News from Banks County...

March 14, 2001


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OPINION

Shar Porier
The Raspberry Salute
County commissioners, I give you the raspberry salute!
Thank you so much for our new county flag that most of the county didn't have much of a voice in the choosing.

Banks County Letter
Responds to Chamber president's comments

First allow me to say that the flag "issue" is a non-issue for me. I understand the controversy surrounding the state flag and am indifferent concerning the new, the old or even whether or not one exists.


SPORTS
Leopards swing to wins

If the Leopard's last three games are any indication of how the rest of their games will go, they could be in for a good season.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY

Zoning Central Issue In Nicholson
555 Can Vote To Fill Two Vacancies On Nicholson City Council -- The question of whether Nicholson will have zoning or will not have zoning will likely be settled next Tuesday when the town holds a special election to fill two vacancies on its four-member town council.

Rep. Bell opposed to landfill
Rep. Pat Bell said in a letter to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners that she is opposed to a proposed landfill in North Jackson.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Comer Elem. principal suspended Large crowd shows support for Almond, anger toward BOE for unspecified allegations.Comer Elementary School principal Mac Almond has been suspended with pay for unspecified reasons.

3 arrested in carjacking incident
Two Athens men and a Colbert man have been arrested for alleged involvement in a carjacking and kidnapping incident in Madison County last week.

Cowne signs superintendent's contract
Keith Cowne signed a three-year contract Wednesday as superintendent of Madison County schools.



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FISHING FOR A CAR

Banks County deputies were called to a small lake off North County Line Road on March 7 where a car had been found nearly submerged. The car was about eight feet off shore and a boat had to be used to attach a hook to the wheel well. It took the men nearly an hour to hook onto it and begin dragging it up to the bank. Chief Deputy Kyle Bryant inspected the car as it sat by the lake. The ignition had been broken and it appeared to be a stolen vehicle from Hall County. Two teenage boys had found the vehicle, went home and notified Winford Popphan , of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, of what they had found. He then called the Banks County Sheriff's Department.



New county flag leads to emotional debate
A new county flag resembling the former state flag will soon fly over Banks County.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners began the process Tuesday night for approving a county flag. The board approved a resolution to proceed with adopting the flag and the matter will be advertised and discussed in a public hearing before it is formally adopted.
At Tuesday's meeting, the matter was debated for almost an hour with many people speaking out about the design, which features the county seal and six stars representing each town in the county, along with the St. Andrew's cross from the former state flag.
Two former county commissioners asked the board to not approve the county flag, pointing to the possible economic impact it could have on the county.
Former BOC chairman James Dumas said he "applauds the effort to bring the county together under a banner," but that the flag project is poor timing. He said the former state flag was a battle flag to distinguish Confederate troops and should not be used on a county flag.
"There is nobody in this room more a son of the South than me," he said. "That state flag was never flown until 1956...(The battle flag) originated after the Battle of Bull Run. It was something that was carried into battle to distinguish the federal troops. If we're going to do a county flag, let's go very cautiously. I'm afraid if we adopt the county flag being proposed, it will hurt the county economically...It will have an impact."
Former commissioner Gary Freeman also spoke about the possible economic impact the flag could have on the Banks Crossing area.
"The flag is a bad idea for economic and social reasons," he said. "There is a high risk of boycotts and demonstrations and offending the state...We don't want a symbol for Banks County that is devisive."
Cecil Calloway said he hopes the county is not "opening a can of worms" with the action.
"I think we have wounded black families in the county," he said. "...I hope you tread lightly and don't be in a big rush."
One lady said that the St. Andrew's cross was put on the flag because of segregation.
"You are saying this is something to be proud of?" she asked the BOC. She asked the commissioners why it was so important to make the symbol a part of Banks County's flag.
Buddy Queen, a Banks County resident who attends most BOC and planning commission meetings, replied: "Because the state took it away from us."
But BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said the state action was not the reason for the county flag. He said the board wanted a flag that would unite Banks County. He said the project has been in the works before Georgia took any action.
"We started this before Georgia took the old flag down," he said. "It had nothing to do with that."
"I hope and pray that everyone will just think­why would a piece of cloth make someone hate someone else," he said. "If it's in your heart, it doesn't matter if the flag is there at all...You're all American citizens. You're not black or white...Turn out the lights. You can't tell what color anyone in here is..."
Jerry Gordon pointed out that 80 percent of those voting for a county flag selected the one with the former state flag emblem on it.
"I think we ought to use it," he said. "The Stars and Bars were worth fighting for one time. We can fight for it again."
Queen, who said he is a Vietnam veteran, also spoke in favor of the proposed design. He said he fought with both blacks and whites in the war and flew the Georgia flag in his hut. He said it doesn't represent any kind of hatred.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people in this room are way, way past this," he said.
Ed Lindorme, a veteran of the Korean War, said he resents anyone saying the Confederate flag represents slavery.
"The thing I really resent is anyone saying that the Confederate flag represents slavery," he said. "If the truth was known, slavery was condemned before we had the War Between the States because it was not economically feasible to continue to have slaves...The war was fought over state's rights and we lost.
"I'm a Southerner and I resent being branded a racist. I grew up with blacks. I stayed with blacks. We had members, the terminology was nannies but they were maids, who worked in our families and took care of the kids. When they died, there were more whites there than blacks. That's the way the old South is. I resent outsiders coming in and saying we are racist and we want to enslave people and that's what that flag stands for. What that flag stands for is that we fought a hard war over state's rights and we lost and we suffered."


