News from Madison County...

January 10, 2001


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
What is a 'Southern Gentleman'

Just what is a "Southern Gentleman"?

Margie Richards
The 'white thing' and other legends

My Aunt Donnie Mae could tell ghost stories and other spooky stuff in a way that could make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.


SPORTS
Lady Raiders' winning streak snapped at eight games

A team that hadn't lost since late November will now look to start a new string of victories after falling this past Friday, halting an eight-game winning streak.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
BOE rejects all bids for ag barn
After a recommendation from superintendent Deborah White, the Banks County Board of Education unanimously agreed at its meeting Monday night to reject all bids on the high school agriculture barn as they are all above the budget.

Nursing home employee charged with patient abuse
A 28-year-old man has been charged in connection with reports of abuse of two patients at Scenic View Health Care Center in Baldwin.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Nicholson again in business
They were heavily coached by the city attorney and had very little to say, but Nicholson's mayor and two city council members had an official meeting Monday night.

$1.5 million awarded by DOT for three local projects
"Transportation Enhancement" projects in Hoschton and Commerce and at Banks Crossing have gotten a financial boost from the Department of Transportation.


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BACK TO THE MATS


Madison County wrestler James Smith (left) gets set to tangle with an Oglethorpe County opponent Monday. The Raider wrestling team returned from Christmas break with matches Saturday and Monday.



Clerk of Court questioned on deed fees
Madison County commission chairman Wesley Nash has asked Clerk of Court Michelle Strickland to provide details about what she does with deed fees collected by her office.
In Georgia, 50 cents of the first $10 collected for filing of real estate deeds goes to the Clerk's Retirement Fund, while $5 from each fee collected goes to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority. The remaining balance is returned to the county.
Commissioners now want to see where the money given back to the county is kept and how much of it Strickland controls.
County clerk Morris Fortson said auditors showed over $8,000 in revenue from deed fees in 1999, but that nothing was turned in by Strickland to the commissioners' office.
Strickland said the money her office gets back from the Authority on deed fees is set up in a separate account to help pay for office improvements. She said she feels she is being on the "safe-side" by having a "reserve," but she said she doesn't know how much money is in that account.
Strickland says she has acted properly in her management of funds. During her campaign for re-election in 2000, Strickland advertised a letter from Treadwell, Tamplin and Company which stated that an audit revealed that all funds in her office were "properly reported."
The clerk of court appeared before county commissioners Monday to ask for more money for her office. She is seeking approximately $1,000 for salaries, $4,500 to $6,000 for a copying machine and $4,500 for a deed room table.
Nash said the BOC shouldn't approve more money for the office until Strickland provides more information about the funds generated through deed fees. The commissioners agreed and tabled her request.
Audience member Jerry Mattox spoke out against Strickland's budget request, saying she did not follow the proper procedure in seeking more funds. He said Strickland had ample opportunity to spell out her needs before the budget was passed.
Strickland said she attended a budget hearing and made her requests known.




Redistricting will be a major battle in 2001, Hudgens says
The current Georgia legislative session will include battles over a variety of issues, but state representative Ralph Hudgens says things may really heat up this summer when lawmakers meet to redraw legislative districts.
The new districts will include two congressional seats allotted to Georgia following the 2000 Census count.
"Redistricting will be a fight," said Hudgens.
The District 24 state representative spoke to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Thursday during the group's fifth annual "Eggs and Issues" breakfast at the Ila Restaurant. Also on hand were Republicans Mike Beatty, who recently defeated incumbent Eddie Madden for the State Senate District 47 seat, and Wesley Nash, who was elected Nov. 7 to a second term as Madison County commission chairman. BOC District 5 representative Bruce Scogin was also scheduled to speak but could not attend the function due to health problems.
Hudgens told the crowd that there will be a move to make Athens the base of a congressional seat. He said the U.S. House 11th District seat, which includes Madison County, is currently a Gwinnett County stronghold. Hudgens praised U.S. representative John Linder for holding town hall meetings in Madison and surrounding counties, saying that a man of "lesser character" could focus on Gwinnett County alone and win the seat.
Hudgens also spoke on the issue of changing the state flag. He said the state should move on to other issues.
"Let's quit arguing over it and let's move on to other things, like budget surpluses," said Hudgens.
Hudgens said "water" will be the "underlying buzz word" during the 2001 legislative session. He said Governor Roy Barnes has created more bureaucracy to solve transportation and education problems, adding that he fears Barnes will take the same approach with water.
He said the state should keep its hands off the Bear Creek Reservoir, which was recently created to provide water to Jackson, Clarke, Barrow and Oconee counties. Hudgens said state officials may view the Reservoir as a source for Atlanta water.
"The state ought not to have anything to do with it," said Hudgens. "It was funded out of county budgets."
Beatty told the crowd that it's time to put "this year's ugliness" behind, referring to the 2000 campaign season.
He said he will focus on "public policies that empower families," adding that he favors eliminating inheritance and marriage taxes.
"We need more money for family budgets," he said.
Beatty said lawmakers need to address video poker in the area, saying that "video poker is not good for our state."
He said Georgia needs programs that "focus on reading," while stressing that better discipline in classrooms and school buses is essential and that the state must motivate its teachers.
Beatty said the welfare of senior citizens is also a major concern, noting that those over 85 are the fastest-growing age group in the country.
"We need options for long-term care other than bankruptcy and a nursing home," said Beatty.
Beatty also praised Nash, saying the county has strong leadership under him.
Nash spoke briefly on county road projects, saying that he hopes the Department of Transportation will move quicker than it has recently assisting the county with road projects. He said paving for Fine Finish, the county mental health center, has been delayed due to recent bad weather. Other road projects have also been put on hold for the same reason.
While county property tax owners saw a steep increase in taxes for schools in 2000, Nash pointed out that taxes for county government were lowered by half a mill.
The meeting ended with comments from representatives of State Senators Max Cleland and Zell Miller, who urged the public to contact them with their concerns.




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County attorney resigns
John McArthur has resigned as Madison County's attorney.
BOC Chairman Wesley Nash announced McArthur's resignation at Monday night's commissioners' meeting. Nash said McArthur has such a heavy caseload that he cannot give the county "the proper time."
The chairman said the attorney, who was hired in August of 1998, has agreed to assist the county until a new lawyer is named.
"I will be looking for another attorney," said Nash.


Beer permits suspended for two Comer businesses
Two Comer convenience stores will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages for the next 10 days.
Comer Amoco and Kangaroo each agreed to accept the suspensions rather than fight charges that they had sold beer to underage customers. The suspensions leave only one store selling the beverages in Comer during the suspensions.
The Comer Amoco has faced numerous problems with underage sales in the past, resulting in the sale of the business to a new owner last year. This is the first incident charged to the new owner. Kangaroo had one other incident in 1999.
The council voted to reappoint all department heads for the coming year. They will schedule a work session to determine city policy concerning vacations, sick pay, salaries and other personnel matters.
The council rotated committee assignments for the coming year. Councilman Virgil Morrow stated that each member of the Council needs to experience each area of city government. Mr. Morrow will be responsible for public safety. Randy Williams will supervise waste and recycling. LaQuita Bridges drew the street department and will serve as mayor-pro-tem and Aliee Pendleton will be responsible for sanitation and recycling.
The city needs to have its ordinances "recodified," according to city attorney Victor Johnson
Holding up a thick folder, he said, "Your amendments are thicker than your code." The city agreed to contract with the Northeast Georgia Planning and Development Authority to do the recodification. The process will likely take a year, according to Johnson.