News from Jackson County...

April 11, 2001


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page




SPORTS

Dragon pitchers post 30 strikeouts in 12 innings

Shane Wilburn must certainly have a sore hand.
In Jefferson's last two baseball games, the senior catcher has been on the receiving end of 30 strikeouts recorded by Dragon pitchers in 12 innings.

Ron Garren relieved of coaching duties
The Jackson County Board of Education voted Monday night to extend mathematics teacher and boys' varsity basketball coach Ron Garren's contract for the 2001-02 school year, but declined renew his supplemental coaching responsibilities.



Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY

Where the lines are drawn
County leaders want the state to include all of Madison County, Oglethorpe County and part of Clarke County in one district in the state House of Representatives when new district lines are drawn this summer.

Debate continues on county water management issue
The debate continued Monday on whether the Madison County commissioners should give more power to the Industrial Authority in handling county water services.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY

Man killed in shooting
A 36-year-old man died early Tuesday morning after reportedly being shot in an apparent domestic dispute late Monday night in Banks County.

BOC tables flag vote
Large crowd debates merits of proposed flag. Banks Countians wanting some resolution to the flag proposal left the board of commissioners meeting Tuesday night disappointed.


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FIRE DESTROYS MOBILE HOME

Fire swept through a mobile home late Friday night in Center. According to firemen on the scene, no one was in the house at the time of the fire.




READY FOR EASTER

Duncan Harris, 5, Braselton, sorts through his Easter eggs Saturday morning at Zion Baptist Church. Religious observations and other Easter activities are planned throughout Jackson County this week. See this weeks Jackson Herald's church pages for further details.


Third landfill request goes to county
Rezoning to be on April 26 planning commission agenda.
A third rezoning request from developers trying to locate a landfill in Jackson County will go before the planning commission at its April meeting.
CKS Properties is applying for an I-2 zoning for 195.08 acres on Cedar Grove Church Road for a landfill. The Jackson County Planning Commission will consider the request when it meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Administrative Building in Jefferson. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will receive public input on the request at its May 7 meeting and will likely vote on the matter at its May 21 meeting. Both BOC meetings will be at 7 p.m. at the Administrative Building.
The partners of CKS include: Kelly Henderson, Winder, Scott Appling, Winder, and H. Carson Smith IV, Flowery Branch. Plans call for one building, 15 feet high, to be located on the property, along with six parking spaces.
Henderson is also one of the applicants for another landfill request that was denied by the BOC last year. He had applied for a rezoning for 117 acres on Hwy. 53 from PCFD to I-2 to locate a construction and demolition landfill. Henderson later filed a lawsuit against the county over the request being denied and a court date has been set for Friday, April 27, at the Jackson County courthouse.
PENDERGRASS AREA LANDFILL
The BOC is set to vote on another request when it meets next week that would bring a construction and demolition landfill to the North Jackson area. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
Earth Resources has requested a conditional use permit to locate a construction and demolition landfill on 94.84 acres on Lanier Road that is zoned I-2.
The planning commission recommended denial of the request. Numerous area residents spoke against the plans at a BOC work session last week.


