News from Jackson County...

JUNE 12, 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

Shar Porier
The 60-hour vacation?!
Yes! 60 hours free from work and chores!
What can one do in 60 hours? Doesn’t sound like much time. Guess I’m fixing to find out.

Rochelle Beckstine
This person belongs to Beckstine Hacienda
After two years, one month and 13 days of home ownership, I’ve come to a conclusion that most of you probably already know: you don’t own your house, your house owns you.


Nine JCCHS soccer players named to All-NE Georgia team
The Jackson County boys’ soccer team wasn’t short on postseason accolades this spring as seven Panthers were recently named to the All-Northeast Georgia team.

Racing returns to Lanier Speedway
The NASCAR Weekly Racing Series returns to action at Lanier National Speedway Saturday June 15. The Budweiser Pro Late Models headline an evening which will see all divisions in competition.

Neighboorhood News ..
Well problems could cancel business park plans
After weeks of work by a study committee, the future of a proposed Hwy. 72 business park could ultimately hinge on one thing — whether a well located on the western half of the 80 acres can be used as a backup water source for the county’s fledgling water system.

Wymbs found not guilty in Harris murder
An Elbert County jury acquitted Albert Wymbs of the 1996 murder of Angela Harris last Thursday, almost a year after a Madison County jury fell one vote shy of convicting Wymbs for the slaying.

Hull city hall to be sold
Hull’s city hall is for sale.
Following a 15-minute closed session, the city council voted 2 - 0 Monday evening to sell the white house on Old Elberton Road currently used as the city hall. Councilman Ken Murray abstained from the vote.

Neighborhood News...
BOE looks at athletic complex plans
The Banks County Board of Education has begun looking at preliminary plans for the new high school athletic complex.
Council considering dividing Homer into districts
The next elections for the city of Homer could be broken into districts.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, councilwoman Betty Borders introduced the idea of dividing Homer into different wards with one council seat each.

Alto enacts outdoor water ban
The town of Alto has announced a total ban on outdoor water use until further notice. Leaders say no outdoor use of water is permitted until further notice and a fine will be imposed.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


® Copyright 2002
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
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Representative Pat Bell helped county water manager Jerry Waddell and water and sewage authority chairman Elton Collins turn the tap for the Bear Creek Reservoir last week. Also pictured, not in order, are commissioner Tony Beatty, county manager Al Crace, county financial officer John Hulsey, Andy Newton, Paul Mims, Mike Hewitt, Kevin Williams, Derin Wilson, Dale Wilson and Dean Stringer.

BOE 2003 budget may bring tax increase
For the past couple of years, the Jackson County Board of Education hasn’t asked for much of an increase in taxes, but that may change as the BOE juggles a nearly $40 million proposed 2003 budget that school system budget director Jeff Sanchez said will involve a “little bit of catch-up.”
As Sanchez presented a proposed tentative budget at the board’s work session Thursday night, superintendent Andy Byers added that the school system will be asking for $14 million in ad valorem tax. The $38 million budget for fiscal year 2002 called for some $13.3 million in revenue from ad valorem taxes.
The BOE looked at the numbers offered in the proposed tentative 2003 budget Thursday and again at its regular meeting Monday night, but decided to hold a budget work session for a closer look before approving any set figures. The budget session will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, at the central office.
“The situation we are in now isn’t pleasant,” Sanchez said Thursday, adding that he had cut the proposed tentative budget by $1.4 million already. “The only way to avoid raising taxes is to cut people and programs....Two years ago, we didn’t raise taxes, and last year we had the SPLOST referendum, so we didn’t want to raise taxes. Right now we are playing a little bit of catch-up.”
BOE chair Kathy Wilbanks pointed out at last week’s work session that some 81 percent of the proposed tentative budget accounts for salaries and she wondered in what other areas the figures could be cut back. Wilbanks and Sanchez also expressed a desire to increase the fund equity balance for next year, if possible.
Wilbanks suggested Monday that the board table the budget issue for further study, saying that some “belt tightening” will be necessary.
“We’ll look at cutting some things,” she said.
Part of the struggle in stretching the budget is, as Byers pointed out, that local fund requirements continue to increase as costs for school services go up, yet state funding does not increase accordingly.
He cited new buses, textbooks, pay raises and related employee benefits and personnel for data entry of test scores as just a few of the areas in which the school system is seeing increased costs but no increased state funds. For example, the state allots $11 per high school student for that student’s textbooks, while an anatomy and physiology textbook alone costs $125. Another new expense facing the system is the purchase of seven buses; the state allotment is $213,000, which will not cover the cost.
Sanchez pointed out other additional costs the system has incurred this year, including teacher notebook computers for grades two through eight, web sites for the school system and a new math series.
He agreed to meet with principals to discuss ways of cutting back on school supply funds for the coming year and said he has already incorporated alternative ways of funding projects, such as leasing, rather than purchasing, some equipment.
Sanchez pointed out that the system will be opening another school next year, which will also accrue system expenses.
“We’re going to have to keep building, we’re not going to be able to stop,” Wilbanks said.

