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NOVEMBER 27, 2002


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page

Angela Gary
What happened to Thanksgiving?
Christmas trees are already up in most stores and many homes. Holiday music is blaring from the radios and offices. Some red and green Christmas clothing can even be spotted in the crowds at the mall.

Rochelle Beckstine
New threat closes schools across the nation
Students won’t be praying for snow or ice this winter. They’ll be praying for something else entirely. Something that can close schools for a month or more.

Frank Gillespie
Perdue should reduce number of state offices
So, Sonny Perdue has asked all state department heads to submit their resignations and reapply for their jobs. I can buy that. As a new governor, with a new party in charge, it makes sense that he would want to put in new department heads. What surprises me, sort of, is the number of people involved.

Zach Mitcham
BOC did the right thing on conservation subdivisions
Talk of “sprawl” sounds like a B horror flick, “The Blob” perhaps, a shapeless mass enveloping a region in unsightliness as masses run away in fear.


SPORTS

Trek To Trion
If Commerce’s road in the state playoffs leads back to the state title game, the team will likely have to get used to life on the highway.

Knights outrun Panthers in season opener
If there’s one thing Jackson County coach Ron Smith wants his team to improve on heading into this week’s tournament at East Hall, it’s got to be rebounding the basketball.

No. 2 Jefferson girls knock off Buford, start 2-0
Of the four teams remaining on the winner’s side of the Sonny’s Smokin’ Shoot-out girls’ bracket, it’s safe to say that Jefferson is the most excited considering the size of the other schools that advanced in the opening round Saturday.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
BOC O.K.’s conservation subdivisions
There’s been a lot of talk about conservation subdivisions.
But on Monday, county commissioners took action, approving a zoning ordinance amendment that will soon open the door for a new type of subdivision in the county. Leaders hope the move will help Madison County maintain its rural character.

Madison County couple shares their experiences in adoption, foster care
For Tim and Sondra Fountain, opening their home to children is what they have been “called to do.”


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Banks, Jackson get $26,400 for advertisinga

A “co-op” grant of $26,400 from the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism was awarded in September to the Banks and Jackson County Chambers of Commerce and Tanger Factory Outlet stores to be used for advertising to promote the Banks Crossing area.

Arsonist’s conviction overturned
A man convicted of setting the 1998 fire that killed Banks County firefighter Loy Williams Jr. won his appeal in a federal court last week.

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READY FOR THANKSGIVING

Jaycee Caylor and Madison Wuertley, students at West Jackson Primary School, grab a few bites to eat before their classmates enjoy a Thanksgiving feast on Friday. Students in Linda Bell’s first grade class presented a Thanksgiving play for their parents before heading off to the feast.

Math continues to be CRCT weakness
Students in the Jefferson and Jackson County school systems mostly continued to improve their reading and language arts scores last year, but had decidedly mixed results in their math efforts.
Months past the deadline, results from the annual Georgia CRCT tests were recently released to local school systems from tests given last spring. Although the delay in releasing the results were too late for schools to use at the start of the current school year, local education officials are looking over the numbers for signs of weaknesses in their programs.
While results fluctuate from year to year, officials look for patterns in the data for internal adjustments. Parents and community leaders also look at the results as a barometer on how well their child’s school compares to other schools in the area.
Reading continued to be the strongest part of the tests for most local schools. At the key fourth, sixth and eighth grade levels, local schools generally did better in reading than last year. Reading scores for fourth and sixth graders were generally much stronger, while at the eighth grade the results flattened out.
Most local schools showed gains in language arts scores at those three grade levels as well, with sixth and eighth graders showing the most improvement.
Eighth grade math results were stronger than the year before, but results from fourth and sixth graders were mixed. Overall, math continued to be the weakest area at all grade levels with one-fourth to one-third of local students failing to meet state math expectations.

