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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. I know that not everyone who is in
favor of the flag is a racist.
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.
Tigers survive a scare at home
Commerce Outlasts Athens Aca. 11-8. The Commerce Tigers baseball
team held onto a victory that almost got away against Athens
Academy at home last Tuesday.
Diamond Panthers hit region slate this week
Though their season began just two weeks ago, Rusty Hendricks'
Diamond Panthers will begin their long region schedule Friday
with a 5:30 p.m. home game against Monroe Area. Elbert County
hosts the Panthers Monday at 5:55 p.m., and Loganville comes
to Jefferson next Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. game.
Track and field takes the spotlight.
Pair of middle school meets on tap
Saturday. Track season has hit full swing, and if the weather
will cooperate, teams from Jefferson and Jackson County will
be busy cramming in several meets before Spring Break the first
week of April.
Neighboorhood News ..
Mac Almond resigns BOE releases allegations against
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
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.
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
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.
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.
The Jackson Herald
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guilty of murder
Sentenced to life without parole
Emory Wayne Cochran was found guilty of murder by
a Jackson County jury Saturday afternoon.
The jury found Cochran guilty on counts of felony murder, malice
murder, burglary and aggravated assault after a little more than
one hour of deliberation Saturday afternoon. The jury deliberated
for almost three hours over the sentencing with the death penalty,
life without parole and life with the possibility of parole the
options. District attorney Tim Madison had asked for the death
penalty in the murder of Kimberly Warren.
The sentence was affirmed by Superior Court Judge Bob Adamson
at 9:20 p.m. Saturday, after a long day of court that began at
8 a.m. The trial lasted four days and the jury had been sequestered
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.
Security has been tight at the courthouse in Jefferson this week
for the death penalty case, with more than 10 deputies present
at times. A metal detector has been set up for those entering
the courthouse. Those who enter are also not allowed to take
purses or other personal belongings into the courtroom.
Cochran was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated
assault and burglary in the Dec. 8, 1998, death of Kimberly Warren.
Cochran is suspected of being the triggerman in the murder of
Mrs. Warren, who was killed near her home on Eagle Lane in North
Jackson. Her body was found in her car a short distance from
her house. She had been shot several times and the car had rolled
into a creek at the bottom of an embankment.
The jurors, along with two alternates, will be sequestered during
the course of the trial. Some 90 potential jurors were questioned
Monday and Tuesday with 50 named as a "qualified panel"
and asked to report Wednesday morning with their luggage.
Before the jurors were named Wednesday, Cochran's attorney, Walter
Harvey, called for a mistrial due to a bumper sticker with a
phrase about murder that was parked at the side entrance of the
courthouse during jury questioning earlier this week.
Judge Robert "Bob" Adamson denied the motion after
asking the jurors how many noticed the bumper sticker. He made
note of the names of all 19 members who had seen the bumper sticker.
He also asked if seeing the bumper sticker had caused them to
form an opinion about the case. No one responded that it had.
He also individually asked each person if they would be able
to put the bumper sticker aside if called as a juror. All responded
that they would. The judge also said that he had asked that the
bumper sticker be removed.
The judge also asked the potential jurors if any had seen lapel
pins or buttons relating to the case. No one had seen these items.
It was around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday when the jurors selected were
called to the stand and the others were allowed to leave. Those
selected were allowed to make one phone call notifying family
members that they had been selected. Court officials escort the
jurors to their meals and they are housed at an area motel.
While the jurors were making calls and their luggage was being
sent to where they will be housed, Harvey made another motion.
He asked the judge that the 17 photos of the victim that the
state intends to present not be allowed. Harvey said that the
cause of death is not an issue. He added that the photos would
be "overkill" and "prejudicial."
"They have no relevant purpose in proving this defendant
committed this crime," he said. "...The intent is to
appeal to the emotion of the jury."
District attorney Tim Madison said that the state has 30 pictures
and has eliminated any duplicates. He said those used will show
the separate bullet wounds.
The judge denied Harvey's motion, but he did require the state
to identify any photographs to the judge and defense before they
are displayed. The judge said he called for this so that the
"court can review each photograph in context of the trial."
On another matter, Harvey said there is a conflict because his
law partner represented a witness who will be called. He said
it would be a conflict of interest for him to question the witness
and asked that the man not be allowed to testify.
The judge said that he had already ruled denying this motion
and that Harvey would have to make a showing before the witness
is called as to any specific relevant knowledge he has gained
and the source. He added that he would not change his ruling
at this time.
