News from Jackson County...

JULY 8, 2002

Jackson County

Jackson County

Jackson County

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Tigers Sharks Set For Pentathalon This Sat.
Swim Squad Competes In Dacula Invitational This Past Weekend. The Commerce Tiger Shark swimming team will make their second trip to Gainesville’s Green Street Pool this Saturday at 9 a.m. for the five-event “Pentathalon.”

Three area all-star teams move on to state tourneys
Basketball has “March madness.” The Jackson County Recreation Department has now had a taste of baseball’s “mid-summer madness.”
A total of 22 all-star teams flocked to Lamar Murphy Park this past weekend for four district tournaments to battle it out for the right to move onto state.
One team from Jefferson Recreation Department and two teams from the Jackson County Recreation Department will move on now to seek a state title after emerging out of their brackets.

Neighboorhood News ..
Colbert July 4th parade set for Thurs.
The city of Colbert will hold its annual “Old-Fashioned Independence Day Celebration” this Thursday, July 4.

Danielsville may back off duplex restriction
Danielsville leaders will consider easing off a new restriction that requires four acres for a duplex in the city.

Two seriously burned in Ila accident Friday
Two people were seriously burned Friday afternoon when a 55-gallon drum they were welding on blew up at Thomason Tire in Ila.

Ila to move forward with city hall renovations
Ila council members agreed Monday night to serve as their own general contractors for city hall renovations and to move forward on getting the work done.

Neighborhood News...
Lightning causing safety concerns at
E-911 center
Dispatcher supervisor Paige Crocker knows the effects of lightning at the E-911 center.
BOC tables Baldwin fire contract
Banks County and Baldwin still have not reached an agreement for fire coverage in the northern part of the county.

BOC approves new budget
Banks County’s new budget has been approved and a millage rate hike doesn’t seem likely.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Randall Millwood, Talmo, was arrested on drug charges Tuesday after a traffic stop by the Arcade Police Department. His wife, Holly A. Millwood, Talmo, was also charged.

Updated 07/08/02
Man wanted in South Jackson murders arrested in California
A man wanted in the murder of a South Jackson couple has been found in California driving the vehicle that belonged to the victims.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department chief investigator David Cochran said that David A. Hodges was arrested in California Saturday. Authorities will be bringing him to Jackson County as soon as possible. He is facing two counts of murder and theft by taking a motor vehicle charges.
Hodges was arrested in Heyward County, Calif., after authorities spotted a 2001 blue Ford Expedition parked in an industrial area after a burglar alarm sounded, according to Cochran. He said the authorities ran a check on the tag and found the vehicle was stolen in Jackson County. Cochran said authorities watched the vehicle for several hours and arrested Hodges after he returned to it and attempted to drive away.
Hodges is being charged in the February 2002 murders of Sherry Elaine Brady, 46, and her husband, Alfred Lewis Brady Jr., 58, at their Ethridge Road residence. Both appeared to have died from gunshot wounds to the head.
At the time of the murder, Jackson County Sheriff Stan Evans said Hodges is believed to have worked for Mr. Brady in his construction business. He had reportedly lived in their home for three weeks.

