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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
The flag project has unveiled a side of Banks County that is
A group of concerned citizens in opposition to the flag proposed
for the county that includes the St. Andrew's Cross had planned
Connecting with the past
You know you're getting older when you hear your kids sitting
around reminiscing about "the good old days" and some
of their sentences start with "Remember when we...."
Enemies of Southern culture feel the heat
The enemies of Southern culture are apparently feeling the heat
of rejection by the voters. Many of the same people who led the
sneak attack on our beautiful state flag have now endorsed a
resolution recognizing April as "Confederate History and
Heritage Month" in Georgia.
Diamond Dragons hope to rebound during road trip
Jefferson's Diamond Dragons will try to rebound from a rough
few days next week during a Spring Break road trip.
After a frustrating loss to Prince Avenue Saturday and head coach
Chuck Cook dealing with the passing of a family member early
last week, the break will surely be welcome.
Jackson County starts 2-0 in region
Facing an 18-game region slate against difficult opposition,
the Jackson County Panthers could easily have gotten downhearted.
Instead, they cruised to a pair of wins last week as they opened
in Region 8AAA action.
Neighboorhood News ..
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.
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
Residents question Maysville's fire board members about
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.
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.
The Jackson Herald
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seeking two suspects in bank robbery
Two black men robbed South Trust Bank 10 minutes before closing
time on Wednesday, March 28.
No one was injured and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken,
according to officials.
Theodore Jackson, special agent for the Atlanta division of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that the two men, both
brandishing handguns, robbed the bank in a "take-over style."
The two entered the bank and moved into the lobby. One robber
covered the employees with his weapon while the other vaulted
over the teller counter and emptied the money from several teller
drawers into a plastic bag.
Both men were wearing masks. One was described as being about
6'0'' tall and 200 pounds. One was wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates
baseball cap. The other had on a gray "Starter" ball
Several bank employees were present when the robbery occurred.
While no one was hurt, officials say several were "shaken
up." No shots were fired.
The men left the bank and got into a stolen Ford Taurus, according
to reports. They drove the vehicle a short distance away and
switched vehicles. They were seen leaving in a black pick up
The robbery is being investigated by the FBI, Georgia Bureau
of Investigation, Jefferson Police Department and the Jackson
County Sheriff's Department. They are looking for any witnesses
that may have seen the robbers, who are considered armed and
dangerous, leave the bank. Anyone with information is asked to
contact the FBI at (770) 534-5111 or the Jefferson Police Department
at (706) 367-5231. The FBI is offering a reward for the identification
and arrest of the bank robbers. Officials say all information
will remain confidential.
approves $31.7 million budget
BY ANGELA GARY
With plans for a July 1 start up date
for the regional reservoir still on track, the Upper Oconee Basin
Authority has approved its first operating budget.
The $31.7 million budget was approved by the basin authority
Wednesday, March 28. It includes an estimated $21.8 million for
treated water and $9.9 million for raw water. All four county
members, Jackson, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke will share
in the cost of the raw water and Jackson, Barrow and Oconee will
share in the cost of the treated water.
The funds will come from bond proceeds and the operating revenue.
Finance committee member Elton Collins said the budget is based
on "flipping the switch on July 1."
"It is the first operating budget," Collins said. "...It
is the best set of numbers we can arrive at at this point."
All of the start up costs for the reservoir, including chemicals,
filling up the tank and the first round of water, is included
in the budget.
Also at the meeting, Jim Wrona reported that Beers Construction
is more than one month behind schedule on construction of the
water treatment plant, but officials said they still expect the
reservoir to be ready for operation by July 1. The contractor
was asked to submit a recovery schedule that will outline how
he plans to recoup the lost time. Program manager George Byrd
pointed out that the contractor is obligated to finish by the
agreed upon time.
"As far as we're concerned, we're still on schedule,"
In other business, the authority approved $108,830 for several
items not originally budgeted. These items include engineering/office
support through the end of June, two additional volumes of construction
reports, building inspection fees through June, an operation/maintenance
manual, a business item plan and sampling from the reservoir.
