News from Madison County...

JANUARY 29, 2003

Madison County

Madison County

Madison County H.S.

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Frank Gillespie
We need dramatic cuts in state, federal bureaucracies
President Bush says he opposes double taxation. He is speaking of taxing corporate profits, and then taxing dividends paid to stockholders out of the same money.

Zach Mitcham
Let’s change our mindset
Admit it - we all love to complain.
And there’s something about whining about “what’s wrong with the world today,” about “people” (we never speak as if we’re part of the species during these diatribes), or about our government in particular that can really get us on a roll.


Directions to Area Schools

Lady Raiders eye winning season, respectable tournament seeding
A decent seeding in February’s region tournament is of course on the Lady Raiders’ minds, but that’s not the only item on the wish list.
With an 11-10 record, the Madison County girls can clinch a winning regular season mark if it wins two of its next four contests.

Neighboorhood News ..
Large crowd expected for water meeting Thurs.
BOC’s plans to takeover water authority to be discussed
County water officials are preparing for a large crowd at Thursday night’s public meeting to discuss plans by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to takeover the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.

County seeks legislation on airport, public building authorities
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved resolutions in a called meeting Friday morning seeking legislation to change the county airport authority and create a public building authority.

Governor’s Budget ‘Catastrophic’ For BJC Nursing Home
If Gov. Sonny Perdue's budget is enacted, the $1.1 million in lost revenue will have "catastrophic" consequences for the nursing home at BJC Medical Center, fearful officials reported Monday night.

Nicholson Residents Demand A Definition Of ‘Junk’ Cars
Nicholson city leaders said they wanted to incorporate citizen input in finalizing its new set of town ordinances and they certainly got that last Tuesday night.

County ‘judicial center’ gets tag of $22 million
The first phase of a new county judicial center on Darnell Road has a tentative price tag of $22 million for a 115,000 sq. ft. facility, according to figures compiled by architects for the county. The price does not include a proposed 1.3 mile four lane highway to connect the site to Hwy. 15 and Hwy. 82.

Neighborhood News...
Tax hike set in stone

In the final of its three public hearings on the proposed tax increase, the Banks County commissioners voted Thursday to raise the millage rate by 1.11 mills.

Lula to hold public hearing on RR bridge
The Lula City Council will hold a public hearing on the future of the 60-year-old railroad bridge. The hearing will be held during the regular monthly council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 17, at city hall.

Development authority wants sewer debt paid off
The Banks County Development Authority could soon have its Banks Crossing sewage system paid in full.

Half of BCHS loses power Fri.
Classrooms in half of Banks County High School were without power and heat last Friday after a transformer malfunctioned there.

Jamie Ayers on active duty in Kuwait
One of the first area residents serving in the military has been called to active duty. Jamie Ayers is now on active duty in Kuwait.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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Pictured (L-R) are several participants of the county-wide mentoring program: seventh grader Benjamin Scoggins and his mentor, teacher Joe Moore; and mentor Fern Coutant and her mentee, Sara Findley, also a seventh grader.

