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December 5, 2001

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County

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Dragons, Panthers blast opposition
Claim gold in seven of 14 weight classes. The question folks in high school wrestling circles had been asking all year wasn’t whether teams at Jefferson and Jackson County were going to be good, but just how good.
With a performance that almost defies description last weekend, the Dragons and Panthers have answered that question with a resounding “Very good.”

Playoff Hopes Dashed With Tough Loss To Adairsville
This wasnąt the way it was supposed to end for Commerce.
Even in the midst of a rebuilding year, the Tigersą 19-13 second-round loss to Adairsville Friday night was a hard dose of reality to stomach for a program carrying the legacy of 49 wins the past four years and a state crown.

Neighboorhood News ..

DA ‘still reviewing’ Almond case
Whether Mac Almond will be prosecuted for alleged illegalities as Comer Elementary School principal has yet to be determined.
Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bob Lavender said he is “still reviewing” a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation about Almond’s alleged misuse of school funds as principal.
“I’m still reviewing it at this point,” said Lavender.

Baker says county should review
residential planning
Madison County needs to change the way it designs residential areas, according to Jay Baker, newly employed planning director. Baker, who began work on Oct. 1, listed several new housing designs at a board of commissioners work session Monday night.
Baker overcame a computer glitch that eliminated a slide show to point out the advantages in using neighborhood development and conservation subdivisions in place of the standard cul-de-sac type developments.

Neighborhood News...
Poultry plant will not locate in Lula
Mar Jac withdraws application. Mar Jac Poultry Company has withdrawn its request to annex 112 acres into the city of Lula to locate a poultry plant.

Christmas at the Fort event ahead Sat.
An open house celebrating Christmas will be held at the historic fort in Hollingsworth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Santa and his elf VISIT MAYSVILLE

Santa’s elf Rebecca Branch smiled as Robin Jordan, 5, and Reece Bush, 4, whispered what they wanted in Santa’s ear at the Christmas celebration Saturday in Maysville.

It’s Going To Cost More To Live (And Die) In Commerce Next Year
City Council Pondering Increases In Electric, Water And Sewer Rates And The Cost Of Cemetery Lots
Members of the Commerce City Council, meeting in their first of what will be regular monthly work sessions, received the warning Monday night that both the cost of living and the cost of dying are likely to go up in 2002.
City manager Clarence Bryant warned of a 4.4 percent increase in the cost of electricity starting Jan. 1, of the potential for increased water and sewer rates, and the council appeared willing to treble the price of cemetery lots.
None of those increases are final yet, although the council has previously authorized the city manager to "pass through" wholesale increases in gas and electricity to city customers. The council could begin to take up those and other issues at its regular meeting Monday night at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.
The electric rate increase, presumably effective in January, is the result of an increase in its wholesale cost from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG). Bryant did not indicate whether the 4.4 figure was the rate of the wholesale increase or the rate of the retail increase.
The water and sewer rates are much less certain and depend to a large degree on what arrangements the city can make to get grants or low-interest loans to finance the $7 million construction of the new waste treatment plant.
Bryant said the city hopes to get $2 million to $2.5 million in grants for the project and to put in another $1.5 million of cash from the city's reserves.
But if it gets the grants, Bryant explained, the Rural Development Administration will require that water and sewer customers' bills average two percent of customers’ household income. In Commerce, that would be about $36; the average water and sewer bill now, Bryant said, is but $12.
"The problem is that we've got an awful lot of folks who average 3,000 gallons or less," said Bryant. "If we start raising rates per 1,000 gallons, we're not raising much money."
"What I'm alerting you to is that we're going to have to raise it at all levels ... There are some real gut-wrenching decisions that have to be made on water and sewer in the next 60 to 90 days," Bryant concluded.
In a freewheeling, no-agenda session, it was councilman Sam Brown who brought up the issue of cemetery plots, although the council has talked about the need to increase the rates for such lots over the past year.
The issue is twofold; first, the city sells lots for $150, compared to $500 in Jefferson and around $800 at private cemeteries, according to Bryant; secondly, people from outside Commerce, even from out of state, buy the lots.
So, while no action was taken at the work session, the council agreed that it would raise the cost and then begin restricting the purchasing and transferring of lots.
The action may also restrict a purchaser's ability to transfer a lot to anyone other than back to the city, and it may require the purchase of a burial permit, the purpose of which is for the city to keep a database on who is buried where.
Items on Monday night's agenda include:
•the second reading of an amendment to its sewer ordinance controlling grease and oil.
•action on amending the city charter to enable the city to get into the telecommunications business.
•a decision to close City Hall Dec. 24-25.
•a request for proposals from auditing firms. The combination of the chief officer of the current firm retiring and the auditor's failure to provide internal controls that might have kept former police chief George Grimes from embezzling funds has made the council ready to change firms.
Also on Monday, Bryant warned the council to be ready for "hell week," the week of transition between garbage contractors. Wednesday, Dec. 27, is the last day Robertson Sanitation will pick up trash. The new contractor plans to pick up half the town on Tuesdays and half on Fridays, but the period during which Robertson is trying to remove its containers and the new company is trying to place its containers – which is also a holiday week – promises to be interesting.

