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October 3, 2001


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Tigers Carry Big Road Win Over Lincoln County Into Athens Academy Match Up. While Commerce's 13-12 come-from-behind win over Lincoln County will be savored in the 2001 scrapbook, it will also give a boost to a young Tiger team that has some top-notch competition ahead of them in the next couple of weeks.

Jefferson loses battle with clock, falls 28-21 to Social Circle
In what head coach Bob Gurley termed "the worst team performance we've had all season," the Jefferson Dragons endured their second loss of the season Friday, 28-21 at Social Circle.

Ladies of fall take center stage this week
With the arrival of October, area softball and volleyball teams are preparing to close out their seasons. Area tournaments are going on this week at various locations, but teams within the Mainstreet Newspapers coverage area aren't having to travel very far.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Danielsville water rates may go up
Danielsville water rates may soon go up by $1 to $1.50.
The council discussed the possibility of raising water rates Monday but took no action on the matter.

'To honor and remember'
Scouts bring community together to honor terrorist victims
The track at Madison County's recreation department was lit only by the soft flicker of candlelight for a short time Sunday evening as Boy Scout Troop 328 invited county emergency, fire and rescue workers, law enforcement, politicians and community members to come together to remember the victims and families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Armed robbers hit Waffle House Thurs.
Two armed robbers went into the old Waffle House at Banks Crossing on Hwy. 441 early Thursday morning and took approximately $1,000 in cash, according to Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman.

Residents air complaints at Maysville town hall meeting
The Maysville City Council held a town hall meeting last week, giving residents the opportunity to discuss issues they would like to see addressed.


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FUN RIDE

It wasn't only the youngsters who tried out the fun slide at the Hoschton Fall Festival last weekend. Fred Pruitt, 72, is shown taking a turn on the slide. See additional photographs from the festival in this weeks Jackson Herald


Suspect sought in murder
Jackson County law enforcement officers are searching for a 17-year-old man in connection with the murder of a woman early Saturday morning near Jefferson.
Manuel Rosillo is the suspect in the murder of Juana Gonzalez, 38, Borders Street, Jefferson. Another woman, Florinda Dye, Railroad Street, Jefferson, was critically injured in the incident. She is at Athens Regional Medical Center.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator David Cochran said warrants for one count of murder and two counts of aggravated battery have been issued for the suspect.
Deputies called to the scene early Saturday morning found the two victims in a back bedroom of the residence. Gonzalez, who had massive head injuries and was shot, was dead when the officers arrived. Dye was found bludgeoned about the head and in serious condition.
Cochran said the suspect allegedly entered the residence at 7356 Brockton Road where he lives with his father Serbando Rosillo around 2 a.m. Saturday.
"It appears that the son entered the back bedroom where Serbando and Juana were sleeping," Cochran said. "He was armed with a firearm. Serbando attempted to wrestle the firearm out of his hands. They struggled through the house and out into the yard. At that time, Manuel fired two shots at his father, not striking him. The father then fled into the woods and attempted to get away from his son."
The suspect then allegedly went back into the home and kicked in a back bedroom door where the two victims were.
An 8-year-old girl was hiding underneath the bed and was not injured. A 4-year-old child was sleeping in another room and was not injured.
Law enforcement officers have found no motive in the murder.
"We have not found any evidence of any kind of altercation prior to this," Cochran said. "That is still a mystery. As of right now, there appears to be no motive for it."
The suspect is "considered dangerous," according to a wanted poster released by the sheriff's department. Anyone with information on him is asked to contact Cochran at 367-8718 or Ben Williams of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at (706) 542-7901.


