News from Banks County...

AUGUST 21, 2002

Banks County


Banks County

Banks County

among all
Georgia weekly newspapers
by the Georgia Press Association

June 29, 2001

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Shar Porier
Mission accomplished
The tiny face was barely visible over the Lennox Lewis-sized neck brace. Purple, blue and pink bruises surrounded both of her eyes. She looked as if she had been brutally beaten.

Angela Gary
‘Crash position’
A description of the “crash position.” Details on the “rendezvous point” where we were all to meet outside the helicopter if it crashed.


Directions to Area Schools

Lady Leopards open with tough softball losses
With one area opponent behind them and another coming up, the Lady Leopards (0-3, 0-1) are working hard to improve their game.
“All three teams we play this week are all experienced fast-pitch programs,” head coach Kevin Gaines said. “If we can work on the little things, then the bigger things will follow.”

Neighboorhood News ..
Beshara fends off challenger, 736-596
Incumbent Emil Beshara took 55 percent of the vote Tuesday to get re-elected to a second term as the District 3 representative on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

NWA vs. JCWSA suit heard in court Mon.
For two-and-a-half hours Monday afternoon, attorneys waged a war of linguistics for the right to provide water service to a 32-square-mile area in Nicholson.

Digest growth could pull $1 million more to county
Even if the Jackson County government doesn’t raise the countywide millage rate this fall, it will still take in an additional $1.1 million over last year.

Neighboorhood News ..
Haggard re-elected to BOE seat
Robert M. Haggard has retained his District 1 seat on the Madison County Board of Education by defeating challenger Greg Bleakley 329 votes to 150.

BOE considers admissions revision
The local school board is considering revising its out-of-county admission policy to allow the siblings of currently enrolled out-of-county students to attend county schools.

Planners say ‘no’ to James Holcomb Road subdivision
The county planning commission nixed plans for a proposed six-lot subdivision on James Holcomb Road at Tuesday night’s public hearings of the planning and zoning commission.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Louise Sheridan cut the ribbon during a ceremony at the county’s new Hickory Flat fire station. Sheridan’s husband was one of the founders of the original fire department in the area. Pictured with her are: commissioner Pat Westmoreland, George Turk, Betty Turk, Sheridan, Rep. Jeannette Jamieson, commissioner Ernest Rogers and BOC chairman Kenneth Brady.

Rogers, Ramsey get by
Ernest Rogers and Ben Ramsey have both made it past the first round in their bid for county government seats.
Rogers, the incumbent, narrowly defeated his commissioner post 2 Democratic opponent Sarah Yarber Cross 514-448.
Rogers took 53 percent of the vote.
“I got past one hurdle and I’ve got one more to do,” Rogers said. “I thank all my supporters. I ask all the people to help me and support me again.”
Rogers will face Republican candidate Rickey Cain in the general election in November.
In the board of education post 3 race, Ramsey took 64 percent of the vote to defeat his opponent Willene Parson Boyle 588-333.
Ramsey will face Democrat Rob Boswell for the post 3 seat in November.
A total of 2,071 ballots were cast in the primaries Tuesday, about 33 percent of Banks County’s 6,338 registered voters.

Election Results
BOC Post 2 - Dem.
Ernest Rogers 514
Sarah Yarber Cross 448
BOC Post 2 - Rep.
Rickey Cain 767
BOC Post 3 - Dem.
Pat Westmoreland 702
BOE Post 3 - Rep.
Ben Ramsey 588
Willene Parson Boyle 333
BOE Post 3 - Dem.
Rob Boswell 768
BOE Post 5 - Dem.
Herbert Bo Garrison Jr. 668

Pub. Service Comm. - Dem.
Lauren McDonald Jr. 588
Mac Barber 308
Governor - Rep.
Sonny Perdue 499
Linda Schrenko 307
Bill Byrne 174
Lt. Governor - Rep.
Mike Beatty 807
Steve Stancil 143
Al Bartell 36
U.S. Rep. Dist. 9 - Rep.
Charlie Norwood 746
Lee Dickerson 208

