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 June 20, 2000


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OPINIONS
Zach Mitcham
County sees first
gusts of election storm

If 2000 holds a major political storm for Madison County, this week provided the first good gusts of the election season.


SPORTS
Rangers grab Major League title in 2-0 pitching battle

Zeb's Rangers pitcher Ben Jeffers, who nearly pitched a perfect game last week, outlasted mound opponent Chaz Perry Saturday in the Major League championship game as he was nearly flawless again.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Ag commissioner 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...

Mandatory watering ban in place
A mandatory outdoor watering ban has been put in place for all Banks County water customers.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
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.


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Puttin' on the pinstripes
Madison County's Westbrook to start for the Yankees
Madison County's Jake Westbrook will live every little leaguer's dream Saturday, making a start in Yankee pinstripes against the Chicago White Sox.
Westbrook was scratched as Wednesday's starting pitcher for the Columbus Clippers, New York's top farm club, and told that he would get his first start as a Major Leaguer Saturday.
Jake's mother, Joan Westbrook, said Jake called Wednesday afternoon to share the good news.
Since then, Mrs. Westbrook, her husband Cauthen, and about 35 Madison Countians have been scrambling to make plans to get to Yankee Stadium.
Mrs. Westbrook said Jake was excited but not overwhelmed by being called up. However, she admitted being quite nervous.
"It's just like little league all over," she said. "...It's just like dream."
The game will begin at 4:35 p.m. According to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, the game is not slated for TV coverage in the area.
Westbrook posted awe-inspiring numbers at Madison County High School his junior and senior seasons, posting a 1.73 ERA in 1995 and 1.11 in 1996. He had a combined 17-4 record those two seasons, including 13 complete games, 11 shutouts, one perfect game and one no-hitter.

BEATING THE HEAT

Amanda Stroughter gets some relief from this week's stifling heat sliding down the smooth rocks at Watson Mill State Park Monday afternoon.

ELECTIONS

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 allowing Democrats to pose the same questions as Republicans on primary ballots. But Royston said the allegations are simply a smear campaign in an election year.
Royston, a Democrat, is facing opposition this year from Republican Lynn Smith.
Republican leaders Paul Boatwright and Hank Burnham maintain Royston abused his office when he notified Democrats that the Republicans were including several non-binding questions on their primary ballots. He then allowed the Democrats to place the same questions on their ballots.
But Royston said he was simply acting in the public's interest.
"I saw nothing wrong with this as I felt that if there were questions to be voted on that everyone should have a chance to vote on the questions," said Royston in a letter to the editor about the matter on page 5A.
The Republican leaders, who issued two press releases on the matter this week, said Royston did not have time to legally include the Republicans' questions on the Democratic ballot, since the Republicans filed the questions 10 minutes before the noon, May 1 deadline.
Boatwright and Burnham said Royston claims that within 10 minutes, he contacted the Democratic Party leaders by phone and accepted a notarized request for the exact ballot questions by the noon deadline.
"The notary's ink was not dry and the letter (from the Democrats requesting the questions be placed on the ballot) must have been quickly folded soon after it was notarized," said Boatwright. "It makes me wonder why someone was so quick to fold the letter, unless there was something wrong with the letter."
But Royston disputes the claims of the Republicans, saying that the Democrats' request for the questions to be placed on the ballot was accepted by noon.
"I never said that I called Mrs. Frances Arndt (of the county Democratic Party) and got her to the courthouse in less than 10 minutes," said Royston. "She knew earlier in the morning that the questions were coming and was prepared to submit her request as soon as the questions were filed."
He added: "Mr. Burnham stated to me personally that he did not believe me when I told him Mrs. Arndt filed her paper before noon. Now if he doesn't believe me and wants to say I falsified documents, this is a matter I resent, but he has indicated that Tracy Dean, Frances Arndt and Marlin Carithers falsified these papers and I find this utterly ridiculous, uncalled for and outrageous, to put it mildly."
While questioning whether the submission of the Democrats' request for ballot questions was possible in the the short time frame, Republican leaders also said the Democrats did not properly specify what questions to place on the ballots as required by law.
According to the Republicans' press release, the Democrats' request for questions to be placed on the ballot read: "The Democratic Party hereby requests that any questions put on the ballot by any other party be entered on the Democratic ballot also."
Burnham said he contacted the head of the elections division of the secretary of state's office, who said the request was not a valid submission of questions.
"It's hard to believe that after 23 years in office, Hoppy Royston does not understand the election code," said Burnham. "His actions undermine the integrity of his office, his own competence as a public official and have tarnished the elections process in Madison County. He has failed the citizens of Madison County, both Democrat and Republican alike."
Royston said it has been a long-standing agreement that he would contact the Democratic Party when any questions are posed by another party on a ballot.
"I feel that if a question is to be pursued for changes by our leaders that you the voters should have the opportunity to voice your opinions," said Royston. "I do not see how these questions will benefit me or anyone else personally or politically as they have nothing to do with my job."
Boatwright claims that Royston has fallen down on the job.
"This comedy of errors could have been easily avoided had Mr. Royston used honesty and impartiality in his position of public trust," said Boatwright. "Mr. Burnham and myself are consulting with the proper authorities, legal counsel and party members. We will come to a decision on whether or not to file a complaint and seek an investigation in this matter."
The Republican leaders said keeping the questions exclusively on the Republican ballot is important in order to attract voters to the party's primary.
But Royston said the Republicans' allegations have little to do with the questions being on the Democratic ballot.
"Fact is, they (the Republicans) are not interested in the questions," said Royston. "They are after Hoppy."
The ballot questions address changing the state flag, staggering the terms of county commissioners, whether the position of election superintendent and elections board should be created to perform elections duties in Madison County separate from the duties of probate judge and whether legislaton should be passed to increase citizens' homestead exemptions each year to keep pace with increases in property assessments.


