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Approves of proposed flag
I applaud the Banks County Chamber of Commerce and the Board
of Commissioners for their promotion of the new county flag.
Unlike the less than honorable tactics Roy Barnes and his co-conspirators
used to push the new state flag through, the Banks County officials
left it up to the people to decide.
A bedtime story
Without a doubt, bedtime is the single most important part of
any day. You can always count on pulling back the covers as a
way to tune out all the toil and trouble of life. But even while
it is a special time, going to bed has its own demands. And that
includes a whole host of peculiar bedtime rituals.
Leopards take eighth in a row
Banks shuts out Towns for 10th region win.
After eight region wins in a row, the Banks County Leopards sit
at second place in Region 8-AA. The Leopards (14-3, 10-2) will
have a shot at inching closer to first when they host top-ranked
Overtime pervasive in Jefferson pay
BY MIKE BUFFINGTON
Pay scales in the City of Jefferson have been controversial for
years. That's especially true for department heads, where infighting
and bickering over compensation has led to a number of heated
Commissioners Kill Steel Plant Rezoning, Endorse Apartments
JEFFERSON -- A request to rezone 30 acres on Hwy. 441 in Center
for industrial use was denied by the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners Monday night, but the commissioners voted to endorse
a proposal for a 120-unit apartment complex on Progress Road
Fortson case set to open May 14
The trial of accused murderer Tracy Fortson is scheduled to begin
May 14 in Madison County. But a change of venue could still be
in the works.
Search under way for new Comer principal
A committee headed by Robert Harrison has received over 20 applications
for the job of principal of Comer Elementary School.
The Banks County News
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'I relive that fire over and over!'
Gertrude and Alvin Williams, parents of the volunteer firefighter
who lost his life fighting the church blaze set by convicted
arsonist Jay Scott Ballinger, were present at Ballinger's hearing
Friday. Ballinger pled guilty to five charges of arson, including
the one set at New Salem United Methodist Church where their
son, Loy Williams Jr., was killed as the roof collapsed in the
early hours of January 1, 1999. Loy's aunt, Hazel Lacount, could
barely hold back the tears as they talked about the fire.
guilty to arson
Arson counts include December 1998 fire at Banks County church.
Jay Scott Ballinger, an admitted Luciferian, pled guilty Friday
on five counts of arson, including the December 31, 1998, fire
at a Banks County church.
Federal Superior Court Judge William C. O'Kelley will sentence
Ballinger in the next 30 to 60 days.
All of the charges he pled to involve church fires he set in
middle and north Georgia. The Banks County fire was at New Salem
United Methodist Church on New Year's Eve 1998. Volunteer firefighter
Loy Williams Jr. was killed while fighting the blaze. Four of
Williams' family members attended the hearing - his parents,
Alvin and Gertrude Williams, his aunt, Hazel Lacount, and cousin,
Rodney Lacount. They sat quietly, tearfully, at the front of
the courtroom as Ballinger entered, handcuffed, head down, guarded
by three U.S. Marshals.
Also present were Banks County Fire Chief Perry Dalton, Deputy
Fire Chief John Creasy, Lieutenant David Martin and Captain Chuck
Bray, who had been part of the team fighting the blaze in the
cold morning hours of January 1,1999. Bray was one of three injured
in the fire.
The group sat somberly as Chief Magistrate Judge John R. Strothers
Jr. told Ballinger that the purpose of the hearing was to determine
that his guilty plea was "free and voluntary." He asked
Ballinger if he knew that by pleading guilty he would be "giving
up all rights to a jury trial and other constitutional rights."
The 38-year-old from Indiana said, "Yes, Your Honor."
Judge Strothers also said he needed to determine that Ballinger
was" mentally competent" to plead guilty. Since his
incarceration, Ballinger has been receiving medication. This
was of concern to Judge Strothers. The medicinal treatment Ballinger
was receiving was not "mind-altering," according to
Ballinger's court-appointed attorney, Paul Kish. The type of
medication was not disclosed in the hearing.
Though Ballinger pled guilty to the five cases of arson, he did
not plead guilty to the charge of interstate commerce, which
would make the charges federal and would make any chance of parole
impossible. As the case stands now, the charges are state offenses,
and, though, he faces the possibility of life imprisonment due
to the loss of one life, itmay or may not contain a "no
parole clause," according to U.S. prosecuting attorney Christopher
Wray contends Ballinger bought gasoline in a container with an
Indiana credit card and drove an Indiana vehicle and used gas
purchased in this manner to set fire to churches in three states
on Ballinger's way to Georgia.
The first fire in Georgia, at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in
Dalton, was also started with gasoline purchased on his credit
card, as were the other Georgia fires. Wray said this makes the
cases fall under federal jurisdiction as a violation of interstate
commerce law. Further, said Wray, Ballinger continued his arson
spree as he headed back to Indiana, setting three fires in Kentucky,
again using his credit card to purchase the gas used for the
Judge Strothers asked Wray if he had enough evidence to prosecute
Ballinger under those circumstances and Wray replied, "Yes,
Your Honor." Wray also said that Ballinger had admitted
that he burned the churches intentionally, because they were
Judge Strothers asked if Ballinger was part of a group or cult
of anti-Christians. Kish replied that Ballinger did "hold
to independent beliefs which are antagonistic toward churches."
