News from Jackson County...

February 11, 2002


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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

Frank Gillespi
Georgia needs a new constitution
Last week I described the problems we have with the Georgia legislative system that allows a small group of legislators to dictate policy with no regard to the desire of the voters.

Kerri Graffius
ŒSo, how does it feel to be short?ı
Have you ever had a lot of people ask you the same dumb question?
Sure you have.
Jana Adams
From the Œlove lotteryı to St. Valentine
If you lived in ancient Rome, mid-February could have found you paired off for a year with someone who drew your name out of a hat, or more specifically, an urn, at the end of Lupercalia, a fertility festival.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Nine Wrestlers Headed To State Tournament This Weekend
Nine Tiger wrestlers will pack their bags for the state tournament in Adairsville this Saturday, but head coach Joe Hames isnıt singing his teamıs praises yet.

Dragon, Panther teams look for momentum heading into regions
Area basketball teams will begin the home stretch of their 2001-02 seasons next week, as region tournaments get under way. The top four teams from each regionıs tournament will advance to the state tournaments, which begin Feb. 22.

Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Trust in Joist?
Residents raise concerns about possible contamination from wood products plant. The cafeteria of Colbert Elementary school was filled to capacity Tuesday night, as more than 100 people came out to hear and talk about their concerns over air and water quality around Colbertıs Trus Joist plant, a wood products manufacturing plant located just east of the town.

Madison Co. BOE adopts another redistricting plan
The Madison County Board of Education adopted a redistricting plan last week that complies with the wishes of State Senator Mike Beatty.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Faith leads way to education for Banks woman
When Annie Thomas picked up her Bible and found there were words she could not understand nor pronounce, she decided it was time to go ³back to school.²

Hotel-motel tax raises questions
Westmoreland looks at tax use. Banks County commissioner Pat Westmoreland waded into an ongoing controversy last week over the allocation of the countyıs hotel-motel tax.


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WEATHER WATCH
LouAnn David, the assistant coordinator of the Jackson County 911 office, checked the upcoming forecast Tuesday with the centerıs ³Story Sentry² system. Sleet and snow were in the forecast for the north Georgia area.


South Jackson couple murdered in their home
A South Jackson couple was killed in their home on Ethridge Road Friday afternoon and a man renting a room from them is the suspect in the double murder.
Sherry Elaine Brady, 46, and her husband, Alfred Lewis Brady Jr., 58, both of Jefferson, were found Saturday in their home after a relative called the Jackson County Sheriff's Department after not being able to contact the couple.
The Jackson County Sheriff's is seeking warrants for David A. Hodges, 23, Indianapolis, Ind., on two counts of murder and one count of auto theft.
Sheriff Stan Evans said that law enforcement authorities believe that the Bradys were shot sometime Friday evening in their home. Both appeared to have died from gunshot wounds to the head, the sheriff added.
Evans said that Hodges is believed to have worked for Mr. Brady in his construction business. He had reportedly lived in their home for three weeks.
"The Bradys were apparently good Samaritans, having given Hodges not only a job, but a place to stay," Sheriff Evans said.
Hodges is described as a white male, six feet tall, 155 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. Law enforcement officers say he could possibly be driving a 2001 blue Ford Expedition that belonged to the Bradys. The vehicle has Georgia license plate, 282DFC, but could possibly be bearing plates of another state, possibly Indiana, law enforcement officers say.
"Hodges should be considered armed and extremely dangerous and is believed to possibly be headed to the Florida area," Sheriff Evans said.
Anyone with information on Hodges is asked to contact the Jackson County Sheriff's Department at (706) 367-8718.


