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Why we must confront the illicit use of video poker
There are people in the halls of our state
capitol who say I am frantic about the unchecked growth of illicit
video poker gambling in Georgia. I am.
Even Granddad was a Braves fan
As my grandfather grew closer to the end
of his life, he had whittled his activities down to two: he watched
television, mostly sports and mostly baseball, and he cared for
Directions to Area Schools
Banks County Recreation Department summer events posted
Maysville holds closed meeting for 'personnel'
The Maysville City Council met in closed session for two and
a half hours Thursday night for a "specific personnel matter."
Grimes Suspected Of Embezzlement
The man who was Commerce's top law enforcement officer for 14
years until his death June 1 is now suspected of embezzling thousands
of dollars from the city of Commerce.
Chamber to locate office in old county courthouse
Madison County commissioners approved office space in the old
county courthouse for the Chamber of Commerce Monday night. The
Chamber agreed to a five-year lease for use of the old probate
judge's office and adjoining space.
Wymbs case may open next week
Prosecutors hope to open the trial of Albert Wymbs next week.
Wymbs, of Creekwood Drive in Hull, was charged with the November
1996 stabbing death of Angela Harris in her parents' home near
the Clarke County line off Hwy. 106 in Madison County.
The Banks County News
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Mobile home park stirs controversy in Baldwin
Residents living on Charlie Davis Road attended the Baldwin
City Council meeting Monday to voice their disapproval of the
rezoning of 45 acres to accommodate a new 172-unit mobile home
Baldwin mobile home
The Baldwin City Council agreed in a 3-1 vote Monday night to
approve the controversial rezoning request of Sterling Investment
Partners to develop an "upscale" 172-unit mobile home
park on Charlie Davis Road.
The vote came after a public hearing Monday that included statements
from Habersham County residents living on the road outside the
Attorney Chan Caudell represented property owners Dean and Kay
Swanson, who do not want to see the area developed in that manner.
They said in a letter to the council that the road is too dangerous
to handle the additional traffic that 172 homes would bring.
They also stated that the rezoning does not hold with the traditional
use of the area.
Another issue they cited was the lack of notification of the
zoning hearing. Though Baldwin officials had posted a sign, it
had been nearly covered with kudzu, they said. They did not feel
this was appropriate notification.
Caudell suggested the council take the rezoning seriously.
"This is not something you want to do just to make money,"
he told the council.
He suggested the council had not taken into consideration the
impact the development would have on the road and the school
system by increasing the city's population 20 percent. He also
said the Habersham commissioners are not happy with the increase
in size of the mobile home subdivision.
The mobile home park would also decrease property values in the
area, according to Caudell. Further, since they depreciate upon
leaving the lot, as a car does, the tax base would diminish,
He asked if Sterling Investment Partners had done an environmental
impact study and pointed out the planned road into the development,
as shown on the drawings, would cover an existing springhead.
He also questioned the impact on a nearby stream.
"When you go from 50 lots to 172, you've got to present
more than just 'We're gonna provide the city with x amount of
dollars because we're going to tie into water and sewer,'"
he said. "There are some serious concerns on this type of
The Upper Chattahoochee River Keepers are interested in the project
as well, said Caudell.
Another problem, he said, would be to get power to the park.
In speaking with Georgia Power, Caudell said that he was told
that the power company would not allow access into the existing
easement. He said there would be a problem getting new easements
from adjoining property owners and that if Georgia Power is granted
easements, they would have to pay a high price. "There is
a property owner by the name of Gailey," Caudell said. "Mitchell,
I don't know what relation that is to you, but that could be
of concern." Council member Mitchell Gailey replied that
the person is his cousin.
Caudell said "it was interesting" that the title search
showed the title work had been done by the same firm as the city's
Caudell recommended that Sterling be required to perform an environmental
impact study and a traffic impact study before approval of the
Mayor Mark Reed's response was that property along Highway 365
was already planned to be zoned high density by Habersham County
authorities in 1992 and invited the group to look at the documents
spread out on a table that showed the county's designation of
the land. He read the stipulations that the council needed to
follow in deciding their vote and said that some of the points
of the resident's argument were in the zoning ordinance.
