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JUNE 19, 2002


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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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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

Angela Gary
A new culinary experience
For me, vacation time is always a good time to try different food. I like to try restaurants that we don’t have around here and experience new dishes.

Phillip Sartain
Down on the road
My column is late. But I have an excuse. I’ve just finished driving over 3,400 miles to the coast of Maine and back with my wife and three small children in a tiny camper. That’s my excuse for missing my column deadline— I don’t have any brain cells left.


SPORTS

15-17 All-Star Team Hunts For Title
After a handful of second-place finishes in the past, the Commerce Recreation 15-17-year-old all star baseball team wants to be hoisting up a district championship trophy when all is said and done next week.

Jackson Co. and Jefferson Rec. Dept. all-stars announced
The Jackson County Recreation Department and Jefferson Recreation Department all-stars will begin postseason play next Thursday (June 27) with 10 of the combined 11 teams competing at Lamar Murphy Park in Jefferson.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
School board approves $30 million budget
Madison County’s Board of Education approved the 2002-2003 budget at its meeting Tuesday night, up approximately $2 million to $30.3 million.
Additional funding from the state and increases in the county property tax digest are expected to prevent any local tax increase this year.

Belfield won’t seek re-election
Long-time Madison County Board of Education member Elaine Belfield has announced that she will not be a candidate for the District 2 seat this year.

County planners stumped on rezoning request
County planners couldn’t come up with a recommendation for the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night concerning a controversial rezoning request by a couple who wants to sell some of their land on Katie Beth Road.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Lula residents ask for traffic light
Lula resident Diane Baker asked the Lula City Council Monday night to request the Department of Transportation place a traffic signal at the intersection of Athens Street and Old Cornelia Highway.

BOC rejects Baldwin’s fire contract
Banks County and Baldwin might soon have a contract for fire services in the northern part of the county. The cost for that contract, however, won’t come at the price Baldwin would like.

BOC, Homer strike deal on Thompson Street work
A dispute over an access road to the county’s windmill farm has ended.
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved a measure Friday that includes widening and straightening Thompson Street from Hwy. 441 down to the new bypass.

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AFTERNOON SWIM

Kayla McNeal (L), 15, of Pendergrass and Danielle Campbell, 7, of Braselton cooled off at the Braselton pool last week.


