News from Jackson County...

May 7, 2001


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SPORTS
Gary Eyes State Crown

Commerce senior Casey Gary is heading to the state tournament to throw the shot put and the discus. The tournament will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Jefferson. Gary finished first in the shot and discus in the region tournament.

30th Georgia Olympics begins Thursday
Jefferson High School will host the 30th annual Georgia Olympics Thursday through Saturday at Bryan/Keen track at Memorial Field. The event will determine boys' state individual and team champions in all five classifications.
The five schools in the Mainstreet Newspapers coverage area will be represented by 11 athletes and two relay teams in 11 separate events during the three-day meet.



Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Bypass to go west of Danielsville
Local leaders met with DOT commissioner Tom Coleman Friday and learned that the state is planning to construct the Danielsville bypass west of the city.

Sartain's zoning request sent back to planners
Madison County commissioners sent a controversial zoning request back to county planners last Wednesday.
Sarah Sartain appeared before the board of commissioners requesting the rezoning of 6.08 acres on Tarpkins Road from A-2 to R-R to subdivide into two parcels.



Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Gainesville man charged in bank robbery
A Gainesville man has been charged with the armed robbery Monday of Regions Bank at Banks Crossing.
Joel Casey Ledford, 22, was arrested late Tuesday by the Banks County Sheriff's Office. A hold has also been placed on him in connection with the recent armed robbery of a bank in Murphy, N.C. He is also a suspect in a recent bank robbery in Dawsonville.

Commissioners ask for change in zoning at Banks Crossing
The Banks County Planning Commission started its meeting Tuesday by hearing a request from board of commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady that the 19.35 acres the county owns behind the Banks Crossing Wal-Mart be rezoned.


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UPDATE:
Nicholson man arrested on federal drug charges
A Nicholson man and wife were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Wednesday morning on charges of trafficking in methamphetamine.
Some 29 state and federal agents supported by five drug dogs and aerial surveillance raided the auto salvage yard of Samuel Wayne Rylee, 41, of 283 Cedar Drive, Nicholson early Wednesday morning.
The operation followed an investigation in which GBI agents allege Rylee sold almost two and a half pounds of methamphetamine to an informant who himself had been arrested in December and charged with trafficking. That source alleged that he purchased approximately 40 pounds of the illegal drugs from Rylee before the source was arrested.
Rylee's wife, Kathy, was charged because officers executing the search warrant reportedly found approximately a half ounce of the suspected drug in her possession.
The FBI says Rylee, who is a partner in a Madison County salvage operation on Duncan Swindle Road and is owner of Rylee Motors in Commerce, "has an extensive criminal history of both drug use and violent behavior." Rylee is also subject to having parole revoked from a 1996 conviction in Madison County for shooting into his girlfriend's mobile home. Because of his past record, he is likely to receive a life sentence if corrected, officials say.
Rylee gained prominence in Nicholson when he became involved in the anti-zoning movement and was an ardent supporter of Ronnie Maxwell, Nicholson mayor. Maxwell said he had very little dealings Rylee following the defeat of the zoning ordinance.
"I assumed he was just a guy who wanted to do something for his community," Maxwell said, although he acknowledged that he had known Rylee had a prison record. Within the past year, the suspect had acquired 20 acres and started an auto salvage business at his Cedar Drive residence.
Rylee was denied bond following a hearing Friday in Gainesville, and the FBI has indicated it intends to seize his Nicholson property.
At a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Gainesville Friday afternoon, FBI agents showed videos of alleged drug buys made at the Nicholson property. Over the course of the investigation, the informant allegedly made three puchases totaling more than two pounds of methamphetamines, for which he paid Rylee $14,000. According to court documents, Rylee did not require the informant to pay for the drugs at the time Rylee gave them to the informant, but accepted payments spread over several days.
LONG CRIMINAL RECORD
Rylee's criminal history is extensive. In addition to the 1996 arrest for which he was last in prison, Rylee has a rap sheet that covers more than 17 different arrests on more than 38 charges in Georgia alone. They include a homicide by vehicle arrest in 1987, multiple charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants, arrests for possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, terroristic threats and acts, numerous counts of driving with a suspended license, a case of theft by taking, two counts of habitual violator, and counts of criminal trespass, leaving the scene of an accident, violation of the Controlled Substances Act, weapons offenses, giving false name to a police officer and obstruction. He has been arrested by authorities in Banks, Jackson, Madison and Clayton counties and by the Georgia State Patrol and Commerce Police Department.
Rylee was also charged in North Carolina and South Carolina on charges of conspiring to traffic in cocaine, a charge that was dismissed, as was a charge of attempted armed robbery.
Rylee's wife Kathy, 36, also has a record, She has been arrested at least four times on offenses including from bad check, theft by conversion of leased or rented property, driving with a suspended license and one unspecified drug-related charge.



