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Jefferson golf enthusiast becomes PCS-certified Class A
Jefferson's John Segars has been named a certified Class A Clubmaker
by the Professional Clubmakers' Society, according to a press
release from the PCS this week.
Father and son both victorious on eve of Father's Day
It couldn't have been scripted any better for two Maysville residents.
The father is a former late model driver and NASCAR regional
champion who recently decided to come out of retirement after
a four-year hiatus.
Summer Hoops For Commerce Tigers
The Commerce Tigers' basketball team has been competing against
area teams in a summer schedule that is more about practice than
Peach State back in action Saturday
A week after operations were temporarily suspended by track owners,
engines will fire once again at Peach State Speedway Saturday,
for a special Fan Appreciation Night.
Neighboorhood News ..
BOE hires new legal counsel
The Madison County school board hired the law firm of Sam Harben
and Phil Hartley of Gainesville as the school system's new legal
counsel Tuesday night.
Jury selected for Wymbs trial
A jury of six men and seven women, including one alternate, will
determine the guilt or innocence of Albert Wymbs. Wymbs is accused
of murdering Angela Harris at her home on the Ila Road near the
Clarke County line.
Fire destroys Homer residence
The home of Homer native John Nation burned to the ground Sunday
afternoon. Nation, who was not seriously injured in the fire,
said he was watching a race on television when he noticed how
hot the house had become.
Banks Countians to receive Indian names from chief
Rene´ Hudler, Commerce, has earned the honor of receiving
her "Indian name" from Chief Edwin "Wamblee"
Poulan of the Southern Band of the Cherokee.
The Jackson Herald
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BIG SPLASH AT VBS
Vacation Bible School worker Keyonia Randolph got
all wet as this youngster successfully completed the balloon
burst during last week's VBS Field Day at Gordon Street Park.
The event was held as part of VBS week at St. Paul First Baptist
BOC says 'No' to
Earth Resources landfill request
North Jackson residents opposed to a landfill locating on Lanier
Road had reason to celebrate Monday night, but the battle likely
isn't over yet.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners unanimously denied
a request from Earth Resources for a conditional use permit for
94.48 acres on Lanier Road, zoned I-2, to locate a construction
Developer Sonny Dinsmore of Earth Resources and attorney Robert
Lovett of Macon didn't say whether they plan to appeal the decision,
but county leaders anticipate that they will. Lovett did imply
in a letter to the BOC that the developer would appeal a denial.
"Where a county has established zoning criteria such as
yours, the law states that you must approve the application where
the applicant has met all of the applicable zoning criteria,"
he wrote. "Earth Resources Inc. has met your criteria and
they are entitled to a favorable decision, if you follow your
laws...Your failure to follow your own ordinances, rules and
regulations would effect the applicant's constitutional rights
which will be enforced in the courts."
North Jackson residents and other countians spoke at several
recent meetings in opposition to the landfill plans. City leaders
from Pendergrass and Braselton also spoke on the negative impact
the landfill would have on their jurisdictions.
Commissioners Sammy Thomason, Stacey Britt and Tony Beatty voted
to deny the request. Commissioner Emil Beshara excused himself
from the discussion and didn't vote on the matter. Many of the
opponents of the project were in the audience and applauded after
the request was denied.
Lovett asked the BOC for the reasons for the denial and Thomason
said they are the same ones given by the planning commission
in its recommendation that the request be denied. Planning and
development director David Clabo read those reasons as follows:
the proposed use is not suitable in view of the use of adjacent
and nearby property, the conditional use would have an adverse
impact on surrounding and nearby property, the property has a
reasonable economic use as is currently zoned, the conditional
use would create an overcrowding of existing road and the proposed
use doesn't conform to the county land use plan.
plagued by sewer line, water problems
A request for two construction change orders Thursday brought
to light a host of problems the Jefferson City Board of Education
is having with work at the new Jefferson Middle School. The problems
include unusable sewer lines and confusion over water hook-up
specifications on a project that is already some $1 million over
budget due to grading and paving costs.
BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins took Southern A&E to task, via
representative Mike Raeisghasem, for flaws in the design stages
of the JMS and Jefferson High School fieldhouse work that he
said have resulted in lost time and money for the school system,
as well as strained relations with the City of Jefferson over
the water hook-up issues.
The change order requests were for $3,158 for additional hardware
and windows needed at JMS and for $4,130 for wiring, a new electrical
panel, breakers and conduits needed for the fieldhouse project.
Raeisghasem said the JMS items and the fieldhouse electrical
items were not included in the designs for the projects.
"Enough is enough," Hopkins said, adding that the amount
of time he and superintendent Dr. John Jackson have had to spend
on dealing with the problems is inexcusable. "It's not just
the $3,000 (for a change order), it's what this has cost us in
other resources," he added.
From the start, the sewer line work has been problematic at the
JMS school site. However, Hopkins revealed Thursday that the
sewer line has not only been installed improperly, it is also
the wrong kind and will have to be completely pulled out and
the project started again.
Dr. Jackson clarified that, from what he has surmised through
related conversations, the sewage lines were drawn incorrectly
to begin with, with a line drawn on paper to a location where
in actuality it could not be hooked up. The line had to be re-directed
and is now longer than originally anticipated.
Similarly, the plans for water hook-up were also flawed because
the specifications do not necessarily meet those set by the City
of Jefferson, Dr. Jackson said.
"Getting water run to the site has been delayed while it's
figured out who is responsible for what," he added. "It's
time it was resolved."
Water and sewage problems aside, the JMS project looks as if
it will come in at a cost some $1 million over what the school
board had budgeted, Dr. Jackson said.
"We got a figure from the architect that was supposed to
include construction costs and grading and paving as well,"
he explained. "We set our budget based on that and gave
ourselves a little cushion...But perhaps (grading and paving)
were not included in that cost, although it was our understanding
that it was."
Dr. Jackson said he and the school board had questioned the initial
total cost several times. Now, he said, it appears as if the
total cost for the building will run around $5.7 million, about
what the board had anticipated the whole project would cost.
The paving and grading will add an extra $1 million to that,
for a total project cost of $6.7 million.
Although the school board approved the change orders and payment
of bills Thursday for construction work, Raeisghasem pointed
out that $40,000 has been held back from the Salloum Construction
Company bill until the JMS site water and sewage problems are
resolved. The board approved payment of $324,948 to Salloum,
$1,884 to Southern A&E and $165,266 to Driver Construction
Company for work on the JHS gym and field house.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.
GBI Probe Of Police
Funds To End Soon
The investigation into allegations of embezzlement against Commerce's
late police chief George Grimes will probably end in a week.
City Manager Clarence Bryant said he expects the Georgia Bureau
of Investigation to wind up its probe "late this week or
The city summoned the GBI after finding empty envelopes that
should have held cash payments for traffic fines and forfeitures.
The envelopes, still containing receipts, were in boxes under
the police chief's desk. The theory is that Grimes took the money,
and speculation is that the amount dating back to 1997 could
be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I haven't heard anything recently from the GBI," said
Bryant on Monday.
Officers accompanied Grimes' widow to his Commerce apartment,
where they reportedly found still more of the empty envelopes.
And while rumors persist that officers found drugs and pornography,
the GBI's only focus is on the missing money, according to acting
police chief Aubrey Pittman.
"We went over there with his wife to make sure she got everything
she needed. There were other envelopes, which we turned over
to the GBI," said Pittman, who declined other comment out
of concern for jeopardizing the GBI probe.
Pittman also said officers found a single rock of crack cocaine
in a "junk drawer" in Grimes' desk at the police station,
but said there is no suspicion that Grimes was selling, using
or stealing drugs.
The GBI took Grimes' computer for analysis.