County’s Baldwin city residents to get tax refund
Banks County residents of Baldwin will soon be receiving a letter from the city concerning the refund due them of property taxes paid from 1999 through 2002.
Though the city has not been officially notified by the court, they want to be prepared for the inevitable.
At the work session last week, city attorney David Syfan presented the council with the letter that explained the court ruling and offered residents the option to request a refund or not.
The letter said: “…recently, the Georgia Supreme Court found the Local Option Sales Tax proceeds from Banks County received by the city of Baldwin should first be used to reduce the ad valorem taxes of the Banks in Baldwin taxpayers…In light of this determination by the Georgia Supreme Court, the City of Baldwin has been attempting to determine the best way to provide a tax refund to the Banks in Baldwin taxpayers.”
Council members deleted some of the more legal terms in the letter, saying they wanted to keep it simple and easy to understand.
Council members Ray Holcomb, Robert Bohannon and Jeff Bohannon, all Banks County residents, said they would not be requesting a refund from the city. They also said other Banks County residents had indicated they would not be seeking refunds.
Harriet Wells, one of the residents included in the suit against the city’s collection of property taxes, said she would not be asking for her tax refund. She said she wanted her refund to go to fire chief Joe Roy so he could attend the New York City Firefighter Memorial.
At Monday’s council meeting, the updated letter was submitted by Syfan for the council’s approval.
During the discussion, resident Linda Caudell questioned the need for giving residents the option of requesting a refund or not.
“The ruling said you shouldn’t have collected the taxes, so how can you not refund all the money,” she asked.
Syfan explained the suit involved only 29 people. By law, the city was actually only responsible to refund money to those 29 people. It was up to the resident to file for a refund according to Georgia law.
He said the city was making every effort to be fair and offer refunds to all who had paid whether they had asked for the refund or not.
After a bit more discussion, the letter was approved.
Banks County residents will be required to file a form included with the letter stating the amount of tax they paid and in what years.
Once the council has all the forms returned and once the superior court adopts the Supreme Court’s ruling, refunds will begin to be paid. If all request a refund, it would cost the city over $87,000.

Fire officials dedicate new stations
Some of the county’s top leaders turned out Saturday for the dedication of the fire department’s two new stations.
All three commissioners made an appearance. State Representative Jeanette Jamieson gave a brief speech. And the fire department’s brass were on hand for the ceremony.
“When I first became a firefighter in 1989 or 1990, I wish I had a picture of what we have here today,” said battalion chief Andy Kitchens. “I’d look at that picture and say, ‘There’s no way.’ Thanks to people with a little bit of foresight, it’s a possibility today.”
The county recently completed the new Hickory Flat and Carson Segars fire stations. Saturday, the Hickory Flat station hosted a ribbon cutting and brief ceremony.
County fire chief Perry Dalton thanked the fire department’s supporters, especially Rep. Jamieson who helped secure $25,000 in funding for the two new stations.
“This is just a small part of what she has done for Banks County and the Banks County Fire Department over the years,” Dalton said.
Jamieson told the crowd of mostly fireman and their families that she was thankful for public service volunteers.
“Volunteers make it possible to have county-wide fire protection,” she said. “There’s not a county in this state that can afford to pay for what they get from public safety volunteers.”
Dalton said the new Hickory Flat station would be dedicated in memory of the founding members of the original Mt. Caramel station, which was replaced by the new facility. The Carson Segars station was dedicated to the Turk family, which donated land for the building.
Both new stations have a plaque posted outside announcing the dedication.

