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December 26, 2001


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Jefferson hosts Keen Classic Friday, Saturday
Seven of eight teams boast state rankings
JEFFERSON High School will host the fifth annual Keen Classic wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday.

Commerce Girls Split Games In Holiday Tournament, Set For Home Tourney This Weekend
The Lady Tigers might be on Christmas vacation, but they’re getting plenty of work in during their break.
test or the consolation round.

Area basketball teams in holiday tournaments this weekend
WHEN the Christmas season comes around, high school basketball tournaments can be found all over the state.
This weekend, all three high schools in Jackson County will have basketball teams in action, at three different locations.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Jail completion set back to Feb. 1
The completion of the new Madison County jail has been moved back to Feb. 1.

Contract approved for animal shelter
A Madison County animal shelter will soon be in the works now that a contract for the project has been finalized.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Local collector’s village highlights home
The sun room in the home of Mitchell Gailey, Baldwin, does not have the greenery of plants brought in from winter’s chill as one might expect.

Historical society offers calendars
The Banks County Historical Society has a keepsake 2002 calendar available.


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Jefferson, Georgia
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THE GRINCH AT WORK

Marti Campbell, Commerce, who is a cook at the Waffle House in Jefferson, decided to dress as the grinch this holiday season. She has worked at the Hwy. 129 restaurant off and on for approximately 21 years and this is the first time she dressed as the grinch for work.



Water authority to borrow $6 million
Move will speed up project completions
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority took action last Wednesday that could hasten access to county water to thousands of people all over Jackson County.
The authority, acting at the request of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, authorized its financial consultant to begin the paperwork process that could result in the short-term borrowing of $6 million to $7 million for 3.5 years. The money would be paid back from the proceeds of the next 3.5 years of the special purpose local option sales tax.
The authority has already sold $3 million in bonds against revenues that were originally projected at $17.3 million over the five-year term of the tax. But the recession, particularly since Sept. 11, has deeply cut retail sales and caused the water authority worry over exactly how much of that money will actually be collected.
In fact, the authority was so reluctant to “go out on a limb” and borrow against the expected revenue that it agreed to the commissioners’ request only if the commissioners would vote on a resolution asking for the bond sales in a public meeting. The commissioners agreed.
Merchant Capital will prepare the bond documents, after which they must be officially approved by the water and sewerage authority and by the board of commissioners – which will guarantee the payment if SPLOST revenue is insufficient.
Elton Collins, chairman of the water and sewerage authority, explained his caution, noting the decline of the economy.
“We just don’t know (what will happen). We’ve never been in a situation like the one we’re in,” he said.
While Collins expressed confidence that the economy will recover, he also stressed that the move to sell the bonds was taken strictly at the request of the board of commissioners.
“They understand that the monkey falls on their back if we stump our toe,” he said. “We’ve made that abundantly clear.” And while he speculated that there would probably be no problem, he added that “There is enough risk there that I thought they should be cautioned and warned.”
What the sale of bonds would do, essentially, is allow the authority to build some seven projects proposed for funding with the sales tax without having to wait for the sales tax proceeds to trickle in. The authority has used the same means of advance funding in the past.
Collins said the authority can expect interest rates of about 2.85 percent; the interest on the $3 million bond issue approved a year ago was about a point higher.
Jerry Waddell, manager, speculated that the advance funding could speed up some of the projects by a year to a year and a half.
Waddell also said that once the commissioners sign off on the bond issue, the authority can get a further jump on construction by “borrowing” $2.6 million it has set aside for add-ons that typically come up during construction projects when residents, seeing a water line installed nearby, approach the authority about getting water. That money would be reimbursed once the bond money came through and would allow the authority to take bids immediately on SPLOST Project 3 (see separate story).
In other business, the authority presented a plaque to former chairman and longtime member Alex Bryan for his service.
“I can’t think of anybody who’s been a better public servant than Alex Bryant,” Collins said. “I don’t know of anyone who knows more about what’s going on with the water authority than Alex, except maybe (manager) Jerry Waddell.”
Following a 15-minute closed session, the authority voted to grant Waddell a four percent salary increase, effective immediately, bringing his annual salary to $67,600.


