News from Jackson County...

June 27, 2001


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Commerce Finishes Second In District Tournament
The Commerce 16-and-under baseball team finished second in the district for the second time in five years. The Commerce recreation team made it into the finals of the weekend tournament against Banks County after defeating Lumpkin County Monday, June 24. The games were played in Homer.

Jackson County all stars win state USSSA championship
JEFFERSON and Commerce High Schools may have combined for four state championships during the 2000-01 school year, but a group of softball players from Jackson County, Commerce and Banks County claimed the USSSA Georgia All Star championship Saturday in Macon.

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JEFFERSON DRAGONS
Region 8-A


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY

Mistrial declared in Wymbs case
For a day-by-day summary of the murder trial of Albert Wymbs, see this weeks Madison County Journal.
Despite approximately five hours of deliberation, a Madison County jury could not agree last week on the guilt or innocence of Hull's Albert Wymbs, who was accused of killing Angela Harris in her parents' mobile home off Hwy. 106 in 1996.

BOC chairman seeks funds for Hwy. 98 sewer system
Madison County commission chairman Wesley Nash said he is still seeking grant money for a sewer system for the Hwy. 98 corridor to service a jail now under construction as well as several established county facilities.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Four children injured in church van accident
Four children were taken to BJC Medical Center Saturday morning following an accident at Highway 441 South and Interstate 85, according to Banks County volunteer assistant fire chief John Creasy. The four victims had visible bruises and lacerations and possible broken bones, he said.

Homer plans July 4 fireworks
Grab a picnic basket and a blanket and head to Homer on July 4 for the 18th annual fireworks display.
It will begin around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4. The display will be held at the home of Mac and Sandra Garrison on Highway 51, across from the Banks County Public Library.


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HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE

Phil Pepper's home on Johnson Mill Road was destroyed by a fire Monday morning. There were no injuries. Fire departments responding to the blaze were Arcade, Jefferson, Jackson Trail and the Jackson County Correctional Institute.


Rogers files lawsuit against Jackson County man
Hearing set Monday before Judge David Motes.
Country music star Kenny Rogers has filed a lawsuit against a Jackson County man and his brother for breach of contract in the purchase of his Oglethorpe County home.
Thomas and James Threatt were the high bidders, at $6.3 million, in the November 1999 auction for Rogers' home, Beaver Dam Farms. Rogers is suing the brothers for breach of contract. He is also suing their attorney, George E. Butler II, in connection with the case.
A hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in Jackson County Superior Court before Judge David Motes.
The lawsuit filed by Rogers alleges that the $634,250 "good faith" check the brothers gave was "bad" and that insufficient funds were in the bank. Rogers alleges that the Threatts stopped payment on the first check and issued a second one to be held by Butler.
"When the time came to close on the purchase agreement, the Threatt defendants reneged and failed to attend the closing," the lawsuit reads. "Butler failed to deliver the earnest money funds at the closing...Butler disclosed that at some point, he gave the replacement escrow check instead to the Threatts without the consent, permission or knowledge of the plaintiff."
The Threatts have filed a counterclaim against Rogers charging him with fraud and stating that personal items were removed from the home after the auction. Rogers says that only three items were removed, a mirror, a small figurine and two wall prints worth approximately $1,200.
"Those items were not listed in the purchase agreement, nor were they on the active equipment list that was part of the contract," according to reports. "Nevertheless, the plaintiff offered to deliver to the Threatts all of the items they complained about."
In their response, the Threatts allege that they were told several golf carts and other personal items were part of the purchase, but later found out that they were not. Thomas Threatt stopped payment on the "earnest money check" because these personal items were being removed from the home, according to the response.
"At the time of their initial post-auction visit to Beaver Dam Farms on Nov. 10, 1999, the Threatts observed that a number of items that were not 'personal effects' of Mr. Rogers had been removed from the property since the conclusion of the auction, including numerous golf carts, decorative accessories, works of art, weight room and dark room equipment, etc.," the response reads. "Ironically, his clothes and other 'personal effects' remained."
Beaver Dam Farms includes 360 acres in Oglethorpe County. On the property is a mansion, an equestrian facility, a guest house and other buildings and an 18-hole golf course. Rogers advertised in several media outlets about the auction, including the Wall Street Journal, the Atlanta Constitution and CNN. The National Auction Group handled the auction and conducted several open houses of the property.
The Threatts, who have owned and operated Ace Sand Company for 42 years, reportedly learned of the sale on the day it was held. They attended to find out if equipment would be sold and had no intent to purchase the property, according to the lawsuit.
In the past three decades, Rogers has recorded more than 58 albums which have sold over 100 million records worldwide. His honors include four Grammy Awards, 11 People's Choice Awards, 18 American Music Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards and five Country Music Association Awards.