The Gift of Friendship
Friends Joe Moore and Benjamin Scoggins typically spend Friday afternoons “just hanging out” together.
Benjamin usually brings a friend, or maybe several, along to have lunch with Joe and to maybe play a game of football, or sometimes just talk. Sometimes it’s a kind of competition between Benjamin’s friends to see who gets to go along on these visits.
“He’s cool,” Benjamin says of Joe, who also happens to be a teacher at Madison County Middle School, where Benjamin is in seventh grade.
Joe and Benjamin are just two members of the school system’s mentoring program which pairs children in need of a “little extra attention” with adult mentors.
“I just try to pay attention to him, that’s all - and besides, it’s a lot of fun for me,” Joe says of his commitment to mentoring. “And it takes so little, really - it’s such a small investment to make such a big difference in someone’s life.”
The mentoring program, piloted in the middle school for the first few years, was expanded to every county school this year.
Mentoring program director Shirley Aaron said there are currently 13 mentors at the middle school; nine at the high school; one at Colbert Elementary; two at Comer Elementary; three at Danielsville Elementary; three at Hull-Sanford Elementary and two at Ila Elementary.
“We need literally hundreds more to fulfill the need,” Aaron said.
“Mentoring provides stability in an unstable world - that’s a large part of it,” sixth grade language arts teacher, Sandy Clark, who mentors a seventh grade boy, said. “I think they just appreciate having someone to give them feedback or look at their report cards - just know that there’s someone concerned about their day - and their life.”
Sandy and her student, Scotty Willoughby, have an easygoing relationship, which is helped by the fact that she taught him in sixth grade. “We talk every day and I make a point to meet him at the bus,” she said. “Then every five days or so we have lunch together during my planning period, and just chat.”
“You know you’re getting through when one day they ask you how you’re doing,” Sandy added.
For long-time mentors Fern and Gerald Coutant, mentoring has become an important part of their lives.
Gerald has mentored the same student, a young man who is now a junior in high school, since he was in seventh grade. And their relationship has expanded beyond school meetings during the past five years.
“Two or three times a month I pick him up at his home and he comes to our house to spend some time with us visiting, or he and I work together outside,” Gerald said. “While we’re busy doing something together, we talk about things like how his life is going and his school work.”
Fern’s first experience with mentoring was with a girl whose mother had just died.
The child wasn’t very receptive, at least openly.
“I tried to spend time with her and teach her some things like a mother would, such as how to sew a button on, write a check and other practical things I thought she would need to know,” Fern said.
Fern is now a mentor to seventh grader Sara Findley, and the two seem to have a great relationship.
“It’s been very rewarding,” Fern said. She and Sara meet at school several times a month to chat or have lunch together. And while Sara seems a little shy by nature, she smiles and seems relaxed in Fern’s presence, eager to tell her what she got for Christmas.
“You never know what effect you have on someone,” Fern says of mentoring. “Sara is a wonderful girl and it’s easy to get her to open up. We have a good time together.”
One thing Joe, Sandy, Gerald and Fern all agree on above all is that they “get more than they give.”
“The rewards are tremendous,” Sandy said.
The application process to become a mentor is simple, Aaron says. “You fill out an application and a background check is done by law enforcement. Once you are a mentor, you commit to the program for one year, are assigned a student and agree to spend two hours per month at school with them,” she said.
Aaron said the time of the visits can be whatever works for the mentor. “Teachers and principals support this program and don’t mind getting a child out of class for you,” she said.
Additional time away from school is allowed with the permission of the parent or guardian.
“All children in the program have been recommended by a teacher and both they and their parent or guardian have agreed to having a mentor,” Aaron added.
“The time that you have to give can and does a make a difference in the lives of these children - in their grades and in their attitude,” Aaron emphasized.
The mentor program is sponsored by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and MART (Madison Area Resource Team), a Family Connection Collaborative.
To become a mentor, or to learn more about the program, contact any school counselor, chamber member or Shirley Aaron at work at 706-795-2181 or e-mail her at

County contingencies dwindling
County contingencies are dwindling.
And with a new jail expected to open this spring, local leaders are hoping they won’t be forced to borrow money if jail operation costs are greater than expected.
Madison County commissioners kept property taxes steady in 2002, while budgeting just over $1 million this year for the jail, which leaders say could suffice.
But governments like to have emergency funds, or contingencies, available if their budget projections aren’t right on target. And with a major project — the jail — in the works, emergency funds take on even greater significance. BOC chairman Wesley Nash says a healthy contingency fund is five percent of a government’s operating budget.
On Monday, the county commissioners dipped into an already trim 2003 emergency fund to cover approximately $54,000 in unexpected expenses, primarily $32,000 in workers’ compensation funds and $17,000 to cover a recently-approved new position in the county probate office.
County clerk Morris Fortson told commissioners that the budget amendment pulled the county’s contingency funds down from approximately $232,000 to $177,000. This means that less than two percent of the county’s 2003 general fund budget of approximately $10 million is tagged for contingencies.
“I’m concerned about the contingencies because I know we’ll have things at the jail that we’ll have to add,” said commissioner Bruce Scogin. “We’re slowly dwindling down (in contingencies).”
Scogin added that he would like the chairman’s office to keep the commissioners informed about the contingencies and to let them know if the fund drops to an emergency level.
“We are at an emergency level,” Nash responded.
Fortson told the commissioners that if there’s not enough money in the budget to fund jail operations, the board could be forced to borrow money.
Furnishings for the jail — desks, kitchen equipment, etc. — still have to be purchased. Fortson said the BOC is waiting for word from the sheriff’s department on what furnishings will be needed and at what cost.
Meanwhile, the county is still negotiating with its surety company on the jail project, Atlantic Mutual, on expenses incurred due to the lengthy delay on the jail project. The county spent $132,000 housing Madison County prisoners in jails in surrounding counties in 2002.
County attorney Mike Pruett said recouping housing out costs
incurred due to the delay is still an issue “to be worked out.”

