News from Jackson County...

NOVEMBER 20, 2002

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County


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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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Commerce To Face Perennial Powerhouse, Coaching Great
There won’t be any shortage of postseason savvy on the other sideline in Tiger Stadium Friday night.

Panther season full of growing pains
Depending on your perspective, Jackson County’s 41-6 loss at Cedar Shoals last Friday can either signify a sorrowful end to a lackluster season, or the start of a time when the Panthers can begin to close the gap between themselves and the rest of the region in the offseason.

Class A State Playoffs
Expect to see some famous faces in the stands when Jefferson travels to No. 4 Landmark Christian for their first-round state playoff game this Friday. Two of the War Eagles’ standout players have fathers well known in the athletic world—one as a football guru and the other as a three-time heavyweight boxing champion.

Neighboorhood News ..
BOE approves SPLOST project list
A number of Madison County school improvement projects will be addressed over the next five years if county voters approve a renewal of a one-cent sales tax for schools in March.

Closing date for water system deal remains up in the air
The date to close the deal on the Industrial Development and Building Authority’s (IDA) purchase of Hull water lines from Athens-Clarke County (ACC) remains in limbo for now.

Neighborhood News...
Lula man airlifted to Atlanta with hypothermia after Mt. Sinai wreck
Rescuers unsure how long man lay amongst pines
Dwayne Howard Hardeman, 50, Lula, was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta Monday morning with severe hypothermia and unknown injuries after what appeared to be a single-vehicle accident.

Alto mayor refuses to break tie as council delays seat appointment
The Alto City Council won’t be appointing anyone to the vacant council seat until the January 14 meeting, due to Mayor Carolyn Gulley’s flat-out refusal to break a tie.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Family members of Major Damon J. Gause helped open the bypass named in his honor in Jefferson on Wednesday. Pictured here are (left to right): Ellie Wilkes being held by Ginger Gause Wilkes, Gause’s granddaughter; Reba Parks, clerk of courts; Al Crace, county manager; Vernon Carter, husband of Ruth Gause Carter; Doug Haynie, mayor of Arcade; Ruth Gause Carter, Gause’s wife; Philip Thompson, Jefferson City Council member; Damon Gause Jr., son of Damon J. Gause; Jim Joiner, mayor of Jefferson; Jay Gause is begin held by her father, Lance Gause, grandson; Annette Gause, wife of Lance Gause; Todd Long, Georgia Department of Transportation assistant district engineer; Bosie Griffith, Jefferson City Council member and Tim Knight, GDOT area engineer.

Jefferson by-pass to open Thurs.
Cars could begin riding along Jefferson’s Major Damon J. Gause Bypass on Thursday afternoon — weather permitting, of course.
Traffic is expected to be lead onto the bypass by law enforcement officials between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., said Georgia Department of Transportation Area Engineer Tim Knight.
But, with last minute work still underway and possibly rainy weather, the opening of the Gause Bypass might be delayed again, Knight said.
Crews were working on the bypass Wednesday morning as the highway was dedicated in honor of Jefferson’s Major Damon J. Gause.
Gause was a World War II soldier who escaped the Philippine Islands and made his way to Australia in a small boat. Once back in the United States, he asked to return to the war effort and was stationed in England, where he was killed in March 1944.
Gause’s war journal became a novel in 1999 and later Walt Disney Pictures considered making his story into a movie, with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon supposedly set to be executive producers of the film.
“My father would be quite honored,” said his son, Damon Gause Jr. “As you know, he was raised as a young boy here in Jackson County; he played in these rugged red hills, fished in these streams and hunted in these woods.”
Several of Major Gause’s family were on hand for the dedication, including his wife, Ruth Gause Carter.
“This honor of the bypass carrying his name, will restore, in my mind, his presence back in his native and loved Jackson County red-clay hills,” Gause said.
The Gause Bypass, which stretches from near Academy Church Road into Arcade, was constructed at a cost of $27.2 million.
Once opened, southbound traffic from Interstate 85 will enter near Academy Church Road, although construction work at that intersection is expected to take another 30 days, Knight said. Academy Church Road’s entrance will temporarily be one lane and the speed limit will be 45 m.p.h.
From the there, the bypass expands to four lanes and the speed limit remains at 55 m.p.h.
Knight cautions drivers about deer and even native turkey that might attempt to cross the highway.
Signals are located at only two locations—State Route 11 at Jackson County Comprehensive High School and in Arcade, where the bypass merges back into Hwy. 129/State Route 11 at city hall.
The cross streets are located at Windy Hill Road, State Route 82, Arcade Park Road, Ethridge Road, Galilee Church Road, Old Swimming Pool Road, Old Pendergrass Road, Holders Siding Road and Academy Church Road.
Highway 129, through Jefferson, will become known as the business route.

