News from Jackson County...

NOVEMBER 13, 2002


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Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga

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

Angie Gary
Phil Vassar show
full of fun and energy
He runs and slides across the stage and then jumps on top of his piano. He makes several more laps across the stage without missing a beat before jumping into the middle of the audience. He runs into the crowd, going up and down several aisles and stopping to serenade a few fans.

Rochelle Beckstine
Swimming in October?
For the second time in my life I found myself in a pond because of Ole’ Agnes Scott.

Frank Gillespie
Flag bit Barnes, will Perdue do better?
It was amazing to watch. Soon to be former governor Roy Barnes spent $20 million on a campaign for governor. He lost to a $10 scrap of cloth!

Zach Mitcham
The ‘ESPN-ization’ of sports
I will not spike the ball. (So 80s).
I will not flap my arms like a chicken or other dirty bird. (So 1998).


SPORTS

Tenacious Tigers
After being sent to the canvas by Athens Academy three and a half weeks ago, the Commerce football team has since rebounded with some knockout punches of its own.

David versus Goliath matchup to end season for Jackson Co.
Despite starting the season with a bit of a snag, there’s no doubt that the top team in Region 8-AAAA has lived up to the hype that surrounded them prior to the season.

Dragons all that stand between Spartans and Region 8-A sweep
When the schedules were drawn up for Region 8-A this year, all indications were that this weekend’s regular season finale between Athens Academy and Jefferson would possibly be for all the marbles. Instead, the game will feature two teams on the opposite side of the momentum spectrum, not to mention two schools that know exactly where they will be come playoff time, regardless of Friday’s outcome.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Local veteran honored Sat.
World War II veteran Merritt Segers was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his valor in the line of duty in a brief ceremony at Danielsville United Methodist Church Saturday morning.

County leaders look to slow down motorists
County leaders want motorists to slow down in Oakbend and Windsor Heights subdivisions.

Grace restored
The Frank Anthony homeplace in northern Madison County was a showcase home when it was built circa 1918, and thanks to the handiwork of Ferrell and Betty James, it’s a show place once again.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Loss of chief appraiser delays county’s tax digest
The county’s tax digest will come a little late this year.
After a six-month stint without a chief tax appraiser, the tax assessor and tax commissioner’s offices are working to play catch-up on getting the digest ready.

Clark accepts Baldwin police chief position
The Baldwin City Council approved the permanent appointment of interim police chief Lamar Clark at Monday’s meeting.

White resigns as superintendent
Banks County School System superintendent Deborah White announced Monday that she would be leaving the system after 28 years when her current contract expires in June.

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VETERANS HONORED AT JHS

Local veterans were honored at a special program at Jefferson High School on Monday. Shown are: (L-R) Charles Vernon, T.O. Hall, Vernon Carter, Claudius Thurmond and Tom Meade.

Sheriff points to need for new jail during BOC tour
Sheriff Stan Evans led members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners through the cramped jail Friday morning pointing out the need for a new facility.
The sheriff said the working conditions for the county employees are cramped and rainy days bring more challenges as leaks are reported throughout the facility. The number of inmates at the jail is also at the maximum on most days and the county is looking at taking the overflow to a jail in Alma, at a cost of $40 per day, per prisoner.
“I want to reiterate the bad need for a new facility that is workable,” the sheriff said after a one-hour tour of the jail. “It’s been a nightmare to work this jail. I’ve taken criticism and been investigated because of this jail and this will continue as long as you have this jail. It’s an unmanageable problem. I’m tired of taking the heat for it.”
The current jail, which was built in 1947, holds 125, and the sheriff said a new jail should be built for 400. The jail was first used as a correction center with the sheriff’s department moving in in the 1980s. A renovation was completed in 1954 and there hasn’t been any major improvements since then, county leaders said. A “pod” or unit was added in the 1960s and it houses the female prisoners.
Commissioner Emil Beshara suggested putting the jail issue before voters on a 2004 special purpose local option sales tax.
Evans said the county needs to build a new jail before federal authorities come in and mandate it.
Those going on the jail tour were BOC chairman Harold Fletcher, commissioners Sammy Thomason, Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara, county manager Al Crace, assistant county manager Andy Newton, courthouse consultant Wayne Wilbanks, correctional institute deputy warden Stephen Jones and sheriff’s department chief investigator David Cochran.
The group also toured the Jackson County Correctional Institute, which is located adjacent to the county jail. State inmates are housed at the JCCI.


