News from Banks County...

 May 24, 2000


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OPINION
Drew Brantley
Solving 'People' problems

People often confuse me. The frustration comes because there are so many different kinds of people. Now I am not talking about


SPORTS
Wilhelm wins Junior Dragster bracket

Banks County's Hank Wilhelm came out on top in the 13-17-year-old Junior Dragster competition at Atlanta Dragway this Friday.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Planners OK rezoning for Braselton landfill site
A developer's plans to rezone 117 acres on Hwy. 53 to locate a construction landfill site was approved by the Jackson County Planning Commission Thursday night in a 4-3 vote.

Courthouse plan approved by BOC calls
for 300 ground-level parking spaces
It looks like there won't be any underground parking spaces at the new courthouse annex in Jefferson.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
MCHS senior collapses during class
Madison County High School senior Jamie Adams, 18, died Monday afternoon after collapsing from cardiac arrest in a business education class at the high school.

Money approved for animal shelter
A Madison-Oglethorpe County animal shelter will soon be in the works, thanks to a Monday vote of local leaders...

MCHS graduation set for June 2
It's a time for joy, but graduation ceremonies can also carry a dose of stress when things don't go as planned.


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BUDGET PLANNING

The Banks County Board of Commissioners has held several day-long budget work sessions. Another meeting is set for 10 a.m. Friday. Shown are: (L-R) Pat Westmoreland, James Dumas and Ernest Rogers.

COUNTY GOVERNMENT

BOC anticipates decrease in milage rate
After three all-day budget hearings, members of the Banks County Board of Commissioners anticipate that they will be able to drop the millage rate by at least one-quarter of a mill.
Last year, the BOC set its millage rate at 6.5, with the total millage rate being 19.47.
Friday's budget hearing was the third held by the BOC. Another is set for 10 a.m. Friday in the courthouse in Homer. Highlights from this past week's meeting are as follows:

911 DEPARTMENT
911 director Lisa McClure told the board of commissioners that money needs to be set aside to use in emergency situations. She asked that the emergency management budget include $20,000 for emergency use. The BOC members said this money could come from the contingency funds if an emergency occurs.
McClure also discussed the need for shelters in the county to be used in emergency situations. She said regulations require these shelters to have generators and showers. McClure added that the county needs to start buying cots to be used in the shelters and find a central location to store them.
"We can't wait until the last minute," she said.
An ice storm last winter, which left downed trees and debris across the county and closed schools, led to Banks County being declared in a "state of emergency." A temporary shelter was set up in Banks County to handle those in need of shelter and to accommodate the emergency workers and volunteers who were working to clear the roads.
Overall, the 911 budget is expected to be down over last year.

MAGISTRATE COURT
Magistrate Court judge Henry David Banks said the only increase anticipated for his department is in salaries. The county is having an outside consultant do a personnel study to make recommendations on salaries for the various departments.

REGISTRAR
Milton Dalton and Lynn Lewallen met with the commissioners to discuss the budget for the registrar's office. The BOC agreed to a request to raise the salary for the poll manager from $70 to $90 and the poll workers from $60 to $70. On a related matter, the BOC agreed to pay the registrars $50 a day, up from $44 a day, and the chief registrar $60 a day, up from $56 a day.
Requests from Alto and Lula area residents for new voter precincts was also discussed. Officials said it takes 200 registered voters in order for a new precinct to be opened.

KEEP BANKS BEAUTIFUL
Leslie George met with the BOC on the Keep Banks County Beautiful program, which includes public education, a clean-up day, Christmas tree clean-up and other projects. George reported that the recycling center is expected to open soon. The hold-up has been finding someone to operate the center on a part-time basis.

WATER DEPARTMENT
Water director Gary Harper presented his budget, which calls for a $162,788 increase over last year. He said the anticipated increase is based on running the plant at full capacity.
"That is too much of an increase," Westmoreland said. "I hope the revenue of the water is up some to offset that."

OTHER BUSINESS
The commissioners also discussed several other budget items, including roads, Superior Court, department of family and children services, courthouse maintenance, senior citizen's center, public transportation and health department, but did not meet with representatives from these departments.




