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April 2, 2001


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OPINION

Angela Gary
More adventures in the medical world

Just how large is a large glass of water? Is it eight ounces or maybe it's one of those jumbo cups you get at fast food restaurants.

Banks County Editorial
Flag project has brought out negative side of Banks County

The flag project has unveiled a side of Banks County that is not pleasant.
A group of concerned citizens in opposition to the flag proposed for the county that includes the St. Andrew's Cross had planned a meeting.



SPORTS
SPORTS
Lady Leopards shut out East Hall

The Banks County soccer season will come to a close this Friday night. Hopefully, for the teams, the Leopards and Lady Leopards will leave the field with a smile.
Banks will be hosting Rabun County Friday at 5 p.m. in its final match of the season.



Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Cochran guilty of murder in Warren case. Sentenced to life without parole
Emory Wayne Cochran, 52, was found guilty of murder by a Jackson County jury Saturday afternoon and sentenced to life without parole.
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.

Jackson grows 38% during '90s
Jackson County added over 11,000 people during the last decade, growing to a population of 41,589 according to early results of the 2000 census. That amounted to a growth of 38 percent for the decade in Jackson County, a strong performance, but not the highest growth rate in the Northeast Georgia area.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Proposed county water moratorium draws criticism
Several people stood before commissioners Monday to voice their dismay with a proposed moratorium on water expansion in unincorporated areas of Madison County.
No action was taken on the proposal Monday.

Madison Co. grows by 22%
Madison County added nearly 4,700 people over the past decade, growing to a population of 25,730, according to early results of the 2000 census.
That amounted to a growth of 22 percent for the decade in Madison County.


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TAKE IT DOWNFIELD

Ashley Dumas takes the ball downfield during the Lady Leopards 5-0 shutout of East Hall Friday night. The win was the second for Banks this year. It also broke the Lady Leopards previous season and single-game goal scoring record.

Planners say 'No' to rezoning for day care center
BY TODD SIMONS
Plans to bring a day care center to Banks County hit a roadblock last week.
The Banks County Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning of 2.2 acres at the intersection of Highway 51 South and Welborn Road for the project when it met Wednesday, March 28. The request, by applicant Scott Thomas, was to change the zoning from agricultural, rural residential to C-1, neighborhood commercial for a day care center
Nick Denton spoke in favor of the rezoning. Denton's argument was centered around the growing need in Banks County for daycare.
He said, "There are 640 children in Banks County between the ages of three months and five years."
The facility that he proposed would serve 104 children in a state-funded pre-kindergarten program.
County marshal Keith Covington noted that the applicant would have to come back to propose the site be used for center. The planning commission would consider if the property is suitable for a business to be run in this agricultural neighborhood.
Dianne Westmoreland and Randall Jordan spoke in opposition to the rezoning. Westmoreland asked that those present that are opposed to the rezoning stand and eight in the audience rose in opposition. The speakers, who live near the property under consideration, brought many issues to the commission. The one issue that seemed most relevant in the denial of the application was the necessity of a deceleration lane and the influx of traffic to the intersection.
Banks County Planning Commission member Joe Barefoot stated "at 104 children, one per car and 14 employees, that is 236 comings and goings a day."
Others speaking against the plan seemed to believe that rezoning this one tract of land may lead to heavy use of the area. Jerry Gordon, who lives "one mile up the road," said during the meeting, "don't start infringing on our rural community. My cows will be looking at tractors and trailers coming out instead of the woods and creeks they are used to."
The application for rezoning was unanimously denied.
The Banks County Board of Commission will take action on this request and those listed below when it meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10.
GRIFFIN REQUEST
The commission also approved a request from Griffin Brothers Incorporated to rezone 12.93 acres on Griffin Drive from agricultural residential to M1, industrial. Billy Griffin spoke in favor of the rezoning. Griffin said that this change, "won't increase traffic, no noise or air pollution. There will be very little change."
Planner Ed Lindorme requested that the rezoning take place under the condition that Griffin deed 30 feet of land from the center of the road to the county and then plant a row of protective trees on the front and side of the property.
Lindorme said, " I know this equipment is money to you, but to some it can be an eyesore."
Griffin agreed to deed the land and plant the trees.
Commissioner Alicia Andrews requested that Griffin continue to spread gravel to keep dust down. Griffin agreed.
Griffin's brother, Jerry, spoke in opposition to the request: "I don't think any of y'all (the commissioners) would want an industrial site next to your property."
Toni Gillespie said in opposition, "They are taking our land, knocking down our fence and the equipment runs till seven or eight at night."
Commissioner Lindorme said, "You (Griffin Bros Inc.) would be grandfathered in. It wouldn't be fair to say that a man has to move because his business has grown."
Barefoot abstained from voting at the request of Billy Griffin because of his friendship with Jerry Griffin.


