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Off To The Dome
OK, the game is in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, but the road
to the Class A state football championship goes through Lincolnton,
no matter what anybody says.
At 9:00 Saturday morning, the Commerce Tigers, having dispatched
No. 2 Johnson County 34-20 last Friday, will face a familiar
foe Saturday, the Lincoln County Red Devils. The winner plays
at home the following Friday night for the state title, and if
the Tigers win, the game will be at Tiger Stadium.
JHS to open region hoops schedule
THE REGION schedule starts early this year for basketball teams
at Jefferson High School. The Dragons will host region 8-A foe
Wesleyan Saturday at 6 p.m. in the first region matchup for both
teams. Boys' and girls' games will precede the varsity games.
Grapplers to head north for Mountaineer
Wrestling teams from both Jackson County and Jefferson High Schools
will compete Friday and Saturday in the John Smith Mountaineer
Invitational tournament on the campus of North Georgia College,
Crowd seeks answers on schools' fiscal problems
Madison County school taxes are up 26 percent to help offset
a cash shortage. And a large crowd of concerned citizens sat
in the high school media center Thursday night hoping to find
out what went wrong with school finances.
Comer renews beer permits as charges pend on two city businesses
The Comer City Council voted 4-0 to renew beer and wine permits
for three local businesses although two of the companies are
facing charges of selling beer to minors.
Ballinger pleads not guilty to 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.
County moves forward on water expansion project
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is moving forward on
the expansion of the treatment capacity of the waste water treatment
plant from 70,000 gallons per day to 300,000 gallons per day.
The Jackson Herald
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BUNDLING UP AT PARADE
Sisters Kaitlan Brown, 6, Jefferson, and Megan Davis were
among those bundling up to keep warm Saturday at the Jefferson
Christmas parade. For more parade pictures, see this week's
hired by water authority
JEFFERSON -- Don't look for Jerry Waddell in the unemployment
line when his term of office expires Dec. 31.
The chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners was
named the new superintendent of the Jackson County Water and
Sewerage Authority Thursday
night at the authority's regular monthly meeting. The hiring
Waddell, 58, has been chairman of the board of commissioners
for almost eight years. He did not seek re-election for a third
In accepting the position, salary for which is expected to be
in the $60,000
to $65,000 range, Waddell promised the board "not to let
you down," and said
he realized that his job "is to follow the policies of the
board and to operate as efficiently as I can...and to do everything
I can to please the
new board of commissioners."
His election was unanimous. It followed an 80-minute closed-door
which the hiring was discussed, along with the acquisition of
rights of way.
Vice chairman Larry Joe Wood, who chairs the authority's personnel
committee, made the motion. Tom Crow seconded it.
Waddell will assume day-to-day operations of the authority, which
manages the county water system and is building a county sewage
system. He succeeds Paul Mims, who will focus on outside work,
including the inspection of
construction projects and maintenance of the system.
BOC files court
order for probate court income records
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners filed a court order
Monday to force probate court judge Margaret Deadwyler to release
financial records for her office.
On Thursday, Deadwyler released a total amount of fees collected
for the first three quarters of this year, but didn't provide
a breakdown, BOC chairman Jerry Waddell said. Deadwyler said
she collected $2,539 for the first quarter; $2,640 for the second
quarter; and $3,110 for the third quarter. "This is not
what we need," Waddell said. "We need a breakdown so
we can verify it for our end-of-year audit."
Waddell said the county needs to know the total fees charged
for each vital records category Deadwyler collects, which includes
marriage certificates and birth certificates. The county wants
receipt books and bank statements on these fees.
Waddell said Deadwyler also turned in $789 to the county and
kept $7,500, as she is allowed to do by state law. Since she
has already kept the amount she is allowed to for this year,
this means that all fees collected for the fourth quarter should
go to the county. Deadwyler didn't turn in any money to the county
in 1998 or 1997.
Deadwyler has said that she has done nothing wrong and that the
court order is a personal vendetta by Waddell against her.
Waddell said a court date on the matter has not been set and
that Jackson County Superior Court judge David Motes had recused
himself from the case. If Superior Court judges T. Penn McWhorter
and Robert Adamson also recuse themselves from the case, Waddell
said it could take some time to find a judge from another circuit
to hear the matter.
to eat $4.25 million reserves
Tax bills to be sent in late December
The good news is that Jackson County taxpayers will see the county
government tax rate drop five mills when tax bills are eventually
The bad news is that the county will use much of its accumulated
reserve funds, some $4.25 million, to effect that tax decrease,
meaning that next year taxes may have to go back up dramatically,
or county services may have to be slashed in 2002.
While the five-mill tax rate decrease from 7.58 mills to 2.58
was announced earlier, the actual impact of that was seen for
the first time this week in the county's proposed budget for
2001. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved the
tentative budget Tuesday night and a public hearing will be held
at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18.
