News from Madison County...

SEPTEMBER 25, 2002


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
Time to turn off your TV and go to the fair
Once upon a time a young man was walking alone in the woods when he heard a voice coming from a mud hole. He looked down and saw a frog looking back at him.

Kerri Graffius
Technology and apologies
Technology, lately, has been a source of apologizes for me.
When we all started surfing the Internet and using personal e-mail accounts several years ago, many people thought it was the “revolutionary” way to keep in touch with friends and family members. Instead, it has made us into a bunch of slackers—and I’m sorry for that.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Raiders come from behind in 15-12 win
In a game full of critical fumbles, Madison County appeared to cough up its shot at winning Friday as the clocked ticked down.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Pendergrass to get police dept.
After years of failed attempts, Pendergrass will finally have its own police department soon.
Nicholson Leaders Want Say In City Water
NICHOLSON -- Saying they felt "buffaloed" by the old Nicholson water board, Nicholson city leaders now want a say in the business of its city water.

Elderly county couple victims of construction scam
An elderly Jackson County couple was the victim of a construction scam last week that cost them more than $1,000.

County officials say plans are to extend runway 5,000 feet
County officials denied rumors this week that plans are in the works to extend a runway at the Jackson County Airport to 7,000 feet, which would allow some small commercial planes to land there.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
BOE making moves on athletic complex
At a special called meeting last week, the Banks County Board of Education approved a $67,310 expenditure to begin grading and road work for the athletic complex at the high school.

Pruitt pleads ‘not guilty’ to murder
One of the men charged in the May shooting death of Cornelia businessman Phillip “Bobby” Fain pled not guilty in Banks County Superior Court on Monday.

BOC still holding off on spray field issue
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is going to hold off just a little longer on making a decision about putting a wastewater spray field at the county farm.

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The Madison County Journal
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OPENING NIGHT AT THE FAIR

The Madison County Fair will continue through Saturday night at the Comer Fairgrounds. Brett Black, 3 of Elberton, shows no fear while riding the “Dragon Wagon” Tuesday night.

Athens man charged in Smith murder
Henry Mckisey Bolton, Jr., 33, of Old Church Road, Athens, has been arrested and charged with the Sept. 14 shooting death of Willie Frank Smith.
The Madison County Sheriff’s office, in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, made the arrest Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 24, at Bolton’s home on Old Church Road “without incident.” Bolton is being held in the Madison County Jail.
Smith, 46, was found lying beside his car on Helican Springs Road early on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 15. Officials believe he was killed sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight the previous evening. Authorities acknowledged that the victim was shot to death, but have declined to release further details of the shooting or a possible motive for the crime. They do believe, however, that the victim and the suspect knew each other.
The investigation continues and law officers still request that anyone with any information about the murder contact the Madison County Sheriff’s office at 795-2101 or the Athens office of the GBI at 542-7901.


