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March 28, 2001

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Margie Richards
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...."

Frank Gillespie
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.


Tennis teams capture Gainesville tourney

Madison County tennis teams proved they are among the elite programs in the area this past week as both boys' and girls' squads took first place in the 17-team P.J. Holcomb Tennis Tournament in Gainesville.

Neighborhood News...

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.

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.

News from...
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.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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Madison County interim superintendent Allen McCannon explains why he suspended Mac Almond as principal of Comer Elementary School to a large audience at the Comer Lions Club Monday night.

BOE turns to standards commission, DA Outside investigators to look into financial management of Almond, Moore
The state Professional Standards Commission will be summoned to investigate the fiscal practices of two former school leaders - Comer principal Mac Almond and superintendent Dennis Moore.
Information regarding Almond's handling of school funds will also be turned over by the county school board to the Northern Judicial Circuit's District Attorney's office.
The Madison County Board of Education unanimously approved both measures Tuesday night following a closed meeting that lasted approximately an hour.
Almond resigned this month after he was suspended by interim superintendent Allen McCannon for alleged unauthorized salary supplements as well as excessive and inappropriate reimbursement practices. Almond was also accused of hiding and disposing of financial records that may have incriminated him, falsifying leave records for himself and teachers, allowing out-of-county students to enroll in school in violation of school system policies and missing an excessive amount of time at school.
Moore resigned in September shortly before a financial crisis was revealed to the public. The county school system was forced to borrow money and raise taxes to cover expenditures and many citizens have complained that Moore was let off the hook without proper questioning about where school funds had gone.

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 County commission chairman Wesley Nash said the moratorium would allow the county to set guidelines on water expansion before more systems are put in place. He said a primary reason for the moratorium is to "set up standards as far as fire protection."
"It takes a certain pipe size to provide fire protection," said Nash. "...Systems are going in that don't meet those specifications."
Nash said the guidelines could be set within 15 to 45 days and would be lifted at least by July 29.
The most outspoken critic of the proposal was realtor Bill Fleeman, who described the moratorium as a "power and control grab."
Fleeman said the county should hold a referendum on water expansion and on disbanding the water authority, which he says has too much power for an appointed board.
"The public has not asked for water and sewer services," said Fleeman.
"An item this big needs a referendum."
The county is considering expanding water services along the Hwy. 72 corridor and the BOC-appointed industrial authority has been the group overseeing county water developments in recent years. An intergovernmental agreement between the commissioners and the industrial authority has been proposed to allow the industrial authority to provide residential water services.
Fleeman said a water system would cost millions, serve few and tax many "out of house and home."
But audience member Richard Patrick said the county should seek water expansions. He said the county is lagging behind surrounding areas.
"We're really behind the power curve," said Patrick.
Colbert mayor John Waggoner questioned Nash about the moratorium and described the proposed restrictions as "very bad."
Bob Pulfrey, a geologist with Fortson's Well Drilling, also opposed the measure, saying people who own property can do what they want with water on that property.
Audience member Chip Chandler warned the board that putting power in the industrial authority's hands may be a bad idea.
"Don't give away some of the power that really belongs to the elected board," said Chandler.

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.
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 the state and federal legislative districts. The numbers 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.
Carlton had a decrease of 49 residents from 1990 to 2000, from 282 to 233. Colbert had an increase from 443 to 488 residents. Comer dropped slightly, from 1,079 to 1,052 citizens. Danielsville increased from 318 to 457 people. Hull increased from 156 to 160 residents and Ila jumped from 297 to 328 citizens.

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What happened?
School leaders meet with Comer
community to discuss the Almond issue. Approximately 100 parents, teachers and concerned community members met Monday night, for the second time in less than a week, with Board of Education members and interim Superintendent Allen McCannon in an attempt to gain understanding into the suspension and subsequent resignation of long time Comer Elementary principal Mac Almond.
The group chose the neutral ground of the Comer Lions Club, the site of their first meeting to discuss the issue two weeks ago.
An agenda with "ground rules" of civility for audience members was handed out by Comer PTO members and the meeting proceeded in a civil and orderly fashion with mediator Laura Myers, a Comer parent.
"Your biggest obstacle is to convince people that you don't have the living essence of a vendetta (against Almond)," George Rett told McCannon and the board during a question and answer period.
McCannon agreed with him, but assured those present that he did not have a vendetta against Almond. "Mr. Almond and I have not shared a cross word," he said.
McCannon told the crowd that 99 percent of the decisions made involving Almond were his alone and that most questions should probably be directed to him.
"Are you telling us the board did not share in your decision to go after Mac Almond?" Jim Baird said.
"Yes, it was my decision to suspend him," McCannon replied, adding that it was a "judgment call" on his part based on the serious nature of the evidence against Almond.
McCannon then gave the audience a step-by-step account of the events that led him to suspend Almond on March 9.
He said that while looking over documents for state auditors who were going over books on EIP (Early Intervention Program) and Title funds for the 1999 - 2000 school year, McCannon said he was "mortified" to discover documents bearing his signature involving Comer Elementary School funds which he had neither seen nor authorized.
After showing the documents to auditors and following their advice, he presented these documents to the BOE.
McCannon stated that he had promised the board at the beginning of his service as interim superintendent that he would present all expenditures up front to them instead of providing documentation afterward.
McCannon said he was simply following the auditors' advice when he began to pursue the matter further.
"That's the honest to God truth - I just followed it from there," McCannon said.
McCannon also acknowledged that the Gholston Fund monies are "a bone of contention right now" as to how, and by whom, they should be administered, and he admitted that he had not even known of the $22,000 funding Comer Elementary received from the fund until after he began his investigation.
But he maintained that the entire matter boiled down to a "legal question."
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Madison County Journal.