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September 11, 2000


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
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Jefferson thwarts Banks County, 48-21
After missing out on the playoffs after an overtime loss to Banks County last year, the Jefferson Dragons had a 48-21 victory well in hand long before the end of regulation.

Raiders top Panthers 21-6
Though it may have been a little closer than the past two years, Madison County still proved to have Jackson County's number, downing the Panther squad 21-6 Friday night in Jefferson.

Forsyth Central edges Commerce, 16-15
Forsyth Central ended Commerce's 20-game win streak Friday with a 16-15 win at Tiger Stadium.

CHS coach hospitalized
Commerce High School football coach Steve Savage was hospitalized Saturday after suffering a tear in his esophagus.
Savage went to Athens Region Medical Center Saturday afternoon after the tear occured.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Madison County SAT scores are among the area's best

No municipal elections to be held in county
While a slew of county posts are up for grabs this year, no municipal elections will be held in 2000.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Banks County building inspector resigns
Banks County building inspector Tony Vento has resigned.
His last day on the job will be Friday, Sept. 8, according to a letter of resignation submitted to the Banks County Board of Commissioners.

Banks County SAT scores again below state average


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Campaign Signs Burned

City employee Donald Angel dumps campaign signs picked up around Commerce into a fire at the Public Works Department lot on Waterworks Road. The city said dozens of campaign and some real estate signs were illegally posted on the city rights of way. They were removed Thursday afternoon.


Water Wise settles lawsuit against county
The ongoing battle between a private sewage firm and the Jackson County government was settled out of court Friday. The county agreed to an offer from Water Wise and Prinvest Financial of $2.7 million for the old Texfi sewage facility in Jefferson. The county had paid $1.5 million for the facility after condemning it last year. Water Wise and Prinvest had appealed that amount and the parties were scheduled to go to court Monday.
County leaders said they believe the settlement is a good deal for the county and is far less than the $8-10 million Water Wise had contested the plant was worth. Water Wise had paid $1.3 million for the plant in July 1999.
County leaders said that the offer of $2.7 million was well within what its own consultants show would be viable for the plant to operate.
One of the main considerations in accepting the offer was a concern over what could have been a lengthy appeals process, said officials. Until the lawsuit was settled, the county couldn't issue bonds to put lines in the ground and begin operating the facility.
A key user of the plant will be the Mulberry Plantation development on Hwy. 124, but that project had been put on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit. With that, and several other projects on hold, county leaders said settling the case was less expensive than fighting a protracted appeal that would have kept the plant idle for up to two years or longer.
Another concern expressed by county leaders was the impending change in county government. Leaders said they didn't want to saddle the new board of commissioners with a major lawsuit if a reasonable settlement could be reached.


Commerce Schools Set System Goals
Students in the Commerce School System are expected to show improvement this year in all standardized tests, according to system goals adopted for the current school year.
Superintendent Larry White went over updated system goals for students taking the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), the Georgia High School Graduation test and the Stanford Achievement Test at the board's "work session" meeting last Thursday night.
For example, while last year's seniors at Commerce High School scored 933 on the on the SAT, the system goal for the Class of 2001 has been set at 953. And the seniors taking college preparatory classes will be expected to score 1021, up 20 points from the 1,001 they averaged this year.
"I have asked the principal to come up with a plan for improving the scores," White said after the meeting.
Similarly, goals for seniors on the graduation test are as follows: language arts, 100 percent passing, the same as achieved last year; math, 100 percent passing, compared to 97 percent last year; social studies, 95 percent passing, compared to 91 percent last year; and science, 80 percent passing, compared to 69 percent last year.
Other test-related goals for CHS include:
·students will score above the state average on the SAT during the school year.
·students will score above the average on the ACT (to be offered for the first time this year).
·CHS seniors will average a 20 or higher on the ACT.
MIDDLE SCHOOL
Goals set for Commerce Middle School include:
·Improvements in reading achievement of eight percent, reading comprehension, six percent; vocabulary, 12 percent and grammar and punctuation, five percent, as measured by the Stanford Achievement Test. These results will be difficult to quantify, however, since they will be compared to scores on the 2000 Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The change from ITBS to Stanford is the result of HB 1187.
·CMS students will achieve scores on the Stanford test that exceed the state average. The school exceeded the state average on the ITBS last year.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The goals for Commerce Elementary School also will compare Stanford results to last year's ITBS scores as follows:·First grade: An improvement of one percentile (to 80th) in reading and language arts (to 84th) and a class ranking above the 50th percentile in both areas.
·Second grade: improvement of two percentile points in reading (to 69th) and one percentile (to 72nd) in language arts and a class ranking above the 50th percentile in both areas.
·Third grade: improvement of five points (to 55th percentile) in reading and one point (to 77th percentile) in language arts and a class ranking above the 50th percentile in both areas.
·Fourth grade: Improvement of two points (to 60th) in reading and one point (to 70th) in language arts and a class ranking above the 50th percentile in both areas.
Fifth grade: Improvement of two points (to 62nd) in reading and one point (to 71st) in language arts, and a class ranking above the 50th percentile in both areas.
In addition, a system goal is for all three schools to receive an "A" in both areas of the new state report card under HB 1187.


