News from Banks County...

January 16, 2002


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OPINIONS

Kerri Grafius
New teen driving law still lacks key element
We all know what it’s like to get that first driver’s license in your wallet—finally, a sense of independence, adulthood, competency and freedom all displayed a state-issued plastic card that symbolizes our break from immaturity to responsibility. It’s a piece of adulthood that we anticipate for years before its arrival, because it’s the ultimate act that distances us from the control of others.

Editorial
Family seeks community’s help
Dear Editor:
You may be able to spread the word. We are trying to raise money for the Allman Family. Mr. Allman was diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Leopards to face Wildcats, Commerce
The Leopards’ next few games could be crucial in determining their postseason standing.
After falling to 0-4 in the subregion, Banks (6-10, 0-4) needs to beat Apalachee Friday night to improve their playoff hopes.
The Wildcats have beaten Banks County both times the two teams have faced this year.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

Jefferson seeks purchase of Wilkins building for civic center
Jefferson leaders would like to locate a civic center in a vacant building in the downtown area.
The Jefferson City Council authorized Mayor Jim Joiner on Monday night to negotiate with the owners of Wilkins Industry to purchase the building to be used as a civic center. The action came after a 10-minute closed session to discuss real estate acquisition.


Braselton city planners approve 175-home project
But delay requested before city council takes up plan
A proposed 175-home development along Hwy. 124 received a recommended nod of approval from the Braselton Planning Commission last week, but the developers later asked for a 30-day delay before the Braselton City Council makes a final decision.

Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY

Multi-district plan hits snag
Beatty says he won’t support BOE proposal to rearrange districts
Reapportionment plans for the Madison County Board of Education may have to be redrawn.

Industrial park opponents turned away by BOC
Angry Hull residents packed the county commission meeting room Monday night eager to have it out with the BOC over an industrial park planned just east of the city limits.

 

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Lewallen retires as county clerk

Many of her former “bosses” came to her retirement party to wish her well. Pictured above are: (front, L-R) Danny Maxwell, Kenneth Brady, Avis Lewallen, Harold Brown, Billy Poole, (back, L-R) Keith Gardiner, Ernest Rogers, Pat Westmoreland, Donald Wilson and Milton Patterson.


Saying ‘goodbye’ after 23 years
Avis Lewallen retires as county clerk
Avis Lewallen, county clerk, said goodbye Friday to her co-workers and dozens of county employees, past and present, who had come to wish her well.
After 23 years of service, the diminutive dynamo decided to retire, much to the dismay of many who had come to count on her skills and memory of county business.
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland said: “ She’s the best. She is a dedicated, conscientious employee. She’s always looked after the best interests of the county and the taxpayers. I don’t know where we’d be today without her.”
He said he enjoyed the three years he’s had working with her.
“She’s always conducted herself in a professional manner,” he said. “We will miss her.”
The same sentiment was echoed by many of her past “bosses.” “Everybody will miss her,” said Kenneth Brady, commission chairman. “But now it’s time for her to enjoy life, stay at home and watch the grandkids grow.”
And that’s just what she has in mind.
“I look forward to staying home, working around the house and the yard,” she said. “My grandchildren show lambs, cows and pigs, so going to all the shows will keep me occupied.”
Lewallen said she started to work after the death of her husband.
“I had to go to work, but I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said.
A friend of hers worked at the courthouse and told Lewallen she wanted to quit to raise her children.
“I came in and they hired me,” she said. “I didn’t know a thing about the county when I started.”
She was a quick learner, though, and soon became the backbone of the board of commissioners.
Ernest Rogers, commissioner, said: “She trained us. She trained all the county commissioners. Whatever the problem, she could deal with it professionally. I have a lot of respect for her. We are so grateful for her years of service to the county.”
Sheriff Charles Chapman agreed, saying: “She is the most courteous and professional person. I’ve had to call on her several times and she’s always been there. She’ll be sorely missed.”
Lewallen smiled and chatted with some of the former commissioners she had served and many other county employees and friends who came to honor her at her retirement party.
Brady brought her a rocking chair and she sat in it to check it out. Though she may not be sitting in that chair in the commissioner’s office anymore, she’s only a phone call away.
“If we need her, all we have to do is pick up the phone,” said Jeannie Gailey, her replacement.
Gailey said Lewallen called Monday morning to see if things were going smoothly.
“Now, that’s a woman who cares,” she said.


