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August 15, 2001


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Preseason football action begins
The Jackson County football team was the first out of the preseason gate last week, traveling to Cleveland for a scrimmage against the Warriors of White County.
Jefferson's preseason debut will come this Friday at home, when the second-year Apalachee Wildcats come calling for an 8 p.m. scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
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 year.
The budget increase will require a hike in property taxes. How much of an increase won't be determined until tax digest figures are finalized.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Poultry growers 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.

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.


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STUDENT POPULATION UP

Schools across Jackson County reported an overall increase of 2.4 percent after a week of school. Shown above are students at Jefferson Elementary School, which has 24 more students than last year. Pictured are: (L-R) Bralee Griffin, Buddy Camp and Kara Blenke, students in Tara Simonton's third grade class.

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.
The results of the test were recently released following months of delay because of problems with the testing company that has the State of Georgia contract.
Designed to replace the age-old Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), last spring was the first time local students were given the Stanford 9 in large numbers. Grades three, five and eight were tested. Those are also the "gateway" grades where students will have to pass the CRCT standardized test to advance a grade level in the coming years.
Locally, Jefferson Elementary School had the highest overall percentile rankings at all three grade levels on the Stanford 9 test. The percentile rankings are a nationwide comparison of all students taking the test, with a score of 50 being the average.
Jefferson Superintendent Dr. John Jackson reported to the board of education Thursday that, although the criterion reference test scores have not been received, "At first blush, these test scores don't look bad at all, fifth and eighth grade especially."
While school averages are one way communities judge the performance of local schools, educators use individual results to measure where a student may be strong or week. In addition to the overall scores, there are around 50 subsets of information which show strengths and weaknesses of a student or a group of students. The results are also used to adjust school grade level curriculum materials.

Stanford 9 Test
Percentile* Results, 2001
3rd Grade
School Read Math Science Soc. Sci. Overall
JES 56 52 59 53 55
BES 37 24 41 34 34
JCES 52 45 47 47 48
MES 42 36 33 32 38
NJES 55 52 50 50 51
SJES 54 46 55 48 50
STATE 45 42 44 46 46
5th Grade
School Read Math Science Soc. Sci. Overall
JES 59 63 58 52 59
BES 47 44 46 43 43
JCES 57 63 59 52 58
MES 51 42 41 44 47
NJES 46 48 48 47 45
SJES 58 56 53 49 53
STATE 50 51 48 48 50

8th Grade
School Read Math Science Soc. Sci. Overall
JMS 56 65 53 57 58
EJMS 46 43 46 41 43
WJMS 45 39 47 41 44
STATE 48 42 46 47 47

*Percentile results are national averages with a score of 50 being the middle. For example, a student who scores a 60 on the test means that the student did better than 60 percent of his peers across the nation.


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 GBI delivered its report, a five-page summation and several hundred pages of spreadsheet documents, to City Hall late last week. Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. read excerpts from the report at Monday night's city council meeting.
The document contained no surprises, although previous communication with the GBI led city officials to conclude that the amount of money missing was approximately $227,000.
"The $227,000 was not an audited figure," city manager Clarence Bryant explained. "It may have represented the total amount of (money that was supposed to be in) envelopes found in his office, car, apartment or whatever. What that's telling me is that there were some envelopes we didn't have."
The investigation began the day after Grimes died suddenly of a heart attack when three officers clearing out his office found a cardboard box under the chief's desk containing envelopes that once held cash forfeitures turned in to the police station. The GBI came in and other stashes of envelopes were found both in his car and at his Commerce apartment.
"During this investigation, no evidence that any person has committed a theft other than Chief Grimes has been uncovered," wrote special agent G.W. Hughes. "Because the city police department's receipt book and the city clerk's office receipt book were never audited in an attempt to balance the yearly monies, it is not possible to recreate a more accurate dollar value of the probable theft of the aforementioned $269,779.24."
Bryant said the city would recover all but $5,000 of its losses under its insurance policy. Grimes was fully bonded.
In the course of the investigation, the GBI interviewed every employee of the police department and of the city clerk's office and audited both departments for money taken into the police department from 1997 until Grimes' death. Grimes' computer contained 35 spread sheets dated between July 17, 1998, and May 31, 2001, indicating money turned over to the city clerk. Another five spread sheets were found with no information to indicate that the funds were turned over to the city clerk, and "the envelopes, receipts and money associated with those five spread sheets have not been located," the report said.
Over the four years of the investigation, the report said, the police department collected $550,083. Of that, records indicated that $389,469 was recorded at the clerk's office. In addition, officers found manila envelopes from 1994 to December 1996 indicating that another $17,110 was missing. The envelopes contained $919 in cash, which was returned to the city clerk's office, along with another $6,881 from other envelopes found in Grimes' office earlier.
"Chief George Grimes apparently had the only key to the lock box containing the stored police department funds," the report said. "These were the funds to be transported to the city clerk's office on a monthly basis. No other employee apparently had access to this moneybox."
The report also notes that "no unreasonable funds" appeared to have been diverted into Grimes' personal bank accounts.
"The only criminal act involved in this investigation appears to be the theft of money by former police chief George Grimes. There is no evidence that any other person was involved in this theft," the report concludes.


