News from Madison County...

August 22, 2001

Madison County

Madison County
Madison County H.S.

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June 29, 2001

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Frank Gillespie
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.

Rochelle Beckstine
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.

Neighborhood News...
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.

News from...
JCCI firemen's group shut down by state
BOC chairman calls for 'management review' of entire corrections facility
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
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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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 job."
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% budget increase
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.

County SAT scores down
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 in 2000.
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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Turning point
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.