News from Jackson County...

January 3, 2001


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Dragon, Tiger hoopsters to square off Friday in Commerce

THE RIVALRY is always a hot one, regardless of the venue.

Tigers Win Holiday Tournament
The Commerce Tiger boys' basketball team has to feel pretty good, winning two tournaments in their first four games of the season.

Panthers enter subregion schedule Friday at home
THE JACKSON County Panthers will open up the Panther Pit to subregion opponent Eastside Friday beginning at 7 p.m. The game is the first subregion contest of the season for the Panthers, who will travel to Loganville Tuesday for a 6 p.m. subregion tipoff.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Alcohol poisoning suspected in Hull teenager's death
Alcohol poisoning is suspected in the death of 15-year-old Jeremy O'Brian Gearing of Hull, who was found dead at an Oglethorpe County residence Monday. ...

Ice causes wrecks in the county
Madison County deputies were kept busy recently responding to wrecks caused by icy road conditions in the area just before Christmas. ...




News from
BANKS COUNTY
New Salem UMC holds first service in new church Sunday
It was fitting for "Love Lifted Me" to be chosen as the first hymn to be sung in the newly rebuilt chapel of New Salem United Methodist Church Sunday. ...

Baldwin leaders accuse Demorest of misappropriating $246,000
Baldwin leaders are accusing the City of Demorest of misappropriating funds. ...


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Jackson County probate judge Margaret Deadwyler administers the oath office to new county commissioners Tony Beatty, Emil Beshara, Harold Fletcher, Stacey Britt and Sammy Thomason.

County Officials Sworn In At New Year's Day Program
Jackson County's five new commissioners were among those sworn in early Monday morning at the 73rd annual New Year's Day program at the courthouse.
The program has long been held for county leaders and area residents to give thanks for the year past and ask for divine guidance in the year to come. The swearing-in of county officials is a part of the brief ceremony, which includes patriotic music and words from an area minister.
Tom Plank, minister of Galilee Christian Church, was the guest speaker, and he asked the newly sworn in officials to stand while he offered a prayer for them during the service to the county.
"This is the only county in the state of Georgia and perhaps in the United States that meets on New Year's Day to ask God's blessing," he said. "... I'm proud to be part of a county that still puts God first."
The minister said that it is a "critical time in our nation" and prayers should be offered for the leaders.
"I will pray for the leadership of our county," he said. "Leadership is those who have a vision who will build a better tomorrow."
He said good leaders have "moral values, basic standards and Christian ideals."
The new county commission members sworn in were Harold Fletcher, chairman, and Emil Beshara, Stacey Britt, Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty, commissioners.
Others sworn in by probate judge Margaret Deadwyler were Reba Parks, clerk of courts; Keith Whitfield, coroner; Stephanie Kitchens, county board of education; Al Venable, surveyor; Billy Chandler, magistrate court judge; Don Moore, state court solicitor; Don Elrod, tax commissioner; Jerry Gray, state court judge; and David Motes, superior court judge. Deadwyler was sworn in by Motes.
Motes was again elected to serve as the presiding officer for the annual New Year's program. It will be his duty to plan next year's observance and again give welcoming remarks.
"This program is about starting the year right by putting our faith in God," Motes said to kick off this year's program.


Upson County Man To Be Jackson's First County Manager
Jackson County has its first full-time county manager.
The board of commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday night to hire Skip Nalley to serve as county manager on an interim basis. He was offered a one-year contract with an evaluation by the BOC to be conducted in nine months. His salary is $85,000.
Thomaston will begin work on Monday, Jan. 8, and has plans to move immediately to Jackson County, according to BOC chairman Harold Fletcher. He was also named by the BOC to serve as the county clerk.
"He is going to be the boss," Fletcher said. "Everybody will be reporting to Skip and we will be here in an advisory capacity and policy-setting. We look forward to working with Skip."
Nalley had served as county manager in Upson County since June 1999. He has also served as city manager in Perry, Cartersville and Thomaston.
The BOC received 27 applications and interviewed six with the top three candidates then being selected. Nalley, Al Crace, the former county manager for Athens-Clarke County, and Mark Craig, county manager for Morgan County, were the top three candidates.
In other business Tuesday night, the BOC named Daniel Haygood to serve as county attorney. He also serves as county attorney in Oconee County and recently opened a law practice in Watkinsville. Prior to that, he worked in an Athens law firm.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the BOC named commissioner Tony Beatty to serve as the vice chairman of the board.
The commissioners also reappointed the department heads, but Fletcher pointed out the action is only on an interim basis.
"Traditionally, all department heads have been appointed on an annual basis," Fletcher said. "Due to the changes in the type of government, I think it might be best that we appoint these people on an interim basis to serve until time that our county manager has time to look at each one of these positions and see if there needs to be any changes."
The department heads include: David Clabo, planning and development; Cathy Johnson, tax assessors; John Hulsey, finance director; Ericka Johnson, purchasing agent; Dwain Smith, EMS; David Murphy, 911; Ken Mize, Jackson County Correctional Institute; Sam McClure, road department; Rick Sanders, interim recreation director; Hillyer Godfrey, shop; and Douglas "Ponchie" Beck, voter registrar's office.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the BOC:
·appointed Fletcher to serve as the chief elected official representing Jackson County on the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority. Tony Beatty was named to serve in the position that has a partial vote on the authority. Dan Gunnels was named to serve as his alternate.
·named Roy Grubbs to serve on the Jackson County Natural and Historic Resources advisory committee.