Santa to visit Hoschton, Jefferson Sat.
Santa Claus will be visiting in Jackson County Saturday, December 8, making stops in Hoschton and Jefferson.
Santa will be at the gazebo in downtown Hoschton from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., along with a special escort. He’ll have surprises and candy for all the children.
The event is sponsored annually by the Hoschton Women’s Civic Club for children in the Hoschton and Braselton area.
Santa will also make a number of stops in Jefferson on Saturday.
Breakfast with Santa will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Jackson EMC, Jefferson.
A $5 donation covers breakfast with Santa and having a photo made with him.
Tickets are available at Regions Bank and Jackson EMC or from any Optimist Club member. The event is sponsored by the Optimist Club of Jackson County, which has a mission of improving the lives of children in Jackson County.
For more information, call 367-6458 or 367-6401.
Children and pets can also get their photographs taken with Santa on Saturday, at Maddox Feed and Supply in Jefferson.
The photographs will be $8 each with $7 to go to the photographer and $1 to go to the humane society.
From 9 a.m. to noon, children and pets can visit with Santa and his animals, which will include a donkey, camel and white doves, for photographs. From noon to 4 p.m., children and pets can still visit with Santa, but the animals won’t be present.
Maddox Feed and Supply is located at 1915 Winder Highway, Jefferson. For more information, call 367-9207.
Santa Claus will also participate in the Christmas parade planned for 3 p.m. Saturday by the Jefferson Junior Women. The theme is “Tis the Season of Dreams,” and Santa will be among those featured on floats and in the parade lineup.
The parade line-up will begin at 1 p.m., with judging at 2 p.m. at Jefferson Memorial Stadium. Floats will be judged under the categories of “Most Original,” “Most Christmas Spirit” and “Most Participation.” The parade will end at the BP station, with floats unloading at Wilkins.

Al Crace named county manager
A long-time county manager in Northeast Georgia was hired Monday night to lead the Jackson County government.
Al Crace was named the new county manager for Jackson County by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in a unanimous vote. Crace’s salary will be $95,000 annually. He begins work immediately.
Crace joined the commissioners at the table for the BOC meeting Monday night and participated in the discussion. He was also at the Jackson County Administrative Building early Tuesday morning, meeting with county officials.
Crace replaces Skip Nalley, who has served as the interim manager since Jan. 1. Nalley was Jackson County’s first county manager and the BOC decided in October not to renew his contract. No reason was given.
Crace comes to Jackson County after having served as the manager in Gainesville and Athens.
“The opportunity to be the manager of Jackson County offers much from my perspective,” Crace said in his application. “Because Jackson County is a rapidly urbanizing area along the vibrant Interstate 85 corridor, it offers significant challenges and opportunities in a number of positive ways. My experience and training have provided me with a wide range of tools and skills to work as a key member of the Jackson County team.”
Crace served as the manager of the unified government of Athens-Clarke County from 1995 to 2000 and as the city manager of Gainesville from 1988 to 1995. He has also served as the city manager of Rome, Waycross and Alma. He has a bachelor of industrial and systems engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He is married and has two sons.
Fletcher said that Crace was at the top of the list of the 37 who applied for the post and that all of the commissioners agreed on his selection. He added that Crace will be moving to Jackson County and becoming a part of the community.
“When we looked at those, one resume stood out above all the others,” Fletcher said. “That was the one from Al Crace. We look forward to having Al on board and seeing Jackson County move forward. Al brings to the table a great deal of experience that I think will benefit Jackson County tremendously.”
Crace was one of the top three candidates when Jackson County hired Nalley.

