News from Banks County...

APRIL 10, 2002


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OPINIONS

Shar Porier
75 pinwheels
75 pinwheels dancing brightly on the courthouse lawn as the spring breeze whirls them into a swirl of colors. They bring back memories of childhood — a kid hanging out the car window on the way back from a fair, pinwheel furiously spinning in the wind.

Editorial
Time for spring cleaning
The City of Maysville and the Maysville Beautification Committee will hold a clean-up day Saturday.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Banks taps ‘Ole Rocky Top’
Sain to take over as athletic director, girls’ basketball coach
For the first time ever, Banks County has gone out of state to fill a varsity head coach vacancy.
Thursday, the board of education hired Robert Sain as head girls’ basketball coach and athletic director.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Leo Daly Firm declines to participate in BOC meeting
The Leo Daly Firm declined to present its recommendation for a downtown courthouse site at a public hearing set by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

No more package stores in Braselton until 2010
Braselton won’t see another alcoholic package store until the next U.S. Census rolls around — in 2010.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
County leaders to discuss rec. expansion
County leaders will meet Thursday, April 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss how recently purchased land for the recreation department will be used.

Cowne shares SPLOST ideas with crowd
Supt. talks about schools’ long-term facilities needs
At a meeting with the Madison County Arts Education Committee Monday night, county school superintendent Keith Cowne shared his thoughts on possible future special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) programs.

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READY FOR HEART WALK

Participants in the Banks-Jackson American Heart Walk are shown before the walk began Saturday at Hurricane Shoals Park. Shown cutting the ribbon to signal the start of the race are: (L-R) Inez Mize, chairman of the “red caps” team; Katie Davis, regional director of the American Heart Association; and Alicia Andrews, chairman of the local committee.

BOE fills key positions
BCHS principal, athletic director, counselor among hires Monday
The Banks County Board of Education filled three key vacancies at its meeting Monday night after entering into a closed session Thursday for an hour and a half to discuss specific personnel issues. The board also entered into a closed session on Monday for an hour to discuss specific personnel issues.
The new high school principal will be Wayne McIntosh. He was chosen from over 40 applicants, said superintendent Deborah White.
He attended Thursday’s meeting and was interviewed by the board during the closed session. He was then unanimously approved by all board members after the closed session ended.
McIntosh has been a principal for seven years, three years at York Comprehensive High School, York, S.C., and four years at Indian Land High School, Fort Mill, S.C.
York Comprehensive High School is slightly larger than Banks County High School with 950 students and 110 staff members.
McIntosh said his move to Banks County will bring him closer to his mother who lives in Columbus, where McIntosh is originally from.
“Banks County is about halfway between my mom and where I live now so I’m cutting the distance in half,” he said. “And I’ve been working for 30 years now so I can retire here, but I’m still a young man. [The job] is an opportunity for me to accept a job in Georgia and retire from South Carolina education.”
McIntosh learned of the job opening through Dr. Paul Shaw, superintendent of White County schools, who was superintendent of York County schools and who hired McIntosh for York Comprehensive in 1999.
“Shaw has nothing but praise for Georgia and for Georgia kids,” he said.
McIntosh said he hadn’t yet met the students or faculty, but he plans to on April 26.
“I have no doubt that the teachers and community members and parents are the best there is and I’m serious about that,” he said. “I believe my wife and I will make a good contribution. There’s nothing like working with high school kids to get you excited about life.”
McIntosh has also served as an assistant principal, teacher, athletic director, football coach, girls’ basketball coach, and boys’ and girls’ track coach. He has directed a summer school program of approximately 400 students. He’s certified to teach AP American History, social studies, driver’s education and biology.
McIntosh is a member of the National Association of Secondary Principals as well as the South Carolina Association of Administrators and the South Carolina Coaches Association. He is also the state committee member for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In other personnel action, Robert E. Sain, Tullahoma, Tenn., was named athletic director. (See related story in the sports section)
Also, Donnie Bennett will transfer from his position as a special education teacher to counselor at the high school.
Bennett has taught special education for seven years, three years at Stevens County Middle School, three years at Habersham Central High School and one year at BCHS.
White told the board that Bennett was one of over 70 original applicants for the counselor’s program at the University of Georgia. Of those 70, 27 were interviewed and 12 were accepted.
Bennett will work under a provisionary certificate until his degree is completed.
Fourteen other positions were also filled Monday night. They include: Natalie Floyd, first grade teacher at Banks County Primary School; Wendy Fuschetti, third grade teacher at Banks County Elementary School; Shirley Peters, second grade teacher at BCES; Cynthia Rentz, fourth grade teacher at Banks County Upper Elementary School; Emily Brown, Donna Smith, Pam Weaver and Jennifer Fitzgerald, fifth grade teachers at BCUES; Patricia Mullins, teacher at Banks County Middle School; Dennis Frady, band director at BCHS; Kelly York, science teacher at BCHS; Kevin Gaines, math teacher at BCHS; Jeannelle Carlisle, ESOL teacher for Banks County school system; and Joby Scroggs, PE/Health teacher and assistant football coach at BCHS.
White said the school system has only four vacancies. They are two first grade positions and a math teacher and a language arts teacher at the high school.
Neither Bo Garrison nor Don Shubert were at Monday night’s meeting.


