News from Jackson County...

August 8, 2001


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Panthers lead off 2001 fall season
JACKSON County's Volley Cats will have the honor of being the first area prep sports team to compete during the 2001 fall season. The Cats are scheduled to travel to Lakeview Academy Friday for a jamboree.

Jefferson Booster Club to hold annual golf tournament
THE EIGHTH annual Jefferson Dragon Booster Club golf tournament will be held August 25 at Eagle Greens at Sandy Creek Golf Course.

Tiger Sharks Place In State Tournament
The Commerce Tiger Sharks finished their season by competing against the 12 teams that form the North Georgia Swim League.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Madison County school opens Friday
School bells will ring earlier than ever in Madison County this year, as students all across the county head back to the books for another term this Friday.

A look at Madison County's new head of schools
Keith Cowne's father, William, was a traveling salesman. And he was good at his job.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
License renewal available in county
Drivers in Banks County no longer have to go to Gainesville or Athens to get their driver's licenses. It can be done at the county courthouse in Homer on the first Monday of each month.

29th annual Banks County Festival planned Sept. 8-9
The 29th annual Banks County Festival will be held on the historic courthouse lawn in Homer on September 8-9.


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NOT A SPECIAL DELIVERY

Boxes of sorted mail fell out of a tractor-trailer truck Wednesday morning on Lee Street in Jefferson during the morning rush hour. Something in the back of the truck broke and caused the boxes to fall out the back. The truck was hauling from Athens to Gainesville and the mail was destined for a number of North Georgia addresses, according to officials.

Covered bridge has BOC irate over rising costs
Escalating costs in locating a covered bridge at Hurricane Shoals Park is a concern of some members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
The BOC postponed approving $31,900 in additional expenses for the project Monday night and asked county manager Skip Nalley to look into the matter further.
Engineer Joe Fabregas from Armentrout-Roebuck-Matheny presented three change orders for the project. Several commissioners questioned why the changes are needed. Sammy Thomason asked whether the county received "poor advice" in the original planning for the project. He pointed out that the county is halfway into building the bridge and it is still getting change orders.
"Can we request a change order for your fee?" asked commissioner Stacy Britt.
Fabregas said that another company handled the original engineering for the project and he didn't know if the specifications came from that company or his company. Nalley said the changes could also be necessary because of unforeseen site conditions. He added that it is an "environmentally sensitive area."
The first change order is for $4,700 and is for additional excavation needed. Another charge is $24,453 and is for more concrete reinforcements. The third change order is for $2,745 for additional testing.
The vote on the change orders was postponed until the Aug. 20 meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Jackson Herald.


NJ landfill firm sues BOC over project denial
Earth Resources has filed a lawsuit against the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over the denial of the company's request for a conditional use permit to locate a landfill in the North Jackson area.
The BOC turned down the company's request to locate a construction and demolition landfill on 94.48 acres on Lanier Road that is zoned I-2.
The county apparently discussed the lawsuit in a 30-minute closed session Monday night. The BOC then voted to hire attorney Julius Hulsey of Gainesville to represent the county in the matter. Hulsey also represented the county in the recent lawsuit filed by Kelly Henderson over another landfill request. The county won that suit.
In its suit, Earth Resources states that the denial by the county for a conditional use permit was "erroneous and contrary to the information and evidence presented at the hearing, as well as contrary to the well established law."
The lawsuit states that the company purchased the Jackson County property for the "sole and exclusive purpose" of locating the landfill. The lawsuit also states that the company purchased two additional parcels to move the entrance from Lanier Road to Brooks Road after meeting with county officials over the matter. Court records also say the developed value of the property is $10 million.
The lawsuit states that the county ordinance allows landfills as a conditional use in heavy industrial districts and that the proposed site has this zoning classification.
"The plaintiff met all objective criteria for the conditional use permit required to construct and operate a construction and demolition landfill," the lawsuit reads. "...The proposed use is compatible as an industrial use with the surrounding neighborhood," the suit continues. "The defendants failed to consider the compatibility of said use with the surrounding uses, and denied the application based upon the 'generalized fears' of the opponents in further denial of the plaintiffs right to procedural and substantive due process."


Hoschton woman charged with arson
Two other suspicious fires reported in week
A Hoschton woman has been arrested by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department in connection with a fire at a double-wide mobile home last week.
Christina Ann Peck, 199 Tiffany Drive, was charged with first degree arson.
In a separate incident, a Jackson County officer reported an arson attempt after finding a vehicle set afire on New Kings Bridge Road in south Jackson. Chief investigator David Cochran said the vehicle was stolen from North Carolina. He added that lighter fluid had been poured on the seats.
Arriving at the scene, the officer found the vehicle, a red 1995 Ford Explorer, in the eastbound lane. The vehicle was running and the windows were fogged up, according to the incident report filed at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
The officer knocked on the window and, getting no response from inside the vehicle, opened the door. Smoke rolled out of the vehicle. The fire, which went out before a fire unit could respond, appeared to have been in the passenger seat. The officer found an empty can of lighter fluid in the floor on the passenger side and a kitchen match in the seat, according to the report.
Although no papers were found in the vehicle and it had no tag, the officer used the vehicle identification number to learn that the vehicle had been registered in North Carolina this year.
In a third fire reported last week, a Waterworks Road, Commerce, man said that a backhoe on his property was burned. The man was told that it would be Monday before a fire investigator could come out and look into the incident.
Arson is also suspected in fires at two mobile homes in Pendergrass in recent weeks.