Split Council Endorses Duplex Development
The Commerce City Council was split 4-2, but a Mississippi developer Monday night won the city's endorsement for a project that could place up to 150 units of duplexes on Georgia 98 at the U.S. 441 bypass.
That made the second consecutive meeting in which the city council has issued letters of endorsement for multi-family housing projects targeting low and moderate income renters.
Gary Hammond, who represents Park Development, convinced the council to endorse his application for a multi-family housing program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The council's action does not ensure that the $11 million project will be approved. The developer will find that out Aug. 30.
Hammond's proposal was at least the third to go before city government. One of the three has been withdrawn, and the annexation necessary for another appears to have fallen through.
"A lot of real estate developers have been chasing opportunities," Hammond noted. "The DCA has come up with a scoring criteria this year that has weighted Jackson County very highly for family and elderly occupancy. In effect, saying affordable housing is in dire need in this county and exceeds the need in many other places in the state."
Under the program, Hammond said, DCA provides a construction subsidy, which allows the developer to charge less rent.
"Typically, this program works best for single mothers with children," he said. "If you go across the country and take a look at who are the typical occupants of property like this, you find it's usually a single mother with one or two dependents who has a good job, but because of the dependents falls under the income cap."
Hammond promised that the project would be well-built and well-managed.
"It's all about tenant selection," he said. "If you do a good job selecting the right tenants who are qualified with good landlord references, that have no criminal background, that have good credit history, then they're generally very responsible people."
Councilman Bob Sosebee, a member of the DCA's board, endorsed the project.
"These programs are for the working families of this state, and the reason Jackson County has a high point recognition is that a lot of our people live in substandard housing, and we do not have a lot on a countywide basis of this type of development," he said. "These are closely regulated, and these developments are very well received all over the state."
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. appeared less enthusiastic.
"I think we've all said that we don't want to be the starter home capital of this area, but we don't want to be the apartment complex capital either," he said. "The folks I ran into (since the last meeting) didn't want us to subsidize anything ..."
Councilman Sam Brown suggested that the city would pay a heavy price to provide the schools, police and fire protection and other infrastructure needs to such developments.
"Think about the dollars and cents, the amount of money it generates versus the amount it takes to run it," Brown said. "That's what you're going to run into. We can't just keep taking them on, taking them on, taking them on, because we're going to run out of money and we're going to run out of room.
"At our retreat, we've all talked about the quality of life we all enjoy in Commerce, GA, and we're going to lose it. It's gone, it's going. Bring them all in? Get ready, because your quality of life and the way we've done things over the years is definitely going to change."
Only one citizen spoke on the proposal, and that was Joe Leffew, 1441 South Elm Street, who had previously addressed the Commerce Planning Commission on the same subject.
"I'm very concerned with the amount of rental property that's been coming into our community," he said. "Every piece of property that's around me is rental, every single one.
"If they all moved up ... they left vacant mobile homes and vacant other houses wherever they were that was substandard. I didn't see the city go tear it down. I saw people that did not live in Commerce come in and move into those houses. We didn't help the people of Commerce; we helped the people of Athens, Gainesville, Atlanta and New York City."
"Where do we put the fence up? Who's the last one we let in?" asked Sosebee.
Leffew responded that he was not opposed to rental housing, but stated that while the cost of the average house in the United States is $215,000 and the median cost of new houses is $174,900, very few houses of that cost are being built in Commerce.
"We're not talking about the rich, we're not talking about the middle class ­ we're talking about the average. We're not getting those kinds of houses in Commerce. We're getting more and more rental property."
Leffew argued that the new rental units are not replacing substandard housing.
"I'm not against rental property, if we go in and take away some of the substandard trailer parks, some of the substandard apartments, some of the substandard housing, but we're not. We're just adding on top of that. And when we add on top of that, that leaves the substandard, and somebody's going to rent it."
Leffew also speculated that with no industrial growth and very little commercial growth, the cost of providing the services Brown mentioned would come from residential taxpayers, "which means all of our taxes will go up."
Riley Harris made the motion to issue the letter of endorsement and Sosebee seconded it. Councilmen Archie D. Chaney Jr. and Donald Wilson supported the motion, while Brown and Richard Massey voted against it.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Commerce News.