Elections set in Banks, Jackson and Madison
Qualifying ended Friday for Aug. 20 election
When qualifying for the Aug. 20 Primary Election ended at noon on Friday, races were set in Banks, Jackson and Madison Counties for several local posts.
BANKS COUNTY
In BOC post two, incumbent Ernest Rogers and Sara Yarber Cross both qualified as Democrats. Ricky Cain qualified as a Republican candidate.
For BOC post three, incumbent Pat Westmoreland will be the only Democratic candidate. Former school board member Don Shubert will run for the post as a Republican.
In the board of education race, incumbent Bo Garrison qualified as the only Democratic candidate in post five. No one will run on the Republican ticket.
For BOE post three, Rob Boswell qualified as a Democrat. Republicans Ben Ramsey and Wylene Parson Boyle also qualified for the seat.
Banks County is included in Senate District 47. Two candidates qualified for this post, Robert Banks, Canon, a Democrat, and Ralph T. Hudgens, 59, a Republican.
In the District 22 House of Representatives race, incumbent Jeanette Jamieson, a Democrat, was the only one to qualify.
JACKSON COUNTY
In the District 3 Jackson County Board of Commissioners race, incumbent Emil Beshara and Jerry Presley both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified.
In the District 4 BOC seat, incumbent Tony Beatty, a Republican, was the only one to qualify.
In the District 5 Jackson County Board of Education race, incumbent Jill McEver Elliott and Sammy Qualls both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified.
In the District 2 BOE seat, incumbent Tim Brooks and Alvin Marlow both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified.
In the District 3 BOE seat, incumbent Kathy Wilbanks, a Republican, was the only one to qualify.
Three Senate districts are in Jackson County, including District 46, District 47 and District 49.
In District 46, Doug Haines, Athens, qualified as a Democrat and Brian Kemp, Athens, qualified as a Republican.
In District 47, Robert Banks, Canon, qualified as a Democrat and Ralph Hudgens, Comer, qualified as a Republican.
In District 49, Sueellen Simmons, Jefferson, qualified as a Democrat and L.S. Casey Cagle, Gainesville, qualified as a Republican.
Two House of Representative Districts are in Jackson County, District 24 and District 25.
In District 24, Joe Hutchins, Winder, and Warren Massey, Winder, both qualfied as Republicans. No Democrats qualfied.
In District 25, incumbent Pat Bell, Jefferson, qualified as a Democrat and Chris Elrod, Jefferson, qualified as a Republican.
MADISON COUNTY
Only one Madison County candidate will face opposition in this year's elections. Board of Education District 1 incumbent Robert Haggard will be challenged by Greg Bleakley.
The BOE posts are non-partisan, meaning the Haggard/Bleakley race will be decided during the general primaries and non-partisan elections slated for Aug. 20.
In the BOE District 2 race, Arlen Johnson Jr. will run unopposed — incumbent Elaine Belfield will not seek re-election to that seat.
In Madison County's only other race this year, incumbent magistrate judge Harry Rice will run unopposed.
Two Senate seats are located in Madison County, District 47 and District 49.
In the District 47 race, Robert Banks, Canon, and Ralph T. Hudgens, Comer, both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified.
In District 49, Suellen Simmons, Jefferson, qualified as a Democrat and L.S. Casey Cagle, Gainesville, qualified as a Republican.
Three House of Representative seats are located in Madison County, District 23, District 76 and District 78.
In Distrct 23, Alan Powell, Hartwell, qualified as a Democrat and Arch Adams, Hartwell, qualified as a Republican.
In District 76, Bob Smith, Watkinsville, qualified as a Republican. No one qualified as a Democrat.
In District 78, Tom McCall, Elberton, and Barbara Giles McLendon, Elberton, both qualified as Democrats. Joe Harris, Washington, qualified as a Republican.
STATE RACES
Sen. Mike Beatty, Jefferson, has qualified to run for the office of lieutenant governor as a Republican candidate. Others to qualify were incumbent Mark Taylor, a Democrat, and Al Bartell, Cartersville, and Steve Stancil, Woodstock, both Republicans.
The Primary Election will be held on August 20. The General Election will be November 5.


Developer sues City of Hoschton
Alleging rackteering, a developer has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the city of Hoschton and its council members.
David Healan, a developer of the “Hoschton Village,” filed the lawsuit last week. The lawsuit names the city of Hoschton and all current council members as defendants.
Two years ago, Healan submitted a rezoning application from agricultural to residential for 34.53 acres on land owned by Jeannette Hayes’ estate. He wanted to build 55 homes.
The Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approval for the request, during which time, Healan says Hoschton City Council member Paul Turman “expressed his support for the development.”
But later, Healan alleges Turman wanted the developer to pay for his continued support of the project.
“In the Spring of 2000, defendant Turman approached (Healan) and solicited a bribe for his continued support of the project,” the lawsuit says. “(Healan), however, declined to pay the bribe. At all times pertinent to the allegations in this complaint, defendant Turman was acting in his capacity as a council member of the City of Hoschton.”
Healan then alleges Turman withdrew his support of the project and began to actively campaign against it.
On June 12, 2000, Healan’s rezoning request was unanimously denied by the Hoschton City Council.
Earlier this year, developer Ken Gary submitted a rezoning request on the same property for 85 homes. The new development is called “The Village at Hoschton.”
Healan contends his proposed development was essentially the same as Gary’s development.
The county planning commission recommended denial of Gary’s request, but in a 4-2 vote, the city council approved it. Council members Rosemary Bagwell and Genoria Bridgeman voted to deny the request.
With the denial of Healan’s request and the approval of Gary’s on the same property, the lawsuit says Healan lost approximately $2.5 million in profits.
Gary is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit continues to allege that city council members “knew or reasonably should have known that defendant Turman withdrew his support for (Healan’s) development based on (his) refusal to pay a bribe to defendant Turman.”
On Tuesday, Turman denied Healan’s allegations and said “lawyers are looking at the whole thing.”
As an elected official, he further said “anyone can say anything about you.”
Healan’s lawsuit filed this week marks the second one the developer and former Hoschton city council member has filed against the city.
Following the denial of his rezoning request, Healan filed a lawsuit alleging violations of zoning ordinance procedure when the Hoschton city council considered his request.
In July 2001, Jackson County Superior Court Judge David Motes ruled in favor of the city of Hoschton in Healan’s first lawsuit.


