News from Jackson County...

July 3, 2000


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OPINIONS
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SPORTS
Anglin spending summer on diamond

Jefferson High School alumnus Brandon Anglin is spending his summer pitching for the Danville Dans of the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL). A sophomore at the University of Georgia, Anglin got off...

County all stars set for district play
The season is done, and postseason tournaments have been won. District play is up next for the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department's youth baseball and softball teams.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Investigators believe Tracy Fortson committed murder, cover-up without help
Investigators believe Tracy Lea Fortson acted alone in murdering her ex-boyfriend Douglas Benton in his Colbert home, encasing him in cement in a water trough and leaving the body in a wooded area in Oglethorpe County.

 




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Fireworks display planned July 4
The traditional Homer 4th of July fireworks display will get under way around 9:30 p.m. next Tuesday night.


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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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Drought may hurt Bear Creek project
If the Bear Creek Reservoir project in southwest Jackson County were completed, would the four counties be able to withdraw water from the Middle Oconee River to fill it? The answer, given Georgia's three-year drought, is probably not.
Jackson County Commissioner Pat Bell raised the question during the Upper Oconee Basin Authority's June meeting last Thursday.
On the other hand, the reservoir is designed to provide adequate water in times of drought.
The countdown toward completion of the project crossed under the one-year mark this week. The $64 million project, which includes a 505-acre lake and a 21 million gallon per day water plant, is due to send water to Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties on July 1, 2001.
Jim Wrona, senior project engineer for Jordan, Jones and Golding, who oversees construction, reported that most of the contractors are ahead of schedule. The most important exception is the contractor building the dam, who is one to two weeks behind schedule, although Wrona predicted that work would be caught up shortly.
The bad news for the morning was that the emergency spillway is going to cost $300,000 more than budgeted. The authority voted unanimously to ratify a decision made by chairman Wendell Dawson earlier to grant a $314,043 change order to Specialized Services, Inc., builder of the dam and spillway.
Dawson had authorized the change, only the second made in the project, after consulting with several authority members and engineers. The change became necessary, Byrd explained, when excavation for the spillway revealed that the rock was not as high as expected in the "energy disseminator" area. The energy disseminator slows down the rush of water as it comes over the emergency spillway ­ as in a 100-year flood ­ reducing its power.
During the design period, Goulder And Associates did sample borings to determine the location of the rock, but when the earth was removed, Byrd said, the rock was not as close to the surface as expected. The authority was left with a choice of redesigning the spillway, a process that could take six months including state approval, or build up the rock with concrete. The latter choice, which the authority took, can be accomplished without affecting the completion date, Byrd said.
The cost is covered in the authority's contingency fund.
The need to have the project "substantially completed" by March 31 was a critical factor in granting the change order, because the authority must begin filling the lake by that time if it is to meet its July 1, 2001 deadline for having water.
See next week's Jackson Herald for the complete story.


Big difference this year at nursing home
What a difference (almost) a year makes.
It was in July of last year when the state Office of Regulatory Services conducted its annual inspection of BJC Medical Center and issued a damning report that ripped the cleanliness and care at the facility, all but blamed the nursing home for two patient deaths and proposed a fine of up to $3,000 per day.
This week, BJC Medical Center received verbal confirmation that it is in full compliance following its 2000 inspection.
The 2000 report stunned the medical center, especially since it was released to the Athens newspapers before the medical center had an opportunity to respond. Morale plummeted, but its effects were greater than a blemish to prestige. Staff resigned, hiring of replacements became difficult and the facility has had to rely on agency nurses and nursing assistants to fill the vacancies, a problem that lingers even now. The state put a temporary moratorium on admissions and prevented the medical center from offering Certified Nursing Assistants training courses.
BJC officials denied most of the allegations, even as they began changes aimed at satisfying the regulators. Eventually, the more serious allegations were dropped, and the fine cut by 75 percent, said Weinmeister.
Nursing home administrator Charles Stills reported at Monday night's meeting of the BJC Medical Center Authority that he had received verbal confirmation that the final issue for the 2000 survey had been received. Stills came on as an interim administrator in the aftermath of the report and was later given the title permanently.
The 2000 inspection came in March, which was a surprise, but officials found little wrong, officials say. A follow-up visit occurred Friday, resulting in the verbal confirmation that BJC was in full compliance. Written confirmation is expected later.


