News from Madison County...

JUNE 5, 2002


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespiie
How to spot a non-Georgian
Those of you who read the “VENT” and letters to the editor in the Atlanta newspaper have encountered the harping of newly arrived immigrants from the North about “stupid Southerners” and their bad driving habits. But recent census information revealed that a majority of the people currently living in Atlanta are not from there. Chances are that the unpleasant people encountered by these new arrivals were also Yankees.

Ben Monroe
Country music is dead
Rock music has been pronounced dead a number of occasions.
Go ahead and add country music to the obit page.
With synthesizers, up tempo dance beats and a cheap pop culture attitude today, country’s mass departure from its rural roots has choked the life out of a genre of music which was once a poignant form of expression.


SPORTS

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Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
County pays double at Darnell Rd.?
‘Fair market value’ is less than half of $2.1 million BOC agreement with owners. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is paying $2.1 million to purchase four parcels of property that is valued at less than half of that.
Maysville puts moratorium on sewer use
With the city’s wastewater treatment facility nearing capacity, the Maysville City Council approved a six-month moratorium on new sewage service Monday.

Rezoning requests on Jefferson council agenda for Monday
Two subdivisions, one light industrial project to get vote. With a vote next Monday night, the Jefferson City Council will determine if two new subdivisions and a seven-tract light industrial project will be added to the city’s blueprint.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Driver killed in dragway crash
Cause of crash still under investigation. Jerry Gannon, 50, of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, died at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, June 2, at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta from injuries sustained in a fiery crash at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce.

Christian music festival coming this weekend
Harmony Baptist Youth Minister Joel Spencer wanted to do something big, something unlike any other gospel festival.
Spencer and fellow organizer, youth worship leader, Anthony Sadler put their heads together and “Vapor - a Festival of Arts and Music” was born.

Water theft reported in Alto
$100 reward offered. The Town of Alto has had a problem with people taking water from fire hydrants without notifying city hall, according to city officials.

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Kimberly Frey, a pottery student at TM Pottery in Comer, demonstrates pottery making at last Saturday’s Farmer’s Market in downtown Comer. The Farmers’ Market, featuring local produce, crafts and other items, will continue each Saturday throughout the summer.

School tax rate to hold steady
The projected school budget for next year will be up approximately 6.5 percent, but the property tax rate for Madison County schools is expected to remain steady.
Of course, property owners could still pay more in school taxes this year than last year, depending on how their property is assessed.
Nevertheless, news that the school tax rate, or millage rate, won’t skyrocket for a third straight year will come as welcome relief for many county property owners, who felt the pinch of an approximate five mill increase over the past two years.
School superintendent Keith Cowne said the school board plans to pass a $30.3 million budget for 2002-2003, up from $28.4 million in 2001-2002.
But he expects the BOE to hold the tax rate for the maintenance and operating budget at 16.94 mills, while the smaller tax rate for bond retirement — set at 1.33 mills this past year — will be eliminated, thanks to a surplus in sales tax revenue.
Cowne also said the system is steadily building up its reserves. The schools began the 2001-2002 year with a fund balance of $850,000. The projected ending balance for 2002-2003 is nearly double that at $1,557,000.
“I’m pleased with the prospect of approving a budget that does what we need done for schools, attacks our fund balance and holds our millage rate steady,” said Cowne.
The BOE will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m., June 18, in the high school media center, before approving the budget at its regularly-scheduled 7:30 meeting.
This year’s budget increase is due primarily to a state-mandated 3.25 percent raise in teachers’ salaries; the BOE will also increase non-certified salaries by 3.25 percent, though the state only mandated a 2.5 percent increase for those employees.
The budget includes funds for five and a half teaching positions at the high school — two special ed posts, along with driver training, math and social studies positions — and one middle school teaching position.
Also factored into the 2002-2003 budget are several school improvement projects, including approximately $221,000 in facility upgrades, such as reroofing the middle school gym, at an estimated cost of $86,000, along with new bleachers at the MCMS gym and football field.
The schools will begin an annual upgrade of one-fourth of the school system’s computers, costing approximately $250,000 this year. The school system will also be among the first in Georgia to institute a new student information system this year at a cost of “just under $200,000.”
Cowne said money has been re-allocated for music and art teacher positions for elementary schools. He said this will help give kindergarten through fifth grade teachers more planning time. Cowne said $33,000 will also go toward increasing bus routes for Hull, Comer and Ila elementary schools to get more children home after school, while giving teachers more planning and parent conference time after school. The school system is also installing more phone lines to allow for more interaction between parents and teachers.


Parents recount day their daughter was murdered
Wymb’s retrial opens in Elbert County. The parents of murder victim Angela Harris never re-entered the home where she died. Bobbie Joe and Violet Harris were the first two witnesses called in the retrial of Albert Wymbs for the November 1996 murder.
The couple described the day their daughter was found dead at their Hwy. 106 home near the Clarke County line. Mr. Harris told of the telephone call to his job site informing him that his daughter had failed to appear at an appointment to help draw blood from her young nephew. He called home, receiving no answer, returned home and found the body.
When he found his daughter dead in the kitchen, he picked up a portable phone and went out on the front porch to call for help. He never went back inside.
Mrs. Harris didn’t learn the nature of the emergency until a neighbor picked her up at work and brought her back home. Her distraught husband told her, “They have taken our daughter from us.”
The six man, six woman Elbert County jury that includes four black and eight white members heard opening arguments and the first witnesses Tuesday morning at the Elbert County courthouse.
DA Bob Lavender’s opening comments were, “What started out as a normal day turned into a nightmare.” He described the parents’ routine morning preparing for work, only to be called back to a death scene. He outlined the investigation, placing heavy emphasis on footprints and a scent trail leading from the murder scene to the home of Wymbs grandmother nearby. He told of two witnesses who say that Wymbs admitted to the killing in their presence. He argued that although the evidence is circumstantial, it was more than enough to convict Wymbs of murder.
Defense attorney Scott Davis told the jury that “we just heard 40 minutes about footprints that are useless.”


