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Time to stop with
I've really got to stop diagnosing myself. Those helpful medical
books are not so helpful when you start trying to diagnose yourself.
Upset with sign stealing
To those who are running for sheriff, if you are so insecure
about running for sheriff that you have...
Summer basketball camps under way for Leopards
Banks County High School kicked off the summer basketball season
this week by participating in area team camps.
Jefferson adds tighter water restrictions
The City of Jefferson tightened water restrictions Monday, banning
outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and midnight. That is a tighter
restriction than the statewide 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. ban.
Airport manager suggests tighter security
Several recent thefts at the Jackson County Airport has led officials
to consider tightening security at the facility.
Republicans accuse judge of violating election code
Republican leaders may seek a state investigation of county probate
judge and elections superintendent Donald "Hoppy" Royston,
claiming the 23-year incumbent violated state election law by
Madison County's Jedd McLuen to compete in U.S. Open
Talk about starting out with a bang. Jedd McLuen, former Madison
County High School golf standout and current College of Charleston
golf team member, will get his..
The Banks County News
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056
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SPEAKING ON DROUGHT CONDITIONS
Tommy Irving, Georgia Agricultural Commissioner, spoke of
the trying days ahead for farmers this season at the Banks County
Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday.
Aqua Source corrects
problems in water system
A private firm which took over the Baldwin water and sewer systems
over a year ago found a 37 percent discrepancy between the number
of gallons of water bought and the number of gallons of water
The systems in place at the time of the take-over were in a bad
state, according to a report given recently to the city council
by Gene Brown, Aqua Source's area manager of water and waste
water treatment operations.
One of the problems resulted from leaking lines and another came
from broken or faulty meters, he said. Replacement and/or repairs
were made. This cut back on water loss and increased income for
the city, he added.
Betty Cloer, Aqua Source special project manager, gave the April
- May report last week at the meeting of the city council. For
the past five months, Aqua Source has been working with city
officials, staff and water department heads "to straighten
out the water service accounts," she said. That has been
"one of the main issues" that she and her team have
been working on.
As the report shows, accounts in arrears have dropped from $68,389
in January to $39,664 in May. She explained that they are trying
to establish how many consumers there really are and make sure
that they receive proper billing.
The problems arose, she continued, when residents moved and the
billing department closed the accounts, but the meter readers
didn't turn off the water. Forty percent of the over-due bills
sent out were returned due to the person having moved and failed
to leave a forwarding address.
Cloer made the recommendation that the city no longer accept
partial payment of water bills and that bills be paid in full
every month. This would require the city council to amend the
The city council agreed that it would have a work session with
the Aqua Source team and try to figure out these billing problems.
gives bleak outlook
Agriculture commissioner Tommy Irvin told members of the Banks
County Chamber of Commerce Thursday that he is concerned about
the drought conditions that have led to serious problems for
farmers across the state.
"We're going through some of the most trying times right
now, that I have seen in my 31 years as agricultural commissioner,"
As he addressed a full crowd at the chamber breakfast, he expressed
deep concern over the conditions farmers across the state are
dealing with in the wake of the drought that began in the summer
of 1998. Irving said he has gone to several events in the last
several weeks dealing with what can be done and what kind of
plans can be formulated to avoid the disaster that "seems
to be looming over our heads."
He told of how stream and river flows have diminished. The aquifer
that runs from Macon into Florida "seems to be in pretty
good shape," he said. He pointed out, though, that irrigation
is not enough.
"Crops need rain," he said.
He is also concerned that farmers had to begin irrigating sooner
this yearearlier than in any time of history in the state.
Before even tilling the baked ground, farmers were forced to
irrigate, he added. Then to get the seeds up, more water was
Compounding the difficulty of the farmer is the regulation that
farmers must have their seed in the ground prior to June 1 in
order to qualify for disaster relief, if needed.
"Some of our farmers were forced to sow seed in dust,"
Wherever he goes and to whomever he speaks, he asks, "Please
pray for rain," as he did at the chamber meeting.
He continued by saying rain may be the only way to save Georgia's
two most important cropspeanuts and cotton. Georgia ranks
number one in peanut production and number two in cotton in the
"They are the most stressed crops at this time," he
And the problem will be with farmers for some time. According
to forecasts, the drought will continue through the winter of
Irvin said that Georgia farmers are no longer growing corn because
of the huge amount of water it consumes. Jokingly, he told of
an experience many years ago. He was asked how many bushels of
corn is grown per acre up there? His reply, "Bushels? Our
folks sell by the gallon."
"We do have a few positives," he said. "We had
one of the finest Vidalia onion crops we've ever had in the history
of Georgia farming. We started off with a good peach crop, and
if we get a little rain, it'll be a good season."
Irvin said some of the future ideas and plans in the works to
assist Georgia farmers will be opening up the world market, into
Europe, Russia, and even China. The Federal Agricultural Bureau
has an office in Brussels, Belgium, which acts as a go-between
to get Georgia's crops and meats to European markets.