"We knew we'd be having change orders," said chairman
Eddie Elder of Barrow County. "We're fortunate to not of
had more than we've had...We knew they were coming. They are
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
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 then deliberated
for almost three hours over the sentencing. The options were:
the death penalty, life without parole and life with the possibility
of parole. District attorney Tim Madison had asked for the death
penalty in the Dec. 8, 1998, murder of Kimberly Warren at her
Many members of the jury were in tears as they came out of their
chambers late Saturday night. Judge Robert "Bob" Adamson
asked them individually if they agreed to the verdict and sentence
and all agreed they did. The sentence was then affirmed by Adamson
at 9:20 p.m. Saturday, after a long day of court that began at
Cochran showed no emotion when the guilty verdict and sentencing
were read. As he was being taken from the courtroom, he did ask
his attorney, Walter Harvey, to appeal the verdict.
Madison said Monday that he is pleased with the outcome of the
"It was a very physically and emotionally draining trial,"
he said. "I was very pleased that the jury found him guilty
on all charges in the indictment. I thought the evidence was
there, and I thought the investigators did a wonderful job of
showing what the evidence was against Mr. Cochran. I'm glad they
gave him a sentence that will never allow that man to get out
again. He is a danger to our community."
Warren's husband, Byron, also offered thanks to the investigators
following the trial.
"I would just like to compliment Tim Madison, Brad Smith
and the whole district attorney team, along with investigators
David Cochran, Rich Lott and the entire investigation team and
sheriff's department," Warren said Tuesday. "I want
to thank them for over two years on this with us and really working
their hearts out on it. I also want to thank Judge Adamson."
The trial lasted four days and the jury had been sequestered
since Wednesday. It took two days for the jurors to be selected.
Madison said Cochran was 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 four times and the car had rolled into a creek
at the bottom of an embankment.
Madison's case included testimony from Cochran's accomplice,
Cheryl Gossitt, and a witness who was housed in an area jail
with the suspect and said he told him details of the crime.
In May 1999, 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.
Prior to Cochran's trial, Gossitt agreed to testify against him
and said they did commit the crime. In exchange for her testimony
in his trial, her life sentence was set aside and she was allowed
to plead guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter in the case.
She was sentenced to 20 years in prison and charges against her
in other counties for burglary and other violations will be dismissed.
Gossitt, 32, who met Cochran around two months before the crime
occurred, said he reminded her of her father and she began seeing
him shortly after meeting him at a party. She also said that
she was scared of him and that he was teaching her how to commit
"I was afraid of Wayne two weeks after I met him,"
she said. "...He made threats toward my children...He's
Harvey questioned Gossitt about why she told him two weeks before
Cochran's trial that they didn't commit the crime. She only stated
that is what she told him at the time.
"I think the truth has been told, in one way or another,"
Harvey also presented a letter, he referred to as a "love
letter," that Gossitt sent to Cochran in jail on Dec. 29,
"There is no hard evidence in this case," Harvey said
in the closing. "You can't convict him on Cheryl Gossitt's
made-up story...If you convict him, which version of the facts
do you believe."
Jackson County investigator David Cochran testified on the initial
confession of Gossitt. He played tapes of two interviews he conducted
with her, along with investigator Rich Lott and former Georgia
Bureau of Investigation agent Wes Wheeler. A drawing by Gossitt
of the crime scene, which the state says matches the Warren property,
was also presented.
Harvey said the drawing, which was not the only one Gossitt did
that day, does not match the Warren property.
Cochran said he asked Gossitt to give him one detail that only
someone present when the crime occurred would know. He said that
she told him that the motor of Warren's car was running and that
it was in reverse.
Investigator Lott testified about a "ride-along" he
and investigator Janis Mangum conducted with Gossitt as she showed
them the "escape route" she and Cochran took after
the Dec. 8 shooting. Lott said she showed them where they stopped
when they realized another vehicle (Warren) was following them.
He said that this is the spot where officers found spent cartridges.
Harvey said Gossitt knew where the crime occurred because of
yellow crime tape in the area. Madison pointed out that there
was no yellow crime scene tape where the actual shooting occurred.
Harvey also questioned whether she pointed out the route or was
led to it.
Lott said that Gossitt also told them she and Cochran stopped
for gas and coffee at a nearby store after the incident. Officers
had recovered receipts from a nearby convenience store clerk
showing purchases at that time and for that amount.
Also during the four day trial, a man who said he was in a cell
with Cochran at a Hall County prison told details of the crime
that he said Cochran told him, including the kind of gun used.
The man, who has eight months remaining on a drug charge, was
not given a reduced sentence for his testimony. He will be given
consideration in being moved to a safer jail facility and said
he fears for his life after testifying.
Madison pointed out that the witness said Cochran said the victim
told him that she had called the law.
