News from Madison County...

OCTOBER 30, 2002


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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
The flag question won’t go away
The flag question will not go away. Two political stories last week brought it back into play.

Angela Gary
A night of blues
Willie Kent started out singing in his church choir in Mississippi. Now, he sings the blues a couple of times a week in clubs in Chicago.

Phillip Sartain
Guy stuff

They found me. Not only that but they sent me a catalogue. I really thought that I had done a better job of hiding my weakness. But I shouldn’t really be surprised. It only makes sense that the Gadget Nation would be able to identify one of their own.

Rochelle Beckstine
Christmas just 56 days away
Does that give anyone else heart palpitations? I have a list two and a half pages long of things I need to literally sit down and make between now and Christmas Eve. I need divine intervention.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

25-10 Madison County eyes Class AAAA state title
The doubters were there last year when Madison County was minus eight seniors from 2000.
The Raiders answered the challenge, falling just one game shy of the state title, while earning Class AAA runnerup honors.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC nixes study of alternative courthouse site
Despite a week of intense negotiations, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to not study a second site offered for a new county courthouse.

Braselton hit with another lawsuit
A development company that didn’t get the rezoning and annexation request it sought from Braselton is suing the town for its recent zoning decision.

Election coming up Tuesday
New electronic voting machines to be used
Jackson County voters will join people across Georgia who go to the polls on Tuesday by casting their ballot electronically for the first time.

In Under Budget
Aldridge,Inc. Wins $6.54 Million Contract To Build New Commerce Middle SchoolConstruction on the first new Commerce City School System school since 1974 should commence next month and the contract goes to a company owned by a local man.

Bypass to open Nov. 6
The opening of the Jefferson bypass has been delayed two weeks.
It will open to traffic on Nov. 6, instead of Oct. 22, according to DOT district engineer Larry Dent.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Electronic election starts Tuesday
County voters will get their first real-time glimpse at the state’s new electronic voting machines in an election that could change some of the county’s leadership Tuesday.

Maysville moves closer to final budget
The Maysville City Council has churned out what will likely be its final budget for next year.

Baldwin City Council discusses Chattahoochee pumping station
The Baldwin City Council again heard from Joe Cogbill about the noise coming from the water pumping station along the Chattahoochee River.

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Raiders roll in to State Finals

The Madison County Raider softball team is pictured after winning three of four games in the state sectionals this past week and advancing to the State Final 8 tournament in Columbus this week.

New districts, new machines
New districts, new machines — Tuesday’s elections will feature both.
Voters across Georgia will see democracy meet the computer age Tuesday as new electronic voting machines are put in use.
Beyond the new equipment, which officials say is simple to use, voters will focus on picking representatives for redrawn General Assembly posts.
Thanks, or no thanks to redistricting, Madison County was divided into three state House and two Senate seats. All but one of those posts will be contested Tuesday, the House District 76 seat, where Republican Bob Smith is running unopposed.
Meanwhile, Democrat Tom McCall will face Republican Joe Harris for the House District 78 seat. Democrat Alan Powell will face Republican Arch Adams for the House District 23 seat.
Madison County resident Ralph Hudgens, a Republican, will face Hart County’s Robert Banks for the state senate District 47 post. And Democrat Suellen Simmons will face Republican L.S. Casey Cagle for the senate District 49 seat.