Water projects to be finished with borrowed funds
Following are the projects to be funded by the portion of the current round of the special purpose local option sales tax that goes to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.
The summaries include only the roads or portions which will receive water. They do not include the pump stations and any water tanks that may be necessary for hydrological purposes.
1. Plainview Road, Jackson Woods, Marlow Road, Deadwyler Road, Unity Church Road, Georgia 346 from Georgia 82 to Old State Road to the Hall County line.
2. Highway 60 to the Hall County line, including sections of Murphy Road, Hubert Pittman Road, Brooks Road, Mtn. Creek Church Road, A.J. Irvin Road and Guy Cooper Road.
3. Jefferson River Road from New Kings Bridge Road to Georgia 335, Orrs School Road, Brockton Loop from Orrs School Road to Georgia 335, Hoods Mill Road from Waterworks Road to U.S. 441, U.S. 441 south to White Hill School Road, Old Hoods Mill Road, Wilbanks Road from Old Hoods Mill Road to Waterworks Road, Harris Lord Cemetery Road from U.S. 441 to Georgia 334 and Woods Bridge Road from Georgia 82 Spur to the North Oconee River.
4. Georgia 15 from Apple Valley Road to the Jefferson city limits, Wilhite Road, Mauldin Road, County Farm Road from Georgia 15 to Airport Road; Lyle Field Road from Georgia 15 to Georgia 82; Mitchell Road, Georgia 82 from Lyle Field to Georgia 82 Spur; and Barber Road.
5. Holiday Cemetery Road, Lavender Road, Lebanon Church Road, Carruth Road, McCreery Road, Ethridge Road, Georgia 330 from Savage Road to the Barrow County line and Davis Road.
6. Georgia 334 from Center to Seagraves Mill Road, Sanford Road from the Nicholson water line to the Madison County line, Cooper Farm Road, Antioch Church Road, Old Kings Bridge Road from Antioch Church Road to New Kings Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Ed Bennett Road from Brooks Road to Center and U.S. 441 from New Kings Bridge Road to Cooper Farm Road.
7. Timber Ridge Drive, Oak Grove Road, U.S. 129 from Georgia 330 to Athens-Clarke line, John Collier Road, Fuller Road, Belle Springs Road, Sharon Lane, Sarah Street, Clarence Wages Road, Tallassee Road and Jefferson River Road from Chandler Bridge Road to Athens-Clarke line.
8. Georgia 334 to Groaning Rock Road, Groaning Rock Road, A.C. Smith Road, Erastus Church Road, Tal Phillips Road, Apple Valley Road to an unidentified dirt road, Thyatira-Brockton Road from Potts Road to Georgia 335 and Brockton Road from Payneville to the Middle Oconee River.
9. Georgia 332 from Hoschton to Boone Road, Sam Freeman Road, Old Pendergrass Road to Lewis Sailors Road, Lewis Sailors Road, Marshall Clark Road, Old Winder-Jefferson Road, Georgia 11 from Jackson Trail Road to Lewis Roberts Road, Ebenezer Church Road to W.H. Hayes Road to the county line; and Gum Springs Road.


