News from Jackson County...

April 5, 2000


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OPINIONS
Work Ethic As Important As Education, Training
Jackson County business leaders found themselves drafted into an impromptu panel discussion last week at Jackson County Comprehensive High School...

New courthouse annex effort full of hard choices
What kind of courthouse annex should Jackson County build and how should it be paid for?


Neighborhood News...
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.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

Annexation bill tops session, Jamieson says
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.

Firing range noise a concern for DNR
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.


SPORTS
Final Games To Feature Tough Foes

Commerce will face three tough opponents in its final five games of the season.

Realignment Slims Region
8-A To Return 10 Schools; Only Four Play Football
Commerce will play three region football games next season after the realignment by the Georgia High School Association.

Diamond Dragons win ­ then lose ­ upper hand in region
The past week was an up-and-down one for the Jefferson baseball team, literally.

JHS glides over Spartans
Varsity track teams from Jefferson blasted Athens Academy last week.

Birdette leads Panthers in win
With their season nearing its midpoint, the Jackson County track teams continue to look stronger and faster with each week.

Jackson County to petition for move to 7-AAA
Jackson County Comprehensive High School athletic director and head football coach Greg Lowe said this week that he will file an official request with the Georgia High School Association to move Jackson County from region 8-AAA and into region 7-AAA.


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City Stops Construction

The city of Commerce ordered construction to stop Monday on Heritage Hills Apartments, located on Minish Drive near Commerce Elementary School. Building inspector David Lanphear issued the order, citing violations of the city's soil sedimentation and erosion control ordinance. Heavy rains Monday washed mud from the bank behind the Commerce High School football field into the apartments' parking lot, and similar erosion occurred on the slope between the apartments and the creek. "The issues are silt fences, compaction, runoff of storm water, ratio of slopes and grassing and vegetation," he said.

Design concept by The Leo Daly Firm of a Jackson County courthouse annex. The existing courthouse would remain (to the right) and the main entrance to the new facility would face the current Randolph Street, between the two facilities. While officials generally liked the overall design, it will be subject to change as other issues, such as parking, are worked out.


Arcade to submit paving requests
BY TIM THOMAS
Paving projects continue to be one of the major topics of the Arcade City Council.
With less than two weeks remaining before the April 21 submission deadline, city officials have obtained right-of-way waivers from all but six landowners in regards to eight projects. If the remaining six are not acquired prior to the deadline, the council is likely to condemn the rights-of-way.
"We're not going to let six folks stop us," Mayor Gary Black said at Monday's meeting.
All rights-of-way have been obtained along Double Bridges Road, and four of the remaining six property owners have been directly contacted.
Additionally, council member Polly Davis reported she had discovered that the Georgia Department of Transportation already has plans in place to pave the area of Arcade Park Road at its intersection with the Hwy. 129 bypass. As a result, the council removed the road from its DOT request list.
Regarding other issues, the council:
·heard from member Ron Smith concerning the preliminary draft of a new ordinance pertaining to underage patrons of bars and taverns. Council members agreed to schedule a work session to complete the proposal, so that it could be addressed during the May meeting.
·denied a request from Roxanne Rose, 1874 Rambler's Inn, to rezone her property to allow horses. Rose turned down an offer from the council to issue a conditional use permit.


Duke-Weeks plans development in Braselton
BY ANGELA GARY
A huge Gwinnett County real estate firm will break ground this month on its first industrial project on a 600-acre tract it owns in Braselton.
The first building is in Barrow County but it shouldn't be long before the development moves into Jackson County as the majority of the land, some 500 acres, is in Jackson County. The first building will be at the intersection of Hwy. 124 and Hwy. 211.
Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings said Duke-Weeks plans to construct a 500,000 square foot distribution center as its first development on the site. The Braselton Town Council has planned a groundbreaking ceremony for 2 p.m. on Monday, April 23, for the new facility at the Braselton Business Park.
Cummings estimates that as soon as this first speculative building is occupied, the company will move on to developing its Jackson County property.
"For them, sooner is better than later because they're a real estate investment trust," he said. "...They have to have buildings producing money and get moving. That is going to be their incentive to move...If they market moves on this first building, they will be in Jackson County."
Cummings said the move into Jackson County is also contingent on Braselton getting the next phase of its sewer expansion in line which is slated for June.
Cummings said Duke-Weeks' plans are good for Jackson County as it will focus more attention on the I-85 corridor.
"What this says is that the I-85 corridor is a strong market and that the best positioned properties for industrial growth are Jackson County," he said. "It's going to help us to balance the tax base with industrial."
Cummings said the project is also important because of Duke-Weeks' position in the industry.
"Industrial developers like Duke-Weeks are market leaders and this says Jackson County is the place you need to be in that market," he said. "It will focus a lot of attention on Jackson County...It's a good sign for Jackson County that a quality company like Duke-Weeks would have made that decision to invest here."


