News from Banks County...

November 28, 2001


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OPINIONS
Letter to the Editor
Reader proud of Maysville

Dear Editor:
Mr. Fouche's recent column in your paper is clearly misdirected. The citizens of Maysville have no desire to abolish the government of our town; however, we often wish we could have some influence on the people who try to run it.

Shar Porier
'Buy Nothing Day'

While surfing the channels recently, I stopped on one of my favorite stations, the Free Speech Network, which, by the way, gives a darn good newscast as to what is really happening in Afghanistan and the world.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Lady Leopards on a roll
Banks County girls sweep Madison Co. tournament
The Lady Leopards must be happy about the start of their season.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Suspects denied bond in bank robbery
Suspects fire at deputies during high-speed chase.
Jackson County Magistrate Court Judge Billy Chandler denied bond Wednesday morning for three suspects in the Monday bank robbery at Community Bank and Trust in Jefferson.

Tax assessor board appeals three rulings of board of equalization
The Jackson County Board of Tax Assessors has filed an appeal in Superior Court over three recent decisions by the county's board of equalization.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Brave new world
The threat of terrorism affects even rural communities like Madison County. The threat of terrorism is affecting the lives of everyone, even those who live in rural areas such as Madison County, according to some local officials.

Supt. seeks district changes to keep BOE members from facing off
Madison County school superintendent Keith Cowne is asking for two minor changes in proposed county district lines to prevent members of the current board from having to compete for a seat.



 

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Stroller turned shopping cart

With so many things to carry, it was easier to put everything in the stroller and carry little Makenzie Dennison. Wrapped in his Aunt Valerie Martin's arms, the little one didn't seem to mind the new mode of transportation. Vanessa Dennison, Savannah, said the family gathers in Augusta for Thanksgiving, but makes the drive to shop the outlet stores the next day. "It's an annual thing," laughed Martin. For more photos see this weeks Banks County News.

