News from Jackson County...

FEBRUARY 5, 2003


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Our Time and Place:
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Jackson County, Ga

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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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS

Lady Panther subregion title still possible
Although they certainly need some help to do it, it’s still not out of the realm of possibility for the Jackson County girls to end up with the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAA North heading into next week’s region tournament.

Tigers Headed To State Dual Meet
The Tiger matmen have some more dualing to do.
Commerce will head make its first ever state-dual appearance this Saturday at Bremen after qualifying this past weekend with a fourth-place finish at the area duals in Social Circle.

Lady Dragons secure top seed
Any doubts about who the premier team in Region 8-A was heading into last week were put to rest following an impressive string of results by the Jefferson girls recently. The team has reeled off eight-straight region wins, the latest of which — a Tuesday night victory over Lakeview — clinched the No. 1 seed in the subregion, as well as first-place.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Couple badly burned in fire
A Madison County couple was flown by helicopter to Grady Hospital’s burn center in Atlanta early Sunday morning after their mobile home on Hardeman-Morris Road was destroyed by fire.

Beer, wine decision on hold in Comer
Comer’s city council failed to act on a proposed revision of the city’s beer and wine ordinance Tuesday night when a motion to adopt by Jeff Turner failed for lack of a second.

Scientific theory:
Scientist and retired University of Georgia chemistry professor Charles Melton sees diamonds as mini-time capsules that hold secrets to the earth’s past.
As for oil, it comes not from dead dinosaurs, but instead is a naturally-occurring substance like water, which he maintains, is why it is in the earth in such vast quantities and is found primarily along the planet’s fault lines.

Danielsville residents will see $2 increase in monthly garbage fee
Danielsville residents will soon pay $2 more per month for trash pickup.
Citing a strained budget, the city council tentatively passed an increase in garbage collection prices Monday night.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
No separate zip code for Banks Crossing

Even though the intersection of I-85 and Highway 441 has been known for a long time as Banks Crossing, the zip code will remain that of the city of Commerce much to the dismay of the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Maysville urges groups to adopt a street
The Maysville City Council wants the towns citizens to adopt a street.
The council urged residents Monday to take advantage of the program to get the town’s streets cleaned up before grass cutting season.

Home Depot a reality?
The location of a Home Depot store at Banks Crossing could soon become a reality.

Maysville’s Banks County citizens could get tax break; Jackson County may see increase
A recent state Supreme Court ruling concerning tax distributions could divide the citizens of Maysville, right along the county line.

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BESHARA SPEAKS

Jackson County Board of Commissioners member Emil Beshara spoke on proposed legislation on changing the water and sewerage authority at a public hearing Thursday night in Jefferson. Elton Collins, chairman of the county water and sewerage authority, is shown looking on.

BOC takeover move dead?
Senators say no changes will be made without water authority OK
Efforts by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to take over the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority appear to be on life-support, if not already dead.
Following a month of intense controversy surrounding the takeover attempt, Jackson County’s state senate delegation has reportedly agreed to not approve any changes to the water authority without the consent of the water authority board.
An email sent by Sen. Ralph Hudgens last week to a number of county citizens stated that the BOC and water authority would have to be in agreement for the senators to allow legislation changing the authority to move forward.
“Senator Casey Cagle, Senator Brian Kemp and I have sat down and discussed the issue of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners taking over the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority,” Hudgens wrote. “We concluded that we will not do anything with local legislation unless the Water Authority and Board of Commissioners agree.”
Although the BOC had scheduled a vote on the matter Monday night, no vote was taken following an hour of discussion during which board members complained bitterly that their proposal had been “misunderstood” by the public.