Although the overall county budget is up for 2001, to $23.9 million
from $21.8 million this year, that is mostly due to the re-establishment
of SPLOST funds which will add $4.8 million to the budget in
2001. Local tax revenue, on the other hand, is expected to drop
from $11 million to $8.1 million, a decrease of $2.9 million.
While the tentative budget has been set, the final tax rate and
budget won't be set until Dec. 28. The holdup is the large number
of property tax reassessment appeals still pending before the
Jackson County Board of Equalization.
Also pending are the tax rates for the various fire districts
in Jackson County. County officials said this week they haven't
yet received those rates from the fire district boards.
In addition to the dramatic decrease in property tax funds, other
income highlights of the 2001 budget are:
· an anticipated jump in building inspection fee income
of 62 percent, to $525,000 from $323,100. Those fees were recently
· the addition of a Judicial Council of Georgia grant
· a decrease in a federal COPS grant for the sheriff's
department of $90,000, down to $70,000 from $160,000.
· an anticipated increase in E-911 income fees of $55,000.
· an anticipated increase in a federal grant for the county
Dial-A-Ride program of $65,500.
· an anticipated state transportation fund grant to the
senior citizens center of $108,000.
· the addition of $4.8 million in SPLOST funds for roads,
water and sewer, fire protection and recreation. A large portion
of those funds will flow to other government agencies in Jackson
County (see chart).
On the expense side of the 2001 budget are the following highlights:
· no funds were allocated in 2001 for a county animal
· an increase of $56,500 to convert and fund the county
administrator position to a county manager position. The extra
funding is for a secretary's position and to allow for an $88,000
salary for a county manager.
· a decrease in funding for the tax appraiser's office
of $260,000 that was allocated last year for a countywide property
· a decrease in funds to the probate judge's office of
$40,000 that was allocated in 2000 to cover election expenses.
· a decrease of $23,500 for Superior Court expenses to
pay for bailiff, witness and jury expenses.
· the addition of a juvenile court at a cost of $166,000.
· an increase in subsidy funding for the Jackson County
Health Department of $87,700. Those funds had previously been
cut when county leaders discovered the department had accrued
a large bank balance of cash on hand. Those funds have now been
· an increase of funding to the regional library system
· a decrease in subsidy funding to the senior citizens
center of $32,700.
· a decrease in the landfill budget of $187,000, most
of which compares to capital expenses in 2000 that aren't planned
· the leasing of 10 new sheriff's department vehicles
· a planned upgrade of equipment for E-911 at $203,000.
· a new vehicle for the Dial-A-Ride program for $83,000.
· a new vehicle for the Senior Citizens' Center at $33,000.
For the anticipated SPLOST allocations, see this week's Jackson
Water, Sewer Tap Fees
By a 2-1 vote, the Maysville City Council agreed Monday night
to increase the fees charged to connect to the water and sewerage
The council approved a recommendation from Precision Planning
Inc. to increase the tap fees to $700 for a three-quarter-inch
line, $800 for a one-inch line and $500 for a sewer tap. The
firm reportedly advised that this increase will help the town
recoup some of the current losses and keep the system at a break-even
Precision Planning executive vice president Jerry Hood said that
after the review of the town's operating costs and obligations
the user rates should be adjusted.
Precision Planning Inc. is the firm engineering Phase I for the
improvement of the water system.
Water and waste water superintendent Ralph Sailors said he has
been talking with Commerce, Jefferson and Jackson and Banks counties
to compare charges. He told the council that those governments
all plan increases after the first of the year.
A report of the actual costs versus fees the city is charging
for the taps was also given to the council. Currently, the cost
for a water tap is $350, with the city losing $41.36 per tap,
according to Sailors' figures.
One of the problems encountered with sewer taps, he said, is
the cost of digging up and repairing the roadway. "We're
losing money on repairing the roads," he said.
The proposed increase was met with some apprehension and discussion.
Council member Andy Martin was reluctant to raise the fees so
Sailors said he wanted it noted that "the past administration
has tried to keep costs down." He added that that has hurt
the town and left it without the money needed to up-grade the
"If we had more income, we would be in better shape,"
Two other fee hikes in the vote included an increase in the water
security deposit, from $50 to $75, and adding $1 to the base
The increase was approved by council members Jim Saville and
William Austin, with Martin opposing.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News
or the Jackson Herald.
Fees On City Council Agenda
The Commerce City Council will consider "interim" increases
in water and sewer tap fees when it meets Monday night at 6:30
at the Commerce Civic Center.
City manager Clarence Bryant said the city is likely to establish
permanent charges for connecting to city water and sewer systems
when it establishes "proportional use fees" sometime
"But we need to do something in the interim," he said.
"We've got a couple of subdivisions that will be coming
to us soon."
In other business on the agenda, the council will act on recommendations
of the Commerce Planning Commission to rezone a lot on Central
Avenue from R-3, a residential zone, to C-1, a commercial zone,
as requested by Lauren "Bubba" McDonald. The planning
commission recommended ap-proval of the request.
