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It really was an alligator, I'm serious!
Why is it that people think I'm kidding or exaggerating or delirious
when I tell them that I saw an alligator at our lake?
Phillip Bond Sartain
Essential husbanding skills: The Big Chill
Marriage is full of challenges that no one tells you about. No
real surprise there. But I'm not talking about the kind of problems
that result in an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show.
Directions to Area Schools
Leopards tie with Athens Christian in scrimmage
Leopards to host Athens Academy in scrimmage Fri.
Banks County got its first taste of pigskin competition during
a scrimmage last Thursday with Athens Christian.
Spring test results finally reported
Students in the Jackson County and City of Jefferson elementary
schools generally scored above the state averages on the new
Stanford 9 standardized testing last spring, but eighth graders
in the county system came in below the state and national averages.
GBI: Acting Alone, Chief Stole $269,000
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has closed its inquiry into
the embezzlement of traffic forfeitures and has concluded that,
acting alone, former police chief George Grimes stole $269,779
from Jan. 1, 1994, to the date of his death, June 1, 2001.
The battle over districts
Local legislators say proposed districts are power play by Democrats.
Neither of Madison County's Republican state legislators had
anything good to say about the proposed redistricting maps put
forth by Governor Roy Barnes and the majority Democrats.
Proposed school budget up 12 percent
The Madison County school board is proposing a $28.5 million
budget, up approximately 12 percent from $25.38 million last
The budget increase will require a hike in property taxes. How
much of an increase won't be determined until tax digest figures
The Banks County News
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SENATOR TALKS WITH GROWERS
Senator Mike Beatty spoke with poultry growers Barry Edington,
Maysville, Paul Fonzo and his brother Steve after the House Subcommittee
on Agriculture held a public hearing on House Bill 308.
plead for legislative support
Poultry farmers from Banks, Jackson and other Georgia counties
met with the Georgia House of Representatives agriculture subcommittee
last week to plead for passage of a bill that would end what
they say are unfair practices in the industry.
The subcommittee members, Representatives Elis Black, Ann Purcell,
Robert Ray and Tom McCall, wanted to hear from farmers directly
about their experiences as contract producers. The subcommittee
is determining when, and if, House Bill 308, known as the Producers
Bill of Rights, will make it to the House floor for a vote.
Rep. Chuck Sims, Douglasville, one of the drafters of the bill,
was also present.
"We need to keep farmers in the production of agriculture,"
he said. "And we need to protect the rights of farmers.
This bill deals with all agricultural contracts from poultry
to swine to peanuts to tobacco."
Agricultural contracts have come under fire from attorney general's
offices and legislative bodies in several states. In Georgia,
the "state attorney general's office is troubled by the
disparities in the contracts between the processors and farmers.
This bill is designed to reduce these disparities," he said.
"It's important for producers (growers) to have contracts
that treat them fairly so they can stay in business."
Farmers are required under most contracts to put up substantial
investments in buildings, equipment and materials with no guarantee
that the companies will continue doing business with them.
The bill seeks to remedy the situation by requiring accountability
of the companies. Growers would be entitled to place liens against
companies for unfair practices that cause financial harm. It
also would allow the grower to seek mediation or go to court
if a resolution cannot be reached. Companies could be fined up
to $10,000 for failing to follow the act. A three-day grace period
would be allowed for the farmer to look over the contract before
signing. The companies would be obligated to provide a full disclosure
of financial risks involved. The confidentiality clauses, preventing
them from showing the contract to an attorney or another grower,
would be eliminated.
Barry and Becky Edington, Maysville, have been in the poultry
business for 10 years producing broilers, but say they are being
forced out of business.
"We would like to see Georgia be the first state to protect
the poultry grower and all the contract farmers that deal with
agriculture companies," Edington said. "When you decide
you want to go into the poultry business, you sit down with an
integrator (a representative of the poultry company). The figures
he shows you look good. He gives you a letter of intent to show
the bank to get the loan for the houses."
They built the houses and bought the equipment. For a year or
two the flocks they received were healthy and the income was
good, he said. Things changed later, he said. Sick flocks and
reduced numbers of birds were being delivered. Then new changes
had to be made to the houses at their expense.
"Add all that and the fact that we haven't had a raise in
the amount of money we receive per pound for years and we have
no choice but to sell our farming business before we go under,"
A Goldkist grower from Banks County told the committee that if
one farmer growing for the company does poorly, it affects the
pay scale of all the other growers.
"The loss is passed along to the others and they end up
losing money," he said.
Chris Burger, a former grower from Bartow County, was under a
flock-to-flock contract with Cagle Industries on a layer farm.
He said he lost his wife and children, his farm, his livelihood.
He said the growers had a tremendous amount of pressure on them.
"These farmers need that bill," he said.
Burger was questioned by Ray about his contract. Burger replied
that the contract had no long-term commitment that he would make
back his investment of over $600,000. Burger said that he kept
some feed samples to be tested at a laboratory when his layers
were not producing. Two independent labs found the feed was for
broilers, not for layers and actually prevented the hens from
According to Burger, when Cagle found out what he had done, the
company started giving him sick birds. He tested a few of the
chickens and found they had avian colic. "They should have
destroyed that flock," he said. "They put me out of
A grower from Oconee County said the integrators use the contract
as "a tool of terror. They won't bring you chickens in a
heartbeat." He told the subcommittee he had been cut off
after three years because of "differing opinions. I tried
to stand up for myself and it cost me $300,000."
