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October 16, 2001


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The Tiger Road Gets Tougher
Tigers To Face Washington-Wilkes After 34-7 Loss To Athens Academy .
Washington-Wilkes isn't exactly the best gridirion remedy for a team who suffered a 27-point loss the previous week.

Panthers host Loganville Friday
Turnovers demolish JCCHS at Eastside.
The Jackson County Panthers will host Region 8-AAA opponent Loganville (1-4/1-2) Friday at Panther Field. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

Dragons rediscover winning touch against Oglethorpe
After two consecutive loses, Jefferson needed a win.They got it at home Friday night against Oglethorpe County, 42-20.


Neighboorhood News ..
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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Commerce teen charged in armed robbery
A Commerce teenager has been charged in the recent armed robbery at the Waffle House at Banks Crossing.

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.


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'DEADLY FORCE TRAINING'

Members of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department received "deadly force training" last week with the Toccoa Police Department's professional range instructional simulator. The mobile simulator features virtual reality training designed to put a high level of tension and stress on the officer, officials said. Deputy sheriff Chip Grant is shown above testing the program.


Nalley Ousted
BOC to seek new county manager
BY ANGELA GARY
In a 3-2 vote, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to begin searching for a new county manager.
County manager Skip Nalley was hired in January and given a one-year contract. The BOC was to review his performance in nine months and decide whether to offer him another contract. This evaluation was apparently discussed in a 30-minute closed-door session Monday night. No discussion was given when the meeting was open to the public as to why Nalley isn't being offered another contract.
Commissioner Stacey Britt made the motion to seek applications for a new county manager. Tony Beatty secnded the motion and Sammy Thomason also voted in favor of the move. Commissioner Emil Beshara and BOC chairman Harold Fletcher voted against the action.
The three commissioners voting for the motion made no comments at the meeting even after Beshara asked that they explain their action. Beshara also asked the three to comment on whether the county had given Nalley any "guidance or direction" on his job duties. Fletcher said Beshara's request was "out of order."
"I'm sure it is," Beshara said.
After the meeting, Britt would only say: "I think this is in the best interest of the county at this time." He said there are no specific reasons for the motion he made.
Nalley was hired in January by the new commissioners and is the first county manager Jackson County has had. He had served as county manager in Upson County and city manager in Perry, Cartersville and Thomaston.


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.
"We have filed constitutional objections with city attorney Ronnie Hopkins so we can pursue our rights in court if you deny this," Mar Jac attorney Jane Range said just before the council's decision.
A large crowd packed the meeting room and overflowed into the hallway at city hall Monday night to express objections to the proposed rezoning of about 73 acres on Holder Siding Road and Benton Road from R-1 to M-1.
"Our opinion here is that we represent the people," Mayor Byrd Bruce said. "I'd like to entertain a motion to deny the rezoning."
Councilman Steve Kinney made the motion to deny the rezoning request. The motion was unanimously approved.
Two weeks ago, the Jackson County Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the rezoning. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners also passed a resolution last week supporting the planning commission's decision. Commissioner Stacey Britt said the area is not in the county but is in the county's sphere of influence.
Range said the area planned for the feed mill was suitable for industrial developments.
"The feed mill is along the railroad track," she said. "I would like to remind everyone that the railroad itself is industrial and clearly serves an industrial function by taking goods to and from industrial parts."
However, Boling DuBose, a Holder Siding resident, didn't buy Range's claims.
"Is every piece of land in the United States next to a railroad supposed to be industrial?" he said. "It's a classic case of spot zoning. The area is residential and agricultural. Not a single piece is industrial land."
In her argument, Range said the proposed feed mill would not disturb surrounding residential property and would be similar to the Wayne Farms feed mill in Maysville.
However, David Oppen-heimer, who lives near the Maysville feed mill, contradicted Range's claims on behalf of several Jefferson residents.
"There will be lots of noise, 24 hours a day, six days a week," he said. "Those of you who have a cat or dog and have bags of food, rip the top off of it and stick your head in-that's what it smells like. Don't do to these people what the city council of Maysville did to me and my family."
Other property owners also expressed concerns about noise, increased truck and train traffic, rodents and night lighting.
"Can 911 service be delivered if the (train) tracks are blocked for any amount of time?" Benton Road resident Deborah Fitzpatrick asked.
Range added that the feed mill would be a $15 million tax base investment and would be an important business for Jefferson and Jackson County.
"If you're saying no to this, you're saying 'We don't want your business in Jackson County,'" she said. "To end industrial growth in Jefferson is to damage not only Mar Jac's prescence in Jackson County but also the railroad's prescence."
Dubose added that the residents weren't opposed to growth in Jefferson.
"We know the bypass will spur some industrial and commercial growth," he said. "But it will also spur residential growth...None of us are against growth or expanding the tax base. But the reason we have industrial areas around I-85 is so you can put them there and not bother anyone."


