News from Madison County...

MAY 15, 2002


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespiie
‘We the people’ need to hold gov’t accountable
Ours is a nation of the people. All government agencies are answerable directly to us, but only to the extent that we force the issue. Unfortunately, once they are in place, most government agencies appear to have the attitude that they can do as they wish. “We the People” have no right to demand information or question how they conduct our business.

Margie Richards
Animal shelter now more than a ‘dream’
It’s like a dream come true for many of us who’ve waited so long to see our county make progress in caring for stray and unwanted animals. After years of battling the mentality of those who treat pets as if they were no more than “disposable items” to be kept for a little while and thrown away when no longer wanted, there is finally another solution to offer them — besides a shotgun or poison hot dogs.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Jeffers’ gem pushes Raiders past Lions in series clincher
Just two years ago, freshman pitcher Ben Jeffers was mowing little leaguers over at the rec. dept.
Saturday, the youngest member of the Raider varsity squad demonstrated similar form against one of the better AAA high school outfits in the state.
Madison County rode the strong right arm of their freshman starter into the second round of the state tournament with Jeffers hurling a complete-game gem in a 3-2 win over Central Carroll.


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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.

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The Madison County Journal
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ANIMAL SHELTER GROUNDBREAKING

Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter (MOAS) board members, public officials and supporters held a groundbreaking ceremony last Saturday at the site of the shelter now under construction on Colbert-Danielsville Road. The 10,000 square foot shelter will be located next door to the transfer station and recycling center. Pictured (L-R) are: shelter director David Jones, co-director Catherine Lindsey, MOAS chairperson Susan Fisher, MOAS vice-president Dr. Paula Loniak, building contractor Gary Adams, MOAS board secretary Denise Allen, BOC District 5 commissioner Bruce Scogin, shelter benefactor Sally Adams, BOC chairman Wesley Nash, Oglethorpe County BOC chairman Charles Matthews, District 4 commissioner Melvin Drake, District 2 commissioner Johnny Fitzpatrick and District 1 commissioner Bill Taylor. Not pictured: MOAS president Marisu Wehrenberg; board members Charles Richards, Angie McGinnis, Sara Mathews; board treasurer Margie Richards; and Merchants and Farmers Bank representative Mike Malcolm.

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.
“We’re excited because this is the first joint venture between Madison and Oglethorpe counties. From this agreement, we’re also looking at a reservoir to serve our counties. This is a great way to start our working relationship,” Madison County BOC chairman Wesley Nash said.
Nash also mentioned Patsy Akins, original Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter chairperson.
“This (shelter project) was started a long time ago in Madison County by Patsy Akins, who is unable to be here today due to illness,” Nash said. “We are grateful to her for her efforts in bringing us to this today.”
“I am excited about this project,” BOC chairperson Charles Matthews said. “...and as everyone knows, two heads are better than one. This is the way to go — to live and work together to accomplish our goals.”
“We’re so pleased you all came out today to help us officially launch this project. We would like to thank the board of commissioners, other officials as well as the many residents of our two counties who have been so supportive of our efforts,” MOAS president Marisu Wehrenberg, said.
Wehrenberg said the shelter is expected to open sometime this fall.
MOAS, Inc. is a non-profit organization which is building the shelter through public donations on land leased from Madison County. Madison and Oglethorpe counties have contracted with the shelter to house stray dogs and cats brought in by county residents. In turn, the counties will provide operating expenses at the rate of three dollars per capita annually.
MOAS board members want to remind residents that while the shelter will provide a place to take stray and unwanted dogs and cats — it will serve as a drop off facility only, at least at first.
This means that animals will have to be brought to the shelter and surrendered. Those bringing in those animals will be required to sign a surrender form.
Animals not adopted within a specified time will be euthanized.
MOAS wants to avoid as many euthanizations as possible by strongly promoting adoptions and spay/neuters.
All animals adopted from the shelter will be spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter and will have received their first vaccinations.
A fee – the amount has not yet been determined -— will be charged for adoptions, and donations of money and other supplies will be sought and gratefully accepted, board members say.
All funds received will go toward shelter expenses.
Margie Richards serves on the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter board of directors.


