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April 18, 2001


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SPORTS
Diamond Dragons down Buford, lead Region 8-A race

How can a team be ranked second in the state, and be only the third-best team in their region?
Ask the Buford Wolves.
Coach Chuck Cook and his Jefferson Dragons rolled into Buford Monday with the lead in the Region 8-A baseball standings, and came home with that lead extended, thanks to a 5-1 win.

Diamond Panthers look for payback second time through
The Jackson County baseball team began its second trip through the Region 8-AAA schedule Monday, with a 7-6 loss to Monroe Area. During the second time around, the Panthers hope to do just what Monroe did Monday ­ pay back the teams that have beaten them.



Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
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.



Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Ballinger pleads 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.

DA discusses ordinances for 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 Crossing.
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.


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MOBILE HOME DESTROYED

This fire completely destroyed a mobile home on Hwy. 441 in Center late Friday night. Fire officials said no one was at the mobile home, owned by Esequiel Avesava. The state fire marshall's office is investigating the cause of the fire.


Overtime pervasive in Jefferson pay
An Analysis
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 council meetings.
Recently, following another round of bickering on the council, the city again requested outside help in establishing a pay scale for its staff. Five years ago, the city had a pay plan drafted, but it was never fully implemented.
But now the issue may be coming to a head. In March, the council agreed to hire its first recreation director at a base salary of $38,000, a higher base pay than any other city department head. That has led to a lot of grumbling among city employees and is sure to heat up the debate over city pay scales.


See City of Jefferson Department Head Salaries


OVERTIME AN ISSUE
Overtime pay has long been a sore point in Jefferson pay disputes, in part because three department heads receive salaries while the other three are paid hourly. The hourly department heads all logged overtime in the year 2000, including some $8,774 in overtime logged by mayor Byrd Bruce's son-in-law, Gary Herndon, who is in charge of the city's street department. Water superintendent Mike Arnold logged $1,591 in overtime pay last year while city clerk Brenda Duncan logged $1,624 in overtime.
The other three city department heads, library director Donna Butler, police chief Darren Glenn and museum director Tina Harris, are all on set salaries and don't receive any overtime compensation.
The overtime pay makes a huge difference in city compensation totals and some privately grumble that it's being abused by some departments. The highest paid city employee overall last year was Herndon, who grossed $42,726. Herndon's overtime netted him more than Glenn, whose base pay was higher, but who can't collect overtime pay.
LONGEVITY A KEY
The pay scale among city employees has long been tied to how long the employee has worked for Jefferson. Even those who have transferred to different departments with less responsibility have often continued to receive larger paychecks based on how long they've been employed rather than on any set job description.
With a city manager government set to take over January 1, 2002, some are speculating that Jefferson's department heads will begin a new round of jockeying in the coming months to lock in current pay scales before a city manager takes the reins. The change may encourage some department heads currently paid hourly to seek salaries based on their gross compensation.
Privately, some close to the city's operations complain that the real problem with the pay scales is that no one is really in charge of city operations on a daily basis. Department heads generally answer only to the mayor or to the councilman assigned to oversee their department. That structure has led to infighting among councilmembers over pay scales within departments. It isn't unusual for one councilman to complain that a secretary in "his" department is making less than a secretary in another city department.
Comp time also varies among the departments. Even Mayor Bruce opposed comp time during a recent meeting for an employee who works several hours on Saturdays. When one councilman suggested that the employee take off an afternoon during the week to make up for his half-day of work on Saturday, Bruce opposed the idea and said the employee should be paid overtime for his weekend work rather than take comp time.
But in some departments, weekend work is routinely done with weekday comp time.





Year 2000 Base Gross
 Full-Time Employees  Name Dept.  #Yrs.  Pay  Income*
 Shirley Wood  CH  2.1  $9.60  $21,075
 Steven Bannister  PD  11.3  13.54  $31,071
 Byron Brumbalow  PD  5.2  11.13  $26,716
 Larry Embrick  PD  29  14.58  $34,540
 Andrew Fazekas PD   3.2  10.59  $29,178
 David Free  PD   2.7  10.59  $25,583
 Tracy Gooch  PD  5.9  11.69  $28,502
 Richard Jewell  PD  1  10.33  $21,991
 Anthony Kelly  PD  4.8  11.97  $27,917
 James Larocque  PD  5.2  10.86  $29,151
 Rachel Love  PD  1  9.60  $20,630
 Kevin McElreath  PD    10.59  $24,905
 Trent Morgan  PD  1.7  10.59  $26,975
 Matthew Peebles  PD  1.1  10.33  $22,888
 Troy Rowell  PD    10.59  $26,140
 Robert Russell  PD  3.2  11.11  $33,809
 Dennis Thomas  PD  9.7  15.28  $36,588
 Steve Thompson  PD  1.5  10.59  $24,580
 John Ward  PD  9.2  12.57  $29,827
 Fred Wilson (1)  PD  10.5  8.93  $18,839
 Harold Cannon  ST  10.5  10.63  $21,790
 David Duck  ST  2.2  9.60  $20,534
 Randy Hurley  ST  1.1  7.71  $14,166
 Joe Savage  ST  8.8  13.89  $31,968
 Donnie Sealey  ST  1.1  10.08  $19,761
 Amy Herrington  LB  2.3  7.54  $15,174
 Daniel Crowe  WD  13.2  13.56  $29,806
 Susan Gooch  WD  1.6  9.60  $19,817
 Timothy Head  WD  3.1  9.85  $22,227
 Hoyt Love  WD  2.9  9.85  $26,891
 Darrin Sealey  WD  13.3  13.90  $29,677
 Donell Sealey  WD  20  17.20  $39,838
 Travis Watson  WD  19  13.17  $33,166

