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May 24, 2000


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OPINIONS
Mike Buffington
School councils can be good

How large a role should parents play in their children's school? That question is one likely to get...

Editorial
Cleaning up eyesores

A drive through Commerce today finds the city looking a lot more attractive than it did 10 years ago, largely due to the Streetscape program downtown.


SPORTS
JCPRD to improve
safety at complex
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department will install extra fencing at its Lamar Murphy Memorial Park baseball complex ...

Gresham signs with Hiawassee College
Jackson County senior basketball standout Rodrick Gresham signed a basketball scholarship with Hiawassee College last week.


Neighborhood News...
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...




News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.


 

 

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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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ONE-VEHICLE WRECK

Paremedics and rescue personnel tend to Abagail Gonzales after she flipped her Chrystler van on Hwy. 82 in Dry Pond. According to an official with the Georgia State Patrol, Gonzales was traveling eastbound on Hwy. 82 when she crossed the center line and jerked her vehicle back into her lane. She then began fishtailing, lost control of the vehicle, ran off the roadway and flipped twice before coming to rest against a tree in the ditch. She was transported to BJC Medical Center.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Planning commission recommend approval of Hoschton rezoning
A Hoschton developer's plan to locate a 55-home subdivision on Cabin Creek Drive in West Jackson moved forward Thursday night when the Jackson County Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of an R-1 rezoning for the project.
David Healan asked to rezone 34.53 acre on Cabin Drive from A to R-1 to construct single-family, site-built homes. He had originally asked for a R-3 zoning, but changed it to R-1 after discussing his plans with the Hoschton City Council.
The Hoschton City Council will take final action on the request when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 5.
At the planning commission meeting, several area residents spoke in opposition to Healan's request.
The Hoschton City Council had already discussed Healan's request in an earlier work session. Healan was present at the city council's Thursday work session to answer questions. After an initial request for R-3 re-zoning that was denied, Healan had agreed to look in to R-1 re-zoning with the option for per property variances.


Planners recommend approval
of Apple Valley subdivision

In a 5-1 vote, the Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approval for a 50-tract subdivision in the Apple Valley area despite hearing opposition from area residents against the project.
The planners recommended approval Thursday for Beverly Guthrie to rezone 55 acres on South Apple Valley Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate single-family, site-built homes. Voting in favor of the request were: Daniel Sailors, David Healan, Tom Smith, Larry Sailors and Faye Griffin. Larry Benton voted against the request.
The request was tabled last month with the developer being asked to consider increasing the size of the homes from the proposed 1,200 square feet. Guthrie said Thursday that the developer had agreed to 1,400 square feet.
"This request meets or exceeds all county requirements," Guthrie said.
She added that the development would add $5 million to the tax digest.
Patty Lord outlined her opposition to the development.
"It would double the current number of single dwelling homes located on South Apple Valley Road and W.O. Smith Road...," she said. "...To deny us with this request, and allow a major subdivision into the valley, would set a precedence from which we could never recover and our voices would never be heard again. Such precedence would give way to a massive rape, if not assignation, of our rural community and quality of rural life as we know it today."
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will take action on the recommendation when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in the Administration Building in Jefferson. The BOC will discuss the requests at its "work session" meeting on Tuesday, June 6.


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.
Kelly Henderson asked to rezone the property at 8146 Hwy. 53 from PCFD to I-2 to locate an "inert disposal" for the recycling of natural products, such as stump and grass or a "construction demolition disposal."
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will take action on the recommendation when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in the Administration Building in Jefferson. The BOC will also discuss the requests at its "work session" meeting on Tuesday, June 6.
County director of planning and development David Clabo said both projects would require a permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. He said the EPD has rigid guidelines for permitting a construction demolition disposal site.
Jeffrey Bell, son of the property owner, said that his dad is 82-years-old and no longer able to farm the land. He said the family had been selective in who it offered the land to and turned down an offer that would have brought a mobile home project to the property. He said Henderson's proposal is more of a recycling center than a landfill.
Voting in favor of the request were David Healan, Daniel Sailors and Faye Griffin. Voting against it were Larry Sailors, Larry Benton and Tom Smith. Brant McMullan, who was acting as chairman in the absence of Keith Hayes, broke the tie by voting in favor of the request.


