News from Jackson County...

MAY 29, 2002

Jackson County

Jackson County

Jackson County

Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga

A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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Jackson County opinion page

Angela Gary
Hopes patriotism continues to shine
The terroristic attacks on the United States last fall have impacted people in many different ways. Even those not directly involved, still feel the shock waves from that horrific time.

Rochelle Beckstein
I’m a person, too
Test Taking Strategy #3: In a True/False question, if the word “all” or “none” is used, assume the answer is false.
I learned test taking strategy #3 in first grade. It helped me to succeed on true/false tests for 15 years, but it didn’t take me that long to figure out that that same strategy could be used in life.


Tigers Start Summer Weight Training Program
With football spring practice chores over, the next item on the agenda of the Tigers preparations for this fall is getting stronger.

Walker Slips Past Dragons In Dramatic Semifinal
The drama was so thick, you could cut it with a knife, but unfortunately for local fans, the home team came out on the short end.
Jefferson High School’s Diamond Dragons closed their 2002 season Saturday with a gritty performance in a state semifinal loss to defending state champion Walker. The Wolverines took game one easily, 10-0, but Jefferson roared back with a 6-3 win in game two. Walker’s 12-8 win late Saturday earned the reigning champs a state final berth this weekend against Bowdon.

Dale finishes second in pro late model at Lanier
Jefferson’s Marty Roberts takes top spot in pure ministock eventJefferson’s Clay Dale made a late run for victory lane Saturday night but couldn’t wheel his way past eventual-winner Jimmy Garmon, leaving Dale with a second place finish in the 100-lap Pro Late Model race at Lanier National Speedway.

Neighboorhood News ..
Wymbs to stand trial again for Harris murder
A second trial is scheduled to open Monday against Albert Wymbs, who is charged with the 1996 murder of 24-year-old Angela Harris.
Wymbs was tried last June for the murder, but the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict, with 11 voting to convict and one voting for acquittal.

Hudgens to seek state senate seat
State Rep. Ralph Hudgens (R) has announced that he will be a candidate for the 47th State Senate seat, which is all of Banks, Elbert, Hart, Oglethorpe, and Taliaferro counties and parts of 11 other east Georgia counties, including Madison County.

Neighborhood News...
Jail will be on county farm
Brady pushed for Banks Crossing location. Work can soon begin on Banks County’s new jail and sheriff’s office.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners voted Friday to locate the jail on the county’s Windmill Farm at the end of Thompson Road.
The jail will sit atop a knoll across the new Hwy. 441 bypass just over a quarter mile from the senior center.

Homer Mayor Ray dies
Garrison to fill in until election. Homer Mayor Leon Ray, 62, died Tuesday, May 28, after a lengthy illness.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Jackson County Comprehensive High School valedictorian Lyndie Schimmel was one of the speakers at graduation Friday night. Graduation was also held at Jefferson High School.

BOC buys Darnell Road site for courthouse
$2.1 million paid for 150-acre site. In a 3-2 closed-door vote, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to spend $2.1 million to purchase 150 acres on Darnell Road to locate a new courthouse.
Chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioners Sammy Thomanson and Tony Beatty voted in favor of the purchase while commissioners Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara voted against the purchase. Fletcher reportedly made the motion on the vote. The vote was taken in secret following a two hour closed-door discussion by the board. Fletcher announced the results following the meeting.
The vote comes after several months of intense controversy following action by the BOC to take options on the site in February. No options were taken on any other sites. The options on Darnell Road were set to expire this week if the county had not exercised them.
In purchasing the property, the board rejected a counter-proposal offered by Britt to study a site north of Jefferson near Faith Baptist Church. That property was reportedly available for around $20,000 per acre and would have been accessible to the new Jefferson bypass.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, three architectural firms addressed the board about the process of siting and building a new courthouse. The firms were invited to the meeting by Beshara.
Ironically, all three firms emphasized a site selection process that was vastly different from the one used by the board to select Darnell Road.
Joe Lee, president of Lee Design and Management Group, spoke of the site selection process his company took for a new courthouse in Blount County, Tenn. He said it took a year and the community evaluated 12 sites before narrowing it to the one selected.
Lee said the key issues in selecting a site should be the ability to expand, the cost of operations and public acceptance.

