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 May 31, 2000


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OPINION
Drew Brantley
Bobby Morris

All children are scolded by their parents at some time for acting out of turn.
Parents teach their children...


SPORTS
Collins breaking in
GSU track team

Banks County graduate Keyonia Collins has been a part of Georgia Southern's first women's track and field team.
As a freshman, Collins was one of the leaders for the Eagle team that claimed sixth...


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Waddell pleads guilty to DUI
Jackson County Board of Commission chairman Jerry Waddell pled guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants in State Court proceedings Thursday.

Jackson/Banks receive state funds for road projects
The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced that Jackson County will receive state funding for the resurfacing of 10 roads. The Jackson County roads include...


News from
MADISON COUNTY
County purchasing policy proposed
County officials say a proposed purchasing policy will lead to a more fiscally responsible government. The Madison County Board of Commissioners met briefly Tuesday night to review proposed guidelines...

MCHS tassels to be turned Friday
Two hundred seventeen Madison County seniors will begin a new chapter in life Friday.


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 VETERAN COACH DIES

BCHS coach Bobby Morris is shown signaling plays during a football game. He died Friday of a sudden illness.

BCHS mourns loss of coach
Banks County High School coach Bobby Morris died Friday after a sudden illness.
For more than 24 years, Morris has worked for the Banks County School System as a teacher and coach.
Banks County Middle School assistant principal Dennis Marlow worked alongside Morris for 18 years as fellow coaches for the football team. In that time, Morris became more than just a co-worker, Marlow said.
"When I first came to Banks County, he was the first person I met," Marlow said. "After talking to him for about five minutes, I felt like I had known him my whole life. The fact that we worked together for 18 years is a testament to Bobby. In the whole time we worked together, we never had a crossed word."
Morris, a BCHS graduate, began his coaching career at Commerce in 1976. He returned to BCHS in 1979 and, for 20 years, he walked football fields, basketball courts and golf courses as a Leopard coach. Among the highlights of his coaching career was working with now NFL running back Terry Allen and beating Commerce for the first time in football in 1990 with a 29-23 victory. But the biggest highlight of his career has come on the golf course the past two years, as the boys' golf team claimed region titles in 1998 and 1999.
"Winning back-to-back region titles was pretty nice," Morris said in an interview last year "Each one of them was nice, but it was even better to get both of them."
In that interview, Morris credited his father with being a strong influence in his life, including his encouragement to get an education. He also named former Banks County coach Stan Brookshire as a role model for him.
Morris became a worthy influence in his own right, an influence proved by those that attended his funeral, Marlow said.
"You couldn't have a better friend," Marlow said. "Testimony to that was the packed church Sunday. He didn't get all the credit he deserved. But a lot of people know what he did. They know what kind of person he was. They honored him."
Since he was a senior adviser, Morris' absence at the school is felt even more in the last few days of the school year.
"Bobby was a senior adviser and his son Reggie is ready to graduate," BCHS principal Jan Bertrang said. "That just makes this harder. Friday, the students knew how upset the teachers were. All day long, they were asking the teachers if they were all right."
Those who remembered him commented on his seemingly perpetual good mood.
"When I think of Bobby Morris, I think of the incredible amount of patience he had," Bertrang said. "I never heard him lose his temper. I never had a complaint about him as a teacher."
His demeanor was also well suited to have students under his care, BCHS athletic director Rance Gillespie said.
"He was just a super, super good person," Gillespie said. "He was a good person to have your kids around. I don't think you'll find anybody to say a negative word about Bobby Morris."
Marlow credited loyalty among Morris' traits as well.
"It didn't matter if you were winning or you were losing. You didn't have to worry about Bobby Morris," he said. "He was a true friend. Some people you see coming you might want to avoid. But you didn't run from Bobby Morris. If anything, you would run to him."


CRIME NEWS

Four arrested on drug charges
During two separate "buy-busts" Memorial Day weekend, local law enforcement authorities seized approximately four pounds of suspected marijuana and arrested four Alto men, making last week one of the county's largest drug seizure weeks in recent years.
The four men arrested "had been supplying many in the north end of Banks and parts of Habersham" counties with narcotics, said Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman.
Arrests began Friday night, when Aubrey Brent Martin, 19, allegedly sold about one pound of suspected marijuana to an undercover narcotics agent, Sheriff Chapman said. Martin was charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, sale of marijuana and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Sheriff Chapman said.
Back-up agents with the Northeast Georgia Narcotics Task Force and Banks County Sheriff's Department were waiting nearby and arrested Martin immediately after the transfer of drugs for money took place.
The sale and arrest occurred along a dead-end road in Alto, Chapman said.
The following day, agents returned to Alto, where a larger narcotics purchase had been planned. There, three males allegedly arrived with approximately three pounds of suspected marijuana in their possession, Chapman said. The marijuana had been compressed into a large brick, he said.
Authorities also seized $3,400 in United States currency.
Lopez Fernandez Matias, 33; Garcia Garcia Mario, 30; and Lara Rojelio, all of Alto, were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and transported to the Banks County Detention Center, where they await first appearance hearings.
The arrests are products of a lengthy investigation, the sheriff said.


