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Political correctness creeps closer to Madison Co.
Political correctness is creeping closer to Madison County. Some
group is now demanding that all Georgia high schools that use
a minority group as a sports mascot change their school name.
Post mortem: Beyond Mainstreet
Well, it's been nine days since I left my corner of the Jefferson
office for the great beyond and I'm doing all right.
Directions to Area Schools
Ready for an encore?
Madison County Raiders hope to repeat success of 2000
"A release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming
experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit." - The
American Heritage Dictionary.
Judge gives life sentence to church arsonist
Jay Scott Ballinger, the man who has described himself as a missionary
of Lucifer, received a sentence of life in prison, plus 80 years,
for a series of five church fires he set in rural Georgia from
December 24, 1998, through January 1, 1999.
Stop signs to slow Lula traffic
In an effort to slow speeders on neighborhood streets, the city
council agreed Monday to install stop signs at certain trouble
spots in the city.
JCCI firemen's group shut down by state
BOC chairman calls for 'management review' of entire corrections
The state has shut down the inmate firefighter program at the
Jackson County Correctional Institute.
Commerce Goes To College For Police Chief
North Georgia College & State University Public Safety Director
Hired As New Chief
The current head of public safety at North Georgia College and
State University has accepted a job as the new police chief of
Commerce, city manager Clarence Bryant announced Monday.
The Madison County Journal
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Madison County's Anthony Tilton tries to cool off during the
Raiders' Friday afternoon scrimmage with Franklin County in Danielsville.
Lowe asks for
boost in funding for sheriff's office, jail
Madison County sheriff Clayton Lowe asked county commissioners
Monday to provide an additional $500,000 for sheriff's department
and jail expenses in the 2002 budget.
Approximately $1.7 million was tagged for the sheriff's department
and jail in this year's budget and Lowe is seeking approximately
$2.2 million for next year.
Lowe said the main reason for the increase is the added cost
of operating a new 60-bed jail on Hwy. 98. The jail construction
is expected to be complete by the end of the year. The sheriff
said the new jail will require an additional five jailers.
He also requested funds for an additional investigator and four
more deputies in the sheriff's department. Lowe said four more
deputies would give the county five deputies per shift. He also
wants vehicles for each of these additional employees.
"There are times when we can't keep up," said Lowe
about the number of calls for sheriff's assistance. "I know
it's a lot of money, but we've got to have the people to do the
The sheriff said four patrol cars, each with approximately 240,000
to 250,000 miles, are also in need of replacement.
Lowe presented his requests to the commissioners Monday. Other
county department heads provided their 2002 wish lists to county
commissioners as well.
What they'll actually get and how much taxpayers will be asked
to pay in property taxes this year has yet to be determined.
Each year, county department heads provide a list of requested
budget items. The chairman of the board of commissioners then
reviews the requests and proposes changes, before the five district
commissioners finally vote on a budget.
The departments have requested approximately $6.55 million for
2002 operations - this does not include personnel expenses. County
clerk Morris Fortson is still computing personnel figures for
2002. He estimates that county personnel expenses will be around
$4 million, bringing the projected budget to roughly $10 million.
Complicating matters this year is a state-mandated "uniform
chart of accounts," which requires that each county keep
identical budget records. The intent is to simplify comparisons
between counties in budget matters. The problem, according to
local officials, is that this year's county budget is formatted
differently than last year's. More line items are included. This
leads to potential problems in comparing this year to last year,
essentially creating an "apples to oranges" situation.
BOE passes 12%
The Madison County Board of Education completed its financial
arrangements for the current school year Tuesday night by adopting
a budget and arranging a line of credit. The board expects to
spend $28.5 million this school year, up 12 percent from the
last budget. Member Elaine Belfield made the motion to approve
the budget "in memory of Dr. Moore."
Another increase in local taxes will be required, according to
assistant superintendent Allen McCannon, but the size of the
increase will depend on the county's tax digest. An unofficial
estimate suggests that the rate may be as much as two mills.
If this figure holds up, Madison County school taxes will have
increased nearly 40 percent in the past two years.
A portion of the tax increase was caused by the cash crisis experienced
by the school system last year. The crisis led to the departure
of the superintendent, and forced the system to borrow heavily
from local banks to finance last year's budget. Superintendent
Keith Cowne said that the new budget is designed to overcome
the difficulties and restore the system's depleted reserves.
The board will likely have to borrow funds this fall to finance
the system until local tax bills are mailed out. Members approved
a new $900,000 line of credit with Merchants and Farmers bank
at 3.49 percent interest. Merchants and Farmers offered the lowest
rate in open bidding.
Cowne said the bank will charge interest only on funds actually
withdrawn from the account. The actual amount borrowed will depend
on the date that local taxes are collected.
The board voted to require the tax commissioner to pay tax monies
to the system every two weeks rather than once a month as was
previously done. The requirement is authorized by state law.
The board heard a presentation by representatives of Enron Corporation
on ways of reducing energy costs. The company will complete a
survey of the system's equipment and power costs, then make an
offer to the system for modifications that would increase efficiency
and effectiveness of the system's equipment. The survey will
be at no expense to the schools. Board members said a contract
would be signed only if real savings are shown.
The school system experienced a $90,000 budget overrun for energy
costs, according to McCannon. Increases in power prices led to
the additional cost.
Opening school enrollment figures are slightly lower than expected,
according to McCannon. The system projected an opening enrollment
of 4,487. Actual figures from the second day of school were 4,350.
By day five, the numbers had grown to 4,400. An additional 44
special education students were not included in the preliminary
figures. Mr. McCannon said that traditionally, enrollment grows
during the year.
The figures show that Madison County schools are well within
maximum class size requirements.
Madison County's SAT scores dropped in 2001.
The average score for 80 Madison County college preparatory students
taking the test was 1,026, (513 verbal, 513 math) down from 1,042
the previous year. Thirty vocational students averaged 812 on
the SAT, down from the 880 average of 18 vocational students
Madison County's combined college prep and vocational average
was 968 (484 verbal, 484 math), down from 1,012 in 2000.
The state average was 980 and the national SAT average was 1,020.
The SAT is designed to measure potential for success in college
and continues to be a tool used by university admissions officers.
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Chamber president to retire after 16 years of service.
After 16 years at the helm of Madison County's Chamber of Commerce,
Barbarianne Gaulding Russell will be stepping down early next
year, ready for a new phase in her life.
One might say she's has had a "bird's-eye view" of
the many changes in Madison County over the years - and that
she's had a hand in shaping those changes.
A self-described "professional volunteer," she was
actively involved in the community long before taking the reins
of the newly formed Chamber in 1985.
At the time the fledgling organization had only 43 members -
today it has 433.
With memberships being made up of individuals, retirees, businesses,
professionals, schools and civic organizations, Russell estimates
that there are more than 2,500 people involved in the Chamber.
"I've always believed that the answer to addressing community
issues is getting people from all sectors of that community involved,"
Russell said. "That's what we've strived to do all along."
And she's proud of what that diversity of individuals has been
able to accomplish.
"Tenacity is the word that would best describe the Chamber,"
she said. "We started at ground zero and we didn't give
up... We've had our struggles but we worked hard and held together
and as a result of that I think we've accomplished a lot and
unified the county."
Russell is especially proud of the new industry that the Chamber
was instrumental in bringing to the area which had added tax
revenue to the county's coffers.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal
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.