ŒBraselton/Hoschton bypassı not in the works, officials say
While the rumor mill may say Braselton and Hoschton will see a bypass in the near future, the Department of Transportation and county officials say it isnıt so.
Residents and city officials near the two connecting municipalities have discussed a potential bypass along Highway 53 for years. The state highway running from Gainesville and past Winder has received considerable attention for road improvements over the years, but nothing has come out of the rumors for a bypass.
³Thereıs no bypass coming through Braselton and Hoschton in the works,² said DOT district planning and programming engineer Brent Cook.
Although Jackson County has conducted a survey concerning a possible bypass for the municipalities, Cook said the DOT has never completed one itself. Conducting road surveys, he said, can range from six months to more than a year to complete.
Jackson County Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings said in the past three years he has seen several conceptional maps of a proposed Braselton/Hoschton bypass, but no decision on the matter has been determined.
³I think itıs kind of stuck in this gray area of how roads get built in Georgia now,² Cummings said of the rumored Braselton/Hoschton bypass project.
From the DOTıs perspective, Cummings explained, the project would need to grow out of a movement spearheaded by local government officials.
Yet before the DOT could handle any road requests, Cook said local government officials ³have to be fairly certain itıs something they want.²
³Since thereıs no consensus with Jackson County, the DOT certainly wonıt initiate the discussion,² Cummings said.
According to Jackson County manager Al Crace, however, Braselton and Hoschton could see a bypass, if the county receives a planning grant from the DOT to study projects along the Interstate-85 corridor. The grant would coordinate the plans of the DOT and the countyıs comprehensive land use plan in developing future road projects (see related story).
³Everyone knows thereıs a serious traffic problem on Hwy. 53,² said Crace while adding that the Braselton/Hoschton bypass proposal would not only involve a discussion of funding the project, but where to put the road as well.
³We have a dilemma, but we donıt have a plan,² Crace said.
One such dilemma for county and city officials is the existing heavy volume of truck traffic along Hwy. 53 through downtown Braselton and Hoschton, Cummings said. A bypass could divert traffic out the townsı historical districts.
In a recent meeting with DOT officials, Crace said a Braselton/Hoschton bypass was not outlined in neither the three nor six-year plan for the county.
With Braselton located in four counties—Jackson, Barrow, Hall and Gwinnett—any project along the scale of a bypass would require the municipalities to work together, Cummings pointed out.
³When the growth around the surrounding counties and Chateau Élan got bigger, the discussion got more serious,² explained Cummings of the bypass rumors.
With property development continuing through the municipalities, many of the potential routes have been eliminated for a bypass, he added.
³I would interpret the rumors to reflect that people are identifying the need,² Crace said of the bypass.
JESSE CRONIC ROAD EXIT
Another rumor circulating throughout Braselton and Hoschton is a possible exit for Jesse Cronic Road onto I-85. Jesse Cronic Road currently runs above the interstate along a bridge, but does not have an exit.
Once again, however, the DOT and county officials confirm the rumors arenıt true.
³The rumor about a Jesse Cronic Road exit is just a rumor,² Cummings said. ³Itıs not on any DOT plan.²
³Fooling around with interstates involves a few particular set of laws and thatıs not on the five or 10-year plan,² Crace said. He also said the DOT told him an I-85 exit at Jesse Cronic Road was not ³feasible.²
Decisions about which exits become a reality along federally-funded interstates is a process involving the Federal Highway Administration, Cook said. Since exits cause additional congestion problems on interstates, the agency doesnıt often create new exits.
The talk about an exit at Jesse Cronic Road, like the Braselton/Hoschton bypass, is ³all talk,² Cook said.


New courthouse site proposed
BOC to hold forum Feb. 13 to outline proposed location
A potential site for a new Jackson County Courthouse will officially be unveiled next week following action this week to take options on several tracts of land. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will host the meeting next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the State Court auditorium in Jefferson.
The proposed site is situated along Darnell Road east of Jefferson, between Hwy. 15 and County Farm Road The BOC has taken an option the site, but no final decision on a courthouse location has been made, said officials. Public comments on the site and alternative proposals are requested to be submitted to the county managerıs office by March 15.
The BOC met for over three hours behind closed doors during the month of January with a new courthouse reportedly the main topic of discussion. The board met again in closed session for over an hour Monday night and agreed to take the option for land at the proposed site.
While officials said no final decision has been made, the board has reportedly reached an consensus that any new county facility wonıt be built near the current courthouse in downtown Jefferson. The proposed site is reportedly being pushed by commissioner Sammy Thomasson who represents the Commerce area on the BOC. The site would be a couple of miles closer to Commerce than the current facility.
Two years ago, a courthouse committee made up of county officials and private citizens recommended that land near the existing courthouse be used for a new complex. That effort stalled when parking and costs became an issue.
The BOC reportedly favors putting the facility on a large tract of land in a ³campus² setting for future growth.


Braselton lawsuit hearing postponed
A court hearing on the lawsuit filed against the town of Braselton and Strickland River Farms by Barrow County has been postponed until March 19.
The first hearing of the lawsuit was initially scheduled for Jan. 31, but the day before they met in court all of the involved parties agreed to postpone their day before Barrow County Superior Court Judge David Motes for seven weeks.
According to Braselton city attorney Greg Blount, the postponement will give all parties enough time to coordinate their meeting dates with their elected officials.


Barrow County attorney John Stell Jr. wanted to meet with his countyıs board of commissioners to discuss the lawsuit before the first hearing date, Blount said.
All of the parties then needed to decide upon another court date, he said. But, Judge Motes probably wasnıt able to available to hold the hearing until later in March.
The March 19 hearing is only the initial meeting in court with all of the parties. After the hearing, attorneys representing Braselton, Strickland River Farms and Barrow County will begin to gather evidence and testimonies to be used during the judicial process.
Blount added that the lawsuit will not be heard before a jury and there has been no discussion as to how long the trial could last.


