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 August 9, 2000


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OPINION
Shar Porier
A day in the life...

Having some free time is a wonderful thing! You get to do what you want or take care of some needed chores or go shopping!
Well, I chose shopping. That seemed to be . . .

Drew Brantley
Need for officials only growing

This past weekend I upgraded my cable to get more channels. It is fun to get 40 kinds of HBO.
But I also get the ESPN Classic channel. I never thought . . .


SPORTS
Team working three sessions per day during camp week

While the season is still three weeks away, the Banks County High School football team is working hard to be ready for Jackson County Sept. 1, coach Rance Gillespie said.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Beshara trounces Tolbert in District 3
They were supposed to have been two close races.
They weren't.
With a small turnout of only 2,291 voters countywide, about 15 percent, former county commissioner Harold Fletcher handily won the seat for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for the next four years.

Nicholson Mayor Resigns, Clerk Reinstated
The town of Nicholson got back its city clerk but lost its mayor during the past week. Last week, . . .


News from
MADISON COUNTY
'Tiny' Hanson credits strong faith for his successful transplant surgery
David "Tiny" Hanson, of Madison County's Paoli Community, says he knows what it's like to "be carried by God."
For over a year, he and his wife Debra waited for the call that could save Tiny's life. The call came - three times - but it wasn't until the third time that Tiny received the transplant organs he needed to survive.

Nash, Dickinson win run-offs
Democrat Nelson Nash and Republican Phyllis Dickinson won runoffs for the county commission chairman and coroner's seats by wide margins Tuesday.


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NEW PROBATE JUDGE


BettyJean Evans Thomas (L) hugs Brad Welborn after learning voters had elected her as probate judge in a run-off Tuesday.


BANKS CO. GOVERNMENT

Thomas wins probate seat
Garnering just over 62 percent of the vote, Betty Jean Evans Thomas defeated Ben Whisnant in the run-off Tuesday for probate judge.
"I'm just elated," Thomas said the votes were totaled. "I thank God and I thank the voters of Banks County for turning out again and electing me as their probate judge. Your votes have been a mint to me."
In numbers, Thomas received a total of 1,024 votes to Whisnant's 623.
"There's always a winner and a loser," Whisnant said. "I'd like to come out and say that I wish her well. I believe the best interest of the citizens in the county will be served."
Before the votes were totaled, Thomas said she was ready for everything to be over with.
"It's been a stressful three weeks," she said. "I'm nervous but excited. Win or lose, it's been wonderful."
Whisnant said he felt both canidates had run a good campaign.
"It's been a good clean race," he said. "It was a very quiet race."
Voter turnout Tuesday was a bit higher than expected. Twenty-five percent of Banks County's registered voters, or 1,666 of 6,618, cast a ballot. Thomas was predicting a 15 percent voter turnout while Whisnant was expecting about a 20 percent voter turnout.
Thomas said she look's forward to serving the citizens' of Banks County as their probate judge.
"I will strive to always provide superior service with dedication and comittment," she said of her new position.
Whisnant said his only immediate plans were to rest now that the election is over.
"I'm going to take off an rest a while," he said. "Then we'll see."
Tuesday's run-off came after no candidate in the July election recieved a majority vote. Thomas and Whisnant gained the two highest vote counts to make it to the run-off.