Lula residents speak against proposed Mar Jac feed mill
Second public hearing set on annexation, rezoning request.
Residents of Lula made known their fears about Mar Jac's proposed feed mill at a public hearing Monday night. No action was taken by the city council, but a second hearing was scheduled.
The second hearing on the company's request for annexation and rezoning of the property for the development will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, at the Lula Elementary School gymnasium. The request is to annex the 98 acres on Cagle Road into the city and rezone it from agriculture-residential (A-R) to industrial (I).
While no action was taken following Monday's lengthy hearing, council members indicated little chance the project would be approved.
Mayor Tim Allen received a standing ovation at the end of the meeting when he said: "After seeing the outpouring of community concern tonight, no amount of money could get me to agree to the feed mill."
Hundreds of Lula residents and surrounding landowners came armed with statistics, personal accounts and attorneys who spoke on their concerns. Doug Carnes, vice president of Mar Jac poultry production, Mar Jac attorney Jane Range, Dan McMurray, Norfolk and Southern Railroad train master, and Mike Giles, Georgia Poultry Federation, spoke on the proposed development.
Carnes said the feed mill would not have the impact on the environment or the surrounding neighbors as had been stated in news articles, letters and comments by the opposition. The $15 million mill would be state-of-the-art, complete with air scrubbers and collectors to eliminate grain dust to meet Environmental Protection Department limitations, he said.
As to the concern of train traffic and road blockages, Carnes said: "The train servicing [the feed mill] could be wholly contained within Mar Jac's property boundaries, so it represents no traffic hazard and would only arrive approximately once every 10 days."
He said there would be no odor nor influx of rodents to the area.
"To address the concerns over water, in a poultry feed operation, 95 percent of the water used is discharged as steam into the atmosphere as water vapor," he said. "It is evacuated from the mills by dryers and solids are separated from the air, with clean air being discharged back into the atmosphere."
Other water waste would be handled through a septic system, he added.
Carnes also said the Hall County Planning Commission had given their approval to the project. In a letter dated October 11, Mark Lane, Interim Development Services Director, states: "Hall County finds the development consistent with the county's comprehensive plan "
McMurray said the transportation department had come up with changes to switch the trains to an entrance off Cagle Road.
"The concern that was brought to my attention was the idea that we'd have trouble with Highway 52, which is the immediate access through this area," he said. "By utilizing the facility at the lower end, Cagle Road, we will eliminate that need to cross Highway 52 to load the trains or empty trains. There will be a double-ended spur where I can go in one end and out the other. The trains will come in about once every 10 days."
He also said the railroad has immediate access with the E-911 system and has a 24-hour dispatching center to work closely with emergency agencies to avoid any problems with access in emergency situations.
Mar Jac had letters of recommendation for the project from Tommy Irving, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner, and Georgia Poultry Federation president Abit Massey. Their arguments hailed the project as a boost not to just Lula's or Hall County's economies, but to the state of Georgia.
CITIZENS SPEAK
Numerous Lula residents spoke about how their homes and lives would be disrupted and health impaired if the mill were approved.
Lula residents Amanda Martin and Elsie Grizzell, who live near the Mar Jac hatchery, said they would sue the city and Mar Jac if their health deteriorated due to dust from the mill. Both have allergy problems that could worsen, they said, with the additional dust the mill could create.
Nita Cain said: "I'm not convinced it's going to be an economic asset for this community. I think it's going to hurt property values. I think it's going to be a detriment to other businesses coming in to our area. The health issues, the economic issues, the safety issues, train issues -- everything far outweighs any kind of positive thing that Mar Jac could bring. Listen to these people who have invested their lives and their money in their properties and their homes."
James Monaghan who owns a home bordering the proposed sit of the mill said: "Mar Jac can afford to find and buy industrial land to build their feed mill. I cannot afford to lose the value of my home. The mill should go to an industrial area not an agricultural/residential area."
Another resident, Keith Jones, asked the council to consider the impact of the mill on the elementary school.
"Our kids are going to be out there playing every day on the playground," he said. "I have two kids up there at the school and I would like to encourage you all to hold Mar Jac accountable. This is about accountability. Nobody's against Mar Jac. But before any decisions are made, there needs to be complete accountability."
Susan Garrett, attorney for the residents, brought up an important issue dealing with inconsistencies as to the acreage Mar Jac would be annexing. She stated the annexation request was inconsistent in that it includes 10.4 acres already annexed into the city.
"It describes a tract measuring 111.66 acres, but the annexation application states 98.93 acres," she said. "These inaccuracies make it impossible to determine whether the property meets the requirements for annexation."
Then, she continued, in the rezoning request, Mar Jac describes the tract of land as 129.6 acres, but again in the application states it as 98.96 acres.
Further, she added: "The plat attached to the application misrepresents as green space numerous acres of land which the applicant does not own. This land is owned by Mr. and Mrs. James Stuart."
Carnes said he would look into the discrepancy of ownership of the land claimed as Mar Jac's green space and would forward the information to the council as soon as possible, as well as determine the actual number of acres to be annexed.


Baldwin takes no action on West Airport Rd. rezoning
A proposed planned unit development (PUD) rezoning on West Airport Road in Baldwin has stalled.
The Baldwin City Council decided Monday night not to take any action on a request to rezone 55 acres to PUD zoning. The council cited a lack of information about specific plans for the development.
"We would feel a whole lot better with something on paper that y'all would be committed to follow," Mayor Mark Reed told the developers. "Do we even have enough information to make a decision tonight? If we had a plan, it would be easy to decide if we like it or not. I think we'd probably like it. It's the what if's that worry us."
The council decided to put the rezoning request on the agenda for its Wednesday, December 5, work session.
At that time, the council is expected to discuss a suggestion from developer Tom Limbach to drop the PUD rezoning and divide the land into specific residential, high-density residential and commercial zoning tracts.
Initially, the council was worried because Limbach's request didn't specify what type of developments would go inside the PUD. But Limbach said that due to contract agreements over the purchase of the property, he didn't have enough time to do engineering surveys to determine the exact plan for the development.
"We have to do the engineering work to find out the exact lay of the property," he said. "Some areas may be best for single-family, others for multi-family and some to leave as green place."
Limbach said he would agree to limit the development to 225 total units. However, city attorney David Syfan said he would feel more comfortable with a solid development plan to prevent any potential confusion between what the council expected the development to be and what Limbach had in mind.
The council also had some concerns about sewage capacity for the development. Limbach explained that he would pre-pay the city $125,000 on January 31, 2002, for sewage capacity for 50 units. The city, though, would have to guarantee Limbach enough capacity for 225 units.
On January 31, 2003, Limbach would then pre-pay the city $125,000 for capacity for another 50 units. At that time, he would specify the exact number of units needing sewage capacity. Limbach said he would also pay the city for each unit needing sewage capacity above what he had already prepaid.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the council:
·approved an E-911 intergovernmental agreement with Banks County.
·approved a budget amendment to make the final $19,800 payment to Aqua Source.
·approved the first reading of an amendment to the beer and wine ordinance. The amendment removes the minimum seating requirement for restaurants serving alcohol and also redefines a restaurant.
·approved the first reading of an amendment to the mobile home ordinance. The amendment changes the ordinance to allow four mobile home units per acre.
·approved transfer of funds to make bi-annual interest payments.
·approved a lien on Shawn Moore's property for $848.62 of unpaid water bills.
·held a closed session to discuss pending litigation and personnel matters. No action was taken.


