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CHS Seeks 3rd Trip To State
The Commerce-Columbus connection has only
been strenghthened over the past two seasons of high school softball.
Making the tournament for the first time in 1998, the team improved
its performance last season by finishing third in Class A.
Area softball teams take the field Friday
Both the Lady Panthers of Jackson County
and Jefferson's Lady Dragons will take to the field Saturday
for their first competitive games of the 2000 fall season. The
Jefferson Booster Club will host its 10th annual season-opening
tournament beginning Friday, while Jackson County travels to
Watkinsville to participate in the Oconee County Shootout. Jackson
County will host a tournament of its own next weekend, at Lamar
Fast or slow?
Area teams make hard softball choice
Slow or fast? It is not a decision of which
lane to drive in but it is the softball question facing high
schools across Georgia.
The Georgia High School Association began offering a state championship
in fast-pitch softball in 1994, based on a request by some Atlanta
area schools, GHSA executive director Tommy Guillebeau said.
Jail construction set for November
Construction of the new 60-bed Madison County
jail is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, county commission chairman
Wesley Nash said Monday.
Debate continues on proposed county storm water management
A debate over the county's proposed storm
water management guidelines continued at Monday's Madison County
commissioners' meeting, but the issue is far from resolved.
Council tables mobile home park annexation
Wesley Hunt, the new owner of Village Mobile
Home Park, will have to give the Baldwin City Council more assurances
that he plans to do what he says about upgrading the 15-acre
park that is home to 287 people before it annexes the property
into the city.
Banks BOE approves $14 million budget Monday
The Banks County Board of Education approved
a $14 million budget when it met Monday that is up $621,000 over
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Too Mulch Of A Fire
Commerce city employee Tim Anglin directs a fire hose onto a
small mountain of mulch as fellow employee Ralph Smith calls
for tanker truck assistance Monday morning. The mulch, made by
the city from yard wastes, caught on fire by itself from heat
generated through decomposition. The smoldering fire proved difficult
to extinguish, since it was spread throughout the mulch at the
old city dump at the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. As
firemen soaked the mulch, another city worker used a bulldozer
to lower the piles to make it easier to soak them thoroughly.
Both Anglin and Smith are also members of the Commerce Fire Department.
Wrestling match a publicity stunt for
96 Rock radio station
Public officials often have to grapple
with a lot of tough issues, but Rep. Scott Tolbert took that
literally Friday as he took on an Atlanta morning show radio
Rep. Tolbert "defeated" Radioboy in a wrestling match
Friday morning at the Riviera Club on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.
It was a publicity stunt for 96 Rock radio station, which has
been doing live broadcasts from different locations around Atlanta.
Radioboy is the producer for the "Regular Guys" morning
DJs on the station.
According to information from Rep. Tolbert, Radioboy had recently
"began bad-mouthing the GOP hopeful Bush."
"Offended by his lack of respect for our democracy and his
preference toward communism, Rep. Tolbert sent Radioboy an email
confronting him about his views," says a page on Tolbert's
Radioboy responded with a challenge to wrestle, which Rep. Tolbert
accepted. Thursday morning, Rep. Tolbert was a call-in guest
on the 96 Rock morning show and discussed his impending match
with Radioboy. After Friday's match, Radioboy promised to vote
for George Bush in the November election.
Wearing his old high school wrestling uniform, Tolbert, age 34,
took on Radioboy in a match that lasted around 45 seconds. Before
the match, "Dr. Sexy Sue" paraded around the wrestling
ring. "Dr. Sexy Sue" is described as a "Doctor
by day - adult web mistress by night" on the radio station's
Tolbert was a state high school champion wrestler at Jefferson
High School in the early 1980s.
He is running for re-election this year against Democrat Pat
Bell. However, no wrestling match between the two candidates
has been set.
To Start $7 Million Sewer Plant Expansion
Add more than $7 million to the cost of
meeting Commerce's growing demand for utility services. And that's
just to treat the wastes generated by people and businesses.
