News from Banks County...

November 14, 2001


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OPINIONS
Angie Gary

New Toby Keith song has patriotic theme
Fans of Toby Keith got a real treat at a recent concert in Hiawassee as they got to be among the first to hear him perform a powerful patriotic-themed song which is especially moving following the events of Sept. 11.

Shar Porier
Ghosts of Thanksgivings past

Hasn't the weather been beautiful. Pleasant afternoons, warm sun. Fall has got to be the best time of the year.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Hoops teams split opener in tourney
Lady Leopards open the season with win. Saturday night couldn't have been a better beginning for Mike Gordon's final season.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
County water rates to go up in Jan.
Increase is first in 11 years. Water customers of the Jackson County Water System will see rates go up in January for the first time in 11 years.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority voted Thursday night to increase the minimum bill (for the first 2,000 gallons) from $12.45 to $15 and to increase the cost per 1,000 gallons thereafter from $3.90 to $5.

Sewer Ordinance Amendment Aimed At Removing Grease
Commerce will crack down on businesses that generate grease and oil next year by amending its sewer ordinance to not only require grease traps, but to regulate their management.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY

Comer runoff set for Tues.
Sue Carithers will face William Burroughs in a runoff in the Comer mayor's race, Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Nash recommends merit system compromise
Commission chairman Wesley Nash offered a county merit system olive branch to disgruntled elected officials at a county budget work session Monday night.


 

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PREPARING BLESSING BASKETS


Pictured are the Rev. Brian Stowe (L), Maysville Baptist Church pastor, and Amory Hall, coordinator of the churchs Blessing Baskets outreach. Some 170 baskets were created for families in need for Thanksgiving.

In the spirit of giving
Maysville Baptist Church celebrates Thanksgiving with its sixth annual 'Blessing Baskets' outreach.
It started six or seven years ago with church members passing out a few bags of extra groceries left over from another church's Thanksgiving bounty. This year, Maysville Baptist Church's Blessing Baskets outreach effort is expected to provide some 170 families who need a little extra help with a basket loaded with more than enough for a Thanksgiving meal.
Amory Hall, who has been coordinating the Blessing Baskets program for the past few years, said he starts looking at the sales papers a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, and actually had the baskets for this year's outreach donated a month ago. Church family members are asked to each donate one or two hams for the baskets, and a line item in the church budget allows for the purchase of hundreds of cans of food.
"Some local stores donate or at least give us a great price, added the Rev. Brian Stowe, church pastor. "The stores have been very helpful."
As he prepared a few baskets Thursday to show what the final product will be, Hall said he expected 15 to 18 volunteers to put the baskets together Monday night, and 25 to 35 people, "maybe 40 with the adult choir," helping to pass out the baskets at a special service Tuesday night.
"We have a sort of assembly line here in the hallway," Hall said, giving a list of what the baskets will include - a ham, two cans of green beans, two cans of corn, a large can of sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, tea bags, a five-pound bag of sugar, a pound cake and a dozen rolls. Each basket is topped with a bow, courtesy of Hall's wife, Marie.
The church publicizes the program through the newspaper, the church newsletter, on the radio and with fliers put out at Commerce and Maysville projects. Word-of-mouth is also effective for letting the community know about the outreach effort, said the Rev. Stowe.
By Thursday, the church had already received 147 requests for baskets, and the Rev. Stowe said he expected around 170, "the most we've had by far."
The church holds a special service for passing out the baskets, and for meeting new families, with all the baskets lined across the front of the sanctuary.
"Each year the program changes," the Rev. Stowe explained. "We try to incorporate different parts of the church family."
This year's program, held Tuesday, included performances by the adult choir, the puppet and clown ministry and a dramatic reading.
"We put our best foot forward to show them how much the Lord loves them," the Rev. Stowe said. "No year is the same. Each year we try something different and try to improve on it...We encourage those who call to bring their families. We have special activities for children."
The Thanksgiving outreach launches the church into the holiday season, setting the tone for the weeks to come.
"Amory, you said it well," the Rev. Stowe said, turning to Hall and recounting his sentiment. "Between this and doing something for A Better Place children's home, we should be ready for the Christmas season. This puts it in proper perspective."


