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A day at the lake
Donald and Daffy hang out together. They swim around the lake,
occasionally getting out to waddle around its banks.
The golfing nun
I learned to play golf from a nun.
The tourney is coming
Friday will mark a milestone in recent Banks County baseball
For the first time in at least 20 years, the school will host
a state playoff baseball game.
Woman dumped on roadside
A woman was abducted at a Clarke County night spot in the early
hours of Sunday morning by a man she didn't know who put her
in the trunk of a car and beat her before dumping her on the
roadside in Jackson County.
Adamson rules in favor of county on sewerage line dispute
Judge Robert Adamson issued a declaratory judgment Friday morning
permitting surveyors from the Jackson County Water and Sewerage
Authority to go onto the property of three residents fighting
the new county sewerage line.
Madison Co. Relay for Life raises $116,000 in fight
At least 125 cancer survivors, along with
their caregivers, family and friends, took to the track at the
county recreation department last Friday evening to begin Madison
County's third annual Relay for Life.
Fortson trial opens Monday
The murder trial of Tracy Fortson is set to open Monday, beginning
with jury selection. Fortson is accused of killing her ex-boyfriend
Doug Benton of Colbert, leaving his body encased in cement in
a wooded area in Oglethorpe County, then attempting to burn his
house down to destroy evidence.
The Banks County News
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Law enforcement officials found evidence of a moonshine still
and a methamphetamine lab at this Rattletrap Road residence in
Banks County. Sheriff Charles Chapman (front) is shown at the
scene of the still in the back yard of the home. For additional
photos see this week's Banks County News.
Drug bust: Harold
Ballew Jr. charged
A Banks County man was arrested Friday after law enforcement
officials found evidence of a moonshine still, a methamphetamine
laboratory and a stash of firearms, including a machine gun,
at his residence.
Harold Ray Ballew Jr., 47, Commerce, was charged with possession
of explosive devices, criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine,
possession of non-tax- paid whiskey and possession of a firearm
by a convicted felon.
The Banks County Sheriff's Office, assisted by the Georgia Bureau
of Investigation, the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division
and the Northeast Georgia Task Force searched Ballew's 526 Rattletrap
Road, Commerce, residence Friday. He was not at home when officers
arrived with the search warrant, but arrived after they started
The search came after law enforcement officers received information
about the possible criminal activity.
"Through investigative intelligence we received and substantiated,
the search warrant was conducted of the residence, the outbuildings
and all of the premises," said Sheriff Charles Chapman.
"We seized 17 firearms, one of which was a fully automatic
weapon (machine gun)...We also seized a large quantity of black
powder and other bomb paraphernalia."
No bombs were found at the home, but the sheriff said that the
materials used to make a bomb were found.
For more on this arrest, see this week's Banks County News.
new employees, salary increases among requests at hearings
Computers, additional help and salary increases for employees
are among the requests the Banks County Board of Commissioners
heard Friday when it began budget hearings.
The BOC, which is in the process of setting the county's budget
for the coming year, held its first hearing Friday with some
of the department heads that run the county. The BOC will continue
the Friday sessions until the commissioners have heard from all
those that deal with part of the budgeted money.
Each department head entered the meeting with the amount and
purpose of money that they propose to spend in the next year.
Most department heads began by requesting cost of living increases
for the employees within their department. The commissioners
had decided that three percent would be given to county employees
across the board. Outside of that, requests ranged from a new
telephone to a new truck.
Tax appraiser Andy Scroggs said that his department needs to
invest $20,000 for a new computer because the one that is in
use now has a malfunctioning tape drive and back-ups can't be
done. Some $10,000 of this amount was set aside for a computer
last year, it was reported.
Tax commissioner Margaret Ausburn also requested a computer.
She explained that the four terminals that were installed in
the courthouse are at the counter where the public comes to pay
for their motor vehicle tag. She said her office could use one
away from the front window where large clients could be handled.
She also requested two cordless phones that would free up tangled
lines and allow clerks to take a phone with them when they leave
to check records, for instance.
Probate judge Betty Thomas told the commissioners not to "expect
major expenses" from her.
"The only thing we need is a typewriter," she said.
Thomas said she had taken the actual expenses for 2000 and projected
it to be the same for the coming year. In 2000, the department
There is an election coming in November and Thomas did have to
budget for a small election.
Magistrate judge Henry D. Banks opened his session by saying,
"I want everything just like last year, except salaries."
Salaries increased the prior budget of $76,930 to a proposed
$90,390 for the budget under consideration.
SUPERIOR COURT CLERK
Superior court clerk Tim Harper recommended that the commissioners
create a position for an employee to run the microfilming machine
that the county owns. The only method of preservation that the
state recognizes is microfilming and the county needs most of
its records microfilmed, he said.
Harper also reported that the state used to deliver the county
$10,000 to $20,000 per month in money collected from probation
charges. The county is now receiving approximately $300 per month
because the fines and fees are not being collected, he said.
The commissioners discussed getting this problem resolved by
attempting to have the commissioners and judges write letters
to the state agency.
District attorney Tim Madison asked that his assistant's wages
be brought up to a competitive level. The assistant district
attorney made $36,000 last year and Madison would like to see
the salary raised to $40,000.
Coroner Tommy Herbert will receive a state-mandated salary above
just receiving death benefits. Herbert will earn $200 per month
in next year's budget.
Herbert also requested $1,000 for supplies, including, "much-needed
Building inspector Tony Vento is using a car that needs to be
repaired or replaced, it was reported. BOC chairman Brady explained
that," Tony goes to developments where there are no roads.
