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 November 7, 2000

Banks County

Banks County
Banks County

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July 18 Election Results

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Shar Porier
We still have decisions

This year has undoubtedly been the final straw in the voters' minds. The effect of negative campaigning has taken intelligence and information out of the race for the last time.

Rochelle Beckstine
Women's lib: Not a bad idea

I always thought I was one of those women who longed for the days when women were "ladies." Doors were held open for her. No one dared utter a crass word in her presence and "yes, mam" was standard fare.


Leopards look to tame Wildcats
Two weeks ago, the Banks County Leopards went into the mountains of North Georgia and nearly came away with a win. In fact, they played one of their better games of the season against Lumpkin County

Neighborhood News...
Taste Of Jackson Set Thursday At Civic Center
It's billed as the "Taste of Jackson County/Business Showcase," but it's really a party with beverages, food and giveaway items covered by the $5 admission charge.

Taxes, water the major issues, according to House candidates
Incumbent Rep. Scott Tolbert (R) said the most important issue facing Jackson County is increasing taxes. His opponent, Pat Bell (D) said access to water will be the most important issue facing county residents in the coming years.

News from
Amendments, referendums to be on Tues. ballot
The following proposed constitutional amendments will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot . . .

County to pick favorites in 11 contested local elections
After months of listening to the candidates, voters will have their turn to speak Tuesday.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
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Four-year-old Makayla Rylee twirls her baton during halftime of Friday night's Banks County High School football game.


Homer citizens concerned about implications of zoning ordinance
Should the owner of car lot operating in a residentially zoned area of Homer have the right to rebuild if 75 percent of the business is damaged in a fire or tornado?
This question plagued the Homer City Council at a public hearing Thursday night on the proposed zoning ordinance. City attorney David Jones questioned the council about the validity and fairness of prohibiting rebuilding.
"They should be able to rebuild the same size," Jones said to the council and several local citizens. "I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair."
Jones explained that if the property is destroyed by 75 percent, there is still 25 percent left, but that the value of that 25 percent is nothing if the city does not allow the owner to repair it. Besides which, he said, it isn't fair that one business owner can be put out of business because of a disaster while another business owner can keep his business and operate it.
James W. Brown, who owns Brown's Used Car Lot, agreed with Jones, as did all of the other local citizens.
Tom O'Bryant of Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center, who has assisted Homer in creating the ordinance and the map, said that it will be up to the city council whether the statement should be left in or taken out, but that public feedback is exactly what the council needs before making its final decision. Mayor Leon Ray said that the council will consider rewording the statement at its next council meeting.
Several citizens wanted to know the procedure for rezoning property once the zoning is established. Ray and city clerk Carol Ayers explained that anyone wishing to establish a business in a residential section would apply to the council for a business license and the rezoning and it could be approved.
O'Bryant explained that the zoning map is expected to change monthly, if not weekly, as the community changes. Nothing about the map is static.
"What we're looking for is a starting point," said Mack Garrison, a member of the planning committee. "We've tried to make everything conforming. Twenty years from now, it could be totally different, but you've got to have a starting point. Let's get it done and deal with the changes as they come up."
Council member Roy Broom said, "I've dreaded zoning like I've dreaded the seven year itch, but it's here."
Two requests were made at the hearing to change the zoning of a property so that the present use would be conforming. Jones requested that the property where his duplexes are located be changed from single-family residential to multi-family residential. James W. Brown requested that his car lot property be changed from single-family residential to commercial. The commission and the council explained that it is their intention to zone everything appropriately and that the two incidents were merely oversights.

Baldwin negotiating new contract with Aqua Source
The City of Baldwin and Aqua Source are beginning negotiations on a contract on the management of the water plant now that the ownership issue with Demorest has been resolved through arbitration.
At last week's city council meeting, city attorney David Syfan asked Aqua Source official Richard Bryant for the company's new proposal for the contract. Bryant didn't have a copy of the proposal, which he said is on a disk and has not been printed. He also said there are some figures that need to be added to complete the proposal.
Aqua Source official Gene Brown said that he had experienced difficulty in getting actual figures as to the number of gallons pumped out of the river as compared to the number of gallons Demorest was actually selling. He said Aqua Source had based their original contract figures on a 1998 audit of Demorest records. Bryant added that there had been too many gallons a day used this year compared with the audit totals. The company requested help from the council in getting current records to complete their contract figures.
Syfan recommended that the council authorize city engineer Fred Hawkins, and city auditor Beth Grimes to review the contract once it has been completed.
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed said he is concerned with the definition of the language used in the contract and asked that definitions be specified in the next one.
In other business:
·sealed bids were opened for the purchase of snow chains for the fire department trucks. The bid from Harliss, who holds the warranty on the newest fire truck, came in at $5,750 and was approved by the council. Money will come from the SPLOST fund. The chains will be installed by Harliss.
·the council approved the purchase of a new transmission for one of the police cruisers.
·the council approved the closing of Light Street at certain times of the day to serve the Head Start Pre-K facility located on the street. The road will be one way for 30 to 45 minutes twice a day during drop-off/pick-up times. The Head Start director had requested the council do this to protect the 150 children getting out of cars and the school busses during those congested times.
·heard thanks from the Reed Family to everyone for their donations, gifts and prayers offered to their son, Mark Jr. Mayor Reed's son was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He has undergone surgery to remove a tumor and is receiving chemotherapy. Mayor Reed expressed his heartfelt appreciation for "everything everybody has done. It has helped us through this difficult time." He asked that people continue to think of his son and all the other children at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta. Donations for medical expenses can be made to the Mark Reed Jr. Family Fund through any of the branch offices of Habersham Bank.

