News from Jackson County...

March 14, 2001


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Bats Hot, Gloves Cold For Baseball Tigers
The hitting is there and the pitching is coming around, but if the Commerce Tiger baseball team doesn't find some defense, it'll be a long season.

Lady Dragons earn school's third state title in five months
It looked to be a runaway from the start, but Saturday's state Class A championship final turned out to be anything but.
Jefferson's Lady Dragons recovered from a 12-point second-quarter deficit to defeat the Lady Wolves of Wesleyan 55-52 to claim the 2001 girls' state crown.

Jackson County 3-1 after first week of play
AFTER their first week of play, the Jackson County baseball team is off to a solid start at 3-1.


Neighborhood News...
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.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


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 J-H-S, YES!

Members of the Jefferson girls' basketball team throw up a cheer for the fans after winning the state Class A championship Saturday at the Macon Centreplex. The championship was the third state team title for Jefferson this school year. For complete coverage of the basketball championship, see page 1B.


Nicholson set to vote Tues.
on council slots

Outcome will decide the balance of power in a town torn by zoning debate
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.
The issue has been in limbo since September, when the city government fell apart after the resignation of its mayor, first, and then two council members who sought election to other posts.
Nicholson has 555 registered voters. Votes will be cast at city hall on paper ballots.
The two seated council members, Thomas Gary and Margaret Ward, favor implementing a zoning ordinance. Mayor Ronnie Maxwell, elected in December, opposes zoning.
Seven candidates are running for the two posts, and the two candidates with the most votes Tuesday night will be awarded those seats.
Of the seven running, three candidates are on the record in favor of zoning, three oppose it and one hasn't taken a position.
The candidates are David Crawford, James Kesler, Billy Kitchens, Deborah Moore, Daniel Sailors, Sandra Sailors and Chuck Wheeler.
Crawford, 50, has lived in Nicholson all of his life and is an electrician at the University of Georgia.
"I am for zoning, but what they have now (the proposed ordinance) is not carved in stone. There will probably have to be some changes down the line," he said.
Kesler, 67, owner of a barbecue restaurant, retired after working at ABB (formerly Westinghouse). He has lived in Nicholson 61 years.
"I have no quarrel with those buying and living in mobile homes, but I'm against trailer parks," Kesler said. He indicated he would support a zoning ordinance as long as it grandfathered in existing mobile homes and allowed people to live in mobile homes.
"When a man buys land and puts his hard-earned money on it and puts a trailer on it, I expect that's the best they can do," he said.
Billy Kitchens, 48, has lived in Nicholson for 28 years and is self-employed with a body shop and painting heavy equipment for national rental companies.
Kitchens is known as an opponent of zoning, but declined to publicly state his position on the issue.
"If I get elected, I will stand behind the people like I have in the past," he said. "I think the people should have a voice in what's going on."
Kitchens says he is chairman of the "Concerned Citizens Group" in Nicholson.
Deborah Moore, 50, has owned Southern Rest Personal Care Home in Nicholson for the past 12 years.
"I am for zoning, 100 percent," she said.
Moore worked 10 years with Clarke County's Department of Family and Children Services and over six years as the city clerk in Commerce. She is a volunteer in the "preemie" unit at Athens Regional Medical Center.
"I think I've got a lot of qualifications and experience I can pull on," she says. "There are not too many things (in city government) I haven't been involved with and done."
Daniel Sailors, 74, a native of Nicholson, served on the council but quit in the fall to seek election as a county commissioner. He is retired after 33 years at Armstrong and Dobbs, Athens, and considers himself pro-zoning.
"I want another public hearing on the thing before I'll go for it," he cautioned. "They never did get it completed and the people need to understand what's what. At the last meeting, some questions came up and they were supposed to have another hearing to satisfy some of the requests."
Sandra Sailors, 51, is Daniel Sailors' daughter and was born, raised and educated in Nicholson.
"I have no comment about zoning until I view the plan," she commented. "I want Nicholson to move forward. I want to keep our charter and I am for all the people," she stated.
Sailors has been a teacher for 30 years and is K-12 gifted instructor for the Jackson County School System. She also owns Electric Beach, a tanning salon, in Commerce.
Chuck Wheeler did not respond to messages left on his phone. He has spoken against the implementation of a zoning ordinance.


JHS to use state funds for health occupations lab
Jefferson High School is looking at using state funds to convert a classroom in the home economics building into a health occupations lab and then offering a course in that discipline next year.
Jefferson Board of Education chairman Ronnie Hopkins shared correspondence from Rep. Pat Bell Thursday with BOE members, explaining that Rep. Bell has $10,000 in state funds allotted for the classroom conversion to a lab setting.
Rick Townsend, JHS assistant principal, told the board that a state grant may bring in additional funds for the project and for equipment for the lab. He added that the school has formed an advisory committee made up of representatives from the health occupations field.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.