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 introduction to PGA tour competition in possibly golf's biggest event this week, the U.S. Open, one of the sport's four major tournaments.
Over 8,000 people attempted to qualify for fewer than 100 available positions in the tournament.
McLuen, who grew up in Colbert, chipping, putting and driving at Whispering Pines Golf Course, which is owned by his father, Jim, will be rubbing elbows with 150 of the sport's elite for four days at Pebble Beach as he will be competing in an event that will be watched by millions of golf fans worldwide.
McLuen says he has had to stop and catch a breath to take significance of the whole situation.
"It's all been pretty overwhelming," McLuen said of the opportunity of being thrust into golf's limelight for a few days. "Just to have the U.S. Open as my first PGA event and to be able to play at Pebble Beach."
McLuen, one of just six amateurs to qualify for the event, received his pass to compete with golf's royalty by shooting an even-par 69-75 in a two-day qualifying round last Sunday and Monday at Atlanta's Settin' Down Creek Golf Course.
McLuen, who also got an exemption to the U.S. Amateur by qualifying, said that once he got past the first round of the qualifying stage he knew a trip to the Open was within his grasp.
"I felt pretty good once I got past the first round, because everyone says that it's the hardest part," McLuen said. "And I was playing consistently and making putts."
With only five spots available, McLuen's trip to Pebble Beach came down to the wire last Monday, as he and the other players stood tied for third in the clubhouse with scores of 144, with three PGA tour players not yet done with their final rounds.
However, none of the tour players, which included three-time major tournament winner Larry Nelson, were able to oust McLuen from the Open or force a playoff.
"We were all watching and waiting pretty anxiously," McLuen said of the experience.
And once the word was out, McLuen's feat hasn't gone unnoticed as the phone hasn't stopped ringing at his Charleston apartment, receiving calls from well-wishing friends and family all over the country.
"I've received so many phone calls over the past few days," McLuen said. "My roommate said he took 30 messages one day and we probably have 15 minutes worth of messages on the answering machine and messages written down on like five sheets of paper. But it has been a lot of fun and I've got to talk to a lot of people who I haven't talked to for a long time."
McLuen, who will be a senior at Charleston next year, also broke other ground this year as he had the distinction of competing in the NCAAs a few weeks ago, making him the first Charleston golfer to reach that plateau and also the only Charleston athlete to participate in post-season competition this season.
However, despite his recent success of the golf course, McLuen said that he hasn't been playing his best.
"I actually haven't been playing that well lately," said McLuen. "I sort of struggled down at the NCAAs."
McLuen, who will be paired in the opening round of the 100th U.S. Open with Mike Mazliza of Palm Beach, Fla., and Chris Kaufman of Arlington, Texas, will do his best to have his "A-game" on for the tournament as he arrives in California on Sunday. McLuen will have three days of practice rounds before teeing it up on Thursday.
But as big as an ordeal as the tournament is, McLuen doesn't see there being a lot of pressure on him.
"The way I see it, I have no real pressure," said McLuen, who will have his father caddying for him. "I'm not really even supposed to be here. For the other guys, it's their job, they have mortgages and things like that to pay for. It's really just one big joy ride for me. I mean, I want to play good and I think I can. It's going to be a lot of fun playing with the guys I've always watched on TV. But it's just golf."

