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April 17, 2000


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OPINIONS
Courthouse security needs common sense, too
Last week's discovery of a plot to help a Jackson County murder suspect escape underscores the need for better security in our courthouses.

Answers And Solutions Needed For Local Creek
Something has killed aquatic life in Hardeman Creek south of Commerce...


Neighborhood News...
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.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Residents against mobile home park
BOC strengthens ordinance
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.

Baldwin mayor's DUI case to be heard in Habersham
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed will appear in Habersham County State Court, not City of Baldwin court.


SPORTS
Region meet nears for Panthers
The Jackson County track teams will wrap up their regular season Tuesday, with a home meet against West Hall and North Hall. The girls' region 8-AAA meet is set for next weekend, with the boys' a week later.

Panther golfers prepare for region
Golfers at Jackson County Comprehensive High School are fine-tuning their swings in preparation for the region 8-AAA golf tournament, to be held April 24 at Royal Lakes.

Dragons blast opponents' rackets
Jefferson tennis teams were scheduled to make up a previously rained-out match against Jackson County Wednesday.

JHS golfers pick up two wins at Eagle Greens
The Jefferson golf team will wrap up their regular season next Thursday against Banks County and Oglethorpe County, at Eagle Greens in Commerce.


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Waiting In The Rain

Members of the Red Wings, a girls' softball team in the Commerce Recreation Department's league, pass the time Saturday morning during opening day festivities and the dedication ceremony at the John E. Pardue Field.
Photo by Drew Brantley

ENJOYING THE SUNSHINE

Olin Stewart of Jefferson enjoyed a little springtime sunshine Tuesday morning as his neighbor, Dan Nolan, helped him out with this year's gardening. They are preparing to plant tomatoes. Stewart is recovering from a March 10 heart attack and a March 15 double bypass surgery.
Photo by Travis Hatfield

EDUCATION

Patsy Lentz hired as JES principal
By Jana Adams
A veteran educator who has served both Commerce and Jackson County school systems will return to this area next year as new principal for Jefferson Elementary School.
Patsy C. Lentz was hired Thursday by the Jefferson Board of Education to serve as JES principal for the 2000-2001 school year.
"I feel really good about this," said Jefferson Board of Education chairman Ronnie Hopkins. "She is an experienced administrator."
Lentz will begin work as JES principal on July 1, a little over a month before the new school year begins.
"I am extremely pleased to be coming home," she said. "I am very pleased to be working with Jefferson City Schools, they have always had such support from the community. Dr. (John) Jackson has a vision for Jefferson City Schools that is impressive and he and the board of education seem to work together well to do what is best for the children. It is a growing schools system and they are making a lot of progress. I am looking forward to working with them."
Lentz is currently serving as principal of Whit Davis Elementary School, Clarke County, where she has worked since 1994. She was Benton Elementary School principal from 1990 to 1994 and was special programs director for Jackson County Schools from 1985 to 1990.
Lentz was special education director for Northeast Georgia RESA, serving Jackson County, Jefferson City and Madison County schools, from 1981 to 1985. She was speech pathologist for Commerce City Schools from 1974 to 1977.
Lentz's other work experience includes serving as speech pathologist for Greenville County Schools from 1970 to 1971 and for Hart County Schools from 1972 to 1973. She was a learning disabled teacher for Montgomery County, N.C., from 1978 to 1979.
Lentz holds a bachelor's degree in speech pathology from Columbia College, S.C., as well as a master's degree in speech pathology and a specialist degree in administration from the University of Georgia.
Lentz lives in Athens with her husband, Mac, who works at the University of Georgia. They have two grown children, Walter and Charlotte, both of whom are Jefferson High School graduates, and one grandson, McRay.


Out-of-district contract implemented at JES kindergarten pre-registration
School leaders seek head count for 2000-2001
By Jana Adams
Parents began lining up early Thursday morning to get their children's names on the list of kindergarteners who will start school in the fall at Jefferson Elementary School.
And with a new nonresident student policy in place that gives enrollment priority to Jefferson residents to keep student-teacher ratios low, many of those who do not live within the Jefferson City limits were particularly interested in getting their child's name on the list early.
"We had people lining up this morning at 7 a.m., taking numbers like at a rock concert," said BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins, adding that a lot of out-of-district parents felt compelled to be there early.
JES principal Pam Smith said that at 7:30 a.m., there were 15 in line who were nonresidents. She added that so far there have been no complaints from parents signing the nonresident paperwork.
The school held a pre-registration round-up all day Thursday, hoping to get a good idea of how many kindergarteners will attend the school in 2000-2001.
JES school leaders are also taking a preliminary in-district count from pre-schools and will visit areas in town where transportation may have been a problem for getting to pre-registration to get a tentative head count for resident students, Smith said.
"We are trying to get an in-district count, and we will let the out-of-district parents know as soon as possible (what the enrollment restrictions, if there are any, look like," she said.
On Friday morning, JES assistant principal Lynn Conner said she had 109 completed kindergarten registration forms in hand, but expected at least six more to come in throughout the course of the day.
A flux in enrollment this school year has led the Jefferson Board of Education to approve the addition of six new kindergarten classrooms for JES, bringing the total of kindergarten classes up to eight.
Hopkins said he has received numerous calls from concerned nonresident parents who would like their children to attend JES kindergarten next year.
"We hope with adding an eighth kindergarten, we'll be able to accomodate all who apply," said Hopkins. "We're trying to do this to provide the best quality education with the space we have - to keep the student-teacher ratio down....The first year (of the nonresident policy) we may need to be more compassionate than hard and fast with these rules."

