News from Banks County...

October 10, 2001


Banks County
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OPINION
Letter to the Editor
Says columnist needs lessons in reporting

This letter is in response to Shar Porier's column on Wednesday, October 3, 2001.
I fully support freedom of speech but irresponsible statements by Shar in her column are evidence of her lack of experience and youthfulness. Remember, Shar: "The pen is might'er than the sword"!

Shar Porier
Normally I don't respond, but...

To Mr. Sokowoski I would like to say, "Thank you." You and the men, including my father, who fought in World War II performed a great service. And for that you deserve honor, as do all the men and women who have served in the military since the beginning of our democracy.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Gordon says goodbye to softball
His name is synonymous with slow-pitch softball in Banks County.
"I look around and I don't know of any coaches that have coached softball since it started at their school," coach Mike Gordon joked. "It's been a fun process for me. I just feel like I don't have the same energy level I had 20 years ago."


Neighborhood News...
JACKSON COUNTY
Jefferson rejects feed mill request
Mar Jac threatens legal action after council denies rezoning application.
The Jefferson City Council rejected a rezoning request for a feed mill to be located off Holder Siding Road Monday. But Mar Jac, the companay seeking to build the mill, isn't backing down.

Ho-Hum; No Comment As City Sets 16.3-Mill Tax Rate
After three public hearings in which only one question was asked, the Commerce City Council officially set its 2001 ad valorem property tax rate Monday night.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Jail break
Convicted kidnapper escapes from Madison Co. jail.
A convicted kidnapper is on the loose after breaking out of the Madison County jail early Tuesday morning.

Tate appears before Comer council
Former city clerk Elaine Tate had her say at the Comer City Council meeting Tuesday night. Tate made it clear that she was not trying to change anyone's mind.


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Learning to make wall pockets

Laura Yoder's fourth grade class at Banks County Middle School learned how to make clay wall pockets during a class last week.

Commerce teen charged in armed robbery
A Commerce teenager has been charged in the recent armed robbery at the Waffle House at Banks Crossing.
Timothy Martin Fricks, 17, was charged Tuesday in the Sept. 27 armed robbery at the restaurant. A warrant has also been issued for a second suspect in the armed robbery, Lee Murphy, 17, Anderson, S.C. Murphy is being held in the regional development center in Gainesville on other charges.
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said the two were allegedly involved in a group who are suspects in the armed robbery of several Waffle House restaurants.
"Our investigators in solving the armed robbery here at the Waffle House at Banks Crossing helped solve three more robberies and two burglaries," the sheriff said. "The Waffle House in Lavonia had been robbed by a part of this group."
A Waffle House in Clarke County and one in Gwinnett County were also robbed by part of the group, according to the sheriff.
Fricks was arrested Monday at the residence where he was staying after the sheriff's office received tips. The arrest also followed a probe by the Banks County Sheriff's Office that led investigators to Franklin County. The sheriff said Fricks has confessed to the armed robbery.
"With the assistance of some concerned citizens who gave tips and the investigative work by our own officers, the two subjects are now incarcerated and charged with armed robbery," he said.
The two robbers were described last week by the victims as being black males, but the sheriff said the two suspects are both white males. They had their faces concealed during the robbery.
The sheriff said the two suspects will also probably face charges in other counties.



