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SEPTEMBER 4, 2002


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespiie
Bureaucrats mess up
our educational system
King Roy has to be troubled by the latest education news. After all, he is spending a great deal of money bragging about his education policy. Now, we learn that Georgia is now last of 50 states in SAT scores. Only the District of Columbia has a lower figure.

Zach Mitcham
Looking back
at ‘Ground Zero’
The breakfast customers left their food to evacuate the Bankers Trust building next to the World Trade Center.

Jana Adams
Nothing if not contradictory
Obesity, obesity, Americans are increasingly obese. It’s the cry of the media these days, with sidebars on related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease and how children and adults today are more overweight than they’ve ever been.

Rochelle Beckstine
Wives’ Tales abound even in 2002
Any pregnant woman can attest that everyone has an old wives’ tale to impart about how best to tell the sex of the baby they’re carrying.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Tamed by the Lions
For a team using the slogan “step it up” this season, Madison County managed to take several giant paces backwards in their opener.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
9/11 remembered
Remembrance services are being planned throughout Jackson County on Sept. 11 in observance of the tragedy a year ago in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Developer drops $2.5 million Hoschton lawsuit
A $2.5 million lawsuit against the City of Hoschton has been dropped by the plaintiff.
David Healan, a developer and former Hoschton City Council member, filed the suit in June alleging racketeering of a rezoning request that was denied by the council in 2000.

Ban on outside watering begins Friday
As Georgia’s four-year drought worsens, mandatory water conservation measures go into effect this week in Jackson, Barrow, Oconee and Clarke counties.

CHS SAT Scores Jump
Georgia's average on the Scholastic Assessment Test may have stayed flat at 860 and slipped to 50th among the 50 states, but the news is a lot better in Commerce.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Banks County SAT scores up again
For the second year in a row, Banks County has seen a jump in its average SAT scores.
The county’s math score increased 12 points while the verbal score was up

Voters to decide state races Tuesday
Mike Beatty of Jefferson will face Steve Stancil in a run-off election Tuesday in the lieutenant governor’s race.

Remembrance services planned around county for September 11 anniversary
Remembrance services are being planned throughout Banks County on Sept. 11 in observance of the tragedy a year ago in New York City and Washington, D.C.

three points over the 2001 scores.

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The Madison County Journal
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FROM POND TO PUDDLE

This pond in one of Charles Hart’s pastures is not much more than a muddy puddle these days.

Never seen it so dry
The “dry weather” pond in one of Charles Hart’s pastures is not much more than a muddy puddle these days.
Designed to catch rain water, the pond, like others all over the area, just hasn’t had much rain to catch lately.
Hart, who has owned a cattle farm on Colbert Grove Church Road south of Danielsville since the 1960s, said he tries to compensate by moving his cattle from pasture to pasture.
“I rent some land from a neighbor and get water for a lot of the cows from there where there are still springs flowing in the upper pastures,” he said.
But meanwhile, a stream on some Oglethorpe County land he farms went dry not long ago.
“Right now, I just take it day by day,” he said.
Hart says although the state is supposed to “officially” be in its fifth year or so of drought conditions, he thinks it’s been drier than normal much longer than that.
“I quit growing soy beans and wheat crops about 10 years ago because of the dryness,” he said.
“But I’ve never seen it so dry as this before,” he added.
NOT JUST FARMERS
According to county extension agent Carl Varnadoe, it’s not just the farmers who are having water problems.
He’s getting lots of calls from homeowners again this year about their wells drying up and their landscape plants dying in the August heat — all for lack of much-needed summer rain.
“A lot of old-timers are telling me they’re seeing creeks dry that they’ve never seen dry before,” Varnadoe said last week.
“September and October are traditionally drier months in a normal year, and following the July and August we just had - well, it’s very, very bad,” Varnadoe added.
And adding to the problem are those who ignore the watering bans.
“The watering ban means no outside watering - and what many don’t understand is that even if they’re not on ‘city water’ but have a well, that means them too,” Varnadoe said. “We must all conserve water as best we can.”
Varnadoe said a “tropical system” is needed at this point to push some soaking rains into our area and keep them here for several days so that moisture can soak into the top soil. “That would go a long way in providing relief,” he said.
“These brief rains provide immediate relief, but give no lasting relief because it’s not enough to penetrate below the surface,” he added.
“You hear farmers say they till the soil to ‘meet the moisture,’” said Varnadoe. “Well now, due to the drought, they’ve got to go down several inches before they meet any moisture at all.”
In addition to the lack of rain, he said farmers with hay or other crops have to be especially concerned about disease and pests during this time of dryness.
“Army worms are notorious to show up in pastures and hayfields to attack distressed plants,” he said.
Another threat is the pine beetle.
“Pine beetles are more likely to attack already distressed trees than healthy ones,” Varnadoe added.
THE DRIEST - WITHOUT QUESTION
Farmer Terry Chandler says “without question” this is the driest he’s seen it since he began farming in the 1980s.
Chandler runs a cattle, poultry, hog and hay operation of over 200 acres of farm land north of Danielsville.
Chandler says his cattle operation is the most affected by the drought at this point and he has coped with it by intense rotation of the herd on his grazing land.
“It just takes a lot more effort and more management on a daily basis,” he said.
But even with such intense management, Chandler says he expects to begin feeding his brood cows hay in two to three weeks, where normally he wouldn’t have to do this until around Thanksgiving.
And while he has plenty of hay for the average winter feeding of 100 to 120 days, such early feeding will mean that he must feed hay an extra 90 days or so.
And to offset running short of feed in later winter, Chandler said he will plant some winter grasses such as rye and wheat which will yield grazing for his cows in February, providing, of course, that the winter rains come.
Right now, Chandler says his 75 brood cows are at a “minimum needs level,” but that’s all about to change in October, when calving begins.
“Their feeding needs go way up then, of course,” he said.
Chandler said he was still able to sell hay this year, due to a “fair” spring although his production costs were about 25 to 30 percent higher in labor and irrigation.
“We try not to adjust our price,” he said. “It’s not the buyers’ fault it’s so dry.”
The two bored wells on his farm are holding up so far, so Chandler has been able to take care of his poultry and hogs.
“The poultry and hogs are pretty much unaffected - so long as there’s water available,” Chandler said.
Long term, if the drought worsens, Chandler said he expects to see the smaller scale farmers work their way out of farming due to the increasing costs associated with the drought.
“The extra time and money, is even more of an issue for them,” Chandler said, noting that there’s already been some sell-down of cattle herds.
But his biggest fear is that poultry, the county’s number one income producer, will be affected if the ability to gain access to water continues to decrease.
“Most (farmers) are already going to drilled wells, instead of bored” he said.
“We just have no reserves right now at all,” Chandler added.
A CUMULATIVE EFFECT
Glenn Head, soil conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service District based in Commerce, agrees the area is the driest he’s seen it in his 22 years on the job.
His office oversees government-owned watershed lakes in the area.
“Those lakes were built in the 60s and 70s to contain flood water and this is the first time I’ve seen water stop flowing through pipes located in back of the dams,” he said.
He said he and District Conservationist Carol Boss have had two situations in Madison County recently where they’ve had to go out and open the main gate on those pipes to allow just enough water through to flow into streams that had dried up below the dams.
“We received calls from farmers with cattle farms about a quarter mile or so below the dams saying their streams had dried up - their only source of water for their cattle,” he said of their reason for opening the gates. Head said they have also received a similar call from a farmer in Jackson County, and one in Banks County.
Head said the longer the drought continues the more cumulative effect there is.
“We really haven’t had a major rain from a hurricane since 1994,” he said.
“We recently dug four feet down with a back hoe in the Carlton area and went from dry clay to only ‘bottom land mud,’ not water,” Head said. “And October is usually our driest month.”
More information on the drought, including a map of the hardest hit areas, may be obtained on the Internet by going to www.georgiadrought.org


