News from Jackson County...

OCTOBER 9, 2002


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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

Angela Gary
It’s past time to start Christmas shopping
If you haven’t started Christmas shopping yet, you better get busy. I’ve got well over half of the names on my shopping list marked off already.

Phillip Sartain
For Sale: Moronic Homeowner
The house I live in has a large attic. But that doesn’t mean you can put just anything you want up there. Even the simplest of minds will tell you not to put a queen-size mattress and box springs in your attic. It’s hard to do and it doesn’t make any sense. I did it anyway.

Frank Gillespie
For once, I agree with the McKinneys
We Southern ladies and gentlemen are required to look for areas of agreement with those whom we disagree. That is one of the meanings of “love your enemies.” Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I announce that I agree with Rep. McKinney’s latest statements.

Margie Richards
A treasure trove of memories
When I was a kid, my mother constantly chided me about being a pack rat. I saved everything: school papers, ticket stubs, cards, notes, old toys, etc.


SPORTS

Ground War
Unless both teams decide to scrap their offenses and install the “fun-n-gun,” Commerce’s Friday night’s matchup with Madison County promises to be a ground-game lover’s delight.

Lady Panthers win North title, enter region tourney seeded first
Now that it’s official, the sub-area 8-AAAA North co-champion Lady Panthers of Jackson County have begun the process of re-focusing and re-evaluating what they need to do to continue to have success on the diamond in preparation for the area tournament which begins Saturday.

Jefferson opens region play Friday against ACS
When the Jefferson football team takes the field this Friday night against Athens Christian at Memorial Stadium, there will be an enhanced atmosphere surrounding the game.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Journey into Palestine
When Brad Smith, of Jubilee Partners in Comer, heard the call from an international organization called Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) for volunteers to go to Palestine last spring, he didn’t hesitate.

Work resuming on jail project
Work will finally resume on the new county jail.
Nicholson Professional Consulting of Roswell set up an office on the new jail site off Hwy. 98 this week.

Raising pay of paramedics a focus in budget talks
Despite a tight budget, Madison County leaders plan to raise the pay of county paramedics and EMTs in hopes of keeping qualified personnel from leaving the county.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Where is Banks County going?
Rarely do the county’s main entities ever get together in one session. But this week they did, at the request of the development authority, in a round table discussion about the county’s growth.

Sewage debacle
At a special called meeting last Wednesday, the Baldwin City Council sat down to figure out how to get past the problems plaguing the expansion of the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Commissioners approve maximum jail price
Banks County now has a definitive maximum price on the new jail.
The board of commissioners approved a $3,199,480 guaranteed maximum price on the construction of the new jail.

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Maysville Elementary School Float

Students at Maysville Elementary School made a float for the Autumn Leaf Festival parade based on the theme, "Our Roots." The parade was but one of the many events that took place Saturday and Sunday in the festival.

BOC hires architect for new courthouse
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Thursday to hire an architect for the courthouse project despite hearing a request from one of its members that a decision not be made until the board considers an alternate site being suggested by Jefferson.
Stacey Britt said he had been approached by Jefferson leaders about an alternate site for the courthouse. Emil Beshara also said he had been approached by Jefferson leaders about this matter.
The county has already purchased property on Darnell Road for a courthouse.
“I would like to see us study both sites before we hire an architect,” Britt said.
Beshara said that no site specific work would be done at this time and that the architect hired could do the work regardless of where the site is located.
Commissioner Tony Beatty asked when the BOC would receive a formal presentation on the alternate site.
Britt said he didn’t know, but that he believes it is coming.
After the discussion, the BOC voted 4-1 to hire Cooper Carry as the architect for the project. Britt voted against the motion, while Harold Fletcher, Sammy Thomason, Beatty and Beshara voted in favor of the request.
“The motion is not site specific motion,” he said.
WILBANKS ALSO HIRED
In related business, the BOC agreed in a 4-1 vote to hire Wayne Wilbanks as the “owner’s representative” in the courthouse project. A fee for this service was not set, but the board said it would be “negotiated.”
Britt also voted against this, with Fletcher, Thomason and Beshara voting for it. Beatty was not in the room when the vote was taken.
The county received three bids for this service with the other two coming from Don Denaudy and Herb Saunders.
The “owner’s representative” will oversee the site evaluation, master planning, design, bidding of construction, construction punch list and close out activities, testing procedures, initial start up of the facility and the overall project construction administration.


