News from Jackson County...

January 25, 2001


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Wrestling teams hope to build momentum heading into areas
Wrestling teams from all three Jackson County high schools were scheduled to participate today (Wednesday) in the Tri-County Duals at Winder-Barrow High School. The event features teams from Jackson, Barrow and Walton counties.

Lady Tigers Hit Stride With Two Big Wins
After winning two big games on the road this past weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers will host two big games this coming weekend.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
Change of venue sought in Fortson case
The attorney for accused murderer Tracy Lea Fortson filed a motion Jan. 15 to have the high-profile case moved out of Madison County.

County jail completion set for November
Completion of the new Madison County jail is expected for late November.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin finalizes waste water treatment deal
Baldwin Mayor Mark Reed told council members Thursday that the contract with Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution on waste water treatment had been signed by all parties involved.

Charles Blair named BJC Authority chairman
The BJC Medical Center Authority elected its first new chairman in more than a decade Monday night.


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FATALITY IN WRECK


A Hoschton woman was killed in a two-vehicle wreck around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Cheryl Dawn Clapsaddle, 46, was driving a 1989 Ford Taurus when she reportedly pulled out of the QT store at Hwy. 129 and I-85 into the pathway of a tractor trailer truck driven by Leslie Howard Helsley, Edinsburg, Va. The truck was carrying frozen poultry. Clapsaddle was taken to BJC Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. No charges are pending.


UPDATE:
Collins decides
Michael Collins, considered by many to be Commerce High School's best all-around athlete ever, announced Wednesday that he will play football and basketball for the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
The verbal commitment is not binding, but Collins is expected to accept an athletic scholarship Feb. 7.
The 6-6 senior led the Commerce Tiger football team to the Class A state championship, quarterbacking a team featuring Georgia's all-time rushing leader Monté Williams. He also played defensive back and was the punter.
Collins is expected to play wide receiver or defensive back for the Volunteers, but he also plans and has UT's blessings to play basketball.
Collins has been rated one of the top 100 prep football players and one of the top 100 prep basketball players in America and has been highly recruited the past two school years.
Among the top students in the senior class, Collins had been recruited by schools from all over the country. By the end of the high school football season, he had rejected more than 50 scholarship offers and narrowed his choices down to Clemson and the University of Tennessee.
Collins is averaging 24.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the basketball Tigers.
He is also the Tigers' spiritual leader, leading pre-game prayers for both football and basketball teams.


New housing permits, property sales soar
For the first time ever, the total of new housing units permitted in Jackson County climbed above the 1,000 mark for a one-year period. Some 1,097 new units were added in 2000, including 913 site-built homes and 184 mobile homes. That's a 45 percent increase in site-built homes over 1999.
Total estimated construction values were also up over 1999 by 10.5 percent, topping $131.54 million for the year.
Property sales were also up in 2000 over the year before, hitting $172.2 million from $153.6 million in 1999, a 12 percent increase. Since 1996, property sales in Jackson County have soared 162 percent. In 1996, property sales were only $65.7 million.
Driving the growth in construction and property sales is a rising demand for new homes in Jackson County. A large majority of the homebuilding again took place in unincorporated Jackson County, where 772 out of 913 new homes were constructed. The City of Jefferson led new home construction among the county's towns with 162 homes permitted. That's 101 more new homes built in Jefferson during 2000 than were built in the town in 1999.
The towns of Braselton and Hoschton also had strong homebuilding activity with 59 new houses in Braselton and 55 in Hoschton.
While home construction was strong during the last year, mobile home permits were down to 184 from 249 the year before. Mobile homes totaled 295 just four years ago, but have seen a decline since then.


Airport expansion on hold
The Jackson County Airport expansion will have to wait until the airport authority and the board of commissioners can figure out how to get $2.3 million to close on 78 acres of land.
Authority chairman Andy Byers told the authority and the half dozen property owners at the authority's meeting Monday night that last year the authority was able to borrow the money from the county treasury and then wait for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to reimburse them.
Byers said because the millage rate was dropped substantially, the county commission has "empty coffers" and excess funds are not available to do this again.
Commission Chairman Harold Fletcher and county manager Skip Nally were at the meeting Monday. Fletcher echoed Byers', saying that there are no excess funds, but he assured the authority and the property owners that the commission is very supportive of the expansion. He suggested that the authority, the board of commissioners and possibly the industrial development authority meet to decide the quickest way to close on the property.
Fletcher said there are several options for closing on the property quickly, but he could not say that the closings would occur this month or next month or the month after.
Byers said one option would be borrowing the money and paying interest until the FAA and the state reimburses them. The properties are ready to close as soon as the money is available. Byers said that many corporations have already expressed an interest in the airport once the runway extension reaches the 5,000 foot mark, which would bring in more revenue to the county and cost it very little. The five year plan that Byers passed out at the meeting reflects a total county cost of $1 million. The FAA has agreed to cover 90 percent of all costs excluding the construction of a new terminal. The Georgia Department of Transportation has agreed to cover five percent. Byers said that the remaining five percent that the county must cover can be reduced by using county machinery and bringing funds in from different avenues.
Nader Bagheri, fiscal engineer of Robert and Company and consultant to the authority, has presented the five-year plan to the DOT and the FAA and he will continue to work with them.
Under the five-year plan, all property will be purchased by July 1, 2003. The runway extension will be graded in 2003 and paved in 2004. A new terminal building will be constructed in 2006 though the site for it has yet to be determined.
Byers told the property owners that though it looks like a long time away, that fiscal year 2002 actually begins July 1, 2001. He also said that the plan is a rough estimate and will change as time goes on. If the authority and the commissioners agree to go ahead with purchasing all of the property, then the authority would have to wait up to a year and a half for total reimbursement based on the timeline.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.


