News from Madison County...

AUGUST 28, 2002


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespiie
State has no business financing partisan politics
Many democrats in Atlanta are upset because so many republicans crossed over during the recent primaries and helped vote Cynthia McKinney out of office.

Kerri Graffius
Thinking about life after college
Something happens to you after you graduate from college. You start, well, thinking.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Gridiron time
The last time Madison County and Franklin County clashed on the gridiron, most of today’s Raiders were still playing flag football on the elementary school play grounds.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Two students hit in two days near schools
A 9-year-old girl was in “fair” condition Wednesday following a Monday pedestrian traffic accident in front of Jefferson Elementary School.

Drought forcing water capsComplete outdoor ban may be on horizon
The Bear Creek Reservoir has barely come on line and already officials are having to impose water restrictions because of the ongoing drought.


Commerce DDA Has Contract To Buy Old Oxford Building
The Commerce Downtown Development Authority has signed a contract to purchase more than two acres off State Street for a parking lot.

Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
County keeps free health insurance
County employees breathed a huge sigh of relief Friday morning, thanks to water department head Gary Harper.
Drought dangers
This year’s drought is building an exceptional fire load, said Perry Dalton, Banks County Fire Chief.

Synthetic Industries plans special September 11 observation
Synthetic Industries has planned a special observation on Sept. 11 in recognition of the tragic events of last year.

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The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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THE BIT IS BACK

Pictured are David Michael, Darren Michael and Bobby Wade of Michael Well Drilling Company Thursday evening after recovering a drill bit lost for months in the industrial authority’s Hwy. 72 well, which is currently under renovation. The well is a key part of the industrial authority plans for the takeover of Athens-owned water lines in Hull in December and the development of a Hwy. 72 business park. The lost bit threw a significant roadblock into the development plans, so IDA members and others were greatly relieved that the bit was finally removed. Authority members have said the bit apparently became dislodged when it collided with pipes that had been left for years deep in the old well.

Bit finally removed from well
The drill bit that remained stuck in a Hwy. 72 well most of the summer was finally removed Thursday evening.
The removal comes as a relief to the county industrial authority, because the old Hwy. 72 well, which is being rehabilitated, is a key component of plans for the Hull water system and the proposed business park off James Holcomb Road.
The technical snag threatened to delay the scheduled Dec. 1 county industrial authority’s takeover of Athens-owned lines in Hull. The problem also jeopardized the development of the proposed business park.
Michael Well Drilling Company removed the bit shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday after months of frustrating recovery work. The bit apparently became dislodged against debris that had been left in the old well years ago.
IDA chairman Ed Brown said the renovation of the well will now involve driving the well casing down some 80 feet to granite, then drilling the remaining part of the well from six to eight inches wide for approximately 100 feet.
A flow test will be conducted to see how many gallons per minute the well will yield. And while doing that, six wells in the surrounding area will be tested to see if the IDA’s well has any effect on the neighboring wells.
The IDA will then conduct a final testing of the water to make sure it is potable, before finally a pump is installed.
The process also includes gaining easements from CSX and the DOT to locate a water line under the railroad and Hwy. 72. The IDA began seeking those easements last week when the bit was recovered.
Brown said he thinks the well can be renovated and functional by the Dec. 1 takeover date of the Athens water lines in Hull. The transfer of ownership would not be allowed unless Madison County has established a backup well for the Hull water system.
Brown reported that developers of two residential projects — one off of Brownwood Drive and one off of Glenn Carrie Road — plan to tap onto the Hull system once the well is up and functional.


County commissioners deny subdivision plans
Plans for a six-lot subdivision off James Holcomb Road were shot down by commissioners Monday.
Developer John Pieper requested a rezoning of two five acre parcels of land from A-2 (agricultural, five acre minimum lot size) to R-1 (single residential, 1.5 acre minimum lot size).
The board voted 4-1 to deny the plans. Only commissioner Bruce Scogin supported the proposal.
Pieper, who told the board that he already has two homes under construction on the land, wants to rezone his land in order to combine both parcels and then subdivide the entire tract into six, 1.5-acre lots for rental homes.
The proposed development would include 1,500 square foot minimum, site built houses with a rental value of $900 to $1,000 per month. Each lot would be served by an individual well and septic tank.
Pieper said he was upset by the planning commission’s recommended denial of his plans on Aug. 20. He said the zoning board acted in an “arbitrary and groundless” manner. Pieper also said his proposal is in line with the high-density land use designation of the area.
“Last week the zoning commission strayed from the comprehensive plan,” said Pieper, who added that he is acting in accordance with all county zoning guidelines and that he is interested in “smart growth” for the county.
Pieper suggested the planning commission is biased against his proposal because the commission’s newest member, Walter Searcy, lives near the proposal and is opposed to the plans.
Searcy refuted the allegation of commission bias and said that Pieper owed the planning commission an apology for his “insulting” suggestion.
The developer angered some of his opponents when he said that — if his request is turned down — he may use his agriculturally-zoned land for a livestock farm, a statement that some seemed to take as an intended threat.
“The current use of the property would be more of a danger than the proposed use,” he said.
Danny Andrews, whose wife is a veterinarian, took the podium offering a “bring them on” retort to the notion of farm animals being raised next to him.
Some opponents of the plan fear that the addition of wells to the area will affect neighboring water levels. Increased traffic has also been cited as a concern.
Pieper contended that the increase in traffic to the area would be approximately 12 cars — two per household.
In other zoning matters Monday:
•The board approved a request by Charles and Judy Walker to remove previous conditions allowing for no further rezones of an 11 acre parcel they own on Bullock Mill Road. The conditions were placed on the property by a previous owner in 1995, but the Walkers now want to divide their property into two five-acre plus tracts in order to provide an additional homesite for their son and granddaughter.
•The board approved a request


