News from Madison County...

November 21, 2000


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillispie
Trying to exclude veterans' votes is shameful

On Saturday, Nov. 11, this nation paused to remember her veterans.
On November 15th, a lawyer supporting Democrat Al Gore sent out a letter on how to disqualify overseas ballots from future veterans, thus denying them the right to take part in the selection of the next president. I find the juxtaposition of these events to be astounding.

Zach Mitcham
Remembering Josh Gibson

Here's an interesting fact: Jackie Robinson was not the first black Major League baseball player. That distinction belongs to Moses Fleetwood Walker, who suited up with the Major League Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. (See "Fleet Walker's Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer" by David W. Zang.)


SPORTS
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!

Lady Raiders destroy Apalachee 75-7, top Athens Christian
Someone needs to dust off the Lady Raiders' record book to find the last time the squad won by 68 points - or held an opponent under ten points.
Both happened Saturday night in Danielsville as the Madison County girls gave first-year competitors Apalachee a rude welcome to the sport of girls' basketball in a 75-7 shellacking in the first round of the Northeast Georgia Tip-off classic.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin, Alto, Homer and Maysville have festivities coming up
Special celebrations are planned throughout Banks County in observation of the Christmas holiday. The Town of Baldwin will hold its Christmas tree lighting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 27, at city hall.

Chamber plans Christmas decorating contest for area homes, businesses
The Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau is sponsoring the 2000 Christmas decorating contest. The two categories are residential and business/municipality. The number of votes called in to WJJC radio will determine the winners in each category. The contest will begin Nov. 24 and end Dec. 15.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Jackson County man charged in Athens serial rape cases
A Jackson County man has been charged in three Athens rapes.
Sylvester Deon Collins, 21, was 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 and one count of possession of a firearm

Architectural Steel Firm Eying Jackson
Jefferson and Jackson County are working jointly to lure a large manufacturer of architectural steel products to John B. Brooks Road. Pepe Cummings, president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, told those gathered at the chamber's board of directors meeting meeting on Friday that the manufacturer is number two in the world for expansion joints and has worked on many local projects, including the Mall of Georgia and Turner Stadium.


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LITTLE PILGRIM


Pilgrim Sierra Ledford smiles for the camera during the Thanksgiving feast in Susan Beck's kindergarten class Monday afternoon at Ila Elementary. The class made their Pilgrim and Indian costumes Friday, according to parapro Vera Bishop.



Rural tax rate up 18 percent
Rural Madison County residents will see their tax rates go up about 18 percent this year, owing to a jump in county school taxes. The change will mean an increase of $147 on a $100,000 house.
Tax bills are expected to be mailed in late December.
Those living in incorporated areas of Madison County will also see their tax rates go up, although at a smaller percentage. County and school taxes combined for city residents will rise around 12 percent. That does not include the city tax rates, however. Danielsville, Ila and Colbert will have a slight drop in tax rates from the year before, while Comer and Carlton's tax rates for 2000 are undetermined. Hull does not levy taxes.
A major increase in school taxes underlies the overall tax increase as the proposed school tax millage will jump from a total of 12.31 to 15.54 mills, a 26 percent increase. Of the 15.54 rate, 13.95 will go toward maintenance and operations, with 1.59 tagged for bonds. Offsetting that somewhat is a decrease in the general county government tax rate of 4 percent in rural areas.
The county's tax digest was up only nine percent from last year at $409.5 million from $374.9 million.
While the county tax rates show an increase overall, individual taxpayers may see different percentages depending on how their individual property assessments were changed. Likewise, homestead exemptions may lessen the increases for those who qualify for the entitlements.
Both the school board and county commissioners met this past week to discuss their budgets and tax rates. (See Page 3A, "BOE tax rate hearing held.")
The tax increase for county schools follows months of upheaval surrounding the fiscal state of the system. The BOE approved an $895,000 loan at the beginning of the school year to help cover an estimated $2 million shortfall for 2000.
School leaders have said the financial difficulties have stemmed largely from costs associated with the new Hull-Sanford Elementary School. Others, however, have maintained that the board was irresponsible in managing the system's money.
The next hearings on the school system's tax rate are set for Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center. A public forum about the school system's finances is set for next Thursday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. at the same locale.
COUNTY TAX RATE DOWN
While property taxes for county schools are up significantly this year, the county government is planning a small rollback in the mill rate.
The tax rate for unincorporated areas is expected to drop from 8.90 to 8.54, with the incorporated rate falling from 10.89 to 10.38.
Meanwhile, the projected county budget for 2001 is $9.17 million for general funds and operations, up $150,000 or 1.7 percent.
The budget includes a three percent increase for all county workers. Also, the budget includes money for an EMS station in Ila, with $150,000 for salaries for six paramedics and $90,000 for an ambulance. A 10 percent budget increase, or an additional $2,150, will be tagged for each of the county's 11 volunteer fire departments. An additional $4,800 will go toward the Madison County Rescue Inc. And a new planner position is budgeted for the Madison County Planning and Zoning Department.
The proposed budget includes $83,000 in contingency funds.
The county commissioners, who met Monday to approve advertisements of the county's five-year history of the tax digest, will meet at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 in the county government complex to discuss the proposed budget. The tax rate will be set at a 6:30 p.m. meeting on the same date in the same location.


