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 October 25, 2000


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OPINION

Shar Porier
Going squirrelly

It seemed so picturesque. A barn converted to a home with a tin roof nestled between two hills and under a blanket made of the spreading branches of a giant oak tree.

Letter to the Editor
Encourage 'yes' vote for Referendum A

Dear Editor:
On November 7, please vote yes for Referendum A. A vote for Referendum A will eliminate an unfair property tax currently being levied on farm equipment.


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Leopards take fifth in state tourney after 4-10 start
Remember the old adage: "it's not how you start, it's how you finish?"
Clearly, the Banks County slow-pitch softball team is familiar with the phrase.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Black resigns as mayor of Arcade
In a move that has fueled rampant speculation about a possible legal investigation, Gary Black resigned as mayor of Arcade last week.
Since that action, rumors have circulated across the county that a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into allegations of ticket-fixing led to Black's resignation.

Tolbert defends Water Wise deal at Hall forum
Rep. Scott Tolbert again defended his actions on behalf of the private sewage firm Water Wise at a political forum in Hall County Tuesday night. It was the first public comment from Tolbert on the issue since Water Wise owner Jerry Wickliffe pled guilty in federal court this month to public corruption charges for rigging bids in Georgia and Alabama.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Controversial rezoning requests withdrawn
Two controversial rezoning requests were withdrawn this past week.
Madison County Board of Commissioners chairman Wesley Nash reported at Monday's BOC meeting that a request by John and Robin Berry for a conditional use permit on 41.88 acres of agricultural land on Drake Woods Road was withdrawn.

Fortson indicted on five charges
A Winterville woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend and encasing his body in cement was indicted on five charges last week.
A Madison County Grand Jury indicted Tracy Lea Fortson of Smithonia Road in Winterville for malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and attempted arson.


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SHERIFF CANDIDATES SPEAK


Banks County sheriff candidates Mike Boyle (L) and incumbent Charles Chapman answered questions at a political forum hosted Tuesday night by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce.



BANKS CO. GOVERNMENT


Sheriff candidates speak at forum
Honesty, integrity and experience were key words used at a political forum Tuesday night by both candidates for sheriff of Banks County.
Questions from the audience at the forum, which was sponsored by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce, also indirectly dealt with these traits for the office. Incumbent Charles Chapman (D) was questioned about the "misuse of taxpayer money" through the payment of a salary of an employee of his department who was also working for the Northeast Georgia Drug Task Force. His challenger, Mike Boyle (R), was asked how he could run an honest sheriff's department when he has "slandered people with untrue statements."
The issue of the employee with the drug task force first came up with this question from the audience directed at Boyle: "You have implied misuse of taxpayers' money. Do you have specific examples of misuse or are you using implications to attack your opponent's character simply to gain votes?"
"I don't think there was any allusion to issues of taxpayers' money," Boyle said.
He then went on to question why the chief investigator for the sheriff's office, Kyle Bryant, was also paid as drug task force commander for May-June 1999. He said Bryant received over $13,000 in taxpayers' money for this two-month period.
"Why was that money wasted?" he asked. "Why was that money misappropriated for personal gain?"
Chapman was also given a question from the audience dealing with Bryant's pay. The sheriff said that when Bryant was hired by Banks County as chief investigator, the board for the drug task force elected to keep him for those two months so he could finish that year out. He serves on this board, along with the sheriffs of Rabun and Franklin counties.
Boyle was also given this question from the audience: "How will you run your department with integrity since you can't seem to run your campaign without slandering people's names with untrue statements?"
"Every statement that has been made is factual," he said. "The current sheriff has had four patrol cars in the past three years and 10 months. Check the records. He asked us too. I did. I checked his records. I'm not impressed. I think accountability is an issue. Your tax dollars being put to proper use is an issue."
A question from the audience for Chapman dealt with the "high turnover" rate the sheriff's office has had.
"When I first came in office there was some that didn't stay because I asked them to leave," Chapman said. "I'm not ashamed of that. There are others who left for more money...The turnover rate this last year has been low. It is more in other counties."
SPEAKING ON EXPERIENCE
Both candidates spoke on their experience as reasons to vote for them as sheriff. Boyle spoke on the work he did as an employee of the Banks County Sheriff's Department to bring thousands of dollars in grant money to the county.
"I can put federal taxpayers' dollars back to work for Banks County," he said. "I can work for Banks County."
He also spoke on the need for accountability in the sheriff's department.
"The current sheriff has a budget of over $1 million, yet there are only one sergeant and one deputy on each shift," he said. "This is the same number of deputies patrolling the county on shifts eight years ago when I came to work for Banks County. The budget at that time was around one-half million dollars.
"As sheriff, I will put deputies back to work in the county. This will enhance response time. This will also allow citizens to come to know who the citizens are...I will require a drug-free work place...As sheriff, I will run the jail effectively...I will train, retain qualified personnel to curb the high turnover that has plagued the current sheriff. There will be accountability...I will put your tax dollars back to work for you...On Nov. 7, I ask you to restore honor, integrity and experience back to the sheriff's office."
Chapman spoke on his four years in office.
"Being sheriff requires accountability," he said. "...In the past two years, every major crime, with the exception of one, has had a quick arrest. We had an armed robbery two weeks ago. An arrest has been made. We have prosecuted many cases in this county-more than previously...We have managed the sheriff's office efficiently.
"Today, in Banks County, as every day during the week and most of the time on the weekends, we had four uniformed officers on the roads in Banks County...During the past term, we have brought into the sheriff's office, $398,636 from federal and state grants...Every year that I have been in office, I have turned money back in (to the commissioners from his budgeted funds)...I have served the office I hold honestly and I have served it with integrity. I have been fair and I have been honest."
Other questions from the audience dealt with what the candidates would do for the schools and their platform and goals.
Boyle said a DARE officer is needed in the schools and he would ensure that they have an officer, even if he has to serve in that capacity himself.
"We need to put a DARE officer in the schools who wants to be there," he said. "...I will be there for our children...If it takes me being the DARE officer, I will be there for our children."
He said his platform would include a community-oriented policy and improving response time.
Chapman said he would continue to provide a DARE officer for the schools.
"We will do what we have continued to do," he said. "A DARE officer and school resource officer are still in place."
As for Chapman's platform, he said: "I promise to be a working man...I've given myself to this office. I believe in working for the citizens of this county...I will work to conserve the budget. I work to do all we can with what we have. We have trained officers...The turnover rate the last couple of months has been good."

