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May 12, 2000


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OPINIONS
Cities, County Should Focus On Impact Fees
Commerce officials are watching what is going on in Cherokee County, and Jackson County officials are awaiting a proposal from county planner David Clabo.

Murders were an inexplicable tragedy
There isn't anyone who will read about the Griffin murders in Nicholson who won't be horrified.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Hull, Athens water dispute lingers on
An old dispute and outstanding debt with the Athens/Clarke County water system apparently still hangs over the heads of Hull's mayor and council.

Relay raises $92,000 to fight cancer
Hundreds of sleepy folks gathered on the recreation department's track last Saturday morning to hear that through their combined efforts they raised $92,000 to fight cancer locally.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Cities, County Should Focus On Impact Fees
Commerce officials are watching what is going on in Cherokee County, and Jackson County officials are awaiting a proposal from county planner David Clabo.

Murders were an inexplicable tragedy
There isn't anyone who will read about the Griffin murders in Nicholson who won't be horrified.


SPORTS
Gary, Perry At State Track And Field Meet

Commerce's McFadden Takes 5th, 6th In Albany
Commerce High School's two representatives to the Class A boys' track meet will be in action Friday in the 29th Georgia Olympics in Jefferson.

Collins Named All-Tourney At AAU Event In Charlottesville, Va.
Michael Collins's Tennessee Travelers AAU basketball team had a pretty good showing, but the Commerce High School junior stood out even more at the Southern Invitational Tournament at the University of Virginia in Charllottesville this weekend.

Georgia Olympics on tap this week
Jefferson High School will host the 29th Georgia Olympics beginning Friday at Bryan/Keen track at Memorial Stadium.

Parr, Green finish third in Albany
Jackson County's Carly Parr and Lady Dragon Heather Green led area girls at the state track meet last week in Albany with a pair of third-place finishes.


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Inmate walks away from detention center
An I.W. Davis Detention Center inmate walked away from the correctional facility Wednesday afternoon.
According to Peggy Chapman of the Georgia Department of Corrections, James Pititone walked away from the maintence area of the corrections facility around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Chapman said the means of his escape is still under investigation.
Pititone has not been caught.


Governor signs bill to stop private condemnations
Gov. Roy Barnes signed a bill in to law on May 1 that would prevent private companies from having the power to condemn land for water or sewer projects without first getting approval from the local governing authority.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Eddie Madden following just such an effort in Jackson County by Water Wise Inc. The county government condemned the facility purchased by Water Wise, thus stopping the firm from its plans.


Plans moving forward for business to locate in East Jackson Industrial Park
BY ANGELA GARY
A businessman is finalizing his plans to locate a metal fabrication business in the East Jackson Industrial Park.
The Jackson County Industrial Development Authority reviewed the buildings plans for Duane Nelson's project when it met Tuesday. It will be a metal warehouse building with a brick office in the front.
In other business, chairman Harold Fletcher reported that the closing was final on the sale of a lot to Double D Supply in the Central Jackson Industrial Park. Derald and Bobbye Dodds plan to locate a warehouse and showroom for their tile business.
Fletcher pointed out that the sale of the land brought in enough money for the authority to pay off its outstanding debts.
In other business, Fletcher reported that a Commerce property owner is interested in working with the IDA to develop an industrial park. No action was taken but the matter will apparently be discussed further with the property owner and city officials.


Why?

Authorities puzzled why man 'butchered' his young family

It is one of the most brutal slayings in the county's history.
Two young boys, ages 6 and 4, and their 25-year-old mother were stabbed repeatedly at their Nicholson home Monday evening by the boys' father.
FULL STORY



Responding to complaints about yards and houses like these on Brookwood Avenue, left, and Harmony Street, right, the Commerce City Council plans to enforce its cleanliness of premises ordinance.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