"How would he know that unless Wayne told him?" he
Harvey said the witnesses statements were not true and alleged
that the man didn't like Cochran because he lived with his girlfriend
and had a relationship with her.
"His story is a lie," Harvey said.
It was during this testimony that there was an outburst from
someone in the courtroom. Harvey called for a mistrial due to
the comments made from a man in the audience, but judge Adamson
denied his request. Adamson asked the jurors if they could set
aside this outburst during their deliberations and all agreed
that they could. He also warned the audience that anyone who
made an outburst would be removed from the courtroom.
"This has not been a case where the gallery has gone amuck,"
he said. "I heard it. I turned my head. It ceased. Security
was there. I don't want the record to even suggest that it has
been a gallery run amuck as you (Harvey) are suggesting."
This was one of numerous times during the trial that Harvey called
for a mistrial.
Harvey repeatedly referred to the 911 call made by Warren on
the day of the murder about a suspicious car, which she described
as a small gray station wagon. When the suspects were arrested,
they were in a gray S-10 pick up truck, which is also what Gossitt
said there were in when the crime occurred.
"Kimberly Warren went up to the vehicle," Harvey said.
"You wouldn't have to be an expert to know the difference
between a little gray station wagon and a S-10 pick up."
In his closing remarks, Madison called this a "red herring."
He said the gray station wagon had nothing to do with this crime.
He said that the burglars wouldn't have parked in a neighboring
lot and locked it if they were stealing items from the Warren
house. In the 911 call, Warren said that the car was in a lot
beside of her home and that she walked over to it and it was
locked. Gossitt said that they parked the truck in front of the
house and she stayed in the truck while Cochran went inside.
In Harvey's closing statement, he said that no evidence had been
presented tying Cochran to the crime.
"There is a reasonable doubt about every piece of evidence
the state has brought in," he said. "In fact, the state
has not brought any evidence in."
He said that footprint samples taken from the crime scene didn't
match shoes taken from Cochran and Gossitt and no gun was found.
Harvey also said Cochran had an alibi for the day of the crime,
that he was at the home of Gossitt's brother and sister-in-law.
The two testified during the trial, but couldn't pinpoint the
date Cochran was at their house.
Madison also detailed a crime spree of Cochran and Gossitt that
got "bolder and bolder" and culminated with the murder
of Warren. These crimes included a burglary at Hall County church
and the assault of an Asheville, N.C., woman, whose purse was
stolen by Cochran and Gossitt.
One piece of evidence presented was a pillow case with an "A.J.
S" written inside it. The pillowcase, which was stolen from
a Talmo residence, was found at the Warren home. Harvey said
that there is no evidence tying Cochran to the burglary at the
During the end of testimony on Friday, Cochran was called to
the stand. He spoke of his life, which includes being in and
out of jail since he was 18-years-old. He admitted to several
burglaries mentioned during the trial, but denied shooting Warren.
"I didn't shoot that lady, Walter," he said.
Harvey asked why Gossitt would have said he did, and Cochran
said: "I guess she thought she was going back to prison,
she's tell those people anything."
He also denied ever being in a jail cell with the inmate who
testified against him.
The jury heard from several witnesses who told of Cochran's alleged
attempt to break out of a Barrow County jail during the sentencing
phase of the trial. The jury also heard from members of Cochran's
Madison called several former inmates who said Cochran asked
them to hide a gun in the Barrow County jail. Another man testified
that Cochran had asked him to mail him a handcuff key.
Madison said these planned escape attempts are reasons Cochran
should be given the death penalty and not life in prison.
Before presenting his witnesses, Harvey asked the judge for a
directed verdict of life in prison without parole. He said aggravated
circumstances necessary for a death penalty sentence had not
been introduced. Madison said that the state has proved murder
that involved battery. The judge overruled Harvey's request the
attorney called several witnesses, including Cochran's family
Cochran's brother, Lawrence, a 54-year-old Hall County businessman,
spoke on his family, which includes nine siblings and an 82-year-old
mother. He said he is a Christian man and has tried to "extend
that to Wayne many times."
"I can't conceive of him committing the murder," he
said. "If he did this crime, may God have mercy on his soul.
That is his only hope at this point...I beg the mercy of the
court not to give him the death penalty."
Cocrhan's brother-in-law, Michael Reed, also asked the court
to spare his life and said, "We all love him."
