News from Jackson County...

February 28, 2001

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County

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Panther girls, both Jefferson teams advance to state basketball tournaments

IT'S NOT every year that an area basketball team qualifies for the second round of the state tournament ­ otherwise known as the Sweet 16 ­ but it's rarer still for five area teams to accomplish the feat.

Sweet Sixteen: Lady Tigers Advance, Play Spartans Thursday
They were one of 32 teams. Now they're one of 16, and by the end of the weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers hope to be one of the four remaining Class A teams left in the state girls' basketball tournament.

Neighborhood News...
Residents look to keep the 'rural character' of county
Combating residential "sprawl" and protecting the county's rural character were the focus points of last week's first of two meetings on future land use.

Details unavailable on Guest settlement
Madison County commissioners settled a case Monday with a developer who sued the county, but leaders are not yet releasing details on what the settlement stipulated.

News from
Republican Party to hold county convention Saturday
The Banks County Republican Party will hold the county convention at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, at the Banks County courthouse in Homer.

Deadline ahead Monday for vote on county flag
Banks Countians interested in casting a ballot for the three proposed designs for a new county flag have only a few days to do so.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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Fatal Fire in Commerce
Wednesday Morning

Members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Scene Unit search for clues as to the cause of a fatal fire Wednesday morning at the residence of Michael Austin, 348 Cherry Street, Commerce. Responding to the fire at 5:10, the Commerce Fire Department discovered a body under debris from a collapsed loft near the front door. Steve Kelley, investigator with the Commerce Police Department, said it could be days before the identity of the victim is known.

Authority Holds County's Feet To Fire On Sewer Line
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will support its water and sewerage authority's plans to create a county sewerage system, if for no other reason than it has to.
In a called meeting of the commissioners Thursday night, members of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority wrung an official endorsement from the commissioners for a project that includes a sewer line that has generated a small firestorm of opposition.
In effect, the authority held the commissioners' feet to the fire for the purpose, as commissioner Harold Fletcher put it, "to get us all singing from the same page."
By showing the commissioners that they had no choice ­ unless they were willing to fund the $12 million project themselves and defend a lawsuit from the developers of Mulberry Plantation ­ the water authority hoped to end any opposition the commissioners had to the project.
It did not appear to be a meeting the commissioners wanted. The meeting was scheduled and changed five times. After the time was finally established at 5:00 Friday afternoon, only Fletcher and Emil Beshara were present at that hour from the board of commissioners. Fletcher called a "work session" to order 43 minutes later, and at 5:49, commissioners Tony Beatty, Sammy Thomason and Stacey Britt finally arrived ­ together.
The authority did want the meeting. Fletcher has grumbled repeatedly about Jerry Waddell being named superintendent and hinted that the county might restructure the authority. Beshara seemed to be encouraging opposition to the Mulberry Plantation line when he told residents all they needed to do "to stop this project is find an Indian grave."
Facing a Jan. 1 deadline to get the line to Mulberry Plantation, the authority decided it was time to remind the commissioners of what is at stake.
Jaime Wilson, the authority's financial consultant, explained that the $12.7 million bond issue to finance the purchase and upgrade of the old Texfi plant and the construction of the sewer line is funded by a bond issue. The bonds were sold based on an engineering report "that laid out what we were going to do," he said.
"That was the representation made to the investing public. If there is a deviation, there has to be a good reason for it," Wilson said, adding that the county would have to certify that any change would not adversely affect its ability to pay off the bonds.
In other words, the project cannot be substantially changed without significant ramifications.
In addition, the county has guaranteed the bond payments. If the authority cannot make the payments from its own revenue, the commissioners ­ and the taxpayers ­ would have to make the payments.
In response to a question from Fletcher, Wilson said the county has the right to make changes.
Officials of the water and sewerage authority believe developer Doug Elam is already preparing to seek legal action if the line is not ready by Jan. 1.
The authority asked the commissioners to endorse the upgrade of the Texfi waste plant and the acquisition of easements and the construction of the initial phase of the sewage collection system, which includes the gravity line extending along Doster Creek and the Middle Oconee River. It also asked the board to participate in "long-range strategy meetings" about the development of the county sewer system, including allocation of sewage treatment capacity among residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Faced with the consequences, the commissioners agreed. In return, the authority agreed to keep the commissioners advised about its public relations efforts among affected property owners and to try to improve those efforts.
For the complete story, see this week's Commerce News.

Planners say 'No' to NJ landfill
A Carnesville company trying to bring a construction and demolition landfill to the North Jackson area failed the first step of the process Thursday night when the Jackson County Planning Commission recommended denial for a conditional use permit.
But it will be the Jackson County Board of Commissioners that will have final say on the matter. The BOC will receive input on the request at its work session at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 5. The BOC will vote on the request at its March 19 meeting.
At Thursday's planning commission meeting, the vote was unanimous to recommend denial to the request from Earth Resources for a conditional use permit to locate the landfill on 94.84 acres on Lanier Road that is zoned I-2.
Attorney Bob Lovett spoke on behalf of Earth Resources. He said it includes a 200-foot buffer and that only "non-putrescible, construction demolition waste" would be accepted. He added that no household garbage, asbestos or hazardous material would be accepted. He said that the applicant has met all of the criteria under the county zoning ordinance and would have additional safeguards in place through the state permitting process. He added that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division would permit and monitor the landfill.
Lovett said a traffic survey found that there would be an increase of six to eight truck trips per hour with the hours of operation at the facility being 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
Lovett said there is a need for a C&D landfill in Jackson County and that 1,000 building permits were issued last year in the county. He added that 100 citations were issued last year in the county for improper waste disposal.
Planning commission chairman Keith Hayes asked Lovett several questions, including whether the permit could be upgraded to allow for a solid waste landfill. The attorney said that the applicant would have to again go through the application process in order for this to occur. He also told Hayes that the county could place load restrictions on the road.
Lovett also reminded the planners that the Georgia law requires landfill operators to pay $1 per ton of waste to be used to offset the impact of the development.
Planning commission member Larry Benton said this wouldn't be a benefit to the county since it would go toward overseeing and monitoring the landfill.
Seven people spoke in opposition to the project and a petition was presented with the signatures of 238 people who are against the development.
Shelly Casper, who helped organize an earlier citizens' meeting on the proposal, spoke on her environmental concerns with the project.
She also spoke on concerns with wood waste on the site.
Other concerns she spoke of included metal waste, concrete contamination. sediment run-off and odors.
Clint Paschal questioned the zoning classification given to the property. He said the I-2 zoning was given with the condition that it only be used as a private airfield.
Lovett was given the opportunity to speak again after all of the opposition had been given.
There was applause in the standing-room only crowd when Brant McMullan made the motion to deny the request. More than 100 people crowded into the Administration Building for the discussion, which took more than one hour.
For the complete story, see this week's Jackson Herald.

