News from Jackson County...

November 26, 2001


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Tues., Nov. 6
ELECTION RESULTS

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 County.

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SPORTS

2001 Class A Playoffs
Commerce Hopes To Out-Flank Georgia Military Friday Night
This is usually the time of year that all eyes are on Commerce.

Dragons, Tigers enter football playoffs Friday
Commerce hosts Georgia Military; Jefferson travels to Lincoln County
The Georgia High School Association will begin its 2001 state football playoffs Friday, and two area teams are eligible to participate.

Lowe resigns as Panther football coach, A.D.
Jackson County head football coach and athletic director Greg Lowe resigned from both posts Monday, according to high school principal Dr. Robin Hines.


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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Arson suspected in Carson-Segars fires
Banks County firefighters were kept busy Thursday responding to a series of fires possibly set by an arsonist along Carson-Segars Road.

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.

 


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Three arrested in Jefferson bank robbery

Three people were taken into custody Monday morning following a bank robbery in Jefferson and an ensuing high-speed chase through West Jackson.
The robbery took place at the Community Bank & Trust branch on Hwy. 11 west of Jefferson. In the chase that followed, deputies were reportedly fired on from the car by the suspects.
The chase ended on Hwy. 53 in West Jackson after the suspects wrecked. A Barrow County law enforcement vehicle reportedly bumped the suspect's car as it sped along Hwy. 53 near the Jackson-Barrow County line.
Inside the vehicle, automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests were found. The vehicle used by the suspects was reportedly stolen from Dekalb County Sunday.
Two men and one woman were taken into custody at the scene. They are suspected of other crimes in Georgia, police said.

EXPLAINING THE POSSIBILITIES

Representing Strickland River Farms, Mitch Peavey explains to David Kirk and Chairman Bill Braselton of the Braselton Planning Commission the applicant's proposed residential and commercial community plan. The property, which is located on the intersection of Hwy. 211 and Liberty Church Road, was proposed to develop 499 homes with 12 acres of commercial development within a six- to eight-year span. The Braselton Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny Strickland River Farm's request for annexation and rezoning of the property.  


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.
In addition, the authority doubled to $1,200 the cost of a water tap and doubled the fees it charges for new customers and to reconnect customers who have been cut off to $20.
Those rate increases were passed to finance the $3.4 million 2002 budget the authority also passed on Thursday.
"I could not bring to you a budget that would be in the red," said Jerry Waddell, manager, who proposed the rate increases.
That budget is up 78 percent in anticipation of 50 percent more income from water sales, 66 percent more income from Plant Dahlberg in Center plus more than $750,000 in water and sewer revenue generated by agreements with Braselton and Hoschton and from its waste treatment plant.
The biggest change on the expense side is related to the Bear Creek Reservoir. That will cost the authority $1.34 million during 2002. On the other hand, the authority will make more per gallon on water sold by having its own source instead of reselling water bought from Commerce, Athens or Braselton.
If the authority meets its budget, it will have to sign on a lot of new customers during the new year. Waddell said the authority sends out 2,200 bills per month at present; he expects to be sending 2,575 by the end of next year. The budget calls for the authority collecting $336,000 in connection fees (the 2001 budget called for $320,940).
"If we don't get back on schedule next year, we won't make that budget, but I think we will," he said.
Both the rate increases and the budget were approved unanimously.
In other business, the authority:
·authorized Waddell to hire a temp (and later a full-time person) to do clerical work, in part to provide internal controls in the handling of money.
·authorized Waddell to request attorney Julius Hulsey, if necessary, to get court orders to allow surveying and appraisal work on property along the proposed Doster Creek sewer line.
·heard Waddell report that the authority has changed from ductile iron pipe to PVC for sewer lines. The PVC is more durable and less prone to leaks, he said.
·heard that the authority will begin making offers for sewer easements in December.
·learned from engineer Charlie Armentrout that revised plans for the widening of U.S. 441 and U.S. 129 may move the Department of Transportation easements on top of JCW&SA easements, which could mean water lines will have to be relocated.
·agreed to cancel the regular December board meeting. The authority will hold a called meeting if required to open bids.
·heard from sewer engineer Mary Kay Jackson that bids are being advertised this week for construction of the Doster Creek sewer line. Construction is expected to begin in February. In addition, she reported on the upgrade of the old Texfi plant and plans to increase the capacity of the plant.
·heard from sewer manager Gene Samples about the refurbishing of the Texfi plant which he said "is in the finished stages of being put back together." He said two aerators have been rebuilt, the new lab is "paying for itself now" and that the Mayfield Dairies plant is "working great."
·received from Waddell the final draft of specifications for water and sewer lines. One component, which is opposed by the Jackson County Homebuilders Association, requires a one-year warranty on sewer lines installed by developers and inspection of those lines after one year by camera. "We reached an agreement with the homebuilders in every item except camera testing," he said.
·voted 3-2 to increase the size of two Doster Creek sewer lines to handle growth in the West Jackson area. Chairman Elton Collins, Dean Stringer and Keith Ariail supported the vote, while Tom Crow and Larry Joe Wood voted against it. Wood voiced concern that development there might cause the Texfi plant to reach its capacity and render it unable to serve growth along Interstate 85. Waddell responded, predicting that eventually the authority will have to build another plant in the Walnut Creek area, plus plants in the south Jackson and east Jackson areas. The authority is already working with the Jackson County Board of Education on the possibility of building a treatment plant to handle the East Jackson schools.
·voted to enter a $140,000 contract with Engineer Management Associates, Lawrenceville, to do a watershed assessment of Jackson County. Required by the Environmental Protection Division, the assessment will determine how streams and rivers are affected by runoff water, according to Waddell. Jefferson and Maysville are participating in the study and will bear some of the cost.
·voted to offer retirement benefits identical to what is offered to county employees. The authority will contribute an amount equal to four percent of employees' pay and will match employees' contributions up to seven percent of their salaries.


