News from Banks County...

JULY 17, 2002


Banks County
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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
Let freedom ring
I watched as a dozen little cub scouts held shaking fingers in salute as they said the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the scout meeting. I held my tiny hand over my heart.

Phillip Sartain
On a roll
Trust me when I say that I don’t like to do this. It’s never a good idea to discuss your weird dreams in public.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

A new man for a new program
Gaines comes in to lead new fast-pitch varsity program. Banks County seems like a good fit for Kevin Gaines.
He will come into a school to implement a new varsity fast-pitch softball program. He inherits a good nucleus of players who saw experience on last year’s junior varsity team. And he gets to move a little closer to Hart County where he grew up.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
$60+ million industry planned for Jackson County
Automotive air compressor plant part of Toyota empire
Plans for a $60-$100 million automobile parts manufacturing plant in Jackson County were unveiled at a ceremony Monday morning in Jefferson attended by Gov. Roy Barnes and other state and local officials.
Water board making plans for industry sewer line
40,000 ft. line will service 150,000 gal. per day for plant
The governor has made the announcement. The Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the Industrial Development Authority have signed the contracts.

MACI incentives from local, state governments
A comprehensive package of local and state incentives was put together as part of the deal with MACI. To offset some of the cost of local incentives, Jackson County has gotten commitments for various grants from state and federal sources.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Planners frown on 72-home subdivision
A proposed 72-home subdivision on Hwy. 72 was frowned on by county planners Tuesday.

Hudgens hearing set for Thursday
A hearing to determine whether Ralph Hudgens is a legitimate District 47 senatorial candidate is set for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Office of State Administrative Hearings at 235 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 700, Atlanta.

Well problem still a major concern for IDA
A technical snafu may have rendered an old well just outside Hull useless. And without the well, the development of a Hwy. 72 business park could be in jeopardy.

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THE NEW BYPASS

Georgia Power economists predict Banks County will grow in industrial and commercial development from the new bypass at the south end of Homer to Banks Crossing.

Bank on growth in Banks
If Banks County is going to grow, the industrial development authority plans to be ready for it.
“The wave is coming,” Banks County IDA member Jerry Boling said. “We can’t wait around and wait around to act. We must act now or we’re going to lose the opportunity.”
In a meeting Thursday, the IDA decided to invite the board of commissioners to its next meeting to discuss a plan to handle the county’s future growth.
Rope Roberts, an economic development manager with Georgia Power, told the IDA the county needs to set up a long-term plan for accommodating growth.
“We think in a short period of time, like a life span,” Roberts said. “What about a 50-year plan.”
Roberts predicted growth in Jackson County along I-85 will soon move into Banks County and said that the county needs a way to shape that growth.
“The next stop is Banks County,” he said. “You’ll find a lot of developers coming up here and looking for large tracts of land. Then you’ll be in the hands of the developers.”
Roberts said the county could begin now to plan where and how the growth will occur. He suggested planned unit developments to have industrial areas along the highway corridors, commercial districts at intersections and residential areas farther out. He said a planned unit was similar to a mill village.
Roberts also said that the county was going to grow, regardless of whether officials makes plans or not. However, he said early planning will give the county the opportunity to dictate growth to maintain quality of life.
Failure to plan, Roberts said, would result in sprawl and increased costs of having to run water and sewer lines to many different parts of the county.
“Right now, it is a lot easier to say how you want it than to come back after it happens,” he said.
Boling added that if the county depends on the real estate business to shape growth, Banks County will end up with too many homes and too little business and industry.
“They’ll market to residential developers because it’s quicker and makes more money,” Boling said. “Residential development is a negative cash flow for the county.”
Roberts said the county’s tax base relies too heavily on individual homeowners. He said the county needs to diversify with more industry and business. Without more diversity, he explained, the county’s taxpayers will have to absorb rising operational costs with higher taxes.
The key, Roberts said, is to make the county more attractive to prospects by building a large industrial park with the proper infrastructure, like water, sewer and good transportation. Otherwise, business will not come, he warned.
“It’s hard to sell Banks County,” he said. “You can’t sell a car in a car lot if you don’t have any cars.”
He suggested an industrial park already graded with roads and fire hydrants and possibly a building already constructed that would help lure prospective industry.
“You don’t really want anyone to take the building,” Roberts said. “That’s your hook.”
Roberts also predicted that most of the county’s commercial and industrial growth would occur near the railroad on the western side of the county, south of Homer from the new bypass to Banks Crossing and along the Martin Bridge Road intersection with I-85.


