Georgia weekly newspapers
by the Georgia Press Association
Place A Classified Ad
Madison Opinion Page
Madison Obituary Page
Send A Letter
List Your Business
Madison County Stats
Go to Jackson County
Go to Banks County
I spent last weekend like many of you did - getting a child ready
for school. Although school is starting only a week earlier than
usual, it sure seems a whole lot earlier to me.
Gov't should leave education to parents
Every Georgia governor in recent memory has "reformed"
education. Every one of these "reformations" has dramatically
increased the cost of education while shifting more and more
power from local boards to the state government.
Directions to Area Schools
Softball Raiders to hit the diamond Thursday in leadoff
Madison County's softball team will look to spark the 2001 season
by kicking things off in familiar surroundings.
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.
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
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
The Madison County Journal
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056
NEWS / ADVERTISING
® Copyright 2001
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Copyright / Terms / Privacy
Kim Fortson and Bonnie Boothe organize supplies Monday for
their special education class at Danielsville Elementary School.
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.
Countywide changes this year include full-time counselors at
all five elementary schools and an across-the-board increase
in meal prices.
The countywide after school program at elementary schools will
begin Monday, August 20. There will be a $10 registration fee
this year and the program will cost $6 per day.
New also this year are two "early release" days: October
25 and February 7. Schools will release students at 1 or 1:30
p.m. on these days to allow time for afternoon parent-teacher
conferences, with teachers staying later that afternoon than
usual to accommodate working parents.
Elementary schools will also begin sending home mid-quarter progress/communication
reports this year, according to Colbert principal Doris Dickson.
Each school has an elected school council that meets once a month
and these advertised meetings are open to the public.
The following is a round up of information about each of the
county's seven schools.
For the breakdown on each school, see this week's Madison
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.
"He could sell ice water to eskimos," said Cowne, who
grew up in Thomasville. "You didn't want to play Monopoly
with the man because he could talk you into bad deals."
The salesman was sure his son would be a superintendent one day,
but the younger Cowne wasn't sold on the idea. As a young teacher,
Cowne "felt administrators were in the way."
Cowne's perspective changed, though, as he saw many positive
effects administrators could have in kids' lives. And 20 years
after his father's passing in 1981, Cowne fulfilled his father's
vision, becoming Madison County's new superintendent this past
Cowne talks enthusiastically about his new position. Before school
ended June 1, the new superintendent visited 60 classrooms to
get a feel for his new environment. He liked what he saw.
"I saw a lot of good things happening," said Cowne.
"...I've been impressed with the friendliness of Madison
County and the number of dedicated professionals who are willing
to work hard for what's good for kids."
While Cowne has had a long education career, serving as teacher,
coach, assistant principal and principal, he dreamed in his younger
years of being a Steinbeck, not a superintendent.
"I wanted to write the great American novel," said
Cowne, whose favorite books include "Absalom, Absalom"
by William Faulkner, "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kessey.
Cowne also considered a military future, spending 16 months at
West Point after high school. But he decided to return to Georgia,
earning a bachelor's degree in English in 1974 from Valdosta
State. He earned his master's degree in English from the same
school two years later, before earning a master of education
degree from Valdosta in 1980 and finally an educational specialist
degree from the University of Georgia in 1984.
He first taught for several months in Brooks County, before teaching
English at Valdosta High School from 1976 to 1978. He remembers
having no regular classroom and as many as 44 students at Valdosta.
Cowne then moved to Irwin County High School in Ocilla, where
he taught, and served as the school's do-everything man, coaching
tennis, drama, debate, boys' cross country and serving as choral
While in Ocilla, Cowne decided to make the jump into administration.
He accepted the assistant principal's position at Washington-Wilkes
High School in 1981, becoming principal in 1986. He served there
until taking a job as principal at Jackson High School in 1995.
Cowne said his experience as a principal at both schools was
positive and he pointed to the 14 years at Washington-Wilkes
as being particularly rewarding. He said the school improved
dramatically during his tenure, though he is reluctant to accept
the credit for the progress - better test scores, attendance
figures, morale and involvement in extracurricular activities.
