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NOVEMBER 6, 2002


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

 Phillip Sartain
Getting your mind out of the gutters
It’s that time of year, again. Summer has sounded the retreat. And as usual, it slunk out of town like a coward. In its wake, the sky is full of falling leaves.

Rochelle Beckstine
Eight hours sleep good, Nine hours sleep deadly
Too much sleep can kill you or so Boston University School of Medicine says.

Frank Gillespie
Safety measures needed for Glenn Carrie Road
It finally happened. I have been expecting it for some time now.
A young girl died as a result of a Monday afternoon accident just off Glenn Carrie Road. This tragedy is the result of too many vehicles, too many kids in the streets and no sidewalks.

Margie Richards
Things are sweet at Sourwood
A getaway.
We all need just that sometimes.
And I’ve found that no matter how busy we are, my husband Charles and I have to take time to “get out of town” (or out of the county) every couple of months, even if it’s just overnight.


SPORTS

Rivals Jockeying For Region Position
Fifty-five years of history and bad blood aside, one has to look no further than the region standings to see that this Friday’s Commerce-Jefferson matchup will mean a lot to whoever is left standing.

Another successful Lady Panther season ends in Columbus
Not many people might have expected a team returning only two players from a season ago to have a very successful team, let alone one that was in competition for a state title. But, that’s exactly the position the Jackson County slow-pitch team was in last weekend as they returned to their fourth trip in five years to the state tournament’s Elite Eight in Columbus.

Rivalry aside, Friday’s showdown has huge Region 8-A implications
As if there wasn’t already enough animosity between the two schools that make up the North Oconee River Rivalry, the latest incidents of tomfoolery that surround the meeting between Commerce and Jefferson will almost certainly add to the fervor.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
GOP favored by county voters
Madison County voters joined the national shift to the right by voting heavily for Republican candidates in Tuesday’s general election. All but two Republican office seekers carried the county by large margins.

Child dies after being struck by motorcycle
The flags flew at half-staff at the middle school Tuesday in memory of a sixth grade student who died late Monday evening after being struck by a motorcycle as she walked in her subdivision.

Edwards remembered as good student, friend
A popular sixth grader who played the flute in the band, had a good singing voice and a sunny disposition.

Comer council to consider new beer and wine ordinance
Restaurants in Comer could soon be able to serve beer and wine to their customers.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Westmoreland stays, Rogers out
Come January 1, Banks County will have a new commissioner and the school board will have its only member without children.

Voters warm up to new machines
The new touch-screen voting machines went over well in Banks County on Election Day Tuesday.

Child abuse reports continue to rise
The September report from the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services showed that staff members are seeing a continued rise in child abuse cases.

CVB budget up $6,000
Members of the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau approved the 2003 budget at $128,000 at last week’s meeting.

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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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EVERY VOTE COUNTS

The lines were long at the polls Tuesday afternoon at the Administrative Building in Jefferson. Here Marissa Cook is shown voting as a line of people wait in the background for their opportunity. It was Marissa’s first time to vote.

Republican tide swamps Jackson
Bell upset by Elrod in House race. Having the (R) beside your name in Jackson County was as good as gold in Tuesday’s balloting as Republican candidates swamped Democrats in local votes.
In a surprising upset, Democrat incumbent state Rep. Pat Bell was ousted from the District 25 seat by political newcomer Republican Chris Elrod. Although Bell did carry a slight majority of votes in Jackson County, she lost District 25 precincts in Barrow County, losing overall by just 60 votes.
Two years ago, Bell had herself pulled an upset by defeating Republican incumbent Scott Tolbert following a bitter campaign that focused on Tolbert’s ties to a private waste water firm seeking to do business in Jackson County. Elrod is Tolbert’s law partner in Jefferson and Tuesday, reclaimed the seat for the Republican Party.
Bell’s defeat followed a general trend in Jackson County that saw a heavy Republican turnout. Only three Democratic candidates won a majority of votes in Jackson County — Bell, incumbent secretary of state Cathy Cox, and incumbent commissioner of agriculture Tommy Irvin.
In all other races, Jackson County voters went heavily for Republican candidates. Two-thirds of local voters supported Republican Saxby Chambliss for the U.S. Senate over incumbent Democrat Max Cleland and Republican Sonny Perdue over incumbent Democrat Roy Barnes for governor. Both Republicans also won state-wide.
While losing state-wide, Republican Steve Stancil carried Jackson County with 57 percent of the vote for lieutenant governor.
In addition, all three state senate seats that cover Jackson County were won by Republican candidates: Brian Kemp won the District 46 seat; Ralph Hudgens won the District 47 seat; and Casey Cagle won the District 49 seat.
Overall, the turnout in Tuesday’s election was heavy in Jackson County, despite a cold rain that continued for most of the day. In some local precincts, voters were seen standing outside in the rain waiting for their turn to vote. Jackson County had a 52 percent turnout, more than double the turnout in July’s primary elections.


