News from Banks County...

FEBRUARY 19, 2003


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OPINIONS
Shar Porier

‘Her name was Lola’
If that phrase brings a smile to your face, you’re probably familiar with Barry Manilow’s 1970s hit, “Copacabana.” The song is still popular 25 years later and can be heard on heard on the radio on occasion. Many people from their 20s to 50s and from all walks of life know most of the words and sing along too.

Bill Shipp
On tweaking the flag referendum
As we contemplate the coming referendum on the state flag, Georgians should consider at least one historical note: Our past governors were not as determined as Sonny Perdue to keep their campaign pledges.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Get your kicks here
For the third time in as many years, the Leopards will start the soccer season with a new coach.
Mike Townson takes over at the helm this season, and he’ll be looking to fill holes left by nine graduating seniors off last year’s team.
But despite the key losses, the Leopards will be returning a host of talented players, including five seniors.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Holder Construction named courthouse contractor
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners hired Holder Construction as general contractor for the new courthouse Monday.

Beatty speaks to water authority
Commissioner Tony Beatty gave the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority a demonstration of how the county commissioners conduct a meeting last Thursday night.

Jefferson BOE to regulate school taxes
Jefferson Board of Education officials voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a move that will allow the body to regulate taxes independently from the city council.

Stop ‘Harassment’ Says Water Authority
And It Will Pay Off The Bear Creek Debt
JEFFERSON -- The good news for Jackson County taxpayers is that the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority pledged last Thursday night that it will make all of the 2003 debt payments on the Bear Creek Reservoir.

Supreme Court denies appeal on landfill lawsuit
The Georgia Supreme Court has denied an appeal from a developer trying to locate a landfill in West Jackson over his lawsuit attacking the county’s zoning codes.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Adams resigns as MCHS principal
First-year Madison County High School principal Robert Adams has resigned, effective at the end of this school year.

Comer beer, wine ordinance gets thumbs up
Those wanting a beer or glass of wine with their meal in Comer will now be able to place that order.
The Comer City Council unanimously passed a beer and wine ordinance Tuesday that will allow restaurants to acquire licenses to serve alcoholic beverages to their dining customers.

Planners frown on one-acre lot in low density area
Family members wanting to give an acre of land to a disabled family member ran into a road block at Tuesday night’s public hearings of the planning and zoning commission.

Annual Chamber of Commerce meeting set for Thursday
The annual Madison County Chamber of Commerce meeting will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, in the new Chamber office at the old county courthouse in downtown Danielsville.

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Lula mayor holds first town hall meeting

Lula Mayor Milton Turner kept his campaign promise and held Lula’s first town hall meeting Thursday evening at the Railroad Depot. Turner discussed the projects the council has completed and that are still in the works.

