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February 14, 2001


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Panther grapplers enjoy best finish ever in state tournament

The Jackson County Panther wrestling team recorded its best finish ever in a state tournament last week, finishing third in the 2001 Class AAA state championship.

5 Tiger Wrestlers Medal At State
While cross-county rival Jefferson won the Class A State Wrestling Tournament last weekend at Adairsville, the Tigers finished seventh and had five medal winners.




Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
BOC makes county complex more accessible
All county complex doors were unlocked for business Tuesday morning in an effort to make the building more accessible to the public.

Full-time county employees can receive dental coverage
Full-time Madison County employees and their families will now be offered dental insurance.




News from
BANKS COUNTY
Probate judge calls for audit
Banks County's new probate judge presented a plan to the board of commissioners Tuesday night that will ensure that the financial records from her office are audited each year.

Home and garden center gets approval
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning request Tuesday night that will bring a home and garden center to the county.


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Dragons win state wrestling title

Jefferson head coach Doug Thurmond and assistant Kendall Love celebrate with Dragon wrestler Jeremy Smith after Smith's upset win over defending champion and previously undefeated Sterling Sebek (lower left) of Brookstone in the 152-pound final of the Class A state tournament Saturday evening in Adairsville. Jefferson claimed its fifth team championship in the event, one of the closest in years. see more

Opponents Of Sewer Line Get Reprieve From County
Property owners enraged over plans to build county sewer lines through their property got at least a temporary reprieve Thursday night.
After hearing from about 25 owners of land along Doster Creek and the Middle Oconee River who were upset about plans to run a sewer line from the old Texfi treatment plant to Mulberry Plantation, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority decided to go back to the drawing board.
"We should go back and regroup and sit down and re-look at what we're doing," said member Elton Collins, whose remark was greeted with applause. "We can't start doing this with this kind of atmosphere."
The proposed sewer collection system would cross 37 parcels of land. Twenty-nine of the property owners have signed documents authorizing representatives of the authority to go on their land for surveying and doing assessments. But Collins' motion suggests the authority will consider alternate routes.
Most of the property owners suggested that the authority run the lines along the road rights of ways instead of along the creek and the river. That route is feasible, agreed Bob Sutton, the authority's sewerage consultant, though it would involve more pump stations, whereas the proposed route is largely based on gravity flow.
Many of the same people had appeared Monday, Feb. 5, at a board of commissioners work session to voice their opposition. The primary spokespersons Thursday were Susan Philips, of Creek Nation Road, E.R. "Sonny" Pruitt, of Highway 124, and Audrey Hudson, of Georgia 11, each of whom read a prepared statement.
Pruitt read a petition in opposition to surveying and getting assessments "until the department can prove to the owners ... that the plan is the most prudent plan available as of this date." He said conversations with authority personnel were "misleading, to say the least."
Hudson asked "why should the interest of the developers of Mulberry Plantation take precedence over the interests of the landowners who have worked and sacrificed all of their lives in order to provide homes and good clean places for their families to live? It is morally and ethically wrong for this authority to forcibly strip this land from us in order to serve Mulberry Plantation."
The review of the route could affect the authority's pledge to have the system installed for Mulberry Plantation by the end of the year, Sutton said after the meeting.
Indeed, residents seemed to resent the 1,400-home subdivision almost as much as the sewer line.
The developer has already paid $1 million to the authority for 400 sewer taps. The project would also serve West Jackson Middle School and eventually sections along Interstate 85.
Chairman Alex Bryan went to great lengths to assure the group that the authority's concern "is what's best for Jackson County. We're going to try to do the right thing," he said.


Jefferson votes to hire city manager
Despite the opposition from one city council member, and to the obvious dismay of Mayor Byrd Bruce, the Jefferson City Council voted Monday night to hire a city manager to run the town's government.
The move has long been discussed by various city leaders, but had never before come to a vote. It carried 4-1 with only council member Marcia Moon dissenting.
Rep. Pat Bell will be asked by the council to introduce legislation to change the city charter. The move would pave the way for a city manager to be in place Jan. 1, 2002. No specific language was adopted in the action, however.
Councilman Jim Joiner made the motion for the change, with C.D. Kidd III, Steve Kinney and Bosie Griffith also voting in favor of the action.
Moon said she would be in favor of a November referendum asking voters to choose between a full-time mayor or a city manager. Mayor Bruce, who votes only when there is a tie, also said he would also be in favor of placing the issue on the ballot instead of the council making the change. Bruce has long opposed discussion of a city manager, saying that a full-time mayor would be better.
But the council disagreed.
"On a day-to-day basis, we need someone here," Kidd said. "...It's time for it."
City attorney Ronnie Hopkins said a city manager would have authority and total control over the administration of the city. That's a distinction from a city administrator, which is currently allowed by the city charter. An administrator, however, wouldn't have the authority a manager would have, he said.