New Method Of Annexation: 'Grandfathering'
Nicholson Council Bends Rules To Qualify Candidate To Run For Office
NICHOLSON -- The city government here may have set a legal precedent Monday night: annexation and thereby qualifying the owner of the property as a resident retroactively by "grandfathering."
Bobby Crawford has voted in Nicholson for 16 to 20 years, but after he qualified to run for city council in the Nov. 6 elections, he was told he wasn't a resident of Nicholson.
So, in a city that has moved from one controversy to another during the past year, it comes as little surprise to find that the 2001 election is already being officially contested. Action taken by the city council Monday night did little to resolve the issue.
New city attorney Chris Elrod is quickly learning the peculiarities of Nicholson government. Called upon by mayor Ronnie Maxwell to "get us out of this mess," Elrod found his legal advice ignored by two-thirds of the council who made an end run around the legalities of annexation and voter registration by "grandfathering" Crawford and two other families as city residents and presumably, registered voters.
No one knows exactly what happened, or even when it did, but Crawford and neighbors Roger and Linda Barnett and Deborah and Mike Kesler assumed they were in the city and have voted for 16 to 20 years in city elections. But according to city and county maps, while some tracts in the area were annexed, the lot holding Crawford's house and the property of the Barnetts and Keslers were not.
"How they managed not to get that in, I can't tell you," said Elrod, who said the "best information" available at the time indicated they are not city residents.
Crawford said former mayor Harold Swindle talked him into annexing at the time the Quail Ridge subdivision was brought into the city.
"He told me all of the property would be in, then I would be eligible to vote," said Crawford.
If the town council ever voted on the annexation, city officials have yet to find evidence of it, although city clerk Jennifer McNeil and election superintendent Shelby Chester planned a thorough search of the minutes this week to see if any vote was taken.
"I need to know something pretty soon. If I'm going to be in this election, I need to get out and do some politicking," noted Crawford, who noted that former county building inspector Don Segraves had advised him that he didn't need a building permit for a house since he was in Nicholson, not the county.
Councilman Billy Kitchens proposed a simpler solution ­ that Crawford's property be "grandfathered in." Chuck Wheeler agreed, although both Chester and Elrod argued that such a move would not be legal.
"I don't think it would be legal and binding," Elrod cautioned.
Chester repeatedly warned that if the election was held and it was determined that Crawford was not a legal resident, the election would be thrown out.
"I will not vote for something that is illegal," said council member Margaret Ward.
The one thing all parties agreed to was that Crawford is getting a raw deal.
Chester will hold a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 9, to resolve the issue. Unless reference to a vote is found in the minute books or other records, it will be up to Crawford, she said, to prove he is a resident or that "grandfathering" is a legal form of annexation.
"We're not annexing. We're grandfathering," reminded Wheeler.
"My legal advice is that you don't have the authority to grandfather him in," said Elrod, immediately after which Kitchens and Wheeler voted, over Ward's objection, to do just that.
"As election superintendent, you're going to have to prove to me it's legal to grandfather him in," Chester told them.
"Right now, we just expedited him in. You'll have to prove it isn't legal," Wheeler responded.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the council:
·voted to participate in the Keep Georgia Beautiful "One for the Chipper" Christmas tree recycling program. The city will recycle Christmas trees into mulch and the Department of Community Affairs will give away seedling trees on a Saturday after Christmas.
·voted to participate in the Georgia Municipal Association's "Mayor's Motorcade to Milledgeville," an annual event to make sure mental health patients at Milledgeville are not forgotten at Christmas.
·voted to offer prizes of $50, $25 and $10 for the first three places in a contest that would let middle or elementary school children design a city logo.
·voted after a 10-minute closed session to change one city employee from full time to part-time. The maintenance worker traditionally works full-time during the grass cutting season and part-time the rest of the year.
·set operating hours for the library at 9:00 to 5:00 weekdays. The building had previously been closed an hour during lunch.
·agreed to adopt a leave form for employees' days off and to require use of time cards for employees.


Mar-Jac feed mill plan hits snag as planning board recommends denial
The Jackson County Planning Commission recommended denial Thursday night to a request from Mar-Jac Poultry to rezone 73.193 acres on Holder Siding Road and Benton Road from R-1 to M-I to locate a $15 million feed mill.
The Jefferson City Council will take action on this request when it meets at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 8, at city hall.
A large crowd attended the planning commission meeting Thursday night with several Jefferson area residents speaking in opposition to the request.
Deborah Fitzpatrick said the area around the property is all residential and that rezoning it to M-I would be "spot zoning." Her other concerns include lights being on at the facility at all times, an increase in truck and train traffic and possible noise and odor and rodent problems.
"This is an intrusive eyesore to our residential community," she said.
Boling DuBose spoke on the residential growth in the area and said there would be 500 homes around the site within the next year. He said the quality of life for those residents would suffer if the plant is developed.
"It's not that we don't want Mar-Jac in Jackson County," he said. "We just don't want them in the middle of a residential section."
A petition was also presented with the names of 375 area residents opposed to the development.
Attorney Jane Range spoke on behalf of Mar Jac and said the R-1 zoning will not serve the area in the future because of the increasing demand for industrial and commercial use.
Range said: "It is a less intrusive use than the residents perceive."
She said that the plant would not be a more intensive use or as intrusive as fully developing the property as a subdivision. She added that the project would be a significant increase to the tax base.
Design engineer Loren Field said all storage would be located inside the facility and it would meet state and federal air and environmental regulations. He also said that a red light would be located on top of the facility as a warning for aircraft.
Officials said the project would be similar to Wayne Farms in Maysville and Fielddale Farms in Baldwin.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other planning matters for the City of Jefferson, the planning commission recommended:
·approval to Jeff Musser to rezone 3.149 acres on Highway 129 from R-3 to C-2 to locate an office warehouse.
·approval to Frances Mathis to rezone 0.56 acres at 222 Epps Street from R-3 to R-4 to remove the existing site-built home and replacing it with a manufactured house.