Hospital Losing One Doctor But Getting Another
BJC Medical Center is getting one new doctor and losing another after less than two years on the staff.
Reporting to the BJC Medical Center Authority at its February meeting Monday night, chief of staff Dr. Robert Marshburn announced that Dr. Ed Bailey is leaving the staff and getting out of medicine altogether. He will work through March.
Marshburn said Bailey "melded well with the staff" and had "been happy working here," but was "looking at a different occupation."
Bailey was heavily recruited by the hospital and opened his practice in 1999 in the building vacated when Dr. Paul Sergent retired. He will continue to practice through March.
The good news for the medical center Monday night was the announcement that Dr. Fareha Rahim will open an internal medicine and rheumatology office Thursday near the hospital.
Oscar Weinmeister, recently promoted to assistant administrator in charge of X-Ray, the lab and physical therapy, said the native of Pakistan would locate in Commerce in part to fulfill conditions of a student loan.
She is relocating from New York while her husband completes a fellowship at Emory University.
Also related to staffing, the authority accepted the recommendation of the medical staff and voted to grant courtesy staff privileges to Dr. Carl Leum of Toccoa, who sought gynecological privileges.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.

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Mayor's daughter damages city property
The daughter of Jefferson Mayor Byrd Bruce was investigated last week following a domestic dispute that resulted in damage to city property.
Around 12:30 a.m. last Wednesday, Wanda Herndon allegedly drove a pickup truck into an overhead door at the Jefferson City Barn and ran through a fence gate that surrounds the facility. The incident was in connection with a domestic dispute between Mrs. Herndon and her husband, Gary Herndon. Mr. Herndon is employed by the City of Jefferson as supervisor for the Jefferson Street Department. The city stores vehicles and equipment at the city barn facility.
Mr. Herndon reported that he was at the scene when the incident occurred. He has reportedly set up living quarters in the city barn while separated from his wife.
Police reports state that Mrs. Herndon had left the scene by the time officers arrived. A short time later, Mayor Bruce reported that his daughter was uninjured and should remain in his custody.
Mrs. Herndon has not been charged in the incident, although officers did recommend four possible violations. The case is still under investigation, according to officials.

Braselton residents want growth moratorium
More than 100 residents gathered in Braselton's Town Hall Monday asking for a moratorium on zoning and annexation.
Several members of the group asked for the moratorium during a public hearing on the annexation and rezoning of 196 acres at I-85 and Charlie Smith Road in both Jackson and Barrow counties. The council will take action on the application at its March meeting.
"You have the chance to develop Braselton along the lines of quality growth," Château Élan Homeowners Association president Chuck Stevens said. "We are on the absolute verge of an industrial and residential explosion. If you don't do something now, there will be problems."
Stevens asked the council to declare the moratorium until the town's new planning and zoning board becomes functional. His comments drew applause from the crowd.
A representative of Delk Road Partnership, the group looking to annex and develop the property, said a light distribution warehouse was planned for the land.
"The development will be similar to the Duke Weeks development," Steve Stewart said. "The property complies with Jackson County and Braselton's land use plan."
Rhonda Ellis, a resident of Charlie Smith Road, spoke against the annexation and rezoning, saying the development would add too much traffic to Charlie Smith Road.
"Charlie Smith Road is dangerous, it's one-way and it's in bad shape," Ellis said.
She also said the development would lower area property values.
Stevens assured the council that the property would be a quality industrial development. Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce President Peppy Cummings supported Stevens' claims.
"The track record of Stevens and his interests is long term," Cummings said. "I believe he will be a good corporate citizens and will set a high standard."
Cummings also confirmed that the property would conform with Jackson County's land-use plan.
James McGowan, another resident, expressed concerns about the 25 foot buffer zone between the proposed development and area residential property.
"I don't think 25 feet or even 50 feet is too good for industry or commercial or whatever," he said. "It needs a larger buffer."
Before the public hearing was ended, Braselton zoning attorney David Kirk asked called for a vote from the residents on several of the issues.
The residents overwhelmingly said they would support a moratorium on zoning and annexation and agreed that Charlie Smith Road should not be used as the primary access to the property.
The residents also said they favored a larger buffer and stricter assurances of the quality of the development.
In an unrelated matter, the council held a public hearing on a request for a time extension on the rezoning of nearly 62 acres on Hwy. 211 at Thompson Mill Rd from PCFD to C-2.
Most of the citizens at the hearing agreed that the developer should be given more time to modify the plans for the property.