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 October 4, 2000


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OPINION

Ben Munro
'Remember the Titans' offers a deeper side of football

Leaving the theater Sunday, the gridiron was calling my name.
Adrenaline was pumping and wild thoughts of football glory raced through my head while . . .

Angie Gary
Only 81 days...

I don't know about you, but I'm finished. Everything is neatly written out on my master list and packed up in a spare room. I've . . .


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Mistakes lead to Leopard defeat
Take away two turnovers and a blocked punt and the Banks County Leopards' football game against East Hall last Friday night would have turned out a lot differently.
Instead, the Vikings left Homer with a 38-18 win.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Water Wise owner indicted by feds for 'bid-rigging'
Water Wise owner Jerry Wickliffe has reportedly been indicted by a federal court over a bid-rigging scheme in Atlanta.
Water Wise was the firm pursuing a sewage business in Jackson County last year until county officials condemned land, forcing Wickliffe out of the sewage business locally.

Maysville festival to celebrate 33rd year
The city of Maysville is gearing up for the 33rd annual Maysville Autumn Leaf Festival to be held October 6, 7 and 8. The event is sponsored by the City of Maysville and the Maysville Community Improvement Club.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Chris NeSmith replaces Booth as Comer mayor
Chris NeSmith has been named mayor of Comer to complete the term of Kevin Booth. NeSmith was chosen by the city council at their regularly scheduled meeting

Two school buses collide
At least 20 Madison County students were transported to area hospitals after two county school buses collided on Hwy. 98 near the Madison County Service Center (Fine Finish) at approximately 7:55 a.m. Wednesday.


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FIRE TWIRLER


Banks County High School twirler Maggie Elrod twirls fire during halftime of the Banks County Leopard and East Hall Viking football game Friday. The Leopards lost 38-18.



