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Put down the cell phones!
They're almost like an essential appendage to the body now -
two arms, two legs, one cell phone.
In fact, some people would probably prefer to violently lose
a limb than part with those portable communication devices.
Gibson's limp to homer history
I recently had the opportunity to watch a replay of one of the
best baseball moments I have ever seen. For me it was not only
the storybook ending of game one of the 1988 World Series, and
the memories of being a young baseball zealot, but it was that
I saw a moment in time when the game was transforming.
Diamond Leopards advance to second round
The Banks County Leopards' baseball team is still in the state
tournament after beating Monticello in the first round and splitting
the Tuesday doubleheader with Calhoun.
Mar-Jac buys property in Jefferson for feed mill
Mar-Jac Poultry of Gainesville has purchased property on Benton
Road near Jefferson to locate a feed mill, but no firm plans
are in place as to when the facility will be built.
Pete Martin, complex manager of the Gainesville plant, said this
week that the company owns several tracts of land in the Jackson-Banks
area and has not decided when or where its next development will
Commerce Takes Aim At Rental Housing
City Council Proposes Enforcement Of Codes In Between Tenants
Like the ripples spreading outward from a stone thrown in a pond,
comments made by a Commerce citizen at the April Commerce City
Council meeting reverberated through the city government. And
they may result in tougher standards for rental housing.
Fortson murder trial postponed
The murder trial of Tracy Lea Fortson, which was scheduled to
start Monday in Madison County Superior Court, has been postponed
because reports from the GBI crime lab were not received in time
to proceed with the case.
County passes tougher noise ordinance
Madison County commissioners unanimously approved new a noise
ordinance Monday with "more teeth" than the old restrictions.
Under the new ordinance an officer may impound any "instrument,
device, object or mechanism" employed to create noise which
is "plainly audible" beyond a person's property line
during certain hours of the night.
The Banks County News
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RODEO COMES TO HOMER
Katie Whitfield, Homer, maneuvered her horse through the girls'
barrel race at the Banks Crossing Saddle Club U.S. Cowboy Tour
Rodeo held over the weekend at the Banks County Recreation Department's
Sheriff seeks salary
increase for deputies
BOC approves $380,000 instead of $420,000 sheriff requested.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners faced the challenge Friday
of trying to come to terms with sheriff Charles Chapman on a
raise for the county's deputies.
The sheriff asked for a 20 percent overall raise for salariessome
$420,000 compared to more than $350,000 budgeted last year. Instead,
the BOC approved a total of $380,000 for salaries for the departmentup
8.54 percent over this year.
The BOC met with the sheriff Friday in the second of a series
of budget meetings with department heads.
"Our deputies need to be compensated so they can make a
decent salary for the work they do," Chapman said.
The commissioners agreed with Chapman, but the increase he asked
for was too much for them. The sheriff responded with disappointment
to the agreement and said that he would need $60,000 budgeted
for overtime. The commissioners agreed on $25,000 for overtime.
The sheriff said: "There is not one domestic violence call
in the county that goes un-investigated. I'm going to investigate
those whether we have the money or not. I'm going to run at least
three deputies per shift, 24 hours per day plus holiday pay.
The county expects it and demands it."
The commissioners had previously agreed on a three percent cost
of living increase for all employees' salaries and therefore
could not fall within budget if they went with the 20 percent
overall budget increase for salaries the sheriff asked for.
The only other obstacle the commissioners and the sheriff had
trouble with was the cost of medical care for prisoners.
"There is no way to predict medical cost in a jail,"
Medical costs for 1999 were less than $10,000, but this past
year was "high," Chapman said. The budget was set at
$22,000 by the sheriff for 2002.
The sheriff's salary will be increased from $41,000 to $52,156.