Jefferson denies plans for bed and breakfast business
BY ANGELA GARY
The Jefferson City Council denied a rezoning request Monday night that would have enabled a bed and breakfast business to be expanded.
Marcia Spencer requested the rezoning in order to offer a restaurant and seating for up to 125 people at special events. She asked that her 2.37 acres at 216 Storey Street be rezoned from R-1 and R-2 to C-2 to allow for the expansion.
Mayor Byrd Bruce said the city received a petition with the signatures of 36 people opposed to the plans. The Jackson County Planning Commission had earlier recommended denial of the request.
The city council gave Spencer a conditional use permit in 1996 to operate the bed and breakfast operation in the historic home. It is valid for as long as she owns the property.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the council:
·approved a garbage rate increase of 2.6 percent which brings the monthly rate to $11.76. The increase is outlined in the city's contract with United Waste Service.
·heard an update from engineer Jerry Hood on water and sewer projects, including the Parks Creek Reservoir. He said the city would receive a list of questions this week from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on the project. In other news, Hood said the bypass utility relocation is 95 percent complete and all permits have been issued for the west side sewer project. He also said that the city has received a $169,000 grant for the Freightliner project.
·tabled a $2,000 request from Hilda Corbett for the summer day care program. In the past, the city has provided a donation of $500 but Corbett said donations for the program are down. Corbett said the average daily attendance for the three-week program is 60 children. Mayor Byrd Bruce asked for the matter to be tabled until the full council is present. Two members were absent for Monday's meeting.
·tabled a proposed amendment to the city's subdivision regulations.
·approved an amendment to the City of Jefferson zoning ordinance calling for excluding residential uses in C-1 and C-2 districts. This amendment is also to revise Section 8.11 to state that the minimum lot sizes shown are allowed when public water and sewer are available and to establish the minimum lot size in the R-1 District as 21,780 square feet.
·agreed to proceed with getting an easement to dredge a creek that is backing up onto property owned by five Brockton Road residents.
·heard from Brockton Road residents about speeders on the road. The mayor agreed to ask the police chief to patrol the area.
·tabled a request from Dr. Gary Wytiaz for a variance on his zoning to allow residential use of two units in a three-office building he is purchasing.
·agreed to place a stop sign at the intersection of Westmoreland and Dickson.
·agreed to give a letter to the developers of a proposed subdivision on 90 acres on Hwy. 82 and Darnell Road stating that the city will offer sewer capacity for the project when it is available. The developer will pay for the hook-up, according to city leaders.
·agreed to a request from Russ Hambyka to put a marketing sign on the right-of-way on Athens Street.


Downtown development a topic for JABA
Daves discusses $30,000 grant application
By Jana Adams
The Jefferson Downtown Committee submitted a $30,000 grant application to the Department of Community Affairs last week that, if approved, would fund a master plan for downtown revitalization.
Priscilla Daves spoke on behalf of the downtown committee Thursday at the Jefferson Area Business Association (JABA) meeting, encouraging JABA members to get involved in adding new life to the city.
"There are two Jeffersons already - Jefferson North and Jefferson downtown," Daves said. "We've got to get ready and be ready for the new truck route (in 2003) that will take off 40 percent of (downtown) traffic. We want to make downtown more comfortable for walking traffic, and to keep businesses from moving out to where the truck route will be."
Daves told JABA members that the downtown committee hopes to get approved for at least $20,000 of their $30,000 grant request. She said she expects to hear from DCA on the grant status by the end of the month.
"We can start working once we know the check's in the mail," she added.
The initial grant would be used to establish an "intelligent" master plan for the downtown revitalization, Daves said, adding that progress will be incremental. Once a master plan is in place, the downtown committee can apply for more funding.
NEW CITY PARK
A new city park at Curry Creek is one of the ideas for downtown revitalization Daves discussed. The location is in a flood plain and cannot be built on, but would be suitable for a park with swingsets, slides, picnic tables and shade trees, she said.
Other ideas being discussed by the downtown committee include establishing downtown crosswalks and sidewalk repairs and additions. The group would also like to see the main "square," which was narrowed to its current shape in 1962, put back to its original state.
At the suggestion of Chief Darren Glenn, Daves agreed to check into whether the Coke company repaints for free old Coca-Cola signs such as the one on the side of the Remax building.
"We've got everything here we need, we just need to put a little polish on the apple," Daves said. "This is an opportunity to make downtown alive, instead of (seeing it with) blocked up windows. You all need to be a part of this."


