News from Banks County...

DECEMBER 18, 2002


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OPINIONS
Bill Shiipp
Our new man in the Senate
Saxby Chambliss probably wishes he had skipped Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. But he didn’t. So now the Georgia senator-elect is asked to do much more explaining than he intended.

Kerri Graffius
Seeing orange in the toy store
A few weeks ago, James and I were in a local toy store looking for a birthday gift for my two-year-old niece. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were actually spending more time playing with the toys than finding her a present.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Banks to get Towns County before Christmas break
Coaches Robert Sain and Mike Ruth are hoping Christmas comes a little early in Banks County this year.
Both will take their teams up against Towns County for a pre-holiday game before ending action until after Christmas.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Jefferson landmark to close Sunday
Bruce’s Fine Foods sold; to become a Mexican restaurant
Nearly 40 years after it began serving hot dogs, hamburgers and small-town political conversations, Bruce’s Fine Foods in Jefferson will close its doors on Sunday.

Beshara Makes Good: Animal Control Plan Passes
JEFFERSON -- District 3 commissioner Emil Beshara made good on a campaign promise he made two years ago Monday night when he got an animal control ordinance approved.

BOC to review county authorities
But move may be an effort to wrest control of Jackson County water/sewer agency
In what may be the first move from county leaders want-ing to abolish or take control of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, the board of commissioners agreed Monday night to name a two-man committee to study “adjustments” in the various county authorities.

County road equipment to be replaced
Britt says board wasting ‘serious money’ in move
Despite vocal opposition from commissioner Stacey Britt, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday night to spend $763,000 to replace the county’s heavy road paving equipment in a lease arrangement.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Madison Co. BOC talks SPLOST
Madison County voters will decide in March whether to renew a one-cent sales tax for county improvement projects. So commissioners met Monday to discuss what projects to put on the referendum.

Schools reach agreement on parents’ Civil Rights complaint
Madison County Schools have reached a final agreement with the Office of Civil Rights addressing a complaint filed last spring by disgruntled parents.

Schools closed Monday due to water leak
Students were back in class Tuesday after a water leak on school property in Danielsville led to class cancellations countywide Monday.

EPD says Trus Joist must stop ‘unpermitted discharge’
The EPD has ordered Colbert’s Weyerhauser Trus Joist plant to stop their storm water detention pond from leaking polluted water into an adjacent stream, and given them until today (Dec. 18) to prepare a plan to do so.

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DNR presented Mitchell with plaque and rifle

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources presented Banks County extension agent John Mitchell with a plaque and a CVS muzzle-loader in honor of his service to the community and the state. Pictured are: (L-R) Ranger Winford Popphan; John Mitchell; Captain James Bell; and Sergeant Harry Carter.

High winds knock out power, topple trees
Shearing winds downed trees, littered streets with debris and left thousands without power in Banks County Friday morning.
“We had trees and power lines down all over the county,” Sheriff Charles Chapman said. “Everybody we had on duty was out all morning directing traffic and working with downed trees.”
The winds led to several power outages throughout the county.
Bonnie Jones of Jackson EMC said the first outage occurred when the wind tangled two lines behind Wal-Mart at Banks Crossing just before 7:30 a.m.
Moments later, a tree took out a circuit at the Homer substation and then another circuit was damaged affecting another block of customers.
A total of about 1,500 Jackson EMC customers were left without power. By 10:15, nearly three hours later, most of the customers had power again.
However, the winds snapped a power pole on Hwy. 105 near the Middle Forks River. Crews were repairing that outage until well into Saturday morning. The whole pole had to be replaced, Jones said.
Georgia Power reported nearly 17,000 customers without service in the Gainesville and Athens areas, though they had no specific numbers on Banks County customers. Most of those service problems were repaired by 2:30 Friday afternoon.
Sheriff Chapman said the power outage left the Banks County Jail and the courthouse without electricity for a couple of hours.
“We had to go on the generator at the jail for the first time this year,” he said.
The heavy winds also knocked down trees that blocked roads throughout the county.
One woman was driving on Yonah-Homer Road when a tree fell across in front of her. She was unable to stop and crashed into the tree, though no one was injured.
The tree also brought down a power line in the area.
Another woman was driving on Welborn Road when the winds uprooted a pine tree that crashed through the front windshield of her car. Neither she nor her two children were injured.
Chapman said the county was lucky that no one was injured during the storm.
“All the firemen and all our personnel were out working,” Chapman said. “Everybody pulled together to get it taken care of.”