Residents question Maysville's fire board members about services
Fire capt. gives explanation of contract with Banks County. A number of Maysville residents, including concerned citizens and volunteer firefighters, came before the Maysville Fire Board Monday night at the fire hall to talk about services the city's fire department offers. A shared services contract between the Maysville Volunteer Fire Department and Banks County accounted for much of the evening's discussion.
Bud Dyer, a Homer Street man who had previously aired his concerns in a letter to the editor in local newspapers, approached the fire board members with questions about fire response strategies and the city's fire hydrants.
"I come as a concerned citizen," Dyer began, adding that he was not at the meeting for "fault-finding or finger poking."
Dyer told of an incident that occurred about three months ago, when his neighbor's home was on fire. A call to 911 resulted in a response by Banks County firefighters before Maysville firefighters reached the scene, Dyer said.
"We found out later that the Banks County Fire Department was notified not to respond until the Maysville fire chief called for assistance," he added. "We raised some questions and were told if Maysville doesn't respond, Commerce (Fire Department) is the back-up...That caused me to worry a little bit. Commerce Fire Department is nine miles away. The Banks County fire station is two and a half miles away. Common sense tells me probably Banks County could get there quicker, being closer."
Dyer said he believes citizens are entitled to the quickest response time possible, and also questioned the fire board about how often the area fire hydrants are checked for water pressure and flow.
AUTOMATIC RESPONSE VS. MUTUAL AID
Maysville fire captain Larry Williams responded to Dyer's concerns, saying that he too would like the closest fire services, "but that ain't the way it is. One of the reasons is House Bill 489."
Williams explained that HB489 required municipalities to develop local services delivery strategies, and that the strategy for Maysville-Banks County services is done contractually. The contract for fire services calls for mutual aid, rather than automatic response. In other words, the document basically says "If I want help, I'll call; if you want help, you call," Williams said.
The type of response Maysville residents get depends on which side of the county line they live on. In Banks County, they get mutual aid; in Jackson County, there are always two fire stations sent to a structural fire, with Commerce serving as Maysville's back-up, he said, adding that Commerce and Maysville have worked together for some 30 years.
Williams also pointed out that for residents who live on the Banks County side of Maysville, a call to 911 is routed to Banks County and must then be directed to Jackson County, thus delaying response time. However, he said, 911 includes emergency medical and law enforcement services, which the residents get through Banks County.
Ginger Smith, another concerned citizen who said she has seen two houses in her neighborhood "burn to the ground," wondered why the contract with Banks County couldn't be changed.
"Contracts are written to be broken," she said, adding that if she had to wait 15 minutes for Commerce firefighters to reach her home, "my house is gone."
Fire board member James Lyles suggested that the citizens talk to Maysville city officials or to the Banks County Board of Commissioners, adding that Banks County approached Maysville with the contract. The contract was last renewed July 1, 2000, and is set as long as is mutually agreeable.
"Banks County has got to change the contract; we can't do nothing," said board member Jimmy Doss.
Williams added: "I would like to see operations between Maysville and Banks County strengthened. Banks County (fire services) is in its infancy - I'm not being critical, they have come a long way in three years. They may choose to offer automatic aid, but right now the contractual agreement is the law of the land - mutual aid, don't come unless I call you."
In response to Dyer's questions about the city's fire hydrants, Lyles said the hydrants hadn't been serviced this year because of the drought and subsequent water use restrictions set by the state, but that "other than that, they are flowed every year." He said the painting of the hydrants has also been delayed due to the water needs for first sandblasting away the existing paint and rust.
Williams added that pressure is not much of a concern because water comes from the hydrant, but firefighters can apply pressure from the fire truck.
After listening to the residents, some fire board members and firefighters voiced some of their own concerns Monday night, reminding citizens that the services of the firefighters are on a volunteer basis, and that constructive criticism and questions are welcome. They also suggested that citizens with concerns might offer help instead of complaints.
"What have you done to contribute to help any of us?" asked board member Hubert Blalock. "Instead of complaining, say 'What can I do to help?'"
Firefighter Trent Strickland expressed his pride in how the city's fire department has progressed in the past 20 years from a dirt floor and space heater to its current building, saying, "I'm very proud of where Maysville stands. Why dwell on all that is bad? Get in here and work. There can't be one knocking down while the other is picking up."


