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SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!
Rivalry 2000: Jefferson-Commerce Friday
The Jefferson Dragons and Commerce Tigers will play out the latest
football game in their long-standing rivalry Friday night at
Tiger Field in Commerce. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
The meeting is the 55th between the two teams since the series
began in 1947.
Wesleyan No Match For Williams, Tigers
The Wolves were at the door last Friday night, but the Tigers
booted them out, 34-10.
Behind a 246-yard night from senior Monté Williams, the
Commerce Tigers handed the Wesleyan Wolves their second consecutive
defeat and first region loss.
Freeland, Parr qualify for state cross country meet
Jackson County High School senior Sara Freeland dominated the
field Saturday to claim the region 8-AAA girls' cross country
crown. Along the way, Freeland established a new personal best
time, finishing at 20:49. That time is only 12 seconds slower
than Carly Parr's fifth-place finish in last year's state meet.
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.
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
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.
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.
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son injured in sign altercation
The son of Jackson County state representative candidate Pat
Bell was slightly injured early Tuesday morning after being struck
by a truck during an altercation over political sign thefts.
Greg Bell was struck by the truck at 4:20 a.m. after
he stopped to confront a man he saw tearing down a political
sign for his mother in Jefferson, according to a report filed
at the Jefferson Police Department.
Greg Bell and his cousin, Larry Phillips, reported that they
spotted a man tearing down a sign at Sycamore and Kalurah Street
across from Kinney's Feed and Seed in Jefferson. Phillips called
for a policeman while Greg Bell walked toward the man to confront
According to the police incident report, a female driving a blue
Ford pickup truck then pulled over to the area and told the male
suspect to get in an leave. Greg Bell then told the female driver
to wait until the police arrived. She refused and putting the
truck in reverse, backed up hitting Bell with the passenger-side
door. Bell suffered minor injuries to his hip and left leg, according
to the report.
The female suspect is described as a young white female with
dark hair and the male as a young 17-19-year-old with stringy
hair. Bell and Phillips did get a tag number and authorities
are searching for the vehicle.
Pat Bell said her family had gotten up early election day morning
to get balloons ready and to replace signs. She said a number
of her political signs had been stolen in recent weeks as the
election approached and that her son and nephew were driving
around Jefferson replacing signs at the time of the incident.
The state representative's race has been one of the most heated
and controversial during this election cycle.
seen across Jackson County Tuesday
Cast Ballots mid-afternoon at Jefferson Precinct.
A huge voter turnout was apparent across Jackson
County at midday Tuesday as long lines formed in a number of
precincts. Up to an hour or longer waits were seen in Jefferson,
the county's second largest voting district. Other precincts
also reported a heavy turnout.
In the July primary, a light voter turnout was seen in the county.
Just over 3,000 voters cast a ballot during the primary out of
nearly 16,000 registered voters.
State seeks to
admit testimony from victim in 'crime spree' in Cochran murder
The state is seeking to admit evidence into accused murderer
Wayne Cochran's trial that he committed other violent acts during
a "crime spree" that led up the murder of a Jackson
District attorney Tim Madison questioned two witnesses in a motion
hearing last week on a violent incident, allegedly involving
Cochran, that occurred in Asheville, N.C. Cochran is charged
in the 1998 murder of Kimberly Warren near her North Jackson
Security was heavy in the Jackson County courthouse last week
for the hearing with eight deputies, two investigators and the
sheriff present in the courtroom. A large number of Warren's
friends and family also attended the three-hour hearing.
Madison told Judge Bob Adamson of his intent to bring "similar
transactions" involving Cochran into evidence during the
trial. He questioned an Asheville, N.C., woman who identified
Cochran as the man who hit her in the back of the head in a robbery
in a store parking lot several days prior to the Jackson County
murder. She had a nine-inch gash on the back of her head and
her purse was stolen. She identified Cochran after reviewing
a photo line-up prepared by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Cochran's court-appointed attorney, Walter Harvey, questioned
the woman about how certain she is of her identification of the
man who hit her.
"There is absolutely no doubt," she said. "...I'd
never forget that face."
The only other witness questioned on the similar transaction
motion was chief investigator David Cochran, who spoke on finding
the woman's stolen purse in the Banks County home where Cochran
was found. He also said that credit card receipts, photographs
and other items from the purse were found in a trash bag at a
trailer where Cochran had spent some time in Cherokee, N.C.
The judge said he would delay ruling on this motion until other
evidence is presented. Motion hearings have also been set up
for Dec. 13-14. Harvey said he intends to file a motion asking
for a change of venue for the trial.
Cochran's trial was originally expected to be held in the spring
of 2000, but he was handed additional charges after a foiled
attempt to shoot his way out of the Barrow County courthouse.
