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Day of partisan politics
Although the November General Election is months away, two local
Republican candidates are already...
Nicholson should spend
some money on library
If Nicholson city officials wonder why it is that the Harold
S. Swindle Public Library is so underutilized...
JHS gym renovations
to begin Monday
A long-term renovation plan for the Jefferson
High School gymnasium is set to take flight Monday, according
to JHS basketball coach Bolling DuBose.
Crane brings rookie
chase to Lanier
Seventeen-year old Ryan Crane will bring
his hopes for winning rookie of the year in the NASCAR SlimJim
All-Pro Series to Lanier National Speedway in Braselton Saturday.
Comer hires police chief, city clerk
Two new city employees were introduced at the Comer City Council
meeting Tuesday night. New Police Chief Barry Reed will take
County shows slight drop on grad tests
Madison County's rising seniors didn't fare as well as the MCHS
class of 2000 on the state-mandated graduation tests for students...
Grads turn tassels at BCHS
It was a time to share the memories of the past 13 years, from
the new friendships in kindergarten to the relationships in high
Candidate forum coming up Thursday
A candidate forum will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at
the Banks County American Legion Hall in Homer.
The Jackson Herald
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A LESSON IN FISHING
Charles Wood and his grandson, Dustin Matthews,
recently headed out for an afternoon of fishing. With warm weather
and the end of another school year, fishing has become a popular
pastime for many Jackson Countians.
Crowd rallies against
Hwy. 53 'dump'
A proposed inert landfill and construction waste recycling facility
in West Jackson got buried under a sea of protesters Tuesday
night as some 250 people turned out for a Jackson County Board
of Commissioners meeting. The board took no action on a requested
rezoning that would pave the way for the Hwy. 53 facility, but
a vote is expected next Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the commission
holds its regular action meeting of the month.
Observers expect the board to turn down the rezoning next week,
in part on technical grounds since two other government agencies
who were supposed to be involved were not given proper notice.
The applicants would be free, however, to begin the rezoning
process all over again.
This week, some 17 people spoke out against the rezoning and
plans to locate any landfill near Braselton. Kelly Henderson
of Buford had applied to rezone 117 acres at 8146 Hwy. 53 from
PCFD to I-2 to locate an "inert disposal" plant for
the recycling of natural products, such as stumps and grass,
and for a construction waste disposal facility. The Jackson County
Planning Commission had recommended approval of the request in
a 4-3 vote two weeks ago.
Developer John Buchanan, who built the three Liberty Crest subdivisions
near the proposed landfill, led the anti-landfill movement and
was among those speaking out against what he called "the
dump." He said the three subdivisions, when completed, will
have 180 homes with a total value of around $35 million.
Randall Duck of Pendergrass, who also owns property near the
Hwy. 53 site, called the request "spot zoning" and
said the county must have stability in its zoning regulations.
He also questioned whether the request could lead to a full-fledged
Roxanne Rose of Arcade spoke about the problems she had when
she lived in Gwinnett County near a large landfill, including
the odor, noise and dust. She also questioned the validity of
the rezoning application, pointing out that it didn't name a
landfill, or disposal site, as the proposed use. The application
lists "industrial use" as the proposed use.
Braselton town clerk Jennifer Scott spoke of the city's concerns
about the application, including that it is in its "sphere
of influence" under House Bill 489. That legislation requires
the county to notify the town within 10 days of a rezoning application
if the site lies within that sphere of influence. That was not
done, she said.
Scott also said the project is subject to review under the state's
Development of Regional Impact procedures. Under that law, the
county is required to notify the Northeast Georgia Regional Development
Center about such projects. That was not done.
Scott also pointed out that the site is near the town's water
Several residents also questioned what area the project would
serve. Kevin Hamby of Liberty Crest West said such developments
usually serve a 35-mile radius area.
PROPERTY OWNER'S SON SPEAKS
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.
Bell said his parents had no idea the proposal would "stir
up this much interest."
engineer Frank Gray of Eagle Engineering of Alpharetta, spoke
on his background and plans for the site. He said he has developed
landfills for 16 years.
As for concerns about the additional traffic on Hwy. 53, Gray
said 30 to 50 trucks would go to the site each day. He added
that it is not economically feasible for someone to drive from
south Atlanta or south Georgia to dispose of these items. He
said most people do not drive more than 30 to 35 miles to drop
Gray also addressed the comments about the application not listing
the proposed use of the property.
"We just followed the process," he said. "It was
never a blatant move to hide anything from anyone."
Slow pace on zoning
frustrates Nicholson Council
The Nicholson town council is frustrated
over the slow development of its zoning ordinance.
At Monday night's city council meeting, there was unanimous agreement
that the zoning map presented the city by the Northeast Georgia
Regional Development Center was inadequate.
"We've got some questions. We need to talk to Mrs. (Lee)
Carmen about it," understated Mayor Steve Wilbanks.
According to city clerk Dana Wilbanks, the map is missing several
parcels and does not show details in some parcels that have been
divided or developed. It shows five zoning classes, including
two residential classes, agricultural, commercial and government.