Jefferson offers county 25 acres for courthouse
The City of Jefferson is offering the Jackson County Board of Commissioners 25 acres to locate a new courthouse on.
The property is located on Hwy. 129, just north of the downtown area. It is between the new Hwy. 129 bypass and the old Hwy. 129.
Property owner Jack Davidson has reportedly agreed to donate the land to the city with the stipulation that it be given to the county for the sole purpose of locating a courthouse on it.
Mayor Jim Joiner said at Monday night’s city council meeting that he had written BOC chairman Harold Fletcher a letter outlining the proposal. The mayor said he asked that the county study the site, along with the Darnell Road property which has already been purchased by the county, to determine which is best suited and most accessible for a courthouse. He said the county has 30 days to consider the offer.
Joiner said his first preference would have been a downtown site for the new courthouse, but that he favored the bypass property over the Darnell Road location. He said the bypass site would be accessible to more people.
“It is more suitable for more people in the county,” he said.
This is the first time the Jefferson City Council has publicly discussed its plans. At Monday’s meeting, Joiner was the only one to comment.
Members of the council have apparently contacted board of commission members on an individual basis. Commissioners Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara said at Thursday night’s BOC meeting that they had been contacted by Jefferson officials about the offer (see story below).
Beshara said when contacted Tuesday morning that it is the same site he had earlier proposed buying an option on. He had recommended that the BOC take the option on the entire 150 acres at the site.
Beshara said that in his meeting with Joiner, the mayor said that a condition of the deal would be that the county would build an access road from the bypass to the old Hwy. 129 and that a jail could not be located on the property. Joiner did not say at Monday’s council meeting if these conditions are a part of the current offer.
Beshara said he would support the Jefferson offer only if the following conditions are met: there are no restrictions whatsoever on the use of the land, Jefferson rezones Darnell Road to R-1 on sewer, Jefferson supports a 2004 special purpose local option sales tax to pay for the courthouse and Davidson agrees to sell the county all of his land between the bypass and the old Hwy. 129 at a $12,000 an acre.


Parking Ordinance Would Target
Downtown Owners, Employees
The city council won't act on it when it meets Monday night at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center, but it's preparing to enact a parking ordinance designed to keep local business owners and their employees from parking on the main streets in the downtown.
The matter should come up at the council's Nov. 11 meeting. By that time, members of the Commerce Area Business Association will have had a chance to discuss the ordinance, which provides fines from $10 to $50 for violators.
Jan Nelson, executive director of the Downtown Develop-ment Authority, presented the council a copy of Madison's parking ordinance at its Monday night work session.
Essentially, the ordinance would require one-hour or two-hour parking. Its "teeth" come in a provision that would fine those who attempt to circumvent the ordinance by moving their vehicles from parking spot to parking spot or by erasing chalk marks on tires. Both methods were used when Commerce last attempted to enforce a parking ordinance. Anyone using such tactics under the proposed ordinance would face a $50 fine.
"There are fairly stiff penalties for those who move their cars after an hour and 58 minutes," Nelson noted. "This ordinance has some marvelous teeth in it."
According to Nelson, several business owners have "threatened to leave" the downtown because of continuous problems with merchants and employees taking up all of the parking spaces.
But the city is also looking at finding alternative parking spaces in areas where there is no nearby off-street parking.
"Before you say people can't park there, you've got to have an alternative," said Ward 4 Councilman Bob Sosebee, who parks in front of his business at the corner of State Street and North Broad. "Other than five spaces in the alley-way, all the (nearby) property is private."
Sosebee indicated that the DDA, which he chairs, is looking into reaching some kind of agreement with a nearby property owner to acquire approximately 15 parking spaces.
"Most employees could be trained to park there," Sosebee said. "But we need some relief. Businesses up and down State Street are being overrun when everybody's there."
Other parts of town are having similar problems, and they've been experiencing them a long time.
"We've had this problem ever since cars were invented," observed City Manager Clarence Bryant.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. noted that the city has been talking about problems with parking ever since he came to Commerce in 1962.
Should the ordinance be enacted, officials indicated that there is a possibility that it might affect only certain areas of town, which would be designated by painting of curbing. Hours would be 9-5 Mondays through Saturdays.
"We've tried every way in the world voluntarily ... It just hasn't improved the situation," noted Sosebee.


