News from Banks County...

December 19, 2001


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OPINIONS

Column
One life
The imagery of the Christ Child being born in a stable beneath a bright star surrounded by both learned Wise Men and humble shepherds is one of the most powerful pictures in human history.

Phillip Sartain
Going down in flames

Most people donıt know it yet, but itıs almost Christmas. I know because my youngest daughter has been giving me some hints. In other words, every fifteen minutes or so, Susanna has been yelling like her hair was on fire.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Grapplers coming home
Itıs been nearly a year, but the Mat Leopards are finally returning home to host a match.
The wrestlers will be Banksı only sport taking place this week.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
David Clabo named Jefferson city manager
David Clabo, Jackson Countyıs director of planning and development, has been hired by the City of Jefferson as its first city manager.
The city council unanimously agreed in a brief meeting Monday night to hire Clabo. Details of his contract, including the salary, were not given. City officials said the details are still being negotiated and are not finalized.

New planning board holds first meeting
Jefferson conditional use permit approved. With the recent changes to the Jackson County Planning Commission occurring so suddenly, the three newest members were greeted at their first meeting Thursday with paper name plates, replacing the names of the men who sat there before them


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON
COUNTY
BOE approves Œmulti-districtsı Patton says action is self-serving
Madison County school board members voted 3-2 Tuesday to create multi-districts on a new district map, a move aimed at keeping current BOE members from facing off in future elections.

Almond served certificate suspension
Former Comer Elementary School principal Mac Almond received a one-month suspension of his certificate as an educator in the state of Georgia following an investigation by the stateıs Professional Standards Commission.


 

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LEOPARD SPIRIT

Several Leopard fans watch with anticipation as a Banks County basketbll player shoots a free throw during a game with Commerce last weekend. Pictured across the front row are: (L-R) Kris Saunders, Candie Elrod, Ross Oliver, Tyson Baxter and Joseph Whitlock.


Chamber wants changes in new year
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce is ready to embrace a new year, but with a few changes in mind.
³We are starting a new year with a new group of people and new goals,² chamber vice president Jerry Boling said at last weekıs Christmas dinner.
Boling told the very few members that turned out for the dinner that one of the chamberıs new goals was to get all of Banks County involved in beneficial growth for the county.
³One of the things we want to do is provide a healthy economy,² Boling said. ³We want to grow and expand the industrial base to expand the tax base. Then, we want to grow and expand business and tourism. Theyıll be a few changes take place, but hopefully it will be for the benefit and betterment of all the citizens of Banks County.²
Boling said that one of the main issues facing Banks County is growth and preparing for it.
³There is a wall of growth coming our way,² he said. ³Weıve got time to deal with it, very little time, but weıve got time. We need to get our elected officials involved in the chamber.²
Boling added that the chamber needed to work to encourage growth, but not all kinds of growth.
³The idea is not to just get more growth,² he said. ³Itıs to get selective growth.²
Boling also pointed out that growing the countyıs businesses and involving more business owners in the chamberıs activities included local farmers.
³Weıve got a lot of farms in Banks County and thatıs important,² he said.
Executive board member Cindy Reed added that the chamber wanted to work to help all business owners.
³As a board, in the coming year we want to offer services to all businesses, including agriculture,² she said. ³We would like to offer services that are going to help.²
Board member John Mitchell closed with similar feelings.
³Weıre having a new chamber in a new century,² Mitchell said. ³We need to move the chamber in a new direction.²