Updated 07/08/02
County, cities begin sales tax negotiations
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners met with representatives of the nine towns on Tuesday to kick off negotiations on how the local option sales tax is distributed.
County manager Al Crace led the meeting and asked officials from each town to fill out a form listing the services they provide and taxes levied. Towns must offer three services and levy one tax other than the local option sales tax in order to be qualified to receive funds. The second tax can be a property tax, alcohol tax or other tax.
Those officials hoping to find out the county's strategy in determining how the sales tax funds are distributed left the meeting disappointed. After an almost one-hour overview of the sales tax program, Arcade Mayor Doug Haynie asked how the county would like to allocate the money to the towns. No information was given, but county leaders asked each town to submit a proposal on how they would like the funds divided.
"It's incumbent on all of us to do the best we can for all of the citizens of Jackson County," BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said. "...Look at several scenarios and see if we can have a meeting of the minds."
If the negotiations fail, a mediator will be called in to settle the dispute. Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner asked that the group go ahead and name a mediator in case one is needed. No action was taken on his request.
"Sales tax certainly did a lot for Georgia in taking the pressure off of property taxes," Crace said. "It changed the landscape fiscally for all of us...It's been a good strong source to help with a lot of issues."
The group will meet again on July 9 and 16 to continue the negotiations. The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. in the State Courtroom in the Administrative Building.
Those attending the first meeting were: Arcade Mayor Doug Haynie, councilman Ron Smith and clerk Barbara Kesler; Braselton Mayor Pat Graham and city clerk Jennifer Scott; Commerce Mayor Charles Hardy and city manager Clarence Bryant; Hoschton councilman Ben Davis and city clerk Cindy Edge; Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner, city attorney Ronnie Hopkins and city manager David Clabo; Maysville councilman Andy Martin; Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell, councilman Howard Wilbanks and city clerk Jennifer McNeil; Pendergrass Mayor Monk Tolbert and city attorney Walter Harvey; Talmo Mayor Larry Joe Wood; and BOC chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioners Stacey Britt, Sammy Thomason and Emil Beshara.

Mobile homes older than 5 years may have to stay put
Mobile homes older than five years old may just have to stay where they’re parked, the board of commissioners discussed on Friday.
In their ongoing work to revise the county’s development code, the commissioners discussed limiting when a pre-owned mobile home can no longer be moved within or into Jackson County. No vote was taken on the proposal. The proposed revision would only apply to unincorporated county areas, not property within city limits.
Currently, mobile homes older than 10 years can’t be moved into the county, without an inspection. Enforcement of the existing code, however, has varied.
The commissioners tossed up the proposed idea of limiting mobile home moves to seven years, but three commissioners—Sammy Thomason, Stacey Britt and Harold Fletcher opted for five years.
In comparison, most surrounding counties settle for 10 years, consultant Bill Ross said.
“What I think you’re doing is really raising the bar,” chairman Fletcher said.
But commissioner Emil Beshara explained his reservations about the proposed 5-year limitation.
For people recently married, a mobile home may be their first home, Beshara explained. And many of his friends viewed their first mobile home as only a temporary move until they could afford a permanent home, he said.
“As manufactured homes do exceed five years, it becomes ever more beneficial to the owner to keep it there, because they can’t go out and buy a 12-year-old (mobile home) and bring it in and replace a 20-year old (model), they’re going to have to buy a 5-year-old (model),” Ross said.
Yet the increasing housing market in coming years may also make it more expensive to park mobile homes on higher-priced land, Fletcher and county manager Al Crace said.
As for mobile home parks, the commissioners reviewed another proposal to require curbs and gutters along the streets.
“There’s no reason to require folks that are building houses to put in curb and gutter streets, but encourage mobile home parks to build without curb and gutter streets,” Thomason said.
No decision was made on either proposal. Commissioner Tony Beatty was not present.
Other proposals discussed by the commissioners included:
•naming “clustered lot subdivisions” as “Planned Residential Development” since the proposed code no longer calls for Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Since 1999, there has been a moratorium on PUDs. Two developers, Tim Wilbanks and Kent Henderson, discussed a proposed subdivision on Fairview Road that would not meet the current standards for “conventional subdivisions.”
•requiring higher development standards for certain subdivisions that would include recreational amenities, two-car garages and underground utilities. The proposed standards also include permitted exterior finishes on the housings’ front and side facades.
•mandating homeowners associations for new subdivisions.
The commissioners also discussed, at length, changing minimum requirements for lot sizes and building floor areas in relation to the proposed development standards and the use of public water and sewage.