A call for peace and justice
“Let us remember...”
As dusk fell and candles flickered, district attorney Tim Madison read one by one the names of women who have died in Georgia this year at the hands of domestic violence.
“Let us remember,” he said, with name following name, including that of Tammy Cowart, lost to domestic violence “in our own community this week.”
“Let us remember.”
Thursday evening in the courtyard of the First Baptist Church in Jefferson was a time for remembrance, to remember those lost to domestic violence, but also to remember those still suffering and those breaking free.
Pat Peterson, executive director of Peace Place, a shelter serving battered women in the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, called for peace, and for justice, for those suffering domestic violence. The shelter sponsored its second annual candlelight vigil with the theme of “Our Community Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence” in recognition of October as “Domestic Violence Month.”
“We are very dismayed that this week there was another domestic violence murder in our community,” Peterson said. “I wish we had the answer.”
Peterson pointed out that to seek peace, one must also seek justice, “and we all can play a part in that.”
She encouraged those at the vigil — from law enforcement officers to community leaders to family members — to “help dispel the myths of domestic violence.”
“If we don’t seek justice, abuse will never be seen as unacceptable behavior,” Peterson said. “Sow the seeds of peace and justice, and fertilize it with plenty of love.”
Cheryl Christian, chief of Georgia’s Department of Human Resources Family Violence Unit, commended Peace Place and the surrounding communities in Jackson, Banks and Barrow counties for “making a statement that violence is not OK.”
Peace Place, now in its third year, is one of 43 shelters for battered women in the state, she said. Throughout Georgia, these shelters served more than 3,000 women last year. In Georgia, law officers responded to some 48,000 domestic violence calls during the year, she added, saying that in the United States every day, an average of three women are killed in domestic violence disputes.
“It can be overwhelming,” Christian said, again urging the community to come together.
“Your shelter is one of the newer shelters, but Peace Place is a very strong shelter, with committed staff and volunteers, and provides excellent services to victims in the community,” she said.
In its three years — from June 30, 2000, to September 30, 2002 — Peace Place has sheltered 165 women and their 181 children. The 24-hour crisis line is (770) 586-0927.
STORIES TOLD
Also during the evening, stories were told — those of victims, but also those of women and children who are pushing forward with their lives.
Five chairs, each draped with articles of clothing — from a child’s outfit to a “Sunday” dress of blue print with a lace collar — were lined up in the courtyard. As the story of each person represented by those clothes unfolded, a light shone on the chair.
Charlene Garrett, outreach advocate, told the story of 8-year-old “Josh,” who, with his mother, left his home and the abusive “Frank” for the safety of a shelter.
Kathy Hansford, child advocate, told the story of “Taylor,” who was raped by her jealous, possessive boyfriend the night of senior prom, but who learned that “abuse isn’t love, and now I know the difference.”
Angela Lawson, administrative assistant, relayed Nichelle’s story, telling how the college student and graduate lived with a threatening and abusive boyfriend, until she realized during an unexpected pregnancy that “one good mommy” is better than a mother abused by a father.
Volunteer Eaddy Mays told the story of “Lupe,” who lived under her boyfriend’s threats of the INS and deportation. She told how she became regarded as a slave until some church members began to help her.
And, finally, Kim Mobley, case manager, told the story of “Ethel,” an older woman mistreated by her daughter-in-law and son when she had no place else to go.
In preparation for the candlelight ceremony, Christy Breedlove, associate director of Peace Place, called upon a man whose daughter was killed in domestic violence to light the first candle.
The Rev. Lloyd Wells, who opened the program with a prayer for peace, also closed it with prayer, not only for the “lost people” of domestic violence, but also for “healing love” for their families.


