News from Banks County...

 October 11, 2000


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OPINION

Shar Porier
What WOULD Jesus Do?
While covering a meeting on domestic violence, I had the opportunity to talk with some of the members of the task force. In talking with them, I came to understand . . .

Drew Brantley
'Titans' veers from reality
Hobbies cost money. Pastimes are free, or so I have heard. But I have a hobby that was passed down.
My mother grew up in East Point, a city in Fulton County. She used to tell me stories about . . .


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

BCHS set for homecoming
Banks County High School will look to get on the winning track Friday night with a homecoming game against the Apalachee Wildcats. A bonfire is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the high school to begin festivities for homecoming.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Charter School Proposed For Area
Because school systems do not adequately prepare young people for jobs and careers, a new charter school is expected to open next year in northeast Georgia.

Tolbert threatens suit over Bell campaign sign
The hotly contested race for the District 25 House seat got another dose of gasoline last week after incumbent candidate Rep. Scott Tolbert threatened to sue a supporter of his opponent, Pat Bell, over a campaign sign.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Fortson hearing set for Thursday
Tracy Lea Fortson's legal counsel is scheduled to appear in the Madison County courthouse at 3 p.m. Thursday in hopes of getting the accused murderer's bond lowered, District Attorney Bob Lavender confirmed Wednesday.

$25,000 contract approved for drug counseling program
A contract was approved Monday night for a drug and alcohol counseling program, but not without some tense moments.
The board of commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a contract for Rev. Jess Martin's proposed Northeast Georgia Alcohol/Drug Addiction Prevention Program and Aftercare Services (AADAPP).


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PLAYTIME FOR SCOUTS


After the parade Saturday morning at the Maysville Autumn Leaf Festival, Cub Scouts from Pack 106, Banks County, couldn't wait to check out Joey Rider's "Gameboy Color." On the left is Brian Linn and on the right is his brother, Brandon Linn. In the back are Trent Mathis and Paden Presley.



BANKS CO. GOVERNMENT

Banks BOC takes over senior citizens' center
The management of the senior citizens' center was thrust onto the county government Sept. 29 with the closing of the management company, Peak Services.
Previously, the Banks County Board of Commissioners had a contract with Legacy Link, the area agency on aging for Northeast Georgia, who in turn held a contract with Peak Services. Peak Services handled the management of Banks County's senior citizens' services and several other counties in Northeast Georgia. The company received federal, state and local funds to do so; however, commission chairman James Dumas reported that Peak closed its doors with an uncertain financial standing. In fact, Dumas reported to the board that the county will probably have to give additional funds to the center in order to provide all of the services for the remainder of the year.
Legacy Link temporarily took over operation of the center at the closing, but federal law will not allow them to retain employees for an extended period of time. Legacy Link asked the Banks County Board of Commissioners to enter into a subcontract agreement whereby Banks would provide the services of homecare, congregate meals, home-delivered meals and transportation services and would employ three full-time employees.
Dumas asked the board to look over the contract before their next meeting so action can be taken.
"We're going to have to let the federal funds come through us," Dumas said. "And as you know, federal funds come with lots of strings and red tape."
Dumas asked the board for permission to reassure the employees that the program was not in danger.
"I don't see how we can not go ahead and proceed with the transition," commissioner Pat Westmoreland said. "We're not going to close the program. There's no danger of that."
In other news, the board:
·learned that the risk management ACCG-IRMA dividend for the county is $13,488.
·authorized a change in the 457 deferred compensation plan for all employees from Pepsico to the Government Employee Benefits Corporation of Georgia, a creation of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). The BOC felt the change was needed because Pepsico announced their decision to discontinue personal representatives. As a result, all employees had to do their business over the phone or on the Internet. ACCG has representatives and is scheduled to come to Banks County Oct. 17 to discuss benefits with employees.
·announced the old health department will be ready within three weeks. Some offices are expected to move, including 4-H, the planning office and the coroner.
·learned that a meeting between the architect and the county will be scheduled for mid-October to discuss the new DFACS building plans. While the project is in progress, Dumas announced that the plans will not be available by Oct. 26.