Madison County takeover of Colbert park may have to wait
The county recreation department’s takeover of the Colbert City Park may have to wait.
County commission chairman Wesley Nash reported Monday that the county will be on a tight budget in 2003 (see related story above) and may not be able to take on maintenance of a fourth county park.
The recreation department currently maintains the Sammy Haggard Park on Hwy. 98, Mize Park and Diamond Hill Park.
The city of Colbert, the recreation board and the county commissioners have been discussing the takeover for months.
Colbert mayor John Waggoner said Monday that the city of Colbert cannot offer the funding the park needs. He asked that the county go ahead and take control of the park.
Nash then informed Waggoner that the preliminary county tax digest figures show “almost zero growth” for the county this year, meaning that revenues for the county won’t grow as expected.
The chairman said county commissioners need to meet to discuss the budget before they can decide about the takeover.
The commissioners are scheduled to meet about the budget Thursday, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m. in the county government complex.
LAND SURVEY APPROVED
The commissioners approved a contract with Cornerstone Land Surveying for $9,450 to perform a topographical survey of land recently purchased for expansion of the Sammy Haggard Park. The survey will be paid for with funds from the 1998 sales tax for county projects. In other recreation matters, commissioner Bill Taylor said that recreation head Dick Perpall should have received input from the recreation board before submitting his budget requests to the commissioners’ office. Perpall said that there was no recreation board meeting scheduled between the commissioners’ request for budget proposals from department heads and the date those requests were due. The board of commissioners also agreed to hold a work session with the recreation board at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, to discuss recreation bylaws.
OLD VOTING MACHINES
TO BE SOLD
Madison County commissioners agreed Monday to sell 42 of 45 of the county’s old voting machines. Chairman Nash said a place in New York has offered $150 apiece for the old equipment, which is being phased out by electronic ballot machines. “Think we might get more from Florida for them,” joked commissioner Bruce Scogin, obviously referring to the 2000 Presidential election fiasco.
BOC TALKS REDISTRICTING
Commissioner Mike Youngblood said he has received questions from constituents confused about whether new district lines for commissioners take effect now or after the next elections. The commissioners agreed that they will continue to serve constituents who live in the district lines as they were drawn when they were elected.
IDA CHAIRMAN GIVES
WELL REPORT
Industrial authority chairman Ed Brown told commissioners that the IDA would meet with engineering firm Carter and Sloope to develop a timetable on establishing a second well for the Hull water system. In separate matters, commissioner Bill Taylor asked Brown whether the industrial authority will look into acquiring water from Elbert County. Brown acknowledged that as a possibility but said the IDA is not “ready to dive into that yet.” Youngblood asked that Brown meet with District 3 residents to discuss water rates and other water system details. No date for that meeting was set. The board also officially approved an intergovernmental agreement between the IDA and the commissioners, which essentially paves the way for future water system employees to receive the same benefits package as other county employees.
NASH SAYS HE’LL ACT ON WINDSOR HEIGHTS
FLOODING
Commissioner Youngblood presented board members with pictures of flooding in Windsor Heights Subdivision. Nash agreed that the flooding was bad and asked that the board “authorize me to take care of the situation.” The commissioners approved his request and there was no further discussion of the matter.
SMITH ADVISES BOARD
ON ZONING
Leo Smith, a frequent advisor to the board on zoning matters, read a prepared statement to commissioners Monday concerning the necessity of following the law on zoning matters, particularly in light of a recent change in the county’s liability insurance premium from $2,500 to $25,000, meaning small lawsuits could cost the county considerable losses in the future. He urged the board to make every effort to make sure that zoning decisions are “based on fact, not supposition.” He also said the board should consider mandating in-house training of zoning board members on such things as the roles of the planning commission, zoning administrator and the comprehensive land use plan.
OTHER BUSINESS
The board approved the purchase of two copying machines for the clerk of court’s office, one for $9,700 and the other for $7,100.
The board agreed to have road department head Charles Temple perform a study of Hope Thompson Lane to see if making the roadway a one-way lane towards Hwy. 98 is feasible. Commissioner Melvin Drake has suggested that the county take this action, saying that the move would help reduce school traffic congestion.
The board renewed an ambulance billing and collections contract with Gloria Brown from Royston for $22,680 from October, 2002, through the end of September 2003. Brown did not have the low bid, but the board approved the contract 4-1, with Drake opposing, saying that Brown has done good work for the county.
Nash asked each commissioner to turn in a list of roads that need striping in their district.
The board agreed to hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 28, to discuss amending county zoning codes to allow conservation subdivisions.
The commissioners also met briefly in closed session to discuss litigation but took no action.

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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.


Conditions of settlement spelled out at BOC meeting
The conditions of a legal settlement between local developers and the county commissioners were spelled out at a Monday board meeting.
Harold Gaulding, Stephen Fennell and Sonny Dinsmore want to establish a subdivision across from Trus Joist on Hwy. 72. The county commissioners initially rejected their request for a rezoning to open the door for the subdivision. The developers then sued. And the board settled with the plaintiffs, agreeing to rezone two parcels — one 24.82, the other 79.69 — to R-1 (residential status) under the following conditions:
•Minimum lot size will be 1.5 acres per lot for all lots to be developed or used for residential purposes.
•A public water supply system will be provided to the development on the 104.5 acres prior to the sale of any residence.
•A water supply system meeting the county’s current water construction standards and water system distribution infrastructure specifications shall be provided for development of the 104.5 acres.
•All residences built on the 104.5 acres shall have 1,400 square-foot minimum dwelling size and shall be either stick built (site built) or industrialized buildings as defined in the Madison County Zoning Ordinance.


County to face tight budget in 2003
With lower than expected revenues, Madison County will face another tight budget in 2003.
But leaders say they’ll try to avoid another property tax increase as they prepare next year’s budget in the coming weeks. The Madison County government increased its tax rate in unincorporated areas by 19 percent last year.
County commission chairman Wesley Nash reported Monday that preliminary tax digest figures show that anticipated revenues will be less than expected.
“Our digest will be at almost zero growth for our county,” said Nash of this year’s figures.
The chairman’s 2003 budget proposal essentially calls for rollover of last year’s nearly $10 million general fund budget with 2.25 percent cost-of-living pay increases for county employees. The budget also factors in approximately $90,000 in increased employee insurance costs.
The lack of new revenue means that “capital outlay” projects or big-ticket improvements may have to be postponed. Madison County department heads requested approximately $800,000 in “capital outlay” projects, such as $169,000 for six new vehicles for the sheriff’s department, $250,000 for recreation department equipment and fields, $148,000 for a new ambulance and EMS vehicle, $87,000 for a road department truck and backhoe and $70,000 for a backhoe for the solid waste station.
The commissioners will begin considering these requests and more when they meet at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, in the county government complex to discuss next year’s budget.