Maysville citizens unhappy with taxes for police and fire services
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Several Maysville citizens questioned last week the city council's proposal to raise the millage rate from 1.5 to three mills.
The center of the majority of the citizens' concern at the public hearing Thursday was the city's police department.
"We have an increase in police officers but no one is patrolling my subdivision," Lori Toney said. "I'm lucky if I see one squad driving through our subdivision so fast they can only see a blur. Extra police coverage is fine if they are actually there. But I don't know where they are. They're not in my neighborhood. You're not going to increase my taxes for services you're not providing."
But police chief Ricky Armour said the citizens were paying only a small fraction of the the cost to operate the department.
"For the police department to operate in 2000, it only cost the town $28,000 out of pocket for everything," Armour said.
Armour explained that the city would have to spend a little more than $30,000 in 2001 because a grant the city receives was reduced.
Armour also listed the call volume the department has handled over the past several years. He said officers had answered 1,986 so far this year.
However, Toney said lots of those calls were frivolous.
"We've had one violent crime and one drug bust this year," she said. "The rest so-and-so said words to somebody."
But Armour said his officers had to answer the calls.
"If it goes through a dispatcher, there's a liablility risk if we don't answer it," he said.
Another citizen questioned the number of police cars the city has.
"Why do we need five police cars when only one person is on duty?" Bud Dyer asked.
Armour told Dyer that the city used more than one car to keep from running the cars down too quickly.
"If you put one police officer in one car, you will put so many miles on the car you'll have to buy a new one every year," Armour said. "As small as Maysville is, they can't afford to buy two cars in one year."
Several citizens on the Banks County side of Maysville also took issue with paying taxes for fire protection to both the city and the county.
"Double services and double taxation does not provide me with double coverage," Toney said.
City attorney Gary Freeman said the citizens of Maysville are paying taxes for Banks County's fire budget but that the county wasn't covering the town's citizens.
"The city council has asked Banks County to give back to the city of Maysville the amount the citizens of Maysville pay to the fire budget," Freeman said. "They have refused to do so.
He added that Maysville citizens in Banks County are probably paying close to $6,000 total.
Several citizens said the city should bill Banks County for calls answered on that side of the city.
"People in Banks County are paying double," Gayle Bramlett said. "Why is Banks County not being charged back for it?"
Mayor Richard Presley said the services the city got from the county evened out.
"We use their 911 center, we use the jail, we get back-up," Presley said. "It all washes out."
Councilman Scott Harper told the citizens the city had tried to get the money back from Banks County.
"They did everything but throw us out," Harper said. "The citizens should go over there."



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Arson suspected in Carson-Segars fires
By Shar Porier
Banks County firefighters were kept busy Thursday responding to a series of fires possibly set by an arsonist along Carson-Segars Road.
Five different fires had been set Thursday afternoon threatening unoccupied woods and a hay field, said Fire Chief Perry Dalton.
"This isn't the first time we've been called to this road," he said. "This looks to be the work of someone setting the fires because they're sporadic along the road."
At one site, the Georgia Forestry Commission was called to plow a firebreak around the fire that had made headway into woods along the road. Above, a forestry plane flew reporting on the locations and spreading of the fires.
Later that afternoon, a fire rekindled and crews were dispatched again.
Dalton said suspicious fires had been set during the past week along the road.



Maysville council, mayor defend millage rate hike
A bad economy, a budget increase and a decrease in sales tax revenue are all reasons the Maysville City Council is giving for its proposed millage rate hike.
"We just didn't throw these numbers down," Mayor Richard Presley said. "We tried to cut everywhere we could. We put stuff in people said they wanted. This is the first tax increase in the city of Maysville in 10 to 12 years."
City attorney Gary Freeman reiterated Presley's statement.
"The population of Maysville has doubled in the last 10 years," Freeman said. "It requires more of everything. The council adopted ordinances to address some of the problems with growth."
But one citizen said the city needs to make some sacrifices.
"When I have a shortfall in my budget, I have to sacrifice," Lori Toney said. "I'm asking nothing more or nothing less than what I have to do. There are senior citizens in this town who can't afford to pay more taxes."
Toney added that she had considered not paying her taxes if they went up.
Kathryn Landua, another citizen, argued that the taxes were necessary.
"Everytime I come to a meeting people are asking for more services but don't want to give more," she said. "You can't get something for nothing. If they don't raise taxes, they have to cut out something."
Toney responded, saying her taxes had been raised enough.
Another citizen added that the city's meetings on the proposed millage rate hike had taken place in secret.
"The people in this town need to be made more aware of what's going on," Gayle Bramlett said. "This has been done in secretive meetings."
Presley responded that notice of all the city's meetings had been posted in the newspaper.
He also tried to explain that the majority of the increase in the city's budget came from raises for city employees, higher insurance costs, the formation of a downtown development authority and an $8,000 contingency fund for emergencies. He also said the city's revenue from fines, license fees and a police grant had decreased.
"If there is a surplus at the end of the year, I'll be the first to roll back the millage rate," Presley said. "I know it's hard for everybody. It's hard for me. I've got to pay it too."
Councilman Scott Harper added that the rate increase was necessary.
"I don't want a tax increase anymore than anyone here," Harper said. "I just don't see no way around it."