News from Banks County...

August 29, 2001

Banks County

Banks County
Banks County

among all
Georgia weekly newspapers
by the Georgia Press Association

June 29, 2001

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Shar Porier
Bagging 101
Attention! Attention! Attention all baggers! Please report to the front!
I dread it, when I hear that at the grocery store.

Letter To The Editor
Thoughts on government

It is the right of every citizen to voice, write or demonstrate his/her displeasure with our system of government, within the law, being its leaders, business or individuals at fault.


Directions to Area Schools

Let the pigskin begin
Leopards to take on Panthers Friday. The beginning of football season only happens once each year. And for Banks County, it will happen on Friday.

Neighborhood News...
Math a major weakness on CRCT results
Local middle schools struggle most on new state test
Like their peers across the state, local students were weakest in math on last spring's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT).

Planners Pass Bigger Lot Sizes
For R-3 And R-4Proposal Would Limit Developers to Maximum Of Four Units Per Acre. A proposal to decrease the density of duplex and multifamily housing goes to the Commerce City Council with a "do pass" recommendation from the Commerce Planning Commission.

News from
Comer council to review applications for new city clerk
The Comer City Council was scheduled to hold a called meeting Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the hiring of a new city clerk.

'Doing business in Madison County'
Water, sewer, education and labor-related issues are the main concerns on the minds of Madison County business owners, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Mobile home destroyed in fire

Banks County firefighters donned breathing apparatus and entered the remains of this mobile home to look for remaining hot spots. The home of Roxanne Patterson on Hwy. 198 was destroyed by the fire Saturday. No one was home when the fire occurred.

Old railroad bridge in Lula to be opened
Residents will soon be able to use the old one-way, overhead bridge in the the heart of Lula once Norfolk and Southern Railroad finishes the structural repairs.
The 50-year-old bridge has been an issue of debate between the railroad and the city. The railroad wanted it closed to traffic; the city wanted it open.
The problem was solved at last week's council meeting when a public hearing was held to determine whether or not to close the bridge permanently to automobile traffic. City attorney Brad Patton said that in order to close the bridge a hearing had to be held since it involved the closing of part of Cobb Street.
N & S assistant engineer Tom Bracey told the council the railroad would like to close the road to automobile traffic.
"The bridge, from an engineering standpoint, you can't do anything with it," he said. "There's a lot of problems with that bridge. We don't think it's very safe because of the approaches [off Main Street] going up and over it. There's really no way to improve that."
He said N & S had looked at several options, including the complete removal of the bridge. They concluded that closing the bridge to automobile traffic and converting it to an overhead pedestrian bridge would be the most feasible option.
"Once the repairs are done, if it was left as a pedestrian bridge, it might last another 25 to 30 years," he said. "If you put traffic back on it, we're going to be back here with the same maintenance problems."
He said N & S will spend over $30,000 on the current repairs "to get it back where it should be."
Ted Hix, N & S bridge supervisor, said the bridge would be built back to the original specifications with a load limit of seven tons.
"But, we've reached the limit of its useful life as a bridge," he said. "It's getting to the point in the bridge's life where we're not going to be able to fix it."
The city must also take on some of the expense of the bridge maintenance, Bracey added, including handrails and two inches of asphalt surfacing on the road.
The hearing also included comments from the public. Lula Area Betterment Association members expressed a concern to keep the bridge as part of Lula's history. They prefer keeping it open to traffic. The idea of owning it, though, was not a responsibility they wanted to assume, said Bobbie Moore.
Lula's mayor and council said they would not want to assume ownership or maintenance responsibility, either.
Other LABA members voiced concerns about the lack of a safe crossing over the tracks. An overhead bridge is necessary to provide traffic, school buses and emergency vehicles unimpeded access to the east side, they said. The city does have one under-pass, but it is limited in size and cannot handle large vehicular traffic. Its entrance and exit off Main Street involves a dangerous negotiation of an S-curve, they said.
Betty Evans said: "The underpass scares me. I feel like it's going to collapse on me. I won't use it when a train is passing overhead."
Resident Nelson Smith suggested the council keep the bridge open to automobile traffic until a new overhead crossing could be built.
Council member Milton Turner asked about the building of a new bridge south of the Cobb Street bridge as had been discussed at a previous meeting between Allen and Bracey.
"We brought that up with DOT," said Bracey. "We had looked at a location and discussed it with DOT. We have asked them to do a conceptual study on it."
He said the project would have to be a joint effort between the DOT, N & S and Lula. He suggested the council pursue the issue with the DOT to make it happen.
Allen said the council should make its decision on the bridge without factoring in the possibility of a new crossing going up sometime in the future.
"A new bridge will be a long ways off," he said. "It's a major undertaking."
Councilman Lamb Griffin said he is not in favor of closing the bridge to traffic.
"DOT needs to get us a way out of Lula," he said.
Council member Perry Bridgeman said he is in opposition to the move to reopen the bridge to automobiles.
"We know we're going to lose it down the road," he said. "And I understand the need for convenience. But, if the only way to keep the bridge is to make it pedestrian, then keep it pedestrian."
The council then moved to keep the bridge open to automobile traffic. The measure was passed 5-to-1, with Bridgeman voting in opposition.
N & S hopes to have the bridge completed in the next two weeks, said Hix. He said repairs would last maybe 10 years.