Blair Assumes Leadership Of Jackson Chamber
JEFFERSON -- The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce confirmed new officers and directors at a changing-of-the-guard meeting Friday.
It was Randall Pugh's last meeting as chairman. He is succeeded by Charles Blair. Tom Crow is first vice chair and Jimmy Bailey is second vice chair. Bailey is the only new officer.
The board also confirmed the recent election of Jim Shaw of Jefferson and Dr. Narasimhulu Neelagaru, Gary Black and Elton Collins, all of Commerce, who begin three-year terms, and the appointment to one-year terms on the board of Bailey, Bill Boswell and Gina Hagan.
"There were some extremely close votes," said Blair of the past election. "We had great turnout from a voting standpoint."
Commenting on his year as chairman of the board, Pugh called 2001 "a very good year. We accomplished what we set out to do." The program of work did not take on any new projects, but proposed to build on the Partners In Education program. Pugh noted that every school in Jackson County has at least one business partner and many have several.
"I hope this board will remember to keep this a top priority," he said.
In conclusion, Pugh said the chamber "is in a very good position, probably the best we've been in for 20 years, as far as the cooperation of the various groups in Jackson County."
Blair thanked Pugh for his work.
"The growth and successes of the chamber this year – I think a lot of it is attributed to your leadership," Blair said. He also thanked outgoing directors Teresa Vaughn, Gail Stover and Janet Adams for their contributions.
In its regular business, the board authorized Pepe Cummings, president, to proceed with a new printing of the "Jackson County Lifestyle Magazine," a chamber-sponsored booklet promoting the county.
Supported by advertising, the magazine will tout the benefits and attributes of the county. The chamber will receive $2,000 to $2,500 and 10,000 copies of the magazine.
"It is without question the best deal available (for printing the magazine) in Georgia. It is a quality publication," said Cummings, who added that it will have a shelf life of two to three years – about how long it should take the chamber to give away that many copies.
The magazine should be available in March or April.
Summarizing the chamber's 2002 budget, Cummings said revenue is expected to grow 3.2 percent, the chamber will work to control costs and the program of work will be "essentially the same" as in 2001.
In other business, Pugh pointed out in a review of the financial statement that the chamber has nearly $66,000 in the bank and its $95,000 fund balance is $21,000 more than the chamber had at the beginning of 2001.
In other matters:
•Cummings announced that former manager Elizabeth McDonald has been re-hired as manager of member services, which means she will handle all member-related matters. She will also be in charge of the coordination of day-to-day activities.
•Scott Martin, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, reported on the committees Jan. 28 reception for attendees of the Georgia Economic Developers Association convention. "I really feel like we'll be the best show in town down there and will make a big splash for Jackson County," he said. The committee will seek "ambassadors" to participate and will mail invitations in January. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is helping with expenses. Martin also reported that his committee is finalizing documents relating to the Haverty's project and will likely do a bond in January for a local industry planning to expand.


Latest Reservoir Completion Date: Feb. 1
ATHENS -- The reservoir is two-thirds full, but delays in electrical work in the water treatment plant continue to push back the completion of the Bear Creek Reservoir.
Members of the Upper Oconee Basin Authority, the four-county group building the reservoir and water treatment plant in southwest Jackson County, learned last Wednesday that the latest projected completion date for the $63 million project is Feb. 1. The original date was July 1, 2001.
The news is not a surprise; the completion date has moved back steadily over the past six months. The contractor, Beers Construction Co., had an electrical subcontractor default. The company has hired two firms to replace it and is working seven days a week to finish the job.
Some members of the board are philosophical.
"There's been a lot of impatience on the plant," noted Bobby Snipes, a representative of Athens-Clarke. "I appreciate that, but if you've been out there lately, it's going to be a nice facility."
Actually, Athens-Clarke is already getting water from the reservoir. It gets raw water, which it treats at its plant. Barrow, Oconee and Jackson counties are dependent upon their water being treated at the authority's Bear Creek plant.
Harold Fletcher, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, knows his county is more severely affected by the delay.
"This (the delay) is costing us $150,000 a month. We need some close scrutiny to see that these things are expedited," he said.
But George Byrd of Moreland Altobelli, the program manager overseeing the entire project, said efforts are being made to expedite everything that can be expedited. The delays in completing the plant also delay the training of staff and the testing and sanitizing of water lines transporting raw water to the Jackson, Barrow and Oconee water systems.
Fletcher and Elton Collins, who chairs the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, both speculate that it will be March before Jackson County is able to sell water from the project.
In other business, the authority accepted a recommendation from its finance committee to delay for two to three years the funding of a "renewal and extension fund," because working those expenses into the cost of water would make the water much more expensive to member counties.
Collins, as chairman of the committee, made the motion and pointed out that for the first year or two, most of the equipment is under warranty and the use will be relatively low. Included in the motion was a provision to review the need for such a fund annually.
The authority also accepted the final draft of the cost allocation methodology that will determine how the member counties are billed. That formula will also be reviewed annually.
In other business, the authority:
•approved the expenditure of up to $11,000 to hire a firm to assess the security needs at the site.
•voted to take possession of 79 cubic yards of soil and rock samples taken on the site. The samples, now being stored by an engineering firm, must be kept in case analysis is needed in the event of a problem with the dam.
•approved the expenditure of up to $7,500 to hire two people as "event planners" for a dedication ceremony, the date of which cannot be set until the actual completion date is firm.
In addition, chairman Eddie Elder appointed Fletcher to chair a committee made up of the four board of commissioners chairmen and Collins to consider whether the authority needs to hire an executive director.