BOC borrows $3 million for courthouse
In a unanimous vote, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed to borrow $3 million to start work on the Darnell Road courthouse site.
The funding, which includes the $2.1 million already approved for land acquisition, will allow the county to begin constructing roads, surveying, hiring an architect and working with a site planner through the end of the year.
“This will cover our fees until we can get into a permanent financing plan,” county manager Al Crace said.
On Friday, the BOC voted to accept the lowest of three bids for the $3 million tax anticipation note (TAN). At an adjustable monthly rate of 2.45 percent, Regions Bank was awarded the bid. The bid also includes a $1,500 committee fee and $1,000 for potential legal fees from the county.
The funds will mature on Dec. 31, when the BOC must pay off the $3 million loan.
Crace said the funds are separate from general government funding and that the TANs are accounted for differently.
In a related matter, all four parties with land interest at the 157-acre Darnell Road site formally sold their property to the county last week.
By the end of the year, the commissioners are expected to receive a long-term budget for the project, Crace said.
Chairman Harold Fletcher said a courthouse will be located on the site in two years.
Commissioners Tony Beatty and Stacey Britt were not present for the vote.

Hoschton citizens tell council to resign
Residents of Hoschton are telling their council members to resign from their posts—or they’ll be removed.
Following the filing of a $2.5 million lawsuit, in which a developer claims a council member solicited him for a bribe, and the debate regarding ownership of land in the city’s cemetery, the citizens said it’s time for the council members to leave.
A letter addressed to mayor Billy Holder and the council members was read by Buck Padgett during a Thursday meeting. No signatures from the citizens appear on the one-page letter.
“The citizens of Hoschton are concerned and upset with the city council’s actions and the direction you as the elected body are taking our city,” the letter reads.
The letter points to the actions alleged in the multi-million dollar lawsuit and a proposed road through the Hoschton Cemetery as a “lack of concern for the citizens’ best interest.”
The city council members are then asked to resign from their elected posts, the letter states. No date is provided for when the council members should resign.
“If you choose not to do so at this time, because of our concern as citizens of Hoschton for the alleged allegations and misconduct of the city council, a recall petition is ready to be signed,” the letter states.
By law, 10 percent of Hoschton’s registered voters must sign a recall petition. From there, another petition to remove the council members would require the approval of 30 percent of registered voters.
According to the letter, the citizens are “very confident of our ability to reach this number.”
Brian Boehmer was the only council member to address the citizens’ concerns after Padgett read the letter.
As he has stated in previous council meetings, Boehmer said no land in the cemetery has been deeded to Ken Gary, who is developing a subdivision near the Hoschton ball fields.
The proposed street in question to Gary’s subdivision will be for public use, Boehmer said.
In previous council meetings, several citizens said they were not satisfied how the street would wind through the far side of the cemetery. But Boehmer said a revised plan for the street calls for it to be more straight, instead of “S-shaped,” along the west side of the property.
“I can understand that some people disagree with how the land should be used and there’s some people frustrated that there’s a street going through the cemetery now going to a public place, like ballparks,” Boehmer said.
“I don’t think we’re going to please all of the citizens of the city,” he added.
At the same time the council members were discussing Gary’s project, the Jackson County Planning Commission in Jefferson was told Gary’s preliminary plat for 91 homes was being withdrawn.
Since Gary has made several changes to his project, such as modified setbacks, Hoschton’s attorney advised the developer to re-submit his plans.
Gary’s project will have to once again go through the entire planning process, starting with the county planning commission this month.
The multi-million dollar lawsuit is largely based on actions surrounding the approval of Gary’s rezoning request.
A second letter submitted by Dr. W.H. Sell continued to state that many Hoschton citizens were concerned about the actions of officials surrounding the new cemetery street. Sell outlined the decisions made in recent weeks about the street, but did not state the council members should resign.
Sell’s letter was given to the council members on Monday, but no one discussed it during the meeting.
In other business, the Hoschton City Council;
•voted unanimously to approve a home occupation permit for Alice Nunley. In a second move, the council unanimously voted to allow city clerk Cindy Edge to approve future home occupation permit requests.
•voted unanimously to accept the 2001 audit report.
•voted unanimously to approve the purchase of three temporary speed breakers for approximately $600. The speed breakers will first be placed at Panther Creek.
•voted unanimously to move police chief Dave Hill from an hourly to a salaried employee.
•voted unanimously to pay more than $30,000 in bills.
•voted unanimously to accept the lowest bid of $180 per month for bi-weekly cemetery maintenance.
•voted unanimously to increase permit fees, effective July 2.
•voted unanimously to waive setback requirements for two lots in downtown Hoschton for Calvin Hays. Buildings constructed on the site can be constructed to the right-of-way.
•voted unanimously to pay $450 for window replacement at the depot to Marcus Commercial. The company also requested $650 for the installation of smoke detectors and finishing the hardwood floor, which were not outlined in a bid. The payment was denied on May 17.
•learned the historical dedication ceremony for the Hoschton Depot will be Saturday, July 27, at 10 a.m.
•discussed changing its regular monthly council meeting to the fourth Thursday of the month and the work sessions for the third Thursday of the month.
•discussed forming a historical society for the city.
Several citizens agreed to join the initial effort.
Also during the meeting, the council:
• heard from Sandie Romer about a letter sent from the
city concerning grease build in water lines serving
Panther Creek residents. Romer first thanked the
council for providing new emergency service telephone
numbers, but expressed her problems with the letter
addressing grease build up as a problem caused by
residents. She explained the city should expect some
natural grease build up, such as body oils, and the
city should provide a better list of permitted and
non-permitted uses from residents. Another resident
also told the council he is still experiencing pump
problems, despite a new pump, and that the city should
look into better preventive maintenance. Council
member Rosemary Bagwell said she will ask city
engineer Charlie Armentrout about a preventive
maintenance program.