County convention and visitors bureau has full-time staff
Sherry Ward to serve as executive director; Bonnie Johnson to serve as president. The Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was formed several years ago, now has a full-time staff.
Sherry Ward has been hired as executive director of the organization. She will no longer be employed by the Banks County Chamber of Commerce, where she had served as executive assistant. Ward said the function of the convention and visitors bureau is to promote tourism. The function of the chamber is to promote existing and new businesses.
Bonnie Johnson has also resigned as president of the chamber to serve as president of the convention and visitors bureau. This position will reportedly not be paid, although Ward's will be.
The chamber has not yet named a new executive assistant or president to serve its organization. The chamber's nominating committee is reportedly compiling a list of nominees to present to the chamber to fill these two positions.
Information as to where the office for the convention and visitors bureau will be located and when the monthly meetings will be held, along with other information, was not provided by Ward this week following questions from The Banks County News.
In the monthly chamber newsletter, it was reported that the convention and visitors bureau has "completed its independent incorporation process."
"As such, it will begin operating separate from the chamber in October," the newsletter reads.
Alicia Andrews and Carolyn Harvel will lead the newly incorporated convention and visitors bureau as co-chairs of the organization. Former convention and visitors bureau chairman Dennis Robarge resigned from this position as he has taken a new position with the NBA in Roanoke, Va.
Johnson and Ward released this joint statement in the chamber newsletter: "We both have loved working with the chamber of commerce and will continue to work closely with the chamber to promote Banks County. We've been a part of the CVB for the past 10 years and are really excited to be a part of this new phase of the Banks County CVB. And, with two strong organizations such as the Chamber and CVB working together to promote Banks County, we can accomplish twice as much for the betterment of Banks County."
In the past, the county has provided the hotel and motel tax from the Banks Crossing area each month to the chamber of commerce. This money will now go to the convention and visitors bureau. The chamber will continue to get the $20,000 the board of commissioners budgeted for it next year.
The hotel and motel tax has ranged from $5,000 to $15,000 per month in the past year. From June 2000 through July 2001, this tax brought in more than $166,167 for the chamber. As stated above, these funds will now go to the convention and visitors bureau to promote tourism.
The convention and visitors bureau has not had an audit done in the past few years, although leaders did recently release a two-page financial statement for the years of 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1997. In 2000, the organization listed $78,026 in expenses. The largest expenses were $21,757 for advertising and $20,370 for billboards. Other expenses include: $10,000 for a beautification consultant; $10,424 for wages and expenses; and $5,200 for an honorarium for Johnson (the total for the money given to her in December was over $10,000).


Hudson Falls community asks for bus service
Request denied until road is county maintained. The Hudson Falls community won't see bus service in their neighborhood until the county commissioners agree to make the road into the subdivision a county road.
Ken Baker, president of the homeowner's association at the Hudson Falls subdivision, told the board of education Monday night that the entire community would like bus service.
"We don't have school bus service and we'd like to get the bus rolling down the road to pick up our children," said Baker.
Baker said there are at least six kids in the neighborhood attending Banks County schools and that more families with children are moving into the area.
Superintendent Deborah White told Baker that the board could not offer bus service to Hudson Falls because the road was not county maintained.
"If and when you can get [the road] county maintained, we'd be glad to send a bus down that road," said White.
Baker said that the road is privately owned and some of the residents will not sign the 30-foot right of way over to the county. He told the board that the few residents who will not sign have no children and he doesn't feel like the residents will sign the rights of way.
White told Baker that there is nothing the school board can do until the road is county maintained.

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Raise in taxes coming for Baldwin The first step in increasing the tax rate for Baldwin residents was taken at Monday's meeting as the council approved the first reading of the new millage rate ordinance.
The council said the rate hike from 4.05 mills to 5.25 mills would be necessary to meet budget needs of $1.622 million.
City attorney David Syfan said the city would run an advertisement informing the public of the rate hike.
"Be prepared for phone calls," he told the council.
Public hearings, as required by state law, will be held Tuesday, October 23, and Monday, November 12, at 7 p.m. in the council meeting room.



Volunteers needed for tribute
The advisory group for the "United We Stand" tribute is seeking help and support.
Volunteer groups or choirs are needed to sing under the direction of Jack Banks during the service on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Veterans Park in Homer.
The group also needs the names and rank of current military personnel from Banks County and their parents' name in order to recognize them during the program.
For more information, contact Clifton "Pete" Hill at (706) 677-3314 or Janet Galloway at (706) 677-3275.

16-year-old involved in accident
Jeffrey Jackson, 16, suffered head injuries from a one-car accident on Hwy. 441 North just south of Homer last week. He was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Jackson apparently lost control of his truck and struck a street sign, causing the truck to roll over, according to highway patrol officials.