JCWSA and BOE to explore East Jackson sewage deal
Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority chairman Jerry Waddell has proposed construction of a sewage treatment facility near the new East Jackson Elementary School site, according to Jackson County school superintendent Andy Byers. The announcement was made at Monday's monthly BOE meeting.
"He [Waddell] had been discussing with some folks . . . the potential opportunity [at East Jackson] . . . in combining those projects and building a waste water treatment plant to deal with the sewage from those schools . . . and to use that discharge to irrigate athletic fields, lawns and so on at the school site," Byers said.
According to Byers, the JCWSA has estimated the cost of a treatment plant at the site to be approximately $340,000. The board would apparently pay only a water and sewage fee for use of the facility, though there could be a tie-on for use of the system. The septic system at East Jackson Middle School cost more than $300,000, and the system must also designate at least 10 acres of land for future septic systems at each site in the event a new system is required. Under the proposal, the 10 acre set-aside would be avoided at each site, meaning a property allocation savings of at least 30 acres for the three sites combined.
"I felt like we could be competitive and put in a package plan," Waddell said during a Wednesday telephone conversation. "The downside is that some parents will never be convinced that this is safe. We will treat this water to a level that's reusable."
Byers echoed that sentiment at Monday's meeting, indicating that golf courses around the country are using the same process.
Byers also told board members he hoped a representative from the JCWSA would be in attendance at the September board meeting to address the issue. The project would likely be included as an add-alternate item to the current bidding process already under way for sewage treatment construction at the two new sites.
Other items discussed at Monday's meeting of the Jackson County BOE included:
·the upcoming SPLOST vote scheduled for September 18.
·the end-of-year financial report for FY 2001. The system had $3.391 million in fund equity, an amount Byers indicated is sufficient to meet financial needs of the system until the end of the calendar year, when the tax digest is completed.
·classified employee pay period changes.
·approval of a fixed price contract with Northeast Georgia RESA.
·approval of a supplemental resolution to the board's previous SPLOST resolution.
·approval of a list of items to be listed for sale or disposal as surplus.
·acceptance of an offer from the Edison Project for the system to become a trial member of that project. The feature of the Edison Project is a monthly testing system designed to reveal problem areas to teachers, who can then use a more focused approach in teaching to those problem areas.
·revisions to a number of system policies.


Qualifying Sept. 10 for Jefferson BOE
Qualifying for three Jefferson City Schools Board of Education seats has been set for September 10. The general election will be held in November.
Qualifying is for the seats held by board chairman Ronnie Hopkins and members Derrell Crowe and Steven Hix.
Financial disclosure forms will be required for those who run for election or re-election, board member Guy Dean Benson announced at the Thursday BOE meeting.


Bell: House map 'least of evils'
Rep. Pat Bell said she opposes the Senate redistricting map passed last week that splits Jackson County into three seats, but she won't jeopardize a House map that keeps most of Jackson County together to defeat the Senate districts.
"I'm not going to jeopardize what I worked on for three weeks in the House to keep us out of the mega-district with Athens," Bell said Monday.
Although the final House map won't be voted on until later this week or next week, Bell has managed to keep most of Jackson County together in a single House district. Some Democratic leaders wanted Jackson County to be part of a multi-district that included Clarke County.
"If we get thrown in that district, we will not have a representative at all. Athens will have three and we will have none," she said of that plan.
The final version of the House map will likely put the West Jackson area in a district with most of Barrow County while the rest of Jackson County will stay together, possibly with the addition of part of Barrow or Clarke County.
Bell's priority has been to enable Jackson County to have a representative it can call its own. The latest version of the House plan as of the weekend was a map leaving Jackson County mostly ­ but not fully ­ intact.
"It's the least of the evils," she said. "I won't be happy with anything that doesn't keep Jackson County whole, but apparently you can't draw a map that keeps Jackson County whole."
"Right now, the map will give Jackson County a representative for the next 10 years," she continued. "When I got down here, that was my goal. The Republican map put us in five different districts. Another Republican map took out seven precincts."
Bell described the atmosphere in the Capitol as even more partisan than usual.
"It's not just the Democrats. It's the Republicans too," she said. "You get to a point where you don't believe anything. It's partisan down the line. I feel like the far left and the far right have left the whole bunch of us out in the cold."