Lula bridge becomes historic landmark The old railroad bridge in Lula may become the city’s first historical landmark.
Norfolk and Southern Railroad, which owns the bridge, had indicated the company may tear it down when it reaches a state of disrepair.
Before the last repairs were done recently on the bridge, company representatives had offered to give the bridge to Lula along with $50,000 to keep it up.
At the time, the city said “No.” Now, however, with the thought of the bridge being torn down, the city is reconsidering its stance and would like to keep the bridge for its historical significance.
The council asked Mere Barbee to look into getting the bridge declared a historic structure to save it from destruction. She said the only way to get the historical designation is for Lula to take possession of the bridge.
“We don’t want to lose the bridge under any circumstances,” she said. “And I have a list of residents here who feel the same way.”
Council member Perry Bridgeman said the city should consider taking it over and then closing it to vehicle traffic, allowing only pedestrians on the bridge.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Ostrander said he was in favor of closing it when the railroad had other crossings completed. He said he also would prefer to take over as owners only if the railroad would still agree to give the city the $50,000.
“We could put that money into a CD and 20 years from now when we need it to repair the bridge we would have more than enough to fix it,” he said.
The council said it will pursue talks with the railroad.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the council:
•discussed the Mountain View Subdivision. The proposed 138-acre planned unit development was shot down a few months ago by the Hall County Board of Commissioners who vetoed the annexation of the property into the Lula city limits. Ostrander said the city and the BOC are still negotiating. He said the Hall County Planning Commission did not have a problem with the development, but wanted to have more control over what type of businesses would be setting up on Hwy. 365. Ostrander said negotiations are ongoing.
•approved spending $5,500 on a redistricting map through the Georgia Mountains Rural Development Center for voting wards. The city charter had been changed from wards inadvertently in 1994 when some changes were made. Currently, the city has an at-large voting procedure. Attorney Scott Wallace has been working with the council to make application for the redistricting into wards. He said the request has to go to the state legislature and on to the federal government to assure the wards are evenly balanced, both in voters and in ethnicity. The city may gain a ward and end up with six, depending on the population count from the 2000 Census.
•Clint Smith, incumbent sate representative from District 9 that includes Hall County, introduced himself to the council and those present at the meeting. He offered to help the city in any way he could.
•two other candidates for District 3 county commissioner, Steve Gailey and Jim Syfan, were also scheduled for introduction. Gailey however, postponed his appearance until next month and Syfan asked if he could address the city at the next council meeting so voters could see and talk with both contenders at the same time.
•announced the Lula Area Betterment Association is donating $500 to the city for additional Christmas decorations.
•tabled a discussion on Mayor Milton Turner’s veto of the tobacco ordinance recently enacted. Turner failed to give any reason as required by the city charter to enact a veto. Information gathered by council member Vicky Chambers states the stringent requirements for smoking areas. Turner was not present at the meeting.


Homer losing money on garbage collection
During a work/training session on the budget for the City of Homer, council members found the city is losing money on garbage collection.
As the council members went over the budget, for some their first time, they found a shortfall in the sanitation collection. The city collects only $27,000 in pick-up fees, but pays out $28,000 in sanitation salaries.
Some of the figures may include street costs, though, so city attorney Gary Freeman asked city clerk Carol Ayers to separate the two departmental costs. That way the council could better adjust rates to recoup expenses for trash collection. It was also a matter of state law, he said.
Ayers said she would do so and have the revisions ready for the August meeting.
The council discussed raising rates to at least cover the city’s costs, though no figure was determined.
Currently, residents pay $10 per month for pick-up once a week.
Council member Betty Borders said she pays $17.50 per month for her weekly pick-up.
Sandra Garrison, council member, said she did not understand why the city didn’t have more customers with the rate being so low.
They asked Ayers to work on some figures that could be presented to the council at the next meeting.
Bobby Caudell also suggested residents put the trash out on the curb to make pick-up quicker.
Mayor Doug Cheek agreed and said it would eliminate any problems with going into people’s yards.
Calvin Smith, city superintendent, said a slightly larger truck would help lessen the number of loads to the dump and would also save time. He said residents who were disabled or otherwise impaired could still have their trash picked up in their yards.
As the council looked over the budget, Borders asked why the city provides $12,000 in funds for the Herbert Garrison Civic Center.
Cheek said the council had always contributed to the up-keep because it was the only place in town to hold meetings and reunions.
Ayers said the money goes into the building fund, which Bonnie Hill manages.
All council members agreed Hill performs a great community service with her dedication to the center.
Questions were also raised about funding $20,500 to the Banks County Public Library and $500 to the Adult Literacy Center. It was determined the services were used by Homer residents.
A line item expense concerning the Piedmont Regional Library of $2,750 was not questioned.
When asked about the $7,000 funding to the fire department, Ayers said it was necessary to keep the department running. She added the only other money they get is from the fund-raisers the department holds twice a year.
The city budget stands balanced at $302,800 for the general fund and $90,700 for the water fund for fiscal year 2002-03.
The dates for the public hearings will be published in The Banks County News soon, said Freeman.



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Jamieson secures thousands
in state funds for Banks County
State Representative Jeanette Jamieson has announced funding for several major projects in Banks County.
The state budget, which became effective July 1, includes $20,000 for a van for the Banks County Senior Citizens Center and $15,000 to begin planning and design for a health and aqua facility.
The center will provide a means for Banks County citizens, especially senior citizens, to swim and exercise.
“Facilities of this type have been most helpful in other counties in providing assistance for arthritic individuals,” Rep. Jamieson said.
Along with these two projects, the budget includes $30,000 to assist in purchasing band uniforms for Banks County High School.


EMA to hold exercise
SaturdayBanks County Emergency Management Agency director Milinda Dalton has announced that emergency personnel will hold a full-scale exercise on Saturday, July 20, at Wilson Shoals Wildlife Area.
The event will begin around 10 a.m. Fire, rescue, emergency support services and canines from Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution will join forces to find a group of “missing campers.” The exercise is mandatory for the department to obtain training grants, said Dalton. All fire and rescue personnel will receive training credit for the exercise. For more information, contact Dalton at 677-1234.


Homer fire truck dedication set July 28
The Homer Fire Department will dedicate its new fire truck in a ceremony on Sunday, July 28, at 3:30 p.m. in the Homer City Park. All citizens are invited to attend.
The Homer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary is sponsoring the dedication ceremony.