Sheriff, BOC chairman among key local positions on ballot Tuesday
Banks County voters will be filling two top local positions when they go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The sheriff and chairman of the board of commissioners are among the races to be decided Tuesday. The other local race is for the probate judge's seat.
Banks County's state representative and senate seats are also up for re-election. Other state races on the ballot include several public service commissioner seats. County voters will also join those across the country in casting their ballot in the president's race.
Banks County voters will also decide one local referendum and vote on several other state referendums and amendments next week. The local referendum will ask county voters if they favor increasing the homestead exemption for those over 65 and the disabled. The passing of this referendum will increase the homestead exemption from $12,000 to $16,000.
In the sheriff's race, incumbent Charles Chapman (D) will face challenger Michael Boyle (R).
In the BOC chairman's race, incumbent James C. Dumas (R) will face Kenneth Brady (D).
Incumbent chief magistrate judge Henry David Banks was the winner in the non-partisan primary election. However, Ray Seabolt has qualified to be a write-in candidate for the seat.
State races to be decided include the District 22 House of Representatives seat where incumbent Jeanette Jamieson (D) will face challenger Bill Grant (R). In the District 47 State Senate race, incumbent Eddie Madden (D) will face Republican Mike Beatty.
Banks Countians who live in Maysville also have a city election slated for Nov. 7. This will be a separate ballot which will be available at city hall.
Incumbent Mayor Richard Presley will face former mayor Jerry Lewis in the Maysville city election set for Nov. 7.
The incumbent council members in Ward 1 and Ward 3 will also face challengers in the election. In Ward 1, incumbent Jim Saville, former councilman Andrew Strickland and Todd Dorsey qualified. In Ward 3, incumbent Andy Martin, Richard Parr and Frank Chesonis qualified.
In Ward 2, former mayor Marion Jarrett was the only one to qualify. Ward 2 incumbent Scott Harper qualified for the Ward 4 seat because he is moving to that district. Harper is the only candidate for the Ward 4 council seat.
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Baldwin, Demorest still at odds over water plant
Winning the arbitration was just the first step of an uphill climb by Baldwin officials to wrest control of the water plant from Demorest.
Baldwin officials say they have been kept in the dark as to what has or has not been done up at the pumping station. City leaders say they have not seen any bookkeeping records, maintenance logs, plant records or expens reports.
To proceed, the Baldwin City Council needs to meet with the Demorest City Council. The meeting is set for this Thursday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. So far, the council has yet to receive a confirmation that the Demorest City Council will attend.
At Monday night's council meeting, city attorney David Syfan spoke on a few issues that he believes needed to be addressed quickly. One of his main concerns is the status of an intake pump. He said he had spoken with city engineer Fred Hawkins who recently had a discussion with the Demorest engineer.
"It is my understanding in talking with Fred that Demorest is not taking any action to install the large pump at the intake," he said.
Syfan reminded the council that the pump had burned up and was supposed to have been repaired. The pump is important to the running of the plant, he said. It is one of two pumps that were to run alternately on 12-hour shifts. For a yet unknown reason, one of the pumps was improperly wired and never came on, city leaders said. The other pump ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 months before burning up. Demorest workers did not notice the problem until the pump had burned out, according to Baldwin officials.
Council member Mitchell Gailey said that the motor from the pump may have been removed and taken to Midway Electric for repair. He said he had learned from Midway that the company is awaiting parts to complete the repair.
Gene Brown, of Aqua Source, said that from what he understood the pump's motor "had been repaired and has been sitting on the floor of the shop on a pallet. This was last week."
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed said: "They [Demorest] tried to get [Midway Electric] to fix it. They tried to get the company that wired the pumps to fix it. But isn't the operator responsible for the inaction on the problem? Does this come back like everything else? That we have to pay for it?"
The council decided that the exact situation on the pump is still to be determined since there are two different stories being given.
The council asked Syfan if Demorest is going to do anything about the pump or not. Syfan replied, "I don't know if it's an intentional desire not to take action. The version I got was that they were a little stunned about the outcome of the arbitration. And it has thrown them into chaos. They are drifting. They don't know what to do."
Tuesday morning, Baldwin city clerk Stacey Jacobs called Midway Electric to find out about the motor. Jacobs said she was told that a new motor had been shipped to Midway. Midway officials, though, had no idea what or who the motor was for. Demorest had not contacted them about ordering or installing the motor, she said. Company officials told her that they did not know who to bill for it. The motor, so large that it has to be installed by a crane, has been at Midway for three weeks. They figured out on their own that the motor was for the Baldwin/Demorest water plant. Jacobs said.
Syfan said he is also concerned about Phase II of the water project. The council had given authorization to a sub-contractor to proceed forward with identification of the plant's problems.
"Evidentially, that authorization is being treated in the same fashion by Demorest," he said. "They're kind of lost and no action is being taken on that either."
He said that the $300,000 grant from Appalachian Regulatory Commission could be pulled.
"We don't need to let the inactivity of the current management to cause us to lose that grant," he said.
He suggested that the council send a letter to the Demorest council and state their questions and concerns. That way, he felt, the ARC would see that Baldwin was moving forward on the project.
Council member Robert Bohannon added that the fencing Baldwin paid for last year, that was to be installed around the plant but was not, be included in the letter.
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DFCS awarded $2,000 grant
The Banks County Department of Family and Children's Services has been awarded a $2,000 grant for software to upgrade its computer system.
Director Renota Free made the announcement at the October board meeting. She said that Rep. Jeanette Jamieson was instrumental in obtaining the grant from the state.
Free said that the staff is undergoing training to learn the program. It will allow the department to build a thorough data base, she said.
In other business:
·it was reported that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families continues to decline.
·it was reported that the department conducted four new physical abuse cases and eight neglect cases. Of these, seven were substantiated, one was closed and two were found to be unsubstantiated and were closed. The rest are pending.
·it was announced that a new staff member, Jeannie Cartell, had been hired.

