News from Madison County...

February 27, 2002


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespiie
How soon they forget

In the aftermath of 9-11 our country underwent a wave of patriotism.
People purchased and displayed U.S. Flags by the million. Flags appeared on automobile radio antennas, of fence posts, on freshly installed flag polls, power poles and many other places. Our nation was awash with bright, fresh flags.

Adam Fouche
How to speak NASCAR
Now that the 10-month racing season has begun (and what a great beginning it was), I thought I should do a service to you, dear reader.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Raiders ousted from region tournament
Madison County fell one game shy of a state playoff berth last Wednesday in Winder, losing 68-53 to Jackson County.
The Panthers Buzz Wehunt and Dustin David combined for 52 points. Wehunt tallied 29 points, while David poured in 23.
Ben Baker led Madison County with 18, while Chris Faust pitched in 10.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

BOC refuses to release courthouse site records
Herald sought documents about 157-acre deals
The Jackson County Board of Commis-sioners denied an open records request this week for documents related to the proposed purchase of 157 acres for a new county courthouse.

Jefferson mulls courthouse counter-proposal plan
Jefferson officials may offer a counterproposal to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners’ plan to build a new county government complex on Darnell Road.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY

Child abuse numbers up
The Banks County Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) investigated 19 new cases of child abuse in January, according to director Renota Free at last week’s monthly meeting.

LOST funds may be reduced
The cities in Banks County may find funds from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) reduced beginning in 2003.


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Show of Strength
TOP LIFTER

Madison County’s Tony Freeman lifted more than anyone else Saturday in a weightlifting competition between Madison County and Franklin County. But Freeman wasn’t the only Raider to show off his strength as several other Madison County lifters set school and meet records.


Simmering controversy
No action, but plenty of talk Monday about the IDA and industrial park dilemma
No industrial authority members were fired as some expected.
And no actions were taken on a proposed commercial/industrial park off Hwy. 72.
But there was plenty of talk at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting about the industrial park controversy, a hot topic that keeps simmering.
Much of the discussion focused on former IDA chairman John Scoggins’ current relationship with the industrial authority. The BOC dismissed Scoggins from the industrial authority by a 3-2 vote two weeks ago. The firing stemmed from an IDA purchase of 80 acres off James Holcomb Road for an industrial park. The deal was viewed by many as an underhanded way for the IDA to bypass the authority of the commissioners, who voted down a cold storage facility for the property only months earlier.
But the firing apparently only half severed Scoggins’ tie to the authority. Some commissioners seemed surprised to learn that Scoggins was hired by the IDA in February, 2001, as a “contractor” to provide “certain technical and/or professional management services” for the industrial authority’s development of a water system in the Hull area.
The contract specified that Scoggins would be paid “$400 per week” plus “actual out-of-pocket travel and other miscellaneous expenses.” (See box for a list of Scoggins’ duties as specified by the contract.)
After being dismissed from the IDA by the county commissioners, Scoggins, who has not been at any BOC meetings since the industrial park controversy surfaced, submitted a letter of resignation as an industrial authority employee. The Feb. 25 letter was addressed to acting authority chairman Tom Joiner.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.


Scoggins’ duties
John Scoggins’ duties as set forth by his contract with the IDA:
•Manage the day-to-day operations of the authority water department.
•Supervise the operation and maintenance contract with Environmental Systems Inc. for the operation and maintenance to the authority’s two water systems.
•Manage the acquisition of well #2 for the Hull/Sanford water system.
•Manage the acquisition of the ACC water system.
•Oversee the connection of well #2 to the existing Hull/Sanford water system.
•Establish a water utility billing and collection system for the department.
•Work with developers in determining requirements for industrial, commercial and residential water and waste water needs.
•Provide management for long range projects.
•Develop a five-year plan for the expansion of the Madison County water system.
•Develop a five-year plan for the development and implementation of a waste water treatment system for Madison County.


Colbert man charged with trafficking cocaine
The second county drug bust in two weeks led to the arrest of a Colbert man last Friday afternoon.
Ron O’neal Kelly, 27, was arrested on cocaine charges after a search of his home at 210 Alberta Drive yielded approximately five ounces of suspected crack cocaine. Five vehicles were also seized in the raid.
Kelly was charged with two counts of the sale of cocaine, one count of trafficking in cocaine, and one count of obstruction of officers.
He is currently being held in the Madison County Jail and no bond has been set.
Madison County Sheriff’s deputies were assisted in the arrest by members of the Northern Piedmont MANS unit.


