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Redistricting not about personal agendas
The Georgia legislature will meet in a called session this fall
to redistrict the state, county and city election districts.
I hope our elected officials will use more reasonable criteria
in drawing the lines this year.
Letter To The Editor
Dismayed with BOC for Ten Commandments resolution
I was surprised and dismayed to read that the Madison County
Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution to display the
Ten Commandments in the County Government Complex.
A season of Lady Raider
You know you're getting attention when the police get involved.
Two-sport athlete Sheena Mason remembers the state tournament-bound
softball team being given a police escort to the county line
this past fall.
No, the law enforcement officials weren't trying to track down
any fugitives being smuggled on the Madison County bus.
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.
Baldwin mayor 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.
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.
The Madison County Journal
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Dylan Wammock of the Madison County Major League Midway
Farm Supply team smacks the ball into play against Hardeman Agency
Fortson murder trial
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.
No new trial date has been set, but Superior Court Judge Lindsay
Tise is expected to decide within a week when the case will be
held. District attorney Bob Lavender said the case is to be rescheduled
for "no sooner than 30 days and no later than 60 days."
Tise has not ruled on whether the case will be moved or remain
in Madison County. Fortson's attorney, Tom Camp, filed a change
of venue request earlier this year, asking that the proceedings
be moved up to 150 miles away due to pre-trial publicity. Tise
reserved a ruling on the change of venue request until jury selection.
Fortson, a former Oglethorpe County sheriff's deputy, is accused
of killing her ex-boyfriend, Doug Benton of Colbert last June,
leaving his body encased in cement in a wooded area in Oglethorpe
County, then attempting to burn his house down to destroy evidence.
She pled not guilty in November to malice murder, felony murder,
attempted arson and two counts of aggravated assault. Fortson
is being held on a $500,000 bond.
County passes tougher
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 noise restrictions apply to unincorporated areas of Madison
County between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and
11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday
The ordinance also states that registration of all outdoor entertainment
events that have commercial entertainment and/or electronic amplification
is required 72 hours in advance of the event at the Madison County
Any person may violating the ordinance can be fined up to $1,000
and imprisoned for up to 60 days.
In other business, the board approved a contract with Tranquility
Building Systems for construction of an addition to the recycling
center. The county recently received a grant for the project.
The BOC approved a $5,000 increase in overtime pay for the recreation
department. The money will be taken from the county's contingency
funds. The board voted 4-1 in favor of the measure, with only
Mike Youngblood voting in opposition.
The commissioners approved a 10 percent increase in the budget
for the public defender's office of the five-county Northern
Judicial Circuit. All counties in the circuit are being asked
to increase funding.
The board agreed to accept Gunter Drive off Lem Edwards Road
into the county road system.
The BOC approved Clean Sweep Cleaning Service for $1,260 a month
for cleaning county offices. The vote was 4-1 in favor of accepting
the low bid, with Melvin Drake voting for denial. Drake said
White Tornado, the company which has been providing cleaning
services, had received excellent recommendations.
The board also agreed to lease a "jersey spreader"
to go on the front of a bulldozer for $29,687.
County commissioners met in closed session for approximately
one hour and 20 minutes to discuss real estate and litigation.
The board took no action after the closed meeting.
Clark, Fortson file
suit over legal fees
Former Madison County commissioners Ken Clark and Jack Fortson
have filed suit against commission chairman Wesley Nash and the
BOC, demanding the payment of legal fees by the county.
The suit is the latest development in a lengthy tug of war between
the former commissioners and those who feel the county is not
responsible for their legal fees.
According to the suit filed April 30 in Madison County Superior
Court, the former commissioners were denied $14,852 in legal
fees for defense of a suit filed against them by Jerry Mattox.
Clark also incurred $4,897 in legal fees for an Ethics in Government
Act complaint filed by Mattox.
Attorney Cynthia Weaver, who is representing Clark and Fortson,
wrote in her clients' complaint that the "defendants have
been stubbornly litigious, and are acting in bad faith by refusing
to pay its debts..."
This past November, the BOC voted to deny payment of two attorneys'
fee bills for former commissioners Pierce and Clark which were
"related to recall actions." Clark's bill was for $2,684
and Pierce's was for $4,568.
Pierce, who was still on the board, was not at the meeting in
which the vote to deny the payments was made. With the vote tied
at 2-2, chairman Nash cast the deciding vote for denial. The
vote also stipulated that the board would not pay any "legal
expenses in fighting a recall."
Pierce and commissioner Melvin Drake requested to have the issue
placed on the agenda for a following meeting, but Nash said that
the issue had been settled and that "payment of legal fees
in a recall action is contrary to Georgia law."
On Dec. 14, 2000, Weaver submitted bills for legal services for
Clark and Fortson, which she said were not "recall related,"
but were instead for defense of the suit filed by Mattox.
Mattox filed suit against Clark, Fortson and former commissioner
Patsy Pierce in 1999, maintaining that the county illegally paid
some $50,000 in legal fees for the three commissioners.
Clark and Fortson are now asking that the court hold a hearing
on the matter and require that they be allowed on the commissioners'
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Gruetter named new
Cathy Gruetter, assistant principal at Hull-Sanford Elementary
School, has been named principal at Comer Elementary.
The Madison County school board approved Gruetter after a lengthy
closed meeting Tuesday night. She was selected from a list of
five candidates from local and area schools. Gruetter said she
applied for the position because "she was ready to advance
She replaces Mac Almond, the long-time principal who resigned
from the post this year amid allegations that he used school
funds for personal gain, discarded important financial records,
falsified leave records and missed excessive school days.
In a separate matter, the board tabled the appointment of business
representatives to the newly formed school councils. Board member
Jim Patton questioned the list of potential members provided
by the schools, saying that he had contacted some people on the
list who were reluctant to serve, and had talked to other interested
individuals who were not on the list.
The appointments, one for each school council, will be considered
at a called meeting on May 28 at 6 p.m.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal
BOC passes intergov't
agreement with industrial authority
The Madison County Industrial Authority finally got the OK from
county commissioners Monday night to manage the county water
The approval of an intergovernmental agreement between the industrial
authority and the county government followed many weeks of debate
on the matter.
The agreement states that the authority will provide for the
development and installation of all infrastructure required to
support a water and sewage supply, treatment and disposal system
and to manage the day-to-day operation of the systems.
Only water services will be provided at first, but plans include
the development of a sewage system.
Commissioners Bill Taylor, Johnny Fitzpatrick, Mike Youngblood
and Bruce Scogin voted for the agreement and Melvin Drake provided
the lone vote in opposition. The agreement includes a stipulation
that the BOC be involved in the hiring process of those employed
for water services.
For the rest of the story, see this weeks Madison County Journal