Reapportionment plans hash Jackson
A plan that was set to have been voted on Wednesday by the Georgia Senate to reapportion voting districts would hash Jackson County into three odd districts. Similar plans floating in the Georgia House also split the county into several pieces.
The efforts come as Democratic leaders in the Georgia Legislature attempt to craft districts that would keep their party in control. But even within that party, leaders are apparently divided on just how to do that. Reports indicate that Gov. Roy Barnes wants to use multi-member districts to dilute Republican strength in the Gold Dome. But other Democrats, including Jackson County Rep. Pat Bell, have voiced opposition to multi-member districts.
In the Senate, the proposal for new Senate seat lines would put South Jackson in with Clarke and parts of Barrow and Oconee Counties for District 46. Commerce, Maysville and extreme North Jackson would be in a huge District 47 that sprawls from southern Habersham County down to Warren County, covering all or parts of 14 different counties. From Nicholson through Jefferson and all of West Jackson would be in another sprawling district that covers seven counties up to parts of Gilmer and Pickens Counties for District 49.
Over in the House, no plan has yet come out of committee, but various maps floating around split Jackson County by putting the West Jackson area in a district with part of Barrow County and the rest of Jackson County in a district with parts of Banks and Madison Counties.
Other plans put Jackson in a multi-member district with Clarke County.


Nicholson Again Looking For A City Clerk
The revolving door of Nicholson clerks will continue with the position seeing yet another vacancy.
Lisa Seagraves, the city's current clerk, submitted her resignation at Monday night's city council meeting. It is effective August 31.
Whoever replaces Seagraves will be latest in a position that has seen a steady shuffle since the December resignation of long-time clerk Dana Wilbanks.
Since Wilbanks' resignation, the position was filled by a temporary city employee, followed by Judy Kesler, who was hired in February, but resigned in April. Seagraves has held the position ever since.
Seagraves said she wanted to make clear that her resignation wasn't related to the city's recent controversies.
"My leaving has nothing to do with the three newly elected officials who have been under heat down here," she said, citing family health problems as one of her main reasons for vacating the position.
Mayor Ronnie Maxwell said the city would accept applications for the position until August 20 and would try to fill the job by that week.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.


Maysville Plans For Festival
The Maysville City Council made plans Monday night, in conjunction with the Maysville Community Improvement Club, for the fall festival.
Deb Greenway, a member of the community club, asked the council to approve the leasing of bathroom facilities and extra police officers for the festival on October 5, 6, and 7.
The council voted unanimously to lease the bathroom facilities, including one with handicap access. They also approved allowing Police Chief Ricky Armour to use his judgment in hiring additional men for Friday and Saturday nights. Armour said he would like to call in the Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution canine teams to work the streets. He will have one officer patrolling the town during the festival and four officers to work in pairs for the weekend. The city will pay those expenses.
Council member Scott Harper said the building next to the Maysville Community Improvement Club is in bad shape and needs to be cleaned up before the festival. After some discussion about whether or not to go through the bidding process to hire a contractor for the clean-up and the time frame involved to get it finished prior to the festival, the council moved to skip bids and get the site cleaned up.



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Large trucks banned from 27 county roads
The increase in development across Jackson County has brought in more big trucks which are damaging some county roads.
This led the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to take action to stop these large trucks from traveling on 27 county roads. The BOC agreed Monday night that the following roads are to be posted with "no thru truck" signs: Watkins Farm-Spud Palmer Road, Sheep Pasture Road, New Kings Bridge Road, Creek Nation Road, White Hill School Road, Stockton Farm Road, Holder Siding Road, Hog Mountain Road, Jett Roberts Road, Storey Lane Road, Old Pendergrass Road, Blacks Creek Church Road, D. Williams Road, Harold Phillips Road, Academy Church Road, Mt. Olive Road, Blackstock Road, Wheeler Road, Lyle Field Road, Nichols Road, Marlow Road, McNeal Road, Sam Freeman Road, Boone Road, Wehunt Road, Bill Watkins Road and Brooks Road.


JABA supports new courthouse in downtown Jefferson
The Jefferson Area Business Association agreed Thursday to submit a letter to the board of commissioners stating the organization's support of building the county's proposed new courthouse in downtown Jefferson.
JABA members agreed that keeping the new courthouse located in downtown, as the existing courthouse is, would keep the businesses on the square viable, while relocating the courthouse out further in the city limits could damage the downtown's business.
Priscilla Daves, a JABA member as well as a member of the Better Hometown program for Jefferson, said several experts have told the Better Hometown group that relocation of the courthouse would be damaging for downtown.
JABA members agreed to send the letter of support before the group meets again September 6 at the Dutch Petaler.
In other business, members agreed to begin planning JABA's annual Halloween Walk at its September meeting.


Commerce Students Head Back To School
The three Commerce City Schools opened their doors today (Wednesday), with nearly 1,400 students expected to start the 2001-2002 school year. The school day started at 8 a.m. for middle and elementary students and at 7:55 a.m. for high schoolers.
As of Monday afternoon, prior to the evening's open house, Commerce Elementary School principal Kim Savage had 673 students, plus 20 Pre-K students, on roll, close to the 700 enrollment the school maintained most of last year. However, Savage said she anticipated some fluctuations in the numbers after open house. She said the first and third grades had reached the 95 percent cutoff enrollment of the school system's new out-of-district enrollment policy, meaning out-of-city students were placed on a waiting list until further notice of final student figures.
Staff at Commerce Middle School reported an enrollment of 329 Monday afternoon, up about 30 students over last year, and Commerce High School was expecting 350 students.
The school system ended last year with 1,298 students and peak enrollment was 1,335.
In addition to personnel additions, the new school year brings the establishment of three school councils and a renovated high school building.