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August 17, 2000


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SPORTS
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 Murphy Park.

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.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
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 ordinance
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.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
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 last year.


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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.


UPDATE:
Rep. Tolbert 'defeats' Radioboy
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 personality.
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 web site.
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 web site.
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.


Commerce Preparing 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 current plant.
"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 ago.
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.


Developer Gets 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 lots.
The council action was taken on the recommendation of the Commerce Planning Commission.
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 its campus.
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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Commerce Moves To Become A 'City Of Ethics'
If passing a resolution can make it so, the Commerce government would now be officially a "city of ethics."
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 County System
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 date.

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.