JABA plans grocery, gas giveaway for July 4 funds
By Jana Adams
The Jefferson Area Business Association (JABA) is planning a giveaway of groceries, gas and other prizes to raise funds for the July 4 celebration.
JABA members agreed Thursday to hold the fundraiser, with $100 of groceries from Bell's, $25 of gas and other prizes as incentives for ticket sales. The members agreed to have tickets ready for JABA's May 4 meeting.
As another fund-raising idea, JABA members talked about having bunting, flags and other July 4 decorations available for downtown merchants to purchase and put up in time for the event.
In other July 4 discussion, JABA members talked about whether or not to keep the celebration downtown or to move it to another location. The group agreed to keep the event in the downtown area.
Chief Darren Glenn told members that while a celebration in downtown does create traffic concerns, he plans to detour traffic around the town's center this Fourth of July.
He pointed out that the July 4 celebration had been held at the Jefferson stadium before, but that a downtown event is good for local businesses.
Member Aloise McNichols added: "If we really want to revitalize downtown, we need to keep as many functions there as possible."
JABA members discussed having a work day sometime just before July 4 to clean up the downtown area, and will seek volunteers to help with the project.

GROWTH

 

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.
In two, 2-1 votes, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided on both an architectural firm for the project and on a system to pay for its estimated $10 million cost.
But while those decisions were made, some major issues remain before the project can move forward. Chief among those issues is finding enough parking for the facility. County codes call for some 300 parking spaces for buildings the size of the proposed annex, but the early plans didn't allot that much space.
The cost of providing that extra parking could also impact construction on the building and the amount of space left unfinished inside.
Hired by the county was The Leo Daly Firm, which beat out Carter Watkins for the project. Commissioners Pat Bell and Henry Robinson voted in favor of Leo Daly while BOC chairman Jerry Waddell voted against the firm.
Also in a 2-1 vote, the board agreed to finance the new annex with $10 million in 25-year general obligation bonds. About half of the bonds would be repaid from taxes generated by the new Georgia Power plant near Center. The remainder would come from other property taxes. Bell and Robinson voted in favor of the move while Waddell voted against. No referendum will be required to issue the bonds.
One twist on the motion, however, is that it called for the county to use its long-range fund account for the first two years to help meet the payments. The board hopes Georgia Power will continue to expand its plant and that by 2004, only a third of a mill, or less, of an increase would be required to meet the payments after that point. Another part of the motion states that the surplus funds would be used only if doing so would not deplete the long-range fund account.
Members of the courthouse committee, an advisory group appointed two years ago, were also on hand during Monday's meeting. That group had selected The Leo Daly Firm to do preliminary work on the project and still favored the firm for the final selection.
Proposals from the two companies were considerably different in the exterior design concept. Although the design is subject to changes by county leaders, several members of the courthouse committee said they liked the "longer" style of The Daly proposal over the "boxy" style proposed by Carter Watkins.


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. The permit was issued by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Monday and clears the way for the county to begin work on a key sewer line to serve Mulberry Plantation, a 1,500-home golf development on Hwy. 124.
Although the existing permit, which had belonged to the Texfi textile company, was transferred to the county as an industrial discharge permit, the county has applied for it to become a municipal wastewater permit. The county hopes to get a municipal permit for up to 2 million gallons per day treatment capacity.
Plans call for a gravity flow sewerage line to run up Doster Creek, crossing Creek Nation Road and Skelton Road and ending at Hwy. 124 near the intersection of Gum Springs Church Road. Developers of the Mulberry project will have to locate a lift station at the back of the property along Jackson Trail road to pump effluent that won't gravity flow into the line.
The granting of the permit marks a major move by the county government as it begins to get into the sewage business. The county got the wastewater facility following condemnation proceedings against Water Wise, Inc. which had purchased the plant from Texfi. A key part of that action was to prevent Water Wise from getting the permit transferred. Had that been done, the private company would have had unlimited power to condemn land for sewerage lines in the county, and in effect, play a major role in deciding where future growth would occur.
Once in place, the county sewerage line will open up a large amount of land between Jefferson and Braselton for development. A significant portion of that area would gravity flow into the line, covering an area bordered by Old Pendergrass Road on the north and Hwy. 124 on the south. The addition of additional lift stations would extend that southern end as far as W.H. Hayes Road, covering a significant part of the Jefferson-Winder road.
The combination of sewerage and county water access would allow for higher density development than is currently allowed in that area. It was the fear of unregulated high density growth that, in part, led the county into the sewerage business so as to exercise control over that growth by deciding when and where sewerage lines would be placed.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