City Schools Want Right To Levy Taxes
The Commerce Board of Education agreed Thursday night to ask the Commerce City Council to amend city charter provisions relating to levying of taxes to support the school system.
If the charter is amended to that effect, the board of education will determine the school system's own millage rate and will "submit the tax levy to the city council up to the limitation fixed by law."
According to chairman Steve Perry, there would be no change in how the millage rate is set and no change in taxes, but the school board would set its own millage rate and the city would still have the responsibility of collecting the tax money.
Perry pointed out that the Commerce school system is one of eight city systems, out of 22 in the state, that do not levy taxes, but instead receive a budgeted amount from the city.
In recent years, the council has always set a tax rate designed to bring in exactly the budget amount requested by the board of education.
It remains to be seen whether the Commerce City Council will go along with the request, says Councilman Bob Sosebee
"If there's a better way than the way we're doing it, we'll be glad to vote for a better way," he said. "We believe the way we're doing it is the fairest way possible, but if after studying it we need to have local legislation done, we'll have it prepared next fall."
One of the advantages, according to the school board is that the charter change would enable it to borrow money through low-interest tax anticipation notes, invest the money at a higher interest rate through a state pool, and make a profit.
"Once they look at how the tax money comes in, it's not going to be nearly as attractive as they think," Sosebee said. "Those funds have to be paid back Dec. 31, and our county doesn't have a good record of having the taxes on time."


City Can't Find Ordinance, Has To Draft A New One
The city of Commerce lost its ordinance governing yard sales, so the city council had to approve a new one Monday night.
By a unanimous vote, the council approved its replacement.
What brought the issue to a head, said city manager Clarence Bryant, was the city's attempt to enforce its ordinance against a city resident. When the resident demanded to see a copy of the ordinance, the city couldn't find one.
"We almost had a fist fight because a guy wanted to put signs out at Parham's Motel all the way to Oak Street," Bryant said.
The ordinance requires that residents get a permit to hold a yard, garage or estate sale. There is no charge for a permit, but the ordinance allows only two eventsper year at any one address. It also prohibits the placement of signs advertising the sale on public property or private property without permission and requires that all signs be removed within 12 hours of the end of the sale.
All of those provisions in the missing ordinance have largely been ignored in the past.
Councilman Donald Wilson proposed that the city charge a deposit, which it would keep if the signs are not removed.
"The only way to enforce it is going to be to start making cases against them," said Bryant.



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Plans for trade office pulled after Jefferson kills Storey Ln. access
A Commerce man seeking a rezoning to locate a major state agribusiness trade association office in Jefferson withdrew his request Monday night after a motion was made that would push up the cost of the project.
The Jefferson City Council heard from several area residents concerned about Gary W. Black's request to rezone six acres at Storey Lane and Hwy. 129 from R-3 to C-1. The plans called for locating the Georgia Agribusiness Council on the property. Black serves as president of the organization, which now has its office in Norcross.
After councilman Jim Joiner made a motion that the request for access on Storey Lane be denied, Black stood and said he withdrew it. Joiner then said he regretted his motion.
"You will be sorry," Joiner said to those opposed to the plans. "I'm sorry I did it (made the motion)."
Residents of Storey Lane asked that the entrance to the facility be located on Hwy. 129. Storey Porter told the council to consider who they wanted to be "friends" with ­ all of the residents on the road opposed to the plans, or the man requesting the rezoning. He pointed out that the residents of the road do business with at least two members of the city council.
But Black said that putting the entrance on Hwy. 129 instead of Storey Lane Road would make the project too expensive for the association.
"That is not within the realm of our possibility," he said.
Black said that the office wouldn't bring much traffic to the road, since it has only four employees. He added that members only hold three meetings a year and that they wouldn't be coming to the office on a regular basis. He said that the development would have a low impact and would enhance the community.
Black also spoke on the history of the association, which has a 32-member board representing agribusiness in the state. It was formed in 1966.


Jackson, Jefferson adopt school calendars
The Jackson County and Jefferson school systems have adopted identical calendars for the 2001-2002 school year. Both calendars will begin school for students on Aug. 2 and end the year on May 24, 2002.
In between those dates will be a number of breaks for some students, including two new week-long breaks in October and February for students not needing remediation.
Both systems have also allotted remediation days in June 2002 for students not performing as expected.
The Jefferson Board of Education adopted the calendar last Thursday during its regular monthly meeting and the Jackson County Board of Education chose the plan at its meeting Monday night.
"We passed this out throughout the school system, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly favorable," Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson said.
Assistant superintendent Dr. Patti Rooks added: "The beauty of a calendar like this from a training standpoint is it allows teachers training at points during the school year without pulling them out of the classroom...and it does allow for (student) remediation throughout the school year."
Teachers will begin pre-planning on July 30 and finish the year May 30. Staff development days will be folded into the remediation days as well.
Student holidays for the school year will be: Sept. 3, Oct. 8, Nov. 21-23, Dec. 19-Jan. 2, 2002, Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 15, and April 1-5. Students who are not behind in their work will also have off Oct. 9-12 and Feb. 19-22. Students who need extra help will use those days as remediation periods.