The Commerce City Council approved an agreement with Stephenson
and Palmer, its engineering firm, that will pay the company $397,000
for the engineering services on what is expected to be a $6 million
to $7 million expansion of the city's sewage treatment plant.
City manager Clarence Bryant told the council that the city had
from 100,000 to 150,000 gallons per day of capacity left in its
"With Mr. Buchanan's two subdivisions tonight, we have already
(allocated) 70 to 75 percent of that capacity," Bryant said.
The city had already faced a mandate from the Environmental Protection
Division to make improvements in the existing plant that Bryant
said would have cost $2 million without increasing its capacity.
Since the city needed to increase capacity, it opted for a more
expensive project that will enable it to double its treatment
capabilities to two million gallons per day.
And while the city is working on that project, it also has problems
with its water system.
Councilman Donald Wilson brought up the subject of water losses,
which apparently were discussed at the council's weekend retreat,
noting that Bryant had mentioned losses amounting to more than
a third of the water produced.
"We're losing 33 to 36 percent of the water. It really bothers
me that we are increasing our rates and losing a third of our
water," Wilson said.
Bryant said that the repair of two large leaks, one of them new
and the other apparently in existence for years, cut the figure
down to 20 to 24 percent, compared to 40 percent eight years
The city manager said that old meters may be to blame for most
of the loss.
"There's a good bit of water in the difference between a
good meter and a bad one," he told the council. "It's
not a matter of water running out on the ground. If it was, in
this kind of weather, we'd find it."
Bryant said the Rural Water Association will assist Commerce
in finding large leaks, but it will take a meter replacement
program to get an accurate measure of where the water goes.
Other sources of unaccounted-for water include the flushing of
lines, water used or lost during line work, unauthorized opening
of fire hydrants and fire fighting.
"It is not a secure system," he pointed out.
The industry standard for unaccounted-for water is eight to 12
percent, Bryant said.
"We'd be tickled to death with 12, but eight to 10 is what
everybody shoots for," he commented.
County BOE opens
doors to city students
Students living inside the cities of Jefferson
and Commerce may once again attend class in the Jackson County
School System if they choose to do so.
A new open door policy was adopted by the Jackson County Board
of Education Monday night that rescinded a 1996 policy which
had closed the county school system to out-of-district students.
The 1996 policy had been adopted because of overcrowding in some
of the county system's schools.
The new policy is virtually identical to one adopted earlier
this year by the Jefferson City School System which allows out-of-district
attendance provided there is classroom space available. Both
systems also restrict out-of-district students who were discipline
problems at other schools.
"We want to do what's right for all the kids in the county,"
said BOE member Kathy Wilbanks. "We may have kids in our
system that want to go somewhere else and there may be kids in
other systems that want to come here."
The new policy, which goes into effect immediately, also allows
children into the system if their parents own land and pay ad
valorem taxes within Jackson County's district, but reside outside
the county. It also allows the administration to remove out-of-district
students for various reasons and gives the board the ability
to levy tuition. No tuition is being levied now, however.
Although the policy was approved unanimously, BOE chairman Barry
Cronic was not present at the meeting. Superintendent Andy Byers
read a phone message from Cronic about the policy:
"As a board member, my first obligation is to the students
of this district and my second is to the taxpayers," said
Cronic. "I am not in favor of changing the policy."
At a work session last week, Cronic appeared to be more receptive
to the new open door policy.
"I am committed to this system being the lead dog in this
damn county and I'm not afraid of competition and I'm not afraid
of that policy," he said of Jefferson's policy. "If
we feel like we can rise to the occasion, then I say we adopt
a similar policy and rock and roll."
The other BOE members spoke favorably of the policy.
"We've become competitive, why not compete?" BOE member
Jill Elliot asked.
Tim Brooks added: "I think this allows everyone to have
a fair shake."