It's City Lights Festival Time
Country Music Legends Perform Thursday And Friday; Festival Moves Downtown On SaturdayThe city of Commerce will bask in the lights cast by country music legends this week. A celebrity golf tournament, "dinner with the stars," the fourth annual City Lights Concert and a downtown festival Saturday are all part of Commerce's annual City Lights Festival.
This year's headliner ­ Charley Pride ­ may be the best known artist yet to accompany Bill Anderson to the festival, proceeds of which will go toward the eventual construction of the Bill Anderson Center for the Performing Arts.
Pride has recorded 36 number one songs and has more number ones for RCA records than any artist except Elvis Presley. He is best known for "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" and "Crystal Chandelier."
Anderson, himself a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, will also bring Little Jimmy Dickens (also a member), who is best remembered for "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up your Nose," which climbed to number one on the country charts and number 15 on the pop charts; and Jeannie Seely, whose "Don't Touch Me" was number one and helped her win a Grammy Award for the Best Female Performer in 1966.
"I can't think of another concert that will have three members of the Country Music Hall of Fame," said Anderson when he announced the concert lineup earlier this year. Pride is also a member of that group.
By the time the gates open at 6:00, it is likely that only the $5 general admissions (grandstands) seats will be left for the concert, which will open with The Jordans, a well-known local gospel group.
GOLF TOURNAMENT
The first event in the festival is the celebrity golf tournament Thursday morning at 10:00 at Eagle Greens Golf Course.
There will be 18 five-member teams and each team will have "the nearest thing we can get to a celebrity," says Jim Purcell, who is in charge of the event.
Celebrities include concert headliners Pride and Anderson, country musicians Jan Howard and Billy Walker, former National Football League star Terry Allen, Channel 32 news anchor Chuck Moore, WSB-TV sports personality Kristy Deere, former Commerce Tiger football and basketball standout (now a Tennessee Volunteer) Michael Collins, former University of Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo, former Commerce High School football coach and athletic director (currently a UGA football official) Ray Lamb and a yet-to-be named representative of the Georgia Tech athletic department.
The tournament features a lauderdale format and offers $2,500 in prize money. Dennis Brown will cook barbecue for sandwiches for lunch, and there will be prizes for closest to the pin on par three, longest drive and a raffle for a variety of prizes.
DINNER WITH THE STARS
The focus returns to music with the "Dinner with the Stars" Thursday night at 7:30 at the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church of Commerce.
There, some 250 people will enjoy a four-course meal followed by informal acoustical sets by Anderson, Seely and Walker. Every $50 ticket has been sold.
CITY LIGHTS
DOWNTOWN
The third day of the festival is strictly local, but it's also centered around music. From 9:00 to 2:00 there will be music on two stages in the downtown, one on State Street and the other on Little Street in front of the Commerce Post Office.
Between them and throughout the downtown will be scattered more than 30 booths or tables offering food, merchandise, crafts, plants or information.
The entire festival is aimed at raising money for a performing arts center to be located on school property. Previous concert/festivals have earned about $20,000 a piece, and efforts have been made to boost the revenue.
Anderson's publicist Betty Hoffer gave it a $2,500 shot in the arm, raising that much money by auctioning off a pair of Ronnie McDowell prints for $1,300 and getting Martha White Flour and Sony to donate a total of $1,200.
The celebrity golf tournament is a new wrinkle this year and is expected to increase the total take for the festival. In addition, groups performing at the festival and groups with booths will pay a nominal $10 fee to boost the take.
Actual turnout at the concert could depend a lot on the weather. All 1,000 of the $25 seats have been sold and most of the 1,000 $10 seats are already sold. What remains to be seen is how many general admission tickets will be sold.
"It's hard to tell, but I'd say we'll do at least as well as last year; probably better," said Gerald Jordan.


