News from Madison County...

February 7, 2001


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
The flag fight is not behind us

The deed is done. The Georgia legislature has voted to change the state flag, reducing the beloved Confederate battle emblem to a tiny image on a banner near the bottom. So, what now? Will the change hold up?

Ben Munro
An unsightly banner

Somewhere ole' Betsy Ross is rolling over in her grave.
Yes, the matriarch of flag design would certainly gasp at Georgia's needle and thread compromise which is being called the Georgia's new state banner - a supposed blueprint to heal the state's racial tension.


SPORTS
Two Raiders qualify for state wrestling tourney

Two Madison County Red Raiders - Matt Cleghorne and Richard Stowers - muscled their way into this week's Class AAA state wrestling tournament in the south Georgia town of Fitzgerald.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Judge denies Baldwin's move to take over water treatment plant from Demorest
In a court ruling by Judge James E. Cornwell Jr. on Monday, Baldwin has been denied its effort to take over operations of the water treatment plant from the city of Demorest.

BOC looks at new county flag
A new county flag could soon be flying over the Banks County courthouse and other county facilities.



News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Juvenile with pellet gun apprehended at high school
No one was injured late Friday afternoon when a male juvenile brought a pellet gun onto Jefferson High School grounds.

Pike Co. murders echo from the past
The arrest last week of two area men on murder charges from Pike County echo deep into one of the darkest times of Jackson County's history.


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MAKING CORN HUSK DOLLS


Holly Pilon (C) gets a little help from Madison County Library branch manager Marsha Carlan while making a corn husk doll. Making the dolls was part of a Laura Ingalls Wilder celebration at the Madison County Library last week. Beth Zorbanos (L) was the instructor. The event included reading stories from "Little House in the Big Woods." Also pictured is Holly's sister Mandy Pilon.



Supreme Court upholds Madison Co. conviction
The Supreme Court of Georgia has affirmed the convictions and sentences of Randy Lamar Gordon, in connection with the Oct. 31, 1984, beating death of Raymond Conway.
"Finding no reversible error, we affirm," Justice Hugh P. Thompson wrote for the Court.
Gordon was found guilty of felony murder in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Gordon and his cousin Barry Looney, who has not faced a trial in the case, visited a game room. Gordon and the victim argued over a game of pool. Gordon insisted that he had won the game, and he demanded Conway's watch as payment. Gordon and Looney left the pool hall in Looney's car with Conway. Conway was never seen alive again. One month later, two hunters discovered Conway's body at the bottom of a 10-foot well near an abandoned mill. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Initially, Gordon denied having been at the game room. In a second interview he admitted that he was at the game room. He claimed that Conway asked for a ride then asked to be let out of the car at an abandoned service station. Gordon and Looney were indicted for Conway's murder almost 11 years after the murder, in July of 1995. At the trial, Gordon's former wife, Charlene Hare, testified that Gordon told her he beat Conway to death on Halloween night in 1984, and that he concealed the body in the well. After his arrest in 1995, Gordon told his mother, "Don't worry, Mama, I didn't do it, Barry [co-defendant Looney] did." He also revealed to a group of acquaintances that he could get away with anything he wanted, "even murder."
Gordon challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. But the court ruled that the conviction was appropriate.
"The evidence, although largely circumstantial, was sufficient to authorize a rational trier of fact to find Gordon guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of malice murder," Justice Thompson wrote. The Court found no merit in Gordon's other contentions.


