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March 13, 2002


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespiie
Lessons of history ignored
Do you remember the quote; “those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”? Well, it has happened again.

Zach Mitcham
Madison County’s Gaza Strip
You might say Madison County has its own Gaza Strip, an 80-acre plot of land off James Holcomb Road.
And like the endless Middle East conflict, the war over the property is deteriorating into an emotional bully match.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

MCHS rifle team tops, Elbert, Hephzibah, ARC
The Madison County High School rifle team continues to fire its way past competitors, defeating Hephzibah, Elbert County and the Academy of Richmond County in recent action.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
JABA opposes courthouse move
On behalf of the Jefferson Area Business Association, president Stephanie Stempinski has composed a letter stating the group’s opposition to the courthouse moving away from downtown Jefferson.

Crash reenactment may deter prom night drinking
A disaster is in the making at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, but it’s one that could help save lives this prom season.
The JCCHS Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Chapter — formerly Arrive Alive — has been approved for a $2,000 mini-grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Banks BOE to pay off 1996 school bonds
Gets record low borrowing rate on SPLOST II. The Banks County Board of Education plans to retire the 1996 school bonds in August when the first issue of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax expires.

Trucker pursues hit-and-run driver
It was just another Friday night at Ryan’s Steakhouse at Banks Crossing. The lot was full as usual, said Dinah Black, and customers filled the aisles and tables.


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RISING STAR?

Joe Olds, Danielsville, practices songs from his first CD, “This One’s Gotta’ Be Right.” The CD is set for release nationwide April 1.

Danielsville songwriter hopes to top the charts
The world of country music may have to make room for its next star, Danielsville’s Joe Olds.
On April 1, his first 10-song CD “This One’s Gotta Be Right” hits the radio stations nationwide.
Actually, one of the songs from the CD, “When I See Jesus,” has been played on WCON by dee jay Danny O’Day during “The Gospel Hour.” O’Day said the song has received good response from his listeners.
O’Day and Olds became friends at the Banks County High School Band Boosters concert last fall when Olds shared the stage with another Madison County boy, country legend T. Graham Brown.
“Joe immediately impressed me not only as a sincere young man, but a musician with talent,” said O’Day. “He’s got a good shot at making it.”
O’Day isn’t the only one who sees the talent of the 27-year-old. Lee Davis, owner of Lee Davis Studios in Maysville where the CD was produced, was impressed with his professionalism.
“Joe is easy to work with. He’s got a lot of talent. He has so much feel in his voice. If someone doesn’t have that feel, there’s no button to push to make that happen.”
That’s high praise for the young songwriter. And, Davis carries the credentials to back up the statement. He’s been in the music business for many, many years on both sides of the studio window as a musician, composer, engineer and producer.
Also in his corner is another country legend Gene Watson. The two met during another benefit concert at Banks County High School last Spring.
As Olds holds the CD in the thin jewel case, he knows he’s really holding the sum of his dreams in his hands. “This is unbelievable,” said Olds with an ear-to-ear grin. “I still can’t believe this is really going to happen.”
Olds has been writing lyrics and music since he was 15. He co-wrote four of the songs on the CD.
He gives plenty of enthusiastic credit to the song writing abilities of writers/musicians Wally Stowe, Stan Escoe, Tony Jordan, Geoff Jacobs and Billy Earl McClelland.
“Wally and I wrote ‘This One’s Got To Be Right’ riding from my house to his house. He’s an awesome writer.”
“I don’t know which song they’ll lead with. ‘This One’s Gotta Be Right’ might be it. Or maybe ‘Never Said I Do.’ They are written to my wife Tracey.”
Both are beautiful, moving ballads with the sweet, melancholy accents of the steel guitar in the background.
“Not Tonight I’ve Got a Heartache,” “All the Girl I’ll Ever Need” and “Bubba’s On The Moonshine,” done in the traditional country flavor, are upbeat and definitely toe-tappers.
“I have been so lucky having the support of my family and friends. And especially my wife, Tracey,” said Olds.
“And Wendell and Becky Hill — I don’t know how to thank them enough for helping me along.”
The Hills, owners of Hill’s Cabinet Shop in Banks County, believe in Olds’ talent enough to back him up with moral and financial support.
As the band practices in Hill’s cabinet shop, he listens to every note, every word.
He has helped Olds gather a professional band to go on tour. The Smokin’ Joe Band now has Stacey Miller, keyboards; Troy Holcomb on drums; Jeff Marcus, bass; Ron Moody, guitar; Vernon Hendricks on steel guitar; and Eddie Stancil on mandolin.
Olds and the Smokin’ Joe Band will be playing again with Gene Watson at the Banks County High School auditorium on Saturday March 23.


