News from Banks County...

March 21, 2001


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OPINION

Shar Porier
Final thoughts on flag issue

Now that I've calmed down a bit, had some time to think and talked with some of you, I have just this one last thing to say about the proposed county flag.

Banks County Letter
Votes for 'no flag'Dear Editor:

I am a black woman and have lived in Banks County all of my life. I am a 1995 graduate of Banks County High School.


SPORTS
Lady Leopards take out Rabun Win is first ever in girls' soccer history

The Banks County Lady Leopards' soccer team got a much needed shot in the arm Friday night.
Banks downed Rabun County 2-1 for the first ever win in the girls' program history. The two goals were also the first for the Lady Leopards this year.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Trial begins for December 1998 murder case. Jury sequestered as Wayne Cochran goes on trial for murder of Kimberly Warren. A 12-member jury was selected Wednesday and opening arguments were given in the murder trial of Emory Wayne Cochran, who is charged in the December 1998 murder of Kimberly Warren.

Zoning Foes Win In Nicholson ElectionWheeler, Kitchens Win Council Seats -- Voters in Nicholson braved gusting winds and driving rain Tuesday to reject the concept of zoning in a special city council election.



News from
MADISON COUNTY
Mac Almond resigns BOE releases allegations against former principal
Mac Almond has resigned as principal of Comer Elementary School, a post he held for the past 26 years.
The Madison County school board accepted his resignation Monday and on Tuesday school board attorney Lane Fitzpatrick released approximately 150 pages of evidence to support allegations that Almond has shown a "pattern....of personal abuse of school funds" .

We back Mac!
Large crowd shows support for long-time Comer principal

At least 300 Comer parents packed the Madison County High School library Tuesday night to support suspended Comer Elementary School principal Mac Almond.



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Search party finds child lost in woods


Missing child found in woods near grandparents' home
A 5-year-old child was missing for several hours Friday before being found in the woods near his grandparents' home in Banks County.
Some 25 men from the Banks County sheriff's office, fire department and emergency medical service (EMS) gathered at the home of Bill and Carole Jackson on Cates Bridge Road to search for their missing 5-year-old grandson, Griffin.
The Jacksons' son, Barth, and his wife, Racheal, had come to enjoy the weekend in the quiet countryside at their home.
"We were trying to escape the Saint Patrick's Day celebration that goes on in Savannah," said Barth.
Griffin's grandmother, Carole, said the family was preparing to go on a short hike with Griffin and told him to go on ahead as they put hiking shoes on. When the family came back out, Griffin was nowhere in sight. They began searching and calling for him, she said, but there was no response. After around an hour of looking, said Bill, they called 911 and Banks County deputies, Fire and EMS personnel and volunteers responded quickly.
The Jacksons said it was unusual for Griffin to go off by himself. Racheal said that he was fascinated with turtles and snakes. With the river only a short distance away, she was worried that he had gone there.
A command post was set up in the Jacksons' yard as the family tried their best to hold back tears and fears. Perry Dalton, fire chief, divided his men into groups and the search began.
Joining the Banks crew were Terry Parr, of Commerce, and Mike Parr, of Maysville. The cousins had been watching "Divorce Court" on TV, when they heard the report over a scanner.
"We just thought we'd come over and help," said Terry.
Mike said, "When a 5-year-old is missing, you gotta come help."
The family waited as minutes turned into hours. Then a yell came up from the woods about a quarter of a mile away followed by the radio message - the boy had been found and he was fine.
The men who found him, the Parr cousins and Sergeant James Savage, walked a laughing Griffin up to his waiting mother.
He told her excitedly, "I saw two turtles. One of them had red stripes."
He was lifted over the fence and his teary-eyed mom, dad and grandparents reached out to hold him.
The Parrs said they had found him on top of a pile of logs, "screaming and crying for his mom and dad."
As the medics checked him over, Racheal asked if he had learned anything today.
"I learned about red-striped turtles," he said smiling.
She said, "Griffin, I mean about being lost in the woods."
He said, "Oh, it was scary, I thought I'd never get back."
Carole told him, "From now on, you better keep the house in sight when you go out."
He said, "OK. I think that's a good idea."
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said he had called for a helicopter to come search the area, but the boy was found before it arrived. He praised the firemen and volunteer rescue workers assisting in the search.
"They always do a great job with anything like this," he said. "You couldn't ask for anthing better. We appreciate what they do in these times."


More than 500,000 gallons of water lost when vandals open hydrants across Banks County
Banks County lost more than 500,000 gallons of water over the weekend after vandals opened fire hydrants across the county.
Banks County water employees and firemen were kept busy Saturday night, trying to keep up with vandals who were opening fire hydrants across the county. Fire chief Perry Dalton said he was paged at 10:30 p.m. and was told by Louie Dean, Banks County water department, that if any fires broke out, his department probably would not have water to fight them.
"I was told that half the county's water had been drained," said Dalton.
Hydrants on Bennett Road, Scales Creek Road, Yonah-Homer Road and Wynn Lake Road had been opened, according to Dalton and Dean. Officials speculate that whoever did it used a large pipe wrench.
Water department clerk Debbie Poole said the department's voice mailbox was full of complaints from people without water. She said there was no way to tell how many customers had been affected or how long they had been without water.
Dean said that the first calls started coming in around 9:30 p.m. from customers complaining about not having water.
"We lost around 500,000 gallons of water," he said, "costing the county around $1,130."
His crews worked in conjunction with fire personnel and volunteers checking all the hydrants in the county.
Water crews were out until 1:30 a.m. checking hydrants and the county water system. He said a water operator had to be called in to work the plant and begin recovery. Water was pumped from the reservoir, said Poole.
"At around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, we were back to full capacity," Dean said.
No suspects have been arrested in conjunction with the crime.

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SPLOST passes
Banks County voters overwhelmingly voiced their support for a proposed special purpose local option sales tax Tuesday.
Voters approved the SPLOST 732-82 on a special ballot. The "yes" votes garnered 89.15 percent of all votes cast.
"It's a good day," Banks County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kenneth Brady said after the vote tally was announced. "I appreciate all the voters going out and supporting it. It's a great day for Banks County."
The SPLOST will generate an estimated $15 million in revenue for the county over the next five years.
The revenue will be divided as follows: water/sewer, 40 percent; jail, 25 percent; fire/EMS, 15 percent; roads, 12 percent; and recreation, eight percent. Homer, Baldwin and Maysville will also get a percentage of the revenue.


Country music legend Watson performs at BCHS
Country music legend Gene Watson performed Saturday night at Banks County High School to a fan-packed auditorium.
This was his second year appearing at BCHS to help the Banks County Band Boosters Club.
"I like Banks County, and I'm glad to be back," he told the crowd.
The Texas entertainer came in spite of the fatigue and discomfort caused by his ongoing battle against colon cancer. He is currently receiving radiation treatments and will start another round this week. Due to his illness, he told his fans that he would be unable to sign autographs at the end of the show, at the recommendation of his doctor.
Joined by band members Joe Eddy Gough, keyboard, Clay Richard, bass, Darren Turner, drums, Corky Owens, steel guitar, and Travis Smith, lead guitar, Watson played his old hits from the past to everyone's delight.
He said he likes "doing shows like this."
"They're my fans and they made me who I am today," he said. "Without them, I would be nothing."
Watson announced his new CD would be coming out in late spring.
The concert was part of an all-day event held Saturday by the band boosters. It included a car show and other entertainment.