New warden named at LACI
Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Jim Wetherington has appointed Dwight Hamrick, 44, as the new warden at Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution in Alto.
He will replace the dismissed former warden, Timothy J. Morgan (see separate story). Hamrick's appointment is effective April 1, 2001.
He began his career with the DOC in 1979 at Scott State prison in Hardwick. In 1990, he transferred to the close-security Hays State Prison in Trion where he was eventually promoted to Deputy Warden of security. Since August 1998, Hamrick has been superintendent of the Northwest Probation Detention center in Cedartown.
"Warden Hamrick will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Lee Arrendale State Prison," said Wetherington. "He's a corrections professional who's exhibited excellent leadership qualities throughout his career with this department. I'm confident that he'll be an asset to the team at Arrendale and actively involved with the citizens of the community."
Arrendale State Prison is a maximum security facility with a population of 1,200 male young adult and juvenile offenders. The prison provides mental health, academic, vocational and substance abuse programs targeted to this younger population.The Banks County Republican Party will welcome the Georgia Northern ARC Republicans to Homer at the Herbert Garrison Civic Center on Saturday, March 31. A country breakfast will be served and the cost is $10 per person, with 12 and under free.
Guest speakers will be U.S. Congressman John Linder, state Sen. Mike Beatty and Nancy Schaefer, president of Family Concerns, Inc.
RSVP to Sue Sears, 677-3210, or Jean Mize, 677-4603.
The next meeting will be held Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the county courthouse in Homer. All are invited. For more details, call Mike Boyle, 677-4200.
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Banks grows by 39%
Banks County grew by 39 percent during the last decade and climbed to a population of 14,422 in 2000, according to recently released census numbers. Banks' growth was higher than all surrounding counties except Hall, which had a growth of 45 percent.
Perhaps one of the more surprising numbers in the 2000 census was that Banks County has more residents of Hispanic origin than African American - 493 are shown as Hispanic while 464 are shown as African American.
All the towns in Banks County showed growth during the decade with Gillsville showing the strongest growth at 72 percent. However, only the town of Homer is entirely within the borders of Banks County and it had the lowest growth rate, 28 percent, during the decade. Banks shares Maysville with Jackson County while Lula, Gillsville and Alto are shared with Hall County and Baldwin with Habersham County.


Beautification project at Banks Crossing under way
The third phase of a beautification project at the Banks Crossing area is expected to begin soon.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved contracts at a called meeting Friday for the completion of Phase 3 of the enhancement project at the I-85 area.
The contracts went to Hughes, Good, O'Leary and Ryan of Atlanta, for $48,000, and Jack Burnside of Marietta, for $20,000. Hughes, Good, O'Leary and Ryan is responsible for the design and Burnside is responsible for administering the grants and acting as a liaison between the county and contractors and the Georgia Department of Transportation. These individuals have been working on the project through the second phase, which is nearing completion.
The beautification project is designed to attract tourists and visitors. The plan includes sidewalks, shrubbery, lights and irrigation along Hwy. 441 from Boots, etc. to the fire and EMS building on the opposite side of I-85.
It is a $1.15 million dollar project, with $230,000 of the total to come from local funds; the rest is from federal grants. The Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau has provided the local funds.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Banks County New.