News from Jackson County...

JULY 26, 2002


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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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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

Shar Porier
Keeping Banks beautiful
while planning for growth
When I first bought property here in Banks County 13 years ago, I figured I’d have a good 15 years before suburbia would manage to migrate this far north.

Rochelle Beckstein
A new breed of reality TV
New reality TV shows are cropping up every week. As reruns dominate summer prime time, networks are trying to woo viewers away from their rivals by flooding the market with their brand of reality TV. And it pays high dollars to find a reality TV show that America wants to watch.


SPORTS

Commerce All-Star Team Bows Out At State Tournament
The Commerce 11-and-12-year-old all-stars’ postseason run came to a close Thursday in Claxton, falling 8-6 in seven innings to Irwin County to give the team a fifth-place finish in the state.

Jefferson wins state title
Going into the bottom of the sixth inning in the 9- and 10-year-old state championship, the Jefferson all-stars were running out of time for a win.
Down 4-2 to the host team Carrollton, and needing just one win to secure a tournament sweep and claim the state championship, the Jefferson all-stars rose to the occasion.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
BOC votes ‘no’ on subdivision
Plans for a 72-home subdivision off Hwy. 72 were turned down by commissioners Monday, as many took the podium to offer their take on the rural vs. growth debate in Madison County.

12-year-old dies in four-wheeler accident
A 12-year-old Madison County boy was killed last weekend in a four-wheeler accident in a wooded area off North Eades Road in Oglethorpe County.

Still no ruling on whether Hudgens can run for senate
Whether state representative Ralph Hudgens will be allowed to run for the District 47 state senate seat remained up in the air as of Journal press time this week.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Vandals hit Baldwin Elementary
Custodians at Baldwin Elementary School were shocked Friday morning to find vandals had trashed 12 classrooms Thursday night causing an estimated $5,000 to $8,000 worth of damages.

125th Sunday School Celebration set Saturday
The 125th Sunday School Celebration will get under way at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Veteran’s Park in Homer. Children and adults from 11 area churches will participate.

Norwood to visit Banks Aug. 6
Congressman Charlie Norwood, the United States Congressman for Georgia’s 10th District, will visit Banks County on Aug. 6. He will be at the historic courthouse in Homer from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

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MURDER SUSPECT IN CUSTODY

David A. Hodges (R) was brought to Jackson County Monday from California. He has been charged with the February 2002 murders of Sherry Elaine Brady, 46, and her husband, Alfred Lewis Brady Jr., 58, at their Ethridge Road residence. Sheriff Stan Evans (L) and investigator Chuck Ledford (C) are also shown.

UPDATE 7-26-02
Planners approve rezonings for
subdivision, shopping center
The Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approved of two rezoning requests Thursday night that would bring a large subdivision and shopping center to the West Jackson area.
The planners unanimously approved requests from John Buchanan to rezone 14.85 acres on Hwy. 124 and Hwy. 332 from A-2 to B-2 to locate a shopping center and to rezone 101.41 acres on Hwy. 332 from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 92-home subdivision.
The BOC will address the recommendations of the planning commission at a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 5, at the Administrative Building. The voting session of the BOC will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 19.
At Thursday's planning commission meeting, Buchanan said the "neighborhood shopping center" would be suitable for a large grocery store and several smaller stores. He said such a development is needed because of the subdivisions located in the area.
"This is a natural location for a neighborhood shopping center," he said. "It would certainly be done in very good taste. We will hold the standards very high...The area is going to require a shopping center. When you have people, you have to provide services...It is something the community will be very proud of."
Several nearby property owners spoke out against the project.
Lisa Haynes said the traffic problem in the area is "already ridiculous" and the shopping center would make it worse.
"Most people are there because they want to be in the country, not because they want the city to come to them," she said.
As for the subdivision plans, several nearby property owners spoke on their concerns that it would impact their property values.
"We moved there to be in the country," Haynes said. "We want it to still have a country atmosphere even though it is growing...and not be a cluster type of atmosphere."
Buchanan said the average price of the homes would be in the mid to low $250,000 range. He said the development would be similar to other projects of his, including Liberty Crest Subdivision in Braselton and The Preserve in Jefferson.
"It will be a nice addition to the neighborhood," he said. "...The property is an ideal location. The development will be an attribute to the community."