Cochran also again took the stand during the sentencing phase
and said he has not committed any violent offenses, other than
the North Carolina robbery.
Madison told the jurors that the sentencing will "take a
lot of courage" and said they had seen "the darkest
faces of evil they will ever encounter in their lives."
"This man will never, ever stop," he said. "I
don't ask you for the death penalty for vengeanceGod will
take care of that...There is one reason I'm going to ask for
the ultimate penaltyfor the safety of every one of us. This
man is a danger to every member of our society.
He pointed out that Warren's life meant nothing to Cochran.
"Look in your heart and do what's right," he said.
After the sentence was given, the judge addressed Warren's family.
"I'm sorry that your wife and daughter came to our community
seeking peace and happiness and solitude and, instead found violence,
pain and tragic death," he said.
He also addressed Cochran's family.
"I hope you can find some peace and trust in the system,"
he said. "...I hope you avoid anger and anonymity toward
those who only sought peace."
He also offered thanks to Madison and Harvey, court officials
and law enforcement officers and jurors.
"You deserve our gratitude and respect," he told the
Additional reporting by reporter Jana Adams, who attended Friday's
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.
Overall, Jackson County moved up two notches in the state, from
being the 46th largest county in 1990 to 44th in 2000. Georgia
has a total of 159 counties.
The census results will have a tremendous impact on the county
in the coming years as adjustments are made in a variety of political
and financial arenas. The new numbers will be used this summer
in a special legislative session to adjust the boundaries of
state and federal legislative districts. The numbers will also
be used to change the boundaries of local town wards and districts
and will be used to reallocate how sales taxes are divided in
the county. A variety of state and federal grant funds are also
tied to the census results.
Of the seven counties bordering Jackson, four had stronger growth
rates during the past decade. Neighboring Barrow County's growth
during the last 10 years was 55 percent and for the first time
Barrow surpassed Jackson County's population at 46,144. Hall
County had a growth of 45 percent, to 139,277 people while Gwinnett
County continued its growth with a phenomenal 66 percent jump
in population to a total of 588,448. Although smaller, Banks
County's rate of growth squeaked by Jackson County at 39 percent,
giving Banks a total population of 14,422.
Clarke County saw a slower rate of growth during the decade at
only 15 percent to a total of 101,489 people. Madison County
had a growth rate of 22 percent to 25,730 people while Franklin
County grew 21 percent to 20,285 people.
One of the key impacts of the new census numbers will be to readjust
the formulas of how sales tax money is split in Jackson County.
Although all towns in Jackson County showed growth, their growth
relative to the other towns and to the unincorporated areas varied.
The biggest impact of the new numbers will be in Commerce where
that town's population as a percentage of the total fell by one
point, from 13.7% in 1990 to 12.7% in 2000. That means the town
will get one percent less of the county's sales tax income for
the remainder of the decade. Other towns will get more of the
sales tax pie, or about the same as during the 1990s.
Northeast Georgia County Growth Rates
County Growth Population
Gwinnett 66% 588,448
Barrow 55% 46,144
Hall 45% 139,277
Banks 39% 14,422
Jackson 38% 41,589
Madison 22% 25,730
Franklin 21% 20,285
Clarke 15% 101,489
Town Growth In Jackson County
Town 2000 1990 Change
Arcade 1,643 697 136%
*Braselton 1,206 418 188%
Commerce 5,292 4,108 29%
Hoschton 1,070 642 67%
Jefferson 3,825 2,763 38%
*Maysville 1,247 728 71%
Nicholson 1,247 535 133%
Pendergrass 431 298 45%
Talmo 477 189 152%
(*These towns have populations that extend into counties other
Towns In Jackson County As
A Percentage Of Total Population
Town 2000 1990
County Population 41,589 30,005
Arcade 4% 2.3%
*Braselton 3% 1.4%
Commerce 12.7% 13.7%
Hoschton 2.6% 2.1%
Jefferson 9.2% 9.2%
*Maysville 3% 2.4%
Nicholson 3% 1.8%
Pendergrass 1% 1%
Talmo 1.1% .6%
(*These towns have populations that extend into counties other
Go to Jackson
Public Meeting Dates
To Vote On
NICHOLSON -- An issue that has led to many heated debates throughout
Nicholson will finally come to a vote Monday night.
Council member Margaret Ward plans to make a motion at the city
council meeting Monday night that zoning be approved for the
town. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at City Hall. No public
input on zoning will be taken, as numerous hearings on the matter
have already been held.
