News from Banks County...

July 18, 2001

Banks County

Banks County
Banks County

among all
Georgia weekly newspapers
by the Georgia Press Association

June 29, 2001

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Phillip Sartain
The corps of recovery

We're back now. That means that we've been away. We've been a long way away.

Rochelle Beckstine
Love conquers hate in berry patch

Never say hate, my mother always said, though I was sure that I truly hated lima beans and my little brother.


Directions to Area Schools

Banks County 16-and-under rec team finishes third in state
The Banks County recreation baseball team finished third in the state tournament in Lumpkin County Friday, July 13.

Neighborhood News...
MTV goes to Arcade looking for 'ugly' people
A Los Angeles, Calif., film crew for MTV came to Jackson County over the weekend looking for "ugly" people to feature in a music video.

Tanger calls for vote on liquor by the drink
Tanger Factory Outlet Center manager Mark Valentine asked the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday night to consider calling for a vote on liquor by the drink in the Banks Crossing area.

News from
Fortson sentenced to life for killing Doug Benton
Jeff Bennett and Jerry Alexander spent an agonizing hour in Madison County Superior Court Thursday as attorney Tom Camp tried to pin the murder of their friend, Doug Benton, on them.

GBI continues Mac Almond investigation
The investigation of former Comer principal Mac Almond is ongoing with no clear end in sight.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Edith Banks (L) was named the Banks County 2001 Good Citizen at the chamber of commerce picnic Thursday. The award, a crystal bowl, was presented by chamber president Bonnie Johnson. For additional photos of the chamber picnic, see this week's Banks County News.

Edith Banks chosen for Chamber's Good Citizen Award
Edith Banks was surprised to be this year's winner of the Banks County Good Citizen Award presented by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce at the annual dinner.
Chamber president Bonnie Johnson read excerpts from a few of the nominations.
"She is indeed an angel of mercy -- serving God in her own quiet way," one person wrote. "Her days are spent doing something for someone else."
Another wrote, "For those who can't, she takes them to see the doctor, gets their prescriptions filled, takes them shopping. She takes them to the Social Security office, phone company. She doesn't stop there. She also takes care of their pets when they are unable. She feeds and walks their dogs and even takes them to the vet."
Other comments about Banks included:
·"She is such a caring person and giving person. She cares for the ill in so many ways. It does not matter who they are. If they are in need, she is there to care for them no matter how long it takes. She has done this for so many years. She makes sure they have their medicine, cooks and cleans their houses. She takes time to visit those in nursing homes and hospitals and always brings along a little something for them to brighten their day."
·"While caring for others, she also takes care of her younger sister and husband who are both very ill."
·"She takes care of everyone in Homer. She carries several to and from church because they don't have transportation. For families in need, she provides food and clothing and finds odd jobs for the down-and-out members of our community. Her entire days are spent doing for others. This is the way God meant us to live our lives."
Many people in the crowded meeting hall at the Herbert Garrison Civic Center stood to give their praise. Bonnie Hill, a friend of Banks, said, "We wouldn't be Homer without Edith Banks."
Jeanette Jamieson laughed and said, "Edith came to me during the election and told me I needed signs in Banks County. I told her I was waiting on some and she asked if she could take what I had and put them up. It would take 50 of me to equal one Edith Banks. She's the kind of person that makes you happy to be with her."
As the 79-year-old struggled to hold back tears, she asked humbly, "Is this really happening to me? There are others that do much more than me."
Johnson and the crowd assured her that she was indeed deserving of the award. She was presented with a crystal bowl. She was afraid to hold it. "I'm too nervous," she said, as tears wet her blushing cheeks.
"I love y'all," cried Banks, and with arms outstretched said, "This is my family."
Banks was born in Franklin County in 1922. She lived in Atlanta for 40 years and worked in wholesale customer service. She has lived in Banks County since 1991.
She said that she was inspired by a dear friend with whom she lived for 30 years. Lotti Hentschel had been abandoned at birth, found a home with loving parents, became a ballerina and traveled the world, said Banks. "She was a very giving person. Even after all she had been through, she had so much love to give." Banks said she passed on some time ago, but that she still misses her. "I have a lot of good memories."

