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Peach State Speedway suspends operations
PEACH STATE Speedway has temporarily suspended all race track
operations, according to a press release Wednesday afternoon
from Southcorp Properties, Columbia, S.C.
Commerce 9 in GADA Directors Cup Standings
The Commerce athletic department was recognized by the Georgia
Athletic Directors Association when they announce their Director's
Renovations to JHS facilities on schedule
New sports seasons always mean significant changes for any program,
but the 2001-02 school year will bring big changes to a pair
of sports facilities at Jefferson High School.
Neighboorhood News ..
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.
Baldwin mobile home park approved
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.
Banks students 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.
The Jackson Herald
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Dennis Cook (facing camera) and Gaelen Gentzel remove
the Confederate flag to reveal a marker in Woodbine Cemetery
placed in memory of John James Alexander, who died during a Civil
War skirmish near Gordonsville, Va. Looking on is Sammy Parks.
See this week's Jackson Herlad for a story on the grave dedication
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."
No action was taken when the meeting was opened to the public,
but the discussion apparently involved the city police department.
The police chief and three officers were outside the meeting
room and on several occasions while the closed meeting was still
in session, the mayor, two council members and the city attorney
left the meeting room to go outside and talk to the officers.
At least one police officer was visibly upset while the council
members were outside talking to the group.
The meeting was finally resumed behind closed doors when two
other members of the council threatened to leave unless the meeting
was resumed back inside.
There was apparently first some discussion as to whether the
council would meet in closed session with the officers individually
or as a group. At one point, a member of the council went outside
and said: "If y'all don't come in five minutes, we're leaving."
It was eventually decided to meet with the officers individually
and they were called in one at a time.
When the meeting was opened to the public, city attorney Gary
Freeman said: "Tonight, we've evaluated each officer individually"
and added that the meetings had nothing to do with disciplinary
The personnel issue apparently arose after council members received
complaints about the police department.
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.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. announced at Monday's city council
meeting that "discrepancies" have been found in the
office of former police chief George Grimes and that the Georgia
Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation.
"The GBI is conducting a full investigation. What they will
find, we do not know," said Hardy at the beginning of the
The issue arose when police officers found under Grimes' desk
two boxes containing empty envelopes that at one time apparently
contained cash payments for fines and forfeitures from traffic
cases. The envelopes, which are normally taken to City Hall to
be opened, counted and deposited, contained only the receipts
issued when payment is made.
City manager Clarence Bryant summoned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation,
which he said expects to have a report in about two weeks.
"They did say today that there is no evidence that anyone
else is involved," Bryant said after the council meeting.
The GBI will likely tally up the amount of fines and forfeitures
recorded in the receipt book kept at the front desk at the police
station and compare that number to the deposits recorded at City
Hall to determine if money is missing.
Grimes died June 1 from a heart attack. He was 55.
Five killed in
Five people have been killed in wrecks in Jackson County in the
A Commerce woman was killed Saturday morning in a one-car accident
on Hwy. 129 North at the Jackson-Hall County line. The victim,
Camisha Renea Thompson, 24, was driving south at 2:30 a.m. when
the wreck occurred, according to reports. She reportedly left
the road and then apparently overcorrected which caused her car
to strike a sign. The car then crossed the highway and landed
in a ditch.
A passenger, Tameco Sims, 23, Commerce, was injured and taken
to BJC Medical Center in Commerce.
Two people were killed in another accident in the same general
area on Tuesday, June 5. This wreck was also on Hwy. 129 North,
just inside the Jackson County line.
Johnny Louie Hurt, 42, Talmo, and Deborah L. Overy, 45, Talmo,
were killed in the one-vehicle wreck. The driver of the vehicle,
Henry Lee Miller, 35, Talmo, was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical
Jefferson rescue chief Dennis Bullock said a man and a woman
were dead at the scene of the one-vehicle wreck that occurred
around 9 p.m. June 5 in the southbound lane of Hwy. 129, 500
feet inside the Jackson County line. The man was still inside
the car when rescue workers arrived, but the woman had been ejected.
The car was traveling south when it ran off the road and overturned
at least two times.
In the third wreck, on Wednesday, June 6, on Hwy. 330 in South
Jackson, a father and son from Athens were killed.
Allen Stephen Kline Sr., 46, Athens, and his son, Allen Stephen
Kline Jr., 20, also from Athens, were killed in the wreck. Both
of the victims were in the front seat. A third person, John A.
Dooley, 19, Athens, was transported to Athens Regional Medical
Center with visible injuries.
According to trooper Mark Cox of the Georgia State Patrol's Gainesville
office, the younger Kline was driving a 1989 Ford Bronco II eastbound
on Hwy. 330 toward Hwy. 129 from Winder at 4:50 p.m. He reportedly
lost control of the vehicle in a curve due to weather conditions,
ran off of the north shoulder of the road and overturned down
a 20 to 30 foot embankment before hitting a tree.
Budget Up 38% Over This Year
After trimming $2 million from the draft document, the Commerce
City Council approved a $27.2 million tentative budget for the
fiscal year starting July 1 Monday night.
That is 38.5 percent more than budgeted for the current fiscal
year and 20.4 percent more than the estimated actual spending
for the current year.
