News from Jackson County...

September 18, 2000

Jackson County

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Commerce To Travel For Matchup With Bulldogs
Commerce will have several obstacles to look past when it plays in Madison this Friday.
Not having head coach Steve Savage for the week, after being hospitalized, losing the first home game in five years and playing a Class AA team that reached the playoffs last year is enough.

Banks County tools up for 8-AA slate
The first two games of the season have ended in losses for the Banks County football team. The down side is easy to see.
The positive aspect of two losses is that the team will not play this week, giving the team a chance to work on some areas that were exposed in a 20-6 loss to Jackson County and a 48-21 loss last Friday to Jefferson.

Raiders rout Jackson County 21-6
The Raiders could get used to this.
For the third week in a row, it was Madison County enjoying a post-game victory celebration in the locker room, basking in the glow of a hard-fought 21-6 win over border opponent Jackson County in Jefferson Friday night.

Neighborhood News...
County schools face financial crisis
Using figures supplied by an outside accountant, interim county school superintendent Allen McCannon predicts a "cash shortfall" of nearly $2 million by the end of the year for Madison County schools. He asked for a called meeting of the Madison County Board of Education Monday for permission to seek bids from the two local banks for a tax anticipation note in the amount of $895,000 to cover immediate needs of the system.

Political forum set for Tuesday
The first of three political forums in Madison County is set for Tuesday, Sept. 19, giving voters a chance to determine who will best represent them in the state General Assembly.

News from
Governor praises county schools for smaller classes
In a visit last week to Banks County Elementary School, Governor Roy Barnes praised the school system for moving so quickly on a recently introduced legislative bill requiring a reduction in class size. He chose to come to Banks County because Rep. Jeanette Jamieson and Sen. Eddie Madden have been deeply involved with education reform.

Commissioners look into maintenance log entries
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is concerned about a discrepancy in the maintenance log kept at the ambulance station at Banks Crossing.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Bear Creek Dam Cost Could Increase
ATHENS -- Don't use the phrase "dirt cheap" around members of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.
That group found out Friday that certain soil and rock not being where it was expected could increase the cost of building the dam for the Bear Creek Reservoir by up to $1.4 million.
In an emergency called meeting, members of the four-county coalition building the dam, reservoir and treatment plant approved above-contract spending for hauling dirt for the core and shell of the earthen dam at an amount that could reach $1.3 million, and the expenditure of $116,000 for extra concrete for the spillway.
While both matters are over and above the $8.88 million contract for
construction of the dam, the entire $63 million project is still within the budget, according to Wendell Dawson, chairman of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.
"What we've funded today will probably be funded without any problems from any of the counties," Dawson stated.
"The decision made today does not prolong the project and does not run it over the budget," agreed Eddie Elder, chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners.
The board made two decisions Friday to keep the project moving toward its July, 2001 completion date.
The first was to authorize a change order in the dam contract to allow
Specialized Services, Inc. to haul in 310,000 cubic yards of soil suitable for the core and shell. The company's bid for building the dam was based on the anticipation that sufficient material would be found on the site or at an adjacent point nearby, but the amount of quality fill material did not live up to expectations.
Soil has to meet certain criteria for use in the crucial core of the dam, and lesser but still stringent criteria for use in the shell.
The authority authorized Dawson to issue the change order, which is based on the unit cost of dirt to be moved in the contract. The contractor's original proposal was to do the work at a higher cost, up to $1.3 million total, since the dirt is further from the dam site. If SSI rejects that price, Dawson is authorized to issue an order that the work be completed. Under that order, the authority would pay the lower unit price and later negotiate any differences with the company.
SSI still has 200,000 cubic yards of dirt to excavate in the spillway area, and there is a chance that some of it may be suitable for the shell or core, which would reduce the cost of the change order.
The second change was necessary because there was not as much rock at the spillway site as had been anticipated, requiring an additional 278.5 cubic yards of concrete.
"Are there any other problems coming down the pike with the spillway?" asked Jackson County Commissioner Pat Bell.
The bulk of the called meeting was spent explaining the problem and the alternatives, but Dawson indicated that the authority will discuss the blame and legal options ñ at a later time.
Estimates of suitable soil for the dam and rock for the spillway were made after engineering firms did core samples, and officials pointed out that the firms who bid on the projects apparently did not do further sampling to verify that information when submitting bids.

