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June 13, 2001


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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 Cup standings
.

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 ..
MADISON COUNTY
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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS 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.


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MARKER UNVEILED


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 ceremony.


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."
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 matters.
The personnel issue apparently arose after council members received complaints about the police department.


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.
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 meeting.
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 recent wrecks
Five people have been killed in wrecks in Jackson County in the past week.
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 Center.
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.


Trimmed City 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 purchases.
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 SOURCES
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.



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Jefferson July 4th celebration set June 30
Plans are in the works for the annual Jefferson Independence Day celebration.
It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, in the downtown area. Plans include a band, children's activities, concessions and fireworks.
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.

Publix planned in Braselton
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 in Jefferson
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 2002.


Jefferson approves 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 values.
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.