Bear Creek water to flow next week
With The water plant finally permitted and running, Jackson County water customers should begin drinking water from the Bear Creek Reservoir next week.
The process of flushing and sanitizing the nearly three miles of 36-inch and 24-inch pipes connecting the county system to the water plant began last week and should end this week. A final water quality analysis of water in the pipes is all that is lacking for the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority to be able to sell that water to its nearly 3,000 customers.
Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority manager Jerry Waddell said Friday that super-chlorinated water would be put into the lines Tuesday morning. It will be flushed later that week and the pipes refilled. If a sample taken then meets state health requirements, the county can open the valves and begin selling the water to its 2,700 customers.
“If there are no problems, a week to 10 days,” said Mike Hewitt, project manager for Azurix/JJ&G, the company managing the reservoir, when asked at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority about the time line.
But Hewitt apologized for a report he said “was not as good as I had hoped.” At the authority’s April meeting, Hewitt had predicted that water would be ready to sell by May 15, barring unforeseen problems.
As has been the case ever since the July 1, 2001 original completion date, there were unforeseen problems.
To flush the Jackson County lines, the water plant must be able to pump 8,000 gallons per minute. One of the three pumps serving Jackson County failed for mechanical reasons and, for a brief time, a second pump was out of service as well.
“We were not able to flush them at the required rates,” he conceded.
Jackson County Board of Commissioners chairman Harold Fletcher asked Hewitt what will happen if a pump goes down in the future.
“Will there be a two to three week delay (in getting it repaired)?” he asked.
Hewitt replied that once the system is operating, two or even one pump will be sufficient to provide the county’s daily water needs.
The 21-million-gallon-per-day plant will serve Jackson, Barrow and Oconee counties. The reservoir serves those counties plus Athens-Clarke, which draws raw water from the reservoir for treatment at its water plant.

