News from Madison County...

AUGUST 14, 2002


Madison County
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OPINIONS

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

Directions to Area Schools

Moving on up
Bigger teams, yes. Reason for panic? No.
After building themselves into a Class AAA state fast-pitch powerhouse in just four seasons, the Madison County softball program will make the leap to AAAA this year. But competing against larger schools won’t make them forget what it takes to win according to their coach.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

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.

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.

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.


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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First day of school

Madison County High School teacher Lee Moon drops off her son, Tyler, at Hull-Sanford Elementary School last week for his first day of kindergarten. Friday was the first day of school for Madison County students.

BOE post up for grabs
Madison County District 1 voters will choose Tuesday between school board incumbent Robert Haggard and challenger Greg Bleakley.
The non-partisan school board race is the only contested election for a county office this year. (See Page 3A for an interview with both candidates.)
Arlen Johnson Jr. is running unopposed for the BOE district 2 seat and Harry Rice is unopposed as the incumbent magistrate judge.
Due to redistricting, Madison County will now be a part of three house districts — 23, 76 and 78 — and two senate districts — 47 and 49 — in the Georgia General Assembly.
Only one of these seats will include a contested primary Tuesday — the race for the Democratic candidate in House district 78 between incumbent farmer Tom McCall and retired educator Barbara Giles McLendon.
In November, incumbent Democrat Alan Powell will face Republican Arch Adams for the House District 23 seat. Republican Joe Harris will face McLendon or McCall in the House District 78 race. Republican Ralph Hudgens of Madison County will run against Democrat Robert Banks of Canon in the Senate District 47 election and Sueellen Simmons, a Democrat from Jefferson, will face Republican incumbent L.S. Casey Cagle of Gainesville for the District 49 seat.
Bob Smith is running unopposed for the House District 76 post.


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.
Perpall was issued a reprimand by the commissioners several weeks ago. They maintained that the recreation director has failed to make recreation facilities readily available to the public.
On Thursday, District 5 commissioner Bruce Scogin apologized to the recreation department for his vote to reprimand Perpall.
“We had no right to discuss Perpall or to reprimand him without him here,” Scogin said.
Scogin explained his vote by saying that by voting against the other commissioners would be the same as calling them liars. He continued that his comment, “maybe we ought to fire them all,” was sarcastic, and not intended to be taken seriously.
“I stand ready to admit I made a mistake,” he said.
Recreation board members asked each commissioner to explain their reasons for the reprimand.
“People want to know and need to know,” said Bill Chandler, newest member of the recreation board.
Among the reasons given by commissioners were Perpall’s failure to keep ballfields open, having bathrooms locked when fields were being used, and in general, not properly operating the department in a way that accommodated the needs of the community.
Commissioner Bill Taylor said that public complaints were the main factor that led to his vote.
“Every time I go over there, someone always has complaints,” he said.
Responding to a statement that he was Frank Strickland’s “patsy,” Taylor said empathically, “I am nobody’s patsy.”
Taylor continued, “All I am asking Dick (Perpall) to do is change his attitude and work with the citizens.”
Other complaints brought out are that recreation maintenance head Grady (Autry) is doing Perpall’s job, and that the recreation staff operates on “a 9 to 5 schedule.”
Perpall responded to the bathroom complaints by pointing out that the various groups have keys to the bathrooms. He said that his staff is on-call at all times to assist groups with problems, including unlocking bathrooms when the key keeper does not show up.
On the other side, commissioner Mike Youngblood was accused of trying to “micro-manage” the recreation department. Youngblood denied being a micro-manager but said, “We spend over $500,000 each year on that department. You had better believe I am going to look it over.”
Chandler questioned the answers given by the commission.
He said that their answers do not reflect the “venomous attacks” he heard on an auto tape of the meeting in which the reprimand was issued.
Little League coach Frank Strickland, who has been accused of being the chief trouble maker in the recreation dispute, told the group that, “I get credited for lots of stuff.”
He said that little league board members have been complaining for the past seven years.
“This year, I am the vocal one,” he said. Strickland thanked the commission for their vote to reprimand Perpall
He then took credit for several things.
“I take credit for the all-stars getting three days of practice,” he said. In addition he said, “I take credit for the start of fall ball....I won’t apologize for anything I have done,” Strickland said.
He commented that, “the ball fields look great and that is nice. But a place to play is more important.”
Strickland closed by announcing that he has resigned from the Little League board. He had demanded that the board members who criticized him before the recreation board be removed. His motion was defeated 11-7, so he resigned.
Board of commission members had no comment about a request that the letter of reprimand be removed. Any such action will have to be taken during a scheduled meeting of the board.
The recreation board was told that they need to draw up a better set of guidelines for use and maintenance of recreation department facilities. Without clear guidelines, these kinds of disputes are likely to continue.