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.
A proposal presented by The Leo Daly Firm lists a price of $17,000 for each underground parking space. The cost for ground-level parking spaces is $2,000 each.
The Leo Daly Firm presented the Jackson County Board of Commissioners with four proposals for the new courthouse annex in a called meeting Thursday morning. The main difference in the four proposals, all of which had a total dollar figure of $10 million, is in where the parking will be. The cost for 100 underground parking spaces proposed would be $1.7 million, while the cost of the 200 other parking spaces on ground level would be $240,000. The proposal accepted by the BOC calls for all 300 spaces to be at ground level for a total cost of $360,000.
The reason the county considered the underground parking spaces was for security reasons for judges and other court officials. A representative of the architect firm said some of the parking spaces could still be located in a secure area.
Placing all 300 of the spaces at ground level will likely lead the county to purchasing one more acre of property. The firm was asked to look into the cost of this and report back to the BOC.
On another matter, commissioner Pat Bell asked if the proposal calls for a brick building. The proposal calls for a synthetic stucco finish.
"We were told the outside would be brick for this amount of money," Bell said. "What happened?...I'm disappointed that we don't have any brick. You told me it would be brick. Now you come back with stucco?"
Maxwell said the company could look into the costs of the brick or a combination of stucco and brick. The synthetic stucco would be similar to that used at Tanger Factory Outlet Mall and the Mall of Georgia.
The timeline presented by the BOC calls for construction to start on Jan. 18, 2001, and the certificate of occupancy to be issued on July 29, 2002.
Bell said she wanted "ground to be broken" on the site before the end of this year.


New engineer proposes alternative
plan for Panther Creek

After dismissing one engineer and hiring another earlier this month, the Hoschton City Council once again finds itself facing the long-standing question of what to do about sewage problems in the Panther Creek subdivision.
Charles Armentrout, who was named the new engineer for the City of Hoschton, requested at the city council's work session Thursday that he be allowed to explore some alternatives to the gravity flow system proposed and sent to the EPD for review by the city's former engineer Don Harris. First, he and city engineer Wayne McLocklin will meet with EPD representatives to determine if the EPD administrative order demanding that Hoschton solve the Panther Creek problem is already too far along for any changes.
With the changes in engineers, Panther Creek residents may see a delay in improvements to their faulty sewage system, but it may be a delay that saves the city a lot of money.
"There may be other alternatives we should look at when you consider the money we would spend for 28 houses," Armentrout said, adding that he has reviewed the proposed plans for the gravity flow system. "It looks like it would be $300,000 to $400,000 for the sewage system."
Council member Rosemary Bagwell pointed out that that figure was "quite a bit higher than the original estimates we were given."
"I may be wrong, but I am concerned," Armentrout said. "I would ask you to consider the possibility of other alternatives to solve the problem for the city and for the residents. I would hate to see you spending that level of dollars if other options are available. We need to have a face to face meeting (with the EPD)."

CITY OWNERSHIP OF PUMPS AN OPTION
One alternative Armentrout said he would like to explore is having the city enter into contract with the Panther Creek property owners. The city would take ownership of each pump, agreeing to own and maintain if the property owner would agree to pay the power bill.
"The city would take care of maintenance, and if you have to replace the pumps, it is still a lower cost," Armentrout said. "My suggestion would be to modify the (existing) design, modify equipment and replace some equipment and bring it up to standards for the city to maintain. In the long-term future, replacement lines may be needed, but I'm concerned about spending that money for 28 houses."
Council member Paul Turman told Armentrout and the council that he had been getting "panic calls" from the Panther Creek residents.
"They are afraid we are starting over," he said. "I say, 'No, let him review the whole plan and come up with a recommendation.'"
Armentrout said: "If we get the problem solved out there and get the EPD satisfied, then we look at the total sewage system for the city and projections for the future treatment plant. This (proposed alternative) may be a stop-gap for getting the problem solved for the immediate future....We immediately need to resolve the failure of the pumping station out there and get the EPD order satisfied."
While Armentrout said he needed to further study Hoschston's sewage and water situation, he emphasized the importance of the council forming a water and sewage plan for the future, saying "if you don't plan, I think you will see a lot more problems. It looks like you are getting a lot of lift stations for a very small town. They cost a lot of money to operate and typically don't last very long. You need to take a look at the whole big picture."
Armentrout pointed out that the city's sewage capacity now shows at around 65 to 66 percent being utilized.
"If you don't have a plan in place, when you get to about 75 percent, you will need to start curtailing or you will have a problem."