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.
The rate is 15.3 mills for schools and one mill to operate the city. The total levy is expected to bring in $1.86 million, $1.745 million of which will go to the schools.
A mill is equal to $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The 16.3-mill levy represents a 4.09 percent increase over last year, when the combined total levy was 15.66 mills.
The motion to set the tax rate, which had been advertised for two weeks, was made by Councilman Richard Massey and seconded by Archie Chaney. It passed unanimously without discussion.
But Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. pointed out that for the first time in years, city tax bills will go out on time for collection by Dec. 20. While Dec. 20 has been the target date for final payment of taxes for decades, in the past several years Jackson County has been so late completing the tax digest upon which the rates are passed that the city was lucky to get the bills out by Dec. 31.
For the due date to be Dec. 20, the bills must be mailed by Oct. 20.
In other business Monday night, the council changed its utility cutoff ordinance to specifically allow it to terminate all utilities if a customer fails to pay for one or more of the city services. That has been the practice in the city, but it has not been the written policy, officials said. The change was approved unanimously.
The council also:
·approved an amendment to its insurance premium tax ordinance which allows it to charge $50 (instead of $40) per agency to out-of-town insurance agents doing business with city residents. The change was allowed because Commerce grew beyond 5,000 population.
·heard City Manager Clarence Bryant report that paving will begin next week on its community development block grant project in the Cedar Drive - Woodbine Street area, virtually completing that project. The city last week went to Savannah to pick up a $500,000 check from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for another grant to do similar infrastructure upgrades in the same general area.
·heard Bryant report that the upgrade of the State Street electrical circuit is under way.



Murder suspect discovered in Clarke County
A teenage suspect in a Jackson County murder was found last week in Clarke County.
Manuel Rosillo has been charged with murder in the death of Juana Gonzalez, 38, Borders Street, Jefferson, on Saturday, Sept. 29. He is also charged with two counts of aggravated battery in connection with the domestic dispute at the home he and his father live in on Brockton Road. Other charges are expected, officials said.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator David Cochran said the office received information on the early morning hours of Thursday, Oct. 4, from someone who said Rosillo was in Clarke County in a mobile home park on the Atlanta Highway. Cochran said he was found asleep in a bed in the home.
Another woman, Florinda Dye, Railroad Street, Jefferson, who was critically injured in the incident, is still in serious condition, according to Cochran. She is at Athens Regional Medical Center.
At the time of the murder, a motive was not known. Cochran said that Rosillo has said in interviews that he had been drinking and was angry at his father because he had refused to let him call his mother in California.
Deputies were called to the scene of the murder early on the morning on Sept. 29. The two victims were found 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, 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.
District attorney Tim Madison said Tuesday that he has not made a decision as to whether he will seek the death penalty in the case. An investigation is under way into Rosillo's exact age, which he said would be a determining factor. He is believed to be 17 or 18 years old, but he has an identification card that is believed to be fake that lists him as 21 years old.


Wilkins to close Jefferson operation
135 employees to be laid off when plant closes after 43 years
Wilkins Industries, an Athens-based apparel designer, marketer and manufacturer, has begun closing its Jefferson plant with 135 workers being laid off.
The Jefferson facility, which has been in operation since 1958, manufactures elastic waistband pants for Wal-Mart stores. The company also owns a facility in Athens, which is also being shut down.
"We are very sad about this sudden turn of events," said Wilkins president John J. Wilkins III. "Wilkins Industries requests that the Athens and Jefferson area communities keep these employees and their families in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
Company leaders say the closing is largely a result of continued foreign and NAFTA-related competition.
"It is impossible to compete in a global marketplace in which American apparel workers are paid $9 to $12 an hour while workers in Mexico make $2.20 per hour and those in Pakistan make only 37 cents per hour," said Ellen Wilkins, human resources director.
When Wilkins' customers began selecting Mexico's NAFTA-related lower costs, the company found itself making over 60 percent of its product in Mexico, according to company officials. Inability to keep customers interested in American manufacturing reportedly resulted in the 1999 closure of the company's Athens facility on Oneita Street, where over 400 people were employed. In the spring of 2001, the decision of another customer to move production to Asia forced the closure of Wilkins' McRae plant, with a job loss of over 150 employees. The past year saw several customers go into bankruptcy, leaders say.
The closings are also due to the sudden collapse of six months of negotiations that involved a refinancing of the company and the sale of the apparel business, according to a release issued Tuesday by the company.
"Because of financial stress caused by poor market conditions and international competition, the continued operation of the company relied completely on the successful conclusion of the sale and the refinancing," the release reads.
The Jefferson operation is expected to be closed by next week. The Athens plant, which employs 58 people, is expected to be closed by the end of December.
Vice president of operations John J. Wilkins IV said that the company will finish the orders in process and ship the remaining goods. All work that is still in the manufacturing process is planned to be completed and continued orders that are either in production or are based on existing inventory are planned for normal shipment.
Company leaders say the company is "focusing efforts on helping the employees with benefits they are eligible to receive." Employees who lose their jobs due to foreign competition may be eligible for education and extended unemployment benefits under NAFTA and TAA programs. These programs assist workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade with Canada or Mexico. The benefits allow employees to engage in long-term training while receiving income support. Employees in the Athens facilities are already approved due to a March 2001 petition. Wilkins Industries is in the process of applying for aid for the Jefferson employees and they feel the approval is likely.
A team of specialists from the Athens Department of Labor's career center have been pulled together to work with the Jefferson employees. They will conduct on-site meetings Thursday in which all employees will be informed of the programs the Department of Labor offers. The state dislocated workers unit will also be on site as part of this emergency response team. Plans also include information sessions in the coming weeks to help the affected employees with job searching assistance.
In an effort to help employees find new jobs, Wilkins Industries, with the assistance of the Department of Labor, will hold a job fair from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Jefferson factory, at 65 Kissam Street. The company is asking Jefferson and Athens area employers to participate. Job listings will also be posted on the company bulletin boards.
Wilkins Industries had its beginnings in 1909 as the Bellgrade Manufacturing Company in Winder. The company also included the former Big Ace Corporation, which stood on the site where the Athens' Classic Center now stands. John Wilkins III came into the business in 1958 when he opened his first factory on Kissam Street in Jefferson manufacturing for Sears Roebuck. Wilkins expanded to Oneta Street in Athens in 1980.