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BOC votes against purchasing property at Hurricane Shoals
In a 3-2 closed-door vote Monday night, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided against purchasing 24 acres at Hurricane Shoals Park. BOC chairman Harold Fletcher announced the vote after the 10-minute closed session. He said it was a 3-2 vote with commissioners Stacey Britt, Emil Beshara and Tony Beatty voting in favor of the motion to not purchase the property. Chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioner Sammy Thomason voted against this motion.
In making the vote, the BOC apparently violated the state’s open meetings law which does not provide for secret votes.
The 24 acres was to have been used for greenspace and the expansion of Hurricane Shoals Park.
After the meeting, Fletcher said that the county had the property appraised at $89,000 and the property owners had it appraised at approximately $300,000.

Herald wins 14 awards in state contest
The Jackson Herald won 14 awards in the Georgia Press Association’s annual “Better Newspaper Contest,” including third place in the overall General Excellence category. It is the fourth time since 1997 that The Herald placed in the top three in the General Excellence competition.
The awards were presented at the annual GPA convention at Jekyll Island Friday night. The Herald competes in the large weekly newspaper division for papers over 7,000 circulation.
In addition to garnering third place in General Excellence, The Herald won first place for best sports writing by Tim Thomas.
The newspaper also won seven second place awards: Best humorous column to Adam Fouche; best spot news photograph to Fouche; best religion coverage; best business coverage to Jana Adams; best headline writing; best editorial writing; and best lifestyle coverage.
The Herald won five third place awards for: Best humorous column to Virgil Adams; best serious column to Thomas; best photo essay and best spot news photographs to Yve Assad; and best special issue for the annual “Newsmaker of the Year” issue.

Other area newspapers owned by MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. won 22 awards in the state contest.
The Commerce News won nine awards, including a first place for General Excellence in its division. The News also won first place awards in best editorial page and best layout and design. The paper won second place awards in best humorous column to Mark Beardsley, best sports photograph to Todd Simons, best sports section and best local news coverage. The News won third place in best editorial writing to Beardsley and best sports writing to Ben Munro.
The Madison County Journal won six awards, including: second place awards for best photo essay to Zach Mitcham and best lifestyle coverage. The paper won third place awards in the following categories: best humorous column to Mitcham, best community service, best editorial page and best sports section.
The Banks County News won seven awards, including the following: first place in best sports writing to Fouche and best photo essay to Shar Porier; second place for best feature photo to Porier, best religious coverage, best business coverage and best editorial page; and third place in best sports photo to Fouche.