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November 17, 2000


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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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SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Tigers Hope To Give Warren County Eagles Reason To Scream
There's nothing like the home-field advantage in a big game, and that's what the Commerce Tigers will enjoy Friday night when they host the Warren County Screaming Eagles in the first round of the Class A football playoffs.

Time for JHS rebuilding to pay off
"I'm so excited, I just can't wait until Saturday."
With those words, Jefferson guard Buzz Wehunt accurately reflected the thoughts of the entire Jefferson basketball program. For the past two seasons, the Dragons have enlisted the help of this year's tremendously athletic junior class in rebuilding both the girls' and boys' basketball teams.

Girls' and boys' basketball teams look to seniors to lead promising seasons
Talent, experience and leadership will all head up the Banks County Leopard and Lady Leopard basketball teams this year.
Combined, the two teams bring 12 seniors to the court. Senior experience coupled with the youthful aggressiveness of rising underclassman should mix for an effective season for both teams.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Drug counseling program up in the air as Martin continues fight for credibility
The saga surrounding a proposed drug counseling program in the county continued Monday. Jess Martin and his wife Anna stood before the county commissioners trying to convince the group that Martin is a respectable man and should be allowed to run the proposed Adolescent Addiction Prevention Program and Aftercare Services (AADAPP).

DFACS workers face long hours, tough choices
Donnie Morgan spent half a day recently crawling under all the bridges along or near Hwy. 72 in Madison County on a tip that an indigent family with kids might be living under one of them.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Alto zoning ordinance in the works
The Alto City Council took the first steps in developing a zoning ordinance last week at its first Development Authority meeting.
Under the guidance of Larry Sparks, of the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center, council members Jerry Terrell, Susan Wade, Carol Gulley and Audrey Turner got a glimpse of what lies ahead in determining Alto's future.

Parents air complaints about BCHS band director to BOE
A series of parental complaints were aired Monday night against Banks County High School band director Rebecca Smith. The complaints were made to the Banks County Board of Education during its monthly meeting. Smith was not in attendance.


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Showing His Colors

Tyler Gamble, 7, showed his colors during a recent Commerce Tiger football game. He watched much of the Commerce-Jefferson game from along the fence on the Commerce sideline.


UPDATE
New BOC members to interview
applicants for interim county manager

The newly-elected members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners are already at work and they want to make sure an interim county manager is in place by Jan. 1.
The new board, led by chairman Harold Fletcher, met the past two Fridays and plan to hold all-day meetings through the remainder of this year.
Fletcher appeared before the current BOC Thursday afternoon to ask the board to advertise for an interim county manager to handle day-to-day operations until the position is filled permanently next year.
"We want to be very deliberate in our process in securing a permanent one, so we're going to follow this course of action," Fletcher said.
Fletcher asked the board to send the applications to his post office box and said the new BOC members would conduct interviews and make a recommendation on the interim manager. BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said the current board would hire the person recommended by Fletcher and the new commissioners.
"We want to assist you in any way that we can," Waddell said. "...You pick somebody and we'll be glad to hire that person."


UPDATE
BOC seeks court order for probate office records
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday night for county attorney Lane Fitzpatrick to seek a court order to get probate judge Margaret Deadwyler to release financial records for her office.
The board agreed to give Deadwyler two weeks to produce the records before filing the court action.
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said that the required financial records have not been submitted to the county since 1997. He said they were also not given to the auditor.
"We'd like to have access to them since part of that money is Jackson County money," Waddell said.
Deadwyler is allowed by state law to keep $7,500 from fees collected each year as personal compensation. All fees collected over $7,500 must go to the county. Waddell said earlier that the county hasn't received any fees from these funds since 1999.
Commissioner Pat Bell made the motion to delay taking any action for two weeks.
"Give her time to respond," she said. "She's been busy with the election."


Jackson County man suspect in serial rape cases in Athens
A Jackson County man is being held in the Clarke County Jail as a suspect in three rapes in Athens in recent month.
Sylvester Deon Collins, 21, is expected to be charged with three counts of rape, two counts of false imprisonment, one count of aggravated sodomy, one count of criminal attempt to commit aggravated sodomy, one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. The charges stem from three sexual assaults that took place in Athens on July 30, 2000; Aug. 27, 2000; and Oct. 22, 2000. Law enforcement officers say physical evidence from Collins has linked him to all three crimes.
The break in the case came after an arrest of Collins on Wednesday, Nov. 15, by uniform patrol officers of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. He was implicated in an aggravated assault that day, according to a release from he police department.
The charges against Collins will be filed by the Joint Rape Task Force, which is comprised of Athens-Clarke Police Department investigators, University of Georgia investigators and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents.
Collins is a deserter from the United States Armed Forces.