Go ahead with county manager search, says Thomas
But Beshara says current BOC shouldn't be involved
One candidate for the District 3 post of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners wants the search to start right away for a county manager. But her opponent says the existing board has no authority to do that and labeled the idea "destructive and divisive."
Fran Thomas, a Democrat running for the District 3 seat on the BOC, asked the BOC Tuesday night to begin advertising nationally for a county manager. She suggested that the current BOC and the new board elected in November could jointly interview the top candidates. No one would be hired until the new BOC takes office in January, however. Thomas, a former commissioner, said this would give the new board a head start when it takes office in January.
"We can get prepared for the transition," she said. "...We don't want the county to be in a bind."
But Republican candidate Emil Beshara said Wednesday that he opposed such a plan, saying the existing board has no authority to interview or hire a county manager.
"There is no such position or requirement for a county manager under the current law that describes the Jackson County Board of Commissioners," he said. "The BOC which assumes office January 1, 2001, has sole authority under the law to hire a county manager for Jackson County."
Last year, voters approved the changing of the Jackson County government from a three-member board with a full-time chairman as CEO to a five-member all part-time board with a hired county manager as CEO.
One of the reasons Thomas gave for requesting the action was the impending departure of executive assistant David Bohanan. Bohanan had been widely viewed as the likely interim county manager to run the day-to-day operations until a county manager was hired. But Bohanan announced his resignation last week and has taken a job as city manager of Dahlonega.
Current BOC chairman Jerry Waddell offered support for Thomas' suggestion.
"I personally don't have a problem with it," he said. "I'm willing to do anything we can to keep the county from going into a tailspin."
Commissioner Pat Bell also said she had no problem with such a plan, but wanted to get comments from the newly elected chairman, Harold Fletcher.
"I feel like this board would be a conduit only and would not make any decisions," she said. "The new board would make those decisions...I will do anything I can to make the transition smooth."


City Poised To Annex Land For New School
The Commerce City Council will annex 64 acres Monday night, land upon which the Commerce Board of Education plans to build a school.
The Commerce Planning Commission has recommended that the tract, located on the Jefferson Road, be annexed in a C-2 district. It is AR in Jackson County.
The council meets at 6:30 Monday night at the Commerce Civic Center.
Also on the agenda is a recommendation from the planning commission to rezone from C-1 to C-2 strips along South Elm Street and Georgia 98 (Maysville Road) from the Clinkoco to Hospital Road and Roosevelt Boulevard. The change is recommended to more accurately reflect the existing use of the area and is supported by most of the businesses in the two strips.
In other business Monday, the city council is expected to:
·hear a request from Peace Place, the battered women's shelter, for funding.
·consider an agreement with the JEB Stuart Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy for city use of the UDC's Spencer Park. The agreement will allow the city to use all portions of the park except for the monument area.


