News from Banks County...

APRIL 24, 2002


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OPINIONS

Jana Adams
The art of leave-taking
“Y’all come go with us...”
“We’d better stay on here. What’s your hurry?”
“Oh, we’d better head on. Come go up...”
And so it goes, the art of leave-taking.

Editorial
Take time to volunteer
National Volunteer Week is being observed this week across the country.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Leopards pound White
Banks downs Warriors 12-2 in five innings. The Leopards have not had much luck in the region lately. But Monday, they bounced back in a big way.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Note payment due, but who will pay?
Water board chairman calls for ‘an end’ to BOC sniping
A $150,000 note payment on Jackson County’s share of the Bear Creek Reservoir is due Thursday and that could lead to a showdown between the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the county water and sewer authority.

Escapee caught after running from court Fri.
A Jackson County man appearing in State Court Friday escaped from custody and led officers on a chase on Hwy. 15 before wrecking.
Eric Keith Carter allegedly ran from the State Court auditorium and up Lee Street where he got into a car that had been parked in front of Regions Bank.

Pendergrass council member dies
Pendergrass city council member Joyce Wilkerson, 63, passed away Saturday, April 20, following a long battle with cancer.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
‘Keeping it green’
Meeting focuses on conservation subdivisions proposalKeeping the county green.
That’s the aim behind an alternative subdivision proposal which would allow tighter clustering of home lots in subdivisions as long as developers agreed to keep large tracts of land on the property undeveloped.

Nash urges ‘total’ rec dept. expansion plan
Says focus shouldn’t be just on newly acquired land
Madison County commission chairman Wesley Nash said he thinks the county should look at the entire recreation department when considering what to do with just over 30 acres of recently purchased property for recreation expansion.

Madison County Grand Jury makes recommendations
After touring Madison County school and government facilities and hearing reports from local officials, a Madison County Grand Jury made the following recommendations:

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PROMENADE YOUR PARTNER

Keirra Rucker and Starr Thurmond (L) and Emily Angel and Stacy Franklin promenade during square dancing day at Banks County Elementary School. BCES P.E. coach Mike Brownlee said the school hopes to make the day an annual event.

Test Time
First through eighth graders tackle the CRCT
What is the range of 10, 10, 20, 30 and 40?
What verb best completes the sentence, “The cat _____ fluffy”?
All of the following are arthropods except....
These are the types of questions Banks County students will encounter this week as they once again put pencils to paper for a round of standardized testing.
Students in first through eighth grade were to begin taking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) today (Wednesday), with testing to extend into next week.
At Banks County Primary School, first graders will take the CRCT Wednesday through Friday this week; at Banks County Elementary School, second through fifth grade will test Wednesday through Friday, and third through fifth grade will continue testing on Tuesday and Wednesday next week; at Banks County Middle School, students in all three grades will test Wednesday and Thursday this week, with Friday as a make-up day. They will continue testing Monday through Wednesday next week. In addition to the CRCT, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) is also being offered this week in Banks County, with kindergarteners at BCPS tackling that test on Wednesday through Friday and again on Monday.
In the past, elementary and middle grade students may have taken the ITBS, and recently Banks County students took the Stanford 9, but this is the first year all students from first grade up through eighth are required by the state to take the CRCT, a Georgia-specific test, that is based on the state’s Quality Core Curriculum (QCC).
With this year’s CRCT, students in grades one through eight are being assessed in reading, English/language arts and mathematics; additionally, grades three through eight will be tested in science and social studies.
Statewide, the test order is the same: reading first, followed by English and language arts and math, for grades one through eight. Students in third through eighth grade will then test in science and social studies.
GETTING READY
In Banks County, classroom teachers have been reviewing with students to prepare for the test. BCPS counselor Lynn Ginn explained that, “really, (the CRCT) tests things they’ve worked on all year.”
BCPS students have been taking practice tests to familiarize themselves with the format, and at BCES students have had some Saturday tutorials and after-school sessions.
“We had a lot of response for that,” BCES counselor K. Ellen Hagan said.
Likewise, the middle school has also offered after-school sessions, as well as practice tests, said counselor Rita Bush.
Banks County school staff members have sent home letters and a state issued brochure on the CRCT, and have also alerted parents and students to general test-taking tips, such as “making sure the students are well-rested and have had breakfast...common sense things,” Hagan explained.
Ginn said the BCPS staff wants the students and parents to take the test seriously, but to not get too worried.
“We tell (students) it’s their time to shine and an opportunity to show what they know,” she added.
Parents who are interested in seeing sample “testlets” can log onto www.doe.k12.ga.us, then select CRCT under the Research, Evaluation, and Testing heading at the bottom right of the page and choose CRCT sample items.
HIGHER STAKES
The first round of CRCT assessments was given in Georgia schools in the spring of 2000 — as required by the A+ Education Reform Act of 2000 — to students in grades four, six and eight in reading, English/language arts and mathematics.
The CRCT was initiated to measure how well students are meeting the state’s QCC, individually and at school, school system and state levels.
Since that first adminsitration in 2000, the stakes have gotten progressively higher.
This testing go-round is the first year for additional test areas and additional grades being tested; specifically, the science and social studies tests for grades three through eight, and testing in grades one through eight in reading, English/language arts and mathematics.
And within the next two years, the importance of the test will escalate further with the implementation of the “automatic retention” rule in Georgia.
According to a new promotion, placement and retention state mandate, in 2003-04 third graders who have not met their grade level scores on the CRCT in reading may have to repeat the third grade. Similarly, with the additional requirement of meeting grade level scores in math, fifth and eighth graders will fall under the automatic retention rule in 2004-05 and 2005-06, respectively. Students who fall below grade level will have remediation and re-test opportunities before they are retained.
At a national level, tests are also taking on a greater meaning, as education reform calls for schools to be judged and rewarded, or face resonstitution, based on annual testing in grades three through eight.


