News from Banks County...

MAY 15, 2002


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OPINIONS
Shar Porier
Getting to the root of the matter
As I surveyed the “garden,” now a vast patch of out-of-control-weeds, mint and the ground-cover “plant-from-hell” a friend gave me, I saw what would be a few hundred thousand burned calories.

Editorial
Plenty to do in Banks County this weekend
Banks Countians shouldn’t have to travel far this weekend to find something to do.
An Armed Forces Day, an art show and a town festival are among the plans this weekend.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Leopards continue spring pigskin workouts
Moore reports good practice. With one week already behind them, the Leopard football team is poised for a second week of spring practice.
Head football coach Greg Moore said the first week went well and expects to get more practice on fundamentals in this week.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Moore said.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Local housing issues the focus of land use meetings
County leaders wrestled with a large number of proposed land use, zoning and housing issues last week, many of which could push up the price of housing in Jackson County if adopted.

County to maintain new ‘Braselton Parkway’Council approves Georgia Distribution Center
Jackson County officials have agreed to maintain and operate Braselton Parkway, the three-lane road through the Georgia Distribution Center, Braselton mayor Pat Graham said.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Shelter construction under way
It’s official, the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter is now under construction.
The spacious 10,000 square foot facility is being built on land adjacent to the Madison County transfer station and recycling center on Colbert-Danielsville Road.

School board corrects grad requirement error
Madison County’s Board of Education held a called meeting Friday night to correct an error that might have prevented 16 students from graduating.
Board policy requires each graduating senior to complete 28 units of study. But high school officials were using a figure of 27 and the 16 students had completed 27 units.

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ACCIDENT SCENE
Banks County coronor Tommy Herbert examines a teddy bear that he picked up from a twisted windshield after a bus wreck along I-85 at Banks Crossing Tuesday afternoon. Two Florida men were killed in the wreck. See page 12A for another photo.

Bus accident kills two men
Wreck backs up I-85 traffic for miles. Two Florida men were killed Tuesday afternoon in a bus accident that left a portion of I-85 near Banks Crossing looking more like the scene of a tornado than a wreck.
A baseball cap, cooking equipment, pillows and blankets lay strewn across the grass. A camper top had been ripped off the back of a pickup truck, scattering clothes along the side of the highway.
One teddy bear lay along with a wadded up windshield. Another stuffed animal lay several feet away.
“It’s a mess,” said Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman as emergency personnel worked to clean up the accident scene.
The Georgia State Patrol has yet to release the names of the men pending notification of the family.
Chapman said the bus, a 1968 Silver Eagle, was traveling north on I-85 and was towing a small Nissan pickup. As it neared the Jackson-Banks county line, the bus went off the roadway and down a bank.
Both men were thrown through the front windshield of the bus and run over and crushed by the vehicle. The bus then overturned on its right side.
Investigators have not released the cause of the accident. However, witnesses on the scene reporting hearing a loud noise similar to a tire blowing out just before the accident.
After confirming two fatalities, emergency personnel worked for nearly an hour to search through the bus for more passengers. They also raised the bus to search for any victims trapped underneath.
Workers found only the driver and one passenger. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
Fireman and rescue workers also cleaned up the debris left along the side of the highway, placing all the clothing and blankets into plastic bags to be decontaminated.
One northbound lane of I-85 was closed for nearly five hours as crews worked at the scene. Traffic was also backed up for miles beyond the accident.