'Ladder One' To Take Commerce
Fire Department To New Heights
What's bright red, cost $497,864 and has a siren? "Ladder One," Commerce's newest fire truck, which arrived at the J. Nolan Spear Public Safety complex last week. More importantly, says Fire Chief Johnny Eubanks, Ladder One will provide a new level of protection against fires in the city's tallest buildings.
With the 77-foot ladder on its rear, members of the Commerce Fire Department will be able to reach the upper floors of most commercial and industrial buildings in Commerce and the East Jackson Fire District. According to Eubanks, there are 12 buildings in the city and three in the fire district that are 35 feet high or higher.
The truck will go into service as soon as the first group of 10 firemen are trained in its use. "The operation of the ladder is the critical part that will take the training," Eubanks explained. "The rest of the truck, driving it and the pump, is just like our other vehicles."
Capable of pumping 1,500 gallons per minute atop that 77-foot ladder, Ladder One will be the first response vehicle to fire calls at larger structures, including any to larger homes, Eubanks said.
It's not just the height capability that will help firemen, but also the versatility of the ladder. It can swivel 360 degrees and support a 900-pound load fully extended horizontally.
Should the department ever have to perform a rescue from one of the upper floors, Eubanks said the ladder would be extended to a door or window, a fireman would go up and rescue the victim, after which the ladder would be turned away from the blaze and lowered to within 10 feet of the ground.
The city has a five-year lease/purchase financing arrangement, which will begin in the next fiscal year. Money from the East Jackson Fire District will be used to make the annual payments.
The new truck figures into an effort to get the city's ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating reduced. That is the rating upon which fire insurance premiums are based.
The ISO inspector was in Commerce last week and while Eubanks appeared optimistic that a reduction from Class 5 is imminent, he was also cautious.
"He said Commerce has definitely made major improvements in every category," Eubanks stated.

