News from Madison County...

March 7, 2001


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
The strange new world of the Web
It has become a strange new world out there. In the past, a local writer like myself would receive feedback from friends and neighbors. Because most of them know me, they judged my comments based on my history.

Rochelle Beckstine
Gwinnett County churches have it figured out
Churches in Gwinnett County have figured out something our churches have not. They've found a foolproof way to earn money and provide a service to the community.


SPORTS
Diamond Raiders down Cedar Shoals 4-1 in season opener
The Madison County baseball team not only had to battle Cedar Shoals in their season opener, they also had to combat frostbite.
But the diamond Raiders picked up a 4-1 win over the Jaguars Monday night in "chilly" temperatures that more suggested mid-January basketball than diamond action.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
New flag on its way?
Citizens pick flag amidst opposition Banks County voters may have chosen a county flag. But officials have yet to release the final tally.

SPLOST comes before county voters March 20
Banks County voters will go to the polls on March 20 to cast their ballots on extending the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for five more years.



News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Nicholson: 6-Minute Meeting Avoids Zoning Issue
NICHOLSON -- The mayor and city council managed to conduct a six-minute meeting Monday night at which they once again avoided the dreaded issue of zoning.

Reservoir operations set for July 1 opening
With the project still on schedule for operation by July 1 and still within budget, the group building the Bear Creek Reservoir is beginning to focus on peripheral details.

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WAVING THE FLAG

Nancy Sizemore of Ila and her 2-year-old daughter Montanya attended Saturday's flag rally at the Madison County government complex. The rally was moved from the old courthouse square to the Superior Courtroom due to bad weather.




Cowne named superintendent
Keith Cowne is Madison County's new school superintendent.
He will begin working with the school system April 1.
The terms of his contract were not available as of press time because Cowne was not scheduled to sign the contract until today (Wednesday).
Cowne, who has served as Jackson High School principal since 1995, was unanimously approved by the county school board Tuesday night. The new superintendent was not on hand for the BOE meeting due to a Star Student banquet at Jackson High School.
Cowne was scheduled to tour county schools before meeting with the public in the high school media Wednesday afternoon.
The new school head said he is excited about coming to Madison County.
"I look forward to the opportunity to come to a fine community like Madison County," said Cowne. "I'm anxious to build on the positive strengths I know exist currently."
Cowne also said he wants to "alleviate concerns about finances." The Madison County school board was forced to borrow money and raise taxes significantly this past fall to cover school expenses. Both the BOE and former superintendent Dr. Dennis Moore, who resigned in September, were criticized by citizens who felt the leaders handled taxpayer money irresponsibly.
Board members have expressed a desire to "move forward" and put the financial troubles in the past. And Tuesday's hiring was seen by BOE members as a major step in that direction.
All five school board members had very positive things to say about Cowne Tuesday. They described him as "personable," "businesslike," "professional," "knowledgeable" and "enthusiastic."
Board member Elaine Belfield said the BOE was thorough in checking Cowne's references.
"He's qualified and stable," said Belfield. "I think he'll stay with us and I think we'll grow with him....Everywhere he has been, he has made it better."
She added that everyone on the board "had the same opinion" - that Cowne was the man for the job.
"And that was important after what we've been through," said Belfield.
BOE member John Mason said he was pleased with the decision.
"We're looking forward to getting him in here," said Mason. "We're pleased with the interviews and how this has gone. I think once people meet him they'll be pleased."
Cowne and Dalton High School principal Mike Stanton were the two finalists for the job.