Three qualified so far for Aug. 20 election
Three people had qualified for the Aug. 20 primary election as of press time on Wednesday. Qualifying ends at noon on Friday.
In the District 3 Jackson County Board of Commissioners race, incumbent Emil Beshara and Jerry Presley have qualified.
No one has qualified yet for the District 4 seat on the BOC. The incumbent is Tony Beatty.
In the District 5 Jackson County Board of Education race, Sammy Qualls is the only one who has qualified so far. Incumbent Jill Elliott has not qualified.
Also on the ballot will be two other county board of education seats–District 2 held by Tim Brooks, and District 3 held by Kathy Wilbanks. No one has qualified yet for these seats. 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.


BOC moves forward on courthouse plans
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is moving forward with the new courthouse project.
The BOC agreed Monday night to seek information from companies interested in the design and construction of the courthouse. Commissioner Sammy Thomason made the request for the county to seek the qualifications of those interested in the project.
The BOC also agreed for finance director John Hulsey to seek a tax anticipation note or other financing proposals for funding the project.
The BOC agreed at its May meeting to purchase the Darnell Road property for a new courthouse.


BOC to extend moratoriums
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners plan to extend two moratoriums until August that deal with certain subdivision plats, including “family subdivisions,” and landfills.
The moratoriums, which are set to expire at the end of this month, were passed by the BOC in December and January.
On July 1, the commissioners will hold a public hearing regarding the moratoriums’ extension and an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance dealing with applications for certain subdivision plats.
According to county attorney Daniel Haygood, the moratoriums’ extension will give consultants Bill Ross and Denise Abboud time to provide zoning ordinance amendments that deal with certain issues.
Currently, the consultants are meeting regularly with the BOC to update the county’s zoning ordinances. Work is expected to continue into August, when a vote might be taken.
When the BOC passed the moratorium on certain subdivision plats, it outlined which regulations would be affected. Not all subdivisions were covered by the moratorium.
Some of the regulations included the division of land by immediate family members, dividing land into five or fewer acres and access by private streets.
The moratorium also meant the BOC started hearing “hardship requests,” which were previously handled administratively by the county planning and development staff.
During a BOC work session meeting two weeks ago, the members discussed extending the moratorium for one day to July 1. That way, the BOC could make any decisions about the moratorium during its regular meeting.
Haygood explained that after a review, it was determined a 36-day extension would give the consultants time to address all the issues.