Also on Monday, the council will approve the beer and wine sales
license applications for 2001 and will fill a seat on the Commerce
Board of Zoning Appeals.
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Walks Out On Meeting
Mayor Ronnie Maxwell's first official business after being installed
as Nicholson's new mayor Monday night was to make sure no business
After taking the oath of office from Magistrate judge Billy Chandler
at about 6:52 p.m., Maxwell left the building. At 7:00, mayor
pro tem Thomas Gary announced that "Our mayor has left"
and told a gathering of about 35 people that the town could not
conduct a meeting.
"Folks, I'm sorry. We don't have enough for a quorum for
the December meeting," Gary said.
Maxwell's hasty exit was designed to counter a move by Councilwoman
Margaret Ward, who was prepared to introduce a motion to implement
the town's zoning ordinance. If Gary seconded the motion, it
would have become law.
Maxwell ran on an anti-zoning platform and easily beat former
councilman Stanley Fouche Nov. 28. Fouche was pro-zoning.
Maxwell was aware of Ward's intent, and said Tuesday morning
that he had asked that a decision on zoning be delayed until
the March special election at which two council seats will be
As for his actions, Maxwell said, "I talked to some lawyers
about it (the situation). They thought that it was in my best
Maxwell said he had two primary reasons for not conducting the
meeting. The first was the zoning vote. The second was that he
was not prepared.
"It was not hardly fair to me," he said of the meeting
held six days after the election. "They threw this mountain
on me all at one time and it was too much. I'm going to have
time to do my homework and know what's going on. I'm going to
read the minute book and the zoning book and every book I can
get my hands on. I will be educated (by the next meeting)."
The Nicholson city council has not met since September, its ranks
depleted by, first, the resignation of mayor Steve Wilbanks,
and then the resignations of Daniel Sailors, to run for county
commissioner, and Fouche, to run for mayor.
Zoning is virtually the only issue being discussed, but passions
are high. A vehicle parked at a Nicholson business bears a sign
opposing zoning and suggesting that Ward and Gary should be "recalled"
for supporting zoning.
Maxwell said that the town council took no action to change the
city's proposed zoning map following a public hearing at which
some 20 residents requested that their property be zoned differently
than what was proposed on the map.
"When they got through with that, they said they would have
one or two meetings to go over the requests. They haven't done
that," Maxwell stated.
Nicholson remains the only Jackson County community without a
zoning ordinance. What that means is that there are no land use
regulations or code enforcement inspections. Property owners,
including developers, are free to utilize their land in any fashion
that suits their fancy or yields the highest dividend.
In 1999, the rapid development of mobile home parks led to a
citizen group's demand that the council develop a zoning ordinance.
The ordinance was drafted and public hearings held, but the ordinance
was not adopted by the time the city government fell apart.
Santa to visit Hoschton,
Santa Claus will be busy Saturday, making an appearance in Hoschton
and in Jefferson.
Santa will make his annual visit to the Hoschton gazebo from
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, with his grand arrival planned
for 10:30 a.m. Surprises and photographs will be available for
the little ones who visit him. The event is sponsored by the
Hoschton Women's Civic Club.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA
The Optimist Club of Jackson County will hold "Breakfast
with Santa" from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Jackson Electric
Membership Corporation's auditorium in Jefferson.
Tickets are $5 for children and $3 for adults eating breakfast.
For more information, contact L'Resu Thompson at 367-2741.
New BOC asks for
industrial zoning moratorium
County to hold public hearing, vote on request
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is getting ready to
implement a 60-day moratorium on all industrial zoning.
Commissioner-elect Emil Beshara asked the current BOC Tuesday
night to take this action. He said the board, which has been
meeting at least once a week since being elected, wants the moratorium
in place because of concerns about the existing zoning ordinance.
"We feel it would help ease the transition to the new government...if
y'all would consider instituting a moratorium on certain classifications
of zoning, particularly industrial zoning, I-1 and I-2,"
Beshara said. "We specifically request, or hope you would
consider, a 60-day moratorium on I-1 and I-2 zoning."
Beshara asked that the moratorium be approved Tuesday night,
but county attorney Lane Fitzpatrick said a public hearing would
have to be advertised and held to seek input before any action
is taken. The BOC agreed to set a public hearing and advertise
it in the newspaper and then take action on the request. Industrial
zoning applications that have already been submitted to the county
would not be impacted by this moratorium.
Beshara said the new board had originally discussed asking for
a 60-day moratorium on all classifications of zoning, but backed
away from this after members of the local building community
contacted them in opposition.
"There are aspects of the complete, total zoning ordinance
that we would like to address," he said. "The primary
and immediate need is for industrial."
Local builder Keith Hayes, who is also chairman of the county
planning commission, asked that the moratorium be only for industrial