Chamber Approves Program Of Work, $241,850 Budget
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce has a new program of work for 2001 and a $241,850 budget to finance it.
The chamber's board of directors approved both items at its January board of directors' meeting Friday at Braselton's town hall.
Highlights of the program of work include the creation of an advertisement-supported membership directory, revamping the chamber's web site, assuming its role in helping new small businesses as the anchor in Commerce's small business incubator, its continuation of the Leadership Jackson County program and its emphasis on building the Partners in Education program.
To accomplish these things ­ and the many other ongoing projects and services ­ the board of directors approved a budget that is 4.8 percent higher than the 2000 budget and 9.2 percent higher than 2000 actual revenue.
The chamber projects income of $241,850 for 2001. During 2000, expenses amounted to $184,449, compared to budgeted expenses of $185,480. The chamber anticipates expenses of $207,300 for the new year.
On the revenue side, the budget projects $115,000 in dues payments, compared to $87,500 actually paid in 2000 and $110,000 budgeted that year. Other sources of income include $29,000 for events such as its annual meeting, the Taste of Jackson and other chamber functions; $40,000 from Jackson County for representing the county in economic development; and a variety of miscellaneous sources.
On the expenditure side, the budget projects $20,000 for various events, $5,000 for economic development, $10,250 for community programs, $3,000 for advertising, $36,100 for facilities and office administration, $119,950 in salaries and benefits and $10,750 in miscellaneous expenses.
Were the chamber to be on the mark for both revenues and expenses this year, it would end 2001 with more than $34,000 left over.
The budget was accepted with the condition that the Executive Committee review salaries and benefits after director Keith Ariail questioned whether the chamber "is doing anything to keep its qualified people."
While the new budget did offer small increases for personnel, the chamber does not offer health insurance. The 2001 budget contains but $3,600 for health insurance, a figure not likely to provide coverage for three employees.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.


 January 24, 2001
2000 Jackson County Building Permits

All permits issued in Jackson County in 2000.



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Jefferson selected as 'Better Hometown Community'
The City of Jefferson is one of 12 cities across the state selected this year as a "Better Hometown Community."
Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor made the announcement Monday during the Georgia Municipal Association's annual mayor's breakfast at the Atlanta Hilton. Jefferson was selected from the 60 applicants seeking the designation.
The Better Hometown Program is a public-private partnership between the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Power, the University of Georgia and several other public and private agencies. The designation allows Jefferson to receive technical assistance designed to stimulate the community's overall economic health from the federal and state government as well as from many private corporations.
Accepting the award on behalf of the city were Jefferson councilman Jim Joiner, Jefferson Downtown Development Authority manager Janice Wilbanks, Jefferson Police Chief Darren Glenn and Jefferson Police sergeant Rob Russell. This group handled the application to the DCA. Others from the community assisted in the application process.
The group from Jefferson was also able to meet with members from all levels of state government and leaders from several major corporations.


Health department gives inspection totals for 2000
Sewage site evaluations and permits and subdivision lot reviews accounted for the majority of health department-related inspections in 2000.
The Jackson County Board of Health received an environmental health report of services when it met Wednesday that showed a month-by-month breakdown of all inspections conducted in Jackson County in the year 2000.
For example, there were a total of 813 site evaluations and permits issued for sewage systems and 445 subdivision lots reviewed last year for environmental health. The report showed 759 residential sewage systems installed last year. Among complaints investigated, sewage concerns ranked highest with 61 reports, followed by 18 solid waste (trash, garbage) complaints. There were 136 complaints investigated, with 29 re-checked, 40 abated, 53 referred and 12 deemed invalid.
Other investigations and actions included: 95 formal food facility evaluations; four permits issued for tourist accommodations; three institutional sanitation evaluations; 86 water supply samples; 13 animal bites investigated; three animals impounded; 22 animal heads sent to lab; and 8,604 communication items (including conferences, correspondence, reports, materials distributed and administrative/clerical items).