News from Banks County...

 April 12, 2000


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OPINION
Parents need to make sure their children don't miss too much school
It's good that the Banks County Board of Education is targeting the high absenteeism rate among students.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Duke-Weeks ready to develop in Braselton
A huge Gwinnett County real estate firm will break ground this month on its first industrial project on a 500-acre tract it plans to develop in Braselton.

3rd Time's A Charm With Grant
Third Attempt Nets Commerce $500,000 State Grant
The third time was indeed a charm for the city of Commerce, though having a city councilman on the board making the decisions didn't hurt a bit.

County Survey:
Teens Shouldn't Have Sex, But Should Use Birth Control If They Do
Only nine percent of Jackson County residents surveyed by the Northeast Georgia Health District believe it is OK for unmarried teens to be sexually active, but 85 percent think those who are should use birth control.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Local Christian school considers move to Madison County
About 20 county residents showed up on a chilly and windy day last Saturday to express their interest in a private Christian-based school that is considering the possibility of opening in the county.

15-year-old charged with arson of home
A Madison County family has suffered its second tragedy in just a few months.


SPORTS
Diamond Leopards can reach playoffs by winning last three
After dropping its last three meetings with the leading teams in the subregion, the Banks County baseball team still enjoys the comfort of control.

Setting the new table
Region 8-AA prepares for '00-'01 year
After all the initial furor over the realignment in the Georgia High School Association, things have almost returned to normal.


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I LOVE A PARADE

Members of the Banks Country Recreation Department 5-6-year-old tee ball team join the parade procession to celebrate the opening day ceremonies for baseball and softball Saturday morning.
Photo by Adam Fouche

GOWTH

Residents against mobile home park
BOC strengthens ordinance
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Just the thought of a 90-acre mobile home park on Hwy. 59 was enough for area residents to speak out against it and in favor of strengthening the mobile/manufactured home regulations in Banks County.
For months, the county commissioners and planning commission have worked on a new ordinance which was recommended by planners and approved by the BOC in a meeting Tuesday night.
BOC chairman James Dumas offered a few solutions to planners last week and he took some time during the meeting to explain his reasoning.
Before Tuesday night, the minimum lot size requirement was 9,000 square feet. Dumas had recommended 10,200 square feet because it is consistent with four multi-family units per acre. Planners recommended a requirement of 14,000 square feet, and that was the minimum approved as a part of the ordinance on Tuesday.
Dumas had also recommended a 30-foot setback between mobile homes, but the setback approved was 60 feet, as suggested by the planning commission. Dumas expressed concern about parking old cars and storage between mobile homes with the increased setback.
The planning commission did go with the chairman's suggestion to make the road requirements 20 feet with two feet of rolled gutter on each side.
Dumas also expressed his concern for the clause which states a mobile home park must be located in an area with public water and sewer, which are scarce in the county.
"My concern is, is that reasonable," he said. "I'm in favor of passing it with the water and sewer requirement, but you've got to realize we could have to defend that issue."
The rumors of the mobile home park came about after Hall County developers Tim Whitmire and Keith Brown brought a preliminary plat to the BOC to talk about the "concept" of locating the park in that area.
During the commission meeting on Tuesday, Dumas said that it was only an idea and a formal application has not been filed.
"No mobile home park has been presented," he said. "It must first be rezoned before the park would even be considered."
He told the group that the developers had approached him about the proposed ordinance and he asked them to put their plans on paper.
"They told me it could cost $5 to $6 million to put that development in there under the new regulations," said Dumas.
Several citizens spoke out about the potential effects of the mobile home park on the county. Herman Sparks pointed out the consequences of the park on the school system.
Tim Gilstrap agreed: "I'm in the contracting business and I see it every day. Have you thought about the impact of doubling the children in school that day? There's a lot to this."
Again, Dumas reiterated that there has been "no application and nothing has been done."


School leaders to combat high absenteeism rate
BY SHERRY LEWIS
Forty-three percent of Banks County students have missed more than 10 days of school this year, which has led administrators to come up with a plan they hope will reduce that number.
In a work session with the board of education on Thursday, superintendent Deborah White told of immediate plans to combat this problem. Students who have more than 10 excused absences will have a note sent home to their parents, she explained.
"Some of these are for legitimate absences, but we are sending a letter to parents," she said. "We want them to be aware that their children are missing their education. We will ask them to make an extra effort to send their child to school."
In the case of 10 or more unexcused absences, school social worker Bobby Whitlock will set up a conference with the parents with a follow-up at a later date, White continued.
On Thursday, the BOE also went into a closed session that lasted one hour and 10 minutes to discuss personnel issues with high school principal Jan Bertrang and middle school principal Kay Rogers. No action was taken.
In other business, the BOE:
·approved the school calendar for the 2000-2001 school year.
·approved a field trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for Lori Howard's fifth grade class.
·approved a request by the middle school cheerleaders for a "spirit link" sale to buy new uniforms.
·approved a request by parents of Howard's class for a "common threads" fund-raiser to sponsor the end-of-year field trip.
·approved a request by the Future Farmers of America for a chicken-cue to raise funds for the FFA banquet.
·approved a request by the high school cheerleaders to sell products from Great America to buy uniforms and to cover camp expenses.
·approved a request by the middle school coaches to conduct a basketball camp and to open the gym to provide training and proceeds for the program.
·approved a request by Terri Ross' class to sell postcards for a field trip and a fund for Coach Steve Casper.
·approved coaching and extracurricular positions.
·gave Roy Broome the go-ahead to contact the Georgia Department of Transportation about a driveway extension next to the new high school.
·agreed to hold a work session at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25.



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Baldwin mayor's DUI case to be heard in Habersham
BY BETH CHESTER
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed will appear in Habersham County State Court, not City of Baldwin court, to answers charges that he operated his vehicle while intoxicated March 30.
Although a Baldwin police officer charged Reed with Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUI) and failure to maintain a lane inside the city limits, police chief Frank W. Andrews said the case was transferred outside the city's jurisdiction to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Chief Andrews said he acted alone in seeking permission to transfer the case but said the transfer was made "with the blessing of the city council."
According to the Baldwin Police Department incident report, Mayor Reed "tested positive over the legal limit for alcohol" when a roadside breath test was conducted at the time of arrest. Later, Reed twice declined to take a more scientifically reliable intoximeter test, the results of which could have been used in court.
According to reports, two individuals phoned dispatchers reporting that Reed would be leaving the Beef Baron restaurant and might be driving under the influence.
Andrews reviewed the videotaped recording of Reed's arrest and said Reed was cooperative and did not seek to intimidate the arresting officer. Chief Andrews said Mayor Reed "has apologized" to the police department for placing officers in a difficult situation.
Mayor Reed could not be reached for comment.