News from Jackson County...

June 1, 2001


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Tigers Finish Second Week of Spring Practice On 'A Good Note,' Savage Says

The Commerce Tigers' football team finished up its second week of spring practice Friday, May 25. The Tigers continued to run through many of the drills they had started the week before and continued to work on conditioning.

Jefferson falls to Bowdon in state semifinals
It was a good run, but it came up just a bit short. The Jefferson baseball team completed its 2001 season Saturday in Bowdon with a pair of losses in the state Class A semifinals. The Red Devils came from behind to win both games, 7-4 and 11-10, but Jefferson mounted serious rallies late to keep fans on their feet, particularly in game two.

JCPRD begins tournament play this week
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department began its end-of-season spring baseball and softball tournaments Tuesday, and play will continue for some divisions through June 11.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Cowne says schools must restore reserve funds
Superintendent Keith Cowne told school board members that as well as meeting the financial needs of the system, the board will need to restore the system's reserve fund.

Kesler reinstated as coach
Doug Kesler was reinstated as Madison County fast-pitch softball coach at a called meeting of the board of education Monday night.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Historical society wants back in old courthouse
Members of the Banks County Historical Society made clear at a meeting Thursday night their intent to be part of the future of the historic courthouse and hold their meetings in it.

BCHS graduation planned Friday
It's cap and gown time at Banks County High School. Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Leopard Stadium, located at the middle school.


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PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS

These three local Pearl Harbor survivors were honored along with other area veterans during a Memorial Day program held Friday evening at Jackson County Comprehensive High School. Pictured are: (L-R) Gene Yearwood, corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps, Mack Abbott, staff sergeant leader with the U.S. Marine Corps, and Vernon Carter, staff sergeant with the U.S. Army. For more on the Memorial Day program, this week's Jackson Herald. 


UPDATED: JUNE 1, 2001

Commerce Police Chief Dies Friday
Commerce police chief George Grimes died early Friday afternoon following a massive heart attack. A spokesman for the Commerce Police Department said Grimes, 55, called Jackson County 911 at about 6:00 a.m. for assistance. He was taken to BJC Medical Center for stabilization prior to transport to Crawford W. Long Hospital in Atlanta for further treatment.
But en route to Atlanta, Grimes went into cardiac arrest. The ambulance, also carrying a doctor and nurse, was diverted to Gwinnett Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead just after 12:30 p.m.
Grimes had been chief of police since September, 1987.
It was not his first heart attack. Several years earlier, staff members found him on the floor at the police station. He underwent angioplasty. Grimes also suffered from diabetes.
"He was a professional in every sense of the word. He brought professionalism to the police department that Commerce had never had before," said Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. "He could deal with the public as well as the people his officers arrested. He will be greatly missed."


Chamber To Support School SPLOST Renewal
Hoping to help the three school systems in the county snare up to $43 million over five years, the board of directors of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce has endorsed extension of the special purpose local option sales tax for education.
The current tax is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, but will likely expire two to three months earlier after meeting its $25 million revenue cap, Jefferson school superintendent John Jackson told the chamber's board of directors at its Friday meeting. If the voters approve an extension, the tax would resume without a break.
The board voted to draft a resolution endorsing the passage Sept. 18 to continue collection of the tax. If the referendum passes, the formula provides that the Jackson County School System will receive 64.57 percent of the receipts, Jefferson will receive 18.92 percent and Commerce 16.51 percent. The breakdowns are based on student populations of the three school systems.
If the $43 million cap is reached, the county system would receive $27.8 million, Jefferson would get $8.1 million and Commerce would receive $7.1 million. The projections include annual growth of eight percent. The current tax has grown by 10 percent per year.
"At the rate we're growing, we've got to create classroom space one way or the other," Jackson observed. "It (the current SPLOST) has been a godsend for Jefferson, no doubt about it."
"Why would anyone vote against it?" asked Wayne Parker of Alltel. "Give me a good, solid reason."
"There is no good, solid reason," responded Jim Joiner.
"I can't think of a good solid reason," Jackson added. "But that's what makes a surprise a surprise."
The superintendents of the three systems plan to develop a joint plan to promote passage of the tax, and the chamber board asked that the superintendents make a recommendation on how the chamber can help.
One of the major selling points of the education SPLOST is that more than half of the income is derived from purchases made by travelers along Interstate 85, particularly in the Tanger II outlet centers. The alternative to the sales tax, the educators say, is to fund the necessary classroom construction with bonds paid off with ad valorem taxes. The taxpayers benefit additionally, they say, because SPLOST-funded work carries no indebtedness, reducing its overall cost.
Jackson County already has another elementary school on the drawing board, while Commerce plans to construct a new middle school so it can split its elementary school into a primary school and an elementary school. Jefferson, Jackson says, has more renovations and additions in its plans.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News or the Jackson Herald.