Still 131.6 miles of dirt roads in county
There are 131.6 miles of dirt roads in Madison County and 178 roads with at least a portion of the roadway unpaved.
The report, which was prepared by the Madison County Road Department, along with the Madison County E-911 center, was presented to commissioners Monday.
According to the report, District 4, which encompasses Danielsville, Paoli and Carlton, includes the most miles of dirt road at 43.4 miles. District 5, which includes Colbert and Comer, has 36.5 miles of dirt road. District 2, the northernmost district, which includes Poca, Mill, Harrison and Collins, has 30.7 miles of dirt roads. District 1, on the west side of the county, which includes Ila and Pittman, has 19 miles of dirt roads, while District 2, which includes Hull, has 1.9 miles of dirt roads.
County commissioners agreed recently to tag an estimated $8.4 million of sales tax funds for county road improvements over the next five years, provided voters approve the tax in a March 18 referendum.
Paving dirt roads will be one priority of the commissioners. The county may also use the money for resurfacing, widening or redesigning roads.
No priority list of which roads will be addressed first has been determined. Factors to consider when determining that list include the number of residents on a road, as well as how busy the road is.

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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.

Employee killed in accident at Trus Joist plant
A 20-year-old Athens man was killed by a piece of machinery he was working on at Weyerhauser’s Trus Joist Colbert plant early Friday morning.
According to Madison County EMS director Dwayne Patton, 911 received a call to dispatch an ambulance to an “unresponsive person” at Trus Joist at 2:18 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24.
Patton said the man, Linberg Aguilero Zarco, was unresponsive at the time of EMS’s arrival, and went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance as they left plant grounds. He was pronounced dead at Athens Regional Medical Center a short time later.
According to Madison County coroner Michelle Cleveland, Zarco’s body was taken to the state crime lab for an autopsy, as is typical in accidents of this type.
Cleveland said the cause of death was due to “chest cavity injuries” and that Zarco’s chest was apparently crushed by a machine he was working on.
Cleveland said it was her understanding that he had been employed by Trus Joist for just a few weeks.
“It is our understanding that no one saw the accident, but we were able to piece together what most likely happened from the investigation at the scene,” Cleveland added.
Trus Joist officials had no comment until their investigation is complete.
“We’re working on our investigation at the plant (and) at this time we really don’t have any comment, until our investigation is finished, or we get results from one of the other agencies that were investigating this incident,” David Craft said in a return phone message to the newspaper.
Trus Joist, which located in Madison County in 1988, uses Southern Yellow Pine and Poplar to produce its copyrighted product, Parallam, as well as dry veneer, cores and chips. The company employs 180 workers at its Colbert location on Hwy. 72 just east of town.
Lord and Stephens Funeral Home West was in charge of arrangements, Cleveland said. A memorial service was being held in Athens and the body was being sent to Mexico for burial, she added.
Cleveland said Zarco had apparently lived in the Athens area for the past five years.

Annual Chamber meeting set for February 20
The annual Madison County Chamber of Commerce meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Feb. 20, in the new Chamber office at the old county courthouse in downtown Danielsville.
The meeting, which was originally set for this Thursday, Jan. 30, was postponed until Feb. 20 so that the finishing touches on renovations to the new Chamber courthouse office could be completed.
The Chamber plans to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new office at 5 p.m. The annual “passing of the gavel” will be at 5:30 p.m.