He had allegedly conspired with a Nicholson man, who is charged
with hiding a loaded .38-caliber revolver in a bookshelf in the
law library in Winder. Authorities uncovered the plot and removed
the gun. They then took Cochran to the Barrow County courthouse,
where they said he searched for the gun.
Cochran is suspected of being the triggerman in the murder of
Mrs. Warren, who was killed near her home on Eagle Lane in North
Jackson after apparently having a confrontation with someone
who had broken into her home. Her body was found in her car a
short distance from her house. She had been shot several times
and the car had rolled into a creek at the bottom of an embankment.
In May 1999, Cheryl Gossitt, 30, was sentenced to life in prison
for her part in the Warren murder. At the time, Madison estimated
that she wouldn't be eligible for parole for 24 years.
Gossitt initially conferred to being at the scene of the murder,
but she later recanted those statements. She also implicated
Cochran in her earlier statement.
Next week's elections
to close contentious political season
With two heated local state races, a presidential contest and
four seats on the board of commissioners up for grabs, voter
turnout is expected to be high at Jackson County polls next Tuesday.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jackson County residents
who are planning to vote in the Nov. 7 election but aren't sure
whether they are registered or not are asked to call the voter
In addition to county, state and national races, voters in Maysville,
Pendergrass and Nicholson will also have city elections to decide
Highlighting the local ballot are two races for Georgia General
Assembly seats. Those races have been especially heated this
year as both political parties have pumped tens of thousands
of dollars into negative advertising efforts. With reapportionment
looming, each party has been jockeying for the upper hand in
the 2001 General Assembly session.
Incumbent Republican Scott Tolbert is facing challenger Democrat
Pat Bell for the District 25 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.
In the Senate, incumbent Democrat Eddie Madden is facing Jefferson
Republican Mike Beatty for the District 47 seat, of which Jackson
County is a part.
County races are highlighted with the four new district seats
on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
The candidates are: District 1, Tommy Benton (D) and Stacey Britt
(R); District 2, Don Blalock (R) and Sammy Thomason (D); District
3, Emil Beshara (R) and Fran Thomas (D); and District 4, Tony
Beatty (R) and Daniel L. Sailors (D).
Other local races include sheriff, where incumbent Stan Evans
(R) faces Steve Gary (D); District 1 on the Jackson County Board
of Education, where Stephanie Kitchens (R) and Mitchell Clark
(D) will be on the ballot; probate judge, where incumbent Margaret
Deadwyler (D) is pitted against L. Leann Crawford (R); and coroner,
where incumbent Keith Whitfield (D) will face Sammy Qualls (R).
City elections are set in Maysville, Pendergrass and Nicholson
for Nov. 7. Voters in these towns will have a separate ballot
for these races.
In Maysville, incumbent Mayor Richard Presley will face former
mayor Jerry Lewis.
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 are on the
ballot. In Ward 3, incumbent Andy Martin, Richard Parr and Frank
In Pendergrass, Rebecca Danner, Judy Carol Stowe and Joyce Cooper
are all seeking the vacant Post 4 council seat.
In Nicholson, seven candidates are seeking the vacant mayor's
seat. They are: Stanley Fouche, Carl Bergeron, Ronnie Maxwell,
Billy Kitchens, Bobby Crawford, Ray Hancock and Clarke Kesler.
For more details on these races, a sample ballot and candidate
profiles, see the special election section in this week's edition
of the Jackson Herald.
have conflicting views on education reform bill
Incumbent Sen. Eddie Madden (D) believes the new education reform
bill is a step forward, while challenger Mike Beatty (R) says
it "demoralizes" teachers across the state.
The two candidates for the District 47 Senate seat spoke at a
political forum Thursday night sponsored by the Jackson County
Farm Bureau and Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
Beatty, who was a classroom teacher for eight years, said the
main problem he has with the education bill is that it "demoralized
all of the teachers in the state of Georgia."
"The bill blames teachers, parents and our students for
all of the problems in education," he said. "The problems
have been big-government programs and the lack of relying on
our local officials to get the job done. It is also created a
ton of new bureaucracy that undermines our local school boards.
It has the potential for unfunded mandates that actually cause
increases in property taxes..."
Madden said the education reform bill is a "beginning"
in addressing the problems across the state. He referred to it
as a "work in progress" and said more work will be
done on it.
"As a leader in this state, you have to make some hard decisions,"
he said. "I've been on the forefront of trying to make those
decisions for us. We're dealing with real education reform. Georgia
has languished at the bottom for too long. We're tired of racing
with South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi for the bottom.
Our students, our parents and our taxpayers expect better. We've
got to give them a better result."
He said that smaller class sizes is one of the main benefits
of the new bill.