Chamber’s ‘Taste Of Jackson’ Scheduled For Thursday Night
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce's tenth annual Taste of Jackson & Business Showcase is planned for Thursday night from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
Seventy-eight booths showcase the business community of the Jackson County area and culinary products of the food and hospitality industry. General admission is $5 per person over 21. Parents are asked not to bring children.
The Taste of Jackson & Business Showcase is an annual event produced by the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition to free koozies, hats, pens, key chains, mouse pads, tote bags, and other free items, thousands of dollars worth of door prizes will be given out throughout the evening. The purpose of the event is to exhibit the culinary capabilities of the hospitality and food service sectors of the Jackson County area and the depth and breadth of business.
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit, volunteer business organization that serves as the voice of the business community of the Jackson County area. The members of the Chamber of Commerce address a range of issues on a daily basis in an effort to enhance the quality of life and business opportunities in collaboration with government leaders from Jackson County, its nine municipalities, the state of Georgia and the federal government.


County manager working without signed contract
Jackson County manager Al Crace has been working without a signed contract since being hired a year ago.
Inquires from The Jackson Herald about the specific terms of Crace’s pay and employment revealed that no final contract between the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and Crace was ever signed.
Crace was hired last December to replace Skip Nalley, who had resigned under pressure from the manager’s position.
One of the key provisions that was supposed to have been in the contract with Crace was a mandatory review after six months. That review has not yet been done by the BOC.
While no contract was executed, the terms of Crace’s employment were outlined in a November 2001 email from county attorney Daniel Haygood as follows:
• initial salary of $95,000 per year.
• a retirement contribution of $11,500.
• a six month “review of accomplishments” with a $10,000 bonus to a deferred compensation plan for Crace at that time.
• the BOC could give an additional $10,000 bonus to the deferred compensation plan with a majority vote.
• if the $10,000 bonus was not given after six months, it would be given after 12 months “regardless.”
• a car allowance of an unspecified amount or a vehicle provided by the county at the choice of Crace.
• a one-time payment for moving expenses to Jackson County.
• if terminated, Crace would get a four-month severance payment.
• after 12 months, Crace is eligible for any increases given other county employees.
• life and health benefits according to the county personnel plan.

It is not clear since no contract was signed if the $10,000 bonus due to Crace after 12 months will be given. During recent county budget hearings, Crace said that except for sheriff’s department deputies and elected department heads whose salary is controlled by the state, no other county employees would be getting a pay increase for 2003.
In a follow-up memorandum, Crace said that there had been “no change” to his compensation and that the budget for his department does not propose any changes.
No date has been set by the BOC for a review of Crace.