BOC focuses on roads
There are approximately 140 miles of unpaved Madison County roads. But several upcoming paving projects will lower that number.
The Madison County commissioners met Monday to talk about county roads. And BOC chairman Wesley Nash outlined paving projects planned for the next two years in the county. They include: Cecil Stewart Road, Old Royston Road, Sailors Road, Young Harris Road, Johnny McElroy Road, Freedom Church Road and a culvert on Lloyd Road. Bridges will be replaced on county road 329 at Rocky Shoals Creek and McCarty Dodd Road at Brush Creek.
Nash reported that the county is waiting for BellSouth to move "trunk lines" before a sweep lane can be put in at the new Hull-Sanford Elementary School.
The chairman said the county is now finishing paving at the new Fine Finish mental health center off Hwy. 98.
He said the county is looking at widening the Commerce-Neese Road and Nowhere Road, but he gave no time frame for the projects.
And Nash reported that there are 691 miles of road in the county, including 562.66 miles of county-maintained roads, 13 cement bridges and 16 wood bridges.
Also Monday, each commissioner spoke of roads that need attention in their district.
District 1 commissioner Bill Taylor said Lloyd Nelms Road, Seagraves Mill Road and Northwood Circle need to be resurfaced.
District 2 commissioner Johnny Fitzpatrick addressed the need for speed limit signs on Poca Road and Daisy Lane.
District 3 commissioner Mike Youngblood reported a pothole on Virginia Lane and requested that another speed limit sign be placed on the road. He also asked about speed limit signs for Fortson's Store Road, but Nash said that that road is state maintained and that he would have to contact the Department of Transportation about that.
BOC District 4 member Melvin Drake asked whether the county could pave Della Slayton Road and if it could maintain Hickory Hills road in District 4. But Nash said Hickory Hills is privately owned and that if the county began maintaining this road, the floodgates would open for many similar requests.
District 5 commissioner Bruce Scogin requested that 4.7 miles of roads in his district be paved. They included 1.3 miles of Broad River Road, .2 miles of White Oak Trail, .3 miles of Dogwood Hills Drive, .7 miles of Kincaid Cemetery Road and 2.2 miles of Old Kincaid Road.
The board also heard from a resident of Jack Sharp Road who said the county has not properly kept ditches cleaned out by the road. She said that this has led to flooding on her property. County road superintendent Charles Temple said that he would visit her property Tuesday.
Nash reported that the state has been tight in recent years on what requests for road-paving funds are granted. He said that former DOT commissioner Wayne Shackleford told him that the state will not approve funding for paving of "partial roads" before "thru roads" are paved in the county. The intent is to make sure heavily-traveled roads are paved first.
Nash said he has not met yet with new DOT head Tom Coleman to discuss road paving.
Both Nash and Temple emphasized that road work in the county has been even in all districts.
"No one place can say they're getting more or less (road attention from the county)," said Temple.




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Interviews begin in school head search
Madison County may have a new superintendent of county schools by early March, according to school board chairman Robert Haggard.
The Madison County Board of Education, which received 19 applications for the position, will interview six applicants Thursday through Saturday.
Haggard said the board hopes to narrow the field to three sometime next week.
The chairman said there is "no leading candidate," adding that he feels there are some solid applicants.
"We hope to have a final decision by early March, maybe even the first of March," he said.
Acting superintendent Allen McCannon said he has not applied for the job.
The new superintendent will replace Dr. Dennis Moore, who was hired in 1998 after the retirement of longtime school head Jim Perkins. Moore resigned in September.




Comer chief seeks police force expansion
The city of Comer may be eligible for a federal program designed to put more police on the streets, according to Chief Barry Reed.
If the city qualifies, the program would pay up to 75 percent of the cost of hiring, training and equipping a new policeman for drug and alcohol enforcement. The city would pay the remaining expenses.
According to Reed, the program requires a four-year commitment from the city. Federal funds would pay 75 percent of the first year expenses, 50 percent of the second year and 25 percent of the third year with the city financing all of the final year's expenses. Reed pointed out that the first year expenses would include purchasing and equipping a car, personal equipment and training for the officer. He estimated a first year cost of $100,000. The remaining years of the contract would primarily involve the officer's salary.
After the four-year commitment was up, Reed said, the city could drop out of the program and keep the car and equipment.
Responding to a question about the need for another officer, Chief Reed noted that the current three-man staff cannot provide 24 hours, seven days a week coverage, and at times, the Madison County Sheriff's Department responds to calls within the city. Such calls are not always reported back to his department.
"We recently had a teenage girl who was missing for a week before I found out about it," Chief Reed said. He now checks regularly with the sheriff's office to be sure he has all pertinent reports.
Mayor Chris NeSmith expressed some concern about the program. He noted that most federal gifts come with numerous strings and urged Chief Reed to be sure that the program will not create more burdens than benefits for the city. Reed will explore the program and report back to the council.
For the rest of this tory, see this week's Madison County Journal.