DOT to spend $46 million in county
The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to spend $46.1million in road and bridge improvements in Jackson County over the next four years.
In a report released last week at a DOT meeting in Carnesville, a list of projects including streetscape enhancements, road widenings and bridge replacements was given to the public.
Officials at the meeting said Georgia's increased population growth has led to demands on the statewide transportation system. This need to provide adequate and safe travel on Georgia roads led to the establishment of a program called the State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. "Each year Georgia gets around $1 billion from the federal transportation department to help finance these road improvements," said DOT engineer Todd Long.
The sum is split evenly among the 11 congressional districts in Georgia.
DOT District 1 gets anywhere from $90 to $100 million, he said. That has to be split among 19 northeast Georgia counties, including Jackson.
That federal money has to be matched by state funds in an 80 percent/20 percent split, Long added. The DOT gets the money through the 7.5-cents-per-gallon state gasoline tax and three cents of sales tax, totaling 10.5 cents on every gallon of gas.
Jackson County will benefit from STIP with several projects. One project will be the widening of 4.62 miles of US Route 129. Currently, the $12.434 million project is in the engineering phase. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2004.
Another is the widening of 11.9 miles of US Route 441 from the Clarke County line to the Commerce by-pass. At a cost of $31.396 million, this project will be funded through a new program, under the Governor's Road Improvement Project (GRIP).
"The idea of GRIP is to take 19 existing routes and link mid-size cities with four-lane highways," said Long.
The DOT is expected to begin purchasing property for the project next month. Construction is scheduled for 2004.
The planned road projects could have taken up to 30 years to complete due to waiting on yearly funding from the federal government, Long said. But Governor Roy Barnes decided that was too long to wait and said he wanted the projects under construction in the next seven years. So a $400 million bond issuance, known as Grant Anticipated Revenue Vehicle (GARV), was introduced to the legislature by Barnes. The bonds will be repaid as federal funds are received, though only 40 percent is allowed to go to the repayment.
The Georgia Road and Toll-way Authority, created during the last legislative session, will handle the sale of the bonds. Next month the bonds will available for purchase by the public, said Long.
Also in the planning stages are the refurbishing of one bridge and replacing of two others at a cost of $2.270 million. The bridge at Big Curry Creek on Alt. SR 15 is scheduled for refurbishment in 2004. Another bridge over Big Curry Creek on Jefferson River Road is scheduled for replacement in 2002. The third bridge, over Dry Fork Creek on Harmony Church Road northeast of Talmo, is also scheduled for 2002.
Long also said Jackson County residents need to be prepared for the $10.4 million resurfacing project of Interstate 85 starting from Barrow County north through Jackson and Banks Counties.
"That is going to be a traffic nightmare," he said.



