Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga
A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia
from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy
reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson
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Neighboorhood News ..
County mourns for victims of terrorist attacks
Their faces solemn, their heads bowed, many Madison County students
joined hands in front of the high school Friday morning to pray
for the victims of last Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Washington
and New York.
Expect increase in county taxes
Expect an increase in property tax rates for the Madison County
government this year.
This is in addition to an anticipated tax hike for county schools.
Projected general fund expenses for the county government in
2002 are approximately $9.5 million, while anticipated revenues
are around $8.5 million, leaving about $1 million in needed funds.
Low voter turnout reported; referendum passes 729-43
Banks County voters who went to the polls on Tuesday overwhelmingly
approved renewing the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales
Tax (SPLOST) for education.
County couple's trip to Washington, D.C., cut short last
week by terrorist attack
Fred and Judy Wendt had planned a few days of sight-seeing in
Washington, D.C. before attending the United Methodist Women's
Conference set to begin on Thursday, September 13. The terrorist
attack on the Pentagon last week cut their visit short.
The Jackson Herald
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SHOW OF PATRIOTISM
This God Bless America sign with
an American flag attached was put up at Trinity Tire, Jefferson,
following last week's terrorist attacks. Similar signs and flags
are visible at businesses, churches, schools, government buildings
and homes across the county. For additional storys see this weeks
put on hold
JEFFERSON -- The economic slowdown 96
deepened by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has led the Jackson
County Water and Sewerage Authority to put several water projects
Manager Jerry Waddell suggested Thursday night
"putting the brakes on spending," citing declining
revenue from the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST),
$149,000 per month payments on the Bear Creek Reservoir and an
increase of $59,000 per month on its bond repayment.
"The total (of the two monthly payments)
is more than the checks we receive from SPLOST," Waddell
said. "That tells me we need to put the brakes on."
The delay in finishing the reservoir project costs the authority
at least $100,000 per month in lost profits, according to Elton
Collins, chairman, and the slowing economy just makes matters
worth. The collections from the 2000 SPLOST have been below projections
every month since February. Although total collections through
the first 14 months of the five-year sales tax are 4.3 percent
over projections, collections February through August averaged
eight percent below what was expected.
"We are under projection every month
this year," said Collins. "And after what happened
last week (the terrorist attacks), some say we are sliding into
At Waddell's suggestion and with the recommendation
of engineer Charlie Armentrout, the authority put on hold three
projects upon which construction has not been started. They include
line installation along Old Hoods Mill Road and various other
areas in SPLOST project three, a waterline extension along Georgia
15 in the center of the county and lines in the southeastern
section in SPLOST projects four and five.
On the positive side, Waddell reported that
the authority's projects moving water lines for the Department
of Transportation's Jefferson and Pendergrass bypasses will result
in the DOT reimbursing the authority for about $600,000 in expenses.
"That may be the time to re-look at the
issue," he told the authority.
in county to show patriotic spirit, support
As the news unfolded Tuesday morning of terrorist attacks against
the United States, employees at Seydel International gathered
around a television, much like Americans everywhere, to watch
in horror, disbelief and outrage as news footage showed commercial
jets crashing like fireballs into the two World Trade Center
towers and into the Pentagon.
For Jackie Golden, president of the company located on John B.
Brooks Road, Pendergrass, sitting and watching wasn't enough.
He wanted a way to show visible support for the country. The
American flag came to mind.
On Wednesday, Golden bought every flag he could find - the kind
that attaches to car windows - pretty much cleaning out the supply
at the Kmart in Gainesville, where he noted there were "a
lot of other people buying flags, too." Golden then passed
the flags out to co-workers and employees, and on Thursday morning,
nearly every vehicle in the Seydel International parking lot
was flying at least one flag - Golden's car sported two, one
on each side.
"I bought about 60 flags," Golden said. "I was
thinking about those football flags people put on their cars
and I was thinking it would be a good idea to get them in American
flags...This is just to show support for the United States. They
said we should fly a flag until the period of mourning is over,
and in retaliation."
All over Jackson County, residents posted American flags outside
their homes, while businesses also flew the Stars and Stripes.
Flags were flown at half-mast at the courthouse, city halls,
schools and other government buildings as a show of respect for
a nation in mourning, and Thursday morning found Jefferson Police
Chief Darren Glenn and Jefferson City Council member Jim Joiner
kneeling in the grass on the square in Jefferson, setting up
rows of American flags.
Church signs called for prayer and issued "Open For Prayer!"
invitations for those seeking answers, and businesses as well
posted their signs with supportive messages.
"God Bless America" read the sign at Trinity Tire,
Jefferson, with a small flag attached to it and the arrow above
it flashing with yellow lights.
3 To Challenge
Incumbents In City Elections
Three challengers qualified late last Friday to take on three
incumbents in the Nov. 6 Commerce elections. Two of the challengers
are former city council members.
Neal Smith qualified to run for the at-large, Post 2 seat held
by Archie D. Chaney Jr. Curtis Stowe will run for the District
2 seat on the Commerce Board of Education against his next-door-neighbor,
Mary Seabolt. The other challenger is Oliver Pittman, who seeks
the Ward 1 seat on the city council held by Rylee Harris, who
also seeks re-election.