The city cut its budget by reducing capital expenditures, including
40 percent of the money earlier earmarked for expansion of the
city's sewage plant, a decision made because it appears that
the city will not be approved for financing as early as expected,
according to city manager Clarence Bryant.
The city manager also pointed out that some $800,000 allocated
for implementation this year of a community development block
grant were moved off budget. That project includes $500,000 in
state grant funds, $84,000 in Department of Transportation money
and the remainder in city obligations.
The budget was approved unanimously without discussion on a motion
made by Sam Brown.
The biggest jump in the budget is from the same source that caused
the city to miss its current budget natural gas. The FY
2000-2001 budget projected city spending of $4.3 million, but
when gas prices soared, the actual amount ended up at about $7.5
million. Thus the new budget projects almost $8 million for gas
GAS RATE HIKE
It also includes a rate increase for Commerce natural gas customers.
Last year, trying to shield city customers from some of the increased
gas costs, Commerce cut its per-unit profit margin from $2.50
to $1.75. Monday night it returned to the original margin.
"We wound up being one of the lowest in the state, but we
didn't make what we should have made," explained Mayor Charles
L. Hardy Jr. "This puts us somewhere in the middle statewide."
Revenue from the budget includes property taxes of almost $2
million, other taxes and franchise fees of $1.4 million, $70,000
in licenses and fees, $184,860 in utility-related fees, $190,750
in fines and forfeitures, $421,650 in city service fees (garbage
and revenue from the East Jackson Fire District), $788,179 in
grants, $54,000 in recreation fees and $9,700 in library fees.
In addition, the city will transfer $1.67 million from its utility
funds, most of it ($950,000) from its Gas Department.
The Gas Department is expected to generate $9.55 million in revenue
and $9 million in expenditures; the Electric Department is budgeted
to produce $4.2 million and spend about the same; and the Water
and Sewer Department is budgeted to have revenue of $6.5 million
(most of it earmarked for the sewer plant expansion) and expenditures
of about $6.5 million.
The budget includes $6.7 million in capital improvements.
Go to Jackson
Public Meeting Dates
Auto Parts &
Retail Stores & Outlets
Jefferson July 4th
celebration set June 30
Plans are in the works for the annual Jefferson Independence
It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, in the downtown
area. Plans include a band, children's activities, concessions
The children's games and activities will be from 6 to 9 p.m.
Other plans for the younger crowd will include a giant slide,
a moon walk and a train.
JABA will offer homemade ice cream, soft drinks, bottled water
and grilled hot dogs. Other concessions will also be offered.
Entertainment will be provided by the BTUs, a bluegrass band
from Athens. The fireworks will be at dark.
JABA members are looking for volunteers to assist with the celebration.
Those who would like to volunteer are asked to call Stephanie
at 367-6122 or Hela at 367-6146. Non-profit organizations and
civic groups are also invited to participate.
Watkins Associates, a company that develops shopping centers,
has plans to build a Publix supermarket near Château Élan
in Braselton. The Braselton City Council held a public hearing
on Thursday to discuss the contract and parking lot size.
Jeff Abrahams, a developer for Watkins Associates, said that
he has been involved with the development of hundreds of shopping
centers. His company has been building Publix supermarkets for
years in Florida and more recently in Georgia. The Publix on
Hamilton Mill Road, Sugarloaf Parkway and the newest one in Grayson
are projects that Abrahams has worked on.
The parking lot for the new Publix on Hwy. 211 is planned to
hold 10 cars per 1,000 square feet. Most parking lots are designed
for five cars per 1,000 square feet. This reduces the lot size
and has less of an impact on the environment by allowing more
trees and grass to grow, officials said.
Watkins Associates plans to start working on the project in six
months or less.
Food Lion to locate
A building permit has been issued to Jefferson Station Company,
Charleston, S.C., to locate a Food Lion grocery store in Jefferson.
The new grocery store will be located at 1000 Washington Street,
at the intersection of Hwy. 129 and Elder Drive. It is a $2.1
million development and will include several stores. The Food
Lion facility will be 39,180 square feet.
The plans also call for 7,200 square feet for a Dollar General
store and 3,600 square feet for other retail shops.
The grand opening for the shopping center is planned for February
Old Pendergrass Rd. subdivision
The Jefferson City Council approved a rezoning request Tuesday
night for a 54-home subdivision on Old Pendergrass Road.
The council unanimously approved the request from Gilleland-Merritt
to rezone 52.77 acres on Old Pendergrass Road from A-R and A-G
to R-1 to locate 54 single-family, site-built homes. The council
also agreed to annex the property into the city.
Two nearby property owners, Jennifer Scott and Deborah Fitzpatrick,
spoke in opposition to the plans. Scott, who lives on Long Farm
Road, said the plans don't meet the county's land use plan and
the development would "substantially impact" her property
Fitzpatrick said she is concerned with the inconsistency of zoning
in the area. She also said the project would "adversely
impact" the surrounding area. She asked that if the request
was approved that the lot size be increased and greenspace be
included in the plans.
One of the developers of the project pointed out that Jefferson
Walk, located across the street from the site, has 112 homes
in it and was approved by the council two years ago.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.