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Bear Creek Project
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School councils can be good
How large a role should parents play in their children's school?
That question is one likely to get...
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
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.
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...
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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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.
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
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.
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,"
She added that the development would add $5 million to the tax
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,
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.
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
On another matter, commissioner Pat Bell asked if the proposal
calls for a brick building. The proposal calls for a synthetic
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
The plan will determine which areas of the county that should
"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,