Smith, 60, served as an at-large councilman in the late 1980s.
A former manager of the Holiday Inn, he is employed by the University
of Georgia at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in
hotel management. He and his wife, Doris, live at 334 Roosevelt
Blvd., and have two grown daughters, three grandchildren and
a fourth on the way.
"I just want to help the people and to continue to make
government strong," Smith said.
Stowe, 69, lives at 123 Nunn Street. A native of Commerce and
graduate of Commerce High School, he served four years as an
at-large councilman. He is retired from Scientific Atlanta.
"I just think I can help the kids and teachers," he
said. "I have plenty of time to do it."
County BOE plans slight increase in millage rate
The Jackson County Board of Education plans to increase its tax
rate slightly for 2002, from the current 14.89 mills to 15.50.
According to superintendent Andy Byers, the increase is necessary
due to lower-than-expected county tax digest figures.
"My thinking was that we'd have a much larger increase in
the tax base due to the power plant coming on line," Byers
Board members struggled with the increase Byers and management
services director Jeff Sanchez had asked for during a called
meeting last Thursday, finally settling on the .61-mill hike
after much discussion about whether to increase the rate at all.
"The truth is, we rolled the millage rate back too much
last year," Byers said. "We will not have any choice
if we keep it where it is, but to have it go up two mills next
year." Byers went on to note that if Tuesday's SPLOST referendum
had not passed, the rate would probably have been increased to
around 20 mills.
"Well, look at the things we've been able to provide,"
chairperson Kathy Wilbanks pointed out. "Put in real terms
of what it costs them, who wouldn't want this?"
"And you have to ask yourself," Byers continued, "do
we want to keep providing a quality education, or do we start
cutting, and if so, where do you start?"
"If you think I want to cut anything you're crazy,"
board member Ed Tolbert commented, "but I have an obligation
to the folks who elected me."
"But we'll be doing a greater disservice to the students
if we don't raise the millage rate," member Stephanie Kitchen
responded. Tolbert agreed.
"The bottom line is, we don't want to take anything away
from the kids," Wilbanks said. The final vote was unanimous.
The system's bond millage rate will remain unchanged. Public
ad valorem tax hearings required by law if tax revenue
increases are planned for next Thursday in the staff development
room, the first at 7:30 a.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m. The
millage rate will be officially set at a called meeting Oct.
4 at 7:30 a.m.
The board will also hold a called joint meeting Monday at 7 p.m.
at the Jackson EMC building with the Jefferson and Commerce school
boards for the purpose of consolidating the SPLOST referendum
SPLOST passes 93%
The special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for education
was overwhelmingly passed by 93 percent of the voters who went
to the polls Tuesday.
Some 1,712 countians voted in favor of the sales tax, while only
134 voted against it. Only 11 percent of the county's approximately
17,000 registered voters went to the polls.
The tax is expected to bring in $45 million in SPLOST revenue
over the next five years.
Commerce voters passed the tax 363-15; Jefferson voters passed
it 336-14; and county voters passed it 1,013-105.
"I think it's a great vote of confidence on how we handled
the previous SPLOST money," Jackson County School Superintendent
Andy Byers said Tuesday night after the final votes were tallied.
Byers said the SPLOST funds will be used to increase the capacities
of the two middle schools to 880 students each. The system will
also build an East Jackson High School on the same site where
the EJES is under construction, will keep the millage rate for
the 1994 bonds at one mill or less and will buy more land for
new schools as the need arises.
Jefferson City School superintendent Dr. John Jackson said: "I
feel wonderful over the fact that it passed and it passed in
such an overwhelming affirmative. We're just elated."
The funds will be used by the city system to continue reducing
the bond indebtedness, saving $1.75 million in the process, to
split Jefferson Elementary School into two schools, to do more
renovation at the middle school, to re-roof its art/computer
center and to make additions to the new middle school now under
With funds from the current SPLOST, Jefferson has reduced its
bond obligation, renovated most of its high school, added six
classrooms at the elementary school, upgraded computers and done
major renovations to its middle school and gym. It is currently
building a new middle school.
Commerce School System superintendent Larry White said: "I'm
just excited. It shows the support for public schools we have
in Jackson County and Commerce."
White attributes the success of the SPLOST vote to the three
school systems doing what they promised to when the sales tax
was first approved in 1997.
White said the funds would be used to finance a $6 million bond,
proceeds of which would go to build a new middle school to house
450 students, for new concession stands, restrooms and a visiting
team's dressing room at the high school football field, an addition
to the CHS gym to provide practice space for wrestling and cheerleading,
a new central office facility, upgraded locker rooms for girls'
sports and miscellaneous heating and air conditioning and plumbing
White said the accomplishments with SPLOST funds from the first
round included the renovation of Commerce High School, the seven-room
addition at Commerce Elementary School and the four-room addition
at Commerce Middle School, plus a host of other improvements,
including new floors, ceilings or roofs and wiring for technology.
set for Nov. 6
Mayoral races on tap in Jefferson, Braselton, Hoschton and Nicholson
Qualifying ended last week and elections are set in several Jackson
County towns. Among the races on the ballot will be four mayor's
The incumbents in Jefferson, Braselton, Hoschton and Nicholson
are all facing opposition. Jefferson Mayor Byrd Bruce will face
councilman Jim Joiner; Braselton Mayor Henry Edward Braselton
will face Patricia Graham; Hoschton Mayor Billy Holder will face
Gary Titus; and Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell is being challenged
by James Kesler.