6 Candidates Announce Plans To Seek Office
Fletcher, Beshara, Pritchett, Thomas, Coker And Elrod Announce Their Plans
JEFFERSON -- Six people announced their intentions of running for office in the upcoming elections, one each for chairman of the board of commissioners, sheriff, tax commissioner and three for the District 3 seat on the board of commissioners
Harold Fletcher announced that he will be a candidate for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in July's Republican primary. Emil D. Beshara, Edward Pritchett and former commissioner Fran Thomas announced that they will run for the commissioners' District 3 post, Glenda Coker announced her candidacy for sheriff of Jackson County, and Tax Commissioner Don Elrod became the first incumbent to formally announce for re-election.
Fletcher previously served as a member of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners (1977-1988) and is chairman of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority.
He is the son of Edgar and Ann Fletcher of Jefferson and is a fifth-generation native of Jackson County He resides on Hog Mountain Road (Jefferson area) with his wife, the former Guynelle Gaines of Nicholson. They have three sons, Ray, Robin and Jon, one daughter, Jan Carithers, and two grandchildren.
Fletcher is a graduate of Jefferson High School and Southern Business University and holds BBA and MBA degrees from the University of Georgia. He is a deacon and adult Sunday school teacher at Cave Springs Baptist Church. He is a member and past president of the Jefferson Lions Club and a member of the Commerce Kiwanis Club. He is active in the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and serves on its executive board. The candidate is a member and past president of the Banks-Jackson Board of Realtors and holds designations in several professional national real estate organizations. After 29 years in outside plant engineering management at BellSouth, he is currently president of Piedmont Realty Services, Inc., a real estate appraisal company located in Jefferson since 1987.
District 3 covers the Hoschton, Braselton, Pendergrass and Talmo areas, as well as portions of the Plainview and Holly Springs communities.
Beshara listed animal control as high on his list of priorities, and said the county's land use plan should be reviewed annually or biannually, the county should focus on attracting more retail businesses, requiring higher standards in utility franchise awards, and reviewing the county contracting policy.
Beshara is a civil engineer specializing in environmental engineering. He obtained a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Georgia, and moved to Jackson County in 1987.
Pritchett is the son of Ollie Mae Boyd and the late Edward D. Pritchett. With the exception of five years when he lived in Atlanta and Denver, CO, Pritchett has lived in the Pendergrass area. He is a 1985 graduate of Jefferson High School and holds an associate's degree in business management from Gainesville College and a bachelor's degree in business management from North Georgia College.
Pritchett is a program analyst with Georgia U.S. Data Services, Inc. in Norcross, where he plays an administrative role in the development and implementation of business administration-oriented software for third-party customers. He is married to the former Shelly Kern of Denver, CO, and is a member of Pendergrass Baptist Church.
Pritchett said he is excited about representing District 3 to ensure that the district is the beneficiary of the county's overall continued growth and not a casualty.
Thomas, Pendergrass, announced this week that she is seeking the District 3 seat.
Thomas was elected in 1992 as the first female to become a Jackson County commissioner. She served until the end of 1996. She also became a certified county commissioner within the first two years of her term, which was also a first for Jackson County.
Thomas lives with her husband of 39 years on their cattle farm in the Holly Springs community. They also own and operate Thomas Printing Company. They have two sons, Robin Thomas, Dacula, and Rodney Thomas, Homer, and three grandchildren and attend Center Grove Baptist Church.
Coker, 29, would be only the second woman sheriff if elected. She is running on the Republican ticket.
She is a former employee of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and the Banks County E911 center. She attended Berkmar High School through the 11th grade and received her GED from Lanier Tech.
She is married to Brad Martin and they have a 7-year-old son.
Elrod has announced that he will seek a fourth term as tax commissioner. Elrod has served Jackson County in this capacity since 1989, running unopposed in the last two elections.
Elrod is a graduate of Jefferson High School and attended Gainesville College before serving with the Navy Seabees. He has been married to the former Jan Nabors for 28 years. They have a daughter, Amy, and a son, Jim. He is a member of Bethany United Methodist Church, where he serves on the board of trustees, as treasurer of the men's club and is a member of the finance committee.
Elrod is a member of the County Officers Association and Georgia Tax Officials where he has been a district leader and is currently serving as the association's photographer.
Elrod is also a member of the Jackson County rescue and has been a member of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department since 1979. He is the assistant chief.
The Elrod family resides at 1224 Brockton Road just outside Jefferson.