County to collect info on Œbasicı
animal control costs
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has taken the first step toward providing animal control in the county, although it is only a small step and it doesnıt necessarily mean the program will be implemented.
The BOC agreed after a lengthy discussion on the matter Monday night to allow county manager Al Crace to go on a fact-finding mission and get more details on implementing a ³basic level of service.²
The vote, which was unanimous, was not on the merits of such a program or whether or not it will be approved. Commissioner Stacy Britt made this clear after questioning Crace as to why the matter was on the agenda and why the board was being asked to vote on the matter before they have reviewed an ordinance on how the program would operate.
Crace said that the action would give him the go-ahead to get additional details on the full operation of the program with all of the board members being aware of what he was doing. One of the things Crace plans to look into is the fee local veterinary clinics would take to house the animals picked up the by the county. He will also seek prices on the cost of a truck and prepare advertisements for a staff member.
The service would be based at the county operations complex near the road department office, said officials.


New EMS unit approved for SJ area
Jackson County will have its fourth full-time emergency medical service (EMS) unit in place by the summer. Although the Jackson County Board of Commissioners had cut a request for an EMS station in the Nicholson area during budget hearings late last year, the board agreed Monday night to fund the station, which will cost around $200,000 this year. There was no discussion of where the funding would come from for the station.
County leaders said the station will improve ambulance response time across the county. The move came on a motion from commissioner Tony Beatty, who represents the Nicholson area on the board. Service is expected to be in place by June.
The initial capital budget will be between $100,000 and $120,000, which will be used to purchase a fully-equipped certified ambulance and support equipment.
The unit will also require three additional staff positions. The estimated annual cost is $35,000 for each position, which will include salary, benefits, training and uniforms. The total annual cost of staffing is estimated to be around $105,000. Operating supplies are expected to be around $20,000 annually.
The unit will be located initially out of the Nicholson Fire Station on a 24-hour, seven days a week basis until a permanent county-owned facility can be established.
EMS director Dwain Smith said the benefits of the four unit would include: providing better patient care, supplementing the Commerce and Jefferson zones, reducing abuse of the mutual aid responses to the county and save lives. Smith said the goal is for the response time for 80 percent of the calls to be eight minutes.
A part-time unit has been in place in the Nicholson area and Smith said it has received 55 to 60 calls a month.


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Local schools ranked by state testing results
Several Jackson County schools ranked in the upper third of the state in a recent comparison of standardized test results for 2001.
Compiled by the Georgia Department of Education, the rankings show public schools relative to other public schools in the state on the Stanford 9 test and the SAT for 2001. Individual school results were released earlier, but this ranking, which is available on the DOE website, shows how local schools compared to other schools in the state on the national tests.
Among schools in the Jackson, Banks and Madison County areas, Commerce Elementary School led the way in third grade overall results, ranking 132nd in the state out of 1,114 elementary schools.
At the fifth grade level, Jefferson Elementary School led the way ranking 234th out of 1,114 schools in the state while at the eighth grade level, Jefferson Middle School ranked 69th out of 427 middle schools statewide. Jefferson High School was the highest ranked local school on the SAT test, ranking 129th out of 340 public high schools.
On the Stanford 9 test, a percentile score of 50 is the national average. A majority of both elementary and middle schools in the state failed to score at or above that mark last year. It was the first time many of the schools had administered the Stanford 9 test, which is dramatically different from the old ITBS standardized test which had long been the main test given in elementary and middle schools.
Because of the relatively low scores, many schools, including some in Jackson County, made major changes in their curriculum for the current year. The test will be given again this spring.
Stanford 9 Test, Spring 2001

3rd Grade Composite Score Rankings
1,114 Elementary Schools
Rank School Score*
132 Commerce Elem. 61
153 Ila Elem. School 60
247 Jefferson Elem. 55
342 Comer Elem. 51
342 North Jackson Elem. 51
372 South Jackson Elem. 50
426 Jackson Co. Elem. 48
426 Danielsville Elem. 48
539 Banks Co. Elem. 44
628 Colbert Elem. 41
726 Maysville Elem. 38
835 Benton Elem. 34

5th Grade Composite Score Rankings
1,114 Elementary Schools
234 Jefferson Elem. 59
259 Ila Elem. 58
259 Jackson Co. Elem. 58
277 Commerce Elem. 57
312 Danielsville Elem. 56
383 South Jackson Elem. 53
524 Maysville Elem. 47
559 Colbert Elem. 46
600 North Jackson Elem. 45
657 Benton Elem. 43
723 Banks Co. Elem. 41

8th Grade Composite Score Rankings
(427 middle schools)
69 Jefferson Middle School 58
124 Madison Co. Middle School 51
131 Commerce Middle School 50
178 Banks Co. Middle School 47
223 West Jackson Middle School 44
235 East Jackson Middle School 43

High School SAT Rankings**
(340 high schools)
129 Jefferson High School 962
138 Jackson Co. High School 960
147 Madison Co. High School 955
168 Banks Co. High School 946
196 Commerce High School 929

*Score is the average percentile ranking of students taking the Stanford 9 in that school. Percentile scores are comparisons to a national audience. A score of 50 is the national average, thus scores above 50 are considered above average while scores below 50 are below the national average.

**SAT scores are absolute numbers. A perfect SAT score is 1,500.