 
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Early reports show senate race tops in campaign Contributions
More than $100,000 in donations have flooded into the campaign for Senate District 47 with the majority going to incumbent Eddie Madden. Madden has received a total of $92,138 in contributions, while challenger Mike Beatty reports $10,865 in donations.
All candidates must file campaign contribution disclosure reports periodically before elections. The most recent report was due June 3, with one more report required before the July 18 primary election.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE
Republican incumbent Ralph Hudgens reported a total of $12,073 in contributions, including $2,760 during the most recent reporting period. Hudgens' total expenses this reporting period are $3,655.
Democrat challenger Douglas McKillip reported $7,450 in contributions. His expenses total $352.
BOC CHAIRMAN
Republican incumbent Wesley Nash reports $842 in contributions: Hank Clifton Burnham, Hull, $150; and the Madison County Republican Party, $692. He had no expenditures to report. Democrat challenger Nelson Nash reported no campaign contributions and $3,183 in expenses. Democrat candidate Gary Tillman Adams reported $200 in campaign contributions of less than $101 and $977 in expenses. Democrat challenger Lamar H. Akin reported no contributions or expenditures.
BOC DISTRICT 1
Democrat incumbent William "Bill" Taylor reported no campaign contributions or expenditures, Republican challenger John Brueshaber reported a $108 contribution from the county Republican Party. He reported his $216 qualifying fee as his only expenditure.
BOC DISTRICT 2
Four candidates are vying for the post, Democrats Jim Brown, Johnny Fitzpatrick, Conolus Scott Jr. and Republican Larry Stewart. Fitzpatrick reported $589 in contributions out his own pocket and $342 in contributions of less than $101. His expenditures totaled $807. Stewart reported a $108 contribution from the county Republican Party. His lone reported expense was his $216 qualifying fee. Neither Scott nor Brown reported any contributions or expenditures.
BOC DISTRICT 3
Republican Danny Andrews reported $431 in contributions prior to the most recent reporting period and $100 in contributions of $101 or less during the most recent reporting period. His lone expense was his $216 qualifying fee. Democrat Michael Youngblood reported no contributions or expenditures.
BOC DISTRICT 5
Republican incumbent Bruce Scogin reported a $108 contribution from the Madison County Republican Party and $50 in small contributions, with his expenses totaling $208. Democrat challenger Edwin Marion Baker reported no contributions or expenditures.
BOE DISTRICT 5
Incumbent Democrat Jimmy Patton reported no contributions or expenditures, while Republican challenger Richard H. Power reported a $20 contribution from the county Republican Party and no expenses.
PROBATE JUDGE
Democrat incumbent Donald "Hoppy" Royston reported $2,638 in contributions, including $1,388 of his own money.
Republican challenger Donna Lynn Smith reported contributions of $2,298, including $1,234 out of her own pocket.
CLERK OF COURT
Democrat incumbent Michelle H. Strickland reported $701 in contributions. Her only expense was her $1,174 qualifying fee. Republican challenger Mike Sales reported $1,987 total contributions, including $1,200 in contributions before the most recent reporting period. His expenses totaled $1,225.
CORONER
Republican candidate George Frankie Crane reported $59 in contributions and $223 in expenses. John Scarborough, a Republican, reported $60 in contributions and $120 in expenses. Republican Phyllis M. Dickinson reported $552 in total contributions, including $164 out of her own pocket. Her expenses totaled $471. Democrat Michelle I. Cleveland reported $70 in contributions and $415 in expenses.
NO OPPOSITION
Candidates facing no opposition this year who did not show any campaign contributions or expenditures other than qualifying fees include: Melvin Drake, BOC District 4; James Howard Patton, BOE District 4; John Mason, BOE District 3; James Rodney Smith, county surveyor; Sallie Louise Watson, tax commissioner; and Clayton Eugene Lowe, sheriff.