Planning board to hear new landfill bid
Carnesville company seeks to locate 'demolition landfill' in North Jackson area
Another proposal to locate a construction and demolition landfill in Jackson County is slated to go before the planning commission next month.
Earth Resource is requesting a conditional use permit to locate the landfill in the North Jackson area. The request will go before the Jackson County Planning Commission when it meets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14. It will then go to the board of commissioners for action at its January meeting.
This is the second request to go before the county this year seeking a permit for a C&D landfill. The earlier request was from another company and was denied by the BOC.
The latest request is to locate a landfill on 94.48 acres on Lanier Road that is zoned I-2. According to the application for a permit, the landfill would accept no household garbage or waste.
"A large 200-foot vegetative buffer will assure no impact on neighboring property," the application reads. "Construction demolition is odorless...The development of the construction demolition landfill is necessary given recent trends in residential development of subdivisions in Jackson County. The development creates inert waste which must be safely disposed of."
A letter from the company's attorney, L. Robert Lovett of Macon, also indicates a possible lawsuit if the request is denied by the county.
"The Jackson County Planning Commission, nor the Jackson County Board of Commissioners has the discretionary authority to deny the permit once it is shown that the subject property meets all the criteria set forth in the Jackson County zoning ordinance for the grant of a conditional use permit," the letter states.
A construction demolition site is legally defined as "waste building materials and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair and demolition operations of pavements, houses, commercial buildings and other structures." It includes waste, wood, bricks, metal, concrete, wall board, paper, cardboard and inert waste landfill materials. These types of landfills are permitted and regulated by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's solid waste branch.
Emil Beshara, who was elected last week to represent the North Jackson area on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, has already reviewed the proposal and has outlined numerous concerns. He said that granting a conditional use permit for the landfill would violate the county zoning code and the policy and intent of the comprehensive land use plan.
"It is obviously the intent of the law to locate C&D landfills along major county roads or state roads, not on gravel roads or secondary county roads," he said. "...The only reason this property is even being considered is because it is large enough to host an economically viable C&D landfill and because it is already zoned I-2 (the zoning classification containing landfills)."
Beshara said the property should be zoned agriculture. He said it was apparently given the industrial zoning because of a private airstrip that has been located on the property for many years.
"When Jackson County first instituted zoning, the property was placed in the M-I category only because of the airstrip," he said. "When the county zoning code was recently amended, the zoning was changed to I-2, again only because of the airstrip feature of the property. The airstrip has not been used for two decades, and is not currently in a usable condition. Jackson County could reasonably allow the zoning of this property to fall back to an agricultural classification without a significant detrimental affect to the property owner."


Tax Rate Cut for Commerce
Commerce taxpayers can expect a 1.8 to 2-mill tax rollback when their property tax bills arrive late this year.
The exact amount of the rollback will depend on three factors. First, it depends on the final tax digest. The preliminary digest shows Commerce with 22 percent growth over last year. The final tax digest may be different.
Second, city officials plan to expand the Freeport exemption offered to certain industries for goods in inventory. The current level is 20 percent, but at Monday night's city council meeting, the consensus appeared to be to raise it to 100 percent. City manager Clarence Bryant offered figures for raising Freeport to 80 percent and for increasing it to 100 percent. The result is a difference of .29 mills.
The third thing affecting the rollback is whether the city council keeps its one-mill levy for city operations or rolls it back. Bryant's scenarios proposed keeping the one-mill levy, but Councilman Bob Sosebee argued for a rollback.
"I don't like the idea of it being thrown up that we're having a tax increase for fifteen or twenty thousand dollars," Sosebee complained. He pointed out that to maintain the one-mill city levy, the council would have to hold three public hearings under new state law.
"Rather than have three hearings, I'd prefer to roll back the tax," he commented.
The Commerce Board of Education, by keeping spending for the school year at the same level as last year ($1,609,875), guarantees that taxpayers will get a rollback to offset some of the higher assessments sent out by Jackson County.
DIGEST GROWTH
The figures Bryant showed Monday night indicated growth in all but one area in the tax digest.
While there are likely some errors (mobile home digest, for example), Bryant said he believes that the preliminary digest will not change by more than five to eight percent.