Danielsville duplex conflict may be headed to court
Local developers may turn to the courts now that the city of Danielsville has denied their plans for duplexes behind the Huddle House off Hwy. 29.
The Danielsville City Council unanimously shot down a proposal by developers Gerry Burdette and Phil Munro Monday for a conditional use permit for eight, multi-family duplex units on approximately 8.6 acres behind the Huddle House off Hwy. 29.
A legal showdown appears likely. Burdette and Munro were represented at the meeting by Athens attorneys Eric Eberhardt and Harry Gordon. The attorneys suggested that the council’s denial of their clients’ proposal would violate the applicants’ constitutional and due process rights.
As the developers and their attorneys left the meeting room, Burdette was asked how he and Munro may respond to the denial. He gave a strong indication that a suit is imminent.
“Well, you see who came with us,” Burdette said, alluding to the attorneys’ presence. “You can use your imagination.”
The council met briefly in closed session to discuss “potential litigation,” then the group denied the plans by a 4-0 vote, saying that the city sewage system is nearing capacity and that future city sewage projects, such as the addition of the county jail, will nearly max out the system’s capabilities.
They said approving the duplexes would jeopardize the health of the city sewer system.
“We’re pretty much maxed out with our sewer lines,” said council member Kimsey Austin.
The council has taken steps in recent months to restrict apartment growth in the city, with members citing concerns over water and sewage capacities and avoicing a desire to keep Danielsville from “becoming an apartment city.”
In January, the council issued a moratorium on conditional permits on multi-family developments in the city. The move came moments before Burdette and Munro presented their proposal for the duplex development to the council.
Then, in February, the council passed an amendment to its land ordinance to require that “all duplexes and multi-family dwellings...have a minimum lot area per family...of two acres...”
Several city residents, including former mayor Marc Perry, attended that meeting to oppose the change, saying it unfairly restricts apartment growth in the city.
Gordon, echoed that sentiment Monday, saying that his clients face an unfair requirement.
“You say it’s reasonable to require four acres of land for a duplex?” Gordon asked the council.
The attorneys also said denying the developers request would be an “arbitrary” and “capricious” action. Eberhardt pointed out that the council approved a multi-family conditional use permit in December in a primarily residential area, then took measures to stymie his clients’ proposed duplex development in a “more suitable” area.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business Monday, the council approved a $4,895 contract — effective in January — for a new city auditing firm. They approved an agreement — on a month-by-month basis — with Michael Tittle to cut the grass at the city cemetery and city-maintained doctor’s and dentist’s office for $275 per cutting. The council approved $534 for uniforms for the city maintenance staff and the council agreed to study possible revisions to city ordinances to give the city judge more leeway in levying fines for traffic violations.


Civil rights complaint still under investigation
A complaint about inadequate facilities and publicity for female sports at Madison County High School is still being considered by the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
According to a Department of Education letter to Madison County School Superintendent Keith Cowne, the complaint was filed March 18, alleging that the school district “discriminates against female athletes in the area of publicity, and locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities.”
No complainant names were listed on the letter to Cowne.
Cowne said he and other school officials believe that the school district has shown no discrimination toward girls’ athletics, adding that he “welcomes” the opportunity to review the system’s policies and procedures regarding girls’ athletics.

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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.


Buie pleads not guilty to murder of son
Hope Bertha Buie says she didn’t kill her 16-month-old son. But a Madison County jury is expected to decide her fate later this year.
Buie’s lawyer entered not guilty pleas for the 22-year-old defendant last week on two counts of murder and one count of false statements, writings or concealment of facts.
She is accused of killing her son Ceasar Bolton, Jr. in September of last year in Colbert.
The cause of death was said to be a “blunt force trauma to the abdomen, which caused “peritonitis, which was the result of a severed intestine.”
No hearing date has been set in Buie’s case, but the district attorney’s office said the case will likely go to trial in the fall of this year, perhaps in October during scheduled criminal court proceedings.


Republicans to gather in Danielsville
Madison County will host some 200 area Republicans Saturday morning at the Madison County High School dining room. Delegates and alternates from the newly drawn 9th District will assemble to select new District officers and Georgia Republican Committee members. Eligible participants consist of people selected as delegates at the 2001 county Republican conventions.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts supplied by Congressional candidate Lee Dickerson of Walton County. The meeting will be called to order at 10 a.m. The agenda consists of selecting new district officers including a chairman, first, second and third assistant chairmen, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer and assistant treasurer. Fifteen seats on the Georgia Republican committee will be filled.
Following the meeting, a box lunch provided by Congressman Charlie Norwood will be served.
Among the speakers will be Norwood, Dickerson and State Senator Kasey Cagle who will be running for re-election from Senate District 49, one of two Senate districts that include parts of Madison County.
Ralph Hudgens, announced candidate for Senate District 47, will be unable to attend due to prior commitments.