Another rabies case confirmed
A raccoon found on Holly Springs Road, Pendergrass, was recently confirmed to have rabies.
According to a report, the raccoon was in a tree on May 22 when it came down and attacked a dog.
Commerce Veterinary Hospital personnel handled the raccoon, which was later determined by health department officials to have rabies.
Since the dog was not current on its vaccination, it was put to sleep.
The raccoon marks the 16th confirmed rabies case in Jackson County since May 2001.

‘Curiosity’ leads manager to compile editor’s tax data
County manager Al Crace had property tax appraisal information of Jackson Herald editor Mike Buffington’s home compiled in a memo to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners last week. The memo also included county property appraisal information about property owned by Mainstreet Newspapers, Inc. which is owned by Buffington and his family.
Crace said this week that the reason for the memo, which was done by administrative assistant Andy Newton, was “just curiosity.”
All of the information is public record and available for inspection by anyone.
Through the editorial page of The Herald, Buffington has been critical of the county’s process toward finding a site for a new courthouse.
But this memo came apparently in response to a news article last Wednesday that stated the county’s own appraised value of 157 acres along Darnell Road was less than half the amount the BOC agreed to pay for the land. The front page story listed the county’s appraised fair market value and two outside appraised values for the property. It also included comments from Crace explaining that a lot of other property in the county is also valued at lower than it what actually sells for.
At a meeting of the BOC last Friday, the board was given a memo with the property tax values of Buffington’s home, the MainStreet Newspapers building and the two parking lots at the business. The deed record numbers for the four sites were also given.
The memo was given to the five members of the BOC, the county finance director and the county attorney. But commissioner Emil Beshara was obviously angered by the memo when he saw it in his packet of information.
“This is bulls—-,” he said. Beshara then crumpled the memo and threw it in a trash can. A few seconds later, he removed it from the trash and handed it to a Herald reporter, saying he thought she ought to see it.
“Emil gave that out,” Crace said Monday. “I just give them background info. If the commission tends to believe that is the general business, I would just like to give them some background. It was not prepared for the public. It just becomes a topic of public conversation and if we can provide some additional facts to the commission.”
A separate memo listed the property values of several other pieces of property with the county’s appraised value and the sale price. That memo included land in downtown Jefferson where the old hotel is located.
“I put that hotel on there too, the one across the street (from the newspaper building.) I believe the gentleman was asking significantly more than that. We had believed those were the facts before you all raised the questions in the article. We went back to look at random facts and some particular examples to see what they were.”

Republican Party releases qualifying information
The Jackson County Republican Party will hold qualifying June 19-20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and June 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at Tolbert Financial Services in Jefferson.
Qualifying will be for board of commissioners districts three and four and Jackson County Board of Education posts two, three and five. The fee for BOC qualifying is $300 and the fee for BOE qualifying is $36.
For more information, call Candice at (770) 789-0991 or (706) 652-2967.
Anyone wishing to run for a state office is asked to contact the Georgia Republican Party at (404) 257-2559.

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Jefferson July 4 celebration coming up
The Jefferson Area Business Association made plans at last week’s meeting for the annual July 4 celebration.
It will be held Saturday, June 29, on the downtown square in Jefferson.
A street dance, games for the children, food concessions and fireworks are all planned. The festivities will begin around 6 p.m.
The games will include a “power jump,” while food offered will include homemade ice cream, shaved ice, cotton candy, roasted corn and boiled peanuts.
In other business, JABA members selected Elizabeth McDonald as the winner of the “messiest desk” contest.
JABA members also agreed to hold a give-away as a fund-raiser. Donations of $1 will be taken for the give-away. The prizes will be $100 in groceries and an electric grill. There will be two winners. Tickets are available from any JABA member.
The next JABA meeting will be at noon on Thursday, July 11, at the Dutch Petaler in Jefferson.

Qualifying begins June 19 for August election
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.