Test scores released
Some Banks County students fall below state, national averages,
Results of tests taken last spring by third, fifth and eighth graders at Banks County schools have been released by the board of education.
The results show Banks County's third and fifth graders fell below state and national averages in every category. Eighth graders scored higher than state averages in science and math, but lower in reading. Science was the only area where they scored higher than the national average.
It was the first time Banks County students had taken the Stanford 9 Achievement Test Series. Stanford 9 replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Skills that had been used for many years.
Linda Holloman, assistant school superintendent, said: "We're cognizant of the fact that our scores are lower. We're looking real carefully at these results. Typically, we've been above the state average."
Part of the problem of the lower scores, she says, may lie in the difference between the two testing methods. One may result in higher scores than the other.
"Our teachers have been basing their lessons on the state-mandated curriculum as referenced to the Iowa tests," she said. "It may be that the Stanford 9 test will require changing curriculums. If our teachers know the object of the test, then they will teach the students accordingly. We really haven't had the scores long enough to analyze them and come to a conclusion."
For the rest of the story see this weeks Banks County News.

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Alto sets qualifying for election
The Town of Alto has set qualifying for the November 2001 election.
Qualifying will be on Monday, September 10, through Friday, September 14, with the office being closed on Wednesday.
The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The fee is $18.
The posts up for election are: Post 1, held by Donald Wade; Post 3, held by Audrey Turner; and Post 5, held by Gary Terrell.

State probe of fire unit completed
Inmate admits to sex with woman at fire station. The Georgia Department of Corrections has completed its investigation of allegations of misconduct at a Jackson County Correctional Institute fire unit that was stationed at Banks Crossing.
The fire unit included three inmates from the JCCI facility and a guard from the Banks County Fire Department. The guard has since resigned his position.
The Department of Corrections looked into the allegations because state inmates were involved. Their report includes findings that one of the inmates had sex with a woman who came to the Banks Crossing fire station six times. The incidents occurred at the fire department, but the guard said he was not aware that it occurred. The woman and the inmate both admitted what happened.
The inmate also admitted that he had a cell phone sent to the woman through the mail and he had a cell phone.
The guard admitted in an interview to having unauthorized cookouts for the inmates, allowing family members to visit the inmates and allowing one of the inmates to drive to a nearby business in order to pick up a tool. The guard also said he know the inmates had money.
The JCCI fire-fighting unit had been shut down by the state for several weeks, but it is now in operation again. Jackson County leaders say the inmate firemen will not be allowed to leave the county to go to fires and will not be allowed to return to the Banks Crossing fire station.