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October 23, 2000

Jackson County

Jackson County
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Washington-Wilkes Wins Battle Of Tigers
Going into Friday night's game between Commerce and Washing-ton-Wilkes, it was clearly going to be the night of the Tigers.
But unfortunately for Com-merce, the Tigers of Wilkes County took a 49-27 win on the back of seven touchdowns from Daccus Turman.

Lady Dragons win state softball title
It's been 20 years in the making, but the Jefferson High School Lady Dragons claimed their first-ever state slow-pitch softball championship Saturday with a thrilling 10-inning win over Bryan County.

Dragons soar past Eagles, 27-0
The Jefferson Dragons wrapped up the pre-region part of their 2000 schedule last week with an impressive 27-0 win over Landmark Christian.

Mistakes cost Panthers again
The Jackson County Panthers fell to 0-4 in region 8-AAA play last week, with a 28-7 loss in Loganville. Of the team's 10 posessions in the game, five ended as a direct result of Panther miscues.

Neighborhood News...
BOE fields questions about system's financial woes, agrees to hold public forum
Members of the Madison County Board of Education began answering questions about the school system's finances at their regular meeting Tuesday night, and agreed to hold a public forum on the subject in the near future.

Judge still considering lowering Fortson bond
A judge was still considering Wednesday morning whether or not the half million dollar bond set recently for accused "cement murderer" Tracy Lea Fortson is too high.

News from
DOT says Baldwin responsible for cost of relocating water line
For the past few months, the Baldwin City Council and Georgia Department of Transportation have been arguing over who is to blame for the broken water line along Wolford Creek and who should pay for it. Last week, the council learned that Baldwin will have to fund the relocation of the line.

Pilot not seriously injured in crash
A South Carolina woman escaped serious injury Saturday in a plane crash in Banks County. Svetlana Dramoua, 18, a native of the Ukraine, was on a solo flight from Clemson, S.C., when she crashed around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Jefferson's Sunny Bush embraces teammate Annie Goza (16) after the Lady Dragons earned a berth Saturday to this week's state softball tournament in Columbus. A small commemorative patch was added to the upper front left of the team's uniforms this week in memory of Goza's brother Daniel, who was killed in an auto accident earlier last week. Jefferson, Commerce and Jackson Co. will all go to the state softball tournament this week.

Arcade mayor resigns
Gary Black resigned as mayor of Arcade Thursday in a letter of resignation to the council citing a "new business venture" as among the reasons he is stepping down.
Black also said he also wishes to devote more time to his son. The resignation is immediate.
"I feel that during the three years that I have been mayor that I have gotten the city back on track and have helped the city to move forward," Black wrote in the letter. "We have a good city council and I feel that they are capable of keeping the city moving forward."
An election will be held March 20 to fill the vacant seat. In the meantime, mayor pro tem Doug Haynie will preside at council meetings.
Black is the third Jackson County mayor to resign in recent months. Pendergrass Mayor Mark Tolbert and Nicholson Mayor Steve Wilbanks resigned earlier.

Hoschton agrees to minor changes to zoning ordinance
The Hoschton City Council agreed to several minor changes to its new zoning ordinance in a called meeting Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The council met with Lee Carmon of the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Commission to discuss suggestions made by developer Shannon Sell.
One change was to strike the regulations on locating accessory buildings on lots because it limits where they can be placed on small lots. The council agreed to go by the sideyard setback requirements. Another change was that 15 percent of a wooded lot should be designated for "vegetation."
The council also struck a requirement that trees be maintained for three years after deciding it would be an "enforcement nightmare."
The council didn't change the requirements on corner lots or for fencing to be placed around trees during construction for root protection.
In other business, the council:
·agreed to transfer the cable franchise contract from Benchmark Communications to Adelphia.
·heard a report on the greenspace program from Lori Fowler of the University of Georgia ecology and law departments. Fowler, and Ray Vaughn, a member of the Jackson County citizen's committee on greenspace, gave an overview on the program. The council will take action at its November meeting on whether or not to participate in the program.