China is an important market that may soon be open again to sell
cotton and chicken imported from Georgia. he added. With one-third
of the world's population in China, it could help the Georgia
farmer prosper. Irving is traveling to China in the near future
to help pry open the doors to commerce and trade from Georgia
markets. At one time, China was a big buyer of cotton and tobacco
($80 million per year) from Georgia. Irving hopes to re-introduce
Tobacco presents a problem these days, he explained, with all
the restrictions and health problems. Consequently, Georgia tobacco
farming has been reduced by 40 percent over the past four years.
The trade with China could help re-establish tobacco as a top
One other problem facing Georgia's farmers comes from the federal
mandates of the Department of Natural Resources "Clean Water
Act." Irving said, "I don't see eye-to-eye with the
DNR on some of their regulations. Too many restrictions can be
harmful to the agricultural farmers."
When the floor was opened for questions, he discussed topics
about blueberry production, gasoline metering and supermarket
scanning, all of which fall under the agricultural department.
He referenced one instance where a $450,000 fine had been placed
on a major gasoline company for scrimping on their meters. Though
it was just a small amount the customers were being shorted,
over a period of time it added up, he explained. He would like
more monitoring to go on at the supermarkets, but more staff
would be needed and the funds have not been available to his
The popular Farmer's Market Bulletin was also brought up. This
is an indispensable tool for farmers across Georgia. It was almost
eradicated due to the Republicans voting to refuse the funding
for it, he said. The FMB has been around for a long time and
all rural residents and farmers are able to receive it free of
charge. Irving reassured the audience that its publication would
not be stopped.
Homer to seek architect
for new town hall
The town of Homer is seeking an architect to help the town go
forward with plans to construct a joint city hall/fire department
on the vacant lot next door to The Banks County News.
Council members discussed the project at its city council meeting
Tuesday night. Property was purchased for the project several
years ago. Homer business has been conducted at Hill Business
Services, instead of town hall, for years, according to city
clerk Carol Ayers, because town hall is too small. With zoning
likely on its way, the city will need more space, officials said.
Fire chief Mike Garrison said the new building shouldn't be constructed
like the facility operated by the City of Maysville because the
structure would not allow for a drive-through teller lane and
handicapped accessibility. When constructed, the new facility
should be built with the future in mind, with space for at least
four fire trucks, he said. Space must allow for drive through
bays for those trucks, he said, and officials would have to work
closely with the Georgia Department of Transportation in placing
access points to the site. The facility would also need space
for three fire department offices, showers and living quarters
for up to four paid staff per shift, to accommodate future growth
of the department.
The city also needs a new pumper truck, Garrison said, pointing
out that he is uncertain whether the 1971 model pumper would
satisfy mandated service testing. A new truck and completion
of the city's water project would help the city obtain a better
ISO rating, leaders said.
Water theft on the
rise in Alto
Alto leaders have made a move to get tough on people stealing
water from the town following the loss thousands of gallons of
The city council agreed Tuesday night that a fine of $2,500,
plus court costs, for those found guilty for stealing the water
from the town. Those caught a second time could face a fine of
up to $5,000.
City attorney Jim Acrey reminded the council that the perpetrator
would have the right to due process of law and that it would
involve a court case and a conviction. He was asked to set up
an ordinance outlining the fines and process for handling those
cited for water theft. Acrey said that state law would allow
the violators to be tried in Baldwin.
Mayor Jack King said the thieves are making away with 5,000 gallons
at a time from the water tank off Crane Mill Road. The culprits
have not been caught taking the water. King said it is costing
the city money and asks that residents in the area keep a look
out to discover who is doing it.
Another problem is that residents along Crane Mill Road end up
with dirty water due to the method in which the water is released
from the tank, according to council member Susan Wade.
The city attorney was asked to set up an ordinance stating the
fines and determining how the process for handling those caught
In other business:
·a voluntary water ban was adopted in compliance with
a request from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for
water conservation. There is to be no outside water use of any
kind from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Residents with even number addresses
will be allowed to water only on even days; while those with
odd number addresses can water on odd days.
·the council agreed to also serve as the planning commission
for the town. Council members had planned to set up a board with
other citizens but reportedly couldn't find anyone willing to
·it was reported that only one bid was submitted for the
city hall expansion. It came from Telford Banks Construction,
which projected a cost of $211,532 for the 1,162 square foot
addition. The project calls for adding two offices, two restrooms
and a meeting room. Louis Canup, former Habersham County Board
of Commission member, who was asked to serve in an advisory role
on the bidding process, asked the council to reject the bid on
the basis of the high cost. The council agreed that the bid was
more than it had budgeted and voted to reject the bid. They will
advertise again for the project.
·the Council agreed to request from Cook Street residents
to install "Slow Children" signs and speed bumps on
sales tax revenue
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' coffers 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 downturn."
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
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,
Homer to call another
meeting on zoning
The town of Homer still has work to do on a few points of the
city's proposed zoning ordinance before they can vote whether
zoning should come to town.
A planning committee will meet in a work session June 20 at 6
p.m. to try and iron-out last minute points of contention addressed
by citizens when the city held the first official reading of
the ordinance earlier this month.
