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November 15, 2000


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillispie
Take the profit out of glorifying violence

Early Sunday morning, I encountered an elderly black man who was looking for change to purchase a newspaper from a rack. After I helped him find the quarters he needed, he showed me a story on the front page of the Athens paper about three bodies being found.

Ben Munro
Bush-Gore, with a sports twist

This whole delayed election we're having is like being trapped in the middle of a week-long NFL instant-replay challenge by the Democrat "coaching staff" (if you like to put a sports spin on things).
The officials are huddled, the play
has . . .


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Seniors to lead MCHS in 2000
A taste of state.
The Madison County senior girls got just that last month in softball.
And this weekend, nine Lady Raider seniors will begin the quest for another state tournament appearance, opening the 2000 hoops season.


Neighborhood News...
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.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Planning board to hear new landfill bid
Another proposal to locate a construction and demolition landfill in Jackson County is slated to go before the planning commission next month.

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.


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The Madison County Journal
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QUICK HANDS!


Bobby Pittard of Danielsville Elementary School dribbles the basketball during the Special Olympics at Ila Elementary School Wednesday morning.



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).
But the commissioners sat silent, not acting on the matter after an approximately 30-minute presentation from the Martins.
Martin opened by handing board members a thick packet of papers that he said would clear his name. Martin's past was recently called into question after BOC chairman Wesley Nash released public documents from Texas regarding judgments in the 1980s against Martin in a securities fraud case and an insurance fraud case. The papers also showed that Martin's insurance license was briefly revoked.
But Martin said he was cleared in the matters and that his insurance license is in good standing. He said those who question his past have made a mistake.
"These documents, as presented, revealed only partial facts and quickly distorted the people's views of Jess Martin, causing him a tremendous amount of hurt, financial loss (and) undue embarrassment," Anna Martin said, reading a prepared statement.
Jess Martin first appeared before the county commissioners in July, asking that the board approve $70,000 and the use of county facilities for the program.
The board approved $25,000 and the use of the old tax assessor's office on Crawford W. Long Street for the program. But Martin said the old building was unfit for use because of its asbestos siding. He then said the program would be operated out of his house on Friendship Church Road.
Soon after, questions about Martin's past arose and the AADAPP board split into two groups. The group that moved apart from Martin returned the $25,000 to the county.
But that group has disbanded.
Martin presented the commissioners a letter he received from Rev. Randy Crowe, president of the board of directors of the AADAPP Corporation. That board included George Cronic, Daniel Dooley and James Norton.
"The board of directors of the AADAPP Corporation has voted to dissolve the corporation and is currently in the process of dissolution," said Crowe in the Nov. 9 letter.
Martin also provided commissioners a letter that he wrote to the now-defunct competing board. The Nov. 8 letter called for the group to disband.
"...I have submitted overwhelmingly sufficient documentation to you as legal proof of my being cleared of all allegations," Martin wrote the AADAPP board. "...It is my desire and hope that I will not be forced to escalate this matter to a more embarrassing level."
Martin said Monday that a new board has been established under the name Georgia ADAPP Inc. He said the new board includes him and his wife as well as Bill Avant, a retired law enforcement and security officer; Jack Haney, a professor at Emmanuel College; David R. Hopkins, president of Emmanuel College; and Marilyn Bridges, a reporter with The Danielsville Monitor.
But Bridges said after the meeting that she will not be serving on the board.
Documents show that in 1985, a default judgment was awarded to United American Insurance Company against Martin in Judicial District Court in Dallas County. The $5,000 judgment found that Martin had "maliciously interfered with existing contracts between United American Insurance Company and third parties" and had "engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Texas Insurance Code."
In a separate matter, a 1987 judgment in the Probate Court of Dallas County found that Martin had "sold a security as an unregistered security dealer." Martin and his brother, Robert, were ordered to pay the "estate of Nan Schmidt $122,257.51."
Martin's insurance license was briefly revoked in 1989, but that revocation was overturned. Martin says this proves his innocence. And he said the judgments against him were "lost by default due to improper advice from counsel."
"If any of the above charges had been true, by the letter of the law, Michelle Hauser, attorney for the Texas Board of Insurance, would not have allowed any of the charges to be dropped," Martin wrote.
Martin said he hired the law firm of Hinton and Powell to review the documents from Texas. He submitted a letter from attorney A. Jack Hinton supporting his argument.
"(A)ny information that has been disseminated by anyone that has inappropriately accused Jessie Martin of any prior fraudulent activities is erroneous..." wrote Hinton."...The findings by the final appellate rulings through the Texas Department of Insurance should support the proposition that Jessie Martin is eminently qualified to operate the program known as AADAPP."
A majority of the documents Martin provided the county commissioners are correspondence between Martin and his attorney in Texas, Robert J. Ratcliffe. The papers also included articles with headlines, "Texas fraud discovery by Wesley Nash is a dry hole," and "Jess Martin is a victim of double-jeopardy."
Martin said he will sue Nash.
"Because of the horrendous hurt against Martin's name, family, and the right to live in his own community without being falsely accused or used as a political stepping-stone, and because his constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness has been challenged, Martin believes that when he has come to peace about pursuing this matter concerning Wesley Nash in civil court, he will do so," Martin wrote in one of the articles submitted to the commissioners.
In previous meetings, Nash has urged the commissioners to be cautious in granting funds to Martin.
At the end of Monday's meeting Martin tried to urge the commissioners to vote on the matter. He wanted the board to recognize him as fit to run the program.
But Nash said Martin was out of line with board protocol in trying to speak again.
"You're finished," Nash said to Martin. "You've had your turn to speak."