BOC places moratorium on subdivision exemptions
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a temporary moratorium Monday night on certain subdivision exemptions that had been previously handled by planning department staff members.
The moratorium will be in place through the end of June which is when a revision of the county’s land use ordinances is expected to be completed. If the revision is completed before then, the moratorium will be lifted, officials said.
Consultant Bill Ross spoke on the moratorium at Monday’s BOC meeting and said it would include property divisions classified as a minor subdivision.
“The moratorium we are recommending is not an across the board moratorium on all subdivisions,” Ross said. “It would not impact any normal subdivision activity that goes through the subdivision process and the planning commission. What we are talking about are only those exemptions from the subdivision regulations...They have a tendency to get out of hand. It’s not that we are planning to do away with these kinds of subdivisions, but we are asking you to give us some breathing space while we work on the regulations.”
These requests have not required action by the board of commissioners in the past. The exemptions include:
•the division of a tract of land into five or fewer parcels.
•the division of a tract of land into parcels containing 10 acres or more fronting on an existing public road.
•the division of a tract of land into two parcels of five acres or more.
•the division of a tract of land into parcels among immediate family members.
•any subdivision proposed to be served by a private street.
Commissioner Stacey Britt said these exemptions led to 511 lot splits in the county from 1998 to 2001. He added that this is 10 percent of the total lot splits each year.
County leaders said property owners with requests that fall into these categories may submit applications under the major subdivision regulations during the moratorium. Other subdivision applications will also continue to be accepted and acted on.
The moratorium by the county also includes a provision for “hardship situations” and allows the BOC to accept an application for subdivision plat approval on a case-by-case basis by a majority vote at a regularly called meeting of the board.
More than 100 people crowded into the Administrative Building in Jefferson for the public hearing, but only two spoke. Shannon Sell of Hoschton, who spoke on behalf of the Jackson County Homebuilder’s Association, said he was pleased to hear the report Ross gave. He said the group supports the action of the board. The developers had been concerned earlier that the moratorium would be across the board and would impact all new subdivision projects.
Sell also spoke on the importance of the building industry in Jackson County and said each new home represents hundreds of jobs for area residents. He asked the BOC members to be fully aware of the number of jobs the building industry brings to the county and how vital an industry it is.
“This board is very supportive of your industry...but we do have some concerns about the process,” BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said.
Another county property owner said the moratorium could cause him to lose his home if he isn’t allowed to proceed with selling some of the property and allowing his daughter to live on some of it. Commissioner Emil Beshara pointed out that the hardship clause is in place to address situations such as this.

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Planning commission abolished
New members, structure established
JEFFERSON -- The Jackson County Board of Commissioners abolished the planning commission Monday night, then restructured the organization and named five members.
Commissioner Emil Beshara made the motion to amend the structure of the planning commission, saying the action is needed to better suit the unified code being created. Each commissioner named one representative, with three of the five being new members. The towns participating in the county zoning program will also be allowed to name a representative to the board.
The members will serve one-year terms. They may be appointed to successive terms and shall continue to serve until a successor is appointed.
The five members named Monday were: Thomas Smith, District 4; Randall Duck, District 3; Wayne Wilbanks, District 2; Billy Norris, District 1; and Donald Lord, at-large. Smith and Wilbanks were members of the former planning commission.
The new members will take office immediately and will preside at the Dec. 13 planning commission meeting. They will name their own chairman and vice chairman. Only the members named by the BOC will be eligible for these positions or allowed to vote for them. The city representatives will not be eligible to be chairman or vice chairman.
All planning commission members appointed by the BOC may make motions and vote on any matter placed before the planning commission. Members appointed by a participating city may make motions and vote only on matters arising from within that city A member may abstain from voting only if a conflict of interest arises.
On a related matter, commissioner Stacey Britt also asked that a resolution be created to recognize those who have served on the commission.
"These individuals have represented the board quite well over the years," BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said. "We look forward to possibly appointing some of those again at some point in the future."

Jefferson narrows manager search to top three
The Jefferson City Council has narrowed its search for a city manager to the top three candidates.
Jackson County’s director of planning and development, David Clabo, is one of the candidates. The others are Charles “Tony” Hammond of Jacksonville, N.C., who is town manager of the resort community of North Topsail Beach, N.C., and Albert Mitchell of Athens, who is assistant facilities management administrator for the unified government of Athens-Clarke County.
The city manager is expected to be in place by the first of January. This will be the first time that Jefferson has had a city manager. The action comes after legislation was created earlier this year.

Sam McClure resigns
as road superintendent
Sam McClure has resigned as Jackson County’s road superintendent.
Larry Guthrie will be the acting road superintendent while the county seeks applications and selects a replacement for McClure. McClure’s last day will be Friday.
McClure’s resignation follows the discovery by the current board of commissioners in September that his department had an account that $29,000 had been deposited in since 1998. While the current BOC members say they didn’t know about this account, former commission members reportedly were aware that it existed. Some of the money from the account went toward purchasing furniture, employee meals, flowers and gifts, according to an audit completed after the fund was discovered.