retiling the floor and replacing portions of the ceiling.
·set next month's meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 24.