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 January 31, 2001


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OPINION

Shar Porier
Honorable purpose

My, my, my! It's nice to know so many of you read the opinion page. Such a response to Rochelle Beckstine's column!

Phillip Sartain
Two halves don't make a whole

There's a theory going around that men and women are different. At first, I thought it was just a rumor.


SPORTS
Banks County reaching for wins in next three

An old adage claims that "there's no place like home." Banks County's varsity basketball teams hope that adage rings true over the next two weeks.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Bell, Beatty vote against flag change
Georgia has a new flag, but not everyone is happy about it.

Randall gets $1,500 fine in girl's death
An Arcade man charged in connection with the October 1999 hit-and-run accident which killed a young girl was sentenced Tuesday in Jackson County Superior Court to 24 months of probation and given a $1,500 fine.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Recreation dept expansion in works
Some major additions may be in the works at the Madison County Recreation Department in coming years, such as a multi-purpose building and more land for recreation activities.

DOT may widen portion of Hwy. 98
The Georgia Department of Transportation is looking at widening Hwy. 98 from the senior center to the forestry department to help improve traffic flow in the growing area.


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BEAR TRACKS


Ranger Winford Popphan of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources visited Cynthia Stevens' farm in Banks County over the weekend to check out the plaster casts Stevens had made of tracks left by a young black bear. At top are close-ups of the plaster casts.

Close encounters of the bear kind
When Cynthia Stevens found the large tracks in the horse paddock on her 50-acre Banks County farm a few weeks ago, she assumed they were from a large dog. She made plaster casts of the prints thinking the Boy Scouts would enjoy seeing them.
Little did she know that the tracks would actually turn out to be those of a young black bear.
Saturday, Winford Popphan of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, visited Stevens and took a look at the casts. The prints, along with her description of the five-foot stride and the claw marks with the tracks of the animal, convinced Popphan that a young black bear, possibly a two-year-old weighing roughly 150 pounds, had raced through her paddock.
According to Popphan, during late summer and early fall, mother and older bears will run the youngsters off. With the drought, a scarce food source and the continued destruction of their habitat by development, bears, young or old, often find themselves in close encounters with humans.
Black bears require a large area encompassing a few square miles.
"The problem is that we have too many people living in what was previously bear habitat and their territories shrink," Popphan said. "Most of the bears we see in our territory are just passing through and will wander off if left alone."
The ranger said that problems occur when people leave out food for their pets, keep food where a bear can smell and get to it or let garbage pile up. "They'll stay around if there is a steady food source," he said.
"The best way to avoid attracting bears, or any wild animal such as coyotes, opossums, skunks, raccoons and stray dogs and cats, is to ensure there is no food for them.
"Store your animal food in a secure area," he suggested.
Bee keepers may find bears destroying their hives to get to the honey, the ranger added.
"Putting up bear-proof, electric fencing will protect the hives," Popphan said.
A simple thing like a bird feeder can be an attraction. He recommends raising feeders high enough so that bears cannot reach them.
Even the outdoor grill used for those week-end cook-outs can be an attraction due to the odor of cooked meat.
"Any food odor can attract a bear," he said. "Usually, bears are not a threat to humans. They will run away. However, any animal will defend itself if it feels threatened. It's just a matter of common sense. If you feed it, it will stay. If you don't, it will move on."
He suggests anyone suspecting a bear problem contact the DNR in Gainesville at (770) 535-5700. Popphan can be reached at (770) 869-7705.




Baldwin moves forward on plant expansion
The Baldwin City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to begin construction on the expansion and upgrading of its waste water treatment plant.
With the $600,000 check in hand from Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution, the council decided to proceed with the site grading and concrete work, which is expected to take about four months.
This phase, according to Fred Hawkins, city engineer, will allow the city to start construction even though financing for the second phase, which includes purchasing and installing the necessary equipment, pumps, electrical work and lines, is not secured.
David Syfan, city attorney, proposed two options to seek the $4.2 million financing of the project that includes expansion and updating of the current waste water treatment plant, Phase I and providing treatment operations for LACI, Phase II.
The two options are issuing a bond anticipation note or revenue bonds, he said. The bond anticipation note anticipates revenue coming in from the plant.
"It gives us immediate money in hand for construction to continue," he said.
When permanent financing is procured, then the bond note has to be repaid, he said. Revenue bonds, on the other hand, require a waiting period and a bidding process, which could take up to eight months.
Hawkins has worked up a cost estimate for the project. He said after speaking with a few contractors, he felt his estimate is viable and that the revenue bonds could be issued based on his figures. He said he felt bids would come in at his estimated cost.
The problem which could occur by going this route, which concerns Syfan, is that the contractor already hired, WPC Industrial Contractors Inc., may have a waiting period between the time they finish the site and concrete work and moving on to the equipment installation, completing Phase I of the project.
WPC officials had previously indicated to the council that they would be willing to wait for the financing to come through. After listening to the two options, the council chose to go with revenue bonds and bidding out the project.
The council also requested that Hawkins work up a flow chart showing the construction steps of the project.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.

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BCPS, BCMS principals give BOE resignation notice
The Banks County Board of Education accepted the resignations of two school principals at a called meeting Monday night.
Jimmy Hooper, principal of Banks County Primary School, and Kay Rogers, principal of Banks County Middle School, resigned from their positions effective the end of this school term. Superintendent Debra White said that neither indicated a reason for leaving, but both had indicated earlier in the year that they would not be returning next year.
Also at the called meeting, the board hired Holly Hill as the school social worker to replace Bobby Whitlock, who resigned last month.
Hill currently works as the school social worker for Peach County, but the board agreed to release her from her contract so that she could take the job with Banks County. She has two years of experience and she holds an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Hill will begin work February 19.
In an unrelated matter, the board approved the contract of understanding between the Georgia Board of Regents on behalf of the Cooperative Extension Service and BOE. The contract relates to a Board of Regents employee that is paid by Banks County.
The board also agreed on meeting dates to hear SPLOST presentations from investment groups.
Each presentation will take an hour, so the board agreed to hear two on March 5 at 6:30 p.m., one on March 8 at their work session and one on March 12 at the regular meeting.


Chamber meeting coming up Feb. 8
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce will hold its breakfast meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, at the Herbert Garrison Civic Center in Homer.
The speaker will be Judy Brownell of the Georgia Family Connections program. Georgia Power Company will be the sponsor.