Suspect in armed robbery denied bond
A teenager charged with the armed robbery of the County Line Package Store on Hwy. 59 in Banks County was denied bond.
District Attorney Tim Madison said Eston Curtis Hooper was denied bond at a bond hearing Tuesday morning.
Two other suspects in the armed robbery, including a 16-year-old juvenile, have yet to appear in court for a bond hearing.

Bed and breakfast rezoning on planners' Monday agenda
The Banks County Planning Commission will consider several rezoning matters, including one that would bring a bed and breakfast lodge to the county, when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the courthouse.
Max and Judy Chosewood are asking to rezone property at 2152 Apple Pie Ridge Road from ARR (Agricultural, Rural-Residential) to C-2 (General Commercial) to locate the bed and breakfast lodge.
Other items on the agenda include:
·Ki Suk Free to rezone property at 30037 Highway 441 North from C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) to ARR (Agricultural, Rural Residential).
·Lonzo Dodd for a conditional use application to relocate a 1987 manufactured home from Habersham County to 695 Oscar Rucker Road.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the recommendations of the planning commission at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, in the courthouse.

Wilbanks asks for new trial in home invasion
A man found guilty in a 1999 home invasion in Banks County has asked for a retrial.
In December 1999, a Banks County jury found Bobby Wilbanks, Nicholson, guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary in the home invasion at the residence of Sam and Georgia Thurmond. Wilbanks was sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole.
Wilbanks' attorney, Tim Healy of Toccoa, filed a motion Tuesday in Banks County Superior Court asking for a retrial for his client. Superior Court Judge David Motes is expected to review the case and make a ruling within 30 days.
Among Wilbanks' reasons for asking for a new trial are the following allegations:
·the trial court erred in denying Wilbanks' motion for a separate trial. He was tried along with Paul and Michael Kozachyn, who were also found guilty in the incident.
·the trial court erred in denying Wilbanks' motion for a mistrial after numerous jury members saw him in handcuffs.
·the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial after improper remarks were made by the district attorney during his cross-examination of a witness.
·the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify on Wilbanks' involvement in a similar crime.
·the trial court erred in failing to excuse a jury member after she said she would judge the Thurmonds' credibility differently than others because she had known them for a long period of time.
·the trial court erred in allowing Sam Thurmond to testify about his identification of Wilbanks at a prior hearing.
·the trial court erred in allowing the state to call a witness after the state affirmatively stated that he would not be called, thereby causing Wilbanks not to explore potential juror bias regarding the witness.
·the trial court erred in sentencing Wilbanks after the state failed to rebut his evidence that his plea was not freely, voluntarily and knowingly entered.