News from Madison County...

December 13, 2000


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillispie
We must preserve the Electoral College

Millions of Americans have discovered for the first time the existence of the Electoral College. As the realization dawns that the candidate who received the most popular votes may not win the presidency, they react . . .

Zach Mitcham
Muzzling opponents is not the answer

Chairman Wesley Nash should not have blocked his fellow commissioners' efforts to get on the board's meeting agenda to talk about legal fees related to recall efforts.
Nash's position of denying . . .


SPORTS
Lady Raiders win fourth in a row

Four consecutive wins may be in the books, but Lady Raider basketball coach Tim Cook said his squad isn't ready to pat themselves on the back. According to Cook, the squad still has some strides to make to get where they need to be.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
BOC agrees on tentative SPLOST allocations
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is one step closer to finalizing the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) allocations.

Maysville bust nets $62,000 in drugs and cash and four arrests
A weekend drug bust in Maysville resulted in the recovery of $43,000 in drugs and over $19,000 in cash and four arrests


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
New deputy warden charged
The new deputy warden at the Jackson County Correctional Institute has been charged with theft by taking.

Jackson County gets greenspace grant of $139,450
Jackson County has received a $139,450 state grant for its greenspace program. The Georgia Greenspace Commission approved six grants under Gov. Roy Barnes' new Georgia Greenspace Program.


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A FAMILY AFFAIR


Dennis Mize helps his son Matt Mize, 9, chop down the family Christmas tree last Saturday at Briar Hill Christmas Tree Farm in northern Madison County, while sister Kasi, 12, stands by to assist. Mom Marie Mize and brother Josh Welborn were also on hand to help pick out the tree. The family says this is an annual event.



Rift over legal fees continues among commissioners
Madison County leaders continued a fight over the payment of legal fees related to recall efforts Monday, though the contentious issue was cut short as chairman Wesley Nash declared that the matter was settled two weeks ago and needs no more debate.
The chairman denied two commissioners' written requests to be on the agenda Monday to discuss the matter and allowed no discussion of the issue during the meeting.
Nash said he was simply following Georgia law, while his opponents said he was denying their freedom of speech.
On Nov. 27, the BOC voted 3-2 not to allow payment of attorney's fees for commissioners fighting recall efforts. These bills included a $4,568 bill for Patsy Pierce and a $2,684 bill for former commissioner Ken Clark.
Pierce was not at that meeting and in her absence, chairman Nash cast the deciding vote to deny payment.
Prior to Monday's meeting Pierce and commissioner Melvin Drake filed written requests with the chairman to be on the meeting agenda.
Drake's request was for "reconsideration of unpaid legal fees for commissioners." Pierce asked that the agenda include the item: "file litigation to cover legal fees and court costs."
Chairman Nash responded with letters to both commissioners explaining his denial.
"This issue was settled at our last meeting when a motion was approved 'that we deny the payment of these expenses and that we deny any further submission for payment of any recall expenses,'" Nash wrote Pierce. "I believe Commissioner (Bruce) Scogin has presented sufficient information to determine that the payment of legal fees in a recall action is contrary to Georgia law, therefore, even if ordered to do so by this board I will not knowingly commit an illegal act."
Nash's letter to Drake contained essentially the same information, with this added: "I hope that the day of self-serving politics is behind us and that we can move forward in a spirit of unity for the good of the citizens of the county."
Monday's meeting opened with Pierce, Drake and District 2 commissioner Nelson Nash voting to deny the minutes from the Nov. 27 meeting.
Later, Drake asked that regular meeting rules "be suspended" to allow the discussion of the legal fees issue.
The board voted 3-2 to allow the discussion, with Pierce, Drake and Nelson Nash voting for the measure and Scogin and Bill Taylor opposing.
But the chairman said county policy stipulates that the suspension of meeting rules must carry a unanimous vote.
County attorney John McArthur told the board that the chairman was correct, but that there have been occasions when the board has not followed that policy.
Pierce questioned how the board could reconsider a number of other items in recent meetings but not reconsider the legal fee issue.
Chairman Nash said he was following the law and Robert's Rules of Order and he moved on to the next agenda item - the approval of beer and wine permits for county businesses. Fourteen permits were approved.
Three Madison County commissioners faced recall efforts in the past three years, with two - Clark and Jack Fortson - resigning shortly before recall votes. An effort against Pierce fizzled amid legal challenges.


Budget on hold amid commissioners' conflict
Approval of the 2001 budget was put on hold Monday amid the conflict over the payment of commissioners' legal expenses.
The board voted 3-2 to deny the budget proposed by chairman Wesley Nash. BOC members Nelson Nash, Patsy Pierce and Melvin Drake voted against the proposal, while Bill Taylor and Bruce Scogin voted to approve the budget.
Prior to the vote, Pierce made a motion for amendments to the chairman's budget. She requested that "all unpaid legal fees incurred by county commissioners be paid by Jan. 5, 2001."
Pierce also requested that $10,000 in capital outlay funds be added to the budget for the Clerk of Court's office for items such as document time clocks and a roller-shelf record desk. The amendment also included an increase in travel and training funds from $600 to $1,000 and food and lodging from $400 to $1,000.
Chairman Nash told Pierce that her motion was "out of order."
County attorney John McArthur said the chairman has the authority to determine whether a motion is appropriate.
After a long pause, Scogin made a motion to amend the proposed budget to include $10,000 in capital outlay funds for the Clerk of Court's office.
That motion died due to a lack of a second.
The board will meet Monday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m. in the county government complex to set the 2000 millage rate.
In a separate matter Monday, the board approved a request from Will Winterfeld and Don Mosely of Jubilee Partners to rezone 20 acres on Hwy. 22 from R-R to R-3 on the condition that the property be limited to no more than three additional residences on the property, where refugees are sheltered.
The board approved a contract with E.R. Snell to pave Freedom Church Road for approximately $54,000, a turn lane on Hwy. 98 for $9,000 and drives and parking areas at the new Mental Health Facility on Hwy. 98 for $34,000.
Taylor reported that a board appointed by the new commissioners and the chairman will be set up after the new year to review a proposal for a drug counseling program in the county.




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Hull's security service up and running
Hull residents may be feeling a little more secure these days.
Mayor B.W. Hutchins reported during Monday night's council meeting that Georgia Security Detective Agency has been patrolling the city during the night and early mornings on a part-time basis and that the city will be receiving weekly reports from the agency.
In the first such report, Hutchins said the patrol related that all businesses within the city limits had been checked and found to be secure and that no problems had been found on numerous rounds throughout the city limits during the night.
In a separate matter, the council voted unanimously to approve the 2001 budget at $39,250, up seven percent over last year.
No residents attended the budget hearing held 30 minutes prior to the regular council meeting.


16th annual luminarias and live nativity planned
The 16th annual Booger Hill/Moon's Grove Luminarias and Live Nativity is planned for Saturday, Dec. 16, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Organizers say this is a community tradition featuring luminarias at approximately 200 homes on a route of country roads.
The event also features a Nativity scene with live characters and animals; carolers and other Christmas scenes throughout the drive.
From Athens, go north on Hwy. 29; turn left at Living Word Church onto Booger Hill Road.
Continue 3.5 miles to view the Nativity scene on the right. To visit Moon's Grove Road, take a right at the first road just past the Nativity.
Go to Hwy. 106, then turn around and go all the way back down Moon's Grove Church Road to Hwy. 29 where another right takes you back to Athens. Allow time for heavy traffic.