News from Banks County...

 November 30, 2000


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OPINION

Angie Gary
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 . . .

Shar Porier
Christmas shopping

Christmas is coming!
Actually, in our family, we fondly call it "Chaosmas."
That fun time of year when 21 of
us . . .


SPORTS
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 week.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
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.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
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.


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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 the season.



UPDATE:
Ballinger 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 office.




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 fell.
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 this year.
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 last year.



Baldwin council 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 the ordinance."
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 Road projects.
·heard a proposal for a curfew to be imposed in the town.
·made plans to adopt the new Hall County Animal Control Ordinance.
·postponed making a decision on the proposed subdivision by David Dunlap and Ken Robinson to be located on Belton Bridge Road.
·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 of Maysville.
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 department.
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.