Jefferson council chooses from DOT’s proposals for Curry Creek Bridge project
The Jefferson City Council reviewed five proposals from the Georgia Department of Transportation Monday night on the Curry Creek bridge project.
Large boards with the proposed sites on them were placed around the clubhouse for the council members to study. The DOT looked at several options to improve the traffic flow at the intersection with minimal impact to the bridge. An earlier meeting had been held with the DOT presenting their options.
The option favored by the city council is one that calls for a western bypass of State Route 335. The construction cost for this proposal is estimated at $1.9 million.
Other options included an eastern bypass of State Route 335 and an alternate western bypass of State Route 335.


Lengthy BOC meetings again a topic
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners again discussed the length of its meetings which have lasted until midnight several times recently.
The discussion came at a BOC meeting Thursday night that lasted almost five hours.
Commissioner Stacey Britt suggested that only one meeting be held each month, instead of two. He also suggested that action on zoning matters be taken at the same meeting public hearings on the requests are held.
County attorney Daniel Haygood said the BOC already has the authority to vote on zoning matters at the public hearings. Britt said that he would be recommending votes on zoning matters from District 1 at the public hearing held on the first Monday of each month.
There was also a lengthy discussion on Britt’s suggestion on moving to one meeting, but no action was taken. A vote was taken, but two commissioners said they weren’t aware that the vote was to go to one meeting each month. Britt then asked that his motion be withdrawn.
Britt said that “half of the stuff” on the agenda should be handled by the staff and not come before the BOC at the meetings. He pointed to the six staff members sitting to the side of the BOC and said they should be handling some of these items.
“There’s no telling what they are making...,” Britt said. “We need to use them.”
Commissioner Sammy Thomason: “We have just got all of this good staff and we’re going to start having some good stuff. I’m proud of the staff we have.”


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Grading Begins On New City Waste Treatment Plant
Earth moving equipment is feeding a steady parade of dump trucks as rough grading got under way last week at the site of Commerce's new waste treatment plant.
Jackson County crews are expected to take six weeks to remove close to 30,000 cubic yards from the hillside above the current plant, located off W.E. King Road on the north side of the U.S. 441 bypass.
"In all, we are going to move 67,000 cubic yards of dirt. Approximately 30,000 of that, almost half, will be done during the rough grading," explained Bryan Harbin, the city's director of water and sewer operations.
The proposed schedule for the $6-$7 million project calls for the city to begin construction in April. The projected completion date is October 2004.
When it is completed, the city's daily sewage treatment capacity will be doubled to 2.1 million gallons. The city has about 2,200 sewer customers.
Dirt from the grading is being sent three places – the public works facility on Waterworks Road for fill; the old city landfill at the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for stockpiling; and the new Commerce Middle School site on the Jefferson Road.
The Jackson County crew also stockpiled the topsoil from the construction site for future use on the site, Harbin said.
City Manager Clarence Bryant estimated the value of the work being done by Jackson County at approximately $123,000.


