News from Jackson County...

AUGUST 14, 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

Rochelle Beckstein
Waste not, want not
Paper towels. Paper napkins. Toilet paper. Paper plates. Plastic spoons and forks. Sandwich baggies. Ziploc bags.

Phillip Sartain
Found and lost
Last week I found a wad of money in my pants pocket while dressing for work. It was such an unexpected pleasure that I did a little celebration jig in the bedroom. But that was before I took the time to stop and think about my good fortune.

Frank Gillespiie
Remembering
My Uncle Ben
We all come into this world surrounded by voices. Those voices, whether they are from relatives, teachers, ministers or family friends, play a major role in determining the path our lives will take.

Zach Mitcham
So long to the Braves
No, this is not another rant about a possible strike, though I’m still pretty ticked off thinking about it.


SPORTS

Tigers, Spartans To Pop Pads In Thurs. Scrimmage
Preseason scrimmages are essentially high school football’s version of NFL exhibition games.
They give coaches the chance to finally see their team practice against someone else for a change.

Panthers set to host White County on Friday night
After three solid weeks of clashing against teammates this preseason, the Jackson County Panthers will get an opportunity to find out how far they’ve come and how much they need to improve, as White County comes calling for a scrimmage game Friday night at Panther Field.

Navas looking for improvement following scrimmage
After traveling to Greene County Friday for their first scrimmage of the preseason, Jefferson High School has much to work on before the start of the upcoming season, according to their coach Bill Navas.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
BOE post up for grabs
Madison County District 1 voters will choose Tuesday between school board incumbent Robert Haggard and challenger Greg Bleakley.

Rec leaders, BOC discuss Perpall’s recent reprimand
The recent BOC reprimand of recreation director Dick Perpall was again a source of contention Thursday night, as commissioners met with recreation board and Little League board members.

County sued over denial of Hwy. 72 rezoning
A zoning conflict regarding a proposed Hwy. 72 subdivision is headed to court.

County, cities ponder LOST distribution
County and city government officials have 60 days to come up with a plan on how to distribute Madison County’s share of state Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds, or risk losing the money.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
IDA wants meeting with officials on growth
The Banks County Industrial Development Authority wants to make sure all county officials agree on how to best handle impending growth.

Baldwin homestead exemption set for vote
Baldwin residents will go to the polls to vote on receiving a homestead exemption in the August 20 election.

County’s water treatment plant receives ‘Plant of The Year’ award
The Georgia Water and Pollution Control Association has recognized the Banks County water system/Mountain Creek water treatment plant with the association’s 2001-2002 award for operating efficiency and excellent service.

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HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE

Bordus and Grace Steward’s home on Jackson Trail Road was destroyed in a fire Thursday. No one was hurt, but the couple was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. The Jackson Trail, Jefferson, Arcade and Jackson County Correctional Institute Fire Departments responded to the blaze. Fire officials say the cause of the fire was electrical.

Primary election on tap Tues.
District 3 BOC seat, two county BOE posts to be filled in voting
Jackson County voters living in the northern and western ends of the county will be the only ones to decide local races in the Aug. 20 election.
The District 3 seat on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, which covers Pendergrass, Talmo, Braselton and Hoschton, will be on the ballot, along with two county board of education races.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Tuesday’s election.
In the District 3 BOC race, incumbent Emil Beshara and Jerry Presley, both Republicans, will face off. No Democrats qualified.
In the District 5 Jackson County Board of Education race, incumbent Jill McEver Elliott and Sammy Qualls both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified. This district covers the northern end of the county.
In the District 2 BOE seat, incumbent Tim Brooks and Alvin Marlow both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified. This district covers the Maysville area.
One of the House district seats serving Jackson County will also be decided in the Aug. 20 election. In District 24, Joe Hutchins, Winder, and Warren Massey, Winder, both qualified as Republicans. No Democrats qualified.
In District 25, incumbent Pat Bell, Jefferson, a Democrat will face challenger Chris Elrod, Jefferson, a Republican, in the Nov. 5 General Election.
Three Senate districts are in Jackson County, including District 46, District 47 and District 49. These races will also be decided in the Nov. 5 election.
In District 46, Doug Haines, Athens, a Democrat, is pitted against Brian Kemp, Athens, a Republican.
In District 47, Robert Banks, Canon, a Democrat, will face Ralph Hudgens, Comer, a Republican.
In District 49, Sueellen Simmons, Jefferson, a Democrat, will be on the ballot with L.S. Casey Cagle, Gainesville, a Republican.


