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 April 25, 2000


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OPINION
Qualifying means it's time for campaigning
Plenty of candidates have already thrown their hat in the ring for the positions up for grabs in the elections coming up this year.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Grant To Provide Computers To Four Jackson Libraries
The world's richest man has probably never heard of Jackson County, but each of the county's four public libraries will get more than $16,000 worth of computer equipment from his foundation.

Trio in robbery, stabbing of cab driver plead guilty during trial
Judge calls actions a 'definition of violence'
A Jackson County judge called the attack on a Gainesville taxi cab driver "the very definition of violence" Tuesday morning when three people were sentenced in the attack after changing their pleas to guilty.

Qualifying For County Elections Is Next Week
JEFFERSON -- It's put up or shut up time for Jackson County residents seeking political office.

Duke-Weeks groundbreaking planned Monday
Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, at the site for the first Duke-Weeks development in Braselton.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
New MCHS principal named
Bob Rhinehart is Madison County High School's new principal.

Public meeting held on charter school proposal
About 15 citizens, including two school board members, came out for the first of four public meetings to be held around the county on a proposed charter high school for Madison County.


SPORTS
BCHS hosts shot at third straight golf title
When Banks County High School co-hosts the Region 8-A golf tournament Monday at Scales Creek Country Club, there will be more than homefield pride at stake.

Diamond Leopards close 20-5 year
Dawson Co. downs BCHS for playoff spot
If it isn't the most, it's got to be close.
The Banks County High School baseball team turned in what is surely one of the best baseball seasons in the school's history.


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CHECKING OUT THE PROM

Shkeya Daniels is shown checking out the Banks County High School prom Saturday night at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville. The theme was "Never let you go."
Photo by Travis Hatfield

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Baldwin may add drug dog to offset rising crime
By Shar Porier
Police chief Sheriff Larry Andrews told the Baldwin City Council Thursday night that drug arrests are up in the town when he presented figures on the rise in crime in the first four months of this year.
The main areas of increase are arrests for driving under the influence of intoxicants and drugs. So far in April, there have been seven drug arrests, involving marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines.
"We have major problems coming and we need to head them off", he said. "There is an increasing influence of drugs coming here and through here. And they are finding new hiding places that are hard to detect with normal seach procedures."
Andrews proposed that the department utilize a dog trained to sniff out drugs. Officer Eric Cook has been researching drug dogs and has found two trainers offering dogs from $4,000 to $7,000, depending on the level of training.
The canine would literally be Cook's partner and would be considered an officer of the law, complete with badge. The partners would patrol together during duty hours and the dog would be housed at Cook's residence when off-duty. Cook estimated the cost of feeding and vet care to be around $500 per year. He went on to say that he prefers a dog, like a Labrador, that would not be frightening to children.
When a drug arrest is made, the seizure of vehicles and other items, which can be worth thousands of dollars, are placed in a special seizure fund which is separate from the city's operating budget. Andrews proposes using the seizure fund to acquire and care for the canine officer. In a recent seizure, two vehicles worth around $6,000 were acquired. Cook feels the dog would pay its own way in this respect.
Under current law, known as the "Free Air Act," if an officer stops a car and smells marijuana or crack cocaine, an officer with a canine partner has the legal right to circle the vehicle with the dog to detect if and where the contraband may be located. Once the dog senses a drug, the officer has probable cause to search the vehicle.
Councilman Kevin Gaddis added that with the influx of people out of Atlanta, the problem will only get worse.


Tractor trailers may be in for citations in Baldwin
By Shar Porier
Eighteen-ton tractor trailers have been "tearing up the roads" in Baldwin, according to police chief Frank Andrews.
After looking into state laws on the subject, he disclosed to the Baldwin City council at Thursday night's work session that signage can be placed on certain roads to restrict use. By using either "No Through Trucks" or "Weight Limit" signs, the roads can be protected from damage by haulers using back roads. An exception would be made only for deliveries. Drivers parking their tractor trailers at home would no longer be permissible, he said. Tractors by themselves pose no problem and this new proposition would not apply to them, leaders said.
Plans call for warnings to be given at first and then a citation if the hauler persists. Mayor Mark Reed agreed that a resolution needs to be drawn up on the matter, as well as deciding which streets to include.