Rally held to support old flag
Anger voiced at those who voted for change
The old Georgia flag is not going away - at least not if those at the flag rally in Danielsville Saturday have their way.
The St. Andrew's cross was everywhere Saturday, on cars and trucks, on bandannas, shirts, hats, belt buckles, posters and at the end of a flag pole held by a Civil War re-enactor.
The crowd that filled the courtroom Saturday was outraged by the recent change of the state flag and they cheered loudly for speakers who shared their views.
Rep. Ralph Hudgens gave a rundown of how the bill to change the flag was rushed through the General Assembly. Many have frowned on Governor Roy Barnes, saying he bribed legislators by promising state funds for local projects in exchange for a vote to change the flag.
Some made their anger known Saturday by wearing T-shirts which read: "Georgia's one-term Governor."
"This was the most corrupt way to approach an issue I've ever seen," said Hudgens. "...You can blame it on the Governor. He removed the flag, which is our heritage."
Speaker John Campbell and others said there are elements of communism in the flag change.
"They don't want a new compromise flag," said Campbell of those who pushed for the change. "What they really want is a hammer and sickle and red background."
Campbell added: "History can be revised. And if you don't know where you came from, you don't know where you're going. And we're going to a one-world, socialist global tyranny."
Tom Pickett of the Council of Conservative Citizens said, "If we don't rise as a people to fight the totalitarian, socialist Governor of ours, we are lost."
He said there are some good Democrats, but that there is a "core of them who are anti-God."
"This enemy is powerful, but they don't have the power we have - Jesus Christ," said Pickett.
Rep. Alan Powell of Hartwell said the state is seeing the "abolition of Southern heritage for the sake of political correctness."
"What changed the state flag was the big business community of this state," said Powell. "We shouldn't be ashamed of what happened in history. To strip people of love of heritage is not right."
Powell also said the state is changing. He said he is worried about the influence of Atlanta after redistricting in the General Assembly this summer.
"You'll see the metro area in control of a majority of the legislative seats," said Powell. "And that scares the hell out of me, 'cause their thoughts and views are different than ours."
He added: "Things are not going well for the rural people of Georgia."



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Woman forced into trunk by carjackers
A woman was abducted at gunpoint as she exited her car in the yard of her Belhaven Lane home at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.
According to a press release from the Madison County Sheriff's Department, two suspects followed the victim from Athens and as she got out of her car she was confronted by the armed suspects, placed in the trunk of her car and driven around for a short period until spotted by a Madison County deputy on patrol on Fortson's Store Road. The suspect's vehicle continued, failing to stop, until it turned on Kevin Way, then Bedford Drive, where both suspects fled the car on foot.
The deputy located the victim in the trunk of her car, shaken, but otherwise unharmed.
The Madison County Sheriff's Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are searching for the suspects.


Commissioner 'doing better' after stroke
Board of Commission District 1 representative Bill Taylor suffered a stroke on Sunday afternoon, according to BOC chairman Wesley Nash.
Nash said Taylor was hospitalized Sunday afternoon after suffering the stroke while feeding his cows.
"He's doing better," Nash said, adding that Taylor was expected to be released from the hospital either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.


County's long-term goals discussed at joint meeting
Decisions that county leaders make in the next six months could have an impact on the county for the next 20 years, according to Industrial Authority chairman John Scoggins.
Scoggins spoke to Board of Commission, Planning and Zoning, and Industrial Authority members at a Tuesday night work session of the three boards laying out both short-and-long term goals of the Authority.
The Authority has four major goals to accomplish within the next six months: the purchase of the Hull water system owned by Athens-Clarke County (ACC), completing the acquisition of a backup well (Well #2) which was mistakenly drilled partly on land owned by Billy Chandler, approval of ordinances and policies for the water system and hiring staff to provide services such as billing and meter reading.
Scoggins said plans are for the Madison County water system to be operational by July 1, 2001.
Purchase of the ACC-owned lines that run along Hwy. 72 through a portion of Hull and the south side of Glenn Carrie Road will give the county water system access to the important Hwy. 72 commercial and industrial growth corridor.
"The fact that there are 180 residential water customers (in that system) is incidental," Scoggins said.
The purchase, when finalized, will be paid for with a GEFA loan and paid back with revenue generated from water sales - not tax money, he emphasized.
The Authority's current charter, written in 1966, does not clearly give it the authority to serve residential water customers - and this will need to be worked out in a contract with the BOC, he added. But the charter does provide for "a broad range of powers" making it responsible for commercial and industrial development in the county. Scoggins said the Industrial Authority's creation was approved in the 1966 election by 75 percent of voters.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Madison County Journal.