Commissioners question animal control ordinance
Commissioner Emil Beshara got the strongest criticism at a public hearing Monday night on his proposed animal control ordinance from his fellow commissioners. The BOC plans to vote on the proposal on Dec. 2, and if it passes, it will be implemented in January.
Only three citizens spoke at Monday’s meeting, each commenting in favor of the ordinance.
But several of Beshara’s fellow commissioners questioned portions of the ordinance.
While none said he opposed the ordinance, they did question the wording of certain sections. Commissioner Stacey Britt said he is concerned about including livestock in the ordinance.
“Surely, we’re not to the point in Jackson County where we’re going from no animal control ordinance to where we’re going to have an animal control officer that will go out and chase someone’s cows because the neighbor called,” Britt said. “Surely, we haven’t gone to that point. Let’s ease into this.”
Beshara said: “I think common sense will dictate the amount of interaction that the animal control department has with livestock.”
He added that the sheriff’s office is now called to chase cows that get out.
Beshara said the main component of the ordinance is that it calls for pet owners to maintain control of animals on their property.
“Essentially what it’s doing, as it’s written, is getting rid of strays,” he said. “It’s allowing Jackson County government to take the strays and get them off the streets and get them out of the neighborhoods.”
Britt said the ordinance also gives people who get mad at their neighbor over an unrelated issue a reason to call and report an animal complaint.
“A barking dog and a mad taxpayer are going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” he said.
Beshara said these complaints already cost the county money because sheriff’s deputies are called out.
“It’s expensive, absolutely, but it’s absolutely necessary,” Beshara said. “...It’s too big a problem not to do anything about.”
The ordinance calls for an animal control department to be established and an officer to be hired. Beshara said that the county could contract with a veterinarian to take the animals that are picked up by the officer.
The biggest change in the ordinance from one proposed earlier by Beshara is that it does not call for a registration fee to be charged for pets. The earlier proposal called for pet owners to pay a fee for their cats and dogs in order to cover the costs of the animal control program. Beshara said that this was taken out of the proposal following meetings with a citizens’ committee on animal control.
Beshara said the new proposal also outlines provisions for countians who have hunting dogs. That was a concern of several people who were named to serve on the citizens’ committee. Beshara said that language in the ordinance was modified to clarify that legal hunting activities are still legal.
There was some discussion at Monday’s meeting on whether dogs that leave the property where they are hunting and go onto a neighbor’s property will be in violation of the ordinance. Beshara said the dogs must remain on the property owner’s land or land they have permission to be on.
Beshara also responded to a question from commissioner Sammy Thomason about enforcement of the ordinance in incorporated areas. He said that the requirement that pet owners maintain control of their pets on their own property would “almost certainly require folks who live on small lots to have the pet within a fence or on a run or leash to keep it on their property.”
“As most lots in a municipality are smaller lots, this would mean that they would have to take steps to assure that their pets didn’t wander off their land,” Beshara said on Tuesday.
Commissioner Tony Beatty questioned the portion of the ordinance that lists the penalty for those who violate the ordinance. He questioned whether the penalty for a complaint of a dog barking for one hour could be one day in jail. Beshara pointed out that violating a county ordinance is a misdemeanor and a one-day jail sentence could be given, but would not be required.
Beshara said that the budget for the first year would be approximately $100,000. He added that these funds could come from money left over from the general fund this year. He said approval of the ordinance could be on a one-year basis and the BOC would review whether to continue it and how to pay for it after that time period.
Thomason asked that a used truck be used instead of a new truck. Beshara had mentioned allocating approximately $25,000 for a truck, but he agreed that a used vehicle could be used.
Britt also questioned the cost of animal control.
“What we’re fixing to do here is start something that is just going to be a black hole to the taxpayers,” he said. “Granted, you say it’s not going to cost a lot to start with but this thing is going to be like mushrooms. It’s just going to grow and grow and grow. It’s going to take a big part of Jackson County’s budget in the future if you’re going to continue to be in animal control... I don’t think any of us realize what it’s going to cost in 10 years.”
Beshara said: “We’re growing very fast. We’ve needed animal control in Jackson County for at least 10 years. We keep on rezoning property for subdivisions. We keep on bringing more people...”
Beshara asked the commissioners to forward any suggestions or changes on the ordinance to him in the next week.
“I’m confident that we can work the wording out to the satisfaction of the majority (of the BOC),” he said.
After the commissioners spoke on the proposal, three citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance.
Colleen Lombardo said the county needs to implement an animal control ordinance. She said that she has had problems with stray animals being dumped on her property and has had no help from the county.
Dan Sikes, Harmony Church Road, said he appreciates the efforts of Beshara and supports the ordinance. He added that he has seen livestock starving and something needs to be done about it.
“We need to take this problem seriously,” he said.
Sonja Nelson, Antrium Glen, said her subdivision has had serious problems with stray dogs with the residents being forced to carry baseball bats and Mace when they go for walks. She added that there were 17 stray dogs in her neighborhood at one time.
“I have lived in 16 countries and I’ve never lived any place where there is such a nonchalant attitude toward animals,” she said. “It’s awful. It’s time to do something about it and the only one who can do it is the commissioners.”