City of Baldwin discusses leash law
By Shar Porier
An ordinance for "nuisance animals" was discussed at the Baldwin City Council work session Thursday evening. Police chief Larry Andrews invited certified animal control specialist, Norm Blackwell, to the meeting to present the city council with suggestions on how to go about addressing the problem.
Blackwell is contracted by the City of Cornelia for animal control where an $83 fine is imposed on owners who let their animals roam. Blackwell charges a fee of $15 per pick-up which could be assessed to Baldwin in a weekly billing.
Blackwell explained the procedure for animal pick-up and how they would be cared for at the county animal shelter. Animals that are in good health and are considered adoptable would be fed and housed for five days. If the animal fails to be adopted in that time period, it is euthanized. Non-tagged aggressive animals that are difficult to control may not be that lucky, he added.
Andrews noted that Baldwin has no leash ordinance in place at this time. His force is unable to respond to complaints about stray animals unless the animal bites someone. Blackwell would be unable to provide the services described above unless such an ordinance exists. Should an ordinance be adopted, the city could regain the pick-up fees and any fines they set from the owners of the animals.
"It would place the responsibility back on the owners and help relieve the city of the problem," Andrews said.
Mayor Mark Reed added the possibility of requiring Baldwin residents to purchase a city tag for their animals to help off-set costs.
The council asked that Blackwell provide some sample ordinances to look over. They will then draft and offer the ordinance for approval.


Qualifying ahead for county offices
Qualifying for several Banks County offices will be held from 9 a.m. on Monday, April 24, through noon on Friday, April 28.
Seats up for grabs on the Banks County Board of Education include: Post 1, currently held by Neal Brown; Post 2, held by Ron Gardiner; and Post 4, held by Len Dalton. The qualifying fee for posts 1 and 4 is $51 and the fee for Post 2 is $57.
Other offices and qualifying fees are as follows: commission chairman, $900; tax commissioner, $838.83; probate judge, $1,000.83; clerk of court, $982.35; sheriff, $1,112.67; magistrate judge, $744.03; coroner, $126.75; and surveyor, $18.
Both Democrat and Republican candidates are to qualify in the office of probate judge Milton Dalton.
The primary election is set for Tuesday, July 18, and if a run-off is necessary for the primary, it will be held on August 8. The general election will be November 7, with the run-off scheduled for November 28.


EPD hearing set Thurs. in Homer
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday at the courthouse in Homer on what air quality regulations apply to the Banks County landfill.
EPD officials will be present to hear comments from residents on anything that applies to air quality: odors, dust, methane and other chemicals that affect the health of residents.