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Braselton PC to ask for moratorium extension
Braselton’s planning commission attorney, David Kirk, said the town needs to consider extending its moratorium on licenses to sexually oriented businesses while he re-evaluates the legal limits of the ordinance.
Agreeing with Kirk, the commission voted to unanimously recommend extending Braselton’s moratorium of sexually oriented businesses for an additional 180-day period. If approved by the city council, the town’s current moratorium, which is scheduled to expire in February, would be extended until August 2002.
Four months ago, the city council placed the first such moratorium and Kirk began to draft the narrowly defined regulations for any applicant who requests a business license for a sexually oriented business.
The city council then took Kirk’s 19-page draft of the ordinance in November and recommended that the planning commission conduct a hearing to determine the scope of the proposed ordinance. Thursday’s planning commission meeting, therefore, was a quasi-work session to gather public input and openly discuss the ordinance before recommending the next move to the city council.
During the hour-long meeting, Kirk explained how the ordinance should be as legally narrow as possible, yet not cross the line of an applicant’s First Amendment rights.
“You can’t simply say we don’t want them in our town, you have to say where they’ll be allowed,” said Kirk. “We have to amend the zoning because it doesn’t clearly state where these zones are.”
Kirk also said that while the United States Supreme Court and state supreme courts set the outer limits of such laws, “local ordinances, quite frankly, can have a whole range of regulations.”
Among those regulations the town of Braselton will consider in addition to Kirk’s initial draft are the selling of alcoholic beverages, advertisements along public roadways and security at sexually oriented businesses.
“If you regulate these businesses, the number of places they locate to is limited,” he said.
Currently, the town hasn’t received any business license requests to locate a sexually oriented business in Braselton, town clerk Jennifer Scott confirmed.
The Braselton city council will hear the planning commission’s recommendation during its Jan. 14 meeting at town hall.


Jackson County New Year’s program set for 9 a.m.
The Jackson County New Year’s program, which largely reflects the year’s blessings, will be held Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 9 a.m. at the county courthouse.
Started in 1927 by Judge W.W. Dickson, the annual program has become a Jefferson holiday tradition for many people, said Superior Court Judge David Motes, who will be the presiding officer of Tuesday’s event. This marks the 76th year of the program.
“We are thanking God for the blessings of the previous year and asking his continued blessings in the next year,” said Motes, who added the program will not only incorporate a religious theme, but a patriotic theme as well.
Mary Williamson will sing several patriotic songs while the Rev. Gerald Mitton, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, will give the main address. Jack Davidson will introduce the county officers and guests and will also preside over the election of the presiding officer.
Unlike previous years, no county officials will be sworn into office during the program, Motes said.


Deadlines moved up for New Year’s edition
The deadlines for news and ads for the Jan. 2 issue of The Jackson Herald have been moved up due to the New Year’s Day holiday.
The ad deadline will be at noon on Friday. The news deadline will be at 5 p.m. on Friday.
The Herald office in Jefferson will be closed Tuesday for the holiday.