BJC patients could get Internet
For a startup fee of $2,800 and $650 per month, BJC Medical Center could align itself with a medical Internet search engine that would give patients a powerful tool to research injuries and illnesses.
But what officials of the local hospital have yet to determine is whether the typical BJC Medical Center patient, who may be indigent, is likely to have access to the Internet to use that tool.
Thus an administration proposal to sign a three-year contract with Fast Health Interactive Healthcare was tabled Monday at the December meeting of the BJC Medical Center Authority.
Administrator David Lawrence had proposed the link to the BJC website, predicting that the arrangement would result in more use of the BJC website.
³With the number of indigent patients, what is the percentage of patients we see that donıt have Internet capabilities?² asked member Rick Massey.
Following up on that line, member Jimmy Hooper speculated that anyone with Internet capabilities ³will have the ability to look elsewhere (on the Internet) for information.²
But assistant administrator Oscar Weinmeister told the authority that the Fast Health link would make it a lot easier for someone to follow up on a diagnosis.
³It is qualitatively better than the stuff you can go straight to. You donıt get a bunch of stuff you have to sift through,² he said, adding that through Fast Health, one could email a nurse and get an answer back. Weinmeister predicted that Fast Health would make the facilityıs current website more useful and would create good public relations.
³I guess the question is, do we have the type of folks here who will access this?² Lawrence summarized.
Chairman Charles Blair called Fast Health ³a super search engine ... They do the sifting for you, bring all the research to you ... and you never leave the BJC website.
³There are more people in this area that use the Internet than you would ever believe,² he concluded.
At the same time, Blair balked at the three-year commitment as ³a long time to commit to something that may not work,² and member Howard Smith made a motion to table the proposal. Management will seek a shorter contract and try to determine how many ³hits² the facilityıs web page currently gets.
In other business, the authority renewed its ³stop-loss² coverage for its health insurance plan. It currently pays $99,382 per year to stop health losses at $45,000 per employee. The new policy will provide the same coverage but will cost $124,800.
³From what I understand from talking to people, that is not a bad percentage,² Blair observed. His comments were echoed by member Don Brown, an insurance agent, who said premiums for some umbrella coverage are up 150 percent.
The facility absorbs from two-thirds to three-quarters of employee health insurance costs, Lawrence said.
The board also voted to add Dr. Bruce E. January, an ophthalmologist from Lawrenceville, to its courtesy staff, meaning he has limited admissions privileges.
Also on Monday:
€Lawrence reported that the average daily census for the hospital during November was 14.3 patients.
€Jo Totherow, nursing director, reported that the new ultrasound table purchased by the BJC Auxiliary was delivered, along with other items purchased by the group.
€Charles Stills, administrator of the nursing facility, reported that costs for agency nurses have gone down and the census is at 161.


Health dept. wants to keep sludge permit moratorium
The Banks County Health Department wants the county to continue its moratorium on issuing sludge permits.
At last weekıs health board meeting, Dr. Robert Marshburn asked for help from the county commissioners to continue the moratorium on the issuance of permits for application of human wastes collected from septic systems. BOC chairman Ken Brady said the matter has been turned over to the county attorney, Randall Frost, for review.
The first draft of the ordinance on the matter was gone over by the BOC and it decided more stringent codes would be added, said Brady. Frost is working on the changes.
Such operations will be permissible under the ARR (Agricultural, Rural Residential) zoning designation, he said.
The board unanimously approved a motion to recommend the BOC continue the moratorium until regulations are in place.
In other business, the board:
€discussed bio-terrorism and chemical threat possibilities. David Oberhaussen said he has been in contact with Banks County Emergency Management director Milinda Dalton to keep the county up-to-date on appropriate responses. He said all the emergency agencies are working together to iron out details. Dr. Melody Stancil added the E-911 center and health department have been provided with a call list of authorities and procedures to follow. She said the main concern in the county is the danger from a truck or train hauling dangerous materials being involved in a wreck.
€discussed setting a minimum lot size width to ensure adequate space for a septic drain field. Dale Carter, environmentalist for the health department, said he needs regulations to go by for lots that are inconsistent with surrounding use. He suggested using state recommendations which are one-acre with a well and one-half acres with public water. Carter said one lot he inspected was only .35 acre in Maysville and it presented problems in laying out the required 500-foot drain field.



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Citizens want Lula to take stance against feed mill
Coalition claims Mayor Turner has conflict of interest.Mar Jacıs proposal to annex land into Lula may be gone, but debate over the poultry companyıs feed mill is far from over.
Citizens asked the Lula City Council Monday night to send a letter to Hall County commissioners asserting the negative reactions of the townıs citizens to a feed mill in the area.
Though the city council officially approved Mar Jacıs request to withdraw its annexation application, the company could still proceed with applications for the feed mill through the county.
In early November when Lula was considering the annexation request, Hall County commissioners sent a letter to the city asking the council not to support the companyıs requests.
³The county supported Lula and I think the city should support the county on this,² Rob Wainberg said.
Kevin York agreed, adding that the city should work with the county and Mar Jac to find a better place for the feed mill.
³Lula wins because itıs not in our back yard and Mar Jac wins because they get the feed mill and the county wins because it gets the revenue,² York said.
Lamar Mullis of the East Hall Coalition argued that new mayor Milton Turner, who canıt vote on sending a letter to the county, should forgo his power to veto any decision the council might make on the issue. Mullis claimed Turner had a conflict of interest.
³Heıs a grower for Wayne Farms which has, as I understand it, an association with Mar Jac,² Mullis said. ³The citizens heard before the election that he was for the feed mill. On the eve of the election he said he was against it. After the election, his comments were for the feed mill. We ask that he recuse himself.²
Turner did not respond.
The city council took no action and did not discuss any of the citizensı requests.
³This is something yıall can discuss as a body later on,² outgoing Mayor Tim Allen told the new mayor and council.