Another round
Audience offers more criticism of Scoggins, Nash and the IDA. Perhaps they’ll soon need a bell.
And a card to mark the round.
The ongoing Hull industrial park slugfest continued Monday, with critics taking even more pointed jabs at the industrial authority and BOC chairman Wesley Nash.
Many have been outraged since the industrial authority purchased 80 acres off James Holcomb Road for a proposed industrial park. Citizens have packed the BOC meeting room over the past couple of months. Those against the proposal have complained that the land deal went down with no opportunity for public input, that it’s on an unsuitable site and that the IDA is a rogue group that should be lassoed out of office by the commissioners.
Proponents of the park have said that the county needs industrial growth to help offset property taxes and to provide long-term economic stability for the county.
But as the controversy has continued, the IDA has shifted its talk from developing industry on the purchased land to using it for a backup well for the Hull water system.
Those supporting the IDA were generally silent Monday, while some opponents grew bolder with their disdain for the land deal and those who brokered it.
Lamar Stephens, who lives outside of the county but owns land in Hull, again addressed the commissioners. He has been perhaps the most outspoken critic of the IDA. Stephens said he felt the IDA has wasted considerable money on lawyer’s fees, an improper placement of a second well for the Hull water system and the services of John Scoggins, who was fired as IDA chairman but remains under contract with the industrial authority at $400 per week to help establish the Hull water system. Scoggins recently submitted a letter of resignation as a consultant, but the IDA postponed accepting the resignation.
“How much more money will be wasted?” asked Stephens. “The IDA is out of control. You tried to chop the snake’s head off and it’s still wiggling. Our commissioners can’t get rid of him (Scoggins)....We’ve got a run away train here.”
Those on all sides of the issue have conceded that communications weren’t good between the IDA and the BOC as the authority planned a land purchase for an industrial park.
Stephens asked Nash why he didn’t relay messages from one board to another since the BOC chairman is an “ex-officio” member of the industrial authority, meaning he sits in on the meetings but doesn’t vote.
Nash told Stephens that he is “not supposed to be an errand boy.”
Stephens took a decidedly personal tone with Nash after the chairman later informed him that he had 15 seconds left in his allotted three minutes to speak.
“I’m going to waste this 15 seconds,” said Stephens, saying that he would just stand and stare at Nash. “I don’t like you and you don’t like me either. Truth will reveal itself and snakes that need their heads chopped off will have their heads chopped off.”
Stephens asked the board what will happen with the 80 acres.
Commissioner Mike Youngblood told Stephens that the committee established to study possible business use of the land will “look at what’s feasible.”
“Let me assure you, I haven’t forgot about the 80 acres,” said Youngblood. “I know it was probably bought to be developed.”
He added: “I didn’t know the land was purchased until the night it hit the newspapers.”
Three people from Hull, who have all spoken out against the IDA’s proposed industrial park and the IDA’s handling of the land purchase, were approved to the park committee Monday — Julie Adams, Walter Searcy and Louis Steed.
Mary Wooten of Hull took the podium more than once to ask board members questions about the land deal and the IDA as well as to voice frustrations about a lack of information on what’s going on. She said she would like access to Scoggins’ files on how the land might be developed. She also asked what experience Scoggins had with managing water systems. No one responded.
Others who spoke up Monday about the controversy included Marion Baker, who questioned spending on the IDA and Chamber of Commerce; Chip Chandler, who again told commissioners that the BOC should be the ultimate authority in the county government; Jim Warren, who outlined what the county should do to resolve the mess (see page 5A); and Charlie Jameson, who suggested that the board try to clear up a property conflict on the original site of the Hull water system backup well. The IDA mistakenly drilled a well that sat partially on private property. The property owner refused to sell the land to the county after the drilling. But Youngblood said the property owner may now be willing to negotiate.
Late in the discussions, Nash asked the board to “suspend the rules” to allow him to speak for more than three minutes. Scogin asked whether Nash had signed up to speak. Nash said that he didn’t have to sign up to speak since he is the chairman of the board.
Some audience members yelled out that if Nash hadn’t signed up to speak, he shouldn’t be allowed to talk — audience members are required to sign up before a meeting to speak on an agenda item.
Wooten stood up and chastised Nash, saying that she felt he was acting unfairly.
“You set a protocol for this room and you broke it,” said Wooten. “I’ve got a problem with your behavior in these meetings.”
Wooten walked out of the meeting after making her comments and was applauded by some audience members.
County attorney Mike Pruett said that commissioners aren’t required to sign up to speak to each other. But no commissioners offered a motion to suspend the rules to allow Nash to talk, so the chairman moved on to the next agenda item without offering his input on the continuing controversy.


