News from Banks County...

SEPTEMBER 11, 2002


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
Music helps us cope
Whether it’s gospel, country, rock and roll, blues and jazz or classical, music has always helped people cope with difficult issues they are dealing with.

Shar Porier
Letter to a friend
My dear friend,
I appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness. Thank you so much for telling me about your Mom. You’re right, it’s so hard living away from family. We’re both fortunate to have loving and caring sisters.

Frank Gillespie
We must control our borders
It has been one year since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. We as a nation have had one year to figure out how the attack was carried out, and how we can prevent future attacks. Have we solved the problem? I don’t think so.

Margie Richards
Another way to remember
This paper carries an unfortunate date on it’s cover, for Sept. 11 will never be seen as “just another day” of the year.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Lady Leopards get first fast-pitch win
The Banks County fast-pitch softball program can say that it has cleared one hurdle.
The varsity Lady Leopards took a 5-2 win over Buford to claim the program’s first ever victory.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
‘A day of reflection’
More than 100 people gathered at the Jackson County Airport Wednesday morning to remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
A close race
At press time Wednesday, the Republican lieutenant governor’s race was close with both candidates having 50 percent of the vote.

County BOE plans 2-mill tax increase
The Jackson County Board of Education plans to increase its tax rate two mills next year.

City Boosts Tax Rate And City Salaries
The two issues are actually unrelated, but the Commerce City Council voted Monday night to raise taxes by 7.38 percent and to increase salaries of city workers by 5.5 to six percent.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
County reflects on Sept. 11 tragedy
It's been a year since the United States suffered several homeland terrorist attacks, and Madison County held its own ceremony (today) Wednesday to mark the day.

Contracts approved for road projects
County commissioners approved $381,000 in road-widening contracts Monday with ER Snell Contractor Inc. for Neese-Commerce and Nowhere Roads.
The contracts cover the first phase of the widening of both roads.

8% of county voters hit polls in runoffs
Just over eight percent of Madison County voters turned out Tuesday to take part in the primary runoff election. County voters were presented with only three races, two Republican and one Democrat.

Developers sue Danielsville council over permit denial
Two local developers who want to place apartments behind the Huddle House on Hwy. 29 have filed suit against the Danielsville City Council for denying their plans.

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Boot drive raises $5,000 for BCFD

Alex Rudio, Maysville, drops some money in the boot of District 2 Battalion Chief Andy Kitchens at the Tanger Outlet Mall entrance on Highway 441. Rudio was one of many who donated to the Banks County Fire Department’s Boot Drive held over the weekend that raised over $5,000. The funds will help in finishing the inside of the two new fire stations, according to fire chief Perry Dalton.

Pond raising mosquito concerns in Homer
Robin Templeton wants her two-year-old and infant child to play on a playground in their backyard.
But, as she told the Homer City Council on Tuesday night, she can’t do that for fear her children will be covered in mosquito bites.
Templeton, a Homer resident on Athens Street, said a pond near her home has been swarming with mosquitoes.
And with attention drawn around recent West Nile Virus outbreaks throughout the state, Templeton said the mosquitoes pose a threat to her children.
“I don’t want to risk my children’s future and their health,” she told the council as she rocked her infant on her knee.
The pond, she explained, has been a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. In turn, biting mosquitoes have been affecting the handful of residents near the pond.
Some of those residents have taken up the task of chemically treating the pond, but the efforts have largely failed, she explained.
Instead, Templeton asked the council to consider chemically treating the pond at an expense to the city.
Faye Reynolds, Templeton’s mother, said the pond needs “aggressive, persistent treatment.”
“I feel like if farmers treat their farm ponds to keep the animals safe from mosquito-born diseases, then we owe it to babies and elderly people to protect them too,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also said she has been bitten by more mosquitoes stemming from the pond than when living 23 years on Lake Lanier.
But, finding a solution for the mosquito problem wasn’t easy for the council members.
According to Homer mayor Doug Cheek, there is a natural spring that feeds the estimated half-acre pond. Several residents in attendance at the meeting said the pond appeared to be stagnant.
A health department official told Cheek no raw sewage is dumped into the pond. The official also said tests on the pond indicated there were no mosquito larvae, despite reports from residents.
One suggested method of reducing the mosquito population included draining the pond.
“You can’t go in there and change swamps,” Cheek said. “The (Environmental Protection Agency) would get all over you.”
Another suggestion tossed around was to remove excessive kudzu around the pond.
Homer engineer Calvin Smith said the city would clean its portion of the kudzu on the public right-of-way and the private property owners should remove foliage from the remaining part of the pond.
When Templeton asked the council again about treating the pond, Cheek said he wasn’t sure if the treatment would be effective and what it would cost the city. He said clean up efforts should first be made before the city agrees to treat the pond.
Council member Mike Dowdy said he would look into the cost of the chemical treatment.
“Y’all have got two of the three worst things in Georgia—kudzu and mosquitoes,” council member Bobby Caudell said, while adding the third “worst thing” is fire ants.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Homer City Council:
•recognized new council member Dowdy on his first council meeting since being appointed to the post.
•learned one city water well, out of four, has gone dry. Smith asked the council to consider shutting off the power to another low-performing water well. He also said the town has been purchasing far more water from the county.
•discussed creating a town logo. A contest among students was mentioned to create the logo.
•agreed to put a street light on a post at Homer First Baptist Church.
•heard from Swayne Faulkner about placing two “Church” signs and a 25 mph speed limit sign near Homer First Baptist Church. He also asked the city council to consider re-naming Evans Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
•learned that park benches ranged in cost from $35 to $53 for the city park.