BOE considers help in superintendent search
The school board may be enlisting the help of a consultant in their search for a new superintendent.
The board voted in a special called meeting Monday night to table a decision on hiring Frank King, a consultant and former superintendent from Thomaston Upton County, to advise and aid in an independent search by the board to fill the position of superintendent.
King said he would charge a fee of $5,000 for the work, with up to an additional $500 for travel expenses.
The board was expected to amend Tuesday night's regular meeting agenda in order to consider the matter.
The board met with King at the suggestion of acting superintendent Allen McCannon.
King has served a total of 21 years as a superintendent in three Georgia counties.
McCannon said King "understands the role and the relationship of the superintendent with the (school) board."
King handed out a packet of material outlining his recommendations on the process and procedures of selecting a superintendent. He urged the board to begin their search "as soon as possible."
"There are few vacancies in the state right now, five or six systems are looking, so this is a fairly optimum time. By spring there may be 20 (systems) looking," he said.
And while he advised they advertise the position in surrounding states as well as in Georgia, he said their "best bet is to get a Georgia person."
King also recommended that, if hired, he and the board should establish a leadership profile of the type of person they are seeking, as well as salary and contract specifications before they begin the interview process.
"This is the most important thing you, as a board, can do," he said. "You want to select a very high quality leader."
"You can't stand another short-term person in this position," he added, referring to Dr. Dennis Moore, who served for less than two years before resigning unexpectedly at the end of August.
BOE chairman Jimmy Patton told King he would exclude himself from the search procedure as his term expires on Dec. 31.
But he added that he would cast a vote in the case of a tie.




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Fortson pleads not guilty
Tracy Lea Fortson of Winterville pled not guilty Wednesday to malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and attempted arson.
She is accussed of killing her ex-boyfriend Doug Benton of Colbert in his home, then leaving his body encased in cement in a wooded area in Oglethorpe County in June.


Time to turn in children's Christmas pics
The deadline for turning in photographs of children for MainStreet Newspapers' annual special Christmas kids section is set for Friday, Dec. 1.
Photographs of children ages 8 and under are featured free of charge in the special section planned for the week of Christmas. The children must live in Madison, Jackson or Banks counties. The name, age, address and parent's name must be listed on the back of each photo.
Photos may be turned in at The Madison County Journal office on Hwy. 29 across from the county government complex or mailed to The Madison County Journal at P.O. Box 658, Danielsville, Ga. 30633.


American Profile located inside Journal
American Profile, a national magazine, will make its debut in The Madison County Journal this week. The publication will be included with each week's issue on a trial basis.
From calendars of events to profiles of "hometown heroes," American Profile's editorial content will be on interests, values and life in hometowns in this region. The magazine also includes stories on health trends, entertainment, current issues and celebrities with "hometown ties."
This week's issue includes a holiday article, "Reasons to be thankful." One of the three families featured is from Georgia.
Let us know how you like the addition of this publication by emailing madisonjrl@aol.com.