Thirty years of service
If the old saying that a man’s wealth is judged by the number of his friends is true, then Banks County Extension Agent John Mitchell is one of the county’s wealthiest residents.
At a reception Monday held in honor of his retirement after 30 years of service to the state, dozens of the people from the county and the state who Mitchell has worked with and helped over the years came to wish him well.
Whether it was a question about what to do to rid a garden of some insect pest or one about planting the proper species for the area, Mitchell’s experience and knowledge provided the answers.
His boss, north district extension head, Beverly Sparks said: “I’ve known John for 10 years. We met at a master gardening class. His knowledge is impressive. It’s going to be hard to replace his expertise in the agricultural area. He knows so much, especially about bugs. There is a wealth of knowledge in that brain of his.”
County extension agents Robert Brewer, Towns County, and Mickey Cummings, Union County, have known and worked with Mitchell for many years.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do without him,” said Brewer. “He knows so much. We could always call John and get an answer to any problem.”
Mitchell joked: “You can still ask me things, it’s just now you’ll have to pay me as a consultant.”
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Sergeant Harry Carter and Captain James Bell, head of the DNR hunter safety program, said Mitchell was instrumental in setting up a program for the youth in the county two years ago.
Bell said: “John does many good things for the county and the DNR. He helped develop the annual youth hunt on the county farm land which has been a successful event and grows every year.”
When the hunter education program began, said Bell, most firearm accidents occurred in the 10- to 19-year-old age group. Now, more accidents occur in the 40- to 50-year old age group.
“A lot of young people have learned proper care and use of weapons and safe hunting practices from John,” he said. “He played a part in changing those statistics.”
To show their appreciation, Bell, Carter and Ranger Winford Popphan presented Mitchell with a plaque commending his service and dedication to the hunter safety program as well as a new hunting rifle.
Popphan said they hoped Mitchell would enjoy hunting with the CVS muzzle-loader during primitive weapons season.
Carter said: “He does all he does for love of the sport. He has been a big supporter of DNR programs. We hope he will continue being active in the safety programs.”
4-H Club leaders and members are also sad to see him go. Denise Reed, 4-H Club horsemanship team coach, said Mitchell had helped get funding for the fledgling team that has taken two top honors.
Pat Jarrett, 4-H Club coordinator, said of her boss for the past four years: “I’m happy for him, but I’m going to miss him. It will be hard to fill his shoes. He has more mileage in his head than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Mitchell said of his 22 years in Banks County: “Being a county extension agent is interesting work. You never know what you’re going to get into from one day to the next. It’s not an ‘8 to 5’ job. I don’t know if I could work an ‘8-to-5’ job.”
Though Mitchell is retiring, he plans to stay busy and expand his blacksmithing business.
“There are so many things I want to do in the art,” he said. “I’d like to get into crafting gates and railings, among other things.”
He also hinted he might seek other business opportunities as a consultant in agriculture and livestock.
“I still have two kids to put through college,” he said. “I’ll have to do a little something on the side.”
If that doesn’t keep him occupied, his wife, Susan, said she has her “Honey, Do” list ready.
“I’m keeping the list short,” she said. “But when he finishes one thing, I have others to replace the ones he checks off. I have enough to keep him busy for a while.”


Chamber announces nominations for executive board
Chamber of Commerce members will have four candidates to chose from when they get ready to select two new executive board members in January.
The chamber’s nominating committee released the names of the four candidates at last week’s breakfast: Bill Jackson, Craig Armstrong, Shar Porier and Bobby Caudell.
The chamber will be sending out ballots to members for voting shortly.
In other business at Thursday’s breakfast, the chamber:
•announced that members should turn in reservations for the annual meeting in January planned at Jackson EMC in Jefferson. Claude McBride, former UGA football chaplain, will be keynote speaker. The volunteer of the year and new officers will also be named at the meeting.
•learned Carole Moores, chamber executive director, earned a scholarship for a four-year training program at the University of Georgia. She will start in June.
•gave out the new chamber member plaques.