GROWTH

Duke-Weeks ready to develop in Braselton
BY ANGELA GARY
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.
The first building is in Barrow County, but it shouldn't be long before the development moves into Jackson County since the majority of the land, some 400 acres, is in Jackson County. The first building will be at the intersection of Hwy. 124 and Hwy. 211 and is slated to be completed by December. A total of four facilities are planned for the Barrow County property, with plans still being developed for the Jackson County property.
Duke-Weeks' senior vice president Eben Hardy said the company plans to construct a 503,000-square-foot distribution center as its first development on the site. Clearing work on the site is expected to start next week. 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.
Hardy said the company, which is the largest landlord in the northeast I-85 corridor, decided to develop the Jackson County site because it needs a place for its tenants to grow.
"Once you look at what sites are available north of the mall (Mall of Georgia), we felt as we looked up the corridor that this is the best site for the next significant industrial park," he said. "We needed a significant mass of land because we want to do parks; we don't want to do individual developments.
Hardy said that Duke-Weeks bought 100 acres from Wayne Mason, who had bought it from the Basinger-Braselton Group. He said the company, or its tenants, plans to purchase the remainder of the property.
Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce president Pepe 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."


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.
The city received notice last week that it will be awarded a $500,000 community development block grant to improve utilities, streets and drainage in the poorest section of town ­ along Cedar Drive, Woodbine Street and Cedar Drive Extension.
Two previous applications for the project fell short, and it may be coincidence, but Councilman Bob Sosebee was a member this year of the Department of Community Affairs board that selected the winners.
The scope of the project covers storm water drainage, water lines and sanitary sewage lines. In addition, the Department of Transportation has committed some $84,000 for resurfacing and the city will put in $60,000 to $70,000.
The work will all be contracted out, according to Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr., who at Monday night's meeting of the city council read the "letter of award" from Gov. Roy Barnes.
Previous grant applications have scored just below the cutoff for funding in two previous years, so this year the city sweetened its application with the DOT street work and more city cash.
Bob Roberson & Associates, who wrote the grant, will administer it. The work is expected to take up to a year, and construction should begin in early summer.
That wasn't the only cash award the mayor announced.
The Commerce Civic Center will receive a $40,000 appropriation to build a second fire escape from its upper floor, the mayor said. The work will allow it to increase the occupancy for the main banquet hall.
Hardy credited State Senator Eddie Madden for the funding, and both Madden and Rep. Scott Tolbert for making sure the appropriation stayed in the budget as negotiations between the House and Senate took place.


Planners Overruled:
Council Votes To Annex Maysville Road Property
The Commerce City Council voted Monday night to ignore the recommendation of its planning commission and rezoned and annexed two small parcels on the Maysville Road.
In doing so, the council voted to change one from A-2 and the other from B-2 in Jackson County to M-1 (manufacturing) and to annex them.
Both are owned by Christine Smith, who was present at the meeting but did not speak. One of the lots is currently used by her Associates Recovery, an auto recovery (repossession) business.
The Commerce Planning Commission had recommended that the property not be rezoned as requested nor annexed. Members had expressed the opinion that the lots, between the railroad line and a state highway, were not actually suitable for manufacturing. In addition, the fact that Mrs. Smith plans to seek a license to sell beer and wine became an issue.
A spokesman for the property owner said she plans to create a combination general store, bait and tackle shop and tanning salon that would also sell beer and wine.
"I don't know whether it should be M-1 or C-2, but I hate to refuse anyone who wants to come into the city," said Councilman Sam Brown.
"I would rather bring it in as M-1 than put it in as commercial among all the manufacturing and industries," stated Councilman Bob Sosebee.
Brown made the motion to change the zoning to M-1, Donald Wilson provided a second, and it passed unanimously, as did the motion to annex the property.
That zoning classification was contrary to advice submitted to the council by its attorney, John Stell, who by letter recommended that if the property were annexed, it should be rezoned C-2. Stell's letter, which was not mentioned at the meeting, also said the "staff" had recommended C-2 rezoning for the site.
Also on zoning issues, the council accepted the planning commission's recommendation on two other lots that were rezoned and annexed.
The lot of Walter and Mary Hill on Stark Road and the vacant lot of Annie Ruth Snelling on the Jefferson Road were both zoned R-1, which they had been in the county as well, and annexed. The votes were unanimous in both cases.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Jefferson ready to appoint civic center group
Jefferson leaders are ready to move forward on locating a civic center in town.
Councilmen Bosie Griffith and C.D. Kidd III encouraged the other council members to be thinking of citizens to serve on a committee to plan the project. A committee will be named at next month's meeting with nominations coming from the council.
The council has for some time discussed locating a large community civic center on the property where the club house is in the city park. The committee would work with an architect on the plans.
"We need to do something that is best for all of the citizens of Jefferson," Griffith said.