BOC approves 2003 $30 million budget
Tax rates to hold steady
For the first time ever, the total Jackson County government budget will top $30 million next year. But tax rates will remain basically the same, owing in large part to a growing tax digest that will reap $1 million in additional revenue for the county.
The tax bills are expected to be sent out by November 18, according to tax commissioner Don Elrod. Taxes will be due Jan. 20.
The tax rates will be 8.75 mills for unincorporated areas and 9.76 mills for incorporated areas. The unincorporated and incorporated areas have two separate tax digests and don’t grow at the same rates with insurance premium rollbacks determined through the towns for the incorporated areas.
Final action on the budget and tax rates was taken Friday morning by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
But despite the budget growth for 2003, few county employees will be getting a pay raise. In light of that, commissioner Stacey Britt asked that the county look at raises for hourly employees early next year since they are not included in this budget. He said that the funds could come from money left over from the current year.
Commissioner Emil Beshara added that the budget approved for next year is not an indication of the work being done by the county employees.
“We have a fine staff and they do their job well, “ he said. “This (the lack of raises) is no way a sign of dissatisfaction with their performance.”
In other business at the brief meeting Friday morning, Dean Stringer of the South Jackson Fire Department and David Murphy of the North Jackson Fire Department spoke on the millage rate increases proposed by the two departments.
Stringer said the South Jackson budget calls for a .30 millage rate increase from 1.13 to 1.43. A portion of the money will be used for equipment and engine upgrades in the department’s effort to get a lower ISO rating. The remainder of the money will go toward the purchase of an additional truck, Stringer said.
The North Jackson budget calls for an increase of .64 mills to one mill, which is approximately $109,000. Murphy said the department has purchased a new fire engine. The new truck led to the districts ISO rating dropping from a class nine to a class six. This leads to a decrease in the amount of homeowners insurance a property owner has to pay.
County leaders said that all of the fire department budgets and millage rate proposals were turned in to the county in time for the budget work. He added that things have been running smoothly since the county started handling the financial work for the fire departments.

Jackson County Budget
Income Sources
Property taxes $12.7 million
Sales taxes* $8.4 million
Other taxes $1.3 million
Licenses/Permits $700,500
Intergovernmental $1.7 million
Service Charges $2.3 million
Fines $534,000
Other $158,000
Transfers In $2.8 million
Total Income $30.8 million

Expenses
General Government $3.3 million
Public Safety $10.7 million
Court System $1.9 million
Public Works $4.4 million
Health/Welfare $1.1 million
Recreation/Parks $781,000
Other $1 million
Debt Service $500,000
Transfers Out $2.8 million

*Includes sales taxes collected to distribute to various other governmental units in Jackson County for water, fire and recreation.


Deal Near On Building For Lanier Tech
City, Jackson County, BJC Medical Center Hope To Get Old Wal-Mart Building
The city of Commerce, Jackson County and BJC Medical Center appear to be close to reaching an agreement with Wal-Mart to lease its former Commerce store for a satellite campus of Lanier Technical Institute.
Officials of those groups held a closed-to-the-public meeting Monday night after the Commerce City Council meeting to discuss acquiring the property.
"We had offered them (Wal-Mart) $1.10 a square foot, but they wanted us to pay all the taxes, insurance and all the add-ons," said Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. "We negotiated them back to $1.10 per square foot."
Monday night's meeting resulted in a consensus that staff from the three groups will work out an agreement on who pays what, Hardy said.
There is also a possibility that Athens Regional Medical Center, which, like BJC Medical Center, has a constant need for nurses, will become a partner in the venture, Hardy said.
"Pat Bell told me Athens Regional wanted to participate. David Lawrence (administrator of BJC Medical Center) is going to follow up with that," the mayor stated.
Lanier Tech has already committed to opening a campus in Commerce if the space can be arranged, and Hardy said the technical college's facilities staff has sent a proposal for utilizing the space in the old Wal-Mart building. That document has been turned over to Don Donaudy, the city's architect, to get an estimate of the cost.
The interior renovations would be done by the construction crew from the Jackson County Correctional Institute, Hardy said, and Lanier Tech would be responsible for furnishing and equipping it. The lease with Wal-Mart will last for five years, after which time it is hoped that the state will finance the construction of a permanent Lanier Tech facility.
"We're trying our best to make it take place, us, the county and BJC Medical Center," Hardy stated.


