News from Banks County...

March 27, 2002


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OPINIONS

Angela Gary
At last, I have a singing career
I can’t sing. I’ve never said I could, but I’ve always secretly dreamed of stepping up to the mike, opening my mouth wide and a beautiful, magical sound coming out

Editorial
Plenty to do in Homer for Easter
Easter musicals, religious presentations and sunrise services are among the activities planned in Homer this weekend in observance of Easter.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Banks sweeps Franklin
Last week’s soccer games were probably unlike any the teams have played in this season.
They were competing on a baseball diamond turned soccer field. The field was shorter and narrower than most. And the teams and fans had to swim through mud to get there.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

No new ground broken at three BOC hearings
Final hearing set Thurs. on courthouse site plans
After three of four planned public hearings on the proposed Darnell Road location for a new courthouse, no new ground has been broken nor has the proposal been met with much support.

Area Lawmen Arrest Five Men,
Break Up Two Burglary Rings
Two years ago, Casey Gary was one of the heroes who helped bring a state football championship to the Commerce City School System.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
DA won’t prosecute Almond
Lavender sees evidence of ‘sloppy’ bookkeeping, but no criminality
The state will not pursue criminal charges against former long time Comer Elementary principal Mac Almond.

BOE may name new high school principal Wed.
Madison County may name a new high school principal today (Wednesday).
The county school board accepted the resignation of retiring principal Bob Rhinehart last week. The resignation takes effect at the end of the school year.

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Deputy gave toddler bunny at crash scene

Banks County Deputy Pat Dean (L) gave a stuffed blue bunny to 1-year-old Sydnee Schmidt after an accident on Highway 441 at Banks Crossing Saturday.

BCHS player enrages crowd
Player’s comments at banquet draw anger; Gordon asks audience to ‘forgive and forget’
Lady Leopards’ former head coach Mike Gordon has seen his share of controversy on the basketball court. And he probably expected it.
But controversy at an athletic banquet is a different story altogether.
A girl basketball player’s comments at Sunday’s athletic awards banquet angered the audience and sent several of them heading for the door.
Junior Dana Garrish took the podium in the school’s auditorium and began reading a letter to Gordon, who is retiring after 31 years. Garrish claimed Gordon had devastated the girls’ basketball program at Banks County and that he had denied her an equal right to participate.
While she was reading the letter, several people in the crowd stood up and began yelling at Garrish. Others got up and left the auditorium. Gordon tried to step in and asked the crowd to allow Garrish the opportunity to say what she wanted.
As the audience became more vocal and angry, athletic director Greg Moore and boys’ basketball coach Mike Ruth stepped in and stopped Garrish’s speech. She then claimed she had a First Amendment right to speak at the banquet.
However, Georgia Press Association attorney David Hudson said schools can censor students.
“At a school function, the school officials have the right to stop the speaker,” Hudson said. “Off campus, or at a non-school event, she can say or write what she pleases.”
After Moore moved Garrish off the stage, she and her family left the auditorium. Some of the crowd followed them into the hall, where there was more shouting and commotion.
Coach Gordon then stepped back to the podium and addressed the crowd, asking them to come back into the auditorium.
“Something came to me this morning while I was teaching Sunday School,” Gordon said. “I looked at what Jesus Christ said as his last statement on the cross: ‘Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.’ That’s what I’m going to do, and I ask that you do the same.”
Gordon also said he has seen a decline in athletics as parents, coaches and fans put too much pressure on the athletes. He added that having too much of a verbal discourse in athletics ruins good programs.
Gordon asked the crowd to be nicer to coaches in the future.
“I won’t have to worry about it anymore,” he said. “This is the end of the end for me. But the coaches left here have feelings. Look at them as human beings. Be nicer to them.”
Gordon ended his speech by thanking his supporters and adversaries.
“I’m going out of here with no regrets of anything I’ve done or said,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s time to move on. From the very depth of my heart, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me over the past 31 years and everyone who didn’t support me over the past 31 years. You’ve got to forgive. You’ve got to forget. And you’ve got to move on.”
Moore followed Gordon and apologized to the audience for not stopping Garrish earlier.
Ruth also said a few words about Gordon before the banquet ended.
“They don’t come any more classier than this man right here,” a teary-eyed Ruth said. “I have utmost respect for this man and it hurts my heart to see something like that.”
At Ruth’s request, most of the audience made its way to the stage to shake Gordon’s hand.
After the banquet, Garrish’s mother, Frances Garrish, went to the Banks County Sheriff’s Office and filed a police report. Frances Garrish alleged that Gordon’s wife “cussed her at the sports banquet.”
Early last year, Dana Garrish’s brother, Chad Garrish, came before the Banks County Board of Education asking that Gordon not be allowed to return for his final year as girls’ basketball coach. Another group spoke in favor of Gordon at the same meeting. The board made no comment and took no action.