Local Sept. 11 ceremony planned
A ceremony will be held in Danielsville next week to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The ceremony, “In Honor and Remembrance — Woodmen Salutes America’s Heroes,” is sponsored by Woodmen of the World Lodge 1415. It will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Madison County Park (Old Danielsville Elementary playground) near the county government complex in Danielsville starting at 10 a.m.
President George W. Bush has designated Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day” and has called upon all Americans to observe the occasion with patriotic activities. On Sept. 11 more than 600 Woodmen lodges across the nation will hold dedication ceremonies to present flagpoles, U.S. flags and commemorative plaques to their communities.
“We believe that it is important for people to come together to honor those who lost their lives on 9-11, and to remember those who risked their lives so that others might survive,” said James Mounce, Woodmen president and CEO. “The ceremonies also give us the opportunity to say “thank you” to heroes in our own community, such as police officers, firefighters and members of the armed forces, who put their lives on the line each and every day.”
The ceremony, which is open to the public, will include representatives from local volunteer fire departments, emergency medical services, law enforcement, all military personnel, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, MCHS Red Raider band, and other local officials.
For more information on the ceremony, contact Hewatt Fleming at 795-3297.

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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.


Arrest made in Paoli Junction armed robbery
An Elberton man was arrested in connection with a Labor Day armed robbery at Paoli Junction at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Hwy. 172 around noon.
According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, James Michael Pless, 23, was arrested about 5 p.m. after a deputy spotted the suspect’s car and gave chase on Vineyards Creek Church Road.
Pless reportedly confronted the clerk and demanded money as he kept one hand in his pocket, leading the clerk to believe he had a weapon, according to the release.
One of two motorcycles allegedly stolen by the suspect the night before in Elbert county was recovered during the investigation.
The investigation continues as other crimes are being cleared with information obtained from the suspect, who is cooperating with authorities.
No injuries were sustained during the incident.


College prep SAT scores up, overall totals down
The SAT scores of the 2002 Madison County High School’s college preparatory graduates were up by some 50 points over the scores of the previous class.
But the overall MCHS average — which includes college prep and vocational students — dipped slightly on the SAT in 2002, down from 968 to 964. (Only 99 out of 203 Madison County graduates in 2002 actually took the SAT.)
Fifty four 2002 MCHS college prep graduates took the SAT, down from 80 taking the test the previous year. But the average college prep score rose from 1,026 (513 verbal and 513 math) to 1,077 (543 verbal and 534 math).
Meanwhile, the number of MCHS vocational students taking the SAT rose from 30 in the class of 2001 to 45 in 2002. The most recent vocational graduates averaged 829 (432 verbal and 397 math), up from an 812 average of the previous class.
Madison County finished slightly higher than the state average of 960 and well below the national average of 1,020.
New principal Robert Adams said comparisons with other SAT test takers aren’t as important as Madison County’s assessment of its own performance.
“You always want to be careful comparing one county to another,” said Adams. “We have to look at ourselves and assess ‘are we improving?’”
The new principal remarked that the college prep scores are “O.K.” and that the vocational scores are in need of improvement.
But he emphasized that there’s more to assess in SAT testing than one or two collective scores, or a simple “good, bad” outlook on student performance. He said the school must always assess its curriculum and grading procedures to make sure students are prepared for the SAT and that they have a grade-point average that adequately reflects their abilities.