News from Jackson County...

October 25, 2000


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A Timeline of Water Wise events in Jackson County




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Jackson County
GREENSPACE

The Jackson County Greenspace Steering Committee seeks input that would better prepare the Committee for developing the Jackson County Greenspace Plan. Please take a moment to answer four questions and return them on the form provided here.


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SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Lady Tigers Take Fourth In State

Finishing fourth in the state is quite an accomplishment, but the Commerce Lady Tigers must be forgiven if they wonder "what if" after their fourth place finish in the Class A state softball tournament.

Lady Dragons claim softball crown
The Lady Dragons of Jefferson High School overcame a series of late-season setbacks last week to win the school's first state slow-pitch softball title. In fact, the crown is the first for Jefferson in any girls' sport.

Quiet bats deny Lady Panthers
The Jackson County slow-pitch softball team wrapped up its 2000 season last week in the state class AAA tournament in Columbus. The Lady Panthers were eliminated from competition after losing their first two games, 8-0 to Perry and 17-11 to Forsyth Central.


Neighborhood News...
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Controversial rezoning requests withdrawn
Two controversial rezoning requests were withdrawn this past week.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by John and Robin Berry for a conditional use permit on 41.88 acres of agricultural land on Drake Woods Road was withdrawn.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.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Judge rules 'Baldwin owns plant'
The "Water Plant War" between Baldwin and Demorest is over with a judgment made in Baldwin's favor.

Three teens arrested in package store robbery
Three teenagers were arrested in connection with the County Line Package Store armed robbery two weeks ago.


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Letterhead At Work

Timmy Barrow of North Carolina was in Commerce Friday and Saturday to participate in a unique professional association. He's a Letterhead, one of 50 to 60 who met to exchange knowledge and learn new skills.


BOC to seek court order for probate judge records
Jackson County Board of Commissioners chairman Jerry Waddell plans to call a special meeting this week to seek a court order to force probate judge Margaret Deadwyler to release financial records for her office.
But Deadwyler said the action is just an effort by Waddell to have her defeated in the Nov. 7 elections.
Waddell said this week that Deadwyler had refused to release some financial records to a county auditor Wednesday morning. Although Deadwyler did release the latest financial report, Waddell said she wouldn't release other documents.
"She gave us quarterly reports just typed out on a piece of paper," Waddell said. "She wouldn't let us have the bank statement to reconcile and we asked her for a receipt book and she refused to do that. We just want to verify the numbers is all that we want to do."
Deadwyler is allowed by state law to keep $7,500 each year from vital record fees. All fees collected over $7,500 must go to the county. Waddell said the county hasn't received any reports about these funds since 1999.
"I have done nothing wrong and I ask the citizens of Jackson County to ignore this deplorable and malicious attempt to prevent my re-election," said Deadwyler.


Braselton mulls full-time police force
The Braselton City Council met Monday in a called work session to discuss the possibility of providing a full-time police force.
During the one-hour session, the council determined that the estimated cost of the program would be between $200,000 and $300,000 annually, based on a department with three patrol cars, four officers and a full time chief.
The council decided to mail a questionnaire to all city residents asking whether they would support a full time department.


Republicans slap use of 'Democratics'
Jackson County Republican Party chairman Candice Gunn recently made an appeal to the Georgia Secretary of State's office on the use of "Democratic" instead of "Democrat" on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The appeal was denied by the state.
The matter was discussed in the recent newsletter of the local Republican Party.
Calling use of the word "shabby," the newsletter said the appeal was "turned down by that gang of Democratics."
Probate Judge Margaret Deadwyler said she used "Democratics" after consulting both the state elections board and the printer for the ballot.


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. But GBI agent Bill Malueg said Monday that there has not been any investigation of Black or the City of Arcade by his agency. District attorney Tim Madison also said this week that he is not aware of any allegations of wrongdoing in the city and said his office wasn't involved in the situation.
In a letter of resignation to the city council, Black cited a "new business venture" as among the reasons he is stepping down.
Black also said he 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.
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.