The trial began at 11:15 and Harvey and Madison made opening
statements before lunch. In Madison's 15-minute remarks, he spoke
of the victim and her husband and their move to Jackson County
from DeKalb County. He said they moved to the country to get
away from the city and build their dream home. Photographs of
the home were shown on an overhead projector. He also spoke of
an alleged crime spree Cochran had been on during the time the
murder occurred. He also told jurors to keep in mind one piece
of evidencea pillow case found at the crime scene used to
put items to be stolen in. He said it didn't belong to the victim
and had the initials "A.J.S." on it. He also mentioned
a dog that was inside the home when the burglary occurred and
dog hairs found on clothing belonging to Cochran. He also said
the suspects were "professional burglars" and wore
gloves and used burglary tools.
Madison also spoke on details of the crime and how Warren confronted
the burglars and was shot four times in the head with a .380
automatic pistol. He said the first bullet went into her neck
and the others were shot after the car began to roll backwards.
During Harvey's 20-minute opening remarks, he asked the jurors
to remember Madison's remarks and listen during the trial for
any "hard evidence."
"The evidence will show that Wayne Cochran is not guilty,"
he said. "...We expect there to be no evidence, hard evidence,
to tie Wayne Cochran to the crime scene...Since they can not
tie him with physical evidence to the crime scene, what they
intend to do is introduce a rogue's gallery of characters...You
will meet some interesting characters...People that live in a
substrata of our society that some people never dream existed."
Harvey said that Cochran is also a "character."
"Wayne Cochran has been in and out of prison for most of
his adult life," he said. "...Wayne used drugs...He
would steal...There was no evidence to tie him to a murder. He
is a character. He's not a killer."
Harvey said the only evidence the state has is from "jail
house, stool-pigeon testimony."
"The evidence they have is testimony from those people in
the rogue's gallery," he said.
Harvey also asked the jurors not to let the state's intent to
seek the death penalty not "overburden" them.
"You can't put that fact out of your mind, but you can look
at this case like any other," he said. "
Harvey also referred to the comments made by Madison about the
dog hair. He said the home where Cochran was arrested has three
dogs in it and that he was often in contact with dogs.
In May 1999, Cheryl Gossitt was sentenced to life in prison for
her part of the Warren murder. She didn't testify during her
trial, but more than three hours of taped interrogation conducted
by law enforcement officers was played. The tapes revealed that
Gossitt initially confessed to being at the scene of the murder,
but she later recanted those statements. She also implicated
Cochran during these interviews.
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
With a turnout of 42 percent, voters chose anti-zoning candidates
Chuck Wheeler and Billy Kitchens form a field of seven to serve
terms for the rest of the year. They fill the unexpired terms
of Daniel Sailors and Stanley Fouche, who resigned last fall
to seek other offices.
Wheeler led the field with 108 votes and Kitchens was right behind
with 107. James Kesler ran third with 101 votes, followed by
David Crawford with 59, Deborah Moore with 30, Daniel Sailors
with 27 and Sandra Sailors with 26.
Wheeler and Kitchens will be sworn in at the April 2 regular
city council meeting, said Mayor Ronnie Maxwell.
The election of two anti-zoning candidates is a victory for Maxwell,
who was elected mayor in November after running an an anti-zoning
platform. With council members Margaret Ward and Thomas Gary
committed to implementing a zoning ordinance that has been drafted
over the past two years and with Wheeler and Kitchens opposed,
the matter is effectively defeated although there will
be new elections in November.
HAYNIE WINS IN ARCADE
In Arcade, mayor pro tem Doug Haynie easily defeated Billy Gurley,
96-36, in a special election for mayor.
BANKS PASSES SPLOST
Banks County voters, in a very low turnout, approved a special
purpose local option sales tax to fund jail, roads, recreation
and fire and emergency medical services. The vote was 732-82.
New Sewer Line
Route Crosses Land Of Chairman's Wife
The wife of the chairman of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage
Authority could find her property more valuable after the authority
voted to reroute a controversial sewer line across her land.
Trying to mollify some of the landowners opposing a line running
from the old Texfi treatment plant on the Winder Highway to Mulberry
Plantation, the authority voted to request that the project engineer
move 3,000 feet of the Doster Creek Outfall Line across the Middle
That move would take the line off five parcels on the south side
of the river to the land of Martha Bryan, wife of chairman Alex
Bryan, on the north side. The owners on the south side are all
opposed to having the line on their property.
The action took place last Thursday night in a called meeting
of the authority.
"I will say this about our chairman," advised vice
chairman Tom Crow, who presided over the authority's discussion
of the issue after Bryan recused himself. "Even though this
is going to probably benefit him, he was wanting to keep this
in the original place because all the landowners along that line
would be able to access this."