Braselton nixes three big projects in budget
Items trimmed from departments ‘wish list’ for fiscal year 2003. Nixing funds for three big projects next fiscal year, a revised budget for Braselton proposes to generate more than $1.3 million in revenues while expenses will top $1.1 million.
The town council will hold a public hearing Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m. at the Braselton Community Center to discuss the proposed budget. The budget will be voted on during the town council meeting on Monday, June 10. Copies of the proposed budget will be available at the public hearing and town hall.
Although $237,500 in funding for projects such as a separate police department building, land acquisition for a new library and land acquisition for parks and recreation were removed from the revised budget, town clerk Jennifer Scott said that doesn’t mean the projects are off the horizon next fiscal year.
“It means that they’re not in the budget now because we don’t own the land, but the council could always move money from reserve to do it this year, if they want,” Scott said.
Braselton expects to have more than $138,000 in reserve funding next fiscal year.
During the two-hour meeting on Thursday, town council members also briefly discussed the possibility of a combined police and court building. Following last month’s budget meeting, Scott said the town received numerous proposals for the building and projected costs. For what the town needs, the building would cost an estimated $1.2 million, which doesn’t include land acquisition. Braselton is still looking at its land options, she said.
Last month, representatives from each of the town’s committees presented their wish list of expenses for next fiscal year, which totaled more than $1.7 million.
At the time, town officials expected to generate only $1.2 million in revenues—a $656,000 shortfall of funds.
Yet when the town council met for a second budget work session last week, it not only trimmed its projected operating expenses by $563,000, it also reported an additional $109,250 in expected revenue as well.
Also during the work session, council member Elise Cotter said she didn’t agree with how the town’s total payroll, which increased by nearly 55 percent, was approved.
Following the May 13 council meeting, an hour and an half closed-door meeting was held to discuss land acquisition, pending or potential litigation and personnel matters. When the council didn’t finish its discussion, it decided to continue talks through a previously-scheduled closed-door meeting on May 16.
The council met for an hour and a half on May 16 and when the doors were opened to the public, the council voted to accept the town’s payroll increases. Some 10 new positions were created and other city employees were given raises.
On the payroll discussion, Cotter said: “And I have to say something. I wasn’t here and I asked the meeting to be changed and it wasn’t. So, I do have to say that I didn’t agree with what was going on, all of it. And that’s all I have to say because I wasn’t here.”
While Braselton’s projected expenses rose nearly 43 percent in the new budget, the town’s expected revenue has increased by more than 45 percent to more than $1.3 million.
One of the biggest expected increases in funding next fiscal year is from alcohol licenses.
In fiscal year 2002, the town budgeted $3,800; for fiscal year 2003, the town hopes to see $62,500.
The jump comes from a recently-approved increased in alcohol license fees and three new stores opening in the town to sell alcohol, including the Publix Super Market near Château Élan.
Revenue collected through business license fees is also expected to jump next fiscal year from $11,000 to $25,000. Recently-approved fee increases also point to the expected surge of funds.
Braselton is further counting on the local option sales taxes (LOST) to generate funds. While Jackson and Barrow counties have not agreed exactly how much money the town will receive, Braselton figures it will receive $150,000 from Jackson County and $12,500 from Barrow.
The town agreed to $2,900 in annual LOST funds from Hall County in April.
But the single biggest generator of revenue, the three percent hotel motel tax, is expected to bring fewer funds next fiscal year.
Last year, the town budgeted $381,000 in revenue from the tax. Since the economic downturn contributed to Sept. 11, Braselton has received only $152,000 from the tax. Scott said payments made since April may not be included in that figure.
Nevertheless, the town expects to see $350,000 from the hotel motel tax—an eight percent decrease from the previous year.
With a full-time planning department next fiscal year, Braselton hopes to generate $100,000 in building permits and review fees. It also expects to generate $100,000 in town use fee permits, which was budgeted for $75,000 last fiscal year.
Scott explained to the council that the Georgia Distribution Center is planning to have two of its million-square-foot buildings ready for inspection during the next fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2003. Duke Weeks also informed the town that its largest warehouse building on Highway 124 will be leased soon, although company officials have not released the renting company’s name yet.
Also during the work session, the waste water treatment and water distribution budget was presented separately from the other budget items.
Braselton expects to generate slightly more than $3 million in water and sewage funds, while total operating expenses is budgeted at $1.6 million.
The town is expecting to create a net income of more than $1.3 million from the water and sewage budget, which will pay off various bonds dating back to 1991. Of that, $445,198 will remain in reserves.
Bruce Yates, who heads the town’s parks and recreation committee, also promised his committee’s work isn’t done.
“We’ll be back (fiscal year 2004) for a biggie,” Yates said.
Initially, Yates had asked for $150,000 for land acquisition and $10,000 for a professional study of the town. Overall, the parks and recreation committee was seeking a $279,500 budget.
However, those items were removed from the budget, leaving only a $4,000 projected maintenance expense for the town.
Scott said with the town proposing to hire a full-time planner, Braselton would not have to pay for a contracted survey. During the first budget work session, Yates said the survey was the most important aspect of his proposed budget.
Another Braselton committee seeing a considerable budget reduction was the library committee.
Last month, Cotter proposed a $108,000 budget for the library committee, which she heads. Of that, $75,000 was to marked for land acquisition—that expense was later removed.
Currently, the West Jackson Library budget will stand at $21,560, with more than $13,000 slated for payroll expenses. A year ago, the library was budgeted for $8,500.
Cotter explained that most of the library’s remaining expenses will finance building upgrades and office supplies, including a copying machine.
Also trimming its initially-proposed budget was the Braselton Police Department.
A month ago, the police department requested an $818,500 budget; last week, that figure was reduced to $583,717.
Police chief Terry Esco told the town council last month that eliminating part-time officer positions was a top priority. At the time, the department was seeking $339,000 in payroll, $20,000 for equipment, $26,000 for uniforms and $192,000 for vehicle expenses to accommodate the three proposed officer positions.
Now, the police department has a proposed budget for $269,201 in payroll expenses, $4,000 for equipment, $22,000 for uniforms and $162,500 for vehicle expenses.
Esco expects to phase-in the three officers starting in July through early next year.
But mayor Pat Graham also said there is a possibly the town could receive the Cops Grant—a federally-funded grant that would pay for three officers over the next three years, while the town pays for one officer. Graham explained that she approved the grant application last week and the town could hear from the U.S. Department of Justice in the coming weeks as to if Braselton is a viable candidate for the funds.
If approved for the grant, Braselton would have four new police officers. Tom Clark, who heads the town’s police committee, pointed out that the town would still have to fund a vehicle, uniforms and equipment for the additional officer.
The town council also agreed to budget $7,000 for the police department to pay for eight pistols and eight shotguns for the officers. Currently, Braselton police officers pay for their own weapons.
One item absent from the revised budget was $12,000 for K-9 insurance for a drug dog. The police department will not bring a drug dog to its force come next fiscal year.
Next fiscal year will also bring a proposed $168,744 budget for the town’s planning and development department.
The department, which proposes a full-time building inspector, code enforcement officer and town planner, did not receive funds last fiscal year.
Last month, the town proposed a $37,125 budget for the department, which included $35,000 in payroll. The revised budget will include more than $128,000 in payroll expenses.
The town is also proposing $30,000 in vehicle expenses for a new truck in the department and $6,000 for office expenses, including three computers and two new desks.

