News from Madison County...

May 16, 2001


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
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.


SPORTS
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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
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.



News from...
JACKSON
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 be.

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.


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POWER HIT


Dylan Wammock of the Madison County Major League Midway Farm Supply team smacks the ball into play against Hardeman Agency Saturday afternoon.



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.
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 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 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 night/Sunday morning.
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 sheriff's department.
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' agenda.



 


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Gruetter named new Comer principal
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 her career."
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 services.
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