Sales tax from Banks Crossing up
since new 'super center' opened

When the Wal-Mart 24-hour super center opened at Banks Crossing in March, county officials knew they could expect an increase in sales tax revenue, but they weren't certain how great an increase they should bank on.
If increases posted during the national retailer's first partial month of operation are a good indicator, gains could be substantial. The Georgia Department of Revenue collected $158,462 in local option sales tax for Banks' coiffeurs during March, up $46,339 over the same period last year. And officials haven't yet received collection revenues for April, the first full month of the new super center's operation.
Saying revenues will likely decrease slightly once excitement over the new store's opening settles, Banks County Board of Commissioners Chairman James Dumas estimates the county may see sustained revenue increases of as much as $40,000 per month in sales tax alone, "unless the economy takes a down turn."
Wal-Mart shouldn't be credited with the entire sales tax increase, Dumas said. Additional revenue generated by new restaurants like Chick-fil-A and a new motel also play a role, he says.
Accurate sales tax revenue projections are especially important during budget time, as county commissioners try to determine how much income they can expect to flow in, and in turn, how much they can allocate to county departments.
Making that determination is not easy. Commissioners know to expect higher sales tax revenues around the fall, for example. Last September, sales tax collections totaled $151,000 - even before super Wal-Mart opened.
But in January, 2000, collections fell to $105,000, rising to $117,000 the following month.
Now, with one month's sales tax revenue yet to be transferred to the county prior to this fiscal year's end, collections since July, 1999, total about $1.4 million, according to county clerk Avis Lewallen.
For the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2000, commissioners are "hoping" for sales tax revenue of $1.9 million through June, 2001, Lewallen said.
Continued growth at Banks Crossing will also increase the county's property tax base, another source of revenue. Completion of the Wal-Mart center, which Dumas estimates to be an $8-million-facility, is a prime example of how significant one development can be, Dumas said.


Maysville poised to make water decision
Maysville should be able to approve Phase I of its water service plan as soon as the council's meeting Monday night. Mayor Richard Presley and council member Adam Martin Monday were the only members of the council present at Tuesday's meeting, so no decisions could be voted on.
Precision Planning engineer Jerry Hood presented several feasibility options requested by the council for the town's water service that would reach the eastern part of the town, while supplying greater pressure to the industrial park. Hood also showed the council preliminary figures on the cost of buying new water tanks versus refurbishing the existing ones.
Presley said the council should be able to adopt Phase I at the next meeting from the final plans to be shown at Monday's meeting.



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Homer residents heard at zoning meeting
Bringing zoning to the the City of Homer is proving to be a difficult task for the citizen's committee and the city council.
As city attorney, David Jones put it, "The thing about it is everything is so mixed up and this town's been un-zoned for so long. It's hard to go in there and say this area's going to be this and this area's going to be that."
Basically, that is the problem Homer now faces as it tries to get a handle on the current state of affairs and future growth predicted over the next few years. The city council and Mayor Leon Ray want public input about the new zoning regulations proposed by the citizen's committee.
They hope to hear more from residents as each draft is presented until a final agreement can be reached that will satisfy the majority of Homer's population.
Tuesday night, a meeting was held to discuss the first draft of the new zoning regulations drawn up by the citizen's committee, made up of Homer residents and assisted by Larry Sparks of the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center. Sparks has worked with other small municipalities and used their ordinances as a basis for Homer's regulations. Together, they have held 12 meetings trying to iron out the problems Homer faces.
The first issue addressed Tuesday was Section 53 of the draft. This deals with "Discontinuance of a Non-Conforming Use". It states: "All non-conforming uses of land shall be discontinued and all non-conforming buildings or structures shall be torn down, altered or otherwise made to conform with the use provisions of this ordinance within the following periods of time, from the date of adoption or amendment off this ordinance."
It goes on to declare that in 10 years (from the adoption of the ordinance), all commercial poultry houses, wood frame, one-story block, or metal buildings, and all other structures must be torn down. This means that if a poultry house, outbuilding, or house lies unused it must be disposed of in 10 years or redesigned to conform with the zoning area regulations.
Harold Hill is concerned that since his poultry business lies within an R-1 zone (single family residence), that this would definitely be a problem for him. Under this section, he would have to destroy his poultry buildings and his livelihood.
Jones warned the council, "You can't do that. You can't take away somebody's property without compensation. It's unconstitutional."
Hill asked the council if his parcel could be re-zoned agricultural. That led to a discussion about spot-zoning which some officials thought would only add to the problems that now exist.
It was then suggested by officials that Section 53 be dropped from the ordinance completely since the aim of it was in some manner covered under Section 52, Continuance of a Non-Conforming Use.
Section 55, Street Access, also came under fire. It states: " No building shall be erected on a lot which does not abut a publicly-dedicated or maintained street."
Larry Cagle said the city is "asking for problems" with that qualification. Jones agreed with him saying, "It's discrimination against people on a public road versus people on a private road. It's got to be equal and fair to everybody."
Problems also arose with Article XII which gives requirements of lot sizes, density multi-family, and principle building set-backs. The lot size section is divided into three segments dealing with lots with public water and sewer; without public water; and with public water but no sewer.
Homer has no public water or sewer at this time, but plans have been discussed, according to a Banks County source, for a dam to be built on the Hudson River to provide public water.
The segment dealing with "public water but no sewer" leaves the determination of lot size up to the Banks County Health Department regulations.
The council decided that that article also needs re-working as the Department of Natural Resources now grants septic tank permits after
percolation and soil tests are completed.
Jones summed things up by saying, "You've got to let people know where they can build and what they can build. We've got to think ahead."
The mayor and city council agreed to send the ordinance back to the citizen's committee for revision and to try to incorporate the opinions of the public.
The date of the reading of the second draft will be publicized in The Banks
County News, according to City Clerk, Carol Ayers. Mayor Ray encourages all interested residents to attend and be heard. The ordinance as it stands is available at the city clerk's office in Homer. Copies are being sold for $5. Contact Ayers at (706) 677-3510 for more information.

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