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Hoschton police chief looks at animal control plan
Hoschton Police Chief Dave Hill is putting together a plan for animal control that would involve cooperation with Commerce Veterinary Hospital and would require an ordinance on the part of the Hoschton City Council.
Hill brought a rough draft of his plans before the council members at a work session Thursday. The plan calls for a written warning to the pet owner on the first offense, with action taken the second time a pet is found roaming loose. Under the proposed plan, the animal would be taken to Commerce Veterinary Hospital to be boarded five days.
Council members and Hill agreed that a provision should be included that the pet owner can pick up the animal and pay the vet fees then, but must also later appear in court and pay Hoschton's fines as well. Council member Jan Buchanan also requested that the owner be required to show proof that the animal has had rabies vaccination. If not, the vaccination would be required before the animal could be released.
According to city attorney Wayne McLocklin, the fine can be set for up to $1,000, since violation of an animal control ordinance would be a misdemeanor.
"The problem with this will be finding the owners," Hill said, adding that he will present a revised plan to the council at a later date. A letter about the ordinance will be sent out to residents.


Unemployment rate continues downward trend
One begins to wonder just how far the unemployment rate can fall in Jackson County.
After March's record low of 2.4 percent, it seemed inconceivable that the rate could fall further, but the Department of Labor announced that the county's jobless rate for April slipped to 2.2 percent.
That tracks but surpasses the trend in the United States and Georgia. The national rate, which was 4.1 percent in March, fell to 3.9 percent for April, while the state rate of 3.4 percent in April dropped to 3.1 percent.
The rates are based on DOL estimates. Those estimates say Jackson County has only 502 unemployed residents actively seeking work out of a labor force of 22,689.
Other area counties and their unemployment rates include Athens Clarke, holding steady at 2.2; Banks County, up to 3.5 from 2.7; Barrow County, 2.6, a drop of three-tenths of a percent; Franklin County, 2.8, down from 3.5; Hall County, 1.9, down from 3.5; and Madison County, 1.9, down from 2.1.
Toombs County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9,0, while Oconee County had the lowest rate in the state at 1.1 percent.


Health department to again seek county funds
The Jackson County Health Department has exhausted all of the extra money it had accumulated and is ready to go back before the board of commissioners asking for more.
The BOC had provided county funds to the health department until several years ago when it found that the departments had accumulated a large balance. The county told the health department to use those surplus funds before asking the BOC to provide more.
At a meeting of the Jackson County Board of Health last week, Dr. Claude Burnette said the health department will need $87,730 from the county in order to operate next year. Members of the board agreed to go to the BOC during budget hearings in July and request the money.
"All our savings have been spent," Burnette said. "In order to balance the budget, we will have to again ask the county for funds."
The health board approved a $688,609 budget presented by Burnette, which is a two percent increase over last year. Additional expenditures includes a three percent raise for employees, an EKG machine and copier.
On another matter, Dr. Burnette reported that health departments will soon be given the option of overseeing inspections of swimming pools at public areas, such as apartment complexes. The environmentalists at the health department would do the inspections.

OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the board:
·asked Burdette to look at staffing needs and possible increases in fees. ·reviewed a report on teen pregnancy rates by race and the adult survey results. The rates dropped substantially for black teens and increased slightly for white teens, according to Burnette.
·agreed to ask the City of Commerce to move on needed improvements at the health clinic in Commerce.
·set the next meeting for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12.



County agrees to fund green space plan
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is ready to take action on a proposal from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia to compile a green space plan.
The plan will determine which areas of the county that should be preserved.
"The goal is to have park land that could be connected along river corridors and walking paths to subdivisions and residential areas," county executive assistant David Bohanan said. "This would make the green space accessible.
The plan will be completed by Dec. 1 and will cost the county $43,600. A 12-member steering committee comprised of county citizens will be formed to provide input on the project.
The BOC will take action on this proposal when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, at the Administration Building in Jefferson. A "work session" will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6.