Safe Drinking Water Focus of
Water & Sewerage Authority Meeting

JEFFERSON -- The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday night to help residents of a North Jackson subdivision get safe drinking water.
Jerry Waddell and Pat Bell were at the Jackson County Water and Sewerage
Authority meeting to finalize the intergovernmental agreements covering the Water Wise settlement and the sale of water from the Bear Creek Reservoir when 20 or more residents of Forest Lake Subdivision came before the authority to demand county water.
Various speakers told of water with 10 times too much iron, which tested
positive for parasites. They told of contracting dysentery from the water and spoke of how the woman who owns the water system (and others in the state) is regularly fined by the Environmental Protection Division for water quality violations.
The modular home subdivision is located off Georgia 82 about two miles north of Interstate 85.
Waddell offered the backing of the board of commissioners after the
authority's engineer and attorney pointed out that the county water system
could not take over the community system unless directed to do so by the EPD.
"The board of commissioners will intervene on behalf of the citizens,"
Waddell said.
The commission chairman pointed out that the county has retained Joe Tanner, former head of the EPD, as a consultant. He said the county will ask the EPD to either revoke the system's permit or force the owner to comply with state regulations.
Citizens said they have been virtually ignored by the EPD, which sent an
agent to the area only after an Athens newspaper did a story on the group's
fight. The group claimed that the owner of the system has been repeatedly
fined by the EPD over water system violations.

JCCI warden, 3 others suspended
Four administrators with the Jackson County Correctional Institute, including warden Joe Dalton, have been put on administrative suspension by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. The action comes after county leaders uncovered evidence that one prison employee had turned in falsified payroll time cards. An investigation continues into the department, which houses state prisoners.
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said Friday that state corrections officials have agreed to run the prison until the county can sort out the matter.
In addition to Dalton, suspended were: deputy warden Ken Ashley, Lt. Eddie Mullis and Gus Morris.


Opposed to rest stop


Maree Coté doesn't want this scenic spot behind her family's home on Old Pendergrass Road to be taken away for the construction of a rest area along I-85. She and her husband Denis are among those opposed to a proposal by the Georgia DOT to locate two major rest stops in Jackson County.

I-85 rest stop site draws opposition
Citizens opposed to plans to meet Tuesday
A group of concerned citizens is meeting next week to make plans to oppose a proposal by the Georgia Department of Transportation to locate two rest areas on I-85 in Jackson County.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Jefferson Public Library and it is open to the public.
The DOT is looking at two sites between Hwy. 332 and Hwy. 129 on I-85. But state officials say a final decision has not been made as to where the rest stop will be located.
Project engineer Todd Long said the plans to locate the rest stops on I-85 near Jefferson are on hold while the DOT continues to research the project. He said the state received numerous complaints from property owners along the route first selected for the rest area, located north of the Hwy. 332 overpass. They are continuing to look at other areas along the interstate to locate the rest stop, but have not ruled out the original site, he said.
"We don't want to get too close to South Carolina because the same services are being provided at the welcome centers," he said.
Long said there is no rush on the project with all new rest stops in the state slated to be finished within the next five years.
Denis and Maree Cote' are among the countians complaining about the proposed site and they have planned the meeting next week to discuss the matter.
"These are jumbo rest areas specifically designed for truckers to park and sleep," the Cote's wrote in a handout announcing the meeting. "There will be over 200 parking spaces for 18-wheelers and over 200 parking spaces for cars...With the proposed rest areas, crime will surely increase; both noise and air pollution will increase; and our property's value may decrease as it potentially becomes less desirable as a quality place to live."
Members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners have received several letters from citizens opposed to the DOT's plans to locate the two rest areas in the county. BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said Tuesday that the county has no control over the project.
"This is a DOT project," he said. "The board of commissioners has nothing to do with it. We're not in favor of it, but we have no control over it."

