News from Madison County...

NOVEMBER 20, 2002


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
Republicans need to clean up recent legislative mess
The first step in constructing a new building is to clear away the debris from the construction site.

Margie Richards
A November reunion
When someone dies, it is often the little things that you remember about them, the way they smiled, a turn of the head, or the way they laughed.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

‘No excuses’ for Lady Raiders in 2002-2003
The Georgia football team lives by the credo “finish the drill.” The Madison County girls’ basketball team looks to draw inspiration from a saying as well in 2002-2003 under a new head coach—”no excuses.”


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

'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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY

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.

Stalemate
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.

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‘A special day’

Dakota Burger (left) and Olivia Goss (right) wait patiently for their turn to shoot some baskets Friday. Snapshots from the Special Olympics at Ila Elementary School Friday

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.
On Tuesday, the county school board approved a list of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) improvement projects.
Here is the list of “phase one” projects:
COLBERT ELEMENTARY
1. two regular and three small (size of two regular) classrooms.
2. boys’ and girls’ restrooms.
3. faculty restrooms.
4. new tile or carpet for entire school.
5. update wiring of school.
6. new intercom system.
COMER ELEMENTARY
1. two regular and three small (size of two regular) classrooms.
2. install new glazed tile in cafeteria.
3. install drop ceilings in main building.
4. renovate student restrooms.
5. new tile or carpet for entire school.
DANIELSVILLE ELEMENTARY
1. expand cafeteria.
2. new flooring, glazed tile in hallways, carpet in classrooms.
3. repair steps and walkway from MS to DES.
4. wall cabinets for the front office.
ILA ELEMENTARY
1. two regular and six small (size of four regular) classrooms.
2. boys’ and girls’ restrooms.
3. teacher work room.
4. new wiring — more electrical outlets.
MIDDLE SCHOOL
1. expand cafeteria.
2. expand restrooms on seventh and eighth grade halls.
3. renovate locker rooms.
HIGH SCHOOL
1. little auditorium renovation — 180 raised theater seats, stage, office, staging area.
2. replace flooring in old hallway and orange carpet classrooms.
PE/ATHLETIC COMPLEX
1. site grading and fine grading.
2. soil retention and erosion control: storm drain, silt fence, grassing.
3. site sewer and water.
4. irrigation.
5. cross country track.
6. landscaping and general grassing.
7. band/soccer field: grassing, sod/sand, bleacher seating for 750 on each side; track — eight lanes (base and paving) field events — sand pit, run out, misc.
8. baseball/softball field: grassing, fencing.
9. practice field: grassing, fencing.
10. tennis courts (10) — paving, surfacing, striping, fencing, gates, nets and posts.
11. two story building with press box, concessions, administration, storage and restrooms.
12. tennis area, restrooms and storage building.
13. parking and drives: paving, curbing and striping.
14. sidewalks and safety cross walks.
15. lighting: band/soccer field, baseball/softball field, practice field, tennis courts, parking and general site lighting.
MISCELLANEOUS
1. school safety: upgrade and/or replace video security systems at all campuses, video cameras on all buses and a mobile communication system.
2. site for future school facilities.
PHASE 2
PROJECTS
Phase 2 projects will be addressed if there is available funding after phase 1 projects. School leaders say that such projects could include acquisition of land, construction, maintenance, as well as improvement and renovation of buildings.
The phase 2 list includes:
1. a storage building.
2. technology improvements — such as funding the replacement of school system computers every four years and a pilot program for laptops.
3. transportation improvements — help fund operation, acquisition and replacement costs of buses and other system vehicles.
4. textbooks.


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.
The IDA voted last month to ask for another extension on a closing date for the purchase, which would move it from Dec. 1, 2002 to June 1, 2003 because problems with the Hwy. 72 backup well (a stuck drill bit) have slowed down their progress in continuing to develop the water system.
Engineers working on the project now say it will take them until May to finish construction on water lines that will join the two wells in the system.
IDA chair Ed Brown pointed out that winter construction generally takes longer due to weather delays.
If approved by ACC, this will be the second extension on Madison County’s option to purchase the water system - the original closing date was set for June, 1, 2002 - but an extension was granted at that time to deal with the refurbishment of the required backup well and to obtain water line rights-of-way from the DOT and CSX railroad.
“At this point we’re awaiting correspondence from Athens-Clarke County as to the extension of the agreement to purchase the water lines,” Brown said at Monday night’s meeting.
Brown said it will be necessary to convene a called meeting once they receive the counter-proposal from ACC.
So far, the IDA has made an initial down payment of $19,000 on the $507,000 purchase price for the water system. Brown said that ACC utility director Gary Duck recently suggested an additional payment in the amount of $36,000 be made toward the loan balance in exchange for granting another extension, but no official proposal has been received.
“There are two main things here,” IDA member Tom Joiner said. “We know we can’t meet the (Dec. 1) deadline at this point, and Athens-Clarke County can’t cut water off to Hull customers until this is resolved.”
In fact, according to Brown, ACC has installed seven new water meters in recent weeks to customers in the Hull area, charging tap fees of $475 each.
“We want a win-win situation,” Brown said of the negotiations. “We want them (ACC) to get out of providing water outside their county and we want to assume responsibility for those water customers.”
In a related matter, the IDA approved a CSX Railroad crossing agreement that will allow water lines to be bored under the railroad in order to connect water system lines. The contract includes the one time payment of a $1,900 license fee and a $750 “construction risk fee” that pays CSX insurance costs at the crossing.
In other business, the IDA board:
•approved a resolution to allow automatic quarterly bank withdrawals for payments on their GEFA loan.
•agreed to use $32,000 in left over funds from the GEFA loan to extend water lines on the current water system at Hull-Sanford Elementary.
•heard that the BOC is considering three applicants to fill Kenny Beck’s position on the IDA board, but has not made a decision yet.
•discussed water department employee classifications.
•agreed to hold a budget work session sometime later this month so that a public hearing and approval of the budget can be accomplished before the end of the year.