A breakdown on those who qualified for the town elections is
In Arcade, an election won't be necessary as only the incumbents
qualified. The council will consist of: Mayor Doug Haynie and
council members Dean Bentley, Tom Hayes, Cindy Bone, Polly Davis
and Ron Smith.
Those to qualify in Braselton include: District 1, incumbent
Bruce Yates; District 2, Tom Clark; District 3, incumbent Pam
Jackson and Elise Cotter; and District 4, incumbent Dudley Ray.
In Commerce, those who qualified are: At-large Post 2 city council,
incumbent Archie Chaney and Neal Smith; Ward 2 city council,
incumbent Donald Wilson; Ward 1 city council, incumbent Riley
Harris and Oliver Pittman; District 1 board of education, Arthur
Lee Pattman; and District 2 board of education, incumbent Mary
Seabolt and Curtis Stowe.
Those to qualify for the Hoschton council seats include: Post
1, incumbent Roslyn Clark and Brian Boehmer; Post 2, Benjamin
Davis, Glenn Evans and Larry Stancil; and Post 3, incumbent Joyce
Peppers and Sandi Romer.
Those to qualify in Jefferson include: Ward 2, incumbent Marcia
Moon and Bobby Patterson; Ward 4, incumbent Bosie Griffith. Those
to qualify for the board of education include: chairman, incumbent
Ronnie Hopkins; Ward 2, BOE, incumbent Steven Hix; and Ward 4,
BOE, incumbent Derrell Crowe.
Those to qualify in Nicholson for the four at-large council seats
include: incumbents Chuck Wheeler and Billy Kitchens and Howard
Wilbanks, Bobby Crawford, Lamar Watkins, Paul Cartledge and Deborah
In Talmo, the incumbents were the only ones to qualify. They
are: Mayor Larry Joe Wood; Post 3, Jill Miller; and Post 4, Trapper
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Board Trims Budget To Cut Tax Rate
The Commerce Board of Education held a rare Saturday meeting
to reduce its proposed property tax rate.
Had the board not taken action, it would have requested a 15.91-mill
rate, which would have been a 1.57-mill increase over last year's
levy. The action Saturday reduces the 2001 levy to 15.3 mills,
up .64 mills from last year.
The move cuts the budget by $69,695 and will be made up for by
tapping the board's "fund balance," or cash reserves.
The tax will bring in $1,745,200 if it is all collected.
What precipitated the action was less-than-expected growth in
the city tax digest, superintendent Larry White told the board.
The city's tax digest increased only 2.2 percent, partly because
of a slow year in construction and partly because the city changed
its freeport exemption on certain industrial inventory from 20
percent to 100 percent.
Even with the small tax rate increase, the 2001 rate will still
be well below the 1999 tax rate, which was 16.36 mills. Last
year, the board kept its budget request at the 1999 level which,
coupled with strong growth in the tax digest, enabled the city
to reduce the tax rate by two mills.
In other business, the board approved a revised facilities plan
that makes its top priority over the next five years to be the
construction of a new middle school. It also approved a new system
structure, dividing schools into K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 buildings.
The board also approved an application for "advance funding"
of $3,076,837 to use with receipts from the special purpose local
option sales tax (SPLOST) for education to build the school.
Voters approved a five-year SPLOST extension Tuesday.
"The worst-case scenario is that the SPLOST fails and we
have to call the state and say cancel the request," White
Once the school is built, the system will receive state entitlement
funding on it, just as it does on its other schools, and that
money will be used to "repay" the advance funding.
The advance funding is contingent upon the General Assembly approving
capital improvement money next spring, which is a virtual certainty.
In other business, chairman Steve Perry passed out copies of
a newspaper story about "school-government partnership agreements"
forged between the Cherokee County Board of Education and the
municipalities in Cherokee County. Noting how city decisions
on matters like zoning and land use affect the schools, Perry
suggested that the board might want to craft such an agreement
with the Commerce City Council.
"I think that this may be an opportunity for us to make
a formal agreement," said Perry, who said he would attend
Monday night's "work session" between the city council
and the Commerce Planning Commission on the issue of increasing
lot size requirements for multifamily housing districts.
Perry asked the board members to read the article, along with
two attached articles about Commerce amending its zoning ordinance,
and asked White to get copies of the Cherokee County agreements.
Man charged with
stealing American flag
A Jackson County man was charged by the Jefferson Police Department
Thursday after allegedly stealing one of the American flags placed
around the square in downtown Jefferson.
James Culpepper, 30, Jefferson River Road, was charged with disorderly
conduct. Police chief Darren Glenn said the charges stem from
the action "causing hostile and unpeaceful feelings from