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Fate of incentive pay unclear
Teachers, principals express discontent
BY ADAM FOUCHE
The fate of a new incentive pay program in the Jackson County school system is clouded following teacher and principal input at the Jackson County Board of Education's work session two weeks ago. "The teachers said they did not want the incentive," Shirley Peters, a Benton Elementary School teacher, told the board. "If chosen, some said they would not take the money."
The majority of the faculty echoed Peters' sentiments, and they pointed to morale difficulties as a major downfall of the program.
"We want to work as a team and get rewards," said Benton principal Lamar Langston.
South Jackson Elementary School principal Pam Johns said the incentive would make teachers feel like they were pulling against each other.
Jackson County Comprehensive High School principal Jim Gurley told the board he'd like to see the supplement increased instead.
"Other systems have a higher supplement, and it's hard to fill positions," he said. "I'm in favor of merit pay, but I'd hate to see it used instead of the supplement."
BOE chairman Barry Cronic, the father of the program, expressed his disappointment in the lack of support for the program.
"We wanted to create an out-of-the-box incentive plan," he said. "The overwhelming feeling is that you'd like to have it put back in the salary schedule. If teamwork is the thing, come up with a way to recognize a team. If we can do something to create teamwork and reward teachers, that's good."
The program was approved in February, and the money was scheduled to be divvied up this year. However, the inability to establish criteria for the incentive, along with a lack of support, has stalled the program for the meantime. The board will revisit the issue at its next work session.
"Maybe we'll do more harm than good to reward you for excellence," Cronic told the group of teachers. "We just want to push you to do more and then reward you."

County Survey: Teens Shouldn't Have Sex, But Should Use Birth Control If They Do
Health District Survey Shows Health Dept. Favored For Birth Control
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.
Those statistics are among the findings of a survey of "Adult Attitudes About Health Department Services and Sexually Active Teens" in which 542 county residents participated.
While the majority of the public thinks unmarried teens should not be sexually active, those interviewed believe 67 percent of high school seniors are sexually active. That guess is slightly higher, 69 percent, among respondents ages 18-29.
And while the public thinks teenagers are sexually active, 42 percent of respondents do not think the teenagers in their families are sexually active, although only 17 percent of respondents 18-29 consider it "not likely" that teenagers in their family are sexually active.
Of the 542 people who participated in the survey, the 69 in ages 18-29 were far more liberal in their attitudes about sexual activity.
For example, 78 percent believe there should be clinics near high schools to offer birth control to sexually active teens. Only 55 percent of total respondents believed likewise. In addition, 71 percent of ages 18-29 respondents said announcements should be made in high schools about services at such clinics. Overall, only 51 percent of respondents agreed with that issue.
Eighty-one percent of those 18-29 believe that even without parental notification, sexually active teens should get birth control; the overall average was 66 percent.
Asked if it is OK for teens to have sex without birth control, only one percent of respondents answered "yes," and zero percent answered "yes" in the 18-19 age range.
While much of the questionnaire was aimed at sexual attitudes, the rest was designed to get opinions about the Jackson County Health Department.
"Do you believe that parents of sexually active teens should encourage their teens to get services at the Jackson County Health Department?" the survey asked. "Would you encourage your own teen to get services at the Jackson County Health Department?" asked another. The answers were 74 percent yes and 64 percent yes respectively.
The poll included questions about appropriateness of using the department, experiences using the department (95 percent "satisfied"), reasons for visiting the department, knowledge of friends and family members who used the department's services, opinions about who uses the department, whether it is important to the health of the community, and even how those who used the department heard about the services it offers.
Others asked about friends or relatives with high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.