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 June 26, 2000


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OPINION
Adam Fouche
I am my grandfather's grandson

My grandfather likes to talk. In fact, my grandfather likes to talk a whole lot, even more than I like to talk. Usually, he's got something pretty good to say.


SPORTS
BCHS teams prepare for 2000-01 season

Banks County High School is still two months away from starting the next year of classes.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
$681,500 in construction permitted by Commerce in May
The city of Commerce issued nine building permits during May for construction valued at $681,500, according to a report...

Judge orders picketers to stop
A Superior Court judge has ordered two women who had recently picketed at a West Jackson subdivision to not hold another display until the county...


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Arrest made in brutal murder of Colbert man
An arrest has been made in the murder of a Colbert man, who was found Monday encased in cement in Oglethorpe County...

School budget up 3 percent
Madison County school superintendent Dennis Moore says that no property tax increase is planned to support the Madison County...


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A FAMILY TRADITION

At her potter's wheel with 2-year-old grandson Eli, Hewell family matriarch, Grace Nell Hewell, is determined to pass-on the long family folk pottery tradition to yet another generation. With his hands immersed in Georgia red clay, young Eli is all too happy to oblige.


Banks County BOE doesn't anticipate hike in millage rate
Local school board officials won't be seeking a tax hike from Banks County property owners for the coming fiscal year, but the 12.4 millage rate won't be going down either.
School board members got their first look at next year's proposed $14.3 million budget during a called meeting June 21. They have until Oct. 31 to approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The deadline was extended due to passage of education House Bill 1137.
The proposed budget, up from 13.7 million last year, includes funding for six additional teaching positions, added to accommodate current growth and prepare for a state-mandated class size reduction to be phased in during coming years.
The budget also includes a three-percent raise for all school system employees, down from a four-percent increase the previous year. Local teachers will not receive a raise above the thtree-percent approved and funded by the state, superintendent Deborah White said.
The budget also includes $200,000 in state funding and $25,000 in local funding to construct and equip an agriculture barn at the new high school.
The proposed budget would result in an estimated $124,000 fund balance at the end of the next fiscal year­ not enough to construct a field house at the high school practice field, White said.
The proposed field house could be included in the tentative budget until school officials learn whether the tax digest will increase enough to bring in additional revenue, White said.
State funding for the ag barn will cover installation of an 8,000 square-foot metal building, including a poured concrete floor, handicapped accessible restrooms, a concession area, animal wash area, show ring and an animal housing area. Local dollars would fund bleachers, concessions equipment and other finishing expenses.
The budget also includes funds to replace the carpeting in the kindergarten gym and classroom area.
About $25,000 is earmarked for new vocational department text books. New books are purchased in each subject every seven years, according to state guidelines.
White is now projecting the school system will end the current fiscal year with a $75,000 balance, $70,000 more than officials anticipated when they adopted the budget last year.


Janice Allen hired as principal of 4/5 school
BY BETH L. CHESTER
School officials haven't formally adopted a name for the county's new upper elementary school, serving fourth and fifth grade students, but they have chosen a leader for the new administration.
Board members named Barrow County native Janice Allen principal of the school in a called meeting on June 21, following a 30-minute session closed to the public.
School superintendent Deborah White presented the recommendation that Allen be hired, saying she did not wish to delay a hiring decision until the board's next regular meeting.
"We have (teaching) positions to be filled (in the grade 4/5 levels) and we need to get started," she said. "If we wait on the principal, it will be August before we can get new teachers tied down."
At County Line Elementary School in Barrow County, where Allen has served as principal for the past five years, administrators showed initiative in conferencing with 100-percent of students' parents, White told the board.
"They took a bus to a housing project and used the community center there to meet with parents (because some parents did not have transportation)," White said.
County Line Elementary is a "pay for performance" school system, White said.
Board member Bo Garrison made the motion to enter into closed session and discuss the proposal. When the meeting was re-opened, Garrison made a motion to accept White's recommendation.
Recent state legislation forced the school system to provide a separate administration for fourth and fifth grades. The state is providing funding for the principal's salary, White said.
Allen, who oversaw 450 students and 60 staff members at County Line, earned her elementary education and master's in reading degrees from the University of Georgia. She holds a specialist's degree in education leadership and is a certified reading specialist for grades K-12.
Allen taught second, third and fifth grades prior to becoming assistant principal and then principal at County Line. She has 24 years of education experience.
Allen looks forward to concentrating her efforts in the two-grade-level school and will focus on curriculum and instruction, she said.
"I just look forward to working with you," Allen said, thanking the board for their confidence.
Allen has not decided whether she will relocate to Banks County but laughingly told the board she thought she would "live longer" if she made the career move to a school system farther north of the growth Barrow County continues to experience.
The Banks school system is "like Barrow used to be," Allen said, "a small system where everybody knows everybody."