LARGE PUBLIC MEETING
Monday’s BOC meeting came on the heels of a large public meeting last Thursday night hosted by the water authority to get public input on the controversy.
The diverse crowd of around 250 people was overwhelmingly opposed to the takeover effort and it appeared unlikely that the water authority would be in agreement on any of the points being pushed by the BOC.
But only one commissioner was present to witness the public’s sentiment in a meeting designed to hear what the public had to say. Emil Beshara attended, but chairman Harold Fletcher and commissioners Sammy Thomason, Stacey Britt and Tony Beatty were conspicuously absent.
What they missed was a public display of confidence in the water and sewerage authority and a strong skepticism about the board of commissioners that included not only its plans for the water authority, but also its proposal to build a new courthouse.
Tim Venable of South Jackson perhaps captured the mood of the crowd best when he told Beshara that the BOC is not trusted by the public. He said he found Collins, authority manager Jerry Waddell and authority member Dean Stringer “trustworthy,” then reminded the group how the BOC had dealt with another recent controversy.
“We’re not here to talk about the courthouse, but everybody here knows what’s happened over the past year with the courthouse,” he said. “Has it been done right? No, it hasn’t been done right and the trust factor comes in...Right now, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners has a serious credibility problem.”
That comment drew several “Amens” and applause. Venable also called the board’s action regarding the water authority “a blunt, raw power grab, just one more attempt to grab money and power.”
Beshara gamely tried to explain what he hoped to accomplish when on Jan. 6 he introduced a motion to seek local legislation stripping the water and sewerage authority of most of its responsibilities, but his audience hooted derisively when Beshara suggested that no commissioner “would use the opportunity of deciding where the system was expanded for their personal benefit.”
The District 3 commissioner didn’t appear to make any converts on the water authority issue, but even an audience decidedly hostile toward his legislation and the board of commissioners in general repeatedly expressed appreciation for his willingness to explain his position – and to face the crowd.
Elton Collins, chairman of the authority, served as its spokesman. In his opening statement, Collins reminded the audience that the authority’s current set-up had not been an issue since it was founded in 1986.
“We have operated through four different county administrations and all four felt that the structure was okay. No one has ever wanted to change the structure, because it has been a success,” he said.
The chairman also pointed out that the major bone of contention is the payment of the nearly $150,000 per month (for 26 years) to retire the bond debt for the Bear Creek Reservoir, a debt he repeatedly observed belonged to Jackson County, not to the water and sewerage authority.
At the time the county committed itself to the regional reservoir, Collins said, the board of commissioners “knew the Jackson County Water Authority couldn’t pay for it. We didn’t have but 800 customers at the time.”
Nonetheless, Collins recalled, the authority, at Fletcher’s insistence, made $2.7 million in 18 monthly payments through last December. In January, Collins said, “I instructed chairman Fletcher with the situation we have right now, we don’t know what is going to happen to the water authority, so until this is resolved, you’re going to have to pay it, starting this month.’”
When the forum was open to comments, a string of elected officials came forth to back the water authority. Not one supported the board of commissioners.
Hoschton councilman Paul Turman forced an admission from Beshara that he could not guarantee that the commissioners “will not void or nullify” the authority’s contracts with Hoschton or “raise our rates in any way” (Beshara said he had not seen the agreements).
Nicholson councilman Chuck Wheeler noted that the Nicholson City Council had passed a resolution in support of the authority and would send it to the legislative delegation.
Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner reported a similar resolution and stated that Jefferson had “some agreements we feel like would be in jeopardy” in a takeover.
“We subscribe to the theory that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said, receiving strong applause.
Citizens also got their chance, and they vented anger about the commissioners plans. Joel Hammond thanked Beshara for “having the intestinal fortitude to show up,” but reiterated the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” concept and noted, “What you have presented to us is a courthouse on which we really didn’t have any input. You guys didn’t listen to us.”
John White, Nicholson, a charter member of the authority, recalled the advice of the late Henry Robinson, when White was appointed.
“He said, ‘you be sure you don’t get politics involved in this,’” White remembered.
MONDAY BOC MEETING
Although no vote was taken at Monday’s BOC meeting, Beshara told the other commissioners about the Thursday meeting and again complained that his proposal had not been accurately reported.
Beshara said no reasons were given at the hearing as to why the BOC shouldn’t take over the daily operations of the water authority. He added that the BOC was not given a formal invitation to the hearing or given the format or agenda ahead of time.
“I went there to listen,” he said.
Beshara said the actual proposal was not addressed at the hearing and has not been accurately reported.
“I personally think the whole story hasn’t been told,” he said.
Beshara again complained about how an engineering bid was handled by the water authority.
Commissioner Sammy Thomason said that he was concerned about the Bear Creek debt payment and that the BOC would have to raise taxes to pay that obligation.


City Near Accord On
Subdivision Annexation
After years of negotiations, it appears that the Commerce City Council is close to beginning the annexation of the Montgomery Shores subdivision.
That issue could be on the table when the city council meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
The city negotiated an easement 60.5 feet wide from Georgia 15 down to the center of the west end of the lake. Since property lines in the subdivision go to the center of the lake, several will be contiguous to the easement, once it is annexed Monday night.
Residents of the subdivision have expressed an interest in being annexed for several years, noted City Manager Clarence Bryant.
"I don't know if all of them (property owners) want to come into the city, but we've heard from a number of them," Bryant said.
In other business:
•The council appears ready to table a recommendation of the Commerce Planning Commis-sion to award a conditional use permit to John and Brenda Wood so they can upgrade their mobile home on an R-1 lot on Wood Street. Bryant reported at the work session that there is no provision in the ordinance for a conditional use permit for mobile homes. He plans to consult with zoning experts at the Regional Development Center on the issue.
•The council will likely approve a request by Mrs. J. Nolan Spear Sr. and Mrs. J.A. Minish to help fund a cast iron arch over the main entrance of Grey Hill Cemetery. The women have offered to pay part of the cost.
•Bryant is expected to have a report on a meeting this week with County Manager Al Crace to resolve some issues relating to House Bill 489 negotiations.
•The council expects to declare 1.35 acres near Ridling Field and possibly 18 acres containing the old city reservoir off Waterworks Road as surplus. If that occurs, the city will sell the tracts by public auction. Another parcel to be sold at a later date is the old city shop site behind the old city hall.
•The council expects to approve a renewal of a mutual aid agreement regarding law enforcement with Jackson County.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