John Mitchell of the county extension service asked for $44,634
to continue running the county's 4-H program for students in
fourth grade through high school. Some $7,500 was earmarked for
a program leader to work directly with the students 19 hours
Mitchell also asked for a new fax machine and a laminator. There
was also an increase in travel expense because Mitchell will
serve as the spouse committee chairman at the 2002 National County
Extension Convention in Savannah and will need to travel between
Savannah and Banks County.
County marshal Keith Covington presented the commissioners with
a budget of $38,940, which included a three percent raise in
Fire chief Perry Dalton and assistant fire chief John Creasy
turned in a budget request of $1.3 million for the fire department.
The increase includes a three percent salary raise for the staff,
the hiring of three EMS personnel, expected price increases for
gas, oil and maintenance on vehicles and equipment, building
repairs and utilities.
Brady questioned the need for the additional employees and the
high budget. Creasy explained that the "call volume has
jumped dramatically over the last three years.
"We want to keep our response times within the national
standard of eight minutes," he said.
Creasy said that 50 percent of the calls they responded to in
2000 were within eight minutes, but this year, only 41 percent
are eight minutes or less. Dalton said the solution would be
to get a third ambulance.
"There are times when we don't have an ambulance to answer
a call," he said. "It used to happen maybe once a month,
but now it's two or three times a week. We can't continue to
rely on neighboring counties [to provide ambulance service] when
they're having the same call volume problem."
Dalton commended his volunteers but added that they were not
usually available during the peak hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m..
Rather than request a new ambulance, Creasy said that the job
could be done effectively by switching three shift supervisors
to serve as EMTs with a truck specially outfitted for serving
medical needs. The chiefs believe this would help the problem
of getting to medical calls and starting treatment while waiting
for an ambulance.
"We're trying to be as creative as we can to man a third
unit," Creasy said. "But it's difficult. We're looking
into what other departments are doing. We are pushing medics
to get in and out the hospitals quicker. But they have to wait
for a doctor to sign off on the patient and that can take time,
tying an ambulance up for 20 or 30 minutes. The issue is we know
what will happen if we don't do it and we know what will happen
if we do. It's all about time, about saving lives."
The three open positions would then have to be filled. But that,
too, will be a problem, they said.
"It's a struggle to try to hire people when our pay scale
is so low," said Dalton.
Brady said, "It's our obligation to make sure you have everything
you need to do your job. But, we can't offer more than a three-
The commissioners agreed that if the revenue would support it,
they would approve the proposed budget request.
"If not, we'll have to get back together and knock out something
else," said Brady.
Retiring 911 director Lisa McClure requested $469,428 for the
department. This includes a three-percent raise for the staff.
New items in the budget include software, updated phone lines
and switches that would allow faster calls to neighboring counties'
McClure also told the commissioners that people are not putting
up their 911 numbers as required. She suggested that the county
buy blanks and number decals and have the building inspector,
Tony Vento, issue the address plates when he assigns building
and mobile home permits.
ROADS AND BRIDGES
Wayne Andrews, road supervisor, submitted a budget of $987,273
for road and bridge work over the next year. The proposal also
includes a three-percent raise for the staff.
asks for resolution on closed sessions
The Baldwin mayor doesn't want to be the only one required to
sign a resolution to go into closed session.
At Thursday's work session, Mayor Mark Reed said he wants a resolution
drawn up concerning sessions closed to the public. The law requires
that the mayor sign an affidavit stating the discussion during
these "executive sessions" will only pertain to the
three legal topicspersonnel, real estate acquisition and
Reed asked city attorney David Syfan to draw up a resolution
that would require the council members' signatures on the affidavit
to close the meeting. As it is now, only Reed's signature is
required. If a subject unrelated to the closed session were to
be discussed, he could be charged with false swearing.
Reed, who has attended a training seminar that dealt with the
do's and don'ts of "executive" sessions, said: "Basically,
we were told not to have executive sessions or closed meetings
if at all possible."
Syfan agreed, saying: "The better policy is to have as few
as possible. But, we have been in compliance with the law."