Jefferson board approves middle school contract
$5.78 million project should move quickly
Plans to build a new Jefferson Middle School facility are expected to move forward quickly now that a contract has been awarded for the project.
The Jefferson Board of Education approved a $5.78 million contract to Salloum Construction Inc., Athens, when it met Thursday night. The project will be funded through a bond resolution passed in March by Jefferson voters.
The site for the school, located off Hoschton Street and Old Pendergrass Road, has already been graded.
On a related matter, superintendent Dr. John Jackson said that the Georgia Department of Transportation will take the excess dirt at the building site. The DOT will move some of the dirt to the baseball field and keep the remaining for state road projects.
In other business, the BOE:
·learned that the district Georgia School Board Association meeting will be held Oct. 19 and the annual conference will be Dec. 1-2.
·received school board member training certificates for attending education seminars and classes.
·heard from Dr. Jackson about the Jefferson community's recent losses, including former BOE member Henry Robinson, who died after a long illness, and Jefferson High School senior Daniel Goza, who died from injuries received in an automobile accident.
·heard from Dr. Jackson that the Scottish exchange students arrived in Jefferson Thursday night. A barbecue for the students and their host families was held Monday night.
·approved the following bill payments: $84,761, Carroll Daniel Construction for elementary school classroom addition; $1,695, Southern A&E for elementary school classroom addition; $1,663, Southern A&E for middle school construction; $83,173, Simpson Trucking for middle school construction; $48,125, Southern A&E for middle school design; $7,628, Southern A&E for middle school design; and $62,659, Carroll Daniel Construction for elementary school classroom addition.
·appointed BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins to serve as the system's legislative liaison on the Georgia School Board Association.
·accepted the resignation of Tabitha McElreath, elementary school paraprofessional, and Dale Nash, middle school business education teacher.
·hired the following: James Andrew "Andy" Brown, middle school interrelated special education teacher; Lyn Bowers Brown, middle school business education teacher; Melanie Britt, part-time elementary school special education teacher; and Lee Ann Parks, elementary school paraprofessional.

'Referendum A' would cost county $162,255 in taxes
If a statewide referendum to eliminate property taxes from farm equipment passes on Nov. 7, it would cost Jackson County approximately $162,255 next year.
The breakdown on the cost to the county would be $114,879 in school taxes and $47,376 in county taxes.
Last week, the Jackson County Farm Bureau called for support of "Referendum A." Farm Bureau president Tom Crow said recently that the tax puts Georgia farmers at a disadvantage because eight of 10 Southern states don't have the tax.
"Three-hundred and twenty-nine acres disappears every day in Georgia to a developer," said Crow. "Passing 'Referendum A' would help preserve the family farm. Every YES vote counts."
But Jackson County School System superintendent Andy Byers said he has "mixed emotions" about tax exemptions.
"Any time we start exempting the tax base, then the burden is shifted to somebody else," he said. "For that reason, I have mixed emotions on all exemptions...I can understand groups wanting their items exempt from taxation. But on the other hand, every time we exempt something, then the remaining things that aren't exempt have to catch the burden. That amount is a small amount in relation to the total digest of the Jackson County School System, but the question is, where do you stop? How do you be fair to everybody? I understand the plight of the farmer, but I also understand the plight of the manufacturer. What about the filling station owner that has to pay taxes on his gas pumps?"

Expect High Natural Gas Prices, City Manager Warns
Commerce residents who heat with natural gas could be in for some cold nights and hot tempers this winter.
Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant warned that natural gas prices could set record high levels this winter.
"For the first three months of the (fiscal) year, we spent $863,000 more on gas than last year," said Bryant. And the heating season had not even started.
The problem is nationwide. Natural gas has been deregulated and is bought and sold as a commodity. Prices are high enough, Bryant said, that even the gas industry is concerned.
Gas prices could reach $11 per thousand cubic feet (mcf), about twice what the city has previously charged, Bryant told the city council Monday night.
"It looks like it will fall somewhere between the $5 and $7 range. I suspect by the time it gets to Commerce, we'll have $9 to $11 gas, almost twice what it has been," he said.
The city pays a unit price to buy the gas, then pays about $2 per unit in pipeline fees. When the gas arrives in Commerce, the city tacks on another $1.75 for its profit, a figure that the city recently cut from over $2.
"In addition, the word is we may have some pretty cold weather, a normal winter. We haven't had a normal winter in a long time," he added.
Bryant said a household can use 20 to 25 mcf of gas during a month in the winter.
"It doesn't look good," he concluded.
The news was not all bad Monday night. Bryant announced that preliminary figures from the county tax office suggest that the city may be able to lower its property tax rate significantly, thanks to the new appraisals and assessments.
"It looks like we may be up 23 to 24 percent, $21 or $22 million," he said.
He also suggested that the mayor and council consider increasing the city's Freeport exemption, now at 20 percent, to 100 percent.
Freeport is a tax exemption on certain industrial inventory and unfinished goods that is used to attract industrial prospects. Both Jefferson and Jackson County have 100 percent exemptions, which puts Commerce at a relative disadvantage, the city manager stated.
"We could go to 100 percent and still have digest growth," Bryant said.
The city is not expected to have a final tax digest until late November, which means tax bills will once again be one to two months late.
In other business, the council accepted the recommendations of the Commerce Planning Commission in rezoning and annexing a lot owned by L.G. Perry on Scott Street and one owned by Norman Hagadorn on Westwood Road and agreed to rezone from R-1 to R-5 a lot on Neal Street so Henry and Debbi Dills could replace their mobile home. The vote carried the stipulation that the property will revert back to R-1 if the owner sells or rents the mobile home.
The council also was asked by mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. to be considering nominees for a position on the BJC Medical Center Authority. The council will nominate three persons to fill the position now held by William Barnett, who asked not to be reappointed. The authority will choose one of the three to serve. Councilman Bob Sosebee proposed that Howard Smith, an owner of Little-Ward Funeral Home, be one of the nominees.