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.
The ordinance will affect every institution that serves food, from the schools to fast-food restaurants; it will also affect industries, car washes and grocery stores with delis.
"I've got a list here of 35 restaurants, schools, the hospital, nursing homes, grocery stores with delis and other businesses," said Bryan Harbin, Commerce's director of water and sewer services.
The city council had its first reading of Article III, Section 78-82 (Grease, Oil and Sand Interceptors) at its Nov. 12 meeting. It expects to approve the ordinance after the second reading, presumably at its Dec. 10 meeting.
"This will stipulate penalties for people who violate the ordinance, set up guidelines for pumping and cleaning grease traps and set guidelines for places that currently do not have grease-handling facilities," said Harbin.
The requirements are being handed down by the Environmental Protection Division. The city's Davis Brothers oxidation pond is currently under an EPD consent order, largely because of grease problems from Banks Crossing restaurants. In addition, the city will work under much more strict limitations on influent when the expansion of its waste treatment plant is completed.
Although some businesses may be in for major changes to meet the guidelines, Harbin says the city isn't going to suddenly demand compliance to a complicated new system.
"We will make site visits, me and my staff, to talk with business owners and tell them what they will have to do," he said. "That will be some time after the first of the year. We're not going to enact the ordinance and the next day go out and start fining people.
"Most restaurants have some form of grease trap. It may not be up to code of the new ordinance. We are also looking at service stations, car washes, auto dealerships, school cafeterias, the hospital and nursing home ­ any place that prepares food, we'll look at."
The problem with the Davis Brothers oxidation pond is a clear indicator that there are problems at some of the 16 restaurants on the city sewer system there. But Harbin says the major chain restaurants already have grease traps and operating procedures and predicted that those built in the past two or three years are probably constructed to code.
"Just because they are constructed up to code doesn't mean they're managed up to code," he pointed out.
The amendment will require affected sewer customers to have a monitoring point and to keep manifests of maintenance on their grease traps. It will also require certification that the grease is pumped and hauled off by a licensed waste dealer.
The ordinance also covers pre-treatment of industrial wastes, something only a handful of businesses and industries have to do. The city will send questionnaires to other businesses and will go over the results with its engineers, Harbin said, to see if any others need to have their wastes pre-treated.
For a few businesses, the new ordinance will mean major changes.
"Everybody knows we're fixing to do something. It's going to be a shock for some," Harbin acknowledged.



BOC receives 30 applications for county manager slot
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has received 30 applications for the county manager's position.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said the majority of the applicants are from Georgia, but several are from out of state. Seven to eight applicants live in the North Georgia area, he added.
"We've got some good ones," he said. "We've got them from Florida to California...one from Washington State...one from New York..."
Fletcher said the BOC would review the applicants and decide which ones to interview. The commissioners are expected to begin interviewing candidates within the next few days.
The BOC agreed in October to seek a county manager to replace Skip Nalley, who has been serving as interim county manager since Jan. 1. Fletcher said the new manager will not be hired on an interim basis as Nalley was.
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. The commissioners have not said why Nalley isn't being offered another contract. He is the first county manager Jackson County has had.