County sued over denial of Hwy. 72 rezoning
A zoning conflict regarding a proposed Hwy. 72 subdivision is headed to court.
Harold F. Gaulding, Stephen S. Fennell and Charles Sonny Dinsmore filed suit against the county commissioners Friday, claiming the board turned down their request for two rezonings without just cause.
The developers wanted to rezone two parcels of land totaling approximately 104.5 acres at Hwy. 72 and Hwy. 172 to an R-1 (residential classification). They are planning a 72-home subdivision.
But commissioners voted 3-2 and 4-1 against the requests on July 22, with only board member Bruce Scogin supporting both rezoning applications.
Attorney Victor Johnson, who represents the developers, wrote in his complaint, filed in Madison County Superior Court, that the commissioners “did not state a reason for the denials” and that the BOC action constitutes an “abuse of discretion which unreasonably restricts the development” of the property.
“Thus, the present zoning classification of each subject property is an unconstitutional taking of Plaintiffs’ property without just compensation,” wrote Johnson.
The attorney asked that a judge, not a jury, hear the case. He asked that the court “require the defendants to act in a reasonable time in rezoning the properties to R-1.”
Those who spoke recently in favor of the proposal said the development would help younger couples searching for “starter homes” in the county and that more people in the county would help local businesses.
Those speaking against the plans said the development would hurt the rural integrity of the county.
The county commissioners met in closed session for about 30 minutes Monday night to discuss the case. They took no action after the private session and leaders had no comment about the case.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.


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.
That’s what board of commission chair Wesley Nash told the county’s six mayors, several council members and the board of commissioners at their first joint meeting Tuesday evening to discuss new LOST distribution.
To that end, the BOC and mayors agreed to meet every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the county complex until an agreement on the distribution of LOST money is reached.
Counties must decide how they will distribute the state funds every ten years, using the newest census to guide them.
To get started, Nash proposed that the county use population figures in towns and in the county as a starting point for deciding on how the funds will be given out, and then factor in other criteria such as the services each town provides.
To aid in the process Nash handed out a 32 page packet for mayors and their councils to review that contains specific criteria about LOST funding.
“I want to work out the fairest distribution to accommodate everybody and I want input from the mayors as to what you want to see,” Nash said. “To do that, I think we first need to come up with a baseline formula and then work from there.”
But after passing out a chart to show current distribution percentages, Nash said he could find no such formula with LOST figures currently in use.
As it stands now, 74 percent of LOST funds are used by the county each year, while 26 percent is divided unevenly among the six incorporated towns: Carlton receives 2.5 percent; Colbert, 5.5 percent; Comer, 8 percent; Danielsville, 6 percent; Hull, 1.5 percent and Ila, 2.5 percent.
Nash said he was puzzled by the “huge discrepancy in the per capita benefits” to residents living in towns. The annual per capita amounts of LOST funds distributed to cities ranged from $239.09 per resident annually (Danielsville) to $156.82 (Ila). In contrast, only $42.96 per resident was distributed for services for those in unincorporated areas of the county.
And while some towns, such as Danielsville and Ila, increased slightly in population, their percentage of overall population in the county decreased, because unincorporated areas grew at a much faster rate — 89.44 percent of the county’s residents now live outside city limits.
But although only 2,718 of the county’s 25,730 or so residents live inside the county’s six towns, mayors maintain that it is the cities that generate most of the revenue that goes into LOST funding.
Colbert mayor John Waggoner said the cities were hoping for a six percent overall increase in the cities’ share of LOST, not a decrease, to help fund their annual budgets.
Hull mayor B.W. Hutchins told commissioners he is most concerned about future growth as he expects to see “considerable growth” in his town over the next few years as the county’s water system gets up and running along Hwy. 72.
“Hull will explode with the water system...I have 42 duplexes waiting for water at around three people per family now - the increase is going on now - that’s why we need more money for Hull,” Hutchins emphasized. He added that Hull is likely to annex neighboring properties as well.
Currently, most of Hull’s yearly budget is derived from LOST funds.
“I see the percentage of the cities’ budgets paid by LOST each year - we will find a way to distribute these funds fairly,” Nash said.
In the meantime, Nash said he would continue to research LOST fund distribution in other counties in the area.