In his opening statement, Madden also spoke on his concerns about
problems seniors citizens face.
"We're also working for our seniors because we're concerned
about our health care crisis in this state," he said. "We're
concerned about the rural hospitals as well because they're under
dynamic pressure because of funds being cut in the budget. We're
going to continue make sure seniors can stay in their homes through
a declaration of independence giving them tax credits toward
long-term health care and any assistance they need."
Health care, referendum A and a proposed rest stop on I-85 in
Jackson County were among the topics the candidates addressed
in questions from the audience.
On health care, Beatty said: "I believe one of the main
problems with the rural health care is looking at the balanced
budget act. I think Medicaid and Medicare make up 71 percent
of the payments. I know there is a shortage of health care profession.
Because of the increased cost of health insurance, more and more
of our citizenry do not have health insurance. That also plays
a factor. I'd like for us to look for ways to have more of our
population insured. I think that will help."
Madden said the "plight of rural hospitals" was brought
on by the balanced budget act of 1996 which mandated cuts in
health care payments through Medicare and Medicaid.
"We've got to be sure as we deal with the Medicaid cuts
that we don't cut these hospitals to the point that they can't
exist," he said.
Both candidates said they support referendum A on eliminating
taxes on farm equipment and they both oppose the proposed rest
stop on I-85.
This story appears in its entirety in this week's Jackson
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.
The two candidates spoke at a political forum in Jefferson Thursday,
the last one before the election on Tuesday.
"I think the most important issue to Jackson County, other
than trying to get this new county government in place and hiring
a county manager, is the tax situation," Tolbert said. "What
has happened is that we've had a net tax increase of about 40
percent over the past four years. We've got to address that because
it will get to the point where you can't live in Jackson County.
You can't afford to."
Tolbert said one idea he has to tackle this problem is to eliminate
school tax for senior citizens.
"They've paid their fair share of taxes over the years and
they should be given a break," he said. "Another thing
we can do is freeze the tax assessments, meaning that when you
buy a house that is what it is assessed for. They don't raise
for you each year. When you sell the house, the next person will
purchase it and it is assessed and that is their tax rate."
Bell said she disagreed with Tolbert's plan on freezing tax assessments.
"This is now in the courts on the grounds of being unconstitutional
to charge one taxpayer more money than another taxpayer for the
same services," she said. "Taxes is not it (the most
important issue facing the county). Our major issue is protecting
and keeping our water. We have a lot of thirsty neighbors. This
is going to be a major issue for the state. I have worked very
hard to keep our water. That will be a major issue. I will work
hard to make sure someone doesn't stick their pipe in our reservoir."
Both candidates also spoke on their public service and the accomplishments
they are most proud of. Tolbert has served two terms in the House,
while Bell has been a county commissioner for four years.
"During the last four years, we've done some great things,"
Tolbert said. "We've cut about a billion dollars worth of
taxes while I've been serving as your state representative. We've
cut the welfare rolls in half. We repealed the sales tax on food.
We've lowered property taxes through a homestead exemption in
Jackson County, saving Jackson County taxpayers over $363,000
this year alone. We've instituted a taxpayers bill of rights
that will eliminate the back door tax increases that have plagued
us over the last four years.
"The thing I am proud of more than anything is that I was
able to initiative and pass the change of government for Jackson
County. This finally lets every individual in every part of this
great county have their own representative on the county level.
We don't want to stop there. We have a lot of other things that
we've got to get accomplished."
Bell said: "I am proud of my record as a county commissioner.
When I took office, Jackson County was in the red, borrowing
money to make payroll. We have been in the black since and without
raising your tax rate. As a matter of fact, I was the deciding
vote not to raise your taxes in 1998. I'm proud to announce that
your tax rate will be lowered five mills. This is a savings of
approximately $200 on every $100,000 home. Jackson County's tax
rate for county operations will be the lowest in the state.
"I've had vision. We now have water for the next 30 years.
We have solid waste for the next 20 years. I have built bridges
between our cities and county. I have stopped two landfills and
one private sewer company."
Bell said her plans as state representative include the following:
"working for ethics in government, no more gun control,
working to increase sales tax limits on the state level. helping
seniors and those disabled and on fixed income and working for
"My desire is not personal gain, power or recognition,"
she said. "I have worked hard as your commissioner. I will
do the same as your state representative."
Tolbert also outlined his goals for another term in office.
"I hope you've seen that I have a conservative philosophy
of lower taxes and less government," he said. "I hope
that you see I have a platform...In a recent non-partisan poll...they
said they are tired of negative campaigning, name-calling and
mud-slinging. What I am going to do is tell you what I' going
to do. We plan on trying to help with your tax problems. We want
to freeze tax assessments. We want to eliminate property taxes
on senior citizens so they'll have a house to live in. We wan
to eliminate sales taxes for purchases of volunteer fire departments.