Building permits grow 19%
But property sales flat in first half of 2000
Although property sales were flat during the first half of 2000, building activity continued its double-digit growth. Permits issued in Jackson County for the first six months of 2000 topped $70.8 million, a 19 percent jump over the first half of 1999. Total building permits in 1999 were $118.8 million.
Property sales, meanwhile, were flat, declining one-half of one percent. Property sales for the first half of 2000 were $78.9 million, down from $79.2 million in the same period of 1999.
Total property sales in 1999 were $153.6 million
 



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SAT scores are in
Although all three high schools in Jackson County improved their SAT scores over last year, only one school was above the state average for the year.
Jefferson High School seniors who took the SAT last spring had an overall average of 990, 16 points above the state average of 974. Students at Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Commerce High School fell below the state average for the third year in a row. JCCHS students scored a 941 on the test while CHS students scored a 933.
While the overall scores for all three high schools were below national averages, students taking college prep classes fared much better than their classmates. College prep students at JHS averaged 1,062 on the SAT while JCCHS college prep students had a 1,004 and CHS college prep students had a 1,001.
JHS principal Pat Blenke attributes his school's increased score to recent programs put in place.
"We've emphasized the SAT tutorial program," he said. "We've really hit on kids taking more stringent, challenging curriculum courses."
The school has also implemented several changes to help continue increasing the scores.
"For this year, we've beefed up some of our academic electives­adding astronomy and ecology to our curriculum," he said. "I think the keys are obviously the foundation that they get in elementary school and middle school, as well as the challenging course work they take when they get into high school. The more challenging course work they take, the better their scores are going to be. That has been my experience with the SAT. If they will take some of these more challenging courses, it will definitely help their SAT scores."
Seventy-one JHS seniors took the SAT last spring while 106 seniors at JCCHS took the test and 46 at CHS took the test.


It'll Be Incumbent Mayor Against Former Mayor In Maysville Election
MAYSVILLE -- The voters will have a choice between the incumbent mayor and a former mayor when Maysville holds its municipal elections Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Incumbent mayor Richard Presley and former mayor Jerry Lewis were the only two candidates to qualify for mayor.
Meanwhile, seven candidates qualified for the four seats to be filled on the town council.
Former councilman Andrew Strickland and Todd Dorsey qualified to challenge incumbent Jim Saville for the seat from Ward 1.
In Ward 2, former mayor Marion Jarrett was the only candidate to qualify. The incumbent, Scott Harper, qualified to seek election in Ward 4, since he is moving to that ward.
The Ward 3 race will pit incumbent Andy Martin against challengers Richard Parr and Frank Chesonis in a three way contest.
Harper was the only candidate to qualify for the city council seat for Ward 4.
Candidates for mayor had to pay a $13.20 qualifying fee, while those seeking seats on the town council were required to pay $7.20.



Army Choppers Drop In At CHS
A pair of U.S. Army helicopters created quite a stir at Commerce High School last Thursday morning when they landed on the school's practice field.
The two $6.5 million OH 58 Delta Kiowa Warriors were forced to land at about 11:15 because of a low ceiling and diminished visibility.
"It was the only spot we could see where we figured we could land and not cause a big stink," laughed CW3 Clint Logwood, pilot of one of the machines.
The members of the 82nd Airborne Division were en route from mountain training near Dahlonega to a fuel stop at Columbia, SC, on the way back to Ft. Bragg, NC.
According to Logwood, Army regulations require that the helicopters be grounded when the ceiling is under 500 feet and the visibility less than a mile. Thursday's drizzling rain created that condition, so the four airmen found themselves surrounded by curious students. They fielded questions and even let the students sit in the cockpit.
The helicopters were not armed, but were configured to carry 14 rockets. In a battle situation, they would be used primarily for reconnaissance.
They are also expensive to fly, costing the taxpayers $2,400 per hour in the air. Burning fuel at the rate of less than two miles to the gallon is only part of the expense; virtually everything in the machines is changed out based on the amount of flying time, said Logwood.
The airmen were able to resume their flight at about 12:40.