BANKS CO. GOVERNMENT

Linder addresses Social Security, Medicare, taxes
The Banks County courthouse was the setting for a town hall meeting given by State Representative John Linder (R) Saturday afternoon that covered topics facing legislators.
Speaking to the small crowd, Linder did his best to field questions from the audience. Right from the start, he was put on the defensive by people who have disabled family members who said federal cuts in spending by the Republican congress has caused hard times for these families.
One woman, concerned over her father's care, said, "I want to know why it's so hard for people who have worked all their lives to get Social Security when they need it. They get sick and can't work anymore and Social Security won't help them."
Linder asked if she had contacted his office for help. She said she had.
"I can't tell you why Social Security makes these rules," he said. "All I can tell you is that if he is disabled, he is entitled to get disability. If he has been turned down, he can go through an appeals process and my office will help you do that."
Another woman wanted to know why so much money is given away to foreign aid, when the money could be used to help the disabled. Linder's reply was that the government gives "less than one percent of the budget" to foreign aid.
Though talking about billions of dollars, Linder supports the concept of foreign aid, saying he sees "foreign aid as an investment."
"It's less expensive in the long run [to give aid]," he said. "If we can prove in the soviet bloc nations that free enterprise works, it'll will save us money."
Linder then discussed the problem facing people with disabilities.
"We spend a lot of money," he said. "My problem is that it's too easy to get for [people with] moderate disabilities. So, someone with a very moderate disability can get $450 a month for their family."
Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD), he claimed, "are too easy to fake."
"Mothers have taught their children to misbehave in school in order to collect money from the government," he said.
He said he would rather see moderate disorders harder to get government subsidy so that more money would be available for the profoundly disabled.
"When I was a child, our families took care of them," he said. "We didn't have people lining up at the government window for a share of the pie."
He recommended the "disabled community get together on their own volition, their own initiative and come to terms" with handling the situation of the profoundly disabled. He said that as a group they could wield more influence.
TAX ACT
C.N. Hillis, from Barrow County, questioned Linder about the Fair Tax Act. Linder introduced the act in 1999 that would abolish income tax - business, corporate, and individual, capital gains and gift taxes. His plans propose an across-the-board national retail sales tax.
"We've been around the states talking about this issue," he said. "And we have to continue selling the American people on this idea."
The people are responding favorably to it, he added.
Hillis was also looking for some definitive relief from taxes he pays on his Social Security income.
He stated, "I am sick and tired of paying war effort taxes. If they've got all that surplus money up there, why don't they use it to cut taxes across-the-board. It's my money."
Linder replied, "We cut the tax. The president vetoed it. We eliminated the death tax and the president vetoed it. We eliminated the marriage penalty tax; the president vetoed it."
Hillis wanted to have some assurance that there wouldn't be a "bunch of other stuff tacked on to the bill," causing a veto from the new president.
He explained that every bill that passes through congress is actually a number of bills all added together and placed under one number. It is a method used to get one action passed benefiting one group, while pacifying another with something else. Presidential vetoes have often been due to these other aspects included in the bill, Linder said.
Linder said that George Bush is in favor of a tax cut. Hillis wanted to know if he would do as Nixon did in the 70's and revert to taxing retirement income.
"Is he gonna turn around and add something else?," he asked. "I'm 78-years-old, I need tax relief yesterday! If we've overpaid our taxes to the extent that there's a surplus, I don't want that money just thrown away in different programs. I need my relief now!"
Linder said Bush would provide that relief.
Another young woman from the audience was dismayed over the vote on partial birth abortion.
"You shouldn't be surprised by that," replied Linder. "Abortion is a tough issue. It's hard to believe that we are a nation that allows this."
He said the president vetoes the abolition of the practice when they try to pass a measure on it, saying that the process is already considered illegal.
Questions about whether or not the death tax or marriage penalty tax will come up again next year were posed to Linder. He replied that they would, but if Al Gore is elected, he implied the measures would not pass.
"The government currently collects 20.6 percent of your income as tax," he said. "Letting people keep more of what they earned is not selfish. Individuals will invest that money, create more jobs and create more tax payers. But this crowd at the White House won't let go of a nickel!"
Bonnie Johnson, president of the Banks County Chamber of Commerce, asked about the future of Social Security, wondering if it would indeed remain in a "lock-box," as voted by the House, and would remain untouched for any reason.. Though Clinton and Gore say they both want the measure passed, Linder claims that the bill has stalled in the Senate due to a filibuster by democratic senator, Tom Daschle, from South Dakota.
"If we had a critical press in this country, at the national level, they would expose that," he said.
OTHER TOPICS
Other topics of discussion included religious freedoms, prayer in schools, homosexuality, budget forecasts and illegal immigration.
On the subject of immigration, Linder said, "I welcome all legal immigrants."
He said that illegals should be returned home and the borders should be guarded with more men and patrols. He also told the audience that the standard of living is improving in Mexico and he sees that as a good sign.
"A large part of that has to do with the increase in trade and NAFTA," he said.
Linder also discussed the drop in welfare recipients and considers it a huge success story.
"It will get even better because people will get into the habit of working," he said.
Concern over the current state of the military was also a topic of discussion. According to Linder, Bush has declared the military in "dreadful shape" because of bad morale, inefficient or inoperable equipment, fuel shortages, parts shortages and poor retirement benefits. If a major conflict arose, Linder said the country would be unable to respond quickly and with necessary force. Bush wants to spend more on the
military to bring it back up to standards of the 80's and the Gulf War.
Another topic of interest was the prescription problem facing seniors.
"About two-thirds of American seniors have health prescription benefits," he said.
That leaves one-third who have only partial help with pharmaceuticals. "A significant majority of seniors, maybe two-thirds, on Medicare have a Medi-gap," he said.
Medi-gap is the new catch phrase for the difference seniors must make up on their own between what the drug companies charge and what Medicare will pay.
"What we discovered is, for those people who have no insurance for their co-payment, and have to pay it out of their own pocket, pay on the average $1,400 less than those who do [have coverage]," he said. "That's an economic dynamic. They have to pay out of their pocket, so they're a little bit more cautious about how they use their health care. If people don't have to pay out of their pocket, they can go whenever they want for whatever they want.
"If we were to raise the deductible from $500 to $675, and make it unlawful to insure against the deductible, the savings would be enough to pay up to $5,000 a year for pharmaceuticals. Because people would use less of their health care plan. That first $675 has to come out of their check."
Linder also touched on environmental problems, saying that, "The environmental protection agency is trying to enforce codes that have no scientific proof of causing environmental harm." He would like to see the EPA follow the procedure used by OSHA. OSHA gives a warning and a waiting period to correct the problems, the EPA does not. One of the problems with the EPD, according to Linder, is that as new technology makes equipment that detects smaller amounts of toxins and by-products of industry, they re-write their codes.
"OSHA wants to help business, EPA just wants to penalize," he said.