UPDATE 7-26-02
Barnes passes on speaking at
Bear Creek Reservoir dedication
Gov. Roy Barnes will be too busy campaigning for re-election this fall to preside over the dedication of the Bear Creek Reservoir.
The dedication committee of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority thought Georgia's governor would be an appropriate keynote speaker for the ceremony marking the completion of the state's first (and only) regional reservoir. But in response to the invitation – which gave Barnes latitude in selecting a date – the governor said the demands of an election year will make it impossible for him to attend.
Bear Creek Reservoir is a major water source for Clarke, Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties, home to 84,258 registered voters.
Having found the governor uninterested, the committee will look for some more willing public figure, said Amrey Harden, chairman, at the authority's July 24 meeting.
"The committee met and we've listed a half dozen names (of potential keynote speakers)," said Harden. On top of the list is Senator Zell Miller – who is not up for re-election this year and who as governor supported the concept of regional approaches to water and other issues.
Harden also said that the committee is looking at either Oct. 11 or Oct. 18 to hold the event, both Fridays designed to coincide with Saturday home football games at the University of Georgia.
The $63 million project was completed last month. Jackson County is taking an average of 1.7 million gallons of treated per day, Oconee County is drawing 2.5 mgd and Barrow County, which just began receiving treated water two weeks ago, is expected to take one million gallons of treated water per day. Athens-Clarke takes up to 15 mgd of raw water, which it treats at its own purification plant.
Although the water plant is finally running after coming on line 11 months later than expected, the authority is having trouble winding up the construction.
Beers Construction Company, as of July 24, still had a "punch list" of 30 unfinished items whose cost was placed at $71,250. Of that, $50,000 was for the paving of driveways and parking areas, which has been completed but not tested and accepted as of last Wednesday.
There are also other minor problems to fix, including what Jim Wrona, senior project engineer for Jordan, Jones & Goulding, the company overseeing the entire project, called a "design problem" causing too much water to leave the reservoir into Big Bear Creek downstream.
At the insistence of the Safe Dams Division of the Environmental Protection Division, the authority installed a drain to assure that the creek gets adequate water to meet legal requirements. But the orifice is too large, allowing too much water through, so the authority is trying to get permission from EPD to control that flow. Interestingly, that device is located such that if the lake falls to three or more feet below full pool, no water will flow through it to the creek. The orifice, however, is not the only means of providing stream flow for Big Bear Creek.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the authority voted to waive certain technical requirements for two bidders on the paving of New Savage Road. Both failed to provide adequate bid bonds but will be allowed to add them without the authority having to re-bid the project.

Murder suspect brought back to Jackson County
The suspect in a double murder near Arcade was brought back to Jackson County this week.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department contracted with the United States Marshal’s Office to bring David A. Hodges from California to Georgia. Jackson County law enforcement officials picked him up at the Atlanta airport on Monday.
Hodges is being held by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department on two counts of murder and a theft by taking a motor vehicle charge. Additional charges, including arson, will be filed later this week, according to officials.
Hodges was arrested in Hayward, Calif., earlier this month after authorities spotted a 2001 blue Ford Expedition parked in an industrial area after a burglar alarm sounded, according to chief investigator David 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. Their home had also been set on fire, which led to the arson charge.