When it rains, he has to wear rubber boots and he needs a four-wheel
Vento had been shopping Ford Ranger pick-up trucks but Brady
suggested that a heavier truck might serve Banks County better
in a major ice storm where it could be used for towing.
The building inspector's proposed budget for the coming year
Leslie George, recycling center coordinator, said that the recycling
center operator gets to work 15 hours per week now and that should
be raised to 32 hours per week. The recycling department also
requested a new copy machine and repairs to the old jail where
it has its offices.
For much of the other negotiable expenses, the department receives
a reimbursement grant, which means the county has to spend the
money to receive the money. This grant will cover education outreach
and "adopt-a-highway" signs, officials said.
Water/waste management director Gary Harper said his department
is "flushing and flowing right along". He did express
the need to get a system to stop people from stealing water out
of the county reservoir. There have been reports of people using
hoses to fill their swimming pools and now there is no system
by which one department is responsible for arresting these individuals,
he said. There is a state law against stealing water, but the
county has no fines in place, and water employees don't have
the power to arrest citizens.
"That person needs to have a badge," Brady said.
Other than salary increases everything was about the same as
it had been in previous years. Revenue increases could occur
due to adding control on summer water usage, Harper proposed.
The Superior court is a place where one bad crime can really
mess up a budget, but Judge Robert Adamson said it is best to
budget as they have in the past and not expect a death penalty
case where attorneys have to be appointed and jurors kept by
the county for extended periods.
Adamson did report that less than 50 percent of summoned jurors
are showing up for trials. Bench warrants are not being sent
out because the county feels that individuals may not be receiving
there summons. Adamson suggested that a survey be done, which
would cost about $3,500.
"We save $2,500 to $3,000 when we call off a jury,"
he said. "We'll save $3,500 in a year's time."
The recreation department has installed new lights at the ball
fields and will put up plastic guards across the tops of their
fences to protect people from getting cut by the wire at the
fence tops, it was reported. The cost will be approximately $11,000
this year and the guards can be put in place for less than $1,000.
Because of the lights, utilities will go up, leaders said.
The department also needs a storage shed which the county can
for $4,000 on a existing concrete slab. Barry Brooks, the director
of the recreation department, said the county needs a picnic
area, but to save money the county would like to take donations
of these tables.
Chairman Brady said that "tables could be purchased from
Scott Wheatley, the Future Farmers of America director at Banks
County High School, for $75 each," and the county would
take as many as it can get.
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Rodeo ahead this
A Banks County Middle School sixth grader, 12-year-old Casey
Pardue, will be one of the featured trick and fancy riders performing
in a U.S. Cowboy Tour Rodeo Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12,
In addition to the Gillsville girl, rodeo professionals from
across the southeast will show off their bareback bronc riding,
steer wrestling and other rodeo skills when the rodeo hits the
horse arena in Homer.
The rodeo will be presented by the Banks Crossing Saddle Club,
which includes membership from surrounding counties, and 4L Rodeo
Company, Inc., with gates opening at 5 p.m. and the rodeo starting
at 8 p.m. each evening at the arena at the Banks County Recreation
Department located on Thompson Road off Hwy. 441 in Homer.
Rodeo events will include bareback bronc riding, calf roping,
steer wrestling, team roping and a new event, cowgirl break-away
roping, as well as bull riding and barrel racing. A raffle will
be held, with at least $100 worth of donated items given away
nightly. The event program, which includes more than 60 pages
listing rodeo sponsors, will serve as giveaway tickets.
Also, a special "Cowboy Church" will be held at 6 p.m.
Saturday on the rodeo grounds.
This is the first professional rodeo to visit this area, saddle
club members say.
Seating is available for 2,200-plus each night. Tickets are $8
for adults and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and under
enter for free. There are no reserved seats. Seating will be
first-come, first-served. Advance tickets are available at Mayer
Chevrolet, Boots, Etc., Redstone Equipment, McGahee-Griffin-Stewart
Funeral Home and Camelot Homes. The Banks County FFA will also
have tickets, with $1 from each ticket members sell going toward
For more information about the rodeo, see this week's Banks
says property zoned wrong
Bobby Blackwell, Homer, presented an argument to the Homer City
Council at its meeting Tuesday night stating that his business
was improperly zoned community business (CB) instead of highway
Blackwell told the council that all of the surrounding businesses
at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and 441 are classified as highway
businesses with the exception of the Farm Bureau. He said he
had attended two of the three zoning hearings and it was his
understanding that his property was going to be zoned HB.
Mack Garrison, who headed the zoning committee, said that was
also his understanding and that the CB classification was merely
City attorney Gary Freeman explained to Blackwell and the council
that the only way the property could be changed was for Blackwell
to go through the process for rezoning. A notice would have to
put in the paper for 15 days and a sign will have to put on the
property in question letting the public know about the rezoning
request. Freeman said Blackwell will have to fill out an application,
attend two public hearings and pay any fees the city requires
for the rezoning. Freeman said that Maysville charges $250 to
rezone property, which covers the cost of advertising in the
paper, lawyer's fees if one were needed and paperwork.
Mayor Leon Ray suggested that the council wait to set rezoning
fees for next month so that Blackwell's property could be rezoned
without costing him anything. Ray said delaying setting the fee
would allow others to come and look at the official map to make
sure their property is zoned correctly. They could appeal to
the planning commission before its June meeting and not pay any
fee for the rezoning. Councilman Ray Broome agreed with Ray and
tabled setting rezoning fees until next month.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.