John Williams to serve on Post 4 BOE seat
John D. Williams will serve on the Post 4 seat on the Banks County Board of Education.
Williams, a Republican, was to face Democrat Dottie P. Morris in the Nov. 7 election, but she has withdrawn from the race.
Post 4 incumbent Len Dalton did not seek re-election.
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Judge rules 'Baldwin owns plant'
The "Water Plant War" between Baldwin and Demorest is over with a judgment made in Baldwin's favor.
Superior Court Judge James E. Cornwell Jr. signed a ruling October 23 that gave Baldwin sole ownership of the contested water plant.
"Based upon findings of fact and conclusions of law, this court finds that the prayers for relief of Demorest should be denied based upon the finding that the claims of Demorest were substantially groundless," the judge ruled. "It is hereby further ordered that Demorest pay to Baldwin, the amount of $33,070, which accounts for Baldwin's cost in having to defend this action."
Baldwin officials heard the ruling from city attorney David Syfan at the work session October 24. He told them that the judge agreed with the arbitrator's decision.
The Baldwin City Council made plans at the session to invite the Demorest City Council to a meeting November 2 at 6 p.m. to address certain issues of safety, maintenance and bookkeeping that have Baldwin concerned.
An oversight committee made up of council members of Demorest and Baldwin was supposed to have looked after the workings of the plant, according to records. No meetings have been held since 1994 when Demorest "quit and the committee died," said Syfan.
He said that by calling the meeting, Baldwin would be giving Demorest officials the chance to straighten things out. He suggested that they consider allowing Demorest to bid on the contract to operate the plant.
Syfan also told the council that Demorest's attorney may file an appeal.
"This would be upsetting to Demorest's citizens, I think," he said. "If you've already lost $33,000, why file an appeal?"
He added that Demorest did not indicate on what grounds the appeal would be based.


Three teens arrested in package store robbery
Three teenagers were arrested in connection with the County Line Package Store armed robbery two weeks ago.
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said Tommy Kenneth Minish Jr., 19, Commerce, and Eston Curtis Hooper, 18, Commerce, were both charged with armed robbery. A 16-year-old juvenile was also charged in the crime.
"The arrests came after several days of investigations," Chapman said. "There was enough evidence collected against the individuals to lead to the arrests."
Chapman said the three ski masks the teens allegedly used in the robbery and the getaway vehicle were recovered. He said the guns used in the robbery belonged to family members of the teenagers.
According to original reports, the three teens went into the store late Monday, Oct. 9, dressed in ski masks, camouflage and latex gloves and took cash and cigarettes from the clerk.
Original reports indicated that three guns were involved in the robbery. Chapman said Monday that the teens only used two guns, but that each of them had a gun in his possession at some time during the robbery.
Minish and Hooper are being held in the Banks County Jail awaiting a bond appearance in Superior Court. The juvenile is being housed at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.