Jefferson BOE hit with $170,000 state cuts
In the midst of what were already tight fiscal times, the Jefferson Board of Education learned Thursday that it will be hit with an additional two percent cutback in state funding.
The losses are particularly troubling for the Jefferson City School System because they come in the form of direct funding. The cuts equal $170,000, or the combined value of roughly five teachers.
The state office of planning and budget informed Georgia agencies and local school systems last Wednesday that because of reduced revenue collections, a two percent cut in state funds will be necessary for FY 2003 and FY 2004.
The reductions come at a bad time when the system waits for the collection of local revenues to begin in January.
“It is getting extremely difficult for us to get through the first six months (of the fiscal year),” superintendent Dr. John Jackson said. “It is a big decrease over what we were operating on last year at this time.”
The cut is the latest in what has been a year full of reductions, this one coming at a particularly hard time for school systems in Georgia since many have already allocated the funds for spending.
This past April, the state cut back one percent of appropriations as a precautionary measure, and then followed in August with another withholding of an additional two percent of appropriations.
During that time, the state education department cut back three percent for both FY 2003 and FY 2004, however direct instruction funding was exempted from those reductions. The latest cuts do not exempt direct instruction.
“This one hurts even more because you planned for (the money to be spent),” BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins said. “It is a very serious situation.”
Counting mid-term adjustments later this school year, Jackson said the losses to Jefferson City Schools would be approximately $200,000 and beyond that, the projected losses for all of this year’s cutbacks could total nearly half a million dollars when all is said and done.
Despite the “grim situation,” Jackson stated that the system should be able to continue operating as it has been by dipping into reserves until January.
The state acknowledged the difficulty local school systems will have in implementing the reductions and said that proposals to allow local systems flexibility in implementing the reductions are in the works.
The FY 2003 budget, which is currently in effect as well as the FY 2004 budget, which is under development, will each feel the effects overall.
Homes to go up in Mulberry Plantation early next year
Six years after the rezoning was approved for the largest residential development in Jackson County’s history, it looks like work may finally begin on the project.
Developer Doug Elam gave an update on the Mulberry Plantation project at a meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon. Elam said the hold-up on the project has been Jackson County getting sewer lines in place.
“I didn’t know if I would live to see a Republican governor elected in Georgia or Jackson County put in a sewer line,” he said. “Now, both have happened.”
Elam is in the process of selling the property on Gum Springs Church Road and Hwy. 124 to Bluegreen Land and Golf. He said 12 developers were screened before the decision was made that Bluegreen develop the site.
Tom Powers, president of Bluegreen Golf of Georgia, spoke on the company’s plans. He said the closing on the land would be in February and the company hopes to begin work immediately on the first phase, which will be 250 homes and the golf course.
Bluegreen has communities in Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The development in Jackson County will have a swimming and tennis center and a commercial area. Some 300 acres of the 1,142-acre site will be greenspace.
There will be 1,055 homes in Mulberry Plantation and a “rigid architectural review board” will be in place.
Powers said the company plans to offer Jackson County Comprehensive High School use of its golf course as its home golf course. The company will also donate two acres and $50,000 to the West Jackson Fire Department for a station.
Powers said that golf pro Paul Azinger will assist in the development of the course.
Also at Monday’s meeting, project engineer Tom Daniels reviewed the site plan. He said the main entrance would be on Hwy. 124 and that a “spine road” would be built to feed back to Jackson Trail Road. A seven and a half acre recreation area will be located along Gum Springs Church Road.
The project will be developed in five to six phases and is expected to be completed in eight years. Some five to eight builders will be used.
Commissioner Emil Beshara asked if the project is being renamed “The Meadows of Braselton.” Powers said no decision has been made on the final name of the development.