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. Meanwhile, the action has been tabled at the request of the landfill developer.
In the letter, Rep. Bell cited five reasons why the BOC should deny a conditional use permit to locate a construction and demolition landfill on Lanier Road.
Rep. Bell said the landfill did not fit in Jackson County's land use plan and would negatively affect surrounding property and the city of Pendergrass. She also said roads in the area could not handle the additional truck traffic and the maintenance of the roads would be a "constant drain" on county taxpayers.
Rep. Bell added that increased truck traffic would cause safety problems in the area.
"I have sat where you are sitting and made a decision on three landfills," Rep. Bell said in the letter. "None of them were easy, and I do not envy you as commissioners having to make this decision."

Robert Lovett, the attorney representing the company that applied for the permit, sent a letter to the BOC asking them to table the hearing on the landfill.
The BOC unanimously voted to table the matter until their April 2 meeting.
The Jackson County Planning Commission recommended denial of the conditional use permit at its meeting in February.
At the February meeting, several people spoke in opposition to the landfill, citing pollution and odor concerns.


School Board Looks At Non-Resident Student Policy
The Commerce Board of Education held the first reading of a policy regarding non-resident students Monday night. The policy, which will be available for review for 30 days at the central office, establishes guidelines for how non-resident students will be accepted in the future as the school system continues to grow.
Non-resident students who have withdrawn from the system previously because of disciplinary action, poor attendance or unsatisfactory academic performance will not be enrolled. The board also reserves the right to limit non-resident enrollment when the student population exceeds 95 percent of the limit set for a class or school. The board of education reserves the right to levy tuition for non-resident students.
Enrollment priority for nonresident students will be given to those who are currently enrolled; siblings of those currently enrolled; children of alumni; children of city or school system employees; those who apply earliest; and those who are children of parents or guardians who pay ad valorem tax to the city of Commerce.
Non-resident students may be removed from Commerce schools for unacceptable behavior or attendance; lack of effort or poor academic performance; falsification or misinformation during the application process; or "other good and sufficient cause."
The policy will come before the board again at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, when the board meets at the high school.



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Commerce Council Endorses 120-Unit Apartment Project
The Commerce City Council voted unanimously Monday night to support a company's plans to seek a state tax credit so it can locate 120 units of apartments in Commerce.
Cooperative Resource Center Inc. is applying to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for "affordable housing tax credits" to finance the construction on 15 acres fronting Mt. Olive and Progress Roads.
The developer needed the city's endorsement to seek the DCA credits so it can set aside 96 of the units for low-income housing, according to paperwork submitted to the city.
The land is not currently in the city limits, but the developer seeks annexation. That matter will go before the Commerce Planning Commis-sion at its March 26 meeting. The planning commission's recommendations will then be considered by the city council at its April 9 meeting.
Councilman Sam Brown raised the only question about the proposal, asking city manager Clarence Bryant how much sewage such a development would generate. Bryant estimated that each unit would average 225 gallons per day, which means the development would take up some 27,000 gpd of the city's remaining sewage plant capacity, estimated at 200,000 to 250,000 gallons.
The tract is already zoned R-5 in Jackson County and is located in the shared tax district, which means most of the school taxes levied on the property will go to Jackson County.
"The bottom-line advantage to us is getting the sewer capacity charge," Bryant explained.
The city may get another large sewer capacity charge and apartment complex. Bryant said developers are considering another complex of up to 144 units on Mount Olive Road near Harden Orchard Road.
"We've had three different people talking about utilities for that tract. It's another government program, so they may be working on some kind of deadline," Bryant said.


Jefferson police officers to get raise
In a 3-2 vote, the Jefferson City Council agreed Monday night to a $1 per hour raise for its certified police officers.
Councilman Jim Joiner, chairman of the council's police committee, made the recommendation that the officers be given the raise, effective April 2. He presented a salary comparison of officers from area departments and said Jefferson is on the bottom of the list.
A number of uniformed police officers, along with chief Darren Glenn, were present for the discussion, but none spoke. At one point, councilman C.D. Kidd III, who opposed the raise, asked if the officers were at the meeting to "try and intimidate" the council.
"Just about all of the force is here," he said.
The discussion lasted more than 30 minutes and included a call by councilman Kidd for the matter to be moved into closed a session. The meeting was briefly closed to the public, but was re-opened with city attorney Ronnie Hopkins stating that the discussion of an across-the-board pay raise must be discussed in open session to be legal. The closed meeting had been called for a discussion on "personnel."
"We need to look at this before we start losing officers," Joiner said in calling for the action. "Other departments are actively recruiting our officers."
Joiner, Steve Kinney and Marcia Moon voted in favor of the raise. Kidd and Bosie Griffith voted against raise.
Kinney said he is concerned about the department losing officers. He said Jefferson has lost two in the past three weeks and that five more are being recruited by other departments.
Kidd said the matter should be considered during budget hearings for the next year, not in the middle of a budget that has already been approved.
"I don't think we're that far off that we can't wait to budget time," Kidd said.
Griffith pointed out that the council has given raises to the police department for the past three years.
"What are we going to do next year?," he asked.
Joiner said the raises would cost the city $30,000 for the remainder of this year, including Social Security and Medicare costs. The starting pay for a certified officer is now $10.33.