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Growth Spurt?
13 Permits For New Houses In July Is Highest Number Ever In One Month In Commerce. If the first month of its fiscal year is an indication, Commerce has started a housing boom.
The city issued 13 building permits for single-family housing valued at $1.23 million during July. In addition, the city issued permits for a swimming pool and pool house valued at $20,000, for a sign valued at $500, a mobile sales office valued at $4,500 and three mobile homes valued at $77,550.
The values on the building permits are not used for computing property taxes. They are estimates provided by contractors or owners.
During the fiscal year that ended June 30, the city issued permits for $4.23 million in construction; during the past two months, it has issued permits for $2.37 million in construction, including permits for 21 site-built homes and eight mobile homes.
That trend, barring a housing slump, is likely to continue as construction of homes in Brentwood Estates and the Millwood Station East and Millwood Station West subdivisions pick up. The 200-unit mobile home park on Mount Olive Road is almost ready to accept tenants, and subdivisions off Belmont Road and Lakeview Drive are nearing the point where houses can be built.
Also during July, the city's Water and Sewer Department added 28 residential water customers, 21 residential sewer services and one commercial water and sewer customer. The Gas Department renewed 1,565 feet of two-inch gas lines during the same period, installed five new services and replaced 14 services during July. The Electric Department added five residential and one commercial service, adding 12,000 amps to the city's load.


School growth a modest 2.4% this year
After a week of school, Jefferson City and Jackson County school systems reported an overall increase in student enrollment of 2.4 percent. Most of the changes were at the middle school level for both systems.
As of Thursday, the Jefferson City School System had an increase of 83 students more than this time last year, while a five-day count showed a 73-student increase for the Jackson County School System.
Enrollment comparisons
2000-01 and 2001-02

Jefferson City School System
School 00-01 01-02 +/-
JES 769 793 +24
JMS 327 366 +39
JHS 354 374 +20
Total 1,450 1,533 +83

Jackson County School System
School 00-01 01-02 +/-
BES 581 602 +21
MES 332 304 -28
NJES 319 313 -6
SJES 460 448 -12
WJPS 334 339 +5
WJIS 362 375 +13
EJMS 570 572 +2
WJMS 693 748 +55
JCCHS 1,256 1,279 +23
Total* 4,907 4,980 +73

*Totals do not include 140 pre-school students or Regional Evening School students.


Road rage incident leaves one dead on I-85
Road rage apparently led to a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on I-85 in Jackson County that left a Hampton man dead.
Christopher Robertson, 38, was driving north on I-85 toward South Carolina when another motorist allegedly intentionally hit his car twice, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator David Cochran. Cochran said Robertson's vehicle left the road and overturned. Robertson was killed in the wreck, while his wife and three sons, ages 17, 8 and 4, suffered minor injuries.
Robertson was traveling in the passing lane, but it isn't known yet what caused Mills to hit his car.
"He wouldn't get out of the fast lane and then Mills hit him twice with his vehicle, forcing him off of the road," Cochran said. "He kept going...It is a clear case of it (road rage). It's really bad for the family."
The suspect, Kenneth Augustus Mills Jr., Riverdale, didn't stop and continued on into South Carolina where he was stopped by the state patrol. He is being held in Anderson, S.C., on charges filed there and is expected to return to Jackson County later this week where he has been charged with five counts of aggravated assault and one count of vehicular homicide.


Sen. Beatty mulling bid for Lt. Gov.?
State Senator Mike Beatty will not discuss rumors sweeping the State Capitol that have him pegged as a potential Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.
Beatty, a Republican who is midway through his first term as a state senator from the 47th District, which includes all of Jackson County, is being touted as a potential lieutenant governor on a slate with Sen. Sonny Perdue of Bonaire.
"I would like to have a district to run in, but I have a lot of options and I'm going to explore them," Beatty said.
Under redistricting, Jackson County has been divided among three state senate districts. For the last 10 years, Jackson County has been unified within one district.
Amone Beatty's options are joining Perdue in a bid for lieutenant governor or becoming a candidate for the U.S. Congress, depending upon how those district lines are drawn.