News from Banks County...

 April 5, 2000


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OPINION
Use caution on road
People throughout Georgia mourned the deaths of three children killed in a school bus wreck last week.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
County gets state permit for Hwy. 11 sewer facility
Action opens way for development of Mulberry Plantation
After months of legal and political wrangling, the Jackson County government has received a wastewater discharge permit for its sewage treatment facility on Hwy. 11 in Jefferson.

Cochran gun plot uncovered at Barrow courthouse
A man being held on murder charges from Jackson County was apparently prepared to shoot his way out of the Barrow County courthouse.

Courthouse plans get BOC nod
Architectural firm selected and financing plan adopted
After two years of planning and research, Jackson County leaders cast two key votes Monday for a new courthouse annex.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
New Ingles to open April 15
The long-awaited replacement for the outgrown Ingles Market at Dogsboro will open on Saturday, April 15.

Charter school proposed
Superintendent not in favor of the measure
A charter school is being proposed for Madison County, aimed primarily at reducing the county's dropout rate, one of the worst in the state.

Bennett among five finalists for state 'teacher of year'
Madison County High School's Sabrina Bennett is among the five finalists for Georgia's 2001 "Teacher of the Year," state school superintendent Linda C. Schrenko announced Tuesday.


SPORTS
Snipes signs with Emmanuel

BCHS star will make switch to college fast-pitch
A four-year starter at shortstop with a .503 career batting average.

Downing Union breaks up subregion lead
Leopards play in Blairsville Thurs.
Banks County High School's baseball team controls its own postseason destiny to a point.


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MANY SERVICES OFFERED AT HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Dental services are among the many services offered by the Banks County Health Department. Above, Dr. Barbara Megahee, D.M.D., settles Terry Moore into the dental chair for a check-up. This week is Public Health Week.
Photo by Sherry Lewis

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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."


Annexation bill tops session, Jamieson says
BY SHERRY LEWIS
The "anti-annexation" bill, a resolution to increase homestead exemption, education and the state budget, topped the list of highlights for state representative Jeanette Jamieson during the 2000 legislative session.
Jamieson's House Bill 1439, which prohibits cross county line annexation without the approval of the county being annexed, was the highlight of the session for her constituents in Banks County, she said.
"That was the bill of the session for my constituents in Banks County," she said. "Much has already been said. People understand the provisions and the protection it brings to Banks County's revenue sources."
Another important bill for Banks County citizens is the resolution that will appear on the ballot in November which will increase the homestead exemption from $12,000 to $16,000 for people over 65 years of age and the disabled at any age, she added.
Jamieson also addressed the Education Reform Package.
"We believe House Bill 1187, the education bill, will finally bring the classroom teachers conditions they have sought for many years," said Jamieson, who chairs the House Education Committee.
She has a breakdown of the 176 page bill, by section, and said she would be glad to make it available to anyone upon request. There are still many questions pertaining to the education bill, she said.
The budget includes $155 million dollars, or an average $1,500 for each classroom teacher.
"The education bill also includes language which will allow parents to apply for a waiver to send their children to a closer elementary school. This came about from the situation that exists at Baldwin Elementary School, according to Jamieson.
The budget also includes $166 million which continues the governor's homeowners tax credit. This funding is on schedule so that at the end of seven years the credit will equate to $754 per homeowner.
The budget also includes $58 million which has been appropriated for the Local Assistance for Road Program (LARP).
One of the most important provisions in the budget is the $3.6 million budgeted to local health departments and the $1.4 million budgeted for the maintenance and operation of local libraries, Jamieson pointed out.
At the local level, the budget includes $200,000 for an agriculture building at the Banks County High School. Additional funds have been allocated to upgrade the computer equipment in the homes of foster parents.
The budget also includes $5 million which will allow for an additional 124 mental retardation slots.
The "One Georgia" Program, which came at a cost of $61 million, will address economic development in rural areas of the state. The funds will be allocated for land purchase, equipment purchases, road improvements and water and sewer lines.
"This will allow rural counties in Georgia to compete for industry with other states and other areas of this state," Jamieson said.



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Firing range noise a concern for DNR
BY SHERRY LEWIS
A representative of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said officials are working to improve the noise level around the firing range at Wilson Shoals Wildlife Management Agency.
DNR Ranger Winford Popphan said that his department plans to raise the back wall and plant Leland Cypress trees to buffer the entire firing range. Other plans under consideration are to extend the roof three to five feet and shorten the hours that the range is open. Presently, the range is open from sunup to sundown.
These changes come on the heels of complaints by neighbors who say the range is ruining their quality of life.
Corrine Campbell, who lives on adjacent property, said she and her neighbors are bombarded by the noise from high-velocity gunfire from sunup until sundown almost daily, especially on the weekends.
"The weekends have become unbearable because of the war-like noise level and the fear of ricocheting shells," Campbell said. "We're not talking about game rifles, but assault weapons."
Popphan said that there is a sign banning automatic weapons from the site but says he cannot police the area 24 hours a day.
"You get abuse with anything," Popphan said. "I police the area three or four times a week and I have deputies go by there for us. I'm not saying there are not automatic weapons, but we can't man the station 24 hours a day. I have never caught anyone using an automatic weapon and would cite that person if I did. It's just like having a speed limit of 45 miles per hour. If someone drives 70, are we going to close the road to everyone?"
Popphan admits that there is still going to be some level of noise.
"If we had unlimited resources, we would enclose the area, but we don't have that kind of money," Popphan continued. "We are willing to study this and try to do what is right for everybody."
Campbell said she believes the land is being used mostly by law enforcement officials from all over north Georgia. Popphan said he believes the range is used by a small percentage of law enforcement officers, but mainly by private citizens across the state.
The land was purchased with part of Gov. Zell Miller's Project 2000 funds, which are paid by sportsmen who purchase hunting and fishing licenses, guns and ammunition. The range was developed by the DNR from the same type funds.