BOC to expand water system
The Banks County Board of Commissioners has approved plans to expand the county’s water system to meet future needs to the tune of $10.883 million.
At a special called meeting Thursday, county engineer Ben Turnipseed went over the project’s details. The expansion will entail creating an “off-stream reservoir” and water plant on the Hudson River capable of delivering 2.4 million gallons per day (gpd) at a cost of $4.6 million, he said.
By tying in to the Middle Brook Fork River on Hwy. 105, the existing Mountain Creek Reservoir will be increased to a water source producing 1.75 million gpd. That cost is estimated at $1.729 million.
Both these sources of new water have been approved and permitted, he said.
But providing additional water is only the beginning. The water has to be able to flow to the customers. With the varied elevations in Banks County, keeping pressure constant is difficult, officials said. Turnipseed recommended building four new elevated water storage tanks, one underground storage tank and one booster pump station.
Two 300,000-gallon tanks would be built — one at the Banks-Jackson-Madison County line on Fort Lamar Road serving the northeast section of the county and one on Carson Segars Road supporting the southeast end of the county. A 500,000-gallon tank is planned for the north central part of the county at Bennett Road and Hwy. 63. The 250,000-gallon tank would be located on Yonah Homer Road near the Hall County line.
A 250,000-gallon ground storage tank and pumping station is planned for Yonah-Homer Road near Pless Circle.
The construction of the tanks is estimated at $1.685 million; the pumping station $85,000. The installation of new lines will also be necessary at an estimated cost of $850,000.
One section will be run down Yonah-Homer Road from Wynn Lake to the county line. Another section would run from the proposed Hudson River reservoir, on county farm land at the end of Thompson Street, up Webbs Creek Road to Wilson Bridge Road. New line will be installed the length of Wilson Bridge Road. That line will then extend under I-85 and go up Harden Bridge Rd to Hwy. 59.
Turnipseed also said an additional $1.9 million would be used for a contingency fund ($895,000), engineering fees ($581,700), project inspection ($277,400), land ($100,000), administrative and legal fees ($20,000) and permits ($60,000).
Turnipseed explained: “The county has A SPLOST (special local option sales tax) fund with a cap of $15 million. Based on current projections, $12.5 million will be received over the five-year period. Forty percent of that has been allocated to water system improvements in the county. The county will need $5.883 million in additional funds to proceed with the project.”
Turnipseed presented the commissioners with a report showing a 50-year projection of county growth and water usage.
Since the 2000 census, Banks County has gained around 250 new water customers, he said. As the system stands, it is able to provide an adequate water supply to meet customer needs, at an average of 457,000 gallons per day (gpd), he added.
However, according to Turnipseed, that average will rise to 1.6 million gpd by 2010, stressing the system if needs exceed estimations or if the drought continues.
He suggested the county apply now for a grant/loan from USDA Rural Development and said the county was eligible for up to a 75-percent grant. The county would then carry a 25-percent loan, $1.470 million, payable over 40 years at a rate of 4.5-percent interest. Water revenues would be collateral for the loan, he explained, and rates could be raised to “provide adequate revenue for annual costs.”
That idea did not sit well with the commission chairman Kenneth Brady who said he did not see a need to increase water rates, or even go for the grant and loan.
“We can meet projected water needs until 2010,” he said. “We can cover ourselves until then. Besides, hopefully, in another five years we can go for another SPLOST and not have to go in debt. I don’t see the need to hurry. It would be different if wells were going dry.”
Commissioner Ernest Rogers, however, felt the county should take advantage of the USDA Rural Development grant.
“If we can get 75- or even 50-percent through a grant without costing us anything, I think we should go for it,” he said.
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland agreed with Rogers.
“If we start now and apply for the grant, we’ll be ready to proceed,” he said.



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Garrisons to host 43rd ‘World’s Largest Egg Hunt’ on Sunday
The Garrison family will once again be hosting the “World’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt” at the Garrison property on Highway 51 across from the Banks County Primary School.
The event will start at 2 p.m. on Easter Sunday, March 31, and is open to children of all ages. James Dumas will be the emcee.
Sandra Garrison said 100,000 hand-wrapped candy eggs and 125 prize eggs will be scattered in the field.
The prizes this year will be live bunnies, stuffed bunnies and Easter baskets, she said. All the candy and the prizes are provided by the Buster Garrison family.
This will be the 43rd year the Garrisons have sponsored the event.


Hinson land annexed into Baldwin
The City of Baldwin grew by another 243 acres after the council approved the annexation and rezoning of the property owned by the Hinson Family Partnership and Apple Pie Ridge Properties.
At Monday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to rezone the property from ARR (agricultural rural residential) to R-1 (single family dwellings) and annex the property.
The tract of land adjoins the 297 acres previously annexed off Apple Pie Ridge Road. The new tract will have the same covenants and will have one-acre-plus lot sizes, according to Mayor Mark Reed. He said he anticipates the development will include around 160 new homes, bringing the entire development to a total of around 364 residences.
Another annexation and rezoning requested by Sherwood Campbell was approved for 9.937 acres in Windy Knoll. That property was rezoned from ARR to R-1. Campbell plans to build a home on the acreage, said Reed.
In other business, the council:
•tabled a resolution for the condemnation of properties for easements. City attorney David Syfan said he is in negotiations with property owners involved.
•approved a $1,786 transmission repair for one of the Baldwin Police Department’s vehicles. The work will be done at Cain Ford, which offered the best warranty - 24 months or 24,000 miles. Police Chief Frank Andrews had presented the council with bids for doing the repair work at last week’s work session.
•approved the amendment of the fire department’s budget to allow $2,500 transferred from the equipment fund to salary for additional part time hours.
•approved the Banks County local option sales tax disbursal agreement.
•approved a $600 repair of the city dump truck.
•appointed Betty Harper as the new city clerk replacing Stacy Jacobs.
•appointed Leslie Clark as the deputy clerk.