News from Madison County...

May 30, 2001


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Gov't should return more of our money

A number of people have expressed their approval of the Bush tax cut.

Margie Richards
Thinking about P.U.P.

He was just a half grown dog.
Friendly yet shy, he wound his way in and out of the parade at the Hull Spring Festival last Saturday, wagging his tail and making many folks, including me, smile at the sight.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools


Swann helps guide diamond Dogs to NCAA Super Regionals

If the University of Georgia baseball team's postseason journey finds its way to Omaha, Neb., former Raider Adam Swann will surely be remembered for doing his part to clear the path.


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.



News from...
JACKSON
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.

Grad test a struggle for some students
Science and social studies remained problematic for local high school juniors this year.


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The Madison County Journal
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HEE HAW

Ila Elementary School teachers donned fake teeth, straw hats and overalls Thursday as they performed a Hee Haw sketch to entertain students. See more pictures in this week's Madison County Journal.




MCHS tassels to be turned Friday
Approximately 210 Red Raider seniors will "turn their tassels" this Friday night, beginning a new chapter in their lives as they leave high school behind.
The Madison County High School graduating class of 2001 will hold commencement exercises beginning at 8 p.m. at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Each senior will be given eight (8) tickets for family members and friends. (Tickets are required to attend the ceremony.)
Students selected to speak during the ceremony are: valedictorian Shelley Bates, salutatorian Drew Perry, Rebecca Booker, Drew Brantley, Brad Kirk and Jason Chappell.
Seventy seniors in the Class of 2001 will end their high school careers as honor graduates. They are: Jane Aaron, Jana Ackerman, Laura Adams, Maria Adams, Shamekia Allen, Charity Askins, Julie Atkinson, Shelley Bates, Rebecca Booker, Amy Booth, Drew Brantley, Arrie Brown, Nikki Browning, Marianne Bryant, Nicole Cavanaugh, Jason Chappell, Jamie Christian, Sara Duceatt, Aaron Duncan, Tonya Epps, Brittney Escoe, Josh Ferguson, Sara Fitzpatrick, Preston Fortson, Erin Gaines, Leannah Hamman, Tessa Hollis, Aiyana Hunter, Cynthia Jones, Heather Jones, Adam Jordan, Rodney Kesler, Brad Kirk, Michael Mann, Sheena Mason, Renee Mathews, Mira May, Megan McCay, Ellie McCoy, Steven McDonald, Crystal McGinnis, Molly Menken, Josh Miller, Travis Moak, Lori Moon, Candace Morgan, Ashley Myers, Crystal Nicholson, Valerie Norman, Drew Perry, Marlana Phillips, Ashley Poole, Stacy Reese, Angela Rice, Lacinda Royston, Lara Sanders, Ashley Shubert, Bonnie Simmons, Christine Simmons, Jonathan Smith, Phillip Smith, Stacie Smith, Donny Stamper, Matthew Steed, Alice Stone, Lauren Stopczynski, Ashley Waller, Will Wilkerson, Leigha Willoughby and Kelly Wynn.


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.
Fifth district member Ric Power first moved to rescind the board's earlier unanimous vote to approve supplements to all coaches except Kesler. At a suggestion from chairman Robert Haggard, Patton amended his motion to have Kesler added to the list of coaches who receive a pay supplement for their extra work as coaches.
Power, along with Jim Patton and Chairman Robert Haggard, voted for the motion. John Mason and Elaine Belfield voted no.
Belfield told the large number of players and parents in the audience that she has not received answers to some of her questions.
"I just want you to know why I am voting this way," she said.
Kesler, whose teams have gone 72-27 over the past three years, said he will accept the board's vote to reinstate him.
"I am pleased with the decision and look forward for the opportunity to work with the girls again this fall," said Kesler Wednesday morning.
In other business, the board heard an appeal from Gerald Ingram, chairman of the Friends of the Library, for funds to cover a shortfall of $32,850 covering the period of July 1 to Dec. 31, 2001. In previous years, the board of education and board of commissioners have split the local contribution to the library. But school board attorney Lane Fitzpatrick has said that, according to law, school money cannot be used to finance non-school agencies. This led the board of education to withdraw future support. The library funding shortfall was created due to the difference between the board of education's fiscal year and that of the board of commissioners.
The commissioners have agreed to fund the entire local share, amounting to approximately $130,000. In turn, the BOC has started collecting the 2.5 percent commission from all board of education tax collections allowed by state law.
Elaine Belfield said that since the BOC is already taking out the tax commissions, they should make up the shortfall. She suggested that she might speak to the BOC to make her point.
In other actions, the board selected a business person to sit on each school committee. They chose Bart Combs for the Colbert Elementary committee; Harry Cannon or Linda Freeman, whichever can serve, for Comer Elementary; George Allen for Danielsville Elementary; Melanie Berryman for Hull Elementary, Dr. Robert Hooper for Ila Elementary; Cathy Bryant for Madison County Middle School and Dr. Michael Cobb for Madison County High School.