City Moving To Declare Pardue’s
MHP A ‘Nuisance’
Following code inspections last week that found more than 80 health and safety violations, the city of Commerce is moving to declare Pardue's Mobile Home Park a public nuisance.
That could ultimately result in the closing of the blighted neighborhood, which is located along Clayton Street and Waterworks Road.
Building inspector David Lanphear inspected many of the trailers last Wednesday, and though he thought he was prepared for what he would find, Lanphear said he was shocked.
"It was really worse than I even expected it to be, once I got inside and saw how they were being maintained," Lanphear said. "I knew they were bad, but until you actually walk through them with people living in them and see the conditions ... the faulty plumbing, sinks leaking and rotting the floor out, toilets leaking and falling through the rotted floor, open wiring in walls that have been torn out, floors all spongy and kids living in them and crawling around on the floor ..."
The owners/managers, Claud Pardue and Greg Pardue, were present when Lanphear conducted the inspections. He recorded 85 violations and was unable to enter some of the trailers because the renters were not present.
Lanphear ordered "five to seven" people to vacate their trailers immediately, due to health hazards.
"The electrical on some of the pedestals was unsafe for anybody to be around," he said. "Some of the interior electrical panels were in such bad shape, coming off the wall with exposed wiring or no covering. I had the city Electric Department come out and disconnect a transformer that served six trailers because the pedestals were unsafe."
Lanphear said one resident told him that he repeatedly had power outages, whereupon the resident would strike the wall next to the electrical panel to restore power.
"He'd see sparks at night, but figured that was OK," Lanphear said.
Other violations included leaking roofs, raw sewage on the ground, abandoned trailers with broken windows still on the premises, burned trailers that had not been cleaned up, broken windows and trash, he added. In addition, the inspections uncovered numerous cases of theft of cable television services, a matter turned over to the police.
Tenants told Lanphear they pay $135 to $145 a week to live there.
Once he compiles his inspection findings, Lanphear will file a public nuisance complaint with Police Chief John W. Gaissert, who will call a hearing within 30 days, at which time Lanphear will state his case and the Pardues will rebut. Gaissert will state his findings in writing and post them on the property, either ordering abatement (the permanent closure of the park) or mandating repairs.
If the cost of repairs is more than 50 percent of the value of the property, the city can order the property removed. If the owner fails to comply, the city can clean up the property and attach a lien to it for its costs.
As of this week, less than 10 trailers in the facility were occupied.
"There were a few in fairly good shape," Lanphear noted.
While Pardue’s Mobile Home Park has been targeted because it is considered one of the worst, officials say other mobile home parks will likely be inspected as well.
Until recently, rent-by-the-week mobile home parks have escaped the city’s notice because all utility services are handled by the owners. Thus, the city has no way of knowing when tenants change, which is when the city’s minimum housing code inspections are triggered on rental housing.


Talmo gets first annexation request in 13 years
The City of Talmo could soon decide on its first annexation request in more than 13 years, provided county officials approve of the proposed move.
The last annexation request approved for the town occurred in March 1989 for John H. Kinney Jr. Talmo’s city limits include 1.75 square miles, or 1,118 acres.
On Tuesday, Talmo Mayor Larry Joe Wood reported that three annexation requests for four tracts of land totaling more than 46 acres have been submitted to the city.
The properties, which all lie on Mountain Creek Church Road, are owned by Eric Pennington, Darrett Limits Partnerships and Alton Cooper. The properties line Talmo’s city limits.
Currently, the land is zoned in Jackson County as A-2, but if annexed into Talmo’s city limits, the property would be zoned A-G for agricultural uses. Talmo’s zoning ordinance doesn’t have A-2 zoning, but A-G is given for similar uses in the town, said Jefferson Planning and Development Director Gina Mitsdarffer. At this time, there is no rezoning request for the properties.
But what makes this request more unique is that it will possibly be the first annexation request heard by the Quad Cities Planning Commission since Talmo, Pendergrass, Jefferson and Arcade broke away from the county planning commission.
The first test for the request will be a decision by either Jackson County Commission Chairman Harold Fletcher or Jackson County Planning Director B.R. White to give the nod of approval for the annexation into Talmo and out of the county’s hands.
A county representative will have 10 days to respond to a certified letter notifying them of the annexation request, Mitsdarffer said. If the county fails to respond in that time, Talmo can move ahead with the annexation request since the county will lose its right to object to the proposed move.
But if the county objects to the annexation request, city and county officials can then enter a mitigation process.
Yet, if Fletcher or White approve the request without objection, the Quad Cities Planning Commission will hear the request before sending its recommendation to the Talmo City Council for a final vote.
In a related matter, Wood said the Talmo City Council should consider passing the same sign ordinance for the bypass that is in the works for Jefferson and Arcade.
The city council also agreed to allow the Quad Cities Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on changing the town’s zoning ordinance for single-family residential lots (R-1).
Currently, the ordinance says residential lots can have one dwelling unit per one and half acres, regardless if the property is on public or well water.
The proposed move would allow homes on public water in R-1 districts to have one dwelling unit per one acre, while homes with well water remain at one and a half acres.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Talmo City Council:
• voted to impose a 35 m.p.h. speed limit on A.J. Irvin Road.
• voted to adopt the bylaws and public hearing procedures for the Quad Cities Planning Commission.
• learned that the library’s hours have changed to 1 to 5 p.m. for winter hours.
• learned a proposed budget will be presented in December, with the city council expecting to adopt it in January.
• read a letter from a concerned resident about her children crossing a dangerous road. Wood said city leaders will look into long-term plans for the road.
• learned that R&W Sanitation is the town’s new garbage provider, after Georgia Waste opted to change service routes with R&W Sanitation. Garbage service has been changed to Fridays and the city will continue to bill for the service, city clerk Dana Kinney said. After hearing comments from Talmo residents on the recent change, the city council could decide to open bids for another garbage provider.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