Sept. 3 target date for Quad Cities Planning Commission
If all goes as planned, the so-called Quad Cities Planning Commission could become a reality for Jefferson, Arcade, Pendergrass and Talmo on Sept. 3.
During a called Talmo City Council meeting on Monday, Jefferson planning and development director Gina Mitsdarffer detailed how the four cities along Hwy. 129 are continuing to quickly move forward with plans for the new planning commission.
The decision to begin forming the Quad Cities Planning Commission came after the Jackson County Board of Commissioners removed each city’s representative from the county planning commission in December.
Currently, attorneys representing the four cities are working on an inter-governmental agreement, Mitsdarffer said. The mayors from the cities are expected to sign the agreement shortly before the Jackson County Planning Commission hears the request to form the Quad Cities Planning Commission.
The Jackson County Planning Commission will hear the request on Aug. 22. The BOC will not hear the request since the move is a readoption of the cities’ zoning ordinances and maps, she said.
From there, each city will then hold a called meeting to adopt their revised ordinances and zoning maps with the county’s responsibilities omitted and replaced with the Quad Cities Planning Commission.
Jefferson and Arcade will hold a called meeting on Aug. 26, while Talmo and Pendergrass will meet Aug. 27.
Following the Labor Day holiday, the Quad Cities Planning Commission should be operating on Sept. 3, Mitsdarffer said.
In the meantime, Mitsdarffer advised Talmo officials to begin considering who they will appoint to the new planning commission.
Each city will have a set number of representatives, based on population percentage. Like the BOC, the planners will serve staggered terms.
Jefferson will receive three members for one, two and three-year terms; Arcade is set for two members for one and three-year terms; Pendergrass is slated for one member for a two-year term and Talmo will receive one member for a three-year term.
Officials in all cities have also been revising their ordinances and zoning maps with the Regional Development Center (RDC), Mitsdarffer said.
Talmo’s called council meeting was one such discussion to revise the zoning map before it heads back to the RDC. The Talmo City Council will vote on a finalized map in August.
Although Hoschton officials at one time discussed joining the municipal planning commission, the city has not presented any further interest, Mitsdarffer said.
The Quad Cities Planning Commission will be staffed by members from the Jefferson Planning and Development Office.


Hoschton hires consultant for large project
In a called meeting, the Hoschton City Council unanimously agreed on Thursday to hire a planning consultant for a proposed large-scale commercial development on Hwy. 53 and Hwy. 332.
Don McFarland, a former planner for Gwinnett County, was hired by the city to handle John Purcell’s request to rezone 43 acres for a commercial project.
Purcell plans to include a major grocery store, chain restaurants, professional office space and retail store on the site.
The Jackson County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend Purcell’s request, but the Hoschton City Council later tabled it when officials said they needed more time to review the request.
McFarland will advise the city on Purcell’s project, but he could be used in other future projects, city council member Paul Turman said.
For his service, Hoschton will pay McFarland no more than $2,000.
“Eventually, we’ll have to have someone like this all the time,” mayor Billy Holder said.
In a related matter, the city council members discussed eventually passing an architectural design control ordinance, similar to Braselton’s ordinance.
No vote was taken on the matter.

OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Hoschton City Council:
• agreed to forward a building inspector contract proposal to city attorney Thomas Mitchell for his review. He will present his comments at the Aug. 1 work session.
• agreed to set the police chief salary at $40,000 per year.
• heard from council member Ben Davis about the reached agreement with Jackson County cities and county over local option sales tax (LOST) funds . No vote was taken on the matter.


Students return to school Aug. 1
Teachers report back Mon. Jackson County and Jefferson students and teachers have only a few more days of their summer break.
Teachers will return to the classroom on Monday, while the first day for students will be on Thursday, Aug. 1
Jackson County schools are expecting 5,690 students this year, compared to 5,520 last year. Jefferson City schools are expecting 1,595 students this year, compared to 1,500 last year.
New policies and programs, renovated facilities and new faces in the faculty are among the changes students will find this year.