2002 CRCT Results
Percent of students NOT meeting state standards

4th Grade
School Reading Lang. Arts Math
BES 15% 24% 37%
WJIS 8 18 23
MES 21 22 29
NJES 10 17 26
SJES 10 12 31
JES 6 15 25
State 21 23 34

6th Grade
EJMS 11 30 32
WJMS 13 24 24
JMS 18 29 25
State 23 34 31

8th Grade
EJMS 18 30 30
WJMS 13 20 22
JMS 15 25 22
State 23 28 35


Automotive company relocating to Braselton
Year One of Atlanta is relocating its automotive restoration and performance parts company to Braselton.
The company is leasing 168,000 square feet of space in the former Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics Manufacturing facility at the corner of I-85 and Hwy. 53. The facility is now known as Braselton Tech Center.
Year One will relocate 160 of its employees from its operations in the Stone Mountain area to the center.
Kevin King, president of Year One Inc., said that the company will begin the relocation process as soon as the facility is ready.
“We are extremely pleased to be relocating our organization into the Braselton area,” he said. “We intend to be active in the Braselton and Jackson County community, holding regular events and open houses that we hope all our new neighbors will attend and enjoy.”
King said that a key element in the decision to lease the space was the close proximity of automotive-related facilities such as Road Atlanta, Atlanta Dragway, Lanier Raceway and Peach State Speedway.
Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings said this is an “exciting” announcement for Jackson County.
“It is a really exciting company because of the product,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in what they do. They will also showcase some of the cars (at the facility). It will revolve. They will have a GTO or a Camaro.”
Cummings added that the announcement is especially exciting because it will “fill up the building” at Braselton Tech Center. He added that Mitsubishi still operates a television division in 200,000 square feet of the facility.
While most of the jobs will be people who are relocating from the former facility, Cummings said there will likely be some new hires.
“It’s not just the warehouse jobs, which are about 100, but 65 people will be taking the orders from those that come off the Internet or people who call in for a catalog order,” he said. “There is a blend of different types of jobs.”
The property is owned by a partnership of the Strand Corporation of Canada and Sam Thomas of Atlanta.
Year One specializes in restoration parts, accessories and services for the restoration of GM and Chrysler muscle cars of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The company also has a comprehensive line of manuals, technical publications and literature. Year One currently serves customers in the United States and 58 countries worldwide. The company was founded in 1981.


City Utility Systems Post $2.6 Million Profit
Commerce's utility departments produced a $2.6 million profit during the 2001-02 fiscal year, according to the city audit.
The Commerce City Council got the audit at its Nov. 11 meeting and will discuss it in some detail at its Dec. 9 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
The gas, electric and water and sewer services generated just over $13 million in revenue. After $10.3 million in operating expenses ($7.26 million of which was for utility purchases), the departments had the $2.66 million "operating income."
Of that, $1,030,720 was transferred to the General Fund, from which city operations are funded. When the books were closed for the year, that left net income for the utilities at $1,622,469.
As usual, most of the operating income – $1.23 million, came from the gas system. The electric system had $527,980 of income, while the water and sewerage system contributed $936,056.
The General Fund also fared well, ending the year with a balance of $1,384,911 and "beating" the budget projection by $324,524.
The General Fund receives revenues from property taxes, other taxes and licenses, fines and forfeitures and city services. It funds the operation of the school system, general government, police and fire services, parks and recreation, the library, Downtown Development Authority, Department of Code Enforcement, capital outlay and any debt service.
The 2001-02 budget had projected $5.05 million in General Fund revenue; only $4,521,900 actually came in. But expenditures, budgeted at $4.96 million, wound up at $4.18 million.
Much of the shortfall in revenue was a result in a $200,000 miscalculation in the extent of freeport exemptions from ad valorem taxes, said City Manager Clarence Bryant. The shortfall in expenditures was due to grant funds that were not drawn upon.
At the end of the fiscal year, Commerce had just over $8 million in cash in the bank, according to the audit.
"Probably about four and a half to four point eight of that is cash that we can get our hands on," said Bryant. "The rest of it is money that can't be touched for one reason or another."
The city will need all of the money it can get its hands on during the current and subsequent fiscal year as it builds a new sewage treatment plant for $6 million to $7 million. The city will borrow most of the money for the project, but not all of it.
"We plan to take about $2.5 million (in reserve funds) for the sewer plant. We'll take a little from each of them (gas, electric and water and sewer funds)," Bryant said.