CITY NEWS

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 office.
Council members discussed the project at the city council meeting last week. 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, Garrison 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.


Theft of city water on the rise in Alto
Alto leaders have made a move to get tough on people stealing water from the town following the loss of thousands of gallons of water.
The city council agreed in a meeting last week on a fine of $2,500, plus court costs, for those found guilty of 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 lookout to discover who is doing it.
Another problem is that residents along Crane Mill Road end up with dirty water due to the method by which the water is released from the tank, according to council member Susan Wade.


Zoning still in the works in Homer
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 this week 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 the ordinance.


Political forum planned Tuesday
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce will host a political forum featuring candidates in the upcoming election. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at the Banks County High School auditorium. Dennis Robarge will moderate the forum. Everyone is invited to attend, leaders say.
For more information, call the chamber office at 677-2108.



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Stray dogs cause concern in Alto
A group of Alto residents gathered at the town council's last meeting asking for help to control vicious, stray dogs roaming their neighborhood.
Ronnie Johns, of Cook Street, said: "We have animal control problems and we're here to let the council know about it."
He went on to describe sleepless nights he has experienced because of the dogs and the killing of his pet dog on his own property by these strays. He said for the past two months he has been calling on several Habersham organizations with no action being taken on his complaints and concerns for safety.
Mayor Jack King said that he had been on the committee to draft the county's animal control ordinance.
"The third day after hiring an animal control officer, they took his pad (for fines) away because someone called and scared them to death," he said. "And they're not doing anything. They've watered down that resolution so much it doesn't mean much anymore."
The group brought with them animal control specialist, Norman Blackwell, who provides services to Demorest, Cornelia and Baldwin. He explained how the use of his service would be of help in ending the problem. Blackwell would respond to calls about stray animals, try to find the owner, and if that was not possible, the animal would be taken to the Habersham Animal Shelter run by the Humane Society. The owner would have five days to claim the dog, at which point it would either be put up for adoption or euthanized.
City attorney Jim Acrey recommended the council adopt a resolution and hire Blackwell to take care of the problem.
Wade said he would not vote for it. He would abstain. When asked why, he said "because I have dogs and I don't chain them."
Trying to explain how his service works, Blackwell told the council that the only way he would even come to someone's house was if there had been a complaint made about the dogs.
King suggested that they all go to a Habersham County Board of Commissioner's meeting to discuss their concerns.
Johns said that he paid tax dollars to Habersham County and to Alto and that some of that money should go to animal control.
The council decided to put it on the agenda for the next meeting, July 13.


Lula to be tough on water violators
Lula city water customers caught violating outdoor watering restrictions three times will face disconnection and a $250 fee to get their water flowing again. The first offense warrants a written warning; the second offense a $50 fine.
City council members voted 3-2 Monday night, in favor of penalizing those who violate the outdoor watering guidelines.
Penalties will go into effect sometime next week, after the system's 600-plus customers are notified in writing.
No outdoor watering is permitted between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., according to Mayor Tim Allen. In addition, the city is on an odd/even watering plan.
Those who live at odd-numbered addresses may water on odd-numbered dates, even addresses on even dates, he said. The allotted watering time frame applies on permitted watering dates.
Even though Lula buys backup water from the White County Water Authority to supplement its own wells, Allen said city residents still need to conserve. Drought conditions could bring shortages to White County's system, Allen said, causing officials there to limit the water flowing into Lula.
Demand for water from Lula's system was up about 1.3 million gallons in May, compared to the same period in 1999.
At the same time, local water sources aren't able to keep up with the need. Combined, the town's wells had produced about 180 gallons per minute. Now, they produce about 106 gallons per minute.
The MarJac plant previously used Lula water for back-up only. Now, city water is the plant's primary water source. The plant used about 500,000 gallons of city water last month, the mayor said.
Several additional homes have been added to the water system since last year, also increasing demand, he said.

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