JHS track to get new surface
By late summer or early next school year, the Jefferson High School track will have resurfacing work done, with a new acrylic coat added and other repairs made.
The Jefferson Board of Education approved a bid of $43,750 from Athletic Facilities Consulting Thursday for an acrylic top coat and striping of the track. The track hasn’t been fully resurfaced in eight years, according to athletic director James Pinion, who said the work will include the track and approaches — “everything in red” — and exclude the pole vault pits.
PERSONNEL
In personnel matters, the BOE approved maternity leave for JES teacher Nichole Martin; accepted resignations from JHS assistant principal Richard Townsend, JES teacher Becky Jordan and JES custodian Robert Temple; approved employment of JES teachers Jolee A. Blankenship, Robin Fonclara, Roxann Manley and Brandy Gail Elrod, system bookkeeper Kim Navas and JES lunchroom monitor Virginia Nix.
SPENDING RESOLUTION
In other business, the BOE approved a spending resolution for the month of June operations, not to exceed 1/12th of the system’s existing budget. The board will review a 2003 budget at its July meeting, which has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, July 18.
•approved a $90,900 paving bid for JHS.
•approved payment of $100,000 to Salloum Construction for work at the new JMS, agreeing to withhold payment of a full bill until a number of problems and punch list items, such as an uneven floor, front columns and a faulty air conditioning unit are resolved.
•approved a revised policy manual, including a policy on filtering student access to the Internet. The policies will now be posted on the Georgia School Board Association web site with a link on the Jefferson City Schools web site.
•approved health textbooks.
•approved submission of a 2003 special education budget to the state.
•approved submission of a 2003 consolidated grant application.
•approved submission of a 2003 Perkins Grant application for federal funds for vocational and technical education.
•agreed for a number of parent volunteers to work on beautification and establishment of a courtyard project for the Fifth Grade Academy.
•learned that the SPLOST account has $350,549 and the bond account has $179,389.
•learned that remedial summer school is under way at JMS and will be held in July at JES.
•recognized Dr. Patricia Rooks for her service as assistant principal. She will be working with Fulton County next year.
•declared a number of items, including audiovisual equipment, overhead projectors and home economics lab appliances, as surplus.
The BOE held a called meeting Wednesday, June 12, to meet with three architects to hear their ideas on some renovations at the high school. No action was taken and the matter is still in the discussion stage.
The Jefferson Board of Education has rescheduled its July meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday, July 18.



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Bear Creek debts put water authority in the red
Had it not been for spending $894,519 to meet the Jackson County Board of Commissioner’s obligations on the Bear Creek Reservoir, the county water and sewer authority would have finished in the black in 2001.
Instead, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority’s audit, released at last Thursday night’s meeting, shows a $314,233 net operating loss for the year.
The debt payment on the reservoir from July 1, 2001 through May is a sore subject with the authority. The original agreement, according to the authority, was that it would not have to assume the Bear Creek Debt ($149,000 per month) until it had water from the reservoir which it could sell to fund the debt service. But the county commissioners pressured the water authority into paying the debt which, over the past 11 months, resulted in an unbudgeted $1.64 million expenditure.
“We’re paying somebody else’s debt. It’s not like we’re paying our own debt,” groused chairman Elton Collins. “I don’t know what we can do to get that money back. I think it’s pretty much gone.”
“I expect so,” agreed auditor Duane Schlereth of the county’s auditing firm Bates, Carter & Co., Gainesville.
“I’d love to see this thing positive, but I still say it is, from an operational standpoint,” Collins said.
Adding salt to the wound, from the authority’s standpoint, is that not only is it paying a debt that belongs to the county commissioners, but also that one of those commissioners, Stacey Britt, has publicly claimed that the authority’s action – at the request of the commissioners – is illegal.
“We have a commissioner who still thinks it’s illegal,” observed vice chairman Larry Joe Wood.
“There is nothing wrong with that (using special purpose local option sales tax funds to pay the Bear Creek debt),” said Schlereth, who also did the Jackson County audit.
The figures include depreciation of $475,996 listed as an expense and $580,012 in “revenue” from donated water lines, which are residential systems built by developers and turned over to the county system.
During 2001, the authority received $4 million from the SPLOST, distributed $1.2 million of that to the cities under the sales tax agreement, spent almost $10 million on capital projects, including land acquisition, and paid $1.37 million in interest on long-term debts. It received more than $600,000 in interest income.
Schlereth said the audit was “a clean opinion with no qualifications.”