Citizens speak out on alcohol referendum
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners heard the pros and cons of holding an alcohol referendum Thursday night, with the majority of the citizens speaking being opposed to the proposal.
Commissioner Emil Beshara plans to make a motion at an Oct. 21 BOC meeting that two referendums be placed before county voters in a called election in March. One would ask whether packaged alcohol should be sold in unincorporated areas of the county, while the other would address whether alcohol by the drink should be allowed. Beshara pointed out that the BOC could approve the sale of packaged alcohol without holding a referendum.
Beshara said the board has had a number of requests in the past to hold the referendum. He also said the BOC could regulate the issue as to the proximity alcohol sales are allowed to churches and schools or residential areas. Beshara also said that regulations could be put in place to require the majority of income from a business that sells liquor by the drink to come from food sales. He said that restaurants won’t locate in unincorporated areas without alcohol sales.
“I realize many people have faith-based opposition to the consumption of alcohol,” he said.
Gerald Mitton, pastor of Faith Baptist Church for 42 years, was the first to stand in opposition to the matter.
“I’ve never voted for alcohol and I never will,” he said.
He also addressed the issue of restaurants selling alcohol by the drink. The pastor said he was in an Applebees restaurant in Athens, Ala., that does not serve alcohol and he had a 25 to 30 minute wait. He also added that grocery stores that don’t sell alcohol are “doing great.”
Chad Rising, pastor of Cave Springs Baptist Church, said the issue is “Biblically wrong and incorrect.” He also said passing this would not be a good use of the county’s tax dollars.
“I do not believe it is good use of our tax funds to police the use of alcohol. If it’s not present, it doesn’t have to be policed. A minority of people who are seeking to gain financial assets from selling alcohol are not a major representation of this county.”
Beshara pointed out that several municipalities in the county already sell alcohol and that the unincorporated area is one of the few areas that doesn’t allow it. He asked Rising what it accomplishes by having the county dry and several municipalities allowing the sale of alcohol.
“I don’t think it’s the correct thing to do financially for our county,” Rising said. “Look at the areas that are selling alcohol and what the crime rate is...and how it has changed in areas where it has come in recent years. I don’t believe it will deviate from the national averages that you spend more on policing. You have more domestic violence. You have more violence, in general.”
Beshara then asked Rising whether or not allowing the sale of alcohol in the county prevents anyone from getting it.
“I certainly do,” he said. “It makes it much less accessible.”
Eric Shelton also spoke against the referendum being placed on the ballot.
“There has to be leadership,” he said. “That is what we elected you men for. You have the ability and the authority to make the decision...and I hope you make the decision not to do this.”
Lee Goza questioned why there had been discussion made on limiting the area where liquor by the drink would be sold to the I-85 corridor.
“That’s where most of the drivers are,” he said. “That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
He questioned whether this issue is one that “we want our kids to remember us for.”
Beshara responded: “I would say this to my child, ‘I let the people of Jackson County decide. I gave them the opportunity to voice their opinions and I did not back down to people who want to regulate morality...’ That is what I will say and I’ll say it proudly.”
Tom Miles, pastor of Crooked Creek Baptist Church, said he grew up in a county that changed when liquor by the drink was approved. He said it has become an “escape from” county instead of a place people want to move to. Miles added that property tax rates were never lowered because of the alcohol issue.
Miles said he that in his role as a pastor he has seen the “human fallout” from liquor being more accessible.
“It is just a very, very tragic in your office at all times of the day and night,” he said. “That is not a religious thing it is just that it has contributed to many wrecked lives and a great strain on social services. It is a detriment to a community.”
Miles pointed out that he is aware the issue before the BOC is on holding a referendum and not on whether one approves of the sale of alcohol.
“I seldom go against that (a public vote), but there comes times when people in leadership positions have to exercise leadership,” he said. “...I think this board of commission should stand up and say this is not worthy of being placed on the ballot...That is integrity. I ask you to do it.”
FAVORS REFERENDUM
Two people spoke briefly in favor of placing the issue on the ballot. Dick Higgins, Braselton said people should have the right to vote. He added that allowing the sale of alcohol could take the tax burden off of taxpayers.