The city is advertising for a police chief in local and area
newspapers, on the web site of the Georgia Municipal Association
and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Bryant said.
By the fourth week in July, Bryant hopes to begin narrowing the
field, though he hasn't decided yet on the exact process.
"I will probably come up with a short list, but I may bring
in somebody from the Georgia Police Officers Standards and Training
Council or the Association of Chiefs of Police to go through
and see what they come up with," he said. "I've done
Bryant also indicated that representatives from one of those
two groups may be asked to give input on the qualifications and
check the references of applicants.
One of the criteria used for selection will be the applicants'
"We want somebody who's community policing oriented,"
Bryant said. "Certification is always important, and we're
going to look at references too."
FOCUS ON MONEY HANDLING
One result of the alleged embezzlement is that departments that
handle money have been asked to submit to City Hall a detailed
explanation of the funds they receive and the procedures used
to account for the money. Aside from the Police Department, those
are the Commerce Public Library and the Recreation Department.
The process for handling police funds has already been changed.
Bryant said he and city clerk Shirley Willis go to the police
station each Monday morning and collect all of the fines and
forfeitures money. Willis and the police dispatcher on duty total
up the money, match the amount with what the police receipt book
says, and then Willis and Bryant take the money to City Hall,
after which they send a receipt back to the Police Department.
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Elton Collins named
county water authority's new chairman
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has its first
new chairman in six years.
With his term of office expired, Alex Bryan resigned as chairman
at Thursday night's meeting, and the authority elected Commerce
banker Elton Collins to replace him.
Bryan, who became chairman in 1996, will remain on the board
until a successor is elected. The authority tried twice to get
special legislation approved amending the authority's bylaws
so members could serve an unlimited number of terms on the authority.
The first attempt failed when the authority crossed then Rep.
Scott Tolbert over the Water Wise controversy; the second attempt
failed when the Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided
to change the legislation too late in the legislative session.
Theoretically, Bryan could remain on the board for years, but
no one has any indication of what the county commissioners plan.
Authority members had strongly urged the commissioners to find
a way to keep Bryan active because of his knowledge and experience.
Authority members receive no pay.
"I am going to step down as chairman," Bryan announced
Thursday night. "This job takes a lot of commitment and
I feel like I've given a lot to this authority."
Bryan said that while the authority tried to work with the board
of commissioners as closely as possible, it is important that
it remain autonomous, and he challenged the commissioners to
"keep electing good people" to the authority.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.
The request by a Commerce woman to rezone 29 acres on Hospital
Road so apartments could be built ran into a snag Monday night.
The Commerce Planning Commission voted to recommend that the
city council deny the request on the grounds that the city's
comprehensive land use plan calls for high-density, single-family
development in the area and because the area already has an abundance
of rental units.
Developer Mike Britt, Snellville, plans to buy the property and
put up 240 apartment units on the site.
The Commerce City Council will make the final decision on the
request at its July 9 meeting at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.
In other business, the planning commission approved the final
plat for Shades Crest, a duplex development on Hospital Road;
approved the preliminary plat for the three-lot Pecan Grove Subdivision
on Jefferson Road at Washington Street and approved the final
plat of Brentwood Estates.
Jackson Co. To
Join 'Keep Georgia Beautiful' Program
Jackson County leaders agreed Monday night to join the Keep Georgia
Board of commissioners member Sammy Thomason made the motion
to join the program, which includes litter control and recycling
education programs. The fee to join is $2,500 and it will come
from the county's contingency fund.
"I think it is quite important," Thomason said.
At a board of commissioners meeting earlier this month, Lynn
Cobb, manager of the Keep Georgia Beautiful program, asked Jackson
County leaders to participate in the program. Cobb said that
the program provides public education on environmental issues
such as litter prevention, waste minimization, beautification
and economic development and water conservation. Annual events
include the Great American Cleanup and the Chipper Christmas
Tree Recycling program.
Cobb said there are 63 affiliates in the state, including most
all counties surrounding Jackson.