Fire dept. seeking $2.2 million
Banks County fire officials are hoping to receive an early Christmas present from the Banks County Board of Commissioners-a $2.2 million funding burst.
The fire department is hoping to receive the funds from a proposed five-year Special Purpose Local Option Sales (SPLOST) expected to come up for a vote sometime before the current SPLOST expires in Sept. 2001.
The fire department's request is almost 18 percent of the expected tax revenue from the proposed SPLOST. The BOC will not take action on any SPLOST requests until they have completed evaluation of the all the county's needs.
"We put together two committees, vehicle and building, to assess our needs and find our priority," assistant fire chief John Creasy told the BOC at a meeting Friday. "Vehicles are our largest area of need. Some are old and requiring a lot of maintenance."
Department officials are seeking approximately $1.7 million to replace old engines, service trucks, tankers, four-wheel drive trucks and ambulances and to purchase a used snorkel/aerial truck for an estimated $200,000.
Creasy and fire chief Perry Dalton pointed to several current fire engines which are more than 30 years old. Some of the vehicles are deteriorating and have cost the county nearly $100,000 over the past several years in repairs.
"One truck caught fire responding to a fire the other day," Dalton told the board.
The fire department is also seeking an estimated $300,000 in fire station upgrades. A capital improvements needs assessment Dalton and Creasy presented to the board pointed to five fire stations in need of improvements.
Station 240 at Mt. Carmel, Station 330 at Grove Level and Station 420 at Grady were all marked for replacement due to building deterioration, lack of personnel quarters and the lack of room for future expansions to accommodate growth in the county.
The assessment also showed the need for renovations at Station 220 at Rock Springs. Dalton said the building needed an addition for an ambulance bay plus living quarters for full-time personnel.
The requested $300,000 also includes funds for the renovation or relocation of Station 310 at Banks Crossing.
"The county is spending money and grants for improvements and sidewalks at Banks Crossing and one of the worst buildings over there is the fire station," Dalton said. "I hate to say it, but when people think of the Banks County Fire Department, that's what they
think about."
Dalton showed the BOC pictures of ceiling damage from roof leaks and the presence of raw sewage draining into the building. Dalton also told the board that the should the current building be kept, the bay doors would need to be relocated to improve access to Hwy. 441. He also said an addition would be needed to accommodate a requested ladder truck and to enlarge the day area, kitchen, sleeping quarters and training room.
Dalton also presented commissioners with the possibility of relocating the fire station to Industrial Blvd. and selling the property to a commercial developer.
"The sale of the property could bring enough money to pay for a new station," Dalton said. "You'd also be making Banks Crossing look better."
The remainder of the requested $2.2 million would go to fire and rescue equipment, including new turn out gear, air packs and a $14,000 hydraulic rescue tool.
"Make sure you understand we weren't trying to be lavish," Creasy said. "We were looking at a spark budget to provide the best services to the citizens."
The BOC didn't say whether it would grant the fire department all of its requested funds.
"There are things we need to do," BOC chairman James Dumas said. "This is not excessive. Public safety is expensive."
Ultimately, Dalton said the department would make do with whatever funds he was allocated.
"We are going to have to do with what ya'll allocate," Dalton said. "We feel 18 percent is fair."

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Coleman resigns as rec head
Ten-year Banks County Recreation Department head Mickey Coleman resigned Friday to take a position in his home town of Tallasee, Ala.
"This hurts," Coleman said near the point of tears. "I've put a lot of blood and sweet in this program."
The Banks County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved his resignation at a called meeting Friday and wished him good luck with his next job.
"I personally hate to see him go," BOC chairman James Dumas said. "He has taken the rec department from nothing and built it into what it is now. We regret Coleman submitting his resignation. He's done a good job and we've had a good relationship."
The BOC named assistant director Barry Brooks as acting director. The board is planning to decide at the September meeting whether to ask Brooks to stay in the position.
The BOC also accepted Brooks' recommendation to make program coordinator Phillip Cronic the new assistant director. Tommy Wilson will step into the program coordinator position.
In another recreation matter, the board raised the registration fee for football from $30 to $35. The hike will cover the cost of new jerseys, which each participant will get to keep. The BOC asked Brooks to explore the cost of adding mandatory insurance coverage for each participant.
Brooks also reported to the board he had received estimates for the installation of an irrigation system at the resodding of two fields at the Banks County Recreation Complex.
Work on the fields is scheduled to be completed before the end of the month.


County to provide temporary rescue services
The city of Homer and the Banks County Board of Commissioners have yet to finalize an agreement over the providing of rescue services within the city of Homer.
Officials from both bodies, as well as Banks County Fire Chief Perry Dalton and Homer Rescue Chief Troy Segars, met Friday morning to try and settle on terms of a service agreement.
Homer Mayor Leon Ray told the BOC he would like to talk with members of the town's rescue squad before making a decision.
"I would like to go over this and see what it looks like to them," Ray said. "I want the people of Homer covered."
Another meeting will be held in the future to revisit the matter.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.