A grower from Camilla said the poultry industry is a "great
revenue generator. As growers, we don't want to hurt that. We
just want to be treated fairly. There are so many factors beyond
our control. Am I stupid for letting myself get into this position?
No. I made a good decision based on bad information. I wish we
didn't have to come to you, but we have nowhere else to go."
Ray and Purcell had difficulty understanding why any of them
would enter into such a business venture.
"I don't see any sensibility in entering a business with
a contract such as has been presented here, " said Ray.
McCall said that the contract was "the biggest thing that
needs fixing. But I don't know how much we can get into changing
Senator Mike Beatty attended the meeting to show support for
the bill. He has introduced a bill along the same lines to the
Senate, SB 227, the Family Farm Fairness Act. He said that he
has been poultry farming since he was 12 years old.
"I've been in every aspect and every situation over the
years," he said. "It's hard on a man lying in bed at
night thinking of that $500,000 investment and how he's going
to feed and clothe his family and meet the mortgage. These two
bills could be a key issue to the continuance and growth of agriculture
in Georgia. I think we in Georgia could be a model for the rest
of the country in how we work together in partnership as farmers
McCall said the subcommittee will have public meetings to hear
from farmers who were unable to make the trip to Atlanta. He
said they would hold one in the southern section and one in the
northern section of the state. The dates and locations will be
Baldwin looks at
A 55-acre tract on West Airport Road could become Baldwin's first
At the council work session Thursday, John Lovell spoke on behalf
of the potential buyer of the acreage, Tom Limbach. He presented
the Baldwin City Council with a draft of the planned development
that could take from five to seven years to complete. Ten light-industrial
lots line one side of the development. A 120-unit duplex or apartment
complex will sit on 10 acres in the center of the development.
Some 89 lots for single-family residences will be offered for
sale, as well as 72 lots for mobile homes. Over five acres is
set aside for greenspace.
Lovell said there would be covenants placed on the lots for sale.
Council member Ray Holcomb said: "We're growing too fast.
We need to slow down and get other projects done."
Holcomb voiced concerns over providing water to the large community.
City engineer Fred Hawkins said that he would work up a cost
estimate and determine the water usage of such a development.
Council member Kevin Gaddis agreed with Holcomb and said: "We
don't want to over commit ourselves. We need to figure capacity
versus costs before we approve this."
Mayor Mark Reed said he wanted definite commitments that the
property would be developed as Lovell presented.
"We have had properties change hands several times, and
each time more lots were added," he said. "We don't
want that to happen again."
The council noted that they may ask that the number of lots be
reduced. They also said the developer would have to install a
lift station as part of the infrastructure needed to bring sewer
service to the community.
First, though, the city has to annex the property and then re-zone
it multi-use. Both those steps require public hearings. According
to the city clerk, Stacey Jacobs, the process will take about
40 days. Notices of the hearings will be published. Lovell said
Limbach is interested in doing other projects in the area.
Go to Banks
Public Meeting Dates
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New 911 address
signs to be available
The Banks County 911 department is getting ready to offer new
address signs to the public to be placed on their property.
E-911 director Deidra Moore met with the board of commissioners
Friday morning and discussed the project. The effort is under
way in order for the signs to be consistent to make them more
visible to emergency crews.
The BOC agreed to a proposal from Moore to proceed with the project.
U.S. Highway Products Inc. will provide the materials for the
signs and the 911 Center will put the signs together.
The signs will be issued with all new building permits as part
of the permit fee. Existing homeowners will be able to purchase
the signs from the county. The cost will be $10.50 per sign and
they will be available from the county beginning Sept. 1.
"It will help if the public will come in and get these signs
when they are ready," BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said. "It
will be consistent...They will be easily recognizable by law
enforcement and emergency services."
In other business, the BOC:
·agreed to use Commerce Micro Computer to get the computer-aided
dispatch system purchased last year at a cost of $20,000 in "working
·heard from Brady, who said he appreciated commissioners
Pat Westmoreland and Ernest Rogers handling the building inspections
while Tony Vento attended a training session. He suggested that
another county employee be trained to handle inspections when
Vento has to be out.
·agreed to give the Boy Scouts $1,000 for clearing up
the county property where timber has been harvested. The funds
will come from the money the county received from the timber
sales. The Scouts will also plant shrubs at the health department.
The county received $64,500 for the timber sales. Rogers suggested
that the remaining money from this project be set aside into
a CD to be used for the new jail facility. He said the special
purpose local option sales tax for the new jail won't cover all
of the costs and this money could be used for that project.
·agreed to lease a roller for the road department.
·approved a resolution extending the public transportation
van program in place in the county.
·agreed to hold the election on homestead exemption on
July 16, 2002.
LOOKING FOR NEW JAIL SITE
After the meeting, the commissioners went with Sheriff Charles
Chapman to look at county property to possibly use for the new
jail site. No decision has been made as to where the new facility
will be located.
In the past two months, Brady has met with several firms that
construct jails. He said the sheriff will list the specifications
for the new building before bids are taken for the project.