"I feel real frustrated myself, to say the least,"
noted council member Margaret Ward. "We need to get her
out here. We've been dragging this along for too long. I just
feel like we're getting nowhere."
"That's not what I was expecting," Mrs. Wilbanks agreed.
The council has the final draft copy of the ordinance, but feels
it cannot move forward until the map issue is resolved.
The council voted May 3, 1999, to implement zoning. The process
was supposed to have taken 180 days, but 13 months later it has
yet to come up for final approval.
The council will try to organize a work session at which both
Mrs. Carmen and David Clabo, Jackson County planning director,
"He really helped me a lot with understanding it,"
said Ward in recommending that Clabo be asked to attend.
puts plan in place for water restrictions
Even though it has been assured of a virtually unlimited supply
of water this summer, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority
approved a four-step water restriction strategy last Thursday
The authority approved the policy after superintendent Paul Mims
reported that Commerce had not been able to deliver sufficient
water to the county system the past couple of weeks and was having
some problems getting its newly-renovated water plant fully operational.
"We'd like to take a lot more than we've been able to,"
Mims said. "We're full by Wednesday, but then it goes down
Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant said the city expected
to get state approval Monday to operate its plant at a higher
capacity. The city experienced a delay when an official who was
to install the control panel had a heart attack as he was coming
The work was completed last week, and the EPD Monday authorized
the city to pump 3.75 million gallons per day. Previously, the
city could pump 2.2 million gallons per day, but demand during
the drought got a lot higher late in the week as residents began
watering lawns. That is why neither the county nor the city could
maintain sufficient levels in their tanks. By the end of summer,
the city expects to be able to pump 4.5 million gallons a day.
The shortages led Keith Ariail to ask "Do we have contingency
plans for water restrictions."
Attorney Julius Hulsey provided the answer, presenting a four-step
"water shortage management" plan borrowed heavily from
Gainesville plan. The authority voted to ask the Jackson County
Board of Commissioners to make it a county ordinance.
Under the plan, when water levels fall below 75 percent of what
the county feels is sufficient, the authority posts notices at
its office and on the courthouse bulletin board and notifies
the media that outdoor watering and non-commercial car washing
Three other steps follow if step one does not do the job. In
the most extreme cases, the ordinance would give the authority
the ability to close off parts of its water system and to distribute
water directly through fire hydrants to people with containers.
Medical facilities and fire flow would get top priorities in
the worst case scenario.
In a related matter, the authority also voted to ask the board
of commissioners to accept Hulsey's proposed ordinance dealing
with the unauthorized use of county water. Basically, the ordinance
provides a means by which the authority can punish people who
illegally open fire plugs to get water or who illegally tap county
water lines, particularly for construction water.
If the commissioners approve the ordinance, authority members
and law enforcement personnel would be able to cite those people
taking water, after which they would be summoned to Magistrate
Court and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 60 days
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BJC closing clinics
in Nicholson, Jefferson
Residents of Nicholson will once again have to go out of town
to seek medical care.
BJC Medical Center announced this week that it will close its
Nicholson and Jefferson clinics June 30.
"The Nicholson clinic really isn't being used at all. I
think it's getting 10 to 15 patients per month," said Oscar
Weinmeister, public relations official for the medical center.
"In Jefferson, the idea when the clinic was opened was that
we figured we would fill a need. But now there are more doctors
than the market can support."
Meanwhile, the Homer clinic, which attracts more patients than
its Nicholson counterpart, will remain open.
"We decided that the clinics had run their course, but since
there is no doctor in Homer, that clinic still serves a purpose,"
Staff from the clinics will be offered work at BJC Medical Center.
Both clinics have a nurse practitioner and the Jefferson clinic
has three nurses as well.
"We've got enough openings around that we can accommodate
them," said Weinmeister.
The decision to close the clinics was made by the administration.
It has not been discussed by the medical center's governing authority
at its regular monthly meetings.
Weinmeister indicated that the hospital will try to build relationships
with the Jefferson physicians who are not already on staff. Some
are affiliated with Barrow Medical Center and others with Athens
Both the Jefferson and Nicholson clinics operated at a deficit,
but that was not a surprise, according to Weinmeister.
"There is always an assumption you will be losing some money
when you open a clinic, but I think we were losing more money
than we set out to lose," he said.
Meanwhile, LifePointInc., Nash-ville, TN, which bought Barrow
Medical from Columbia Healthcare System in 1999, is reportedly
trying to sell the facility, perhaps to some other regional health
Teen in NJ stabbing
not indicted by grand jury
A Jackson County grand jury decided Monday not to indict Brandon
Cody Self, 17, in the May 17 stabbing death of Warren Albert
Martin Jr. near Pendergrass.
District attorney Tim Madison said that based on the facts in
the case file, he agrees with the decision.
Madison said he presented the grand jury with the investigative
file prepared by Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator
Martin, 31, was pronounced dead at the site of the incident in
a field near the intersection of Old State Road and Martin Road.
The stabbing occurred during an early morning domestic dispute
between Martin and his girlfriend, Samantha Hulsey, who is also
Self's mother. Self apparently intervened in the dispute and
knives were drawn by both men, according to Cochran. The investigator
added that after the incident, Self went across the road and