CRIME NEWS


Two teens charged in
carjacking at Banks Crossing
A Florida couple who stopped at a Banks Crossing motel last week during their vacation were the victims of an armed robbery and car jacking.
Two Greenville, S.C., teenagers have been apprehended in connection with the incident and charges are pending, according to Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman.
The suspects are: Larry Darrell Keel, 18, and David Allen Reynolds, 19, both of Greenville, S.C. The sheriff said the district attorney will decide on the charges filed against the two. Agents with the alcohol-tobacco-firearms division have also been called in to look into the incident and federal charges may be filed, the sheriff said.
The Florida couple had parked their 2000 Cadillac at the Hampton Inn at approximately 6:48 p.m. Sunday when they were approached by a young man. He pointed a .44 revolver at them and demanded the woman's purse, according to Chapman. The woman gave him the purse and he allegedly took $400 to $500 in cash from it.
The woman then sat on the ground and the robber demanded money from the man, according to reports. The man told him he didn't have any money. The suspect then reportedly told him to sit down on the ground with his wife and said he would shoot him if he didn't.
The man then allegedly took the couple's car keys from the woman's purse and left in their Cadillac. They noticed that a maroon-colored sports utility vehicle parked nearby pulled out behind the car and they both left at a high rate of speed.
A "be-on-lookout" alert was given to law enforcement officers, but it was the "on-star tracking system" in the Cadillac that likely led to the quick apprehension of the two suspects, the sheriff said. The special feature in the car led authorities to track the car traveling northbound on I-85.
The South Carolina State Patrol began pursuit and the car and the sports utility vehicle continued traveling at a high rate of speed, the sheriff said. At times, the car was traveling 120 miles per hour, he added.
The troopers followed the Cadillac off the White Horse Road exit in Greenville, S.C., where it traveled for one and a half miles before turning left onto a paved street. Shortly afterward, the car slid off the roadway and wrecked. The driver and a passenger fled the car on foot, but were apprehended shortly afterward.
The Greenville County Sheriff's Department assisted the South Carolina State Patrol in the chase and made the arrest. Sheriff Chapman and a Banks County investigator were also at the scene.
Most of the cash taken and the pistol were found in the Cadillac, which was not damaged in the accident, according to the sheriff.



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Recycling center ready to open but county can't find staff to cover it
A new recycling center has been ready for Banks County residents' use for several weeks, but officials say the center's grand opening has been delayed because there's no one to man the facility.
Organizers first hoped to open the environmentally-conscious center on Earth Day, April 22. But legal documents finalizing the county's lease of the center from R & B landfill parent company, Waste Management, had not been signed. Now the red tape has been cut, but efforts to hire a part-time county employee to oversee the facility have been fruitless, says Keep Banks Beautiful program coordinator Cindy Reed.
The job pays $6 per hour.
"We had no response from help wanted ads; we even put it on a news letter going home from students at school," Reed said.
Initially, the new center will only be open 15 hours per week: Thursday's and Friday's 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturday's 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. If residents fully utilize the facility, hours may be expanded. No fees are charged for use of the center.
The staff member will monitor use of the center by residents, ensuring products are placed in the correct bins. There would be no lifting involved, Reed says.
"The job would be perfect for the older person who just wants to get out and talk to people," she said.
Waste Management Inc. agreed to fund construction of the facility, located at the R & B landfill, during its recent expansion permitting process. Government grants funded the purchase of recycling bins and other equipment.
Much of household waste can be recycled, Reed says, including newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes, tin vegetable cans, aluminum soft drink cans and most plastic bottles.
Household plastic bottles are labeled on the bottom with numbers. The Banks recycling center will accept only plastics #1 and #2. Category one plastics are typically clear, including two-liter soft drink bottles, Reed said. Category two plastics are usually opaque, including items such as detergent bottles.
The center will no longer accept glass.
"There's no market for it," Reed said. "No one will accept it. We strongly suggest people reuse glass containers as much as possible."
Banks County began recycling efforts in 1994, with the original center located in Homer.
"We needed a new center because the old one was not covered and not manned," Reed said.
Materials were exposed to sun and rain. Once weathered, the items could not be sold, Reed said.
The new recycling center is totally enclosed to protect recyclables. Cardboard and plastics bailed at the center will be sold, along with aluminum once crushed.
The county contracts with Applegate Industries of Cornelia, which picks up mixed paper, using it to manufacture chicken house bedding and residential insulation.
Recycling in Banks has never been profitable, Reed says: "We just hope it
breaks even."
The main goal of the center is to cut down on unnecessary use of natural resources and reduce the amount of waste filling landfills.
"We want to reuse what we've got," she said.
Banks County will lease the facility from Waste Management for $1 per year.