LADY DOGS AT JCES


Members of the Lady Dogs basketball team visited third graders in Fran Allen's class at Jackson County Elementary School Tuesday. Senior Tianna Briggans (L) and freshman Christi Thomas (R) are shown giving the students autographs. The basketball players also answered questions from students in a school-wide assembly held in the gym. The Lady Bulldogs won 27 games and were the SEC champions.


Landfill requests still on hold
Planners table rezonings for two landfills

Two landfill requests before the Jackson County Planning Commission were tabled Thursday night.
The board of commissioners had asked the planning commission to take another look at the request from Earth Resources for 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 had earlier recommended denial of the request, but it was asked to look at the request again because one of its reasons for recommending denial was the impact on Lanier Road. The developer has reportedly agreed that the entrance will not be on that road.
At Thursday's planning commission meeting, county leaders said the developer had asked that the request be tabled. The BOC also earlier tabled the matter at the request of the developer. County attorney Daniel Haygood said that the applicant had asked that the request be tabled until further discussions on the conditions and surcharge paid to the county are discussed.
A request from CKS Properties for an I-2 zoning for 195.08 acres on Cedar Grove Church Road for a landfill was also tabled. It was tabled because the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center had not yet reviewed the possible impact on the region and state. This report is expected to be ready by the May planning commission meeting.
The regional review is required by state law and calls for the RDC to declare if the project is "in the best interest of the state" or that "it is not in the best interest of the state." The review is based on "potential impacts on environmental and natural resources, the economy of the region, public facilities of the region, availability of affordable housing and potential inter-jurisdictional conflicts."
The May meeting of the planning commission will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, in the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
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 places.
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 bench trial was held Friday.
See separate story in this weeks Jackson Herald.



Bear Creek Not Likely To Be Open On Time
The Group Building The Regional Reservoir Maintains It Is On Schedule For July 1 Completion, But There Is Some Evidence To The ContraryEver since construction began, the owners of the regional $63 million Bear Creek reservoir and water treatment project have insisted and been told that the project will be completed on time.
But the man in charge of construction at the site says the project will be late.
"I think it will probably be closer to an August starting date than a July date," reports Jim Wrona, project manager for Jordan, Jones & Goulding, the company overseeing the construction.
The July 1 deadline is seen as crucial in Jackson County, where revenue from the sale of Bear Creek water must start coming in so the county can make its $2.1 million annual payments. Those payments begin in January.
The owners of the project ­ the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, made up of Jackson, Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties ­ have yet to publicly state that the project will fail to meet the July 1 deadline.
But at its Wednesday, April 25, meeting, the authority saw the evidence. Beers Construction Company, which is building the water plant, asked for a 10-day contract extension because of inclement weather and a 32-day extension because of flooding at the reservoir pump station. The authority granted the first extension but, reasoning that the work at the pump station should have already been completed when the flooding occurred, denied that request.
The largest part of the delay, Wrona says, is at the filter building, and the contractor is trying to catch up.
"They're planning on running double shifts on the filter building and wherever possible," he noted, although he added that using a double shift at the pump station is not practical, because working at night there would be dangerous.
The authority received its withdrawal permit last Wednesday from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. That document will allow the authority to remove up to 60 million gallons per day from the Middle Oconee River. Currently, the reservoir is impounding water naturally from Bear Creek. Wrona expects that pumping can begin as early as Friday.
"At that point, we will be pumping full bore," Wrona predicted.
At Wednesday's meeting:
·The board learned that the contract for the earthen dam and spillway should come in almost $300,000 under budget.
·The authority authorized spending of up to $50,000 for landscaping around the treatment plant. That is the amount budgeted for the work, but the cost is expected to be about $30,000.
·The authority learned that with the settlement of a condemnation suit, it now owns all of the property being used for the project.
·The authority authorized Jordan, Jones & Goulding and Azurix North America (the firm that will manage the plant) to proceed on the preoperational phase of the project.