More commercial development planned near Chateau Elan
Two proposals scheduled to be heard by the Braselton Planning Commission on Aug. 19 could bring more than 380,000 square-feet of commercial development and 185 homes to the Chateau Elan area.
Nearly touching each corner of Braselton’s town limits in Barrow, Hall, Gwinnett and Jackson counties, the requests propose more development to a stretch of Highway 211.
Mulberry River Associates wants to rezone and annex more than 61 acres on Hwy. 211 and New Liberty Church Road in Barrow County from agricultural to Planned Unit Development (PUD).
On Hwy. 211, the applicant is proposing an 87,000-square foot grocery store with six retail out-parceled buildings.
The planned grocery store would mark the second one to serve Chateau Elan. Publix Supermarket is currently under construction on Hwy. 211.
Cutting through the commercial element is a roadway that would serve a proposed 185 homes.
According to the proposal, the homes would average 1,400-square-feet on 39.04 acres. The neighborhood would touch the Mulberry River, which borders Jackson County.
Last month, Mulberry River Associates submitted a letter to the town council concerning Braselton’s future land use plan that calls for the 61-acre property to be zoned medium-density residential in the future.
The letter stated the company’s “extreme protest” of the future land use plan.
Grover Swilley, who signed the letter, stated some of Chateau Elan’s homeowners supported the property being part of the corporate campus of the community.
The second request is by Gilleland-Merritt of Gainesville for 245,000 square-feet of commercial development on Hwy. 211 and Thompson Mill Road in Gwinnett County.
In October 2000, the Braselton Town Council rezoned the property for Concordia Residential for a PUD. The new request seeks rezoning to C-2.
The proposed shopping center would contain 245,000 square-feet of retail space with approximately 145,000 square-feet for the center itself and 80,000 square-feet of out-parcels, the request states. The request does not state what will be located in the buildings.
A portion of the development’s property will run along the realigned Friendship Road, which borders Hall County.
The Braselton Planning Commission will hear the requests on Monday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m.


Beshara, Presley square off in Hoschton
Candidates in one of the most closely-watched local political races met in a political forum for the first — and last — time Tuesday night in Hoschton.
Incumbent District 3 county commissioner Emil Beshara and challenger Jerry Presley squared off for about one hour at the forum, which was sponsored by the Hoschton Women’s Civic Club. Both men are running on the Republican ticket and there is no Democratic candidate to face in November. The winner in next Tuesday’s primary will take office in January.
The candidates fielded nine questions from an audience of about 50 people, touching on a variety of subjects.
For his part, Beshara charged that Presley “has yet to take a stand on any issue.”
“My positions are an open book to any who seek to know them,” Beshara said.
Presley defended having accepted a $500 campaign donation from a firm connected with efforts to locate a landfill in North Jackson.
“I don’t really consider it a lot of money when you get into politics,” he said. “Campaigns are very expensive. I accepted it because I needed it for the campaign... I don’t support anybody’s special interest. I’m here to represent the citizens of this district. If the citizens of my district don’t want a landfill, I’m not going to support a landfill.”
The two candidates also answered a question related to their ownership of property. Although Presley acknowledged that he does not own property in Jackson County, he said he does pay local taxes.
“I don’t pay them directly because I don’t own property,” he said. “It is a personal financial choice I made... I chose to lease the property that I have... Every time I make a payment, I’m paying (the landlord) to pay taxes on that property.”
Presley said his lack of property ownership does not disqualify him to be a county commissioner.
While Beshara acknowledged that he doesn’t believe a candidate has to own property to seek office, he did say it was “an important issue for voters to consider.”
“Would you want a commissioner who could tell you what taxes you have to pay.... when he doesn’t own property?”
COURTHOUSE PROPERTY
Another question dealt with the recent purchase of acreage east of Jefferson for a new county courthouse complex. While Beshara said he voted against the initial purchase of 156 acres, he did support last week’s purchase of an additional seven acres at the site.
“The main reason is the seven acre tract is long and narrow and stuck out in the middle of the property,” said Beshara.
But Presley was critical of that action.
“I very seriously doubt that adding another seven acres to the 157 acres is necessary to make the project complete,” said Presley. “If the property was so undesirable without this additional seven acres, then why did we purchase it to begin with?”
When asked about recent “negative” advertising in the campaign, Beshara said Presley began the negative tone of the race.
“I didn’t start this, Mr. Presley did,” he said after questioning some of Presley’s allegations.