Countdown to Christmas
Thousands crowd to Banks Crossing for 'busiest shopping day of the year'. Thousands of cars crowded into the Banks Crossing area Friday for what has been referred to as the "busiest shopping day of the year." The doors opened at 6 a.m. at many businesses at Banks Crossing and the 31-day rush was on to get all the Christmas shopping done, come rain, sleet, snow or hail.
Armed with plastic and checks, and even some with old-fashioned cash, people from all over converged on the hundreds of retail stores at Banks Crossing by the thousands in spite of the rain Friday.
Store managers say this year's number of shoppers was about the same as last year.
Mark Valentine, manager of the Tanger Outlet Malls, said, "We did pretty darn well, though we did see a decrease in shoppers after 5 p.m. The Gap said they had the best day ever and Polo did very well."
That sentiment was echoed from The Pottery manager, Barbara Carlan, who said: "We saw a slight increase in customers. Christmas items and candles especially did very well this year."
Those who spent the day or a few hours in Banks County Friday shopping came from all across Georgia and other neighboring states. Dee Waller of Florida shopped with a friend who lives in this area, 92-year-old Ina Booth Sims of Commerce. Sims said she does all of her own shopping for the family the day after Thanksgiving.
Another group of shoppers came from Blairsville looking for bargains. Rhonda Worley, Sharon Fortenberry and Winell Worley, Blairsville, got up at 3 a.m. to meet Glenda Worley, Cleveland, for the annual long day of shopping. The ladies said they get about 60 percent of their shopping done on Friday.
Tricha and Ragu Venkat came all the way from Atlanta to shop at Banks Crossing on the day after Thanksgiving.
"It's our favorite day," said Ragu. "I have 16 people to get presents for, but she has only four."
At least one visitor to Banks Crossing on Friday didn't look very happy. 2-year-old Dustin Krout, West Virginia, was not happy with his mom leaving him to go in a store. Family friend, Sharon Hall, North Carolina, laughed and said she thought the only reason they brought her along was to watch the baby.
"We do pretty good though," she said. "We get almost all of it done on this one day."
Many men could be spotted Friday on the benches and sidewalks waiting while their wives handled the shopping duties. One husband, Ray Waters of South Carolina, looked like one of the statues lined up outside The Pottery as he patiently waited for his wife. He said he lost her in the store and decided to take a spot outside where he could see the car and wait. This is the second year the Waters have come to Banks Crossing to shop.
One man brought along his dog, which he said got him out of doing the shopping for his family. Carlos Arteaga, Alpharetta, waited outside with his 8-month-old Shar-Pei, Wrinkles, while others in his party handled the shopping.
"He loves people and the kids just love him," laughed Arteaga, " and it's a great excuse."
Vanessa Dennison, Savannah, said her family gathers in Augusta for Thanksgiving, but makes the drive to shop the outlet stores the next day.
"It's an annual thing," laughed Martin.
A visitor from a long ways off, Cuba, tried boiled peanuts for the first time while visiting Banks County. Galo Torres, Cuba, had never eaten hot-boiled peanuts, so his wife Elsa, and Oledeysis Gutierrez, Miami, had to buy a bag from Paw-Paws Peanuts outside The Pottery. The family had gotten to together with relatives in Atlanta for Thanksgiving.
While most were shopping for gifts, some of those visiting Banks Crossing on Friday were checking out the bargains in search of items for themselves. Stephanie Hunter and Corey Poole, South Carolina, said they were having fun shopping for themselves. Relatives would come later, they laughed.
Out-of-town shoppers weren't the only ones to hit the outlets. The Hattaway family of Commerce were among the local shoppers at Banks Crossing. Mark, Tracy and Mason, 7-months old, were among those purchasing gifts for family and friends at the outlets on Friday.
PARKING LOTS FULL
The first obstacle for shoppers at Banks Crossing on Friday was finding a parking spot. It wasn't an easy task. Many drivers waited for someone going to a car to leave only to see them toss their packages into the trunk and head back to the stores.
People were bustling from one shop to another along the crowded sidewalks. It was hard to navigate with bags bursting at the seams and boxes of all sizes and shapes held in aching arms. But, people moved through it all, politely and pleasantly.
Lines at the check-outs were long, but most everyone was cheerful and smiling. They seemed happy they got a few more items marked off their lists.
Others crowded the sidewalks, lists in one hand and cell phone in the other. "What size did you say Jimmy wears?" "I can't find that game. Is there another she would like." "Do they have to be Nike's? Do you know how much those cost? He's just 9-months old!"
The toy store was packed. There was hardly room to move in the aisles, let alone reach for something of interest. Yet, somehow an arm would squeeze through, reaching toward the item and head to the cashier
Kids were running back and forth excitedly, "Mom, look at this! This would be a chillin' gift." Seeing the delight in the child's eyes, many moms smiled and said: "You'll have to put that on your list for Santa."
The crowds began to thin out as the foggy evening mist descended on Friday. The exits were jam-packed with cars, vans and buses filled with packages and people wanting to go back home.