County BOE approves EJES site plan
In the latest in a series of moves that will bring substantial changes to the Jackson County School System, the Jackson County Board of Education approved a site plan for a new elementary school during its meeting Monday night.
East Jackson Elementary School will be located at the corner of Hoods Mill Road and Waterworks Road, across the intersection from East Jackson Middle School. Long-range plans also include a new high school and the most extensive athletic facilities in the area.
With the plan's approval, a grading survey will soon be conducted. The high school site will not be graded until a later date.
FINANCIAL REPORT
In other business, superintendent Andy Byers reported that revenues for the fiscal year stand at 74 percent of total annual projections, on target with budget plans. Expenditures are at 69 percent, slightly below expectations.
The system received SPLOST monies totalling $293,000 in March, for January sales. The check was the smallest since July of last year.
The board plans a joint meeting with the Jefferson and Commerce school boards to call for a renewal of the SPLOST in November.
The firm of Troy and Banks, Inc., was authorized to conduct an audit of the system's utility and communications billings. Officials from the firm have apparently told Byers they believe the system may have been overcharged on such bills. The system would not be charged a fee for the service unless errors are found, in which case any reimbursement will be split on a percentage basis.
In other action, the board authorized the superintendent to reimburse moving expenses for new principals in the system.
EMPLOYMENT
The following individuals were recommended for employment for the coming year: Diane Nunn, EJMS counselor; Amy Pritchett, JCCHS teacher; and Pam Summey, EJMS assistant principal.
Resignations were accepted from Joseph Hays, bus shop mechanic; Barbara Greson, JCCHS teacher; and Elise Corpus, half-time RES teacher.
High school mathematics teacher and boys' varsity basketball coach Ron Garren was among those listed on the agenda as being recommended for employment, but after a two-hour executive session that included Garren and athletic director Greg Lowe, the board voted unanimously to rehire Garren as a teacher only. Garren has since indicated that he plans to seek employment elsewhere.





Banks County tables divisive flag action
In a controversy that could have an impact on the Hwy. 441 & I-85 shopping area, Banks County leaders moved Tuesday night to table a proposed county flag that mimics the former Georgia flag.
One of the major concerns about the proposed flag was the potential impact at the Hwy. 441 & I-85 shopping area which straddles the Banks-Jackson County line. Some business leaders fear controversy over the proposed flag could lead to boycotts of that area, an action that could also impact Jackson County stores.
Two towns in Banks County, Maysville and Homer, oppose having their names associated with the flag. Maysville is partly located in Banks County and partly in Jackson County.
Following Tuesday night's meeting of the Banks County Board of Commissioners, the issue remains unclear. At Tuesday's BOC meeting, commissioners didn't comment on whether the matter would be addressed in the future, but chairman Kenneth Brady said that it would have to be voted on within 60 days or the proposal would automatically die.
"If it doesn't come back up in a 60-day period, it is dead in the water," he said. "...I have heard some conflicts. I have heard a lot of people say they would love to have a flag. Seeing that there is a lot of controversy on the flag issue, we feel we need to table it."
Several in the audience of around 80 people yelled that tabling the request was a "cop-out."
More than 80 people filled the courtroom for the BOC meeting Tuesday night. After the issue was tabled, 40 minutes of discussion was held with both supporters and opponents of the proposed flag speaking.
"The proposed flag issue has brought about division among the citizens" Willie Bell Rucker said. "Think of the economic impact the Confederate flag will have on the outlet mall if the current selected flag is adopted. Banks County needs and depends on the revenue from the outlet mall. A county flag is a good idea if the flag is a positive representation of all citizens. The Confederate flag does not meet this criteria."
The Rev. Fred Wilson, who served 25 years in the military and now pastors a Banks County church, said: "I served under one flag and that was the American flag. All other flags...it just does not matter. It is just a piece of cloth."
SUPPORTS FLAG
"One of my ancestors was a founding father of Homer," said Dennis Bellew, who organized a flag rally in Madison County. "His ancestors fought in the Civil War under the St. Andrew's cross...We do not want that flag (the proposed one) changed. We don't want this issue dropped."
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said the commissioners had heard enough comments about the flag and called for the meeting to be adjourned at 8:40 p.m. The flag issue brought several television crews to the meeting, including two from Atlanta.