Columbia remembered
“Well, many, many hours went into this thing, a job well done by the space shuttle team....Thanks to God and his love and grace, America’s still number one in space.”
— From “Blastoff Columbia”

By Jana Adams
Back on April 12 1981, Roy McCall watched from a bunker as the Columbia space shuttle lifted off for its maiden voyage, the first of the shuttles to fly in space. He marveled in the early morning at the sights and the sounds, the tremendous thunder of the craft as it ascended.
“It was like a rare bird – once it got up there, you didn’t want to take your eyes off of it,” remembers McCall, who is now a Jefferson resident.
Little did McCall know, but commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen, who were at the helm of Columbia while the world watched and listened, had been awakened earlier that morning by his voice. Along with the astronauts, millions listened with interest to McCall’s rendition of a country-folk tune of “Blastoff Columbia,” a recording which he and writer Jerry Rucker had sent to NASA public relations, and which NASA officials in Houston had played as a sort of wake-up call that morning.
“I was the one who woke them up,” McCall said. “It was the first flight of the Columbia, the first ever.”
Along with the Columbia, McCall’s musical career was launched.
‘NEVER BE ANOTHER COLUMBIA’
On Monday, McCall recounted those heady days following “Blastoff Columbia” in the midst of “shuttlemania,” as well as his shock over the tragic demise of the space shuttle and the loss of the crew on Saturday.
McCall’s part in the 1981 “shuttlemania” all started when Rucker wrote the song, gave it to Silver Pelican Records in Maitland, Fla., and then McCall, who was an entertainer, recorded it at BJ Recording Studio in Orlando.
“We sent it to Hugh Harrison at the cape for public relations,” McCall remembers. “But we didn’t hear anything from them.”
Early on the morning following the shuttle’s lift-off, the record producer’s son called McCall at home, telling him he needed to come over. A clip of the wake-up “serenade” had aired and the television and radio stations were seeking interviews.
“All of the sudden, the TV and radio stations started calling and saying, ‘We’re coming over,’ and we said, ‘Huh?’ We didn’t know,” McCall said. “I did interviews from all over the world — Japan, the Kremlin, a Danish broadcasting system, a German one. It was literally overnight. I wasn’t a sensation, it was just timely.”
An article written on April 16, 1981, for the Herald Advertiser, a Sanford, Fla., newspaper, reported that phone calls were “coming all over the nation from people who want to speak to the ‘Man who sings the space shuttle song.’”
On the heels of his “space” debut, McCall, then age 22, played the Orange Blossom Jamboree in Lakeland, Fla., on May 3, 1981, along with country music names such as Billy “Crash” Craddock, Charley Pride, Sylvia, The Bellamy Brothers, Louise Mandrell, Ernest Tubbs and Mel Tillis.
While he had an offer to tour with Alabama when they were first getting started, McCall had to turn it down because of a year left on a small studio contract.
“I played with a band in Orlando until 1992, then I sort of rode off into the sunset, so to speak,” he said.
Marriage brought McCall to the North Georgia area, and he currently makes his home along the “Jefferson-Arcade border.” He describes himself as “a working man” now and is a truck driver. He sings a little karaoke from time to time.
McCall remembers those post “Blastoff Columbia” days with nostalgia and excitement, but says he doesn’t have enough words to describe his feelings on Saturday.
“When Saturday went down — I’m still basically without words — but I lost a piece of me,” McCall said. “It was extremely tough to watch Saturday. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, some way, some how...but there will never be another Columbia, unfortunately.”
McCall said he got a call from CNN on Saturday, seeking some comments.
“I don’t know how they got a hold of me,” he said. “They wanted some information about the Columbia.”
Back in April 1981, McCall was quoted as saying the space shuttle launch and the ensuing “shuttlemania” was “history in the making.” Saturday, just a few months shy of the 22-year-anniversary of Columbia’s first launch, a chapter of history came to a sad close.