City School Tax Rate May Fall Slightly
By Jana Adams
Although the tentative 2000-2001 budget of $7,487,817 offered by the Commerce Board of Education shows a 12.53 percent increase over last year's budget, it calls for no local fund increases. In fact, school superintendent Larry White said he believes it will contribute to a rollback in property taxes of half a mill or more.
The board discussed the tentative budget at length at a work session Thursday night and then approved the figures at its Monday regular meeting. A public forum on the tentative budget will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at the Commerce High School media center.
The budget includes salary and benefits for eight new teachers, a three percent staff salary increase and an increase in staff benefits. The bulk of the anticipated expenditures comes from $4,961,540 for instructional services, up $578,123 over last year's figures.
Anticipated receipts include an additional $774,900 in QBE funds over last year's amount, as well as an additional $35,027 expected in grants over last year's budget. Local taxes remain at $1,559,875.
Other funds separate from the tentative budget total $1,767,956 in a revenue and expenditure balance, including $1.6 million in SPLOST and entitlement funds.
The budget is available for public review at the superintendent's office at Commerce City Schools.
The BOE will hold a work session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at CHS, then will present the proposed budget to the Commerce City Council at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 12. If no changes are required, the budget will be approved at the board's regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 12.


Commerce Council Takes Aim At Junked Cars, Unkempt Property
Junked cars and unkempt property drew the attention of the Commerce City Council Monday night, and it appears that the city is prepared to crack down on both.
Eddie Howell brought the issue of junked cars before the council, complaining about a neighbor on Harmony Street who reportedly has a number of inoperative cars on his property. From there, the discussion went to debris-filled yards, abandoned houses and property that is allowed to deteriorate.
"Not only is this vehicle inoperable," Howell complained, "but it's filled with what I consider junk, not only the bed of the truck, but also the cab."
Howell added that the owner, who has been warned by the city in the past, also has stacked tires in the back yard, has a second abandoned vehicle, and does commercial auto service work in the residential neighborhood.
"This is the third time I've had to do this. I don't think he has yet gotten the message," Howell complained.
"He's already received a (warning) letter," advised city manager Clarence Bryant. "He still has two or three days before a citation is issued."
Howell also complained about an empty house across the street from his residence, which he said was "run down" with cracked brick and window sills, rotting floor and a fallen chimney.
"It is unfortunate that people let their property run down," observed Mayor Charles Hardy. "I have two others ... we're looking at them all."
The city has ordinances against both junked cars and unkempt premises. In both cases, a warning letter is sent to alleged offenders, giving them a chance to clean the property before appearing in municipal court.
The issue would not die down.
"I was driving in Ward 1 and there is a house where the grass is higher than my head," noted Ward 4 Councilman Bob Sosebee. "There are no windows and it is all boarded up."
"We passed it, let's enforce it," said Hardy, referring to the town's "cleanliness of premises" ordinance.
While discussion moved to other areas, it returned to the subject several times.
Late in the meeting at-large councilman Archie Chaney referred to the need to clean out some of the abandoned cars in the area to be rehabilitated by the city's community development block grant.
Ward 1 Councilman Riley Harris complained about a house on Brookwood Avenue, to which at-large councilman Richard Massey complained, "I got eight calls (about the house)."
Hardy urged the councilmen to drive through their wards and "write up" the junked cars and unattended property.
"Every year we have to do this. Sooner or later we have to start fining these people. It's a shame people like Eddie have to come to the city council," he said.
In a related matter, Massey asked the city to check on a Roosevelt Boulevard resident who is allegedly selling automobiles from his yard, which would be a zoning violation as well as a case of operating without a business license.




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1st Draft Of City Budget - $18.4 Million\
The first draft of the Commerce budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year projects spending at almost exactly the level of spending for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, but don't expect it to stay that way.
"This is a draft copy," said city manager Clarence Bryant as he discussed the document at Monday night's city council meeting, emphasizing the word "draft."
The document proposes $18.4 million in revenue, compared to $18.39 in revenue expected this year. The General Fund budget is estimated at $5.6 million, exactly what it is budgeted for the current year, although Bryant projects spending will actually be closer to $5.3 million for the current year.
Bryant explained that the draft copy represents all of the requests made by department heads, a four percent cost of living raise and some merit raises. It also projects almost $4.1 million in capital spending.
The mayor and council will meet with Bryant at 6:00 p.m. Monday for a work session to begin fine-tuning the budget.
One item that will affect the budget is a deal with Jackson County to provide sewer service outside the city limits to land being developed along Interstate 85.
"The county wants to meet with us on water and sewer issues. We have some major, major decisions to make," the city manager said.
There will be at least one more draft copy of the budget, followed by a proposed budget to be adopted by July 1 and finally a "final" budget adopted when all of the 1999-2000 year-end figures are in.