I believe in true education reform. One that empowers our local
board and empowers our teachers.
"My record is clear and it speaks for itself. I assure you
that your trust will not be displaced. I will continue to bring
conservative values to Atlanta while representing the 25th District
to the best of my abilities. I will continue to represent you
and your interests and not the special interest of just a few."
Bell said the things she has pointed out about her opponent have
been the truth.
"It has not been easy pointing out the things that you,
as a voter, have the right to know about my opponent," she
said. "I've only told you the truth. I proved it. He did
give himself a raise. He chose not to show up for work and attend
committee meetings. He has made statements that have puzzled
us all. He has distorted the truth on taxes and issues, confused
our senior citizen, he has betrayed our trust...I know my way
around the capitol. I know the people in the arena..."
For the candidates responses to questions from the audience,
see this week's Jackson Herald.
Go to Jackson
Public Meeting Dates
& Convenience Stores
Candidate Goes After
For a moment, it looked like Mike Beatty was running against
MainStreet Newspapers' publisher Mike Buffington.
Beatty (R), trying to oust incumbent state senator Eddie Madden
(D), used part of his time to blast Buffington for endorsing
Madden in The Jackson Herald.
What particularly irked Beatty was that Madden read a faxed notice
of the endorsement at a forum in Elberton last Wednesday.
"Mike, I know you had been agonizing for months over who
to endorse. It was considerate of you, Mike, to send this to
Eddie so he could read it to me at the forum and over the radio.
Folks, these are the same old politics that we are all sick and
tired of. Mr. Buffington supports my opponent because he knows
I will never be held hostage by his threats and bad press if
I don't bow to his concept of what good government is all about.
County tax rate
to drop 66%
5 mill decrease due to digest growth
Jackson County leaders expect the county government tax rate
to drop by 66 percent, from 7.58 mills last year to 2.58 this
year. That will make the county government's part of local property
taxes among the lowest rates in the state.
Leaders of the Jackson County School System also anticipate a
rate decrease of 10-15 percent, depending on the final numbers
of the county's property tax digest. Preliminary rates for the
towns in Jackson County, the fire districts and the Jefferson
and Commerce City School Systems have not yet been announced.
In a called meeting Friday, Jackson County Board of Commissioners
chairman Jerry Waddell announced the five-mill drop for county
operations. The decrease comes after a countywide re-evaluation
and the influx of new homes and businesses. The county will also
eat into some of its accumulated reserves to fund the rate drop.
"Between the re-evaluation and the growth in the digest
and using some surplus money...we're going to reduce our fund
balance down to between 25 and 30 percent and, due to that, we
will lower our millage rate from 7.58 mills to 2.58 mills,"
Waddell said. "...It leaves the county, with a new board
coming in, in good financial shape. We're going to have somewhere
around $4 million still in surplus for them."
Commissioner Pat Bell added: "This shows cooperation with
the board of commissioners to go from the red to the black to
the lowest tax rate in the state."
Also at the called meeting, the BOC asked county attorney Lane
Fitzpatrick to seek a court order setting a temporary millage
rate in order for automobile tag fees to be collected in January
and February. The action was needed because the tax digest is
not yet finalized.
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.
However you view it, the event, set from 5:00 to 8:00 Thursday
night at the Commerce Civic Center, is "our biggest event
of the year," says the chamber's Elizabeth McDonald.
Seven or more caterers or restaurants will offer food or beverages
and a total of 74 businesses, industries or non-profit groups
will have booths explaining their products or services and many
of them raffling prizes as well.
Last year's TOJ drew upward of 500 visitors and chamber officials
expect at least that good a response this year.
To sweeten the pot, the chamber and its members have come up
with a host of door prizes, all valued at $50 or more, to be
given away in a raffle. Those prizes include a number of gift
baskets, gift certificates, a weekend getaway to the coast, a
bread maker, a smoker-grill combination and others. Many individual
booths will have raffles of items of lesser value, not to mention
giveaways of everything from candy to ball hats to pens and pencils
"It's a great way to see what Jackson County businesses
have to offer, but it's also a great social event," says
There are no booths featuring political candidates, McDonald
More Treats Than Tricks
Allen Lacey, costumed as a scuba diver,
hands out treats in front of his law office on North Elm Street
Tuesday. Approximately 2,000 people paraded through the downtown
in the annual Downtown Trick Or Treat sponsored by the Commerce
Area Business Association and the Downtown Development Authority.
A similar scene could be found in Jefferson, where the Jefferson
Area Merchants' Association sponsored the event.