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Burglars caught in the act
The quick thinking of a Damascus Road homeowner may have helped police nab three burglars last week.
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said a homeowner pulled into his driveway on Damascus Road last Monday and saw a car parked in the yard. A person in the vehicle was blowing the horn.
As the homeowner drove down the driveway, Chapman said the homeowner saw one white man standing in the doorway of his house. The car then sped away and the man fled into the woods.
Chapman said the homeowner followed the car and got its tag number.
"It was a good lead for us to go on," Chapman said.
Later that day, Chapman said another person in the area saw a man come out of the woods into the road and called police. When sheriff's deputies arrived, Chapman said the man tried to run back into the woods but was caught and arrested.
The man, Rocky Lonzo Adams, 26, Lula, was charged with two counts of burglary and probation violation.
"We got good shoe prints that matched the first one we caught," Chapman said.
Chapman said two other men, Jeremy Douglas Powers, 22, and Michael Lee Seabolt Jr., 27, both of Lula, were arrested several days later in Hall County and charged with two counts of burglary.
He said the three men were charged with the Damascus Road burglary and a burglary earlier that day on Carson Segars Road. Nothing was taken from either home, but the three were trying to take several items from the Damascus Road residence when they were spotted, he said.
Chapman also said that Adams confessed to police that they had committed both burglaries.
One of the men posted bond while the other two are being held without bond in the Banks County Jail, Chapman said.

Historical Society offers calendars
The Banks County Historical Society has a keepsake 2002 calendar available.
The cost of the calendar is $7 and they are available at The Banks County News office in Homer or from the Auto Tech Club at Banks County High School. They may also be obtained by mailing a check to the society at P.O. Box 473, Homer, Ga. 30547. A $2 shipping fee should be included with mail orders.
The first historical edition of the calendar includes a history of Banks County in photographs. It includes many historic places and families of the county. The families include: Scoggins, Cobbs, Caudell, Duckett, Chambers, Mize, Cash, Purcell, Kesler, Jones, Jackson, Martin, Kelly, Wilson, Lomas, Barrett and Sisk. The places featured include: the Ty Cobb homeplace, the Bush Marshburn home, Damascus Church, Homer Baptist Church, the Sunday School Celebration of 1910, Fort Hollingsworth and Grady School.
"This is a great historical treasure," leaders say.
The calendar is being dedicated in memory of Mrs. Nancy Chambers, known as "Nannie," who was a charter member of the historical society. She loved Banks County and its people deeply and wanted the history of the county to be preserved, family members say.