Deadline Tuesday to qualify to vote in Nov. 7 election
Countians who want to cast a ballot in the Nov. 7 General Election who are not already registered to vote have less than a week to do so.
The deadline for registering to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 10. Countians can register by going by the voter registration office at the county courthouse in Homer, the Banks County Public Library, the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services or at the Georgia Department of Transportation driver's license posts.
Four local races will be on the ballot in November, including sheriff, board of education Post 4, board of commissioners chairman and chief magistrate judge.
Banks County's state representative and senate seats are also up for re-election.
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Teen accused in Wendy's armed robbery caught
Former Wendy's assistant manager Carolyn Swain said she didn't know what was going to happen when a man came through the back door of the Banks Crossing restaurant early Wednesday morning with what appeared to be a handgun.
"I thought, 'What is going to happen? Are we going to die?" Swain said. "I was trying to cooperate as much as possible."
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said Deattrice Antwoin Owens, 18, Palm Beach, Fla., has been charged with armed robbery in connection with the crime.
According to police, an employee opened the back door of Wendy's between 12:30 and 12:45 a.m. Wednesday morning to take out the trash. Chapman said a black male wearing a jacket and black hood, who is believed to be Owens, confronted the employee with an object that appeared to be a handgun.
Chapman said Owens forced the employee back into the store where three other employees were working.
"He told us what he wanted," Swain said. "He said, 'If you cooperate, you will go home safely.'"
Owens then allegedly forced Swain, an assistant manager at the store, into the office and made her open the safe. Chapman said Owens took two money bags with approximately $1,600 in cash and coins.
"When he was getting the money, he told us to lay down," Swain said. "We never did."
According to Swain, Owens went out the back door and told the employees to stay where they were.
"He told us to wait when he went out the back door," Swain said. "I thought he was going to come back and put us in the freezer. He did tell us we had cooperated with him real good."
Chapman said Owens went out the back door and jumped over a wall behind the restaurant. He said some coins and a Wendy's hat were found where investigators believe Owens jumped.
Chapman added that police dogs were brought to the scene shortly after the robbery but were of no avail.
Owens was apprehended at a motel in Manchester, Tenn., Thursday night when police discovered the pickup truck he was driving had been stolen from Florida.
After searching the truck, Chapman said officers with the Manchester Police Department found two money bags with the name of a Commerce bank on them. Chapman said the Manchester Police Department called the Banks County Sheriff's Office to ask about the bags and learned of the robbery in Banks Crossing two nights earlier.
Investigators with the Banks County Sheriff's Office traveled to Tennessee and met with police and interviewed Owens. Chapman said Owens confessed to the crime and gave a detailed account of the robbery.
Owens will be extradited to Banks County after facing several charges in Tennessee, including possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of marijuana, Chapman said.
Swain was terminated from her job at Wendy's for violating company policy by opening the back door. She said she was just glad no one was hurt.
"We cooperated to save our lives," Swain said. "We could have been killed."
Only $200 of the stolen money was recovered.


Arbitration held between Baldwin and Demorest over water plant ownership
An arbitration hearing between Baldwin and Demorest over ownership of a water plant was held this week. A ruling on the matter is not expected for several weeks.
One year ago, Demorest filed suit against Baldwin over the ownership of the water treatment plant. The conflict arose when Baldwin entered negotiations with Aqua Source, a private firm, to handle the plant and the water department.
Demorest and Baldwin had a 1986 contract that gave Demorest a 50-year agreement to handle water operations at the water treatment plant. The contract included a clause for the right of Demorest to renew plant operations for another 50 years. It also designated Baldwin the sole owner of the land the plant occupies, the plant and the water lines running from the pumping station to J. Warren Road. A part of the agreement guarantees Demorest 75 percent of the water reserve.
When the arbitration hearing began Monday, Demorest city attorney Jim Butterworth had difficulty in remembering the chain of events and whether or not he was contacted by Baldwin city attorney David Syfan about making changes to the contract. Attorney James Weidner is now representing the city of Demorest in the arbitration.
Also taking the stand Monday was Syfan and he came under fire from Weidner as to how the modifications were handled and his knowledge of the events which led up to the third change to the contract. Further, Weidner asked why Syfan had not gone through Butterworth to make the Demorest council aware of the changes at hand.
Syfan said he had tried on numerous occasions to reach Butterworth. When Butterworth failed to return his calls or faxes, Syfan said he felt he had no other option than to contact the Demorest council on his own. He said he also sent letters to Butterworth stating the proposed changes.
On Tuesday, Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed, city council member Robert Bohannon and former city manager Graham Owens testified.
Chan Caudell was also called by Weidner to testify about comments made by Syfan about the third modification to the contract. Caudell had worked for the same firm as Syfan at the time. The judge also didn't allowed any testimony from Caudell, citing attorney-client privilege.
Weidner also attempted to add a clause to the original suit to include his attorney fees. The judge denied his request.
The judge will consider the case for about 10 days. He will give his opinion on the suit and recommendations to another judge, who will make the final ruling. That may take as long as two to three weeks.
See this week's Banks County News for more on this arbitration.