Recommendation: Let Existing
Commercial Trucks Park In
Commerce Residential Areas
When government decides to intervene in your business, it pays to speak up.
So learned two truck drivers who attended the Commerce Planning Commission's Monday night meeting. Among the topics on the commission's agenda was the regulating of the parking of commercial trucks in residential neighborhoods.
While the Commerce City Council will have the final say on the proposed amendment to the city's zoning ordinance when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, at the Commerce Civic Center, long-time big rig drivers James Pittman and Ken Jackson got most everything they wanted from the planning commission.
Meeting 20 minutes late and at City Hall instead of at the Commerce Civic Center (city clerk Shirley Willis was ill and no one had a key to the civic center), the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the council move to curb the overnight parking of commercial trucks in residential areas.
Essentially, the planning commission approved what city manager Clarence Bryant and city attorney John Stell had proposed – with one change.
The Bryant-Stell amendment required that all commercial truck drivers who park vehicles in residential areas get a permit by Oct. 1, after which no further permits will be issued. It further proposed that such trucks had to be parked at the owner's residence on a paved driveway located behind the front building line of the residence.
The planning commission will recommend all of that except the requirement for parking behind the front building line and the requirement of a paved driveway.
That's where Jackson's attendance paid off. Asked if those provisions would create a problem, he replied.
"It's going to be a problem."
Commission members Greg Perry, Billy Vandiver and Ronnie Seabolt appeared to sympathize with Jackson and Pittman, who have been driving big trucks for nine and 17 years respectively. While Pittman has a convenient place to park his truck, Jackson must park his in his front yard on Hill Street because of the small lot size.
"What would be an alternative for me to do?" he asked. "I've got a lot of money tied up, close to $100,000. I don't feel comfortable leaving something I pay $2,000 a month for at a truck stop."
"I don't see it as our job to put you at a disadvantage," Perry responded, making the motion to delete the behind-the-house parking and the requirement for a paved area.
Seabolt seconded the motion.
In other action, the council agreed to recommend approval of Maysville Road businessman James Bailey's request for rezoning of two small lots from M-1 to C-2. Bailey plans to do away with the towing business and build mini warehouses.
The recommendation carries the stipulation that Bailey will provide a planted screen in the front and on the Commerce side of the business.
The final action was a recommendation from the planning commission that the city council rezone three lots for Reagan Reed from C-1 to R-4 so he can build site-built houses.
One of the lots is on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and two are on Pine Street.
Reed's request had been for R-5 zoning, which would have allowed mobile homes, but his attorney, Chris Elrod, said Reed planned to build and sell small houses.
A condition of the recommendation is that Reed get the two Pine Street lots reconfigured to meet the 11,000 square foot minimum lot size requirement.




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MACI plant in Michigan has expanded twice
Company has been involved in community. In the 13 years since Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. (MACI) located in Jackson County, Michigan, the company has expanded two times, bringing the total number of employees to 700.
The company has also been involved in the community through providing student scholarships, sponsoring student art shows and donating funds for a pavilion in the county.
MACI officials announced plans last week to locate a second plant in Georgia. It will be located on Valentine Farms in North Jackson.
MACI was founded in Michigan in 1989 as a $140 million development with 400 employees. In 1998, the company began a $52 million expansion, and in 2000, the company began a $48 million expansion. The company now has 700 employees and a 754,000 square foot facility.
Tom Nichols, executive director of the Jackson Area Manufacturer’s Association in Michigan, was quoted in the local paper at the time of the second expansion as saying the company has been an asset to the community.
“We think MACI as an organization has just been first class,” he said. “They are a really good corporate citizen, assisting the community and giving back and maintaining a very clean and orderly operation.”
As for the new plant in North Jackson, grading and site preparation are expected to begin this fall. Construction will follow in 2003. The facility is expected to be complete in June 2004.
The company plans to initially hire 120 people with salaries being in the $60,000 per year range. It will be well over a year before the company begins hiring, but it will likely be handled by the Georgia Department of Labor.
Those people who are interested in working for the company should get their resumes together and register with the Georgia Department of Labor offices in both Athens and Gainesville, according to Pepe Cummings, Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce president/CEO.
“Most of the better companies use the department of labor to pre-screen new employees,” he said.
He added that there may also be training through the Georgia Quick Start program. Details on whether there will be pre-employment training or people will be hired and then trained on the job haven’t been determined.