Banks to contribute $10,000 total to joint development authority
BOC, local development group agree on $5,000 from each
With $10,000 from Banks County and $10,000 from Habersham County in the bank, the Banks-Habersham Joint Development Authority plans to pay some bills and get a consultant’s help on creating a “road map” and seeking grant funding for future projects.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners voted during a meeting Friday morning to contribute $5,000 from the county’s contingency fund for the joint development authority’s start-up fund. Likewise, the Banks County Development Authority, and the Habersham County BOC and development group, have agreed to contribute that same amount each from their own funds.
Jack Banks, chairman of the Banks County Development Authority, and Jerry Boling, vice chair, spoke to the BOC Friday morning on the joint authority’s plans.
“It’s taken us two years to get established, and now we want some kind of strategic plan on how we will proceed,” Banks explained.
The Banks-Habersham group has been working with the economic development departments at the state and the University of Georgia, but now need to go a step further with a professional consultant’s help, Banks said. One function of the consultant will be to help the group with paperwork and applying for a $500,000 grant.
“That takes money,” he added, asking the BOC for its support. “The (Banks County) development authority has money in its account (from the county) for its $5,000. That will leave us $9,000 and something.”
Brady responded: “I knew this was coming. We need to participate just as much as Habersham County.”
WHAT BENEFITS TO TAXPAYERS?
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland questioned Banks and Boling about the benefits of the joint development authority, and the county development authority, for local taxpayers.
“Whatever industries come in, the county reaps the benefits from that tax base,” Banks responded. “When the tax revenue comes into the county, then it’s up to you (commissioners). It can only help.”
Banks explained that in the past, the Banks County Development Authority had gotten tied up with water and sewage issues at Banks Crossing, and hadn’t had funds to purchase property for an industrial park. Since that time, the county has assumed resposibility for water and sewage issues.
“That was not what we felt we should do,” Banks said.
He added that the local development authority has not been able to help taxpayers as much as it had wanted, but that it hadn’t been an expenditure.
If the joint authority is awarded the $500,000 grant, it would buy property for industry locations, but where that would be is still unknown, Banks said.
“I think the people of Banks County are aware of what needs to be done,” he said. “More homes are being built, and there is now way the property tax from ($150,000) homes will pay for schools...There’s more going out than coming in. We need to do something to generate a tax base.”
Brady pointed out that the cost in the county is $5,500 per student per year, some $4,000 more than property taxes would be for a $150,000 home.
“Some four-fifths of our population is paying for the one-fifths that is in school,” he said.
Boling also pointed out that there are certain tax benefits available for a joint development authority and that there is more grant money available for joint authority.s
“We are really to the point now where we need a road map and professional help that would hopefully lead us to the benefits to taxpayers,” Boling said. “I think we’ll see tenfold benefits.”
Banks and Boling also told the BOC that the Banks-Habersham will hold a series of public meetings in the future to seek citizen input on the “roadmap” for the two counties’ development.