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A New City Hall For Nicholson?
NICHOLSON -- Is a new city hall in Nicholson's future?
At its June meeting Monday night, the Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital Authority voted unanimously to sell to Nicholson the building formerly housing a clinic. The price is $135,000 for a building appraised at $160,000.
"I move we take the money and run," said authority member Forrest Hagan.
The medical center authority has been trying to get rid of the building for about a year following a decision to close the clinic, which was seldom used.
"We met with representatives of the Nicholson City Council and they expressed interest (in the building)," said David Lawrence, administrator. "They indicated $135,000 would be acceptable to them."
Lawrence also said city officials told him they were "looking at buying this or building something on their own."
The Nicholson City Council has a work session set for Thursday night at 7:00 and its regular meeting is Monday night at 7:00.
Mayor Ronnie Maxwell and councilmen Billy Kitchens and Chuck Wheeler have expressed interest in buying the building, while council member Margaret Ward has said she is opposed to the purchase. Former city councilman Thomas Gary was also opposed.
The building has been vacant since June 30, 2000, when it was closed. It has some water damage, Lawrence said.
Hagan indicated that he thought the appraisal was a little out of line.
"I always thought it was appraised a little high and the one in Jefferson a little low," he said.
The widening of U.S. 441 will take some 10 feet off the front of the property, officials said.
Also on Monday night, the Nicholson council is scheduled to approve its new budget and to resolve the matter of whether Elm Street should be reopened as requested by Charles Allen.



Jefferson July 4th celebration set Saturday
The nighttime sky will light up Saturday night in Jefferson when the annual Jefferson Independence Day celebration is held.
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.
The Jefferson Area Business Association, which sponsors the event, 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, which are sponsored by the City of Jefferson, will be at dark.


Deadlines moved up
The news and advertising deadlines for The Jackson Herald have been moved up due to the July 4 holiday.
The deadline for news articles, including church, weddings and social events, will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 29. The deadline for advertisements, including classifieds and displays, will be at noon on Friday, June 29.
The paper will be published on Tuesday, July 3, and will be available on the newsstands that night. Subscriptions will arrive in the mail on the regular schedule.
The Jackson Herald office in Jefferson will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, in observance of the holiday.


Beshara: Animal control 'inevitable'
Issue to be on BOC agenda at July 2 meeting.
County commissioner Emil Beshara told the Humane Society Monday night that animal control is an inevitable reality for Jackson County because of its growth. He said he expects animal control legislation to be in place by January.
Beshara addressed the society after chairman Bob Wells asked him for the status of animal control legislation at the monthly meeting of the society Monday night.
Beshara said the board of commissioners will review an animal control ordinance he drafted at the BOC's work session Monday, July 2, at 7 p.m. Copies of the draft ordinance are available at the county manager's office.
At the July 2 meeting, the commissioners will discuss funding and the language of the ordinance. Beshara said the next step would be to approach the nine municipalities in Jackson County to adopt the same ordinance so that when someone calls 911, the law would be the same everywhere. He said that he believes that all of the municipalities would like a countywide program, but the county would need to meet with the cities to discuss fair ways to fund the program.
In his plan, Beshara said, the county would create another county department responsible for animal control that would report to the county manager. At this time, he said only two officers would be needed.
Beshara did not discuss the ordinance in detail, but he did say that he is not in favor of a leash law.
"Jackson County is still mostly rural," he said. "I think the bare minimum ... is for pet owners to have control of their animals. If you live in a subdivision that will mean you will have to use a leash or put up a fence, but if you're in a rural area, you just have to keep your animal on your property."
Beshara acknowledged that the animal control ordinance would meet opposition from people who believe the county does not need to spend money on animal control. But he said the animal control is necessary with the rate of the county's growth.
"Everyone knows that the county is going to get animal control eventually," he said. "We're not going to have officers out patrolling for dogs crossing the road. If there's a complaint, they'd go out."
Wells also asked Beshara about plans to build an animal shelter to house dogs that would be picked up under the new ordinance. Beshara said he found a plan left over from the old commission for a $60,000 shelter. The plan calls for inmate labor and it is an unfurnished building.
Beshara raised the possibility of the Humane Society going hand in hand with the county to build the shelter so that the society could use part of the building for its purposes. He said the society could approach corporations to make donations.
If the rest of this story see this weeks Jackson Herald.