Water Wise, county settle sewer plant suit
$2.7 million the final price
The 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 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 contended the plant was worth. Water Wise had paid $1.3 million for the plant in July 1999.
"The settlement is a fair arrangement that will be in the best interest of the citizens of Jackson County," said Jerry Waddell, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. "This will enable us to move ahead with providing safe and efficient sewage services to our county."
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. The county plans to offer general revenue bonds in November for the plant's expansion.
"By investing $3.5 million to upgrade the plant, the county will be able to ensure that modern, safe and efficient sewage treatment services are available," said Waddell.
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 the 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 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.
Jackson County had condemned the plant last year after discovering that Water Wise would have had the power to condemn land for sewage lines without any local government oversight. Officials feared that a private firm with the power of condemnation could essentially control the county's growth in the future.
"By improving and extending sewer service, the county will be able to manage its growth and at the same time recover revenues that will help pay for the additional demands that growth is placing on county services," said Waddell.
Waddell said that from the start, the county was prepared to pay up to $2.5 million for the plant. When lawyers from Prinvest called last week with an offer of $2.7 million, county officials decided that the additional $200,000 was worthwhile given the time constraints that a lengthy trial would have caused.
Waddell said Prinvest lawyers had earlier made settlement offers that were rejected by the county.
See this week's Jackson Herlad for more about the water wise issue.

City Cracks Down On Signs On Rights Of Way
At the same time the Commerce City Council insisted it will enforce its ordinances against signs on the rights of way, it apologized for removing at least one sign that was in a citizen's yard.
City manager Clarence Bryant reported at Monday night's council meeting on the fallout from the city's right of way enforcement.
"An employee picked up a sign he thought was on the right of way that actually wasn't," Bryant said.
The incident occurred on Shankle Road, where the city right of way on one side is only two feet. Typically, Bryant said, the city has a 50-foot total right of way.
"It was human error and we put them back," he added.
Bryant ordered the Public Works Department to pick up signs posted on the city right of way, and since it is a political season, most of the offending signs were campaign signs. City workers burned the first batch, but Bryant stopped the destruction when he heard about it.
Councilman Sam Brown asked Bryant if the city had picked up a sign in a yard in Bryant's neighborhood, which is in Brown's ward.
Bryant responded that the city did not, because the sign was clearly off the right of way.
"Somebody else went around picking up signs, but it wasn't us," he said. He told the council that in one case after the city returned a sign that had been picked up in error, the sign was removed again by someone else. Dennis Thompson complained bitterly about the city removing a sign from his Shankle Road yard.
"Mine was up in the yard," he declared.
"It was in front of the water meter and the utility poles. Normally, that is on the right of way," Bryant responded.
"We're sorry. It's not going to happen again," concluded Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr.
Asked if yard sale signs are a problem, Bryant answered affirmatively.
"They use the railroad crossing sign posts to direct people to the next intersection. They use six or seven signs per (sale), and every one of them is on a utility pole or on the right of way. They don't go back and pick them up (when the sale is over)," he said.
Councilman Bob Sosebee noted that the city workers who picked up signs did not discriminate.
"They got the one out of my yard," he said.
"If you've got a sign up in your yard, there's nothing we can do," observed Brown. "If it's on the right of way, we can come out and get it and you can't say anything about it."

Greenspace town hall meeting slated Thursday
Residents invited to voice ideas
A Jackson County steering committee and the Georgia Greenspace Program will host a greenspace information town hall meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the State Courtroom in the Jackson County administrative building, Jefferson. The building is located at 67 Athens Street.
The group will discuss the community's environmental and growth concerns, and interested citizens are invited to come and find out about the greenspace program, offer ideas about greenspace and voice their questions and concerns.
"For months, we have been excited about the greenspace plans," said Gina Mitsdarffer of the Jackson County Planning Office. "We've had phone calls from residents throughout the county asking how they could help preserve its heritage. It's important for everyone to come to the meeting and let us know how you want to see Jackson County in the future."
The town hall meeting will be held with the help of a research team from the University of Georgia. The meeting will consist of a brief introduction and an educational overview of what greenspace is. Then the group will be asked to focus its attention on questions concerning the values of Jackson County, its concerns over growth and the environment and the future of Jackson County.
The Jackson County Greenspace Steering Committee will use the meeting's discussion to develop a greenspace plan, which will be submitted to the governor's office for approval of a special budget dedicated to preserving Georiga's environment.
For more information on the town hall meeting or the Jackson County Greenspace Plan, call Mitsdarffer at the county planning department at 367-6335.