Planners will likely revisit whether zoning will put a time frame
on the continued use of existing structures which do not conform
to permitted uses allowed in any given zoning category.
Town officials have not set a date for the second reading of
Go to Banks
Public Meeting Dates
& Convenience Stores
revision of personnel policy
The Maysville City Council finished its revision of the town's
personnel policy during a work session Monday night. The council
is set to approve the new policy during its regular meeting July
Monday's work session was the last of several work sessions to
revise the town's personnel policy. Monday, the council made
minor changes to the policy.
The council did decide to give employees three extra bereavement
leave days that are separate from personal leave days.
Under the travel expenses section, the council added a phrase
saying meal expenses must be "reasonable" and lodging
should be "economical." The council also decided not
to pay for any room service charges and limit employees on town-related
trips to one personal phone call each day.
The Development Authority of Banks County is looking at developing
a website to bring more exposure to the area.
At a meeting Thursday's morning, the authority discussed creating
of a website to bring more exposure to the property for sale
in what is now called the Banks Crossing Business Park.
Oglethorpe Power and Georgia Power have websites that give specifications
on available land, according to Horace Campbell. The authority
could have a link from their page to show what is available for
sale in the county.
Jerry Bolings said that with the two-year option on the acreage,
visibility of the land needs to be increased as soon as possible.
The area is in a prime location and a large company would be
ideal for the tract, officials said. He said that the ideal solution
is to be a part of the county's website, the state's website
and link with Oglethorpe Power and Georgia Power, as well.
A motion was approved to recommend that the county board of commissioners
initiate the contracts to secure the services of setting up the
county's website, with the Development Authority linked to it.
The link could include available building sites and information.
Permit information and applications could be included on that
Campbell pointed out that a decision needs to be made as to what
type of business would be acceptable at the Banks Crossing site.
"As long as land use and zoning requirements are met, everything's
fine, but we wouldn't want to go out and solicit a junk yard,"
Boling answered, "We can't exclude someone, but we don't
have to actively solicit such a business. In the meantime, realistically,
if we have it on the market for three years, someone is going
to come along and want it. It could be a business with high water
usage or low salaries and not much of a tax base."
Rather than be passive, Boling wants to actively pursue the kind
of business that would pay high wages, that would be easy on
our infrastructure and be high-tech boosting the tax base.
He said he has been looking into one company, which has a branch
called a logistics company. In that logistics company, distribution
warehouses are being built across the country through their real
estate division. This could be a good potential customer for
the property since it is high-tech and provides better salaries
and puts less pressure on the county's infrastructure, he said.
It would be a computer-based business that would create a possible
50- 70 jobs, not including the support job opportunities that
would be created. "Georgia Power has offered to perform
a survey of a new business to see if it would be a negative impact
or positive impact on our tax base," he added.
Banks said he had received a letter from a real estate firm stating
that a distribution business is looking for 30 acres of property.
He said the land would have to be sold for $32,000 per acre,
including the realtor's fee.
The company that needs a 40,000 square foot distribution building
creating possibly 70 new jobs. It could run off of a septic tank
and there would be little water usage, officials said. Banks
sent a picture of the property and additional information to
the real estate company.
He went on to point out a negative aspect of the project. The
road would have to be re-done to handle semi-truck traffic, since
it basically would be a truck terminal. Bolings commented that
such a business would not add much to the tax base.
Banks, Boling and Norman Cooksey all agreed that they should
set up covenants as to the possible property uses. Boling questioned
whether they had the authority to do this or whether it would
have to come from the county zoning board. But Campbell said
such a move would be "premature until we own the land."
ban in place
A mandatory outdoor watering ban has been put in place for all
Banks County water customers.
The outdoor watering ban is in place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and
includes watering uses such as recreational, lawn and garden
and non-commercial car washing.
Customers violating the ban will receive a written citation.
County officials say the ban will be in effect until further
Every water system with a permit from the Environmental Protection
Division got a letter Monday advising that as of June 19, the
use of water for lawns and gardens will be restricted.
The state has ordered that the watering of lawns is banned between
4 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Watering during other hours will be allowed only on even-odd
days. Residences or businesses with odd number street addresses
may water on odd-numbered dates and those with even-number addresses
may water on even-numbered dates.
This marks the first time in Georgia history that the state has
ordered a statewide ban.
The 15 counties of Metro Atlanta have been on water restrictions,
and the EPD tightened those as well.
The ban is the result of a three-year drought. Rainfall in Georgia
is said to be 20 inches below normal since May 1998, but as much
as 42 inches below normal in some areas.
Most weather experts expect the drought to continue for some
months, which leads to the possibility of further restrictions
from the state, including a narrowing of the hours when watering
is permitted and a total ban on outside watering.
Deadline ahead to
register to vote
Banks Countians who are not already registered to vote and would
like to cast a ballot in the July 18 general primary have only
a few days to do so.The deadline to register to vote is June
19. The voter registrar's office is located in the Banks County