In other business at the work session, the council:
·was given an update by city engineer Fred Hawkins on
the progress of the waste water treatment plant expansion
·discussed, but took no action on, a cell phone for a
·discussed the Banks County Fire Contract.
·discussed the rezoning application of Bryan White for
a mobile home subdivision.
Go to Banks
Public Meeting Dates
Auto Parts &
Retail Stores & Outlets
scheduled Sat. across county
Dog and cat owners in Banks County will
have multiple opportunities Saturday to get their pets vaccinated
against rabies at a convenient location.
The Banks County Health Department and Commerce Veterinary Hospital
will hold their annual series of rabies clinics from 1 to 6 p.m.
at seven locations around the county.
Last year, Banks County had one reported case of rabies, and
a Commerce man bitten by a rabid animal in Banks County had to
take the series of post-exposure shots.
Pets are most frequently the link by which rabies is spread from
the wild to people. But not only do the vaccinations protect
people, they save animal lives. Standard operating procedure
when a rabid animal is found is to destroy all of the domestic
animals that had contact with the rabid animal. A lot of dogs
and cats have had to be sacrificed because their owners did not
get them protected.
The rabies shots will cost $6 at the clinics. Other annual vaccinations
can also be administered at that time. Last year, the clinics
in Banks and Jackson counties resulted in more than 1,600 dogs
and cats being vaccinated.
Anyone who thinks they have had an exposure to rabies should
contact the Banks County rabies control officer to report the
incident.·Irvin's Store (Davis Academy) 1-1:30 p.m.
·Boling's Store 1:45-2:15 p.m.
·Irvin's Store (Hollingsworth) 2:30-3 p.m.
·Old Courthouse, Homer 3:15-3:45 p.m.
·Mt. Carmel Church 4-4:30 p.m.
·Lula City Hall 4:45-5:15 p.m.
·Alto City Hall 5:30-6 p.m.
to help homeless
Rocky Thompson and Panke Miller, of Action Ministries, appeared
before the Baldwin City Council Thursday to ask its approval
on using an apartment in Baldwin to provide transitional housing
for homeless families.
The matter was discussed at the Thursday work session and approved
by the council at its regular meeting Monday night.
Thompson said they need the approval of the local municipality
in order to be in compliance to receive a $113,000 grant. The
grant money will be used to provide the housing and a counselor
to work with the family as they seek employment.
He said that homeless families have been able to use the battered
women's shelter, Safe Haven, in Habersham County. However, the
time comes when the family is ready to return to the workplace
and society, so providing housing is a necessary step for their
advancement, he said.
The group first looked in Cornelia, but was unable to find appropriate,
affordable housing there, he said. Baldwin does have the accommodations
at an affordable price.
Action Ministries, an outreach ministry of the North Georgia
Conference of the United Methodist Church, has been working to
provide food, shelter and clothing to those families in need.
Council member Ray Holcomb said that he is familiar with the
organization and that they do good work for the community. Kevin
Gaddis, council member, said he thought it was a good idea.
"People have needs," he said. "If we can help
get them back on their feet and working again, they'll be an
asset to the community."
The Lula Area Betterment Association will be hosting this year's
annual Railroad Days in Lula this weekend, Friday, May 18, through
Sunday, May 20.
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday as vendors set up their
craft booths. The East Hall Middle School Band will perform at
6:30 p.m. followed by the crowning of the LABA King and Queen
at 7 p.m. An old-fashioned cake walk will be held at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday begins with a parade at 10 a.m. Entertainers will be
featured through-out the day beginning at 11:30 a.m. Joe Olds
and the Smokin' Joe Band will finish off the night from 8 p.m.
to 10 p.m. A fireworks display, sponsored by the city of Lula,
will be at 9 p.m.
Sunday, a community church program will be held at 11 a.m. followed
by gospel singing groups.
Food and drinks will be available each day. The event will take
place at the railroad depot in Lula.