Looking out for local children
BOC declares April as ‘Child Abuse Awareness Month’
A group concerned about the safety and well-being of children in Banks County stood together on the courthouse lawn in Homer on Friday morning, with 75 pinwheels spinning at their feet and with blue balloons in their hands. They released the balloons and then tilted their heads back to watch as they drifted upward.
Placed on the courthouse lawn by local 4-H’ers, the 75 pinwheels stand for the substantiated cases of child abuse in Banks County last year and the 45 balloons represent the children who died in Georgia in 2001 as a result of child abuse.
According to Bryant Rogowski of the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services, there were more than 214 calls concerning potential child abuse cases in the county last year, and more than 178 of those were investigated.
As part of Friday’s program, the Banks County Board of Commissioners signed a proclamation declaring April as “Child Abuse Awareness Month.”
During its work session, BOC chairman Kenneth Brady and commissioner Pat Westmoreland listened as Robin Trotter, director of Banks County’s Family Connection, and B.J. Strickland, director of Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), discussed the issue of child abuse and asked for the BOC seal and signature on the proclamation.
Trotter gave the statistics for Banks County and for the state, saying “we have to continue to educate the public about the signs of child abuse and how to report it.”
Strickland emphasized the importance of local agencies and organizations working together “to fight it creatively.”
“We need to get hard on those people,” she said, explaining that CASA volunteers represent abused and neglected children in court. “Working together, we will be a stronger unit and improve the quality of life for these children.”
And local groups have already begun working together, said Julie Meehan of the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center.
Within the past year, a multi-district team including members of law enforcment, DFACS, the district attorney’s office and medical and mental health have been meeting every month to discuss child abuse cases, make sure those children receive appropriate services and share information, Meehan explained.
While Brady described child abuse as “a problem nobody knows how to attack” and one that can’t be made to disappear with a “magic wand,” he suggested that education is key, as is support for local agencies.
Westmoreland also declared a need for more public awareness, suggesting that neighbors of those who have been proven as a child abuser be alerted, to “make the people doing the abuse be more accountable.” He also proposed that photographs of those who are proven abusers be published in the newspaper, similar to those who have been convicted of DUI.
The agencies involved in Friday’s program included Piedmont CASA, DFACS, the Tree House, Family Connection, Department of Juvenile Justice, law enforcement, Banks County Schools, mental health, pardons and paroles and 4-H. Prevent Child Abuse Georgia provided the pinwheels.



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Middle school construction to begin in summer
The middle school construction is tentatively set to begin in June or July, said superintendent Deborah White at Monday night’s board of education meeting.
White said the architect is working on preliminary estimates for two plans, but she believes the cost will not be significantly different even though one plan would have approximately 2,000 more square feet.
The design favored by the architect and the board features a second story on part of the building which would maximize the land space use and cost less for more square footage because of the compact design, said White. The total square footage would be approximately 120,000 and would house 950 students.
The high school stadium drawings that were done by the original architect have been given to the new architect, said White.
“He is seeing what he can do with those drawings to actually incorporate those into our building program without him having to go back and redesign them,” she said. “One of the things we need to talk about and seriously make a decision on is what kind of bleachers we want. We need to look at the cost there and I know there are varying opinions on whether they are metal or aluminum or concrete.”
White said that one problem the board has encountered is a lack of space for the concourse area.
“We need to make a decision about whether or not we can close off the side road during game time and use it for a concourse area and only open it up for a road to get emergency personnel out of there,” she said. “If we don’t, we’re going to have to go way up on that bank to the left and the property line is right there.”
White said the primary school renovation would be the next project for the architects.
In an unrelated matter, the board approved changes to several policies.
The competitive interscholastic activities added the following time restrictions: “competitive interscholastic activities and group and individual practice on a day preceding a school day may not begin prior to the end of the school day and must end no later than four hours after the close of the home team’s school day; only one day or night each week preceding a school day may be used to schedule the same competitive interscholastic activity, tournaments are excluded from this restriction; the number of games scheduled shall not exceed 60 percent of the number of regularly scheduled games played by the high school varsity in any given sport. One tournament, not to exceed four games, may be played in addition to the regular season games.”
A change to the liability insurance policy requires that all employees of the school system be covered by tort and liability insurance.
The relations with police department policy added the following: “no student will be released to the police unless the school is provided with a warrant and order of the juvenile court or the police officer states that a felony has been committed and actually makes an arrest of the student. The parent will be notified of such an occurrence as soon as possible.”
The annual budget procedure now states that the board will approve an annual budget was required by Georgia law and that the superintendent will conduct pre-budget discussions with the board to “establish informal understandings about perceived budget opportunities and/or restrictions.” The policy also states that the superintendent is authorized as treasurer of the board to spend the funds of the board as long as it does not exceed to total budget amount and the spending is done in accordance with all policies and procedures of the board.