Lula councilman questions mayor’s veto procedures
The legality of Lula mayor Milton Turner’s recent veto of a no-smoking ordinance has come under scrutiny.
At Monday’s council meeting, councilmember Mordecai Wilson questioned the procedures Turner used to veto an ordinance prohibiting smoking inside the city hall.
“All procedures in your veto power were not done right,” Wilson said.
The tobacco ordinance was approved by the city council several months ago.
According to the city’s charter, to veto an ordinance, the mayor must submit his veto within 10 days of the council’s passage of the ordinance. In addition, the charter mandates that the mayor submit his reasons for the veto.
City attorney Brad Patton said he could not definitively interpret whether or not the veto reasons had to be submitted within the 10-day window.
After the adoption of the tobacco ordinance, Turner did submit his veto within the 10-day window. However, Wilson took issue with the fact that Turner did not submit his reasons for the veto, an oversight that Wilson contends makes the veto invalid.
“He has the right to veto and I defend that,” Wilson said. “I want to make sure it is done right so it doesn’t come back to bite us.”
Turner agreed that he had failed to submit his veto reasons, saying he was unaware that he had to do so.
Patton said he would research the city’s charter and case law and submit a legal opinion on whether the veto stands.
The council had the right to call for a vote to override the veto during the meeting Monday. The council chose not to vote.
In other business, the council:
•accepted comments from citizens on the recent increase for water and trash service. One citizen asked why garbage service was mandatory for water customers and Turner responded that not forcing everyone on a given street to take the service created problems for the garbage collectors in identifying paying customers. The council voted to keep the enacted rate increases.
•learned that the repaving of Victoria Lane is within two or three weeks of starting.
•tabled Bobby Moore’s appearance before the council about a street issue. For personal reasons, Moore could not be at the meeting Monday.
•heard a request from Mare Barbee to negotiate with Hall County to allow the county marshal to enforce laws in Lula. Turner commented that such an intergovernmental agreement would force the town to relinquish control to the county and adopt the county’s ordinances.
•heard from Barbee who informed the council and citizens that they could call 911 to report illegal burns.
•approved an intergovernmental agreement with Hall County for emergency services.
•agreed to purchase a pole chain saw for less than $500 to trim branches in the city.
•accepted a $40,222 bid from Apac to do work on the Second Street railroad crossing. Turner said he had secured $35,000 from the railroad for the project. The council agreed to pay the remaining $5,222 out of sales tax funds.
•held the first reading on a proposed 167-acre annexation for the Mountain View subdivision.
•held the first reading on a proposed eight-acre annexation of Mary Roper’s property. The council agreed to waive annexation fees on the property since the land was being annexed to clear up errors in property records.
•tabled work on roads in the city’s cemetery.
•agreed to give city worker Damon Jones a 25-cent per hour raise. The council also agreed to pay Jones the additional money back to July 10.
•council members Vicki Chambers and Mike Ostrander volunteered for a new downtown beautification and revitalization committee. Chambers and Ostrander will have the power to enlist volunteers within the city to help with the committee.
•learned that the Hall County Sheriff’s Office may have future plans for a substation near Lula.
•agreed to allow Chambers to work with the secretary of state’s office on putting the city’s records on microfilm at no cost to the city.

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Drought dips into Alto’s water source
In Alto’s desperate search to find additional water, the news of a low production well at one of the chosen sites was not welcome information.
The drill was made on land purchased from Herschel Blalock on Yonah-Homer Road on the advice of geologist Robert Atkins, of A & S Environmental Services.
Middle Georgia Water Systems drilled to 300 feet with a flow of only 25 to 30 gallons per minute. They decided to go deeper to 600 feet and found the flow reduced to 17 to 20 gallons per minute.
“It was enough for a homeowner, but not for us,” said city clerk Barbara Reynolds.
The cost to the city was approximately $20,000.
At the council meeting held August 13, resident John Closs asked if the city would be able to get any of the money spent back.
Council member Donald Wade said he thought the property should be offered back to Blalock at the cost the city had in it.
City attorney Jim Acrey said he did not remember if the contract had included a first refusal option or not. Mayor Carolyn Gulley said she had received two offers on the one-acre parcel.
The council plans to go ahead with a $3,500 bore on Gilstrap Road, on land leased from the state, hoping it will pan out as a good producer.
The council voted to put a moratorium on selling water to any new customers outside the city limits due to the shortage.
The city has been under a total outdoor water ban since May and things aren’t looking good.
Resident April Eckhart, who lives on Post Place, complained about the problem with dirty water ruining laundry, washing machines, ice makers, faucets and dishwashers.
“I have muddy water coming out of my shower,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s black.”
Eckhart asked if the lab tests on the sample one of the Alto water employees had taken had shown if the water was safe or not.
She was told by the council the sample had to be placed in a sterile jar and had to be collected by a licensed water operator.
Wade assured her Alto’s water was good water and was safe to drink. He said he would come and take the samples the next time the water ran black.
Frank Reinhart, also of Post Place, and a number of other area residents complained of the muddy water as well.
After some discussion, the council decided to have the lines bled twice weekly and change the filter on the pump. They hoped this would help alleviate the problem, though Wade said the drought was taking its toll on the system.
Gulley said she has been working with the environmental protection division and it is possible the city may be able to restore Well 1 even though it was tainted with benzene. She said there is a way to seal off the area of contamination and put the well back on line.

Special feature planned to mark Sept. 11 anniversary
As the first anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history nears, The Banks County News staff is working on a special feature.
What are your thoughts on this event? How have your lives changed? Our readers are asked to send us their thoughts about this tragic time in America’s history.
If you or a friend or a relative were in New York City or Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, we would like to hear from you as well.
Written responses can be mailed to: Angela Gary, The Banks County News, P.O. Box 920, Homer, Ga. 30547. Responses may also be e-mailed to Those who are interested in responding may also call Miss Gary at (706) 367-2490. All comments should be submitted by Friday, Sept. 6.