Basin Authority Due Leadership Change
ATHENS -- Having completed a 15-year project culminating in a 500-acre reservoir and a 21 million gallon per day water treatment plant, the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority will undergo a major change in leadership.
Chairman Eddie Elder, embattled in controversy in Barrow County and recovering from surgery, will step down effective Dec. 31 and Vice Chairman Doc Eldridge will go off the water authority in January because he was defeated in his re-election bid.
Meeting last Wednesday, Eldridge, presiding in Elder's absence, appointed Athens-Clarke assistant manager Bobby Snipes to chair a nominating committee that will include Elton Collins, chairman of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, Barrow County commissioner Beth Caldwell and Oconee County member Amrey Harden. The authority unanimously accepted Eldridge's panel.
Elder's difficulties relate to allegations that he approved zoning changes on tracts along Georgia 316 without going through the proper zoning requests. His office door was padlocked pending completion of the investigation, which has become a major controversy in Barrow County.
BUDGET APPROVED
In other business, the water authority approved a $6.28 million operations budget for 2003. Of that total, $1.44 million will go toward operation of the 505-acre reservoir and $4.7 million will cover operations of the water treatment plant. The total figure includes $1 million for debt retirement on the reservoir and $3.36 million for retiring the debt on the water treatment plant.
The budget also provides for $178,382 of "working capital reserves," which the authority's accountant explained equals half of the recommended reserve of four months' operating expenses.
"The reason we didn't figure the full four months is that we didn't think Melvin (Davis, chairman of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners) and Harold (Fletcher, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners) would want to come up with that much money," Collins joked.
"You got that right," Fletcher responded.
Mostly for the purposes of security, the Finance Committee added funds for an additional plant operator, which will allow for 24-hour-per-day staffing at the water treatment plant.
Hill Baughman of Azurix/JJG, the company managing the plant, noted that someone with an all-terrain vehicle had run over a water line used to take samples from Bear Creek while illegally operating the ATV in the area of the spillway, apparently while there was no one at the plant.
In other business, Jim Wrona, senior project engineer for Jordan, Jones & Goulding, the company overseeing the entire construction phase, reported that the "punch list" of unfinished items is down to 24 items that will cost an estimated $18,000 to resolve.
Program Manager George Byrd of Moreland Altobelli had good news for Savage Road residents. He said that the only thing lacking before New Savage Road can be opened to traffic is striping of the road, which he said might be completed this week. Residents of the area have had to take a lengthy detour around the reservoir ever since construction started. The new road crosses over the spillway.
Baughman, meanwhile, reported that the reservoir level was at 693.5 feet, a foot and a half below full pool. Some 14 million gallons per day are being pumped from the Middle Oconee River into the lake, he said.

 

 


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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 Polaroids or photographs printed out from a computer onto laser paper will not 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 on the child should also be included.


Boy Scout Christmas trees available this week
The annual Jefferson Boy Scout Christmas Tree sales lot will open Thanksgiving afternoon for the holiday season.
Sponsored by Scout Unit 158, Jefferson area Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, the lot will again be located across from the old train on Hwy. 129 north of Jefferson.
Hours for the lot will be 3:30-9:00 Monday through Friday, 9-9 on Saturdays and 11-9 on Sundays.
The trees will again be North Carolina Fraizer Firs. Sizes will range from 5’ to 11’ in height.
Proceeds from the tree sales go to support local Scouting activities and programs.


Evans home after suffering heart attack
Waddell hospitalized with low blood pressure
Jackson County Sheriff Stan Evans is home after suffering a heart attack on Nov. 14. He was hospitalized for several days.
Evans had two blockages which are being treated with medication.
Another public official is still in the hospital this week after a co-worker found him semiconscious at his home Monday morning.
Jerry Waddell, manager of the Jackson County Water & Sewerage Authority and former chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, was moved out of ICU and into a regular room Tuesday at Athens Regional Medical Center after suffering from dangerously low blood pressure.
Paul Mims, water superintendent for the authority, went to Waddell’s Skelton Road residence when Waddell did not show up at work.
“I called out there and he didn’t answer the radio or phone, so I went out there and checked on him,” said Mims.
He found Waddell on his bed with a black eye and cut above his eye as though he had fallen, Mims said. Waddell was awake, but unable to communicate.
Mims radioed back to the office, where Jefferson Rescue Chief Dennis Bullock was on hand. Bullock came to the scene and paramedics transported Waddell to Barrow Community Hospital.
“He had real low blood pressure,” Mims commented. But Waddell subsequently recovered enough to ask for a transfer to Athens Regional Medical Center, Mims said.