Byers said the issue came up again after several parents living
outside the county system's school district recently sent letters
requesting their children be admitted to the county school system.
He said some children were attracted to the system's advanced
placement courses, vocational programs, fine arts program and
band program, all of which are limited in the two city high schools.
Byers added the school principals and the central office staff
were spending a significant amount of time policing the current
closed door policy.
City OK For 2 Subdivisions
A Hoschton developer cleared the final
hurdle Monday night toward developing a pair of adjacent subdivisions
behind Piedmont Road and Mt. Vernon Mills.
The Commerce City Council re-zoned and then annexed just over
50 acres owned by John Buchanan for the development of Millwood
Station East and Millwood Station West subdivisions.
The council zoned 26.49 acres R-1, for 28 lots to feature houses
Buchanan says will sell from $140,000 to $200,000; it zoned the
remaining 23.77 acres R-2 for 39 lots upon which houses will
be built to sell for $105,000 to $130,000.
The difference in R-1 and R-2 zoning is that R-1 requires larger
The council action was taken on the recommendation of the Commerce
In other action, the council also accepted the planning commission's
recommendation and granted a one-year conditional use permit
that allows Providence Academy to have a portable classroom on
In other matters:
·The council accepted a low bid of $37,866 from E.R. Snell,
Athens, to resurface Magnolia Place, Fernwood Court, Chestnut
Street, Cotton Street and Walnut Street.
·The council accepted a $10,000 grant on behalf of the
Commerce Board of Education from Gov. Roy Barnes discretionary
fund. The money will pay architectural and engineering fees associated
with the design of the Bill Anderson Center for Performing Arts,
which is proposed for the campus of Commerce High School.
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To Become A 'City Of Ethics'
If passing a resolution can make it so,
the Commerce government would now be officially a "city
Working toward that lofty goal, the Commerce City Council approved
a resolution Monday night declaring its intent to live up to
Georgia Municipal Association standards to become certified as
a city of ethics.
In doing so, the council accepted the following principles:
·to serve others, not themselves.
·to use resources with efficiency and economy.
·to treat all people fairly.
·to use the power of their positions for the well being
of their constituents.
·to create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity.
The resolution tracks an ethics ordinance the city passed earlier
this summer, but provides for certification through the GMA.
The GMA program, however, came about while Commerce councilman
Bob Sosebee was president of the GMA.
Any enforcement is done by members of the government or citizens,
but there are no criminal provisions, according to City Manager
Clarence Bryant. The ordinance provides for a panel to review
complaints and make pronouncements if a violation is found.
1,300 Expected In Commerce Schools, 5,200 In Jackson
Students in the Commerce and Jackson County
school systems don't need to ask for whom the school bells are
tolling Friday morning. The bells will be tolling for them.
The 2000-2001 school year will start at 8:00 a.m. Jefferson students,
on the other hand, started their school year two weeks ago.
Of utmost interest in each school is just how many kids will
show up. Early estimates are that Commerce will add some 60 students
over last year's enrollment, but no one knows for sure. That's
because some students who have not registered will show up, while
some of those expected to return will have transferred elsewhere.
Typically, enrollment figures climb steadily through the day
after Labor Day.
Some Jackson County schools are actually showing a decrease in
students, although that could well be due to lack of data on
some of the pre-kindergarten programs, which start at a later
History of local
school attendance policies
The history of student attendance areas
in Jackson County is a convoluted one that stretches back for
decades. At various times, students have had total freedom of
choice in where they went to school, at other times they were
forced to attend a specific school.
Here's a brief rundown of the attendance issue:
· 1954 - Attendance areas were created around Jefferson
and Commerce that extended beyond the city limits of the two
towns. Within those areas, white students attended the city schools
while black students attended the Bryan hill school in Jefferson.
(Commerce had its own black elementary school at the time.) The
county school system provided transportation of the county students
to the various schools.
See this week's Jackson Herald for the rest of this story
and complete back-to-school coverage.