Should government purchase locally?
Rec board chairman says county should do more business with local companies
Should Madison County’s governing bodies make a special effort to purchase supplies and equipment from local businessmen?
Doug Epps, chairman of the recreation advisory committee, thinks so. He urged the board of commissioners to change the county’s purchase policy to assure that local businesses will have at least an equal chance to bid on county purchases.
“I think it is a shame we do not do more business with local companies,” he said.
The specific case Epps used is the purchase of a new mower by the Recreation Department. Bid specifications issued by Grady Autry, recreation maintenance coordinator, specified the Dixie Chopper as the only acceptable brand. Autry argued that the department owns several of these mowers and is very pleased with them. He pointed out that with all mowers the same, it reduced the cost of keeping spare parts, and made it easier for his staff to maintain the mowers.
Epps objected that only a few companies in Georgia sell the Dixie Chopper. None of them are in Madison County. He argued that Madison County businesses, such as Colbert Lawn Mower, have excellent machines that compare with the Dixie Chopper that can be purchased at only slightly higher cost. He argued that service and repairs by a local company would be quicker and probably less expensive than going out of town.
Recreation department director Dick Perpall backed up his staff. He questioned the wisdom of changing from equipment that the staff knows well to something they would have to learn.
“Why change it,” he asked?
Perpall pointed out that three bids were received as required, and the low bid awarded to Riverside Mower in Athens. The new mower cost $6,400. The competing mower offered by Colbert Lawnmower was approximately $7,000.
County Clerk Morris Fortson reported that efforts are under way to streamline the bidding process, and that the question of accepting slightly higher bids to keep business in the county would be included in the discussions.
Another issue raised by Epps was the policy allowing Autry to drive a county truck home at night. Perpall responded that Autry is on call 24 hours a day to respond to problems on the fields. He is called on to unlock bathrooms, correct problems with lights and solve other problems. Autry stated that he never uses the county vehicle for personal use. He started keeping a daily log on the vehicle at the first of this year, “when this question first came up,” he said.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin acknowledged this practice. He reported an incident at the Diamond Hill Park when his wife called Autry to come open the bathroom because the ladies were lined up waiting to use it.
Epps acknowledged that his committee might be “micro-managing” the recreation department, but he understood that to be their responsibility.
Autry commented that the committee’s policy is causing low morale on his crews.
The board of commissioners took no action on the matter.


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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.


BOC upholds firing of transfer station employee
A former transfer station employee says she was wrongly fired by her supervisor.
But a Madison County grievance committee found otherwise, and county commissioners voted unanimously Monday to stand by transfer station director Sandra Webb’s firing of Melinda Pierce.
Pierce signed up for the meeting agenda to discuss “liberty and justice.” She said she was terminated from her job at the transfer station scale house because Webb had a personal grudge against her.
“My liberty as an employee of Madison County has been violated,” said Pierce.
Personnel coordinator Connie Benge told the commissioners Pierce was dismissed after she called in sick, then attended a retreat.
Pierce told the board that she had been ill at the end of October and beginning of November of last year. She said the doctor advised her to stay out of work because the stress of her job was affecting her health. Pierce said she was stressed out “from seeing things not done right every day on my job.” She said Webb was not at work enough to perform her duties.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.


Coile to assume Ila mayor’s post
Mike Coile will be the new mayor of Ila. According to city clerk Susan Steed, he is expected to be sworn in next Monday night at the council’s regular monthly meeting.
Coile, who resigned his council seat last week in order to seek the mayor’s post, was the only one to qualify to complete Bob Hooper’s two year term.
Since there was only one qualifier for the post, a special election set for March will not be held.
Mayor Hooper resigned in January, after serving only two years of his four year term, because he moved out of the city limits. Coile has filled in as mayor pro tem since that time.
The city will seek qualifiers for the remainder of Coile’s term on the city council, which is set to expire Dec. 31, 2003, in a call for a special election in September. Qualifying dates will be announced later.