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December 22, 2000


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OPINIONS
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SPORTS
Lady Tigers Beat Leopards In Overtime

It took the Lady Tigers an extra period but they were able to beat Banks County 70-61 on Saturday.

Panther grapplers short by a nose in Avado Brands Invitational
THE JACKSON County wrestling team is taking time off for the holidays before resuming its season Jan. 3 in a three-team dual match at North Forsyth. The Panthers continued a season of dramatic improvement last week with a second-place showing in the Avado Brands Invitational at Morgan County.

Jefferson thunders over Tallulah Falls
THE STOCKINGS are hung by the chimney, and the shoes are hung in the locker room. After blasting through region opponenet Tallulah Falls Friday at home, the Jefferson Dragons are taking some time off to celebrate Christmas this week.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Christmas celebration delayed, but not canceled
Cold, windy weather didn't stop many of the neighborhood folk along Booger Hill and Moon's Grove Roads from presenting their annual gift to the community - a live nativity and luminaria.

'Teachers of the Year' named
Each of Madison County's seven schools has named a "Teacher of the Year." Those teachers honored were selected by their fellow teachers.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Fire destroys Poole Road home Saturday night
A fire Saturday night completely destroyed a home on Poole Road.
Firefighters responded to the home of R.C. Morgan to find it almost completely involved in flames.

Woman found dead at Banks Crossing motel
A Danielsville woman was found dead in a Guest House Inn room last week and a Commerce man has been charged with her murder.


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SLEDDING TIME


Kids across Jackson County pulled out their sleds Tuesday morning as an inch of snow blanketed the area. Here 6-year-old Hu Blackstock of Jefferson gets ready for another sled ride down the hill in front of Jefferson High School.



Jefferson tax rate down 3.99 mills
Thanks to a 42 percent increase in the city's tax digest, Jefferson residents will see their city property taxes drop nearly 4 mills this year, a decrease of 19 percent.
A total city tax rate of 16.91 mills was approved last week by the Jefferson City Council, down from 20.90 last year.
Despite the drop in millage rates, both the school system and the general city government will take in more tax dollars. The Jefferson City School System will net an additional $264,900 while the general city government will get an additional $157,400.
"We have rolled it back based on the amount of new assessments on existing property," said city attorney Ronnie Hopkins, who pointed out that city residents are benefiting from the growth in the area.
The millage rate for city operations was set at 5.65 mills, down from 6.86 last year. The millage rate for the city school system is 11.26 mills compared to 14.04 last year.
Tax notices cannot be sent out until the county tax digest is finalized and approved, which is expected Dec. 27 or Dec. 28.
The county digest is so late this year due to the unusually large number of appeals that followed a major county-wide reassessment.
City residents who would like to pay their taxes this year, can go by city hall and find out the amount due and pay, leaders said. However, this can't be done until after the final digest is approved.
RECREATION DEPARTMENT
The council also approved a $2.7 million budget for 2001, up from this year's budget of $2.3 million. One of the increases comes under salaries where an additional $9,000 has been allocated. These goes toward annual raises.
Highlighting the Jefferson budget is the creation of a new city department of recreation. The city council budgeted $25,000 for the department and plans to hire a department head in early 2001.
An additional $40,000 has been budgeted for the fire department over last year, with the largest portion of it going toward a lease payment. Fire chief Doug Waters asked the council at last week's meeting for an additional $23,000 to repair a 1973 fire truck. He said a new truck to replace this one would cost approximately $186,000. Council members asked the fire department officials to look for a refurbished truck that would be in the $60,000 to $80,000 range. No action was taken.
The council also approved a $2.09 million budget for the water and sewer department, which is up from last year's $1.8 million. City leaders pointed out that the budget doesn't include any water rate increases.