Engineer Bob Sutton said the change would take the line up the
north side of the river, cross to the south side, then cross
again to go up Doster Creek. Though the route will take the line
through a swamp, the cost will be virtually the same as the original
proposal, he said.
Elton Collins made a motion to have the engineers design the
line along the new route. It passed 4-0, with Bryan not participating
in the vote or even present during the discussion.
While the proposal may have satisfied five property owners, others
along the route continue their opposition. Susan Phillips, who
said she spoke for the "Dosters Creek Landowners and Preservation
Association," argued that the project would "without
a doubt devalue our land," referred to "previous questionable
deals" made by the authority, and said the project would
Phillips was the only one who spoke publicly in opposition at
the meeting. Her mother is one of three property owners along
the proposed route who has not signed an agreement allowing surveyors
and assessors on their land, according to Jerry Waddell, superintendent.
On a motion by Larry Joe Wood, the authority voted to proceed
with a court hearing once Waddell has spoken a final time
with landowners still refusing access at which the court
will hear citizens' arguments as to why the authority should
not be allowed on their property. It is anticipated that the
result of those hearings will be a court verification of the
authority's right to go on the land to survey and conduct assessments.
Go to Jackson
Public Meeting Dates
To Brainstorm Over FutureJackson County's top leaders will gather
in May to brainstorm over the county's future.
Participants will include members of the Jackson County Area
Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners,
the Industrial Development Authority, Water and Sewerage Authority
and possibly other groups, including some municipal leaders.
Pepe Cummings, president of the chamber, briefed his board of
directors last Friday on the developing plans, date, time and
place and participants of which have yet to be finalized.
Cummings asked his board to let him know of "critical items"
that should be discussed.
"You go back and think about it and let me know before the
April meeting," Cummings said.
The retreat has been endorsed by the board of commissioners.
Original participants were to include the IDA, water and sewer
authority members, commissioners and representatives of the chamber.
But there is also talk, Cummings said, about inviting representatives
of other groups, such as city governments and school boards.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for this county if this
can be used as a forum for all of the shareholders involved in
the issues and the planning for this county," noted chairman
Randall Pugh. "Economic development has got to be right
at the top of the list as far as the chamber is concerned."
Elton Collins, who also serves on the water and sewerage authority,
said his group needs input on how the county's new sewage treatment
capacity should be allocated between residential and commercial
and industrial customers.
"We need some guidance in this area," Collins stated.
Cummings pointed out that each municipality has a representative
on the chamber's board of directors (most of them never attend
the board meetings).
"It's quickly becoming clear that we could have multiple
separate retreats," he observed. "We really want to
get down to the priority items."
Member Keith Ariail (also a member of the water and sewerage
authority) proposed that some attention be given to finding "a
formula to keep the good businesses we've got to do whatever
it takes to keep them."
Harold Fletcher, chairman of the board of commissioners, stated
that any consensus arrived at by the group would make his job
"When you start advocating a course of direction, it's always
good to have that direction validated by other organizations,"
he said. "It makes our job a lot easier."
Director Tom Plank suggested it would "help the citizens
of the county if it comes out that everybody is working together
and has one goal."
But past president Jim Shaw noted that the public is not always
"Time after time, they have had the opportunity to give
input, and there hasn't been any," Shaw said.
for violation of soil ordinance. A Jackson
County developer has been fined for violating the county soil
Wendall Butler was fined $2,000 in Jackson County Magistrate
Court for mud being in streets and not being cleared up in the
Stone Creek development in West Jackson.
In other news from magistrate court, several people have been
fined for littering. County director of planning and development
David Clabo said the county has been able to crack down on littering
due to two county marshals being on duty. See the legal page
for more details on these violations.
County seeks citizens to serve on dangerous dog control
County manager Skip Nalley is seeking names of countians to serve
on a board to hear dangerous dog complaints.
Jackson County commissioner Emil Beshara asked at Monday night's
meeting that a proposed list of names be submitted at the April
meeting for review. He said that state law and county ordinances
call for a board to be in place to hear these complaints.
Beshara said that a dangerous dog complaint has been filed in
the county in recent weeks and a board needs to be in place to
hear it. County attorney Daniel Haygood said that the BOC would
hear the complaints if a board has not been named.
A dangerous dog is one that has bitten a person, Beshara said.
He added that the dangerous dog control board would determine
whether a bite has occurred and whether it is minor or serious.
Those cases declared minor would lead to the dog being declared
"potentially dangerous." Dog bites leaving serious
injuries would label the dog as "dangerous" and the
owner would be required to confine it or make sure it is on a
leash. The owner could also be fined for not abiding by the ordinance.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.