NOTES:
*Gross income includes overtime and other compensation.
1Fred Wilson isn't a certified officer and therefore his pay is lower than other officers.
Departments: CH=City Hall; PD=Police Department; ST=Street Department; WD=Water Department; LB=Library.
Pay rates shown do not include the recent $1.00 per hour raise for certified city policemen.



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 near Commerce.
Tim Brooks and Randall Kersey had requested that the 30 acres be rezoned from A-2 (agricultural rural farm district) to I-2 (heavy industrial district) with a conditional use permit. The original plans were to locate a steel mill on the property, but the buyer decided not to purchase the land. However, the applicant still wanted the property to be zoned industrial.
At the end of the meeting, Brooks asked why commissioner Tony Beatty made the motion to deny the request. BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said the question was "inappropriate at this time."
On another matter, the board of commissioners approved a resolution requested by the city of Commerce to support the Heritage Crossing development on U.S. 441 at Progress Road. The endorsement supports the developer's request for funds to assist in the construction of 120 units of "affordable housing."
The city of Commerce had issued an endorsement, but the developer's plans to be annexed into the city fell through when an adjacent property owner, whose property had to be annexed to bring the development in, decided not to seek annexation.
The developer will not know until Aug. 1 whether the application to the Department of Community Affairs is approved. DCA has reportedly determined that there is a need for such housing in Jackson County.
Also on Monday night, the board of commissioners approved a request from Jerry Waddell to rezone 20.16 acres at 2816 Jackson Trail Road from PCFD (planned commercial farm district) to A-R (agricultural residential district). He plans to locate four homes on the property.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Commerce News.



Board OKs Drainage Project At High School
Thanks to moisture problems in the concrete slabs, the renovation project at Commerce High School is running longer than the Energizer Bunny.
"It's been a nightmare," says superintendent of schools Larry White, who has had to oversee the project ever since he's held the job.
The $2 million project was supposed to have been completed in August 2000. And August 2001 will be closer to the mark.
The project was progressing within the normal bounds of expectations until school personnel noticed last fall that glue for the new floor throughout the school appeared to be seeping up out of the concrete.
Months of speculation and arguing over the cause ensued, but the end result was a determination that the concrete slabs upon which the buildings were constructed are saturated with water to the point that the glue cannot bond.
The Commerce Board of Education got its architect back in, and he proposed a scenario by which the project would be rectified and the floors down by April 15. Needless to say, that day came and went without resolution.
"One big reason for the delay is that in the March board of education meeting where we discussed the proposal for the drainage system, the architect recommended three of the five plans to alleviate the problem," said White. "I wanted to seek out some local bids in addition to the bids from Bowen & Watson (the general contractor)."
As it turned out, there was but one more bid, and it was for $90,233, so the board of education accepted Bowen & Watson's bid of $87,898, White explained. The company has been authorized to proceed with the work.
As for the cost, it will be covered by contingency funds built into the renovation budget, although White concedes, "We don't need any more surprises."
The project involves a system of French drains with grates and piping of down spouts in areas where the moisture is above acceptable levels.
"The idea is to take away the surface water," said White.
The contractor hopes to get that work done in the next month, but it will most likely be August before students walk on new floors at CHS.
"If that (the drainage system) does the trick, ideally, the best time to take up and replace the tiles is when the students aren't there anyway," White points out. "We hope to be doing that as soon as school is out."
Virtually all of the rest of the project is completed, except for the punch list of final details. Over the spring break, the company installed the flooring and carpet in areas where the moisture was not a problem ­ the home economics labs and the new storage area at the media center.