It's Graduation Time Friday At CHS, JCCHS
Sixty-five Commerce High School and 213 Jackson County Comprehensive High School seniors will take the final steps in their high school careers Friday night.
The CHS graduation will be at 8:00 at Tiger Stadium and the JCCHS graduation will be at the same time at Panther Stadium.
CHS GRADUATION
After receiving their diplomas from school board chairman Steve Perry and the traditional changing of the tassel from the left side of their caps to the right, the seniors' post-secondary educations will end.
The ceremony starts at 8:00. Students, the high school faculty, board of education members and city council members will march in caps and gowns onto the field. In the event of rain, the ceremony will take place in the gym.
Christy Westmoreland is the valedictorian, Brody Bearden is the salutatorian and will both speak, as will honor graduates Chris Rhoads and Laura Dinsmore. Their theme will be the Ralph Waldo Emerson poem, "What is Success?"
Other honor graduates will include Chris Balthazor, Michael Collins, Candice Dailey, Leigh Davidson, Monique Diamond, Vans Randell Kinsey, Stephanie Markov, Wes Massey, Joseph Pinson, Jennifer Reece, Alma Rodriguez, Elizabeth Roller, Holly Saxton, Tiffany Smallwood, Joseph Turpin, Washeka Wheeler and Keo Wood.
JCCHS GRADUATION
The speakers will include valedictorian Augustin Luna, whose speech is entitled "Space Monkeys," and salutatorian Abby Spruill, who will speak on "Leave Your Mark."
Others on the program include: Tim Murphy, senior class vice president, pledge; Christie Smith, senior class treasurer, welcome; Alex Rudio, senior class president, present the senior class; Shumira Smith, senior class secretary, conferring of diplomas; and Blake Wilson, honor graduate, moment of silence. The JCCHS band will provide music and the JCCHS marshals will present the flags.
Honor graduates include: Christopher Charles Adams, Sheena Leigh Borders, Andy Nelson Brock, Margaret Anna Brock, April Michelle Cantrell, Cecilia Montez Davis, Adam Gene Doss, Crystal Rae Edge, Megan Elizabeth Elliott, Sara Marie Freeland, Rosalind Marie Golob, Justin Craig Gunter, Travis Joel Hewell, Shianne Cirae Jackson, Haley Boldt Johnson, Marcus Blake Kenny, Crystal Lynn Kinney, Augustin Luna, Amanda Joyce Meeler, Lindsay Elizabeth Mims, Cynthia Renea Nation, John Devin Phillips, Rebecca Elizabeth Puckett, Heather Rae Randazzo, Ashley Nicole Ray, Steve Rosales, Alexandra Marie Rudio, Megan Elizabeth Rundell, Michael James Savage, Anita Marie Smith, Christie Latasha Smith, Shandra Shumira Smith, Abby Elizabeth Spruill, Sarah Louise Stark, Shannon Lee Stephens, Christopher Michael Tullis, Misty Roxanne Turpin, Samuel Coy Veal, Shannon LaShae Watson, Beatrice Belinda Wilburn, Michael Allen Wilburn, Christopher Blake Wilson, Fallon Leeann Winn and Kong Meng Xiong.