Gillsville could lose LOST funds
Gillsville’s city council discussed the prospect of losing a share of the Hall County Local Option Sales Tax at last week’s meeting.
Mayor Larry Poole said he had attended two planning meetings so far and the county is leaning toward eliminating the process of disbursement according to population. The cities of Gillsville, Clermont and Lula could be cut out entirely or have their share decreased because the cities do not take in enough sales tax or provide enough services to their populations, he said.
“There are a number of ways they could cut us out,” he warned.
He encouraged the council members to attend the next meeting in late January when the county plans to gather representatives of all the cities together and make the announcement of the process they will follow.
The county will determine who the negotiators will be, Poole said. Each city will probably have two representatives on the negotiating team.
“The bottom line is that the city of Gainesville and Hall County will probably determine [the outcome], but we need representation to let them know what we like or don’t like,” he said.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the council:
•swore in new council member Ronnie Whiting.
•heard from Poole about a proposed subdivision on Highway 52 at Joe Chandler Road outside the city limits. The rezoning is expected to come before the Hall County Planning Commission in February.
Poole said he had no information as to what type of subdivision it would be, mobile home or stick-built homes. He said he has no problem with either as long as the development is low density.
“We need to attend that meeting and say what we think about it,” he said. “It’s a fairly large subdivision and it’s close to us.”
•enacted a public library ordinance, creating a library for the city of Gillsville and another city service. City attorney David Syfan, who is also donating books, suggested the council approve the measure as a public service to be considered for LOST funds. The library will be accepting donated books and will be open during council meeting hours. Citizens may also contact the city clerk or council members to gain access to the community building where the meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The books may be returned the following month.
•discussed renovations of the city’s buildings.
•heard Poole read a letter of opposition he sent to Georgia legislators about grant-ing a driver’s license to illegal aliens.
•learned a restraining order has been filed with Hall County court preventing any discussion of a proposed cell tower. The council closed the public meeting and entered closed session to discuss the suit. No action was taken when the meeting was opened to the public.



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Development Authority concerned about county website
Questions arise over CVB involvementBanks County Development Authority board members discussed their concerns at Thursday’s meeting about the authority not being mentioned on the Banks County website.
The site should be carrying information about the DA, said board member Jerry Boling, who is also vice president of the Chamber of Commerce.
“The development authority is not mentioned at all,” he said. “There’s no reference to us. The idea was that the county be the main thing and when you log on you can go to the different links for information.”
He said he had met with the web designers and told them the site needed a link to the DA.
“Even if we hadn’t supplied any information to them, we should still be listed on the page,” he said.
He asked if the DA had paid its share of the web page costs, thinking that was the reason the DA had no link.
Erin Decker, secretary, said the authority had paid its share, $1,102.50, in August for the site development.
Board of commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady said: “You need your equal time on the site. If you paid for it, you need to be on it.”
Boling asked if the cost of the website was to be split between the county, the DA and the Chamber.
He added: “It’s my understanding that the Convention and Visitors Bureau has control of the web page now.”
Decker nodded affirmatively and replied the site costs were covered by the DA, the county and the Chamber. She said she was not aware of any costs paid by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, but the organization could be paying the monthly hosting fees.
Board member Tom Wilson asked: “How did the CVB get control of it if they didn’t pay any money? That’s the question.”
Boling said: “I haven’t asked the question directly, so I can’t answer for sure. It’s my understanding that that’s the way it’s set up. Maybe they used CVB money. I’m not sure. But I’m now involved with the chamber and I’m trying to find out on that end of it.”
Brady said: “It was supposed to be the chamber of commerce, Banks County and the development authority. That’s it. The county paid their money, the development authority paid their money and the chamber paid theirs. I’m not kicking the CVB or the chamber, but it was the chamber that actually went into the contract, not the CVB.”
Jack Banks, IDA chairman, said: “We definitely need to have something. But I thought the chamber was going to be in control of it. It seems like we need to be dealing with the chamber and not the CVB.”
Boling said: “I’ll have the information for the next meeting and look after our interests as well as the chamber’s.”
Wilson said: “The chamber needs to be in the forefront.”
Brady said he had no problem with the CVB going in with the county and chamber.
“I think the CVB needs to be on the same website with Banks County,” he said. “All the business doings of Banks County should be available on the website.”
Boling said he would find out if the CVB is paying the monthly hosting fee.
Banks said he thought the chamber would be the place most people would go to for information, not the CVB.
Brady agreed and said most people would call the chamber of commerce to get information about the county.
“They’re supposed to know all about what’s going on in the county,” he said.
Boling said: “When we meet again, I think we’ll have some answers. Number one is, from the county’s standpoint, we have a legal right to have a position on there.”
Banks told Boling to proceed on so the issue could be “squared away.”