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Art in the Park set this weekend
The 10th annual Art in the Park Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16-17, at Hurricane Shoals Park.
There will be free parking and free admission, leaders say. Handmade arts and crafts will be offered and entertainment will be held throughout the two-day festival. Barbecue, home-baked desserts and hot dogs will be among the food offerings.
The 44th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Re-enactors will be camped Saturday and Sunday in Heritage Village at the park. Gospel musicians will be performing in the chapel. There will also be children's games, toys, hands-on crafts, storytelling by Donna Butler from the Jefferson Public Library and other activities in the village from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday.
American history students from Jackson County Comprehensive and Jefferson high schools will assist children in playing old-fashioned games such as "Old Granny Hum Bum," "Hull Gull" and "Fox and Geese." Crafts centered around spinning, weaving and quilting will take place in the Freeman Cabin. Young visitors will have a chance to play with old-fashioned toys, make a paper gameboard, work on a real loom and card fresh wool. The children's activities at both sessions will conclude with a march muster by the 44th Georgian.
The 5K mill race will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. A one-mile fun run/walk will be held at 8:30 a.m. Fees are $12 to pre-register and $15 on race day.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of the covered bridge will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The duck dash will be at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Ducks can be "adopted" for $5 each or five for $20. Grand prizes will be given.
The park is located on Hwy. 82 spur, between Maysville and Jefferson. The festival is sponsored by the Tumbling Waters Society. All proceeds are used to maintain and improve the park.

Consultants Struggle To Get City, Planning Panel On Same Track
The Georgia Group, LLC, is being paid $10,000 to develop a new subdivision ordinance for Commerce. If the consulting group produces a document that satisfies both the city council and the city planning commission, it will have more than earned its fee.
That's because the philosophies of the city council, which will make final decisions, and the planning commission, which makes recommendations to the council, are very different.
"You're never going to find a planning commission and a city council that agree on everything," notes R.J. Kurey of The Georgia Group, LLC. "That's just part of the process ... The city council has to make a legal decision. The decision that a planning commission makes is not held to the same standard."
The most vocal member of the planning commission, Greg Perry, has asked that the new ordinance require "cluster" development, in which developers leave a certain percentage of the land open in exchange for getting a higher density of development on the other part. Perry believes that approach can create better neighborhoods.
The city council is not sold on that concept, and the consultants say most of Perry's proposal is a matter for the zoning ordinance, not the subdivision ordinance.
"Zoning is what determines the land use. Subdivision regulations are specific within the subdivision," Kurey says. "The planning commission hasn't necessarily separated the difference between the subdivision regulations and zoning regulations."
Kurey and his associate, Lynne Hair, met with the mayor, city council, city clerk and city manager Tuesday evening, Sept. 5. Hair met with the planning commission at the commission's Aug. 28 meeting. Having gathered input from those groups, plus building inspector David Lanphear, the consultants plan to have a rough draft of a new subdivision ordinance ready by mid-October. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, and the council could act on the regulations at its Nov. 13 meeting.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.

Commerce Issues Permits For Five Houses In August
The city of Commerce issued building permits for five new stick-built houses during August. In all, the city issued permits for construction valued by the builders at more than $470,000 during the month.
Among the permits issued were:
·four stick-built houses by Sunrise Home Builders, all on Mount Olive Road, for a total estimated value of $285,000.
·Team Properties, for a stick-built house in Hillcrest Subdivision, valued at $76,000.
·Randstad, a commercial alteration valued at $46,324.
·David Greene, a mobile home valued at $42,000 to be located in Crestwood Village.
·Lee Hill, an alteration to a house on Shankle Heights, valued at $25,000.
·Tommy Spikes, Ridgeway Road, an addition to a house, valued at $3,000.
The values listed by the developers are not the values used to determine property taxes. They are the stated estimates of the builders or owners.