Mark Brown, a property owner along Charlie Davis Road, said:
"Let's don't lose the concept of why the majority of us
are here. It's a safety issue. They may be able to develop an
A-1 development, but the traffic issue's the problem. That road
cannot support any additional traffic. The taxpayers of Habersham
County are not going to want to spend hard-earned income to make
a road better just for a 45-acre development."
Councilman Robert Bohan-non asked Bryan Wright if he had been
in contact with the county concerning improving the road. Wright
responded: "They're not going to improve Charlie Davis Road
until there's some development."
Adjacent land owner Carol Lovell suggested the council ask the
Georgia Mountains Regional Development Author-ity to do a study
on the impact of a development that size for the city at no cost.
Council member Ray Holcomb said he wanted the issue tabled until
further impact studies could be done and made such a motion.
It was not seconded and was declared dead. A motion to rezone
the 45 acres was then made and council members Bohannon, Gailey
and Jeff Bohannon voted in favor of the rezoning. Ray Holcomb
voted against it.
Caudell said he would talk over the outcome with the Swansons
and see what they wanted to do. They may choose to appeal the
council's decision. One of the property owners present said,
"It ain't over."
asks BOC to lower tax collection fee
Banks County school leaders are asking the board of commissioners
to lower the tax collection fee the board of education is being
Superintendent Deborah White and BOE chairman Neal Brown asked
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady to lower the tax collection fee, White
told the board members at the school board meeting Monday night.
She said that based on the current fee of 2.5 percent, the school
board has paid $454,501 in the last five years. Last year alone,
the board paid $115,787, almost enough, White said, to run the
tax collection office.
Meanwhile, White said, the board has had to borrow money from
Regions Bank to pay its bills because tax notices are not sent
out on time.
"When they're late collecting taxes, then we pay more interest,"
For the 2000-2001 school year, the system borrowed $1 million
and paid $22,957 in interest before the tax money was available.
In three years, the system has borrowed $3.1 million and paid
$65,283 in interest.
White told the board that Brady said he would talk to the other
commissioners and they would consider doing away with the fee
or reducing it. Brown said it needs to be rolled back and a cap
put on it.
Go to Banks
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must leave cell phones at home
Banks County students will no longer be able to carry cellular
phones or pagers to school, according to a new policy passed
by the board of education Monday night.
Students who disobey the new policy "shall be subject to
placement in an alternative education program."
Board member Bo Garrison said he had a problem with the new policy
at the work session Thursday night and at the regular meeting
"I think kids should be able to have cell phones for safety
reasons if they're turned off," said Garrison. "I send
my daughter off with one every day. It's turned off."
Superintendent Deborah White told Garrison that the policy was
mandated by the state and it must be passed.
"It must be passed for safety reasons," she said. "The
state is concerned about students using cell phones for drug
deals and if the school has a real bomb threat, the cell phone
can set [the bomb] off."
Garrison said that if students aren't allowed to carry them,
then school employees should not be allowed to carry them either.
White agreed, saying that the issue will be addressed.
Another one of the new policies outlined the alternative school
program, which the county will soon provide in conjunction with
Commerce and Jefferson city school systems. The policy states
that the program will provide a learning environment that includes
the quality core curriculum. The program is designed for students
who are suspended from the regular classroom as well as students
who are more likely to succeed in a nontraditional setting. According
to the policy, the same amount of federal, state and local funds
will be allocated to any student, whether in the regular program
or the alternative program.
The board approved eight other policies, which were based on
new state guidelines. The policies handled expulsion, suspension,
requiring immunizations, duty-free lunch for kindergarten through
fifth-grade teachers, procedure for non-renewal of contract and
separation, fingerprinting all employees, the necessity of having
two-way radios on school buses and removing any board conflict