County may scrap
contract with jail builders
With jail construction flawed, halted and way behind schedule, the county may sever ties with its jail construction firm.
Madison County commissioners agreed Monday after a 25-minute closed door meeting to give chairman Wesley Nash the go-ahead to terminate the county’s contract with Boatwright Construction at his discretion.
Nash and the county’s legal counsel will meet with the jail firm, its lawyers and jail inspectors Monday. The contract may be terminated at that time.
County commissioners recently hired Oplossing Inc. to inspect the jail. More than 100 problems were found, including failure to install steel reinforcements in the cell block areas. The board has halted construction on the project and there’s still no completion date set for the building.

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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.


Committee addresses concerns about Trus Joist
What to do about smoke from Trus Joist?
That’s just one of the questions posed at the first official meeting of the Citizens’ Committee for Clean Air and Water, which met at the Colbert Depot Tuesday night.
The committee, which will meet the second Tuesday of each month at the depot, is made up of 11 members from Colbert and the surrounding community, including Colbert Mayor John Waggoner, County Commission District 5 member Bruce Scogin, and Barbarianne Gaulding Russell. Trus Joist plant manager David Craft and two Trus Joist employees will also serve on the committee.
Committee chair Russell said Trus Joist officials could not provide an answer about the smoke, except to say its contents are all within “allowable” EPD levels.
“What we want to know, is how can we have some assurance of that?” Russell said.
Mayor Waggoner said Wednesday he feels the community is dealing with a real “gray area.”
“They (Trus Joist) say they’re complying (with EPD) - how do you prove they’re not?” Waggoner said.
Trus Joist is considered by the EPD to be a “major source” of three chemicals classified as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS) – formaldehyde, phenol and methanol.
Besides these chemicals, Trus Joist also emits several substances known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), as well as carbon monoxide.
And Trus Joist will likely be a candidate for a revised set of federal regulations, called MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) to be proposed later this year, EPD officials said recently.
“My question is, if they want to be a good neighbor, why not go ahead and install new pollution controls now, instead of waiting for MACT regulations?” Russell said.
Groundwater and health concerns were also addressed.
Russell brought along a water sample from her property taken from water downstream of Trus Joist which was foamy and contained a “brownish” tinge.
Mike Oldham of the Athens office of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) said Wednesday that he and Chip Skroggs, of the Industrial Authority Water Quality Protection Division in Atlanta had made two recent site visits to the area: one to a nearby stream on Russell’s property and one to a catch pond at Trus Joist.
On the Trus Joist visit, he noted that some water run off was not being caught in the pond, although plant officials said they were working on the problems.
Oldham said he is now awaiting a review of Trus Joist’s Stormwater Permit from the Atlanta office, at which time the EPD may rewrite the permit and add further conditions.
Oldham said Wednesday that he planned to make a third site visit after Tuesday night’s heavy rains to collect “foamy” water samples from plant run off in nearby streams for testing.