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Chamber Moves To GetOn Good Side Of Perdue
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce is losing no time in trying to establish a relationship with Georgia's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
The chamber's board of directors voted unanimously Friday to send a congratulatory letter to Gov.-elect Sonny Perdue – along with a veiled plea to support local grant applications aimed at helping the county prepare for new industry.
"There are several federal grants that have been supported and are being applied for, which the governor's office has significant input into the awards process and, in the case of the Appalachian Regional Commission grant, sole discretion. Our economic development leadership team would be happy to meet at your convenience to brief you or the appropriate staff persons on the Toyota Industries of North America project and the impact it is expected to have on the economy and economic development efforts of Jackson County, Northeast Georgia and indeed the entire state of Georgia."
At stake is a $400,000 ARC grant to help build the sewer line to the Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. site at Valentine Farms, for which Perdue must sign off. In addition, there is a community development block grant of $500,000 and an Economic Development Administration grant for $1.3 million.
In other business, the chamber's directors approved a new dues structure, its first change in four years. General businesses, which make up the bulk of membership, will pay $225 (plus $5 per employee), up $15. The new schedule is expected to bring in about $5,800 in new revenue if membership stays at the same level.
The board also accepted the bid of member Murphy Consulting Inc. of $5,916 to develop a new web page.
The group accepted the recommendation of its Nomina-ting Committee that the following be place on the ballot to fill four three-year terms on the board: Mike Dominy, All Steel Buildings; Tony Evans, Athens First Bank & Trust; Gary Freeman, attorney; Gina Hagan, Gift Works; Rob Jordan, WJJC Radio; David Lathem, Lathem Farms; Scott Martin, Jackson EMC; Aloise McNichols, individual member; Shannon Sell, West Jackson Realty; Dennis Sikes, Premier Real Estate; Denise Smith, GardenSmith Greenhouse and Nursery; Chuck Titshaw, Northeast Georgia Bank; and Phil Williams, Peerless Cleaners and Laundry.
The election will be in December.
•heard President Pepe Cummings report that the economic development outlook "is very strong, given the general atmosphere out there." He also mentioned expansions planned at Unique Plastics, Jefferson Blanking and Mayfield Dairies.
•heard Martin report on the success of "Developers' Day" recently, including the fact that one of the developers participating in the tour has since brought a prospect to the county.

SPLOST water projects hurt by sales tax fall
A projection of income from the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) shows the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority falling well short of funds to complete its SPLOST projects.
Jerry Waddell, manager, presented the projection at the Nov. 14 authority meeting. Estimating a monthly income of $235,000 through September 2005, the projection means that the authority can complete its first five SPLOST projects and pay off all of the bonds sold against the sales tax proceeds and emerge with $357,000.
When the sales tax began, the projections called for a monthly income of $248,185 per month for the first half of the five years and at a higher rate thereafter.
The most recent check was for $226,603, nine percent below the original projections. Those figures assumed moderate annual growth in sales, but a recession and the 2001 terrorist attacks have changed everything.
“Keep in mind that the DOT is getting ready to widen U.S. 129,” Waddell told the authority. “We’re in conflict in some areas. We’re going to need that $357,000 and more to relocate those lines.”
Waddell’s reference was to water lines installed on the DOT right-of-way on U.S. 129. The authority will have to pay the full cost of moving those lines, meters and fire hydrants. In the cases where the lines are off the right-of-way on easements the authority got from property owners, DOT will have to fund the relocation.
When the five-year program for spending SPLOST money was developed, the authority expected to be able to fund nine projects. Currently, plans six through nine will have to wait until other funds are available, unless sales tax revenue increases drastically.
“When people ask you when you’re going to do the projects, you’ve got the facts to show that we don’t have the money,” Waddell concluded.
Also hurting the SPLOST cash flow were the relocation work required when the Jefferson and Pendergrass bypasses were built and the fact that an 11-month delay in the completion of the Bear Creek Reservoir forced the authority to fund some of the debt service from SPLOST revenue.
SPLOST projects one and two have been completed. The contractors are laying pipe on projects three (Orrs School Road, Brockton area, Hoods Mill Road area, Harris Lord Cemetery Road and the west side of Woods Bridge Road) and four (Apple Valley, Dry Pond areas). SPLOST 5 (southwest portion of Jackson County) has been bid and the bid awarded. Construction is to begin soon.
And while the authority does not expect to be able to fund projects six through nine, the design and engineering work on those projects continues. SPLOST 6 will cover more than 20 miles of lines in the Jackson Trail, Brockton and Apple Valley areas. SPLOST 7 features almost eight miles of line in the north and western parts of the county; SPLOST 8 includes more than 15 miles of lines in the U.S. 129, Jefferson River Road, Tallassee Road areas; and SPLOST 9 would add more than 26 miles of lines in the Center and Sandy Creek areas.