Who will fix Buckeye Trails?
A group of Banks County homeowners isn’t too happy about the situation at Buckeye Trails subdivision.
The homeowners, many of whom have children, want county school buses to come into the subdivision to pick up kids. However, because the roads within the subdivision are private roads, the buses cannot enter.
And since the developer of the project has not asked the county to take over the roads, which many say are in ill-repair anyway, the subdivision roads remain private and inaccessible to county buses.
“Our primary concern is that the kids can’t get on the school bus at their house,” said homeowner Joe Holcomb, who has placed a sign at his home warning potential buyers of the problems. “More than 1,500 children are abducted walking to and from a bus stop in this country. My primary concern is kids getting snatched. It happens everyday across the country.”
Several homeowners came before the Banks County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night asking for a resolution on the matter. The residents questioned the county on why the roads had not been accepted.
Part of the problem lies with the roads’ construction. Homeowners have complained and showed photos of the roads cracking, falling apart and sinking.
The BOC will not take over a road until it meets specifications set forth in the county’s subdivision regulations. The roads within Buckeye Trials do not meet those specifications.
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said he had been working with one of the developers on the project to patch and resurface the road in phase I of the subdivision.
“In my opinion, he’s making a genuine effort to get the road up to specifications,” Brady said.
However, some don’t believe patching and resurfacing will do any good. Several homeowners expressed concerns that the work will only be aesthetic and that the road, because it wasn’t built correctly, will begin to tear apart in the next few years, costing county taxpayers thousands of dollars to repair.
Commissioner Ernest Rogers agreed with the homeowners that a core test needs to be done on the road to determine the quality of the road base. Brady said the county will get a core test and then revisit the issue.
The homeowners, though, were worried that Brady was leading the developer to believe that patching and resurfacing the roads would result in the county accepting them, only to have the county deny the acceptance once the core test is completed.
Brady said he did tell one of the developers to cut out the bad spots, patch it and then resurface the road.
Brady also said the county cannot take over the road until the developers send a request to the planning commission. At that time, the road will be inspected, though it is unclear who will do the inspection. The planning commission would then vote on the acceptance of the road, as would the BOC.
Questions also arose about who was inspecting county roads and why the roads within the subdivision were not inspected at the time of construction.
Banks County does not have an on-staff engineer qualified to inspect roads. Brady said himself, county marshal Keith Covington and employees from the road department were inspecting roads.
Ultimately, Brady said whether or not the road gets repaired and accepted as a county road remains up to the contractor.
“He can tear out the road and redo it or say ‘tough luck,’” Brady said.
Neither developer of the subdivision could be reached by presstime Wednesday morning to comment on the matter.
The planning commission is currently working on strengthening the county’s subdivision ordinances to prevent similar problems on future roads.



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Home destroyed by fire
The home of Tony and Shannon Nation on Highway 323 was destroyed Monday night in a ravaging fire that lit up the sky for miles around.
Nation said he saw flames coming from his wife’s car that was parked near the front door and immediately got her and their two children, five-year-old Olivia and nine-month old Madison, out of the home.
“I thought about putting it out myself, but when I saw the flames in the car’s interior, I just backed off,” he said. “The next thing I knew, the house was on fire. It went up so quickly.”
Banks County Fire Department District 2 Battalion Chief Andy Kitchens said flames were bursting through the roof of the 1,800 square-foot two-story home with the car and one end of the home completely engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene.
Nation said the crews arrived quickly and went to work.
With the deck gun from Engine 241 shooting water from above and a hose from Engine 221 manned by volunteers dousing the rooms below, the fire was brought under control. But not before portions of the supporting walls collapsed amid the flames. The half-basement sparked an eerie blue as the electrical box shorted out and flames swept from the windows and front doorway.
It took District 2 volunteer firefighters and volunteers from other districts who came to help nearly two hours to contain the fire.
As the flames dwindled in the charred ruins, firefighters checked for hot-spots, hosing them as each was discovered.
“I don’t know what could have caused the fire,” Nation told Kitchens. “I have been wracking my brain trying to figure it out.”
Kitchens said the cause of the fire would be investigated.
The family will be staying with relatives until other arrangements can be made. Anyone wishing to help the family may call (706) 677-2094.


County’s 750,000 gallon water contract with Commerce approved
As drought conditions continue to worsen, Banks County now has an additional water resource to turn to.
The Commerce City Council approved a contract Monday giving the county access to 750,000 gallons of water per day.
Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady said the county’s water reservoir was nearly 20 inches below full pool. However, he said the county was in good shape.
“We’d like to conserve as much as possible,” Brady said. “We may use some of this water to let our reservoir build back up.”
Commerce approved the contract at a time when its own reservoir on the eastern side of Banks County has reached its lowest point since the drought of 1986-87. Officials, though, expressed confidence that the reservior can provide the water.
The city will charge Banks County $3.25 per 1,000 gallons for the first 15 million gallons per month. Any usage above that will cost the county at a rate of $3 per 1,000 gallons.
Banks County does not have to pay a minimum monthly fee under the agreement.
Should Commerce decide to implement further water use restrictions, the contract stipulates that Banks County go under the same restrictions.
Last week, the BOC implemented a complete 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. outdoor watering ban, allowing watering outside of those times on an odd/even basis.
In addition, the contract gives either party the right to terminate the contract with a 30-day written notice.
For the county, the contract becomes a back-up plan in case water levels continue to drop.
“We’d better be looking for something now,” Brady said. “We appreciate Commerce letting us hook on.”
For Commerce, the contract could replace revenue lost when Jackson County stopped buying water after Bear Creek Reservoir became operational.
The contract also prevents Banks County from selling any of the water to any other public or private water supplier and provides for the use of arbitrators in the event of a dispute.
The contract was approved by the BOC in early August.