SPLOST vote coming up Tuesday
Banks County voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballot on extending the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for five more years.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the special called election.
Estimates are that this one-cent tax, which is in place now, would bring in $15 million over another five-year period. County leaders have long praised a SPLOST tax for Banks County since much of the revenue comes from the businesses at Banks Crossing that bring in people from throughout the country to shop.
The board of commissioners agreed earlier that the SPLOST revenue would be divided as follows: water/sewer, 40 percent; jail, 25 percent; fire/EMS, 15 percent; roads, 12 percent; and recreation, eight percent.
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said plans for water and sewer revenue include water expansion in areas throughout the county, including Herbert Segars Road, the Gillsville area, Antioch Church Road and Hwy. 51 South. Some would also go toward other smaller water projects and sewer projects at the I-85 area.
The jail money would go toward constructing a new jail facility for the county. The current jail is small and outdated, Brady said. He added that if a federal judge came in and found problems with the facility, the county could be ordered to build a new jail.
"If we didn't have SPLOST money to build it with, we'd have to float bonds and pay for it out of county taxpayers' money," he said.
The proposed site for a new jail is on county-owned property on the new Hwy. 441 bypass.
Plans for the fire/EMS revenue include constructing two new fire stations­one on Hwy. 323 to cover the Gillsville area and the western part of Banks County and the other on Carson Segars Road to cover the Maysville area back into Homer and along Grove Level Road.
Brady added that the county is paying $500 a month rent on the building for the county station in Maysville and this wouldn't be necessary with the construction of the new facility.
As for the recreation money, the proposal is for a facility on the county complex for indoor sports such as basketball, wrestling and karate.
"For those kids who don't participate in outdoor sports, hopefully, they can relate to some of these indoor sports and anything the community might want to be," Brady said.



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Joint development Authority in the works
Jack Banks to serve as first-year chairman for Banks-Habersham.
It's only a matter of a few more signatures and a filing with the secretary of state before the plans for a Banks-Habersham Joint Development Authority become reality.
The Banks County Development Authority approved an agreement Thursday morning to establish the joint development authority, an agreement that has been revised and reviewed. The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to that effect in the winter. According to development authority chairman Jack Banks, one part of the resolution remains to be signed by the BOC chairman from both counties.
All the documents have to be signed and filed with the secretary of state, then the joint development authority will be established, Banks said. The authority will rotate its chairmanship and vice chairmanship annually, with each county represented in one of the positions. Banks will serve as chairman of the Banks-Habersham Joint Development Authority in its first year.
In the event that the development authority is dissolved, the counties will revert back to their previously exisiting authorities, Banks explained.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.


Development authority sells land for linen service
The Banks County Development Authority met with Bo Garrison Thursday morning to discuss the possible sale of up to seven acres at $15,000 per acre to Garrison for the location of a linen service. In a called meeting Tuesday morning, the authority took official action on the matter and voted to offer the property to Garrison.
Garrison came before the development authority in August with an offer and was told that the authority would accept $20,000 an acre for the property, which is part of 19.35 acres located adjacent to the water and sewage treatment facility.
"I'm willing to come halfway with $15,000 per acre," Garrison said at Thursday's meeting, explaining that he has had an offer of property in the Commerce area, but that "I'm ready to come home to Banks County."
The property in question is split into 14.35 acres and five acres divided by a road. Garrison agreed Thursday to walk the property and determine if the five-acre tract and two additional acres across the road would meet his needs, or if he would need a seven-acre tract cut from the 14.35 acres. Garrison was also representing an individual wanting to locate a dry goods business on the property with the linen service.
Garrison presently operates his business out of Commerce, where he has been for 11 years. He said he wants to begin his new facility with a phase one 120-foot by 150-foot building and loading dock. In response to authority chairman Jack Banks' question about how much acreage he would need, Garrison said he would need six to seven acres to allow for growth.
"I've run out of room and the business next to me wants to enlarge so, bottom line, I've got to go," Garrison said.
Garrison said he proposes to build an "environmental-friendly facility" that will recycle 60 percent of its rinse water back to wash water. He said the facility will be the second one east of the Mississippi to operate with no phosphates, chemicals or alkaline bleaches.
"Our target over the next five years is that the business in the new facility will grow over 600 percent," Garrison said, adding that he presently employees 15 people, most hailing from Banks County. He expects to employ 50 to 60 in five years.
"The bottom line is, I want to come to Banks County and I want enough land for future growth," Garrison said.
Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady, who was present at the meeting, said: "We've had this property for years and years, and no one has been interested in it. The IDA is not here to make money, but to get business in here for the tax base of the county. We need to look at businesses moving in here to build the tax base...I think we would do well to let it go at that (price) and let Bo move his linen service there."