Hull armed robbery
suspect still on the loose
A man suspected of robbing the Hull Post Office is still on the loose.
And authorities have announced a $25,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of a man wanted for two local armed robberies.
Andreas Jermaine Sims, 28, is wanted in the Friday, Aug. 2, afternoon armed robbery of the Hull Post Office and a later similar robbery of the Crawford Post Office.
Sims is described as six feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes and a scruffy beard.
At the time of the robbery, the perpetrator was said to be wearing a black shirt and shorts, a black baseball cap with logo, black batting gloves with white lettering, lightly tinted glasses and carrying a pistol. No one was injured, but an undisclosed amount of cash was taken.
According to law enforcement, Sims is to be considered armed and dangerous.
Anyone having information on his whereabouts should contact any of the following agencies:
U.S. Postal Inspection Service (404) 608-4604; Oglethorpe County Sheriff (706) 743-8101; Madison County Sheriff (706) 795-2101 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation 1-800-597-8477.


County gets go ahead for new health department
Madison County will soon have a new health department, thanks to a federal grant to fund the project.
Board of commissioners chairman Wesley Nash said Tuesday that the county will now go ahead with the project since he has received word of the approval of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that was applied for last spring.
The building, according to Nash, will be located on Hwy. 98 west of Danielsville in the midst of a number of other county facilities including the recreation department, senior center, library, Fine Finish, the road department, and the new jail. Emergency Medical Services station one is also relocating to the area and will occupy the old Fine Finish building.
Grading at the future site of the new health department is already underway directly across from the recreation department’s tennis courts.
Nash said he will travel to St. Simons Island in the near future to officially receive the grant.
“We have water and sewer already in place (at the site), so we can put that money into the building itself,” he said.
The local board of health agreed at its regular meeting last month that a new and more prominent location will likely cause use of the health department’s services to escalate.
“You’d be surprised how many people still don’t know where the health department is,” Nash said. “I expect the location to make a big difference in usage.”
The main offices of the health department have been located upstairs in the county’s “multi-purpose” building on Sunset Drive in Danielsville since 1969.

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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.


Settlement reached in zoning lawsuit
A settlement has been reached in a zoning lawsuit concerning a proposed subdivision across from Trus Joist on Hwy. 72.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners approved a “consent order” Monday with developers Harold F. Gaulding, Stephen Fennell and Charles “Sonny” Dinsmore.
Under the settlement, the developers will get the rezoning they desired, which changes two tracts of land — one 24.82 acres, the other 79.69 acres — to residential (R-1) status and opens the door for the subdivision.
The developers, meanwhile, agreed to a slightly larger lot size for the homes in the proposed subdivision — up from one acre to 1.5 acres per lot. They will also only build “site-built” or “modular” homes.
Judge Lindsay Tise signed the consent agreement between the BOC and the developers Tuesday. According to the agreement, “the court finds the current zoning designation (on both tracts of land) void as unconstitutional pursuant to Plaintiffs’ complaint.”
A public hearing on the settlement is planned for 6:30 p.m., Sept. 23, in the county government complex. The board is expected to officially approve the rezoning at that meeting.


Inmate charged with escape
A Madison County Jail inmate, classified as a “run-a-round,” was thwarted in an apparent escape attempt last Thursday in Danielsville.
Nathan Wayman Ward, 46, no address listed, was charged with one count of felony escape.
Ward was spotted by 911 director David Camp around 11:30 a.m. running west away from the 911 center building. According to the report, he was wearing street clothes and carrying his orange jail jump suit wadded up in his hand.
When Camp yelled at Ward to stop, the inmate allegedly turned around and then walked out of Camp’s sight around the building. When Camp followed, he reported that Ward was walking toward him carrying a broom, which he put down when Camp instructed him to do so.
Ward was taken into custody “without incident” and returned to the jail by Danielsville police officer Joe Merk, and sheriff’s investigators Cody Cross and Buck Scoggins.


Patrol cars to carry speed detection devices
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a permit from the state to operate speed detection devices.
The move was made in an effort to curb the ever-growing number of speed-related traffic fatalities and injuries, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
The state of Georgia has experienced an alarming increase in the number of fatal accidents and due to the increasing number of serious speed related accidents in Madison County, deputies’ patrol cars will be equipped with radar and cameras, according to Sheriff Clayton Lowe.
“The cameras will aid in clarifying any questions about violations as well as evidence in court,” Lowe added.
Deputies will be doing surveys to make citizens aware of their speeds.
“Too many of our citizens have experienced the pain of losing a loved one to these highway crashes and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office wants to prevent as many as possible,” Lowe said. “We ask for your support in this effort to curb the unnecessary deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”