County approves contract with Colbert for old gym
Madison County commissioners gave final approval Monday to a lease agreement with the city of Colbert for the use of the old Colbert school gym by the county recreation department.
The lease is for $10 per year. A new provision in the contract states that the county will cover any repairs to the building costing up to $2,500. Anything over $2,500 will be turned over to the Colbert city council, which will then decide whether to do the repairs or terminate the contract.
The commissioners officially approved an $87,000 lease with Wachovia for two Ford pickup trucks, one for the BOC chairman and one for the recreation department. The lease agreement also includes a gravel spreader for the road department. The three-year lease requires a $2,588 monthly payment. The money for the purchases was included in the 2001 budget.
The BOC approved a matching grant for lighting improvements for the county library. The grant covers half of the projected $7,698 expense of the project, while the county will cover the remaining portion with funds and labor.
The board also approved a lease agreement with the Poca Fire Department for use of the old AT&T building, renewed a copier maintenance agreement for 911, approved a contract with the state Department of Transportation for the paving of Johnny McElroy Road, and postponed approval of a revised contract with the county's 11 fire departments for services the departments provide to the county.
The BOC agreed to hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m., June 26, in the county government complex on the proposed closing of Harold Payton Road. The board also planned a meeting with the sheriff, the magistrate judge and any interested citizens to discuss a new noise ordinance. The meeting will be held June 11 at 6 p.m. in the county government complex.
BOC chairman Wesley Nash asked the commissioners to drive to Payne Drive in Comer to look at a homeowner's gate which encroaches on the county's property.
The board also met in closed session to discuss several litigation issues but took no action after returning to the open session.


 


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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.
"We will likely have to borrow money again this fall," he said. "But I don't want that to happen next year."
Madison County school leaders began work on the 2001-2002 fiscal year budget Monday.
Cowne gave board members copies of documents covering expected income and expenses for the new school year along with a list of options covering things that need to be done. He pointed out that the budgeting process was delayed this year due to the system's recent financial problems, and his recent employment as superintendent. "We will not be this late next year," he said.
Madison County can expect to receive $20.61 million in state funds next year, an increase of $1.7 million. But the Governor's program mandates a 4.5 percent pay increase for school employees that will use up most of that increase.
The county's tax base has not been determined, but Cowne estimated that new state-mandated exemptions for timber and other categories will keep the digest from growing substantially. In addition, the Madison County Board of Commissioners has instructed the tax commissioner to withhold a 2.5 percent collection fee from school taxes, reducing local funds by over $100,000.
Board members must pass a new budget by July 1 or pass spending resolutions to cover expenses until a budget is completed.


Fortson case set for July 9
The murder trial of Tracy Lea Fortson is set for July 9 in Madison County.
Fortson is accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, Doug Benton of Colbert, last June and leaving his body encased in cement in a wooded area of Oglethorpe County.
The case, which was originally set for May 14, was postponed because crime lab reports were not available in time for the trial. Fortson's attorney filed for a change of venue earlier this year, but Judge Lindsay Tise reserved a decision on that motion until jury selection.
Fortson is being held on a $500,000 bond.


To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.