County schools set elections for councils
A key part of the governor's education reform effort of 2000 is about to get under way in Jackson County. By the end of May, all three local school systems are supposed to have named members to the newly created Local School Councils. There will be one seven-member council for every school in the county.
The Jackson County School System has begun the first step in the process this week by announcing election dates for each of its schools for parent representatives. There will be two parent representatives on the council elected by other parents in the school. There will also be two representatives of the business community on the councils, one appointed by the board of education and one appointed by the other members of the council itself. Two certified teachers will also be elected by their peers to sit on the council. The seventh member will be the school principal, who will also act as chairman of the council.
The term of office for each council member is two years starting July 1. Each council member will be required to attend two days of training each year and to attend monthly meetings of the council.
The duties of the school councils are mostly advisory and their recommendations will be forwarded to the boards of education of the school district. The school board will have 60 days to respond to the recommendations and can overturn council decisions.
Among the duties of the school councils will be to provide recommendations to the school board on school calendar issues, dress codes, curriculum goals, academic performance issues, school budget priorities, extracurricular activities, school services, communication strategies and other related subjects.
The following is the schedule for parent elections in the Jackson County School System:
·Jackson County Comprehensive High School, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8.
·South Jackson Elementary School, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in the gym.
·East Jackson Middle School, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in the gym.
·Maysville Elementary School, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, in the gym.
·North Jackson Elementary School, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10, in the cafeteria.
·West Jackson Primary (K-2 at Jackson County Elementary School), 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, in the gym.
·West Jackson Intermediate (3-5 at JCES), 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22.
·Benton Elementary School, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, in the gym.
·West Jackson Middle School, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, in the Jackson County Comprehensive High School auditorium.



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Zoning Changes Sought For Two
Rental Housing Projects In Commerce.The Commerce Planning Commission will be asked to consider two rezonings Monday night that could accommodate rental housing developments.
The planning commission, which makes recommendations to the city council on zoning and land use matters, meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Commerce Civic Center.
The items coming before the group include a rezoning request from Doug Dorsey on behalf of Harold and April Pendergrass to rezone almost 16 acres on State Street from R-3 (duplexes) and A-R (agricultural-residential) to R-4 (multi-family dwellings).
In addition, Barbara Davis, acting as an agent for Vivian Haynes, will seek rezoning for annexation of 4.79 acres on Poplar Street from A-2 in Jackson County to R-3 in the city.
The commission will also reconsider Dorsey's request for annexation for rezoning on Stark Street. Dorsey's son Eric wants to put 20 duplex units on the property, half of which is in the city and half of which is in Jackson County. The half in the city is zoned M-1 (manufacturing) and the part in the county is zoned A-2.
The planning commission voted at its March meeting to recommend that the request be denied, but the city council at its April 9 meeting voted to ask the planning panel to reconsider the matter.
Also on the agenda for Monday night are:
·a request by Barry Lord for Mitch Seymour for a conditional use permit to operate a wrecker service at Georgia 98 and Madison Street Extension.
·a request for a conditional use permit for Crying in the Wilderness Baptist Church, Danielsville, which wants to relocate to 366 Harris Street, where it plans to convert a brick duplex into a church and a frame house into a fellowship hall.
·a request for a conditional use permit from the Commerce City School System to locate seven portable classrooms for the 2001 school year. The request calls for two additional units at Commerce Elementary School, bringing the total to five portable classrooms there; and to retain one each at the middle and high schools. Eight additional portable classrooms at CHS will be returned to the Jackson County School System for the 2001-2002 school year.


Water customers fined for breaking into meter
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has begun cracking down on people who damage its water meters.
Two people have already been fined after being cited for interference with government property. Audra Denise Smith was fined $590. Water and sewer superintendent Jerry Waddell said the charges stem from one of the water meter covers being broken with the water being turned back on.
County marshal Don Eckart has also already issued a court summons to Scott Appling for nine water meters damaged at an apartment complex he owns in Arcade. The county had cut off one of the apartments for non-payment. County leaders say these fines could be several thousand dollars.
Appling is one of the partners in a company trying to locate a landfill in the South Jackson area.
"We are cracking down on this," Waddell said of the violations. "We also changed the contract. When we have somebody who hasn't paid the bill, we have to go out and cut it off and lock the meter. We put in the contract that if they break in it, it is a $350 administrative fee, plus there is a $100 fee to replace the lid. They are also responsible for any non-paid bills."
Jackson County is also continuing to crack down on developers who violate county and state regulations. The most recent case involved Terry Canup who was fined $2,500 for an erosion control violation.




County to seek new zoning ordinance, land use plan
Jackson County leaders have agreed to seek bids for the creation of a new county zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan. The move may open up a lot of important and controversial issues in the coming months.
Commissioner Sammy Thomason called for the action at the BOC meeting Monday night.
"Our current zoning ordinance leaves much to be desired," he said. "Our land use plan is outdated. We need to look at our zoning classifications, our rezoning process, our subdivision regulations and our mobile home ordinances. There is little consideration given to the existing ordinances for subdivision placement or sanitary sewer in the county. The ordinance doesn't address greenspace at all. I believe it's time to make some changes."
On a related mater, the BOC approved a motion by commissioner Emil Beshara for the codification of all county ordinances. The county manager will seek bids for both projects.
The BOC had earlier readopted its zoning ordinance and tax maps. This action included several amendments, including penalties for those in violation of the ordinance and cleaning up several "typos" in the document. The action was effective immediately and it repealed any other county ordinances in conflict with the new document.