'City Lights' to be on this
weekend in Commerce

Commerce will turn on the City Lights this week.
The City Lights Festival, that is. It grew from a 40th anniversary celebration to an annual benefit concert and, starting Thursday, the City Lights Festival has become a three-day event built around the generosity of Commerce's favorite son, Bill Anderson.
The country music legend remains the heart of the event, proceeds of which will one day build the Bill Anderson Performing Arts Center on the campus of Commerce High School.
It will be Anderson, who headlines the "Dinner with the Stars" Thursday night (7:30 at the Commerce Civic Center) at which people will pay $50 a ticket to dine with him and fellow country legends Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius and to get a close up during an acoustical set with the musicians. And while Anderson is bringing one of country music's bright new stars, Brad Paisley, as the top-billed talent for Friday night's concert (7:00, Tiger Field), Anderson will still be the main draw.
Friday's concert will start with an acoustical set by Michael Johnson, who has a syndicated radio show on 400 stations.
Paisley, expected to perform for an hour, will go last, but the order in which Anderson and Connie Smith will perform won't be determined until Anderson arrives. Both are expected to perform for about 45 minutes, said Rob Jordan, WJJC station manager. The evening will end with fireworks.
Another evolutionary twist tied to making money instead of music is the addition this year of Hard Core wrestling, a table-bashing, glass-smashing simulation of wrestling violence designed to ride the wave of professional wrestling's popularity. It takes place at 8:00 Thursday night at the high school gym, for those seeking entertainment a little more lively than dinner and music.
Saturday, the venue changes to the downtown, where performing artists will sing gospel, country, rock and bluegrass music, where cloggers will clog and dancers will dance, merchants will hold sidewalk sales and vendors will offer food, crafts, cookbooks, jewelry, plants, dolls, quilts and anything the public seems likely to buy.
The entertainment will take place on State Street, which will be closed to traffic from its junctions with Central Avenue and North Broad Street. Musicians and dancers will work half-hour sets from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The booths will be complemented by merchants' sidewalk sales and will be spread through the central business district.



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Parks Creek project draws support
A proposal by Jefferson to build a city reservoir on Parks Creek will be supported by the four-county Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.
That group, which is building the regional Bear Creek Reservoir and water treatment plant, voted last Thursday to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Division offering its general support for the project.
There are conditions on that support, however. Jefferson engineer Jerry Hood of Precision Planning said the conditions were acceptable.
Jackson County Commissioner Pat Bell stressed that the Jackson County government supported the move. In fact, Jackson County has an agreement with Jefferson to purchase up to a million gallons a day from the facility.
Jefferson's plan is to build the lake on Parks Creek, but to fill it by pumping water out of the North Oconee River. It is permitted by the EPD for 53 million gallons per day.
The concern of the authority is that the EPD, having issued that permit based on growth projections of the four counties, which included those for Jefferson, might opt to reduce the Bear Creek permit by an amount equal to what it grants Jefferson.
The motion to send the letter to EPD was made by Bobby Snipes, deputy manager of the Athens-Clarke Unified Government and the person who suggested the conditions, and seconded by Bell. It passed unanimously.
See next week's Jackson Herald for the complete story.


Independence Day festivities ahead this weekend
The Fourth of July will be celebrated a little bit early in Jackson County this year, with festivities planned this weekend in both Jefferson and Commerce.
An evening of festivities will be sponsored on the square in downtown Jefferson Saturday by the Jefferson Area Business Association (JABA). Activities, including children's games, will begin at 7 p.m., with fireworks planned for dusk.
A band of Banks County high schoolers will present music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s from 8 to 11 p.m.
Homemade ice cream and other refreshments will be available.
Student Explorers and bike patrolmen will be out all evening, Jefferson Police Chief Darren Glenn said. A new event this year will be a baseball throw with a radar gun set up to clock throwing speed. The police chief said funds raised from that event will be donated to JABA.