Water may not flow until Jan. 1
The latest completion date for the Bear Creek Reservoir is Sept. 4, but Jackson County members of the Upper Oconee Basin Authority say they're not counting on getting water from the reservoir until Jan. 1.
At last Wednesday's meeting of the authority, which is building the regional reservoir in southwest Jackson County, engineer George Byrd made the Sept. 4 estimate. But Harold Fletcher, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, did not sound convinced.
"When can we reasonably expect to begin getting treated water out of that project?" he asked. "Can we reasonably expect to get any treated water this year?" "Yes," Byrd responded.
But at the close of the meeting Fletcher and Elton Collins, Commerce, both agreed not to expect water before Jan. 1.
That view of the completion date provides a worst-case scenario for financial planning. In theory, Jackson County has to begin making monthly payments of $149,000 for debt service starting July 1 and monthly payments for operating expenses once the water plant is running.
If it makes those payments into a sinking fund, it will be able to make its Jan. 1 share of the first bond payment ­ $644,377. Its cost will be slightly higher if it makes a single lump-sum payment, to account for lost interest in the sinking fund.
The problem for Jackson County is that officials have counted on being able to sell water from the reservoir to pay for both capital and operating expenses. Fletcher's and Collins' assumption that there will be no water available until Jan. 1 means that they must plan to make those payments from other revenue.
Even if it is late, the $60.7 million project is winding down. As of last Wednesday, the reservoir was more than one-third full (by elevation) at the 650-foot level.
"We are getting close to the point where we'll be able to provide Beers (builder of the water plant) with testing water through the 36-inch line from Oconee County," said Jim Wrona, project manager for Jordan, Jones & Goulding Inc., which is overseeing the entire project. "Hopefully, next week we will be filling and testing some of the concrete structures."
Once the water plant is operational, it can transport treated water to Jackson, Barrow and Oconee counties. It will take those counties some time to test and purify the large lines that transmit the water to the counties, steps that must be taken before water can go to customers.
Water can be removed from the lake as soon as the plant is ready, even were the lake only one-third full. The filling process has slowed down; the Safe Dams division of the Environmental Protection Division will allow the lake level to rise at a rate of two feet per week until the lake is two-thirds full, and then it can be filled at the rate of one foot per week. In addition, the drought may affect the speed with which the lake can be filled, since that affects the flow rate of the Middle Oconee River, from which the water is pumped.
"There are some people who don't believe in Santa Claus and people who don't believe it'll ever be full of water," observed Eddie Elder, chairman.



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Grad test a struggle for some students
Science and social studies remained problematic for local high school juniors this year. Nearly 25 percent of juniors at Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Jefferson High School failed the science portion of the state graduation test the first time they took it. About 15 percent failed the social studies portion of the required test.
The students have four more chances to take the graduation test before graduation next spring.
As a result of not passing a portion of the graduation test, 10 JCCHS students will not receive a diploma at graduation Friday night. Two JHS students also did not receive a diploma at graduation two weeks ago because they never passed all parts of the graduation test.
"Science and social studies remain low across the state," said Jackson County curriculum director Mary Leuzinger. "I think we need to investigate why that happens. Are our courses not aligned with the test? I don't have the answers, but I do have a lot of questions."
Assistant principal at JCCHS Jan Scales said that the school's low social studies scores are partly because of the block scheduling. Students who take U.S. history during the spring semester do not receive all of the information they need to score well on that portion of the test, she said.
The highest percent passing a subject at JCCHS was in English, where 98 percent passed. The highest percentage at JHS was in math, where 97 percent passed.
Pat Blenke, principal at JCHS, said that six students had perfect scores, four in English and two in math, but he said that the school still has some improvements that need to be made. Both he and Leuzinger said they plan to target raising the number of students scoring in the pass plus category. Pass plus is the number of students scoring above the state average.
The graduation test will be phased out in a few years to be replaced by end of course testing.


Parent reps named to local school councils
Parent representatives to the new local school councils have been named at the Jefferson and Jackson County school systems.
Business and faculty representatives will also be named to serve on these councils, which are a part of the governor's education reform legislation approved last year.
Those named to the Jefferson High School Council were John Bryant and Wayne Price. Parents serving on the Jefferson Middle School council will be Anita Duck and Gay Blenke. Those serving on the Jefferson Elementary School council will be Bart Richards and Angela McKinney.
Parents named to serve on the Jackson County school councils include: David Freeman and Vicki Whitmire, Maysville Elementary; Cynthia Williams and Nancy Greeson, North Jackson Elementary; Terry Hill and Juli Wisotsky, South Jackson Elementary; Lori Biddle and Sandy Bates, West Jackson Primary; Jim Becker and Carey Waldrip, West Jackson Intermediate; Trent Strickland and Jenny Sosebee, Jackson County Comprehensive High; Lisa Thompson and Kenneth Cotton, Benton Elementary; Max Allen and Karol Powell, West Jackson Middle School; and Tamara Head and Stephanie Potts, East Jackson Middle.
EJMS has also named its other representatives and they are as follows: business leaders Timothy Cornelison and Pam Watkins and teachers Rachel Parr and Tommy Benton.
The councils will function as advisory boards for each school. They are part of a trend in education of "site-based decision-making" which attempts to include more parental and community input into school operations.