Zoning standoff shuts down Nicholson gov't
There's not a "Gone Fishing" sign on the door of the Nicholson City Hall, but there might as well be. Nicholson is closed.
The City Hall is closed.
The library is closed.
The city's garbage service is no longer in operation.
City employees didn't receive paychecks Friday.
Fortunately for its residents, Nicholson provides no essential services, so a shutdown doesn't portend a disaster. But it does give the embattled town's citizens, who are bitterly split between pro-zoning and anti-zoning forces, something to argue about.
On one side is newly elected mayor Ronnie Maxwell who is leading anti-zoning efforts in the small community. With the shutdown, Maxwell had vowed to pick up garbage in the town and even found some volunteers ready to help him. But the city hall is closed and the keys to the garbage truck and maps of the routes are locked inside city clerk Dana Wilbanks' office, a location to which Maxwell has no access.
But keys to the garbage truck aren't the only items locked up. Also shut down is the city's check writing. Wilbanks had written checks prior to Maxwell's election, but said that the dynamics changed after he was sworn in Dec. 4.
"I've been doing it (prior to the election) under the blessings of the city council," she said. "Now we have a mayor in place. It's not the same situation."
Mrs. Wilbanks said she was advised by the state attorney general's office not to sign checks. The city auditor gave her the same advice.
City checks are supposed to have the signatures of both the clerk and the mayor. But since the town council has held no meetings, Maxwell's name is not on the bank signature card.
"To my knowledge, she has not signed a check since the mayor was sworn in," said council member Margaret Ward.
ZONING BATTLE THE UNDERLYING ISSUE
Underlying the shutdown of Nicholson is a bitter fight over zoning in the town. Both Ward and councilman Thomas Gary favor bringing zoning into the community, which is the only place left in Jackson County without some kind of zoning codes. But due to various resignations in recent months, the city council has been without a quorum.
Maxwell's election as mayor Nov. 28 changed that, but it also set the stage for a showdown between the two opposing camps. Ward and Gary attempted to have a council meeting following Maxwell's swearing-in ceremony Dec. 4, but Maxwell, who is anti-zoning, left the room, thus forestalling a quorum.
Maxwell also skipped a Dec. 11 meeting, but attempted to call an emergency meeting last Thursday. This time, however, Gary boycotted, again preventing a quorum. Maxwell had called Thursday's meeting under an agenda rule that would not have allowed the zoning issue to be discussed or voted on. Gary and Ward say they won't attend any meetings called with such a limited agenda.
But this week's shutdown of the city may have upended Maxwell's plans to stall a zoning vote until special elections in March. Saying he had "played that hand as long as I could," the mayor indicated he may be ready to deal with Ward and Gary.
"I don't see as I've got a choice," he said. "I got to get the town back operating. I'm going to have to meet. I played that hand as long as I could."
Still, Maxwell said he's received "75 to 80" phone calls about the situation, all of them supporting him and his anti-zoning position.
But Ward and Gary may have a trump card. The March special elections, at which Maxwell hopes to elect two other anti-zoning members, can't be called without a vote of the council. By boycotting meetings, Ward and Gary could forestall the call of the March elections, thus keeping pro-zoning votes in control of the city. Ward says she and Gary would attend a regular city council meeting that has an open agenda, but not an "emergency" meeting limited to one or two agenda items.
"I want the agenda set by the process the city should go through for a regular meeting," she said. "My position is we have a lot of other business to transact and we need to be able to conduct that business."



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Churches announce upcoming Christmas events
·Cedar Grove United Methodist Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Program, 6 p.m.
·Charity Baptist Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, the children of the church will present the manger story with background music provided by the Charity Choir.
·Dry Pond United Methodist Church: Wednesday, Dec. 20, Church Christmas Party in Fellowship Hall.
·Ebenezer United Methodist Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Communion Service, 5 p.m.
·Faith Baptist Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, Church Choir will present a program of Christmas music during the 11 a.m. service.
·First Baptist Church of Commerce: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 11 p.m.
·First United Methodist Church of Commerce: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Service, 5 p.m.
·First United Methodist Church of Jefferson: Sunday, Dec. 24, Candlelight Communion Service, 11 p.m.
·Galilee Christian Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Service in the church auditorium, 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 31, New Year's Eve Party, 7 p.m.
·Grace Baptist Mission: Sunday, Dec. 24, to hold Candlelight Christmas Eve Service at the Commerce Civic Center, beginning at 6 p.m.
·Hoschton United Methodist Church: Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 20-21, Live Nativity Scene from 6 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Family Communion Service, 5 p.m.
·Holly Springs United Methodist Church: Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 6 p.m.
·Maranatha Baptist Church: to hold "Watch Night Service" Sunday, Dec. 31, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
·Nicholson Baptist Church: Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 21-23, to present Live Nativity Scene from 7 to 9 p.m.
·St. Catherine Labouré Catholic Mission: to hold Vigil Mass Saturday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 24, Christmas Vigil Mass will begin at 5 p.m.
·Zion Baptist Church: Thursday and Friday, Dec. 21-22, Youth group will hold a live nativity scene from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 24, Candlelight Service, 5 p.m.


Maysville's 2001 Budget To Be Up By Four Percent
The Maysville City Council's budget for next year's general fund shows an increase of four percent, but the water and sewer budget is down 13 percent. Both budgets were approved at the council meeting Monday night.
Maysville leaders expect more revenue from property taxes and sales taxes to pay for a seven percent salary increase for policemen and the city librarian. There will also be a $16,000 increase in insurance costs. Other increases include: supplies, utilities, the library and the contingency fund. Decreases are expected in legal and consultant fees, a shift from $20,000 to $12,000, and in the fire department, a shift from $24,000 in 2000 to $14,500 in 2001. New additions to the budget are audit and software at a cost of $10,000, and gas, supplies and a car for the police department at $40,000.
H.A. "Bud" Dyer, a Maysville citizen who attended the public hearing on Thursday night, was most concerned with the purchase of a new car for the police department. He said the city had just bought a new car two years ago and he didn't see the need for another one.
"I set it up where we buy a new car every two years," said police chief Ricky Armour. "If you don't buy one now, we'll have to buy two at a time."
Armour explained that his plan reduces repair costs and prevents the city from being hit with a very large bill for two cars.
"It's a two-payment lease," said Mayor Richard Presley. "We pay half this year and half next year."
Maysville's water and sewer budget expects to generate $40,000 less in funds than last year's budgeted $308,000.
The town expects decreased costs for returned checks, contract labor, water testing, utilities, office supplies and the contingency fund. The biggest decrease is in contract labor, which has been reduced by more than half from $30,000 to $14,000.
Increases under the water and sewer budget are expected in salaries, which were increased by seven percent, and purchased water.