Woman killed in Hwy. 172 wreck Friday
A Dewy Rose woman was killed in a Friday evening wreck on Hwy. 172 near Holly Creek Church Road.
Carolyn Massey, 56, was a passenger in a 1990 Chevy Silverado driven by Billy Atkinson, 65, of Royston, when it crossed the centerline around 6 p.m., colliding head on with a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Gary Blasingame, also 65, of Athens, according to a report by the Athens Post of the Georgia State Patrol.
Atkinson was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Blasingame was also transported with visible injuries.
Three passengers; Dwayne Blasingame, 63; Gregory Blasingame, 6; and Sam Blasingame, 3, were also transported with non-serious injuries.
This is the third traffic accident fatality in Madison County in the past two weeks.


School bus involved in Tues. morning accident
A Madison County school bus was struck in the rear by a wrecker as it slowed down behind another bus on Hwy. 29 South Tuesday morning around 8 a.m.
The bus, driven by Susan Dillard, was on its way to Madison County High School and had slowed for approaching traffic when the wrecker, driven by Henry Webb of Madison County Towing, struck it.
According to EMS director Dwayne Patton, two students were transported by ambulances to Athens Regional Medical Center with abdominal and neck pain.
As a precaution, the school system transported 13 others to ARMC by bus to be examined.
Neither driver was injured.


Send us your kids pics
The Madison County Journal will print photos of Madison County children ages 8-and-under free of charge in our Dec. 18 Kids’ Christmas Edition.
Please include the following information on the back of the photo: the child’s full name, age, hometown, as well as the names of his or her parent or parents.
The deadline for submitting photos is Monday, Dec. 2. Pictures can be mailed to us at P.O. Box 658, Danielsville, Ga. 30633 or dropped off at The Journal office, located across from the county government complex on Hwy. 29 in Danielsville. If the office is closed, photos can be left in the drop-slot beneath the window to the right of our front door.


Early deadlines set for next issue
The Madison County Journal will have early deadlines for next week’s issue due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The deadline for news is 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, while the ad deadline will be at noon on Friday. The papers will be on the news stands Tuesday night.

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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.


BOC still looking at conservation subdivisions
County leaders are still discussing the possibility of allowing conservation subdivisions in the county.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners met with county planner Jay Baker and zoning adviser Leo Smith for about two hours Monday to discuss a proposed change in the county zoning laws that will open the door for conservation subdivisions.
The group took no action this past Monday, but the board will discuss the matter again at its 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday, Nov. 25.
Conservation subdivisions would allow developers to split land into smaller lot sizes than the zoning ordinance now calls for, provided they save a minimum of 50 percent of the land suitable for development as “protected land” or green space. The land could also be used for agricultural purposes.
The conservation proposal has been discussed frequently in recent weeks. Proponents have said that allowing smaller lots in exchange for protected “green space” is a way to preserve the rural character of the county.
But several concerns have been raised about conservation subdivisions, such as whether the developments would have a negative effect on county tax revenues. Baker and Smith assured the board that this would not be the case, that lots in conservation subdivisions typically sell for more than lots in regular subdivisions, because lots next to protected or “natural” areas are desirable and have a higher than average tax assessment.
Another point of concern has been the question of who will maintain ownership of the protected land. The proposed amendment spells out that the land can be owned by a homeowners’ association, a non-profit conservation organization or an individual. Protected land could also be dedicated to the county and open to use by residents of Madison County.
Baker also emphasized that a developer of a conservation subdivision will be required to submit a management plan for the subdivision, which will spell out such things as who will own the land, what specific uses the protected land will have, who will serve as the conservation easement holder and who will be in charge of maintenance of the land.
A separate concern, raised by one citizen at a recent BOC meeting, is that tagging land as “protected” from development is essentially a restriction on what future generations can do with land. That conservation subdivision opponent compared such measures with socialism.
But others contend that the conservation proposal actually helps get government off property owners’ backs. Former commissioner Chip Chandler, who has been outspoken in favor of conservation subdivisions, said he feels that providing the option of conservation subdivisions actually gives property owners more freedom to do what they choose with their land. He noted that he wanted to develop a conservation subdivision in recent years but county zoning laws kept him from moving ahead with the development.
And commissioner Bruce Scogin said he felt conservation subdivisions may give farmers an option of holding on to farm land and selling off a portion for a subdivision, instead of selling off the whole farm.
“I think it’s really a way for the farmer to hold on to his farm,” Scogin said.
During the lengthy discussion Monday, the commissioners reviewed a 20-page draft of a conservation subdivision amendment to subdivision regulations, a detailed document addressing numerous aspects of conservation standards, such as design standards for public roads and minimum dimensional requirements for residential lots.
Those interested in reviewing the proposal should contact the county planning and zoning office at 795-5375.
BOC MEETS WITH REC BOARD
Prior to the meeting on conservation subdivisions Monday, the commissioners met for an hour with the recreation board on revising the recreation board’s bylaws. While there were some contentious times between the two boards over the summer, the general tenor of the meeting seemed relaxed as the two boards flipped through proposed bylaws.
No actions were taken during the meeting, but the two boards agreed that they will try to limit the number of coaches serving on the recreation board because of potential conflicts of interest. Commissioner Mike Youngblood also suggested that future recreation board members not have relatives working for the recreation department.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.