Florida ballot flap similar to Jackson in '84
The ballot recount controversy in Florida over the outcome of the presidential race may seem like deja vu all over again for some Jackson County citizens.
The issues of ballots being mispunched, manual recounts and court suits all hark back to a similar situation that happened in Jackson County in 1984. That year, a young Stan Evans challenged incumbent sheriff Neal Ward during the Democratic Primary. When the ballots were counted the night of August 14, 1984, Evans had won a stunning upset over Ward by a thin margin of 204 votes. Nearly 6,000 votes were cast in that election.
But in the days following the vote, Ward filed suit in Jackson County Superior Court claiming that there had been ballot "irregularities." The crux of his complaint revolved around where some voters had punched their ballots, with Ward claiming that voters were confused by where his name appeared on the ballot.
That year, Jackson County was using a punch card system similar to the one used in Florida. Voters put each ballot card into a small punch machine and aligned the punch lever with a name on the ballot. If voters punched two names, the vote in that race was ignored by the counting computer. If voters mispunched above or below a name, those votes were not counted.
In the 1984 sheriff's contest, Ward's name appeared below Evans' at the bottom of one ballot card. But although that race was the last on that side of the ballot card, there was one empty line below Ward's name. It was that line that Ward contended had caused voter confusion.
On Sept. 7, 1984, a visiting judge heard the case with both sides bringing witnesses to the stand. To sort out the issue, the judge ordered that the ballot boxes be opened and that each ballot be counted manually for the sheriff's race, setting aside the ballots where a punch appeared below Ward's name or where a punch appeared above Evans' name.
As in the situation in Florida now, counters sat around tables in the courtroom in 1984 as the recount proceeded. In the end, 201 punches were found below Ward's name on the ballot, but 23 punches were found above Evans' name. Neither number would have changed the outcome of the election so the judge ruled in favor of Evans and declared him the winner.
Ward appealed his lawsuit, but to no avail. He was again defeated by Evans in 1988 and Evans has gone on to win every election since then, this year by a whopping margin of over 70 percent.

Nov 7 Election Results

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See August 8 Runoff Results



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UPDATE
Ken Mize named warden
Ken Mize was appointed as warden of the Jackson County Correctional Institute by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Thursday night.
Mize has been serving on an interim basis for several weeks.
In other business at Thursday's meeting, the BOC:
·reappointed Shirley Turner and David Riley to the Jackson County Board of Adjustors.
·agreed to sell 0.186 of an acre for $1,235 to The Jackson Herald.
·tabled a request from the county firemen's association to deed 8.03 acres for a fire burn building and training facility. The building is to be constructed with funds from the special purpose local option sales tax. The request was tabled in order for county attorney Lane Fitzpatrick to look into the legality of the county deeding money to the association.
·agreed to transfer the lease for state court probation services from DMS to Sentinel.
·approved a resolution to apply for state funds through the greenspace program.
·agreed to file condemnation proceedings on Michael Berger for property on Savage Road.
·agreed to share expenses with Banks and Barrow counties for a juvenile judge for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit.
·agreed to close a county bank account for the inmate store fund, which has less than $15 in it; agreed to get county credit cards for all department heads and the five new BOC members; and agreed to transfer the signature on the recreation department bank account from John Hoos to Ricky Sanders.


Commerce Schools To Start Earlier In Fall
The Commerce City School System has joined what seems to be the trend of northeast Georgia schools by approving a calendar for 2001-2002 that starts and ends the school year early.
The Commerce Board of Education presented a calendar proposal at Thursday night's work session and approved it at Monday night's regular meeting that will have students reporting to school August 8 and finishing out the school year May 17.
Under the new calendar, teachers will report for pre-planning August 2; Christmas holidays will begin for students on December 18, and on December 20 for teachers, following an in-service day on the 19th; second semester will begin January 2; spring break will be the first week in April; and holidays such as Martin Luther King Day and President's Day will remain intact.
When given a vote on the calendar, the school system's teachers approved it 80 to 30, superintendent Larry White told the BOE Thursday. A parent advisory group also had a chance to review the calendar, he said.
"This would give teachers two extra weeks to prepare for standardized tests," White said.
TESTING PREPARATION AT CES
During Thursday's work session at Commerce Elementary School, principal Kim Savage updated the board on preparations the school is making for the new Stanford Nine test to be given in the spring. The Stanford Nine, a standardized test, will take the place of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) this year, with testing scheduled for March and April.
Savage told the board that since the test objectives have been unavailable from the state, CES has purchased them so teachers will know general areas their students will be tested on. The school also purchased the test for all grade levels, first through fifth, as well as a sample battery kit.
Because the school is starting from scratch on supplies for this new test, Savage said CES spent some $4,000 on testing materials and supplies, about double what it would take to get updated materials for the ITBS.
"We've done everything we know we can do to prepare for it," Savage said.


Commissioners reschedule meeting
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has rescheduled its November meeting.
The work session will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday with the regular meeting to immediately follow. The BOC usually holds its work session on the first Tuesday of the month and its regular meeting on the second Tuesday of the month.