Judge Strothers then said, "My finding is that you are fully
competent; that you are aware of the nature of the charges against
you; that you voluntarily submitted the guilty plea; that you
agree your guilt is supported by facts." He also said that
the plea was conditional due to the interstate commerce issue.
"The court accepts your plea," said Judge Strothers.
Ballinger, Kish and Wray all signed the guilty plea.
Ballinger was convicted in November last year in Indianapolis
on 26 arson charges of other churches he admitted setting fire
to in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina
and Tennessee. He was serving 42 years on those charges when
he was extradited to Georgia to face charges here, officials
DA discusses ordinances
county property at Banks Crossing
The Banks County Development Authority is apparently gearing
up for future growth behind the huge Wal-Mart store at Banks
At a meeting Thursday morning, the DA discussed covenants and
ordinances for the 19.35 acres behind Wal-Mart at Banks Crossing
that the county owns. The board had reviewed ordinances for different
industrial parks throughout the state and found the ordinances
for the Green Valley Industrial Park in Spalding County to be
the one that most suited their needs.
Jack Banks, chairman of the Banks County Development Authority,
noted that the length of the ordinances is short enough that
someone who wants to build on the property could come to the
DA and know what is expected of them.
The ordinances cover such things as the type of building material,
types of businesses and landscaping.
The board took the time during its Thursday morning meeting to
discuss how the Green Valley ordinances should be adapted to
meet the needs of Banks County.
The Green valley ordinances state that all buildings in the property
be of masonry construction, or the equivalent. The board discussed
if they wanted to maintain the same standard.
"A brick building and a metal building just don't go together,"
Board member Thomas Wilson replied, "If a business wants
to move to Banks County, we don't want to lose the business because
we are strong on masonry."
The board agreed but no final decision was made.
How strict to make the ordinances was a topic of debate. Kenneth
Brady, Chairman of the Banks County Board of Commissioners, was
sitting in on the meeting and noted that business that want to
locate in Banks County "are going to want you (the county)to
give them something."
Jerry Boling argued that "Companies want regulations."
Boling argued that someone who is investing millions of dollars
wants to know that their investment will be cared for.
The board agreed that ordinances needed to be in place but that
they should be reasonable without being too lenient.
"Once you give a little, someone else is going to be asking
for a little bit more", said Banks.
Lighting was the next Green valley ordinance that the DA approached.
It was agreed that lighting consistent with public safety was
the requirement that was needed.
The board approached the ordinance concerning cutting trees on
the property and agreed that the Green Valley ordinance that
said that no tree with a six inch diameter that is 12 inches
above the ground could be cut was too restrictive. It was suggested
that this ordinance be changed to a six inch diameter four feet
off the ground. No final decision was made.
The last item the board discussed did not concern the ordinances
for the 19.35 acres at Banks Crossing, but instead the best way
to meet the goal of bringing industry into the county.
Boling said "We are trying to bring in a tax base for the
county. We should have a full time person, like many other counties,
that is trying to recruit business and bring in money."
Brady asked how much this would cost the county and the board
discussed how best to have this question answered. It was agreed
that an investigation into the amount of time an individual would
work in this capacity as well as the cost of employing this person
Go to Banks
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Alto seeks water
The Alto City Council is looking for a source of water.
The council had made plans to seek surplus water from the City
of Demorest, but it was turned down. The Alto council sent the
contract to the City of Demorest for its approval, but the contract
was turned down, said Mayor Jack King. He said the council is
now considering negotiating with Banks County for an emergency
At the city council meeting on April 3, the council discussed
the matter. The council had drafted a contract for the agreement
between the two cities and voted unanimously to approve it once
an amendment was added that it would be a source of emergency
Mayor King told the council that the Habersham Water Authority
has set aside a certain amount of money to pay for the water
connection with Demorest and he would like the council to accept
the money. King was pre-planning in case a shortage of water
in Demorest occurred. The connection would allow Alto to purchase
water from the water authority.
Council member Donald Wade made a motion that the town pay for
the connection so that the city would have control of the on-off
connection. Others voting in favor of the motion were: Susan
Wade, Gary Terrill and Audrey Turner. Carolyn Gulley voted against
day set Saturday
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce is
planning a planting day on Saturday.
Chamber member Leslie George reported at last week's breakfast
meeting that a $250 grant from Home Depot had been received to
purchase plants for the front of the historic courthouse and
courthouse. She asked that members bring shovels, gloves and
roto-tillers with them to help in the planting on Saturday, April
21, at 9 a.m.
In other business at the meeting, chamber president Bonnie Johnson
thanked everyone for voting in the Special Purpose Local Option
Sales Tax election. Board of commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady
said that only 82 people voted against it.
Johnson also thanked Rep. Jeanette Jamieson for all she has done
for Banks County.
party ahead Sat.
The Maysville Community Improvement Club
will sponsor a garden party from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at
the city's Veterans' Park.
The day's highlights will include presentations by Master Gardeners,
as well as offerings of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs
and other garden items from local greenhouse growers.
The Linger Longers will provide bluegrass music at 11 a.m. and
the Maysville Police Department will give a bike safety course
at 2 p.m. There will also be a seed "sell and swap"
and a children's corner.
Contact Candice Gunn at 652-2967.
A photo caption on a page one story last
week about a shooting in Banks County contained an error. It
incorrectly stated that the house shown was the site of a "Hwy.
59 murder." It should have stated "Hwy. 59 shooting."
It was not a murder and no one has been charged in the incident.
We apologize for the error.