Early deadlines set for next week’s newspaper
The Banks County News will have early deadlines for next week’s issue due to the Christmas holiday.
The deadline for news will be at 5 p.m. Friday, while the ad deadline will be at noon on Friday. The papers will be on the news stands Tuesday night. Mail deliveries will be on the regular schedule.
The Banks County News office will be closed Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 23-25, in observance of the holiday. The office will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26.



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Lula studying sewer
Lula Mayor Milton Turner said Monday that a study of the city’s sewer system capacity is under way and he hopes to have the reports on the figures as soon as the council’s January meeting.
Lula currently is not issuing any sewer tap-ons because the council was unsure if the plant could handle the additional load.
At last month’s meeting, a moratorium was initiated due to a faulty flow meter at the plant. The council did not know what the output was and halted granting any new connections until the meter was repaired. Now that the new meter has been installed, a 30-day study is being conducted.
At Monday’s council meeting, Lula resident Jeff Smith said he had a buyer interested in his property and the buyer wanted to have sewer connections. Last year, he had appeared before the city council and was granted three additional hook-ups to his property, he said. He asked why he was being told the hook-ups would not be approved.
Council member Mike Ostrander told Smith his paperwork was not in order last year.
“You were going to divide your property into five lots to add three additional mobile homes,” he said. “That would have made it a mobile home park and in violation of the zoning ordinance.”
Turner added Smith was going to divide the property and place it in other family member’s names in order to get the connections for three additional mobile homes.
“You did not come back to the council with the proper paperwork,” said Turner.
Smith said he had heard other developers and industry were being granted sewer tap-ons, but would not say who had told him.
Ostrander said, “We are not holding service for any industry. We can’t do anything until the study is completed.”
Council member Mordecai Wilson suggested Smith place his name on the city’s waiting list with 16 other requests.
Turner said the city had requested a variance from the environmental protection division for an additional 20,000 gallons per day. He added the plant capacity would have to be increased some time in the future to 200,000 or 300,000 gallons per day requiring additional land and new facilities.
“That day isn’t here yet,” he said. “But it’s coming.”
In other business, the council:
•agreed to sign new the Hall County local option sales tax disbursement agreement as an “absent municipality.” The city will gain around $50,000 to $70,000 per year through the new agreement.
•discussed the progress of the water line on County Line Road. Hall County officials had notified the city of two pieces of property that lie on the east and west side of the road were under a service agreement with the county.
•discussed the progress of the line down Antioch Church Road. Turner said Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady had told him the city could tie onto the county’s fire hydrants already installed.
•discussed the work on the road through the city’s cemetery. Ostrander said paving would start when the weather cleared. At this point, no sidewalks would be added to the project, he said.
•held the first reading of the adoption of Southern Building Codes. The ordinance will set standards for all construction in the city and requires existing property be maintained and fit for occupancy. The city has hired a building inspector to insure construction meets the code standards.
•Mere Barbee wanted to know why the council was not cleaning up the city. She said the area was deteriorating and was unsightly. She mentioned one rental property in particular where garbage had been accumulating and rodents ran rampant. She asked what had happened to the city’s beautification committee. She suggested landscaping would help the city’s look and could be done by volunteers.
•councilwoman Vicky Chambers said she had been looking into grants and funding, but the city would have to hire a restoration manager to handle the funds. The cost for the manager would be higher than the needed repairs, she said. Another stumbling block was that much of the property in need of restoration and repair was privately owned. Such a situation makes grant funding “impossible,” she said.
•discussed a resident on Cobb Street who has opened a motorcycle shop in his garage. Neighbors have complained to the city about the noise level and have called law enforcement. The property is not zoned for that type of home occupation, according to the council. They agreed to send a letter to the resident stating the requirements of Lula’s noise ordinance.
•agreed to give city employees a $100 Christmas bonus.