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Riding the rails on Thanksgiving
Enjoying a meal of the traditional turkey and dressing and vegetables,
along with new dishes such as sauerkraut salad and pumpkin cheesecake,
as we rode the rails through the North Carolina mountains. Heading
out . . .
Christmas is coming!
Actually, in our family, we fondly call it "Chaosmas."
That fun time of year when 21 of
us . . .
SEE THIS WEEK'S PIGSKIN PICKERS!
Banks tops Lumpkin, falls to Towns
The Lady Leopards were able to pull out a 57-32 win over Lumpkin
County to claim third place in the Pepsi Tipoff Tournament last
Recreation park planned in West Jackson
A recreation area with walking trails, a lake and a historic
mill that will be open to the public is being planned in the
West Jackson area.
Building boom ahead in Braselton?
A shopping center with a grocery store, a
manufacturing and distribution business and a 550-home residential
development are among the plans in the works in the Town of Braselton.
Board hires help in superintendent search
Frank King, a former school superintendent from Thomaston, has
been hired by the Madison County Board of Education to assist
in the search for a new superintendent.
Contract approved for new Madison County jail
Madison County commissioners gave the thumbs-up Monday to Boatwright
Construction Company from Cumming to build the new county jail.
The Banks County News
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HOLIDAY DISPLAY LIGHTS UP SQUARE
Folks on their rainy way home from a busy day of shopping
the day after Thanksgiving slowed and stopped to see the Christmas
light display in the Homer town square. Lights were strung around
trees and lined the railings along the sidewalks. Reindeer played
on the lawn. Candlelights were placed on all the picnic tables.
And a cross decked in red reminded all of the true blessing of
pleads not guilty to Banks County church arson
Jay Scott Ballinger, 38, Yorktown, Ind., pled not guilty in United
States Magistrate Court in Gainesville Wednesday to six counts
of arson, including the 1999 fire at New Salem United Methodist
Church in Banks County. Volunteer firefighter Loy Williams Jr.
was killed while fighting the New Year's Eve church fire.
No trial date has bee set yet for Ballinger, who remains in the
custody of the United States Marshal's Office. Earlier this month,
he was sentenced on federal arson charges in Indianapolis, stemming
from 26 church fires he admitted he set in Alabama, California,
Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Ballinger is serving a 42-year sentence on those charges.
"Our office looks forward to working with the United States
Attorney's Office and other agencies to ensure the crimes in
Georgia are fully prosecuted," insurance and fire safety
commissioner John Oxendine. "The charges here are the result
of the cooperative effort of many local, state and federal agencies."
The six counts in the northern district of Georgia stem from
three church fires: Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Chatsworth
on Dec. 23, 1998; the Fellowship Hall of Mountain View Baptist
Church in Chatsworth on Dec. 24, 1998; and the Banks County fire.
Ballinger also faces additional federal arson charges in the
Middle District of Georgia for allegedly setting fire to two
more churches, Sardis Full Gospel Church in Walton County on
Dec. 25, 1998, and Johnson United Methodist Church in Oconee
County on Jan. 1, 1999.
The nationwide investigation that led to Ballinger's arrest ended
in an arson spree that began in 1994, according to Oxendine's
School rankings mixed
The rankings of Banks County public schools on the annual Georgia
Report Card for Parents were mixed this year, with the high school
ranking showing a climb while the middle and elementary schools
Sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, the rankings
are limited, reflecting only math and reading averages in the
fifth grade ITBS results for elementary schools, eighth grade
math and reading ITBS results for middle schools and the Georgia
High School Graduation Test taken by 11th graders in high schools.
Schools are ranked geographically by area of the state and statewide.
For elementary and middle schools, only the math and reading
portions of the ITBS are calculated.
Banks County Elementary School's ranking fell to 87th in the
region out of 106 Northeast Georgia schools from 65th last year.
Statewide, BCES fell from 464 last year to 713 out of 1,086 schools
Banks County Middle School fell to 28th in the region out of
45 schools, down from 20th last year. Statewide, BCMS fell to
162nd out of 416 schools, down from 133rd last year.