Lula council opposed to railroad request on bridge
BY BETH L. CHESTER
Lula city council members are opposed to requests by Norfolk Southern Railway that it be permitted to demolish the Lula overhead wooden bridge.
During the council's regular meeting Monday, council members asked that city attorney Brad Patton draft a letter to the railroad clarifying the city's position.
City officials want the overhead bridge to remain intact and open to traffic, even if it cannot be repaired for use by heavy vehicles.
Currently, weight limits restrict use of the bridge to lightweight automobiles and small trucks.
The railroad argues repairs to the bridge are too costly and should not be made.
The city attorney told the council that he investigated reports that a 1980s court order required the railroad to maintain the bridge but said he found no such order.
Patton said he did locate a complaint filed by the city in 1980 and a subsequent response by the railroad. However, the city attorney said court records indicate the case was dismissed without an order having been filed.
"I am trying to get in touch with Bobby Lawson to see if an agreement was entered consensually between the city and railroad," Patton said.
Many of the same issues raised by the city and the railroad in current discussions were also cited as concerns in 1980, he said.
"We know the bridge means a lot to the people," a council member said, citing the historical significance of the bridge.
During budget discussions at the meeting, Mayor Tim Allen told council members that approximately $101,000 will remain for special projects in fiscal year 2001, based upon projected revenues. Allen suggested those funds be allocated among four areas. Council members tentatively agreed to fund $20,000 in cemetery improvements, $20,000 in unspecified capital improvements, $25,000 in unspecified equipment purchases, and $36,000 in street and road improvements.
The funds fall under a general government heading and can be reassigned as necessary.
Total city revenue for the current fiscal year is now expected to be approximately $334,000, representing a $10,000 increase over expectations.
The increase is likely attributable to local option sales tax increases, Allen said.
The first reading of the budget will be held in May and must be passed in June.
In other business, council members:
·learned that the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Council has approved the city's short-term program of its five-year comprehensive plan. The council adopted the new plan.
·agreed to ask the city's auditor to review records of ownership at the city cemetery and agreed to obtain price quotes from surveyors interested in surveying the cemetery.
·heard from the mayor that the commercial mower approved in March has been purchased and is expected to significantly reduce the mowing time.
·heard from the mayor that the city is awaiting a plat description of land approved for purchase in March.
·heard from the mayor that after July 1, the city should receive $7,000 from the county, due to taxation inequities identified by the state last year. Through increased property taxes, city residents had paid for services not provided to them by the county, Allen said.
·agreed to have the city attorney draft a letter of concern to a logging company. City officials fear the company may be planning to use Tallant Drive, a paved city road into a subdivision, as an entrance and exit for logging trucks. Mayor Allen said he will ask the Georgia Department of Transportation to enforce "no through truck" signs.


Alto receives GEFA money for replacing residential water lines
BY BETH L. CHESTER
Additional funding has been authorized for a $510,000 project to replace many of the water lines serving City of Alto residents.
Last week, Mayor Jack King announced that the Georgia Environmental Facility Authority (GEFA) has approved a loan to fund water line construction not completed last year.
The deteriorating 30-year-old water lines had been constructed with a material which contained asbestos. The funding announcement was made during the city's regular meeting, April 11.
Water lines have already been replaced from Apple Pie Ridge Road to Crane Mill Road. New construction should begin soon along B.C. Grant Road to the city limits and from the post office to the water tower.
City officials are hopeful the additional lines will be in place within three months. Blue Contractors is responsible for the construction.
Council members told concerned resident Grover Stewart that funds have not yet been approved to replace remaining asbestos water lines along Smokey Road and Crane Mill Road.
In other business, the council:
·heard a report from council member Susan Wade that parents of Banks County students who wish to attend Habersham County schools should begin now making arrangements for permission for their children to do so, under guidelines set forth in recent legislation. Parents should notify superintendents of both schools of their intentions now, according to a report from State Representative Carol Jackson, and request vouchers.
·received a rough draft of a proposed city employee handbook.
·approved a motion to redefine industry as any business or individual who uses at least 100,000 gallons of water in one month, agreeing to charge the commercial rate beyond that usage.
·agreed to hold a called meeting April 24 at 7 p.m. in order to meet with Georgia Mountains Regional Development Council planners to work on the city's zoning ordinance.
·approved the repair of Smokey Road, where the water line had been replaced and the road had been patched.
·approved the installation of five additional speed bumps.
·agreed to install more lights at the playground.
·voted to deem Good Friday a holiday for city employees.
·agreed that council members will determine where street lights need to be placed along B.C. Grant Road.



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'World's Largest Egg Hunt' ahead Sun.
Plans are under way for the "World's Largest Easter Egg Hunt" sponsored by the Garrison family.
The event is set for Easter Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m. at the Garrison home on Hwy. 51 in Homer.
There is no age limit and no admission fee. Leaders say the only thing those who attend need to bring is a very large Easter basket as there will be approximately 100,000 eggs to find.
There will also be 125 prize eggs bringing lucky winners live rabbits, stuffed toys and filled Easter baskets, according to Sherry Ward, executive assistant at the Banks County Chamber of Commerce.
For more information, call the chamber office at 677-2108.