News from Madison County...

January 2, 2002

Madison County

Madison County

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Frank Gillespie
A few cautious steps, but little progress
To see into the future, one must study the past. I don’t remember who said that, but it is a true statement. Therefore, if we wish to see what the year 2002 will bring for Madison County, we need to consider what happened in 2001. More to the point, we need to consider what did not happen.

Margie Richards
2001 — a memorable year
2001 – one thing we can all say for sure, was a year none of us will forget. Unlike many parts of the past, it will not fade into obscurity, but instead will remain a sharp memory, particularly anything that happened just before or after 9 - 11.


Directions to Area Schools

Young softball Raiders turn heads with second place finish in state
It’s probably safe to say now that the Madison County softball team doesn’t rebuild, it just reloads.

Neighboorhood News ..
Newsmaker of the Year
Emil Beshara on center stage with aggressive style
Whether it was animal control, bookkeeping by the county fire departments, or abolishing the planning commission, Jackson County Board of Commissioners member Emil Beshara was at the forefront of controversy in 2001.

Economic Story of the YearEconomic Story of the YearTwo long-time textile plants close
Jackson County’s economy was hit hard in 2001 with the closing of two long-time textile businesses in Jefferson. Hundreds were left without jobs and the dwindling textile base in the county led to these events being selected as the top economic story of the year.

Neighborhood News...
Newsmaker of the Year 2001—
Bonnie Johnson found herself in the center of controversy; supporters praise her volunteer efforts
A Baldwin woman who has spent the last decade working to promote Banks County found herself in the eye of the storm in some of the most controversial stories of the year in 2001.

Santa wears blue’
Firefighters, EMT, E-911 staff make holidays brighter for Tim Keanum
One Banks County firefighter, Tim Keanum, who is recuperating from quadruple bypass surgery, said, “I never knew it so strongly, as I know now. There is a Santa Claus and he wears blue!”
Santa wears blue
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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Madison County Senior Center members O’Dell Dean (L) and Marvin Mealor look over news publications concerning the events of Sept. 11, 2001 - a day they say changed our lives, forever.

2001: A year in review

1-Almond resigns as Comer Elem. principal
Large crowds show support for long-time school leader
Mac Almond resigned in March as principal of Comer Elementary School amid allegations of embezzlement.
The issue fractured the county as few have in recent years, with some feeling the principal betrayed public confidence by allegedly profiting off school money, while others believed the 26-year principal was the victim of a political witch hunt. Many wore “We Back Mac” T-shirts to show their support for the principal..
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

2-Madison County taxes skyrocket
Taxes jumped significantly in 2001 for county schools and the county government.
School taxes were up 17 percent, a major increase for the second straight year, while county government taxes were up 19 percent. The increased tax income this year for the county government is more than the previous five years combined.
The tax hikes hit local property owners hard. (See box for a comparison of 2001 taxes versus 2000 taxes on a home with a $100,000 fair market value and $40,000 assessed value.)

•$1,154 owed without a homestead exemption
•$1,099.20 owed with a $2,000 homestead exemption, which is granted every year to those live on the property they own
•$933.60 owed with the Homeowner Tax Relief exemption (the governor set a $6,000 exemption for 2001, up from a $4,000 exemption in 2000)
•$983.20 owed without a homestead exemption
•$937.22 owed with a $2,000 homestead exemption, which is granted every year to those live on the property they own
•$845.26 owed with the Homeowner Tax Relief exemption of $4,000

3-Brakes put on bypass project
The Danielsville bypass project is no more, at least for now.
State funding is being directed toward Atlanta’s traffic mess, and upgrades of Hwy. 29 in Madison County are on the back burner for at least six years, possibly more and perhaps for good.
“Recently, the focus of the Department (of Transportation) has shifted to developing the Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP),” wrote Ken Thompson of the Georgia Department of Transportation, responding to queries from the Madison County commissioners office about the project. “As a result of changing priorities, the Danielsville Bypass project — among many others — has been moved to long-range in the DOT’s construction work program. What this means is that currently no work is being done on the project and no money has been set aside in the DOT’s budget for the construction of the project for at least the next six years.”
Thompson also wrote that work that has already been done on the project will have to be redone if the projects gets moving again.

4-New county jail finally under construction
The completion of the new Madison County jail is set for Feb. 1. Construction of the long-awaited jail finally started in 2001.
The building crew originally planned to finish the jail by Christmas. But the installation of security systems remains, as well as plumbing work and placement of a roof over the prisoners’ cells.
County commission chairman Wesley Nash said the delay is due primarily to difficulty finding skilled labor.
“There have been a few rain days,” said Nash. “But the major problem has been not being able to get enough skilled workers in the area to work on the job.”
The new 60-bed facility, located off Hwy. 98, will replace the current jail, considered one of the most overcrowded county detainment facilities in the state, with an official capacity of seven inmates.
Voters approved $2.3 million in sales tax money in 1998 for the construction of a new jail.

5-New districts drawn for county, state seats
State Democrats drew new district lines for House and Senate seats while making no bones about their aim — keeping their party in power.
The new lines have yet to be finalized, pending legal wrangling between Democrats and Republicans.
Should the new lines stand up, Madison County will be split in both Senate and House districts. Madison County will be covered by the Senate District 49 and District 47 representatives. Currently, all of Madison County is included in District 47. Madison County would also be served by three House representatives. The county currently has one House delegate.
Madison County officials asked — to no avail — that the county not be split into multiple legislative districts.
Districts for county government seats were also redrawn in 2001, with final approval slated for the 2002 legislative session, which is set to begin this month.
The new county districts will eliminate split precincts, thus simplifying election procedures in the county.
The new lines, however, would force current school board members to face each other in future elections. The board agreed — by a 3-2 vote, with Jim Patton and Robert Haggard opposing — to create multi-member districts for BOE seats, a move that keeps current members from facing off.
Board of commission seats will remain single-member districts.

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A day we’ll never forget
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 affected all Americans — including Madison Countians. The significant day tops all news stories — local and national.
Since the events of that day unfolded, the Journal has explored county reactions, including local efforts to assist victims and their families, and how we’ve grieved with fellow Americans.
In addition, the new reality was made even more real by beefed-up civil defense and emergency training and procedural changes, particularly following anthrax attacks through the mail system.
Madison County E-911 director David Camp said recently that the 911 office is “well prepared” and has contingency plans in place for both natural and “manmade” disasters.
“Based on my knowledge of the field units, Madison County is ready to handle any emergency we have, based on the magnitude of that event,” he said, adding that mutual aid could be obtained from surrounding areas, if necessary.
In answer to the continuing threat of biological and chemical terrorism through the mail system, Michael Miles, North Georgia Communications Program Specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, recently said that postal workers had been provided gloves and masks, and given flu shots free of charge, since early inhalation anthrax symptoms can mimic those of the flu.
Miles also said that mail coming into the state of Georgia so far has remained free of anthrax or other contamination, although there were numerous reports in the state — including north Georgia — at the beginning of the anthrax scare of suspicious packages containing white powder.
Likewise, Dr. Claude Burnett, the medical director for the Northeast Health District, recently told the Madison County Board of Health that the country needs to be better prepared for bio-terrorism outbreaks.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal..

To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.