Nativity scene at issue in Hoschton
A question of church versus state is being debated in Hoschton following the tabling of a request for a live nativity scene on city property.
At stake is a decision on whether Hoschton United Methodist Church can hold its annual holiday nativity on city land.
Monday night, the Hoschton City Council learned of the request by Rev. Darrell McGinnis, pastor of the church, to hold a live nativity scene in the city square between the antique store and the consignment shop.
Hoschton UMC plans to hold the live nativity scene Thursday, Dec. 12 and Friday, Dec. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m.
The city council was prepared to vote for approving the church’s request when city attorney Thomas Mitchell warned the decision could become a liability problem for the city.
“The real problem is when you say ‘Yes’ to something like this and then ‘No’ to something else,” he said of the potential legal problems the city could face, such as lawsuits.
Mitchell cited other cities that had to wrangle with similar church versus state issues, such as Atlanta and Cincinnati.
“I think it’s just a shame we’re having this conversation,” said council member Ben Davis, to which several people in the room agreed to his comment.
Council member Rosemary Bagwell questioned the difference between Hoschton UMC’s request and allowing the Hoschton Women’s Civic Center to welcome Santa Claus at the city’s gazebo, as the organization annually does.
She also said the church could be asked to hold the nativity scene on private property owned by the consignment shop.
The Hoschton City Council voted to table the request until its next meeting on Dec. 2.

OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Hoschton City Council:
•voted to change the council’s work sessions to the Monday prior to city council meetings, starting Nov. 25.
•voted to approve the purchase of three temporary speed bumps for $1,000 to be placed at Panther Court and West Jefferson Street; New Street and East Jefferson and Broad Street and New Street.
•held the second reading for an ordinance on water restrictions and penalties. The council then voted to approve the proposal.
•voted to approve a business license request for Derrick Meek for a landscape maintenance business on Jackson Trail Road.
•voted to approve a business license, pending Health Department approval, for Tammey Hinson for the Hoschton Cafe on Bell Avenue.
•learned about a request from Hoschton Police Chief Dave Hill to ask the school system to stop allowing buses to use New Street as a short cut due to traffic flow problems. Others questioned the safety of using Highway 53 as the primary traffic route to the schools. Council member Brian Boehmer said the city will send a letter to the Georgia Department of Transportation requesting it to consider traffic flow issues for several Hoschton streets.


Christmas in Braselton ahead Thurs.-Sat.
The annual Christmas in Braselton event is planned for Thursday through Saturday, November 7-9, at West Jackson Primary School. The event is sponsored by the Braselton Business Association.
The hours for this year’s event will be 4-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7-8, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
A car show will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and a gospel singing will begin at 6:30 p.m. later that day at a cost of $5 at the door.
For more information about vendors, booths, crafts, a toy drive, raffle and more, contact Frankie, Jan or Kim at 654-3625.