BOC looking to Jefferson for new courthouse input
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners wants to know what the City of Jefferson will do to keep the courthouse in the downtown area.
Legally, the courthouse must remain in the city limits since Jefferson is the county seat, but some commissioners are apparently interested in locating a new facility outside the downtown area.
The BOC met Monday night for two hours with the courthouse committee appointed three years ago to plan a new facility for the county. The committee strongly recommended that the BOC approve the plan it presented in July 1999 to the former commissioners. It calls for locating the courthouse adjacent to where the current facility is located.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said his "initial opinion" was to put the facility somewhere other than downtown. He said the committee members made "some roadway" Monday in convincing him to leave it downtown.
"I'm open to considering this site," he said. "I'm open to looking at other sites too. The selling job has begun, but it's not finished...This is an option. It is a good option, but I don't want to close out any others."
Fletcher said that Jefferson should participate in the project if the courthouse is to remain downtown.
"The question is what kind of cooperation are we going to get from the City of Jefferson," he asked. "What are they willing to do...Without that input, we are dealing with a hypothetical situation."
He didn't elaborate on whether this cooperation would include funding.
Other commissioners also questioned locating the new courthouse in downtown. Commissioner Emil Beshara asked what the benefits would be to keep the facility downtown.
"It's not so much as what's going to build up by leaving it here, but what will go away," Tom Bryan said.
Janice Wilbanks, the volunteer coordinator of the Jefferson Better Hometown Program, spoke of the convenience to those who go to the courthouse or working for the county in having banking, restaurants and other businesses nearby.
The commissioners agreed to come to a final decision on the courthouse plan by Sept. 1. Commissioner Stacey Britt agreed to approach Jefferson leaders about assistance with the project. An update on progress made on the courthouse project will be given at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, proceeding the regular board meeting.
Superior Court Judge David Motes, who has served as chairman of the courthouse committee, began the meeting by encouraging the BOC to move forward with the July 1999 proposal. Three representatives of the Leo Daly Firm also elaborated on the proposal and answered numerous questions from the commissioners on the plans.
"A lot of work went into that plan," said Motes. "We have a good plan."
Motes said that the committee and the architects looked at seven sites and believe the one in downtown to be the best site. He added that no one had come up with a better plan and asked the BOC not to "second-guess" the committee.
Original estimates were that it would cost $16 million, but architects with the Leo Daly Firm said Monday that the costs would actually be closer to $14.5 million.

 


Lawsuit challenges county zoning codes
Landfill developer says zoning map not legal since 1974. The developer trying to locate a landfill in West Jackson is attacking the county's zoning codes in court, contending they were not correctly approved in 1974. If upheld by the courts, the suit filed by Kelly Henderson against Jackson County could cast doubt on 28 years of county zoning decisions that extend far beyond the 117 acres on Hwy. 53 that Henderson wants to develop as a construction and demolition landfill.
A bench trial was held Friday before Judge David Motes on the issue, which grew out of the denial by the county to rezone the property from PCFD to I-2 for the proposed landfill. But unlike most rezoning lawsuits, Henderson doesn't contend that the county acted improperly in denying the rezoning, but rather that the county's entire zoning plan is illegal stemming back to the county zoning map approved in 1974.
After eight hours of testimony, Judge Motes gave county attorney Julius Hulsey two weeks to prepare a post-trial brief in the case. Henderson's attorney, Gibbson Dean II, will then prepare a response.
At Friday's hearing, Dean said that state law requires three signatures on zoning maps and that Jackson County's map does not have them.
"They start out with a void ordinance," he said.
The county called former director of planning and development Don Segraves to testify on that point. He said that the original zoning map had the required signatures from county officials and that the map Dean presented is a copy and is not the original. The original has not been found in county files.
Dean said that Jackson County has nothing in its official records that the zoning map was ever enacted. But Hulsey said that the county has a valid zoning ordinance and has complied with all zoning regulations.
Dean also questioned action by the BOC on April 11 of this year to readopt the zoning map. He said that the second paragraph of the amendment was not read out loud as part of the minutes. The county contends that the entire document is part of the minutes.
Also at Friday's trial, Dean questioned whether the planning commission is the entity legally required to hold public hearings on zoning matters. He said it should be the board of commissioners. The county contended that law specifies that a public hearing be held and doesn't dictate which government body conduct it.
Dean also said that the county never has enacted policies and procedures for the conduct of hearings by the board of commissioners. He said they are in place for the planning commission, but not the BOC.
Hulsey said that nothing in the zoning law states that the BOC must hold the public hearing, only that it must provide for one to be held.
"To construe that any other way is simply misreading the ordinance," he said.
Henderson's original rezoning application stated that the rezoning was for an industrial park. The county attempted to attack that in a pre-trial brief, contending that Henderson had used "deceit" in the application, but Judge Motes didn't allow that line of inquiry to proceed Friday.
In the pre-trial brief, Hulsey addressed the issue as follows: "Clearly, plaintiff has acted in a deceptive manner throughout the rezoning application process...By concealing the purpose behind his actions, the plaintiff sought to make an end run around the zoning authority of the Jackson County community."
The county also contends that Henderson didn't get an impact statement from the City of Braselton or the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center, as is required by law. This was not a part of Friday's hearing, which only dealt with the validity of the county's zoning procedures and map.
After Dean had presented all of his testimony, Hulsey asked the judge for a directed verdict. He said that Dean had not shown that the ordinances were inadequately approved or that the county had not complied with the zoning ordinances.
"I can't say at this time that the evidence demands a directed verdict," Motes said in denying the motion.
 