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Qualifying begins June 19 for August elections
Qualifying for the Aug. 20 primary election will be held from 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 19, through Friday, June 21.
Local races on the ballot will include two board of commission seats–District 3 held by Emil Beshara and District 4 held by Tony Beatty.
Also on the ballot will be three county board of education seats–District 2 held by Tim Brooks, District 3 held by Kathy Wilbanks and District 5 held by Jill Elliott.
The state senate and house of representative seats and the governor’s post will also be on the ballot.
The general election will be Nov. 5. Qualifying for the general election will be held from 9 a.m. Monday, July 29, through noon on Friday, Aug. 2.

Relay for Life ahead this weekend
The American Cancer Society’s Jackson County Relay for Life will be held Friday night into Saturday morning at Peach State Speedway.
The schedule for some of the events is as follows:
•10 a.m. The track opens for campsite setup.
•5:30 p.m. The hospitality tent opens for cancer survivors; survivor registration begins; luminary sales begin.
•6:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies, survivor lap, caregiver lap and team lap. Team photos.
•7:30 p.m. Relay for Life begins with one member per team on the track. Other entertainment begins.
•9:30 p.m. Luminary service. All other activities stop.
•11 p.m. “Miss Relay 2002” pageant.

•Midnight Crowning of “Miss Relay 2002.” Midnight buffet.
•12:30-1:30 a.m. Games, Country Music Hour.
•1:30-2 a.m. Karaoke.
•2-3 a.m. Beach Music Hour.
•3-3:30 a.m. Karaoke.
•3:30-4:30 a.m. “Best of the Best” Music Hour.
•4:30-6 a.m. Disco/’70s/Saturday Night Fever Hour.
•6-7 a.m. Wake Up Little Suzy & ‘50s Music Hour.
•7-8 a.m. Breakfast, luminary lap clean-up.
•8 a.m. Closing ceremonies.
•9 a.m. Clean up campsites.
Other entertainment, games and activities will be ongoing during these relay events.