Dry ice burns child on bus
A parent upset over an older student burning her son with dry ice while on a school bus put the Banks County Board of Education on the hot seat at Thursday night's work session.
Pam Redmond said her third grade son was burned by dry ice on the school bus on Sept. 29.
"I don't know if it will scar or not," she said.
Redmond said that she knows of other children who were burned on other buses and does not think the school officials handled the "problem well enough to ensure that it didn't happen again."
"We had to sign a student behavior code when school started," she said. "And there are descriptions in the behavior code as to what the minimum and maximum action should be taken. From where I stand, it wasn't even looked at. The minimum on battery is suspension. None of that was addressed at all.
"It frightens me that kids can get on the bus and do stuff like that and the school system knows about it before the buses pull out of the parking lot and still let those buses pull out. I don't want another child to get hurt before we take steps to do something about it. I want to know that we have some kind of procedure in place to see that this doesn't happen again."
The four students who took the dry ice on the bus reportedly had to write a two-page report on the frozen gas as punishment. Redmon said this was inadequate for the harm done and added that she is worried about future incidents with items of possible harm that students might bring with them to school from home.
Superintendent Deborah White explained that the dry ice came on campus via a delivery of candy. Four students managed to hide a few pieces in their backpacks and pockets, it was reported.
"I'll be the first to admit that we did not dispose of the ice responsibly," said White.
School officials had not been notified that dry ice was in the school.
White added: "As the buses were pulling out, one of the bus drivers did find the dry ice on her bus. She radioed out here and I was the person who went out and got on the bus and saw the girl who had been burned on her finger with the dry ice."
The superintendent said the students didn't know the danger dry ice could cause. She told the students that dry ice "was like playing with fire, it will burn you."
"I can't say that they intentionally took the ice to try to burn others with it or whether they were just playing with it," said White.
Redmond responded: "The child that burned my son, burned another student on that bus. How could he not know it would cause harm and how could he use it on a child that is half his age."
She said her son asked the boy what he had in his pocket that was smoking and he took it out of his pocket and stuck it on his arm.
"If you don't take action to make the students understand that they have a responsibility for their own personal being, as well as not harming another child, they're going to do whatever they want to do," she said "I'm not after the kid who did it, I'm not after the school system. I'm after the safety of kids on the bus. That's my number one concern."
White said that the school assumed that the only bus involved was the one that had been stopped before leaving the school grounds. The following Monday morning, the driver of another bus told officials what happened on the trip home Friday with dry ice and gave the names of the students who had the ice with them.
"We apologize," White said. "I apologize. I apologize to every parent who had a child that was burned. Some way, somehow the kids who had the ice were not burned. We're in total agreement with you - that we want to prevent this from happening again. We now have a procedure in place should dry ice be brought again to the school."
Banks County Middle School assistant principal Jeff Webb apologized for what happened and said: "I feel personally responsible for what happened. It's hard to place more blame on the children than myself. They're only sixth graders. The action I took in no way reflects that I thought this was not serious. I did not take any action to downplay that this kid did something wrong. I just feel that what happened caught everyone by surprise. Decisions are not as simple as looking in a book."
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BOE signs off on high school contract
Even though there are a number of repairs left to be completed at the new Banks County High School, the board of education unanimously, but reluctantly, approved a resolution Monday night to pay the contract with Southern Engineering.
School superintendent Deborah White showed the board a letter from Roy Denny, CEO of Southern Engineering, that certified the completion of the contract. She told them that this meant they had no choice but to approve the resolution due to state regulations.
"The state department should require some sort of assurance," said Neal Brown, board member. "How are we going to get them back, if we pay them off?"
BOE chairman Don Shubert agreed, asking, "Why do we have to pay when the repairs haven't been made?"
Board member Ron Gardiner said: "I've got a bad feeling about those gutters."
He said he has little confidence that they will remain up and in place since a few of them have already come loose from the building.
The BOE is also concerned with leakage around door frames. The company fixed the problem by caulking along the threshold, according to board members. The BOE members said that they have little faith that the repair would be sufficient for the problem.
Worries over the roof of the school also were on their minds. Currently, according to the board, Southern Engineering is in litigation with the roofing company. The building has several spots that are leaking, it was reported.
The only money that would be withheld is the $3,700 for the school logo. That will not be completed until basketball season is over.
The board decided that they would pass the resolution only if it included a clause that assured the list of repairs would be completed.


Package store hit by armed robbers
Three armed robbers held up a Banks County business Monday night, taking cash and cigarettes.
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said the three men went into County Line Package Store, located on Hwy. 59 on the Banks-Franklin County line, around 8 p.m. Monday with two deer rifles and a shotgun. They were dressed in camouflage clothing with orange ski masks and latex gloves on.
The sheriff said an elderly man running the store was the only one inside the business. He said the three suspects went behind the counter where the man was and took cash and several cartons of cigarettes.
"All three were armed," the sheriff said. "They meant business."
The sheriff said that while the robbery was taking place that two customers, a man and a woman, came into the store.
"The perpetrators pointed the guns at them also and told them not to do anything funny," the sheriff said. "One of the persons thought it was a joke, but then they realized that it was real."
No one got hurt, but a med-unit was called to the store to check out the store clerk.
"He was shook up pretty bad," the sheriff said.
The three suspects are described as being younger white males of slender to medium build from five-seven to six feet tall. They reportedly left the store in a dark-colored late '80s Chevrolet Blazer or Jimmy.
"We got a vague description of the vehicle," the sheriff said. "That is really the best lead that we have."