Banks County High School improved its standing, moving to 20th
in the region out of 35 schools, up from 28th last year. BCHS
was 121st statewide out of 323 schools, an improvement from 170th
votes 'no refund' on property taxes
By a vote of 4-1 Monday night, the Baldwin City Council ruled
against the Banks County residents' appeal for a refund of 1999
ad valorem taxes.
At Monday night's meeting, Mayor Mark Reed asked the council
for a motion to approve the refund of the property tax. There
was no reply from the council.
Then council member Robert Bohannon, from Banks County, stated,
"I have studied this a lot. And I appreciate the information
provided by Mr. Caudell (the residents' attorney). I'm not a
lawyer or a judge. Based on my common sense, to the best I can
understand it, I will make a motion not to refund the taxes."
Councilman Mitchell Gailey said: "I've studied it and looked
into it, too, and I second that motion."
When Reed asked for comments and discussion before voting, Ray
Holcomb, council member from Banks County, said, "I think
everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But I think the council
made an error by passing this ordinance without doing as the
attorney general asked in getting a judicial ruling before passing
Holcomb was the only opposing vote in the motion.
In other business, the council:
·approved the second reading of the amended taxi cab ordinance.
The amendment reduces the amount of insurance a taxi cab company
is required to hold to the state's basic limit. Council member
Kevin Gaddis voted against the amendment.
·approved unanimously the second reading of the credit
card ordinance which will allow residents to pay city fees, water
bills and other fees by credit card.
·approved unanimously the first reading of the yard sale
ordinance. It restricts households to four yard sales per year;
requires a two-day written notice; limits the sales to three
consecutive days in daylight hours; allows two signs to be displayed;
requires permission for directional signage and limits number
of days prior to sale they may be displayed; calls for removal
of signs and debris within 24 hours; holds the residents responsible
for orderly conduct and proper parking; and allows for inspection
by police officers or city employees to ensure that the terms
of the ordinance are being followed.
·approved unanimously the first reading of the general
election ordinance for 2001.
·approved unanimously the first reading of the ad valorem
tax ordinance for 2000. The millage rate will be held at last
year's level of 4.05 mills on each $1,000 worth of property.
Sidewalks to be
installed in Lula
The Lula Town Council has accepted a bid of $32,788 from Concrete
Techniques to install sidewalks.
The action was taken in a brief meeting of the city council last
week. In other action, the council:
·heard an update on the Westview Cemetery and Shockley
·heard a proposal for a curfew to be imposed in the town.
·made plans to adopt the new Hall County Animal Control
·postponed making a decision on the proposed subdivision
by David Dunlap and Ken Robinson to be located on Belton Bridge
·denied the request made by Jay and Sherry Smith to locate
speed bumps on Chattahoochee Street.
·discussed placing generators at the lift stations.
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City of Maysville
begins preparing 2001 budget
An increase in insurance and salaries projected for next year
will likely lead to the largest hike in the budget for the City
The city council met for two hours Monday night to work on the
proposed budget and hear requests from city employees. A final
budget figure was not determined, but preliminary figures show
that it could be up more than $30,000 over last year's budget
of $369,500. The council will meet again before any final action
is taken on the budget.
At Monday's meeting, the council reviewed each line item on the
general budget and made estimations for each category. Insurance
is expected to increase from $35,000 to $52,000. Salaries are
estimated to jump from the $76,161 which was budgeted last year
to over $100,000. Clerk Lois Harper pointed out that the town
has already spent over $100,000 this year on salaries. The council
has not yet discussed expected revenue for next year.
Also at Monday's meeting, Maysville city employees appeared before
the council to discuss their requests for next year. Librarian
Sue Mealor requested $4,523 in city funds to go toward the summer
reading program, cleaning the library, pest control at the facility,
pressure washing the outside of the building and carpet for the
media room. The council agreed to allocate $3,000 for the library.
City leaders agreed to look into inmate detainees to be used
to clean the library.
James Lyle of the fire department asked for $16,000 to be allocated
in city funds. Last year, the city budgeted $16,150 for the fire
Police chief Ricky Armour requested several additional items
for next year, including: patrol car, $19,900; fax machine, $2,000;
radar, $1,575; copy machine, $875; VCR, $150; equipment for patrol
car, $2,000; and carpet.
Ralph Sailors of the water and sewer department presented a proposed
$268,000 budget. Last year's water and sewer budget was $308,000.