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.
The board decided that it was unfair to current high school students to suddenly change graduation requirements. They voted to allow students to graduate with 27 units through the class of 2005. Freshmen entering high school this fall will be required to complete 28 units.
Madison County is on the block system, consisting of two blocks of instruction each year. Each block consists of four units, yielding a potential of 32 units. Under this system, students can fail one class each year and still graduate.
The state of Georgia rules only require 21 units to graduate. Madison County’s Board of Education chose to use the higher figure.
In other action, the board received preliminary income figures for next year’s budget. Superintendent Keith Cowne informed the board that state funds will go up $1.2 million. He estimated that the county property digest growth will increase local funds by $250,000. At the same time, state and local pay increases will total $1.4 million, effectively using up the expected increase in income.
The good news is that SPLOST money is higher than expected. Surplus receipts may be enough to cover the 1993 bond payments, making it possible to eliminate the bond tax this year.


BOC postpones decision on detainee work crew
County commissioners postponed a decision Monday on contracting for a second work crew from the Whitworth Detention Center.
The cost of the crew is $35,000 per year. The board is also considering $25,000 for a van to transport the detainees.
Chairman Wesley Nash promoted the ideas, pointing out that detainees have done quality work restoring the old county courthouse. He said a second work crew would significantly improve the county’s ability to pick up trash along roadsides.
“It would certainly make our county a lot more presentable to have these guys out here,” said Nash.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin said he wants to review the matter further before committing such a large sum of money.
JAIL UPDATE
Nash said he still expects no additional costs for county taxpayers as the construction of a new jail off Hwy. 98 remains stalled. The construction was originally scheduled to be completed by this past November. But the project remains incomplete with no finish date in sight.
“We’ve lost time, that’s it,” said Nash.
County commissioners scrapped their contract with Boatwright Construction after numerous flaws with the jail construction were discovered.
“We did the right thing,” said Nash, noting the problems with the building.
Nash said the county’s bonding agency on the project has hired a company named “Nicholson” to serve as a “main contractor” and to evaluate subcontractors who have already worked on the jail, determining if the county should keep their services.
FRANCHISE FEES
The commissioners agreed to allow an agency to audit cable franchise fees at no cost to the county. The agency will receive 50 percent of whatever they collect, with 50 percent going to the county. Audience member Marion Baker asked the commissioners what control they have over programming in the county. The commissioners responded that they don’t have any control over programming. “They are like any utility company,” said Nash. “They pay franchise fees. But we have no control over services.”

In other matters:
•The board tabled a decision on a lease agreement with the Chamber of Commerce for use of office space in the old county courthouse.
•The BOC announced that its next meeting will be Tuesday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.
•No action was taken on a proposed intergovernmental agreement between the county and city of Danielsville for sewer services by the city at the new county jail.
•A discussion of use of county vehicles was postponed until the board’s next meeting.
•Bill Chandler was named to the county recreation board.
•The board approved a speed limit survey on Buddy Moore Road.
•The commissioners agreed to ride together in the Hull parade May 25.
•Gail Bates was approved as a new member of the county library council.
•Promotions were approved in the planning and zoning department for Dawn Black and Linda Fortson. Cheryl Jensrud was approved as a secretary for zoning board meetings for no additional pay. Valerie Booth was hired as a permit clerk for the planning office.
•The commissioners approved an updated speed zone ordinance, a formality that allows officers to continue enforcing speed zones in the county.
•The board met in closed session for about 20 minutes to discuss “litigation.”


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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.


Family files suit over wreck with county deputy
A Madison County family has filed a lawsuit against a county deputy who struck their truck with his patrol car en route to a domestic disturbance call May 7, 2000, at Strickland Trailer Park on Hwy. 29.
David and Marilyn Hilley seek compensation from deputy Lowell Harbison for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering following the collision at the intersection of Hwy. 106 and Moon’s Grove Road.
David Hilley suffered several injuries, including “a serious cervical sprain, necessitating an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. He also sustained a rib contusion and a laceration in the back of his head,” according to the suit filed April 30 in Madison County Superior Court.
Hilley’s daughter, Nicole, was also injured in the wreck, suffering “soreness and stiffness for several days.”
According to the suit, Hilley lost $15,000 in wages for 2000 due to injuries from the accident and incurred $20,561 in medical bills. The suit states that Hilley “may recover special damages in the amount of at least $35,561” and that Nicole Hilley “may recover special damages in the amount of at least $979.”
The Hilleys contend that Harbison failed “to slow to a normal rate of speed when approaching an intersection.”