At a work session Monday night, Ward said her motion would be
as follows: "In order to protect the integrity of development
in the city and to provide for future growth, I make a motion
to adopt the Nicholson zoning ordinance and map."
"I've always believed in zoning," Ward said. "I
worked really hard for it when Geneva (Nix) was mayor. I'm doing
it solely to protect our community because we've grown 133 percent.
We're one of the top-growing little towns in Jackson County.
Some growth is good. Some growth is not good. We've heard so
much about the people who are against zoning. We've not heard
anything about the people who are for zoning and that is what
started this whole thing--a petition with over 300 signatures
on it (of people favoring zoning)."
Ward said numerous work sessions on zoning have been held since
The council reviewed requests from citizens on the zoning classifications
given to their property. Seven of nine requests for changes were
penciled into the map.
And while Mayor Ronnie Maxwell and new members Billy Kitchens
and Chuck Wheeler have all opposed zoning, none of them had anything
negative to say about zoning Monday night. They all participated
in discussion of changing zoning classifications.
Nonetheless, the balance on the council is split evenly between
pro-zoning and anti-zoning sentiments, which leaves the matter
in the hands of Maxwell. Maxwell defeated six other candidates
for mayor in November by running an anti-zoning campaign.
Also at the work session, the council discussed the verbal agreement
with the city water authority and agreed to create a written
agreement. Two members of the council will meet with representatives
of the water authority to discuss this matter further. The council
must also designate a member to sign off on invoices submitted
from the authority.
The city council serves as a conduit for special purpose local
option sales tax (SPLOST) revenue from the county that goes to
the city water authority.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Commerce News.
5-Mill Property Tax Hike In The Fall
Jackson County taxpayers who enjoyed a
five-mill rollback of their county property tax rate last fall
should not fantasize about getting that rate again this year.
Harold Fletcher, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners,
served notice at the Commerce Kiwanis Club's meeting last Thursday
that the 2000 property tax rollback will be unrolled this year.
Before leaving office in December, commissioners Jerry Waddell
and Pat Bell liquidated a multi-million dollar county reserve
fund to reduce the maintenance and operation tax rate from its
7.58-mill level in 1999 to 2.58 mills.
"Be aware of the fact that it's not going to happen this
year," Fletcher told the Kiwanis Club. "It will probably
go back to 7.5 mills. To fund government, you have to deliver
the number of dollars to do that. I just wanted to prepare you
Fletcher also predicted that the county's annual budget will
soar over the next decade, a result of the county's rapid growth.
"In 1988 when I left office (as a commissioner), our budget
was $8 million. It's $28 million now," Fletcher said. "I
would expect it to be in the $75 million to $100 million range
by the end of the decade."
The chairman, who is a member of the club, presented a program
at the request of member Paul Christensen, who asked Fletcher
to respond to a prediction published recently in local newspapers
that Jackson might well be Georgia's fastest-growing county in
Fletcher answered by pointing out that the county, with an estimated
population of 40,000 today, grew by 32 percent in the decade
of the 1990s, and is projected to grow to a population of between
65,000 and 75,000 in the next decade.
"Based on the subdivisions and the growth we've seen in
the last couple of years, I think that may be a little conservative,"
As for rapid growth, the chairman predicted, "You haven't
seen anything yet." He said the county's challenge "will
be how well we are prepared to service the needs of these people
and still maintain the quality of life we desire."
Asked where he expected the growth to occur, Fletcher pointed
to the Jefferson and West Jackson areas, but said the location
of county sewer lines could be a major determining factor (they
are planned for the Jefferson and West Jackson areas).
Fletcher also touched on various projects, including the construction
of access roads along Interstate 85, a new access road to the
Tanger II outlet center and the expansion of the runway at the
county airport from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet.
The first access road to be paved, he said, is Progress Road,
which runs parallel to I-85 on the south side from U.S. 441 to
"We hope it will bring in more economic development in terms
of industry and commercial," he said.
As for the airport expansion, Fletcher indicated that several
local industries have expressed interest in housing corporate
aircraft at the airport if the runway is expanded so they
can land. Such airplanes, valued at $7-8 million, would produce
significant tax income, he suggested.
Fletcher also pointed out that county leaders plan to address
growth topics at a retreat in the near future.
"We need to explore and get some idea of how we want to
see Jackson County grow," he said. "We're playing a
lot of catch-up and we have a very narrow window in which to
try to address that."