"I'm not saying it's something I did," said Cowne.
"I was a part of it, but it took a lot of people."
Cowne is not the only educator in the family. Ellen, Cowne's
wife of 23 years, is the principal at Taylor Street Middle School
in the Griffin-Spalding school system. Cowne said his wife wanted
to finish out a commitment to the school this year, before seeking
a job in the area next year. The family's oldest child, Beegee,
29, is a teacher at Clarke Central. Son Charles "Chad"
Elder, 27, is the new band director at Monroe Area High School
and youngest son Dallas is a junior at Valdosta State, who plans
to teach English and coach.
"Our kids got used to being on a yellow bus all the time,"
said Cowne. "I think that's why they're teachers now."
Cowne, who replaces Dr. Dennis Moore, who resigned last September,
said he understands that last year included much strife and controversy
for the Madison County school system. He said he wants to return
stability to the system, adding that he plans to serve Madison
County for a long time.
"I'm here and I'd like to stay," said Cowne.
School board members said after hiring Cowne earlier this year
that they were pleased with their choice. Apart from strong qualifications,
they noted that he puts people at ease and has a good sense of
humor (see vacation photo on Page 12A).
Since taking the job, Cowne has determined that the system's
most pressing facility needs right now are a new middle school
and a sports complex across the road from the high school and
middle school. He said these issues may be addressed when voters
choose whether or not to renew a special five-year, one-cent
sales tax for school improvements. The last one was approved
in 1997 and will expire next year.
He said he hopes the school system will be able to open a second
middle school in the fall of 2004 and a sports complex in the
near future as well.
"Our high school will be Quad A in the fall of 2002 and
we don't have a track," said Cowne. "Something doesn't
jive with that."
Cowne said he also intends to establish a "clear chain of
command" as superintendent. For instance, he said if a parent
has a problem, they should talk first to the person most directly
responsible for the situation before taking the matter elsewhere.
He said he wants the school system to be "open and caring."
But most importantly, Cowne said all involved in Madison County
schools should remember this motto: "Putting our children
"I can't think of a more valuable resource than our young
children," said Cowne.
Go to Madison
Public Meeting Dates
Auto Parts &
Retail Stores & Outlets
fires city clerk
In a four-hour meeting Tuesday night, members of the Comer City
Council struggled with the aftermath of the dismissal of the
Elaine (McGee) Tate, who was suspended on Tuesday, July 31, for
neglect of duties, was fired at the council's Aug. 7 meeting.
She was not at the meeting.
Mayor Chris NeSmith said the action was the result of "serious
irregularities and inaccuracies in monthly statements provided
to the mayor and city council that are relied on to monitor the
He also listed bank statement irregularities and bills that appear
to have been left unpaid for several months.
After consulting with city attorney Victor Johnson and police
chief Barry Reed, NeSmith turned over city financial records
to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine if any criminal
Agent Jim Fullerton of the Athens GBI office said his agents
have just received the material.
"It is too early to draw any conclusions," he said.
The mayor and the council members have manned the city office
for the past week, working to get water bills out, prepare the
city payroll and catch up all unpaid bills. Councilwoman Allene
Pendleton said the city is "financially sound" and
that at this time there is no evidence of missing funds.
Ms. Tate also served as city clerk for Carlton. No city officials
were available at press time to clarify her position with the
The city faces several other problems due to the lack of a city
clerk. Ms. Tate also was serving as clerk of city court and as
election supervisor. The council must find someone soon to fill
these offices. City court, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 14, will
have to be postponed until September unless a qualified clerk
of court can be found. Police Chief Reed said he has 30 tickets
to be processed and these people would have to be notified by
Elections for the mayoral office and two council seats are scheduled
for this fall. Qualifying for the offices opens on Sept. 10.
A qualified election supervisor who has completed the 12-hour
mandatory class must be in place by that date.
Mayor NeSmith stated that he will advertise immediately for applications
to fill the office.
To read more about the local events in
Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school
news, see this week's Madison County Journal.