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School Board Returns To Griffin For New Second In Command
The Commerce Board of Education reached into the Griffin-Spalding County School System for another administrator.
The board voted unanimously Monday night to hire Dr. Nancy Baird as its new assistant superintendent of schools. She will be responsible for curriculum development.
Baird once worked under superintendent Larry White in the Griffin-Spalding system, as did former Commerce Middle School principal Lex Brown, who since resigned.
The board interviewed Baird and two other finalists for the position at a closed-to-the-public meeting Sunday afternoon at BJC Medical Center.
White introduced her to the public at Monday's school board meeting.
"Nancy has good people skills, and I think the people in the system will enjoy working with her," he said. "You will find that she will be active in the community."
Baird and her husband plan to relocate to the area. They have two grown sons and a new grandson.
"We had several applications but we are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Nancy Baird," commented board chairman Steve Perry.
Baird has served in many capacities during her educational tenure.
Currently the curriculum specialist for the Griffin-Spalding County School System, which has over 10,000 students in 17 schools, she previously served as vice principal for curriculum and instruction and 9-12 curriculum assistant at Griffin High School, was technology coordinator for the Griffin-Spalding County School System, was a middle school assistant principal, serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at the University College of Mercer University, was a state trainer for the Georgia Performance Assessment laboratory at the University of Georgia, was a media specialist at Griffin High School and at Crescent Elementary School in Griffin and was a librarian at the Flint River Regional Library in Griffin. She served as a reference librarian and assistant to the director at Owensboro-Daviess County Public Library, Owensboro, KY, and as reader services librarian and instructor in library science at Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro, KY. Prior to that, she was reference librarian and part-time English instructor at Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN. She began her career as an eighth and ninth grade English teacher at Parkland Junior High School, Louisville, KY.
"She worked with me when I was a middle school principal; she was an assistant there," said White. "When I had a retirement in the high school for the curriculum person, I talked her into that position."
She is a member and deacon at the First Baptist Church in Griffin.
OTHER PERSONNEL ISSUES
The school board also reviewed White's annual evaluation Monday night, with Perry reporting that White received "above expectations" ratings in all areas. The board used the Georgia Superintendent Evaluation Instrument to review White's work.
"He does a fantastic job for this school system," said Perry.
The board voted to extend White's contract through June 2004, which Perry said is as far ahead as the state allows.
In other personnel matters, the board approved the systemwide personnel list for the 2001-2002 school year.
The board also approved a 4.5 percent salary increase for certified staff and a local teacher supplement schedule and administrative salary schedule. The teacher supplement schedule, which has not been adjusted since 1993, includes for the first time a supplement of $200, $300 or $400 for beginning teachers, depending on certification type. It also adds $200 to the top-end teachers' supplements.


Burn ban
includes Jackson

Beginning May 1 and continuing through September, most outdoor burning will be against the law.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has declared an open burning ban during those months in 45 counties, including Banks, Jackson, and Madison, in an effort to curtail ozone emissions in the Atlanta Ozone Nonattainment Area.
"During summer months, ozone in the air we breathe can reach unhealthy levels," said Ron Methier, chief of EPD's air protection branch. "Open burning, particularly of land clearing debris is a significant contributor to the pollutants that form ozone. As development around Atlanta grows, so does the open burning of debris."
The EPD has identified open burning as a significant contributor to ground-level ozone and began summertime restrictions on open burning in 1996.
The ban does not prohibit burning for legitimate agricultural purposes, including prescribed burns of forest land in 26 of the counties; for recreational purposes or cooking food or for training firefighting personnel.
But it does ban burning of leaves, tree limbs or yard wastes, the burning of wastes from land clearing and burning of forest land in the 19 counties of the nonattainment area.
"We recognize the fact that this ban on open burning will result in more solid waste," Methier said. "But the benefits to air quality within the additional 32 counties and in the metro area during the summer months are substantial."
The biggest effect locally will be on the clearing of land for construction. Traditionally, such debris has been burned; the alternative now is to bury it in an inert landfill or chip, shred and grind the debris. Such materials cannot be accepted in sanitary landfills.
For information on the ban, contact the Northeast District Office of the Environmental Protection Division at (706) 369-6376.