Commerce Moving Toward Video Poker Game Ban
Moving to head off a potential problem, the Commerce City Council Monday night instructed its attorney to prepare an ordinance banning video poker machines.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. proposed the ordinance, noting that Banks County, Braselton and Jefferson are all taking similar action.
"I don't think we want them here in Commerce," Hardy stated.
Georgia communities have seen a lot of interest in the machines ever since South Carolina banned them statewide. Owners of the thousands of machines there, which offered cash prizes, have scrambled to get them placed in Georgia. Cash prizes are outlawed in Georgia, but operators have dodged the issue by offering other prizes.

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Wickliffe pleads guilty to bid-rigging
Jerry Wickliffe, owner of the private sewage firm Water Wise, entered a guilty plea Friday in federal court on charges that he and others engaged in a wide-ranging bid-rigging scheme. The charges stem from a probe by the FBI into public corruption in Fulton County.
Wickliffe pled guilty to one count of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. This is reportedly in connection with rigging bids for the sale of valves, pumps and other equipment used in seven plants in Georgia and Alabama. He is expected to be sentenced on the charges in January.
Wickliffe attempted to set up a private sewage venture in Jackson County last year, but that effort was stopped by county leaders who opposed the project.
Wickliffe's efforts in Jackson County have also been at the center of this year's election contest between incumbent Rep. Scott Tolbert and commissioner Pat Bell. Tolbert represented Wickliffe in the Jackson County matter. Bell's challenge to Tolbert for the District 25 House seat grew out of that controversy.

Audit Says Commerce 'Beat' Budget By $801,000
Following a year in which its income was $801,731 more than its expenses, the city of Commerce has more than $10 million in the bank, auditor Charles Brabson reported to the city council Monday night.
In presenting the fiscal year 1999-2000 audit, Brabson had high praise for the city's efforts, particularly those of city manager Clarence Bryant and city clerk Shirley Willis.
"The city has over $10 million in fund equity, which is not shabby," Brabson reported.
The good financial report came from lower-than-budgeted expenditures. In the General Fund, the city spent $240,804 less than expected and revenues were $53,158 less than anticipated, resulting in a $187,646 bottom line "savings" over what was budgeted. Meanwhile, even after transferring $1.3 million to the General Fund, the proprietary fund (utilities) had net income of $941,638.
For the year, the General Fund had revenues of $4.249 million, which was supplemented by the $1.3 million transfer. Its expenditures were $5.53 million.
Its utility systems took in $11.6 million and spent $9.26 million.
The city's strong financial showing dates back almost a decade, at which time the city was on the verge of insolvency. Shortly after Bryant arrived, the city's finances turned around. It has not had to borrow money for operating expenses ever since and has gradually built up reserves while maintaining and improving its facilities and infrastructure.
"The bottom line is the city is doing very well financially," Brabson said, again praising Bryant and Willis.
"It is certainly nice to hear your auditor say that," noted mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr.

Political forum planned Oct. 26
A political forum for all local candidates in the Nov. 7 election will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation auditorium.
It is sponsored by the Jackson County Farm Bureau and Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.