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Hull budget expected to rise 7%
It appears Hull residents will see a seven percent increase in their town's budget for next year.
The town council approved the tentative budget, in the amount of $39,250, at its Monday night meeting but will hold a public hearing on the matter at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 11.
The hearing will be followed by the regular council meeting at 7 p.m., at which time the council is expected to give final approval to the budget.
The biggest change is in the "miscellaneous" column, which stands at $4,910 for 2001, up $3,896 from the $1,014 budgeted for last year.
In another matter, the council voted unanimously to hire Janet Seagraves as city clerk, effective January 2001.
Seagraves will replace long-time clerk James Norton, who resigned several months ago, but agreed to stay on until a replacement was found.
The council held interviews for the clerk position in a called meeting on Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m.
OTHER BUSINESS
In another business, the council:
·heard that councilman Ken Murray will contact the new security company to begin part-time service during the holidays.
·endorsed a business retention survey being conducted by the Chamber of Commerce.
·agreed to allow Norton to reimburse the Hull Volunteer Fire Department $1,849 for a fire hall insurance premium that was inadvertently paid by the department. Funds for the premium were budgeted into the town's 2000 budget.
·heard that the town will need to seek a new audit company for the 2000 audit. Mayor B.W. Hutchins said local CPA Daniel Dooley had agreed to provide recommendations to the council for a replacement for this service.


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.
For Morgan, who is a Child Protective Services case manager for the Department of Family and Children Services in Danielsville, and others in his position, such ventures are not that unusual.
"It took me two or three days to track them down," Morgan said, adding that the family had already settled into a rental home. As best he could tell, they had spent at least one or two nights camping out, between moving out of one home and into another.
Morgan says the fact that there are so many indigent families, always on the move, makes his job even more difficult. If there is a complaint in one area, it might be difficult to track the family to another area.
Another day, Morgan, visited the middle school, an elementary school and two homes - all before lunch.
"That means I talked to five kids, four parents, and four to five staff at the schools all in one morning," he said.
Folks in Morgan's job, particularly some around Atlanta, have received a lot of "bad press" recently. Add this to a sometimes negative public perception, relatively low pay, high stress and job "burnout" and it could make many wonder why anyone would want to assume the responsiblilities they do.
"We all have our ways of dealing with a highly stressful job," he said. But Morgan believes there is a common bond between most in the social work field. "Something inside of them wants to help," he said.
"We're not baby snatchers," Morgan wants to emphasize to those he works with. "We want your children to stay in your home and you (as a family) to do well."
Morgan says that when he first takes on a case, he has to work to overcome all the "negative stuff" associated with DFACS workers. "I have to gain their trust," he said.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Madison County Journal.