Baldwin to seek increase for fire and rescue contract services
Banks County and the City of Alto will be receiving requests from the Baldwin City Council for a big increase in fees for contracted fire and rescue services.
At last week’s work session, Baldwin fire chief Joe Roy told the council the fees should be raised to equal a fair share, or percentage, of the department’s projected 2002-03 budget cost of $257,453.
Going by percentages, he said, would mean raising Banks County to $43,767 and Alto to $38,618.
Currently, Banks County contracts with the Baldwin Fire Department for $22,000 per year at a cost of $45 per structure. Alto pays $12,000 per year at a cost of $31 per structure, said Roy.
The Baldwin Fire Department serves 490 residences and businesses (including chicken houses) in unincorporated Banks County and accounts for 17 percent of the total call volume, Roy said.
It serves 391 residences and businesses in the city of Alto, which accounts for 15 percent of the total call volume.
For the past few years, said Roy, there has been an increase in the number of residents and businesses his department is contracted to serve, but there has been no monetary increase in the fees paid to do so.
“I don’t know how they came up with these figures to begin with,” he said. “But, we need to do something.”
Mayor Mark Reed suggested sending letters to Banks County and Alto explaining the raise in fees is due to the call volume.
“We could get the fees through a surcharge from each residence and business,” he said. “If we don’t get some financial increase, Baldwin citizens are unfairly carrying the burden for their fire protection and rescue services.”
City attorney David Syfan said it would be all right to do that as long as it is understood the figures are only preliminary since Roy’s budget has not been “trimmed” as yet.
“The issue is whether or not they will still want to enter a contract with the department,” he said. “Baldwin could lose the $34,000 under the present contracts. We can’t force them to contract with us.”
He added, however, that homeowner’s and business insurance rates may increase if not handled by the Baldwin Fire Department. The response time of Habersham and Banks counties units would be longer and place property and even life at greater risk, he said.
Baldwin’s ISO rating of five carries weight with insurance companies as well as its 24 hour-per-day, seven-days-per-week manning of the station, said Reed.
Banks and Alto aren’t the only entities that will be expected to ante up. Habersham County will also be expected to cover its six percent of call volume, totalling $15,447.
“Our obligation is to the citizens of Baldwin,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors, but we shouldn’t have to keep them up. Hopefully, they’ll see the logic.”
At Monday’s meeting, the council discussed the matter again. City attorney David Syfan said Roy suggested adding a statement specifying that the call percentages did not include any mutual aid calls. Syfan also recommended adding a time limit on a response from the governmental bodies. The council approved the letter and the additions.



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Action for a Clean Environment plans
‘Mobile Chernobyl Caravan’ this weekend
The 16th anniversary of the deadly Chernobyl nuclear disaster is Friday-Saturday, April 26-27.
“Radioactive fallout from the explosion at that reactor contaminated land, plants, animals and people hundreds and even thousands of miles away,” Adele Kushner, Action for A Clean Environment leader said. “Tens of thousands of people have died and more will over time. Over $350 billion is the estimated cost of that accident, and it is expected to rise over time along with the death toll due to permanent contamination of food, water and children.”
Action for a Clean Environment, a regional environmental organization, is organizing a “Mobile Chernobyl Caravan” for this Friday through Toccoa, and Saturday through Cornelia, Baldwin, and Alto, along the roads close to the railroad lines to heighten awareness of the concerns about transportation of high level nuclear waste. Concerned citizens are invited to meet by the volleyball court at the Sautee Nacoochee playground at 10 a.m. Thursday to decorate vehicles and learn more about the issues. On Friday, folks will meet at the same location at 1 p.m. and depart for Toccoa, or at the Shell gas station at the corner of 365 and 17 at 2 p.m. On Saturday, the group will meet again at the playground at 10 a.m., and at the big red apple in Cornelia at 11 a.m. to caravan through Cornelia Baldwin and Alto. Literature about Yucca Mountain and alternatives to nuclear power will be available.
In February, President Bush recommended to Congress that Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, serve as a permanent burial ground for the nation’s 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel. This would involve shipping some 214 casks of high level nuclear waste on the Norfolk-Southern rail line through Toccoa, Cornelia, Baldwin, Alto, Lula, Gainesville, Atlanta, and points west, Kushner said.
“There have been computer tests on the casks for crashes, but not for sabotage with armor piercing bullets or other terrorist attempts to turn these shipments into ‘dirty bombs’ as they would be criss-crossing the country through communities, across farmlands and water sources,” she said. “This proposal has been called Mobile Chernobyl because of the risks of potential accidents that would result in disasters of catastrophic proportions.”
The House of Representatives has already approved the plan to use Yucca Mountain. The Senate votes in July.
“The general accounting office concluded in December that nearly 300 scientific and engineering questions about the Yucca Mountain plan remain unanswered,” Kushner said. “The governor of Nevada has vetoed the plan, and over 25 environmental organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and more, oppose the plan. Citizens can call Senators Max Cleland and Zell Miller on the toll free line in Washington at 877-762-8762 to express your concerns.”
For information, call Joanne Steele, Action for a Clean Environment Oconee Plant project, (706) 878-2035.