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Crawford Disqualified In Nicholson
NICHOLSON -- Not only was Bobby Crawford disqualified from running for the Nicholson City Council, but he was also disqualified from voting in the election.
Nicholson election superintendent Shelby Chester ruled Tuesday that Crawford was not a resident of the city. She also ruled that the Nicholson City Council's 2-1 vote to "grandfather" Crawford as a resident was illegal.
Crawford says he will appeal to the Superior Court of Jackson County.
A 10 a.m. hearing was continued to 4:00 p.m. while Councilman Billy Kitchens found a surveyor to explain the measurement of the city charter as amended in 1922. The document spelled out the measurement in "chains" and "links," and Crawford and Kitchens hoped a translation of the measurements would show that Crawford's land was in the city all along.
That didn't happen. Surveyor Barry Lord translated the numbers to show that the 1922 charter provided essentially the same boundaries as the original charter, creating a city one mile long by a half mile wide.
A week ago, Crawford argued that his land had been annexed during the tenure of the late Harold Swindle, but a search of city records could find no evidence of annexation, even though Crawford has been voting in Nicholson for 16-20 years.
The city was unaware of the discrepancy until someone contested Crawford's candidacy to Chester. At that point, Chester also became aware that three other longtime voters ­ neighbors of Crawford ­ are also not residents. They include Rogers Barnett, Mike Kesler and Deborah Kesler, according to Chester.
"I'd heard nothing about them. I'd just heard about Bobby," Chester said. "But to have a legal election, we'll have to get that straightened out."
In the morning part of the hearing, Crawford threatened to file a federal "discrimination suit" if he were disqualified but the other non-residents in the same situation were allowed to vote.
Crawford owns two tracts on Cedar Drive. One 5.8-acre parcel, upon which he lives, is entirely outside the city limits. The other, nine-plus acres, has a small portion that is in the city.
Crawford's disqualification leaves five candidates for four city council seats. The candidates are Kitchens, incumbent Chuck Wheeler, Deborah Moore, Lamar Watkins and Howard Allen Wilbanks. In Nicholson elections, all candidates run at-large and the top four candidates win the seats.
Ronnie Maxwell will seek re-election as mayor and will be challenged by James Kesler.


Seabolt will not seek council seat
Jack Seabolt said this week that he has decided not to seek the District 5 seat on the Jefferson City Council.
Seabolt said his name is already on the ballot and encouraged voters to cast their vote for Philip Thompson.
Seabolt said his decision to seek the office was not thoroughly thought out and doesn't fit into his future plans. He previously served on the city council.
"For the past several years I have served and enjoyed every moment and had always planned to retire at the age of 62," he said. "I tried, but failed, to get my name removed from the ballot. I would ask you to support Mr. Philip Thompson, whom I have known for quite some time. He is a very qualified young man. He and his family will contribute many good years to Jefferson."
Seabolt thanked those who allowed him to serve the city in the past.
"I hope that my effort has been at least a small contribution over these past almost 30 years off and on the council. For those that helped me, I am grateful. For those I may have offended, I'm sorry. At the moment, I probably thought it was not in the city's best interest."