BOE Wants New CMS Finished By Jan. 1, 2004
School bells should ring at the new Commerce Middle School by January 2004, according to Commerce city schools superintendent Larry White.
White announced at Monday night's board of education meeting that he'd reviewed the final blueprints for the 75,964-square-foot structure with school board architect Greg Smith and sent the plans on to the state for the final stamp of approval.
The school system will have 30 days to bid the project out in September before awarding the contract at its Oct. 10 work session. Groundbreaking is Oct. 15.
The goal of a Jan. 1, 2004, completion date will leave 14 months to complete the project, a time table which White said is feasible.
"That's do-able," the superintendent said in a Friday interview, explaining that Smith has designed larger schools in Forsyth County that were completed in 12 months.
The only snag in the project that could come before construction is if a high volume of rock is found at the building site, posing major problems for the grading process. Since "a lot of earth" has to be moved to attain the right elevation, according to White, the construction site would have to be shifted, meaning that blueprints would have to be redrawn to fit the new location.
Though it would delay the process, White pointed out that the board has plenty of property to accommodate a site move.
A site change would, however, wipe out plans of possibly constructing a future school adjacent to the new middle school.
The school system now has a surveying crew at the site drilling for rock. White said the school board should know the results of the survey by this week.
As far as the price tag for the new school is concerned, White said bidding out certain projects rather than including them in the construction process — such as installation of bleachers in the gym – could save 15 to 22 percent off the total cost.
2 MOBILE CLASSROOMS
Slight overcrowding at Commerce Elementary will add two trailers to its campus.
The BOE approved the 24-month lease of two mobile classrooms Monday night at $185 a month a piece.
According to White, the special education program needed an extra room due to space problems while an additional kindergarten class had to be created at the last minute to keep class sizes below the new state mandated 22 student-per-teacher (with a para-professional) limit .
White said the fire marshal was to inspect the buildings Tuesday, making the classrooms available for students today (Wednesday).
In other business conducted Monday night, the school board:
•voted to upgrade the school food service salary schedules to be similar to that of custodians and maintenance workers.
•renewed the $56,744 school nurse program contract with BJC Medical Center for this school year. The program will be funded with $45,026 from a state allotment and $11,718 from federal money. This year's contract will allow for two nurses.
•adopted the student computer use policy.
•adopted a revised make-up work policy, prohibiting those serving suspensions of more than 10 days from making up missed assignments.
•accepted the job transfer of Gina Denton from middle school and high school library paraprofessional to in-school suspension paraprofessional at the middle school; accepted the resignations of elementary school kindergarten paraprofessional Martha Ann Fleeman and school system maintenance worker Waymon Gholston; approved the hiring of Cheryl Chambers as a paraprofessional at the middle school and high school and Angie Franks as a kindergarten paraprofessional.


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Studdard named Jefferson recreation dept. director
Jeffrey Studdard has been hired as the recreation director for the City of Jefferson.
City manager David Clabo made the announcement at the city council meeting Monday night. He said Studdard lives in Barrow County, but plans to move to Jefferson after he sells his home there. He will begin work full-time with the city on Sept. 3.
Studdard has worked as athletic coordinator for Alpharetta for several years.
In other personnel news, Clabo said that he is interviewing for the building inspector position. He expects to fill the position this week.
In other business, the council:
•agreed to proceed with acquiring an engineer design for extending the sewage line on Jett Roberts Road to Hwy. 82.
•approved an annexation request from Shirley Pethel for one acre on Old Swimming Pool Road. It will be zoned AG.
•rescheduled the September work session for Thursday, Sept. 5, due to the Labor Day holiday.


Jefferson expects 8% millage hike for schools
A projected millage rate increase of one additional mill will likely be necessary to meet the 2002-2003 budget for the Jefferson City School System, officials said this week. That would be an eight percent increase over last year’s rate of 11.89 mills.
The increase is based on a preliminary city digest and would bring the millage rate for the school system up to approximately 12.89 mills
“An increase of 1 mill or slightly more than that, based on the preliminary digest, would be a real solid estimate,” remarked Jackson.
Jackson added that although he had not physically seen a copy of the digest, Jefferson City Board of Education chairman Ronnie Hopkins had viewed a preliminary digest. Jackson then indicated that his millage increase estimate was based on that digest.
The system expected to take in $2.8 million from local taxes in its $9.74 million budget. The budget was given final approval by the Jefferson Board of Education Thursday.
The addition of a new middle school and several other cost increases led to the increase.
Also Thursday, the school board released numbers showing another type of increase, this time in the area of enrollment.
According to the BOE, approximately 48 more students system-wide are attending school since the first week of school began August 1. However, that increase is a figure that is fairly common according to educators.
The first day of school coming in the middle of the week this year, a Thursday, may have attributed to the jump in numbers in the span of seven short days. Some students may have remained away on vacation, waiting until Monday to begin attending school. “For some the temptation to stay away is just too great,” school superintendent John Jackson said.
The largest increase was seen at the younger level, as Jefferson Elementary School saw its enrollment jump 20 students in the span of a week.
“We’re feeling the increase pretty significantly,” noted JES principal Patsy Lentz.
The school’s 837 total students topped the list of Jefferson City Schools, followed by Jefferson High School’s 357, up 18 students, while the newly-opened Jefferson Middle School saw 350 students pass through its doors in the first week.
JHS principal Kevin Smith pointed out that although the numbers went up since the beginning of this year, enrollment at the high school is actually down approximately 15-18 students from last year.
“We obviously want to hold on to our students and get as many as we can,” he said.
Several changes have occurred in the system this year, most notably the institution of a dress code and stricter tardy policies, however Smith noted that overall the opening week of school went over well at JHS. “We had a very smooth opening considering the changes,” he said. “The dress code is being emphasized and I’ve been very pleased with it up to this point.”