Inmate firefighter program suspended
Amidst allegations of arson, improper behavior, access to inappropriate materials and prohibited family visits, the inmate firefighter program between the Jackson County Correctional Institution and the Banks County Fire Department has been temporarily suspended.
Assistant fire chief John Creasy said Tuesday that the department was notified Thursday of an investigation by JCCI officials that was being conducted into certain improprieties.
"We have investigated the claims ourselves," Creasy said. "What we found certainly was no danger to the public. But we did identify several problems within the program."
Officials found small amounts of money that may have been provided to the inmates by family members at the Banks Crossing fire station on Hwy. 441, he said. It was also determined that the inmates had access to muscle-building magazines which the correctional system considers contraband. "We also found evidence of four visits by family members, parents and grandparents who did come and see some of the inmates during their time on duty," he said. "That is a prohibited activity. Everything we have uncovered sounds very innocent, but as far as the prison regulations go, it's a violation of the rules"
It was determined that the firefighter correctional officer, Dana Maddox, in charge of the men knew about the improprieties. Maddox has since resigned his position with Banks County and with JCCI, said Creasy.
As to the allegations of arson, Creasy said the department was aware of a criminal investigation into an arson case on a business fire that occurred a few weeks ago. The business is located in Jackson County, diagonally across from the Banks Crossing fire station. The men were back at the prison, though, when the fire broke out, he said.
"I'm not aware of any connection between this and that fire investigation," he said. "I don't think we're looking at some scandal of that nature."
The inmate firefighter program has been ongoing for about a year and has been a very successful program, said Creasy.
"The suspension will have a major effect on us," he said. "It was an important program for Banks County because the three inmates provided coverage for the busiest station (Banks Crossing). We have a great volunteer force here in Banks but they cannot be available at certain hours of the day. We're not a large county, so we don't have a large enough tax base to support a very large, paid fire department. So these firefighters were a tremendous benefit to Banks County in that respect. We had three men we could count on Monday through Friday."
With the loss of the paid firefighter, the department is looking to hire someone to fill that position. The department can only hire one man without going before the board of commissioners to ask for funding to pay additional salaries. In the meantime, fire personnel have been reassigned to cover the station, he said.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Banks County News.

Anti-nuclear pilgrimage to come through county Sat.
Two Buddhist monks will be leading an anti-nuclear pilgrimage through Banks County on Saturday, July 21.
The march began July 16 in Atlanta and will end in Oak Ridge, Tenn., at the site of the nation's oldest nuclear fuel production plant on Sunday, Aug. 5.
Gyoshu Utsumi, who is of Japanese origin, feels an especially intense and heartfelt commitment to the abolition of all nuclear weaponry.
"Look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki," he said. "You would think that my own people would have avoided nuclear production at all costs. Yet, they participate in that industry. They shame me."
He and monk Denise Laffan are committed to walk the long path with other people who also oppose the government's renewed endeavor to manufacture isotopes for weapons.
Of concern is the proposed construction of a new $4 billion weapons plant at Oak Ridge to build a new generation of "low yield" or "mini-nukes," by the U.S. Department of Energy, say leaders. This proposal was reportedly made despite the enormous environmental damage afflicting the area after more than 55 years of nuclear weapons production.
The two monks have vowed to make an annual pilgrimage to Oak Ridge until nuclear production has ended. They offer this walk as a prayer for world peace and will be joined by people of all faiths who have a common hope for a nuclear-free future, say organizers. Rather than a political statement, the message of this pilgrimage is simply, "Choose Life."
The yearly event is attended by hundreds of concerned Americans who want the government to stop producing weapons-grade materials and end the contamination and radioactive by-products that are impossible to dispose of safely and effectively, leaders say. Such is the case with the Oak Ridge Y-12 site and surrounding area where death still lies in the soil and waters and will for ages and ages to come, leaders say.
Many citizens of Oak Ridge and surrounding areas join the protesters from around the country who attend the yearly event to make the government aware that opposition to nuclear proliferation and radioactive contamination still exists. For information and a schedule, call (404) 627-8948.


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Two charged with illegal dumping
Banks County resident Cleveland Sam Millsap and hauler Grover Allen Jr. have been charged with the illegal dumping of 63 dump-truck loads of demolition debris.
The incident happened on June 26 at Millsap's residence on Timberlane Road.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources ranger Winford Popphan and county marshal Keith Covington investigated the site after a call from Calvin Smith, Homer maintenance superintendent. Upon arrival, Popphan said he saw several tons of debris had been placed along Millsap's driveway. Some of the material had fallen into a small stream that lies 20 feet below the drive.
Millsap told Popphan that he had wanted to widen his driveway and requested the debris from the demolition of the Burger King on Hwy. 441 to be brought to his property. The debris contained concrete chunks, asphalt, wiring, light tubing, cables and other materials, according to Popphan.
"It is a violation of Georgia law to dump anything, even on your own property," Popphan said. "In some cases, the Environmental Protection Division will issue a permit for an inert landfill on your own property, but this is a long, drawn-out affair. It requires you to have a survey done and a plat recorded in the courthouse to show that it is there."
Millsap had no such permit, he said.
Allen told Popphan that he was unaware that the dumping of the debris on private property was illegal.
Popphan said, "I told him that his activity was illegal anywhere in Georgia and as a hauling contractor, he should have known that."
Popphan told Allen that if the debris was removed, the district attorney would allow changing the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Allen said he would need seven to 10 days to correct the problem and that he would immediately install a silt screen to protect the stream.
Citations were issued to Millsap and Allen and they were charged with unlawful dumping.
"Allen was very cooperative and did a pretty good job on the clean-up," Popphan said.
Allen told Popphan he had spent more money on the clean-up than he received for doing the hauling. Allen ended up paying $50 per load, for 63 loads that ended up in a Hall County landfill.