Fire budgets top $1 million
For the first time ever, the combined budgets from Jackson County's 10 fire districts will top $1 million in 2002. But those funds will also be handled differently during the year following criticism by county auditors over how the districts were doing their accounting paperwork.
The total budgets for the 10 districts, which exclude the towns of Commerce and Jefferson, is $1.18 million for 2002. Most of those funds will come from property taxes levied by each of the districts.
But those funds will be distributed differently in 2002. Rather than each department maintaining its own bank account, invoices will be forwarded to the county government for payment. Taxes and other funds collected by the districts will remain under the accounting control of the county for better record keeping.
Only two fire districts, Harrisburg and Plainview, are increasing their millage rates for 2002. Both districts are doubling their current rate: Harrisburg to 1.48 mills, up from .74 last year, and Plainview to 1.7 mills, up from .84 mills last year. Both departments expect large capital expenditures during 2002, according to their budgets.
While the districts did submit their budgets on time this year, few of them accounted for funds already accumulated in their bank accounts. At the end of 2000, some $530,700 had been accumulated, but not spent, by the fire districts over the years. Only $76,000 of those funds was included in the 2002 district budgets, with the remainder unaccounted for.
WEST JACKSON THE LARGEST
The largest fire district is the West Jackson Fire District, with a tax digest of $158.3 million and a budget of $257,500. West Jackson is also the only district to have paid firefighters, with $50,000 allocated for full-time salaries and $35,000 for part-time salaries. The millage rate for West Jackson will remain at 1.6 mills for 2002.



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Commerce Council Poised To Set Tax Rate Monday
If all goes according to schedule, the Commerce City Council will set its 2001 property tax rate Monday night.
The city council's regular October meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Commerce Civic Center.
The city has advertised a rate of one mill for city operations and 15.3 mills to provide the local portion of the Commerce City School System's budget. The total levy of 16.3 mills represents a 4.09 percent increase over last year.
Property tax rates are figured in mills. A mill is equal to a dollar of taxation on $1,000 of assessed value.
The public can comment on the proposed levy at any of three public hearings. They will be held Thursday at noon and Thursday at 5:00 p.m. as well as next Monday night at the council meeting.
Property taxes make up about 20 percent of the Commerce Board of Education's $8.24 million total budget and about seven percent of the city's $27 million budget, which also includes the "local" portion of the school budget. The school system relies largely on state money and to a smaller degree on federal funds. The city has numerous revenue sources, including the sale of water, electricity and natural gas (which accounts for the bulk of its budget), fines, licenses, grants and a variety of taxes that include beer and wine taxes, receipts of the local option sales tax, a tax on insurance premiums and franchise taxes on utility companies operating in the city. It also gets a share of the special purpose local option sales tax.
The school board gets proceeds from a sales tax as well ­ the local option sales tax for education. That money does not appear in the regular budget and is accounted for in a separate account.


Three qualify in Jefferson
Three people qualified last week for Jefferson leadership slots.
Former councilman Jack Seabolt and Phillip Thompson qualified for the Ward 2 city council seat held by Jim Joiner, who resigned to run for mayor.
Angela McKinney is the only one who qualified for the Ward 1 board of education seat held by Horace Jackson, who resigned recently.
The special election will be held on the same day as the regular city election.


BOC to set tax rate Fri.
Some citizens upset at millage hike plan
An angry group of taxpayers crowded into the 911 conference room Thursday night to voice complaints about a proposed hefty tax hike by the county government.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is planning to increase its millage rate from 2.57 mills to 8.72 mills for unincorporated areas and from 3.64 mills to 9.78 mills in incorporated areas. A final public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rates will be held at 9 a.m. Friday in the State Courtroom in Jefferson. The BOC will vote on the rates and budget at 10 a.m.
Last fall, the previous board of commissioners slashed the tax rate by five mills, forcing the government to use $4.5 million of its reserves during 2001. The current BOC said again Thursday night that this year's dramatic hike in the millage rate was due to that action by the previous board. But that didn't satisfy the more than 30 people who attended the budget hearing.
"There are times when we all have to suck it up," said Adolf Sanders, who questioned the proposed four percent raise for county employees.
Another man suggested the commissioners cut jobs or fire employees in order to reduce the budget.
"The government has got to get where it is run right," he said.
Last year, the county brought in $3.6 million in property tax funds on a budget of $18.6 million, not including taxes raised for fire districts. This year, the county proposes to bring in $9.9 million in property tax funds on a budget of $20.8 million. (Both budget numbers exclude SPLOST funds which flow to other agencies.)
The proposed millage rates this year are slightly higher than for fiscal year 2000 when the rates were 9.0 mills in incorporated areas and 7.58 mills in unincorporated areas.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said the BOC has looked at raising fees and other sources of increasing revenue.
"Jackson County government has to function," Fletcher said. "The services that are demanded have to be provided and have to be paid for."
One taxpayer pointed out that the country is on the brink of a recession and that means downsizing is needed.
"We're not expanding," Fletcher said. "We're trying to maintain the status quo. There is nothing new."
This comment led one man to question whether he would be paying more taxes, but getting no new services for his money.
Another man who said his taxes were $5,700 last year questioned where all of the tax money is going.
"We can't even get gravel on the roads," he said. "...I don't see any services we are getting for this."
Bobby Allison pointed out that the number of homes are growing in the county and asked where that property tax money was going.
Commissioner Emil Beshara said the increase in homes led to a higher demand for services. Beshara said the county needs to bring in more industrial and commercial growth which would bring in more tax money, but not a greater demand for services.
One man said that "it's a shame" that a taxpayer with a home that he has paid for has to pay $100 to $150 a month in taxes to live in his home.