Braselton PC nixes proposed developments
In a meeting room overfilled with concerned citizens, the Braselton Planning Commission unanimously denied several requests for annexation and rezoning from development companies which could have potentially seen more than 1,300 additional homes built in the area within the next few years.
Citing government systems already stretched to their limits with overcrowded schools, high traffic hazards and the lack of fire and police protection near the proposed development properties, the planning commission decided it would recommend the city council not approve the applicants' requests when they are presented to the council Dec. 10.
The planning commission first hears presentations from applicants and considers public input before making a formal recommendation to the city council. The city council can then vote whether to accept the commission's recommendation or take its own course of action.
"I think with the growth in this county, we just need to step back and evaluate it," said Shirley Cate about the proposed development of 510 single-family homes on New Liberty Church Road, along the Mulberry River. Cate, like many other citizens attending Monday's meeting, expressed concerns about the town becoming like its adjacent neighbors, Gwinnett and Hall counties.
"We're gonna wind up like Hamilton Mill," said Charles Mackie. "We're gonna build and build, then we'll be like, 'Oh my God, we've turned into Gwinnett.'"
With five requests for annexation and rezoning from four different development companies, the Braselton planning commission strictly stuck to presentation time limits from both the developers and the more than 60 estimated citizens crowded into the community center. The meeting, however, still lasted more than four and a half hours.
Proposals from Strickland River Farms, T&A Management and 2255 Delk Road Partnerships requested annexation and rezoning for the purpose of building homes ranging from the low $100,000s to the upper $250,000s among the different properties.
Yet commissioners, along with citizens, expressed numerous concerns about packing homes with an average size of 2,000 square feet into lots less than one acre.
Eddie Elder, chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners, also expressed his opinion as to why one of the proposed developments was seeking annexation from Braselton and not his county.
"We required them to widen the road to take care of the traffic problem," Elder said. "I feel like that's why they want to be in Braselton and not unincorporated Barrow County."
Elder also cited a government review which said developing Strickland River Farms' requested property was "not in the best interest of the state."
For each of the proposals, planning officer Aaron Whelchel submitted his review of the properties concerning potential effects on county and city resources, such as water, sewage, schools and traffic flow.
In all of his reviews, Whelchel cited overcrowded schools and heavily increased traffic within the proposed areas.
Also during Monday's meeting, 2255 Delk Road Partnerships proposed the rezoning of property at the current location of The Oaks Mobile Home Park. The request was largely seeking to move 33 homes in the park to property on Ednaville Road and include an additional 110 mobile homes to the area.
With a dangerous curve along Ednaville Road, the cost of relocating residents and two grave sites dating back more than 150 years at the proposed property site all discussed among the citizens and commissioners, several people said they were dissatisfied with the lack of communication between the current residents and 2255 Delk Road Partnerships.
Representing the development company, David Joiner expressed his client's willingness to work with the town and residents, but didn't appreciate the personal attacks.
"Disrespect would be giving them a 60-day notice to vacate and not helping them relocate," he explained.
The planning commission denied the applicant's request, but suggested Joiner return to his client to work out a plan better suited to the residents' needs and with greater longevity for such a project.
The final request for annexation and rezoning from Ruby-Forrest was also denied.
The property, which is a development community of 197 homes in Gwinnett and Hall counties, has already been approved by those counties for construction. By requesting annexation and rezoning from Braselton, the development company was seeking to use the town's water and sewage quicker than could be approved by Gwinnett and Hall counties.
Commissioners denied the request since they could not see a benefit for the town in fast-tracking the development's water and sewage supply.


Deadline for kids' pictures extended to Nov. 28
The annual children's Christmas section will be published in The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News and The Banks County News on Wednesday, December 19. The newspapers have extended the photograph deadline to Wednesday, November 28.
Photos of infants up to children 8 years old from these counties will be accepted for inclusion in the section.
Black and white or color photos can be used, but no Polaroids or photographs printed out from a computer onto laser paper will be accepted, as they do not reprint well.
Please submit the following information along with the child's photo: the first and last name and age of the child, as well as the parents' names, their city of residence and phone number. The photos may be dropped off at or mailed to any of the newspaper offices by the November 28 deadline and may be picked up there after the publication runs in the paper.

 



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Tax Hike, Police, Fire Taxes Rile
Maysville Voters

MAYSVILLE -- Several Maysville citizens questioned last week the city council's proposal to raise the tax 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 car 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 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 liability 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, it 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."


BOC denies two rezonings
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided not to take the recommendations of the planning commission and zoning staff Monday when it denied two rezoning requests.
The requests from Ron Bond and Robert E. Wright had been recommended for approval by the planning commission and staff.
Bond had asked to rezone 5.884 acres at 324 Whitney Road from A-2 to M-H to locate five manufactured homes.
Wright had asked for a conditional use permit for 1.5 acres at 29 Caleb Lane and Lewis Sailors Road to locate a caretaker/employee residence.
The commissioners didn't comment on their action or give reasons for denying the requests.
In other action, the BOC postponed action on several other zoning matters until its Dec. 3 meeting. A hearing will be held prior to that meeting with the BOC considering placing a moratorium on zoning requests.
At Monday's BOC meeting, the council tabled a request from Wanda David to rezone 50 acres on Highway 441 from A-2 to I-2 for the purpose of industrial uses. David represents property owners Tim Brooks and Randall Kersey.
The council also delayed action on a request from Thomas Seay to rezone 1.76 acres at 8837 Highway 124 from A-2 to B-2 for general commercial uses.

OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the BOC:
·approved a request from Ted Gibson to rezone 7.510 acres on Highway 441 from A-2 to B-1 in order to conforming the zoning to the existing use.
·approved a request from Clarence and Leola Wages to rezone 21.72 acres at 299 Roquemore Road from A-2 to A-R to locate five single-family, site-built homes.
·approved a request from Tina McDaniel to rezone 11.73 acres on Jackson Trail Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate 11 single-family, site-built homes.


Special Christmas pricing on county history books
The Jackson Herald is offering a special Christmas price on its history book. The special holiday pricing, which will be offered for a limited time only, will be $23.50 for one to two books; $17.95 for three to four books; and $14.95 for five or more books.


Maysville defends 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.
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 rate increase was necessary.
"I don't want a tax increase any more than anyone here," Harper said. "I just don't see no way around it."