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.
"[Jackson County] had the opportunity to have a private company come in and actually operate sewage free of charge for the county," Tolbert said in response to a question from the audience. "They were going to lay pipes. They were going to give Jackson County $50,000 up front and then give Jackson County 10 percent of the proceeds. At the end of 10 or 15 years, they were actually going to give the plant to Jackson County. The county government would actually direct the company on where to lay the pipes."
But Tolbert's opponent, Jackson County commissioner Pat Bell, expressed "surprise" that Tolbert would still defend the firm and Wickliffe even after the federal charges and guilty plea.
"This gentleman [Wickliffe] has now been indicted for bid-rigging and public corruption," she said. "If we (county leaders) had not fought this battle long and hard and meant business, then we would be saddled with a sewer system from a man no one can trust."
Wickliffe had wanted to set up a private sewage system to serve a large area of Jackson County that is outside existing municipal sewage services. But county leaders, including Bell, opposed the plans because Water Wise would have had the power to condemn private land without any local oversight, thus having the power to direct the county's future growth by deciding where sewer lines would be run.
Tolbert helped set up the initial stages of the Water Wise dealings in Jackson County and when the county balked, turned to his brother and father on the Pendergrass City Council for assistance in moving the deal forward.
County leaders saw that as an end-run and took legal action to stop Wickliffe. Tolbert and his law firm defended Water Wise in court. The county prevailed in those proceedings and then asked that legislation be introduced to prevent future sewage firms from having the power of land condemnation without local approval. Sen. Eddie Madden introduced that bill in the General Assembly this year on behalf of Jackson County.
Rep. Tolbert opposed that legislation and made an unsuccessful attempt to kill the bill when it reached the state House. It was after that action Bell decided to run in opposition to Tolbert for the District 25 House seat, saying that Tolbert had misused his public office in an effort to help a private legal client.
Also at the forum held at Gainesville College, the candidates discussed Governor Roy Barnes' Education Reform Act.
Bell said that though she was not involved in the passing of the reform, she feels that "when you have a system that is ninth in spending and 49th in results, something has to be done. I'm not so much concerned with the act as I am with the results."
Bell cited her involvement with the formation of the Regional Evening School and said that it is important to offer such education alternatives. Though Bell couldn't see any reason not to be for smaller class sizes, Tolbert boasted that he had voted against the reform act.
"We need to focus more on local control and we must, must, must include teacher's opinions when we start developing these ideas," he said. "This is where we messed up the first time."



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City Planners Say 'No' To
Rezoning For Mobile Homes

The Commerce Planning Commission will recommend that the city council deny a developer's request to rezone land in the city's black community for a mobile home subdivision.
Voting unanimously Monday night, the planning commission denied a request to rezone 10 acres from R-3 to R-5 for Land Headquarters. The property is located at East Cordes Place and backs up to West Cordes Place and Cedar Drive.
Kevin Berry, a landscape architect from Athens, said the company proposes to build a 20-foot buffer along U.S. 441 to screen the neighborhood from traffic, to have access by a side street instead of U.S. 441, and to require protective covenants. In addition, the developer proposed a density of residences that would be in the range of the R-2 classification.
Vice chairman Greg Perry noted that most of the city's mobile home parks are already in Ward 1 and suggested that the black community should be given the same considerations as the rest of the town.
"If we ever want for them to have opportunities for stick-built homes, we can't keep piling mobile homes on them. This would be a nice, suitable tract for starter stick-built homes," he said.
Perry made the motion to recommend that the city council deny the request.
"Fellows, build us some nice stick-built homes," he told the developers.
In its only other action, the planning commission agreed to recommend that the city council grant a conditional use permit to the Commerce Church of Christ to build a new sanctuary on land it has purchased on W.E. King Road.
The final decision on both issues will be made at the Commerce City Council's Nov. 13 meeting at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.


Last Political Forum Set Thursday
A political forum for all local candidates in the Nov. 7 election will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Jackson EMC auditorium.
It is sponsored by the Jackson County Farm Bureau and the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Farm Bureau will have a spokesman to discuss the benefits of Referendum A, and the rest of the two hours will be devoted to candidates.
The candidates for sheriff, coroner and probate judge (Stan Evans and Steve Gary, Keith Whitfield and Sammy Qualls, and L. Leann Crawford and Margaret Deadwyler respectively) will get a minute and a half apiece for an introduction and a minute for a closing statement. A total of 10 minutes will be dedicated for the moderator to ask questions submitted to him by the panel and the audience for all six of those candidates.
The eight candidates for four board of commissioners posts will have the same opening and closing times, but there will be 20 minutes of questions for the entire field. The candidates include Stacey Britt and Thomas Benton, District 1; Don Blalock and Sammy Thomason, District 2; Emil Beshara and Fran Thomas, District 3; and Tony Beatty and Daniel Sailors, District 4.
Candidates for the Georgia House of Representatives District 25 (Pat Bell and Scott Tolbert) and Georgia State Senate District 47 (Mike Beatty and Eddie Madden) will each have two minutes for opening remarks and a minute and a half for closing remarks, with 25 minutes devoted to questions from the panel and the audience. Questions from the audience will be screened by the panel.