Tanger asks county for $25,000
BOC suggests marketing funds be equal to Jackson County commitment. Tanger Outlet Center general manager Mark Valentine asked the Banks County Board of Commissioners Friday to commit $25,000 to go toward a marketing campaign to bring more tourists to the Banks Crossing area.
No action was taken at Friday’s meeting, which was part of the county’s budget planning process, but the commissioners did say that Banks County’s portion of the project should be equal to what Jackson County has committed, which is $12,500.
Tanger has committed $37,500 to the project.
Valentine pointed out that Banks County has more businesses at Banks Crossing, including hotels and restaurants. Jackson County only has the Tanger II outlet center.
However, commissioner Ernest Rogers said the sales tax revenue for the two counties is almost equal.
He said that Banks County’s total sales tax revenue is approximately $2.5 million per year.
Valentine reported that Jackson County received $2.7 million for Tanger II.
Valentine said the advertising campaign is planned due to the steady decline in visitors to Banks Crossing.
According to his figures, 3.3 million visitors came to the area in 1997, compared to 2.5 million in 2001. Banks County’s sales tax revenue dropped from $1.2 million in 1997 to $951,154 in 2001, Valentine said. He added that the projected county sales tax revenue for 2002 is $809,432.
Valentine said the campaign will be an opportunity for Banks County to aggressively compete for tourism dollars, develop an image and identity for the area and pool resources with Jackson County and Tanger.
The money would be used for three billboards promoting Banks Crossing, magazine advertisements and brochures.
The project would be implemented from July 2002 to June 2003.
Other plans call for Tanger providing free gifts to visitors who bring in advertisements from the various magazines and participating stores offering coupons.


Chamber seeks more county funds
Banks County Chamber of Commerce leaders appeared before the board of commissioners Friday to ask for additional financial support.
Last year, the BOC allocated $20,000 to the chamber. Chairman James Dumas asked for any additional assistance that could be provided.
No official vote was taken, but the commissioners said they could provide funds to pay for the elevator maintenance in the old courthouse and the utilities and security for the facility. These costs are approximately $9,000 per year.
“The chamber is the link between Banks County and the outside,” BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said. “I know you need help. I know it costs. I know we need to keep the chamber up and running. I agree we need to pick up some of the costs.”
Brady said the chamber should continue to assist all businesses, not just those at I-85, so that the county can grow.
“I want us to be as good friends and neighbors as possible because we’re all here for the same reason,” Brady said. “I want the chamber to grow and go forward...and not get political with it.”
Chamber vice chairman Jerry Boling said the chamber’s plans include increasing agribusiness membership in the organization. A fee has been set up for these businesses to join and events are being planned geared toward their interests.
“Agriculture and agribusiness has been overlooked in the past,” he said.
Dumas said another plan is an overall effort to increase membership.
He said more than 800 applications were sent out and the organization needs at least 100 members.



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Olds to perform at Lula Railroad Days
The Lula Area Betterment Association has announced Joe Olds and the Smokin’ Joe Band will perform Saturday night at the 26th annual Railroad Days festival.
“Last year, the crowd loved them and the LABA members are excited to have them return again this year for our fun fundraising event,” said Betty Evans.
Olds, who recently released his new CD nationwide, will start at 7 p.m. and play until 10 p.m. with a break for the fireworks at dark.
“The city of Lula is providing the fireworks again this year,” Evans said. “It was spectacular last year and it will be again this year.”
The two-day event begins at 5 p.m. Friday, May 17, with the East Hall Middle School Chorus performing.
A cake walk and food will be available Friday evening.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, a parade will be held featuring Talmadge Pless, retired railroad man, as the grand marshall.
The parade will also feature the East Hall marching band; the Shriners; floats by local schools, organizations and churches; and twirling and dancing groups.
There will be crafts, activities for the kids, lots of food and entertainment throughout the day, say organizers.
A drawing for a handmade quilt will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re hoping for a good turnout,” said Evans. “This is our major fundraiser.”
Money raised goes to help maintain the railroad park grounds and buildings and other city projects.


Armed Forces Day planned
Armed Forces Day will be held in Homer Veterans Park at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 18.
The event is being held to “celebrate those who are serving and those who have served,” according to leaders. A free breakfast will be served and the event is open to the public.
Rep. Ralph Hudgens, a candidate for the Georgia Senate, will be the guest speaker. Veterans are being asked to wear hats.
The Banks County Republican party is sponsoring the event.