Development project hits another snag at Braselton
Property located on Highway 211 and New Liberty Church Road in Braselton that has encountered several controversies recently has hit another snag with the town council.
On Monday, the Braselton Town Council voted unanimously to table a concept plan for the residential property for 30 days, following concerns with the initial plans. The property lines the Mulberry River, which borders Jackson County.
Once referred to as the Strickland River Farms development, the project is now called the New Liberty Church Tract until a permanent name for the subdivision is decided. The current owners were hoping to close on the property on Tuesday, town clerk Jennifer Scott said.
Nearly a year ago, Barrow County filed a lawsuit against the town and the developers for the residential project that called for more than 500 homes and no commercial development. Barrow County officials claimed the expansive project would be a strain on county resources.
Later, the lawsuit was settled out of court with the developers agreeing to build nearly 16 acres of commercial development on the property, along with donating one acre for a Barrow County fire station. The number of homes was also reduced to 399.
Since the property is zoned Planned Unit Development (PUD), the concept plan and final plats must be approved by the Braselton Town Council.
Braselton Mayor Pat Graham offered to table the New Liberty Church Tract after preliminary concerns were presented in a letter by town planner Kevin Keller.
One item pointed out at the meeting was the fact that part of the proposed fire department was drawn on a flood plain.
A letter from Kenneth Harwell, who represents the project, said the developers can change the location of the fire department on the construction plans.
The concept plan also indicated several residential lots going through sewage line easements. Graham added that by tabling the plan, town officials could study issues about the nearby pump station.
Graham also said she wanted the developers to consider saving the few remaining trees on the property, since the land is largely pastures.
Harwell’s letter stated the development company will try to preserve trees, but the grading and existing topography of the land would make some of that effort difficult.
MULBERRY WALK SHOPPING CENTER
Located adjacent to the New Liberty Church Tract is the Mulberry Walk Shopping Center, which received final plat approval from the Braselton Town Council.
The shopping center is located on Hwy. 211, with a main roadway feeding from Thompson Mill Road.
In September, the town council approved a residential phase for the development for 83 homes. Eventually, the project will include 626 homes and 122 townhomes, although those final plats haven’t been approved by the town council yet.
Town planner Keller approved the project’s landscaping plans and town officials also permitted the project to include arcade canopies over walkways to connect stores.
According to plans submitted to the town council, Mulberry Walk will include 31,000 square feet of retail space among three main buildings. Plans call for two restaurants, a nail salon, cleaners and seven stores.
The town council also learned that a water line extension project from Thompson Mill Road to the project is nearly complete.
Council member Elise Cotter wasn’t present for the meeting.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Braselton Town Council:
• approved an amendment to the architectural and design standards ordinance that no longer requires residential club-type structures, such as subdivision amenity centers, to be constructed of brick, stone or stucco. Instead, the amendment allows those structures to follow the design of the residential homes.
• approved an amendment to the architectural and design standards ordinance to allow canopies and arcades.
• adopted a resolution for the comprehensive plan short term work program, which was approved by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
• adopted a stormwater management ordinance.
• received a draft of financial polices for the town from Mayor Pat Graham, who asked the council members to consider the plan before adopting.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


Kids’ Christmas photos taken through Dec. 2
The annual children’s Christmas section will be published in The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News and The Banks County News on Wednesday, December 18. The newspapers will be accepting photographs of children age 8 years and younger through 5 p.m. Monday, December 2, to be published in the section.
GUIDELINES
Photos of children older than 8 years old will not be published. Also, the child must live in Jackson or Banks county; photos of grandchildren will be accepted and published only if the child resides with the grandparents or guardians in one of those counties.
Please submit the following information along with the child’s photo: The first and last name and age of the child, as well as the parents’ names, their city of residence and phone number. Photos that do not include the requested information will not be published.
Black and white or color photos can be used, but no Polaroids or photographs printed out from a computer onto laser paper will be accepted, as they do not reprint well.
The photos may be dropped off at or mailed to any of the newspaper offices. They may also be emailed to news@mainstreetnews.com as a .jpeg or .tiff file.
The above information about the child should also be included with the email.


Local Artist’s Work Proposed
As ‘Official’ Commerce
Song
The Commerce City Council is considering the adoption of an "official city song."
Ricky Fitzpatrick performed "America in Harmony" at Monday night's meeting, a song he wrote relating to his childhood in Commerce. He'd performed it at a Downtown Development Authority meeting and the DDA recommended to the city council that it be adopted.
Fitzpatrick, who works at Heyward Allen Toyota in Athens, told the council he was inspired by his deep family connections to Commerce, which was chartered as Harmony Grove.
The point, he said, is that Commerce is “an example of diversity in America."
"It paints Commerce in an all-together positive light," he added.
The copyrighted country-music-style lyrics are as follows:

Small town life...small town place,
Small town Sunday afternoon at a small town pace.
That's my house, across the street
From Frederick Williams' store where the old men meet.

And as I drive around downtown, I realize
That we're a sample of America,
Regardless of our size...and I see...

(Chorus)
America in Harmony,
Railroad tracks and pecan trees,
And football games on Friday night,
And Dairy Queen and City Lights.
You could say I've seen it all
And I guess I'd have to agree.
'Cause I've seen America in harmony.

A perfect world, well, it don't exist.
But we're about as close as it'll ever get.
So I'm right here, where I belong,
Playing my guitar and singing songs.

People say I'm missing out; there's a world to see.
But I'm content just to settle down,
'Cause lately I believe...that I see...

(Chorus)
America in Harmony,
Railroad tracks and pecan trees,
And football games on Friday night,
And Dairy Queen and City Lights.
You could say I've seen it all
And I guess I'd have to agree.
'Cause I've seen America in harmony.

City Clerk Shirley Willis has a copy of the song on a CD. Councilman Bob Sosebee, who made the presentation to the city council, asked members to go by City Hall and listen to the song.
"If nobody has any objections, at the next meeting we might want to make it our official song," he said.
Sosebee did not indicate at what occasions he envisioned the song being sung.