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Contractor Breaks Main Water
Line; Millions Of Gallons Lost
A contractor tearing down the old bridge on Georgia 98 over Interstate 85 cut one of the two main water lines feeding Commerce early Monday afternoon.
City officials are still trying to assess the damage, but it includes the loss of two to three million gallons of water, according to city officials.
"We'll be meeting with the contractor today," city manager Clarence Bryant said Tuesday morning.
"It's going to cost us a lot of water," said Brian Harbin as a city worker tried to shut a valve on the line near Dink Wood's Garage.
The city called Griffin Brothers, Maysville, to help repair the line and had the job completed by 6:30 Monday night.
"I did a job on it," admitted Shane Samples of Penhall Company, a subcontractor hired to remove the old bridge after the new one opened this week.
Water cascaded down the northwest bank of the old bridge, then ran down I-85 to a culvert and eventually into the North Oconee River.
The break in the 14-inch line spewed water being pumped from the city water tank in Banks County as well as water draining out of the rest of the system. City workers could not shut off the section of line containing the break because an old valve could not be fully closed.
The city kept its water plant feeding into the system at a rate of about 2,400 gallons per minute, trying to keep up with the loss of water that otherwise would have drained all of the city's tanks. To help, the city asked several key customers, including BJC Medical Center and J.M. Huber Corp., to switch to reserve water systems.
A section of line from Dink Wood's Garage to the Old Harden Orchard Road was out of water the entire time. The rest of the city experienced reduced water pressure and ­ after the line was repaired ­ some degree of muddy water and air in lines.
The situation would have been worse but for the fact that in 1995 Commerce built a second main line from the water plant into town following a construction break at Gary Motors. At the time, Bryant said the line was needed to provide redundancy in case the Maysville Road feed was severed.
But that redundancy did not work as planned. While the city was able to continue pumping water into the system, the inability to cut off the section of line with the break meant water from the city backflowed to the break.
For the rest of the story, see this weeks Commerce News.


Hearing set on county's effort to survey land for Texfi sewerage line
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority is seeking a court order to conduct surveys and appraisals on three sites where property owners have refused access.
The county had tried to gain permission to conduct the surveys on property belonging to Alma Armstrong, Dwight Delaperriere and Inez Phillips. A hearing on the matter will be held at 9 a.m. Friday, May 4, at the courthouse.
The county is conducting the surveys and appraisals as part of an effort to locate sewer lines from the Texfi Wastewater Treatment Plant to serve certain areas of the county.
"Georgia courts have consistently held that a prospective condemning body has the right to enter private property in order to survey, inspect and appraise the property," the county suit reads. "This right may be exercised without having to institute condemnation proceedings to compensate property owners before entry. The prospective condemnor need only provide notice and an opportunity to be heard, both of which are provided by the filing of a declaratory judgment."
Armstrong and Phillips filed a motion to dismiss the county's suit. It says the two women are "respondents, not defendants" and refers to Proverbs in the Bible.
"The above named respondents are not artificial corporate persons," the response reads. "Proverbs 24:8 KJV The Holy Bible."
The response also refers to the United States Constitution, the Georgia Constitution and the Black's Law Dictionary, as well as several other Biblical references.



Nicholson Daisy Festival ahead this weekend
The Nicholson Daisy Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, on the grounds of Benton Elementary School.
Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and will continue through Saturday night. A car show will be held Saturday morning with judging at noon for antique and classic categories. Singing groups and dance groups will highlight the day and a craft show will be held.
The annual fire department barbecue will be held, along with the softball tournament, which will continue through Sunday afternoon.
The Nicholson Daisy Festival is sponsored by Jackson County Volunteer Rescue and the Nicholson Area Fire Department. Proceeds will be used to purchase equipment for the rescue and fire departments.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, May 4
3 p.m. Booth set-up
6:30 p.m. Cake walk
7 p.m. Softball tournament begins
7:30 p.m. Music and entertainment
8:15 p.m. Crystal River will perform
9 p.m. Kontagious will perform

Saturday, May 5
8 a.m. Softball tournament continues, booths open
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Classic and antique car show
11:30 a.m. Barbecue chicken sales begin
12 p.m. Car show awards
12:15 p.m. Threads of Hope will perform
1:15 p.m. TBA
2 p.m. Clogging
3 p.m. Threads of Hope will perform
4 p.m. New River Boys will perform
6 p.m. Auction begins
8:30 p.m. Country music
9 p.m. Karaoke singing contest, $150 first-place prize, $75 second-place and $50 third-place
Other entertainment will be offered all afternoon and into the night. There is no charge for admission. During the evening, the volunteer rescue department will give away a 1986 Cadillac.

Sunday, May 6
1 p.m. Softball tournament finals begin
For more information, contact Dwain Smith at 757-3382.