Kevin Guidry named juvenile court judge
Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties for the first time now have a full-time juvenile court judge.
Superior Court Judges T. Penn McWhorter, Robert W. Adamson and David Motes with the concurrence of the boards of commissioners of Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties, have ordered the creation of a court to handle juvenile matters in the three counties. Prior to January 1, 2001, the superior court judges were responsible for juvenile cases. Thanks to recent legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly, the administrative office of the courts of the State of Georgia will provide a grant to pay the salary of the new judge.
The first judge of the juvenile courts is Kevin J. Guidry. Judge Guidry is an attorney selected by the superior court judges of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit from a list of eligible candidates prepared by the Tenth Judicial Administrative District. Prior to his appointment to the juvenile court judgeship, Judge Guidry was employed by the State of Georgia for service to the superior courts of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, where he served as law assistant and judge pro tempore of the juvenile courts of the circuit. While serving as law assistant for the circuit, he was instrumental in obtaining in excess of $200,000 in grants of cash or equipment for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, costs which would have otherwise been borne by the local county governments. Judge Guidry's efforts resulted in the first juvenile court audiovisual teleconferencing arraignment system in Georgia being installed in Barrow and Jackson counties and the Gainesville Youth Detention Center. As judge pro tempore, Judge Guidry handled over 90 percent of the more than 1,200 juvenile cases filed annually in the circuit. Judge Guidry is also a member of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia, serving on its Uniform Rules Committee. He is also a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Guidry will serve a four-year term of office and is eligible for reappointment at the end of his term.
In a ceremony held at the Barrow County courthouse on December 28, 2000, Judge McWhorter, chief judge of the Superior Courts of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, administered the oath of office to Judge Guidry. Among those present were members of Judge Guidry's family, representatives of the Department of Family and Children Services, members of the Piedmont Bar Association, and Gloria Wall, clerk of Barrow County Superior Court. In his remarks, Judge McWhorter predicted that during Judge Guidry's tenure, the Piedmont Circuit would develop a juvenile court that would be the standard others would seek to emulate.



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Attorney Working On Plan To Bring Peace To Nicholson
With encouragement from the office of Governor Roy Barnes and through mediation by city attorney Wanda David, Nicholson's three elected officials are finally talking.
Whether that means the city will reopen its city hall and library in the near future remains to be seen, but that is the goal, David says.
"I hope so," she said. "I'm trying to put together a plan (to get the government functioning) that will pass legal muster and get those three people where they can sit in the room together."
David, after receiving a call from the Georgia Municipal Association, which had been called by the governor's office, summoned Mayor Ronnie Maxwell and city council members Margaret Ward and Thomas Gary to her office Monday afternoon. All three came.
It marked the first time the three have talked among themselves since the Dec. 4 meeting in which Maxwell walked out after being installed to avoid a vote on a proposed zoning ordinance. Since then, various parties have called meetings, but one or another of the three would refuse to attend. Without all three, the city did not have a quorum and could not conduct business.
The situation worsened last week. Maxwell hired a locksmith to gain entrance to the business office at city hall so he could access the answering machine. City clerk Dana Wilbanks resigned. Both sides were talking about the need for an audit.
"I got a call from the GMA and they'd got a call from the governor," David recounted. "The first step is to get city hall running. If we get it open and running, feelings may get better. We need to get the doors open, get the library running and get the light bills paid."
David said all three "seemed receptive to that intervention to some degree," and "They all came and they all talked."
One thing David insisted upon and the others agreed to was to not talk to the press.
"Thomas, Margaret, Wanda and myself made a vow to each other to not talk any more," said Maxwell. "We're going to try to get our differences resolved and keep it to ourselves, to not say anything that will create more problems."
One obstacle that remains is to get the three governing officials together for an official meeting. Maxwell had called a meeting for Monday night, which is when the city's regular January meeting would have been held since New Year's Day fell on the first Monday. There will be no meeting Monday, he said.
Maxwell was cautious, but said he thought the meeting resulted in "a healing process we can start on."
David expressed similar feelings. "I think we have a plan (to get the city back in operation), but the exact details we haven't got worked out yet," she said. "We're working on it."
Meanwhile, City Hall and the Harold Swindle Public Library remain closed, but Maxwell and a group of volunteers have been picking up trash using private vehicles.