BOC turns down rec director’s request for equipment
Madison County commissioners turned down recreation director Dick Perpall’s request Monday to purchase equipment to help maintain the Colbert City Park, which the county has agreed to supervise for at least one year.
Perpall requested a mower and a field dragging machine. He said the department has three mowers that are in constant use. He said adding a fourth park to recreation duties means that the department will need additional equipment. The department already maintains the main park on Hwy. 98 as well as Mize and Diamond Hill parks. Perpall added that purchasing new equipment will prove beneficial in a few years when new fields are functional on the approximately 30 acres recently purchased to expand the main park.
The director also said that the money for the equipment purchases is available in his 2002 budget. He said there is approximately $16,000 to $18,000 available for the purchases, provided that the department hold off on replacing the original siding at the 28-year-old main office at the Hwy. 98 park.
Commissioner Mike Youngblood opposed the equipment purchases. He said that the money should be used to replace the siding at the recreation main office. Youngblood said that the commissioners agreed to take over maintenance of the Colbert park on the condition that they not allocate additional funds to the park in a tight budget year. He also said that the addition of fields at the main park is a long-term project and that the expansion should not be considered during a present-day equipment purchase.
“I suggest you keep the funds on the line items they’re on now,” Youngblood told Perpall.
Perpall said he felt the purchase would help the recreation department be “ahead of the game” on equipment and that it would be wise to go ahead and make the purchases while the funds are available.
Commissioner Bill Taylor said he felt the recreation board should have been consulted by Perpall on the proposed equipment purchases before the director brought the matter to the commissioners.
BOC member Bruce Scogin made a motion to approve the purchase of a mower for the department. But the motion died due to a lack of a second. Scogin then made a motion to deny the field dragging machine. The other four commissioners — Youngblood, Taylor, Johnny Fitzpatrick and Melvin Drake — voted in favor of the denial. Scogin then voted against the denial.
In a separate recreation matter Monday, the BOC approved a $1,900 environmental assessment and $5,000 archaeological survey of the land recently purchased for recreation department expansion.
And in other recreation business, the commissioners agreed to set a date at their next meeting for a work session with the recreation board on revising the rec board by-laws.
IDA CHAIRMAN
GIVES REPORT
Also Monday, the board heard from Ed Brown, chairman of the Madison County Industrial Authority. Brown reported that the IDA was pleased to learn that the chemical analysis of the water from the Hwy. 72 well revealed that the water has a very low iron-content. “It was better than we expected,” said Brown. The well is being developed to serve as a backup well for the Hull water system.
Brown was asked by commissioner Scogin whether the IDA would consider selling the eastern portion of the 80-acres the group purchased to develop a business park. Brown said the IDA has not “made a definite decision on that,” but he added that a committee formed to review the Hwy. 72 property had recommended that the authority sell that portion of the property.
The BOC also agreed Monday to transfer the right-of-way for the sewer line to the new jail to the IDA to help ensure that the authority qualifies for $190,000 in grant money for the sewer line project.
OTHER
BUSINESS
The board agreed to set a work session date for discussing subdivision regulations at its next meeting on Nov. 11.
The BOC accepted Ashley Court as a county road.
The group approved a beer and wine license transfer for Jai’s Country Corner.
The BOC approved a 45 mph speed limit sign for Short-Seagraves Road. The group approved a termite treatment contract with Suits Pest Control, Inc. for service at the library and old courthouse.
The board tabled action on a timber harvest ordinance. Commissioners want to make sure that timber harvesters be required to put up bonds that adequately cover the potential damage they could do to county properties while harvesting timber.


No action taken by BOC on conservation subdivision proposal
A solid step to keep the county green?
Or a possible way for the county to lose another form of green — money?
County leaders and concerned citizens hashed out the pros and possible cons of conservation subdivisions Monday.
The hour-and-a-half discussion yielded some interesting points, but no action.
On Oct. 15, the county zoning commission recommended approval to the county zoning ordinance for an “open space overlay zone for conservation subdivisions.” The change would allow developers to split land into smaller lot sizes than the zoning ordinance now calls for, provided they agree to save a minimum of 50 percent of the land suitable for development as green space.
Developers would not be required to implement conservation subdivisions, except when developing in the Broad River corridor. Otherwise, the conservation plans would simply be an option for developers to consider.
Proponents of the plan say it is a good way to ensure that residential development doesn’t devour valuable natural habitats in the county.
But others expressed concern over the fiscal soundness of the proposal.
The primary concern of county commission chairman Wesley Nash was who will be ultimately responsible for paying the taxes on protected land in conservation subdivisions. He said that without a clear entity bearing the tax burden on the property, the county may, for instance, be forced to place a lien on a property if no one pays the taxes on the protected land. The county may then take over the land and find that there is little market interest in the land, because it cannot be developed. He said the county may then be stuck with “useless” land. County clerk Morris Fortson said that this could hurt the county tax digest.
County planner Jay Baker said that the tax responsibility could fall on a homeowners’ association or on the developer of the subdivision.
“It’s up to the developer to decide how they want to do it,” he said.
Others argued that undeveloped land is certainly not “useless,” as Nash said, and that such land will prove very valuable over time.
Zoning adviser Leo Smith suggested that commissioners go ahead and approve the conservation amendment and leave the taxation issue and other potential problems to be considered as they arise with specific proposals.
“I say you pass it and let it work,” said Smith of the conservation amendment. “When the problem comes, then we solve it.”

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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.


Leaders hope voters say ‘yes, yes, yes’ to Freeport
Madison County business leaders hope voters say “yes, yes, yes” to the three “special election” questions on the county’s Nov. 5 ballot.
The “yes” responses, they say, will help leaders bring business into Madison County.
If approved, the changes will mean that businesses in the county will be exempt from taxes on certain inventory, such as raw materials, finished goods held by manufacturers, goods in process, finished goods held for out-of-state shipment and warehoused retail inventory.
Madison County is one of just 24 Georgia counties that does not have these exemptions — known as Freeport exemptions — for businesses.
Chamber of Commerce president Marvin White says that not having Freeport exemptions puts Madison County at a disadvantage when trying to lure businesses to the county.
“If you don’t have Freeport, then when industry looks at Madison County, you don’t even get considered,” said White. “It eliminates you before you get a chance to show them your area.”
White maintains that the elimination of the inventory taxes would not hurt county revenues.
“Madison County doesn’t even record any taxes collected in the inventory area,” he said. “So, logically, it would have zero impact on Madison County (revenues).”
Conversely, White says the Freeport exemption will help relieve some of the property tax burden on county homeowners by drawing more business to the county.
(For the actual ballot questions regarding Freeport, see the sample ballot on Page 9A under “special elections.”)