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Annexation To Be Issue For City Council
Planning Commission Recommended That City Council Deny Maysville Road Request
An Atlanta area woman whose annexation request has been recommended for denial will get a chance to plead her case to the Commerce City Council Monday night.
Christine Smith's plans to have two small parcels on the Maysville Road across from Billy Cain Ford annexed hit a snag when the Commerce Planning Commission voted to not recommend the annexation or the zoning changes to the city council.
Mrs. Smith's spokesman, Robert J. Marsh, said one tract would continue to be used for an auto recovery lot. On the other, the owner plans to operate a bait store, tanning salon and general store combination, and sell beer and wine. She sought M-1 zoning in the city.
One parcel is zoned A-2 in the county and the other B-2. Together, they comprise less than one acre.
The city council can accept or reject the planning commission's direction.
The city council will also act on two other recommendations from the planning commission, annexation requests from Annie Snelling and Mary Hill. The planning commission recommended both for approval, with R-1 zoning.
The city council meets at 6:30 Monday in the Commerce Civic Center.
Other items likely to be on the agenda include an update on the status of the city's solid waste (garbage) contract after complaints from council members last month about poor service, and a proposed contract from the Georgia Department of Transportation for the resurfacing of city streets under the LARP program.


CRIME

I.W. Davis escapee recaptured
An escapee from the I.W. Davis Probation Detention Center was recaptured Tuesday night at his mother's home in Winder, authorities said Wednesday.
Jason Massey, 19, walked away from the minimum security center while moving supplies around 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. Massey was in jail on probation violation charges stemming from the theft of a motor vehicle and failure to report.
Authorities said Massey made his way down Brockton Road where he approached a homeowner to make a phone call. After making three calls, Massey reportedly asked the man if he could be given a ride to the bowling alley in Jefferson. He said he had been left on a work detail by accident.
Massey was driven past the bowling alley and down Memorial Drive to the Jefferson City Park, said officials. There, he got into a black truck with a woman and the vehicle left going toward Winder.


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.
Authorities say Emory Wayne Cochran, who is charged in the 1998 murder of Kimberly Warren near her rural North Jackson home, had apparently conspired with a Nicholson man to shoot his way out of the Barrow County courthouse law library last weekend.
Cochran was sent back early this week to Jackson Diagnostic Center, a state facility with high security.
Also charged in the apparent escape attempt was Dallas Presley, 35, of Nicholson. Authorities said Presley hid a loaded .38-caliber revolver in a bookshelf in the law library.
The plot was uncovered when authorities were pursuing a tip about another reported escape plan. Authorities discovered the gun Friday, removed it, then brought Cochran to the room Saturday where they said he searched for the gun.
Officials said Presley and Cochran became friends while the two were housed in the Barrow County jail together.
"This underscores our lack of security in all our courthouses," said District Attorney Tim Madison. None of the court facilities in Barrow, Jackson and Banks Counties, which make up the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, have metal detectors or other security systems, he pointed out. The Barrow County law library is on the fourth floor of the courthouse and Madison said no gun would have been put there had the facility had some kind of security system.
Cochran had been held at the high security Jackson Diagnostic Center until early this year when Judge Bob Adamson allowed him to be transferred to Barrow County. Cochran's court-appointed lawyer, Walter Harvey, had asked the judge at a February hearing to allow Cochran to be moved closer to Jefferson. Harvey said the state's Jackson facility was a five-hour round trip drive to meet with his client.
Jackson County sheriff Stan Evans suggested at the hearing that Cochran be housed in Hall or Clarke County.