News from Banks County...

July 11, 2001


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OPINION
Jana Adams
Family reunion time

Summertime is family reunion time, when families all across the county - and the country - gather together at church fellowship halls, civic centers, homes and parks for a meal and catch-up conversation.

Todd Simons
The Great Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt is the greatest baseball player ever to put on cleats. Maybe the greatest man of this century.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Going to state
The Banks County 12-and-under softball team is going to the state tournament July 19-20 in Adele.


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
3 Rabies-Related Incidents Reported
A trio of incidents in and near Commerce have officials concerned about rabid animals.

Maysville man charged in Commerce murder
A Maysville man has been charged with "malice murder" in the Friday stabbing death of Ralph Douglas Stockton, 56, of 68 Chestnut Street, Commerce.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Fortson stands trial for murder DA, defense give opening arguments, call first witnesses
The Tracy Lea Fortson murder trial got under way Tuesday afternoon with District Attorney Bob Lavender presenting evidence linking Fortson to the murder of Doug Benton of Colbert.

Fortson trial won't be televised by Court TV
Cable television's Court TV was denied permission Tuesday to tape the Fortson murder trial for broadcast later.


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Ready for the show


Five-year-old Pearl Oppenheimer, Maysville, was all ready for the Homer 4th of July Celebration. She was there with her mother, Candice. See this week's Banks County news for additional photos.


Business owners seek BOC help with fly problem
There is a fly problem at Banks Crossing and business owners and managers came to the board of commissioners meeting Tuesday night to ask for the county's help in solving it.
Ed Conner, a Wal Mart manager, said that the Wal Mart at Banks Crossing spent $75,000 to fight flies last year. He said that the store had purchased 55 fans, 11 air gates, 31 bug lights and had three employees whose only job was to eradicate flies.
"(The Wal Mart at Banks Crossing) has given $4 million to the state and the county in taxes and we need some help," Conner said. Conner came to the meeting with a clear plastic garbage bag filled with fly strips that were covered with thousands of flies. He said that in the bag was one day worth of flies.
Margaret Phillips, operator of the Chic-Fil-A at Banks Crossing said: "If these were rats we'd be closed. Flies are filthy,"
Some tension grew between those who came to the meeting to report the problem and some of the poultry farmers on the board and in the audience that believed the problem was being blamed on them. One man who represented himself as a poultry farmer who owns two 500-foot hen houses, stood for nearly 20 minutes listening to the complaints. Finally, he said: "Last year, I alone spent $8,000 to keep flies down on my farm. Next year, it will cost me $24,000 to exist if the EPA and EPD pass the regulations they are suggesting. Think about that before you spend my money," he said loudly and rushed out of the back of the courtroom.
Chairman Kenneth Brady said: "I am a poultry farmer and proud of it. I'll do what I can do. We will all do what we can. But what can we do?"
Suggestions, such as trucks that spray pesticides to kill mosquitoes in Tallahassee, were discussed but no action was taken.
In other news the commissioners:
·passed the 2002 budget of $7.3 million.
·agreed to send a raise in the homestead exemption to the state legislature. The commissioners want to raise the exemption from $16,000 to $20,000 for the disabled and citizens over 65.
This exemption will have to be applied for in the Banks County tax office unless one already receives the current exemption.
·agreed to take bids for the engineering that needs to be done so that Christmas Tree Road and Emory Chambers Road can be paved.
·agreed to pay all of the county's monthly bills except for a questionable billing for a $668.02 door that the county is not sure was received.


Homer council proceeds with new town hall plans
Mayor Leon Ray asked Jason Bond and other members of the Homer Fire Department Tuesday night to figure out what kind of space the department will need in the new town hall and fire station complex.
"We need to know what kind of rooms you'll need, how much space and what kind of bays," Ray said. "You don't have to design it, just tell us what you'll need."
Ray told the council and the fire department that he had spoken at length with the town's new architect, David Matheny of Armentrout, Roebuck, Matheny. Matheny asked for an idea of the number of rooms and the kinds of area the complex will need so that he can begin to design the building.
Ray said that Matheny suggested the council consider going with a single-story building rather than a two-story as the council had previously planned.
"We don't know what we'll be able to fit in our lot," said Ray. "It all depends on the state highway and the amount of right-of-way required."
According to Ray, Matheny also raised the possibility of not completely finishing the entire complex since all of the building will not be used for several years. Bond suggested that the city leave the firemen's bunk rooms unfinished and the shower rooms.
"Let's have them tell us how much finished would cost first," said councilman Roy Broome. "Then, if we need to, we can take some off."
Matheny also suggested a complex design that would allow for additions later on.
Ray said that as soon as Bond gets the information about space requirements to city clerk Carol Ayers, she will draft a letter to Matheny and the project can get started.
The council plans to have the property surveyed to make sure there will be no problem with the bordering cemetery.
In an unrelated matter, Bond told the council that he can purchase a fire truck from American LeFrance that has 1,700 miles on it for less that $230,000. No action was taken.


Testing finished on Alto well aquifers
Alto Mayor Jack King told council members Tuesday night that testing of the connection well aquifers had been completed.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division had required Alto to test for benzene levels in the town's well water system before allowing the re-opening of a well that had been closed due to benzene contamination. The EPD wanted documentation proving whether or not each well's aquifers were connected in any way allowing benzene from the closed well to circulate through the underground aquifers.
King said reports of the testing "showed a definite conduit between the three aquifers" and that benzene can travel from the tainted well to Well 4 and the Wright Street Well "if it's not taken care of." Testing reports showed benzene levels in untreated water to be 5.8 parts per million (ppm) and 1.88 ppm in treated water. The latter figure is below the EPD maximum of 5 ppm, he said.
Since the levels were within the acceptable range after treatment, King said he saw no reason to stop the opening of the tainted well. He plans to present the finding to the EPD in Atlanta this month.
He said he would contact the council members and request a special called meeting to vote on opening the well.
"This is a major thing and I'd like us all to be closely bound in it," he said.

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Movie theater proposed for Banks Crossing
A movie theater company wants to open a business in Banks County. The theater group, which has been talking to the county about moving in, has expressed a need to add an additional 790 parking spaces which required a change in the ordinances.
At its meeting Monday night, the Banks County planning Commision agreed to send the change in the ordinaces to the board of commisioners. The change stipulates that theaters are permitted use and therefore can move into the old Tanger Mall and build the parking that it will need.
No further details on the theater were disclosed at the meeting.
In other business, the planning commision voted that work be stopped at Buckeye Trails Subdivision until the developers "show up at meetings and do what they agreed to do"
On another matter, Brian Watkins of Grove River Estates showed the commission the revisions they had requested for a subdivision. The subdivision will be 23 lots from six to 50 acres. The commission agreed that Watkins had made the changes and agreed to send the plat before the board of commissioners for consideration.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.



Chamber to hold annual picnic Thursday
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual picnic at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, at the Civic Center in Homer.
Tickets are $7.50 and can be purchased at the chamber office in the Old Historic Courthouse or at the civic center.