The talk of the town
Keeping his campaign promise to hold a town hall meeting if elected, Lula mayor Milton Turner hosted a meeting Thursday to discuss the gains and the goals of the current administration.
One of things Turner touched on was the formation of committees in the council to get things done. Committees have been formed, consisting of two or three council members, and have specific areas of concern, like streets and water.
“The committees have been a great asset to the city,” he said. “The workload needed to be shared among the council members. Committee members can go out and see what the problems are, or citizens’ concerns, before our meeting and know what needs to be done.”
One subject discussed at length was the current state of the sewer system and its expansion. The council imposed a sewer moratorium until a problem with rainwater infiltration could be corrected. The city currently holds a discharge permit for 82,000 gallons per day (gpd), but with the recent rains, that limit has been exceeded, said Turner. The council is working on correcting the problem. One way to find the source of rainwater entry is to run a smoke-test at a cost of $10,000 (see separate story).
In the near future, Turner said, the plant would need to be expanded and updated. The city will seek an expansion to 120,000 gpd through grant sources in anticipation of growth. Eventually, the system will go to 375,000 gpd.
He also said the environmental protection division is heading toward cleaning up sewerage for discharge back into the water system rather than allow land application on spray-fields.
He hinted at a possible annexation of a very large commercial/residential tract that would require a sewer system of even greater capacity. Hall County’s plans to run sewer along Highway 365 may help if the annexation goes through.
Lula resident Bobbie Moore asked: “Why would we want that?”
Turner replied: “A small town has to grow, or die. Lula needs to build the tax base. We have to be prepared for growth. It’s coming our way, whether we want it or not.”
Turner explained that even if the annexation were to happen in the near future, it would be phased in over a number of years.
“Annexations will continue with guidelines,” he said. “We may set restrictions on lot sizes and require sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Our land is increasing in value.”
Resident Bobby Miller said the reason people come to Lula is because there is no city tax.
Sarah Kidd questioned Turner on the cemetery on Belton Bridge Road and asked who was responsible for maintaining it. It is thought that the cemetery was deeded to the people of Belton Bridge many years ago. She said in days past, there would be a day when people who had family members interred there came to work on the grave sites.
Turner replied the city had no control over it, since it was not city property. The crews do cut around the old cemetery two or three times a year.
Summing up what has been accomplished in the past year and the current state of affairs in the city, he said:
•the city had a debt-load of $175,000. The council is working to find ways to pay off the debt in advance.
•revenues increased due to the hike in water and garbage service fees.
•246 acres were annexed into the city.
•six miles of two-inch water lines along Hwy. 51 were replaced with six-inch lines costing $360,000 of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds and a loop completed to help with reduced water pressure in that part of the city.
•a new well, dedicated to the city by developer Barry Wikle, will be online in 60 days after testing has been completed. A second well, also dedicated to the city by a developer, is in the works.
•work on the city’s cemetery has been progressing as the road has been graveled and new cornerstones set. There will be a new numbering system for the lots.
•the city now has a building inspector whose costs are absorbed by building permit fees.
•the council approved the Highway 365 Overlay District, which will require specific building codes and setbacks.
•the city is switching from manual water meter reading to radio remote reading. The $15,000 project is underway to replace all old meters. The system will save the city hours of labor.
•the city continues to impose no property tax since local option sales tax (LOST) money from Hall County allows a rollback. LOST disbursements will continue for the next 10 years.
•new “Stop” signs have been purchased to replace old, faded signs.
•Lula will go back to voting wards if the legislation is approved in February.
•$63,000 was spent on roads within the city. Some of the funding came from special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) and some from Lula’s budget.
•the council is working on a comprehensive plan with Georgia Mountains Rural Development Center. The effort involves rezoning the city and changing ordinances.
In goals for the coming years, he said the council was discussing:
•seeking grants to build the water system. A new water tank for storage is needed which could cost $350,000 or more. Waterlines down Main Street are also being considered for replacement with larger lines and looped to maintain high pressure throughout the city’s system.
•negotiations with a grocery store. One firm has shown interest in the area.
•the possibility of initiating beer and wine retail package
licenses for stores and pouring licenses for restaurants.


BOC to hold two meetings this week
The Banks County Board of Commissioners have two called meetings scheduled for this week.
The BOC will meet Friday at 9 a.m. in the courthouse conference room for a hearing on the teen club business license violation.
The club was shut down recently after Banks County sheriff’s deputies found activities in violation of the business license agreement.
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said last week that club owner Michael Bramonte had the right to ask for a hearing on the matter if he wanted. Bramonte, who has plans to change the club into a restaurant, got approval to sell beer and liquor at the establishment as Club Drive Restaurant.
The commissioners were also scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. to discuss the location of a new sewage sprayfield. That meeting was to occur too late to meet this week’s newspaper deadline.
Disagreement over the location of the sprayfield has kept the issue in limbo since last year, though a resolution may be close.



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Carole Moores resigns from chamber
Carole Moores has resigned as executive director of the Banks County Chamber of Commerce.
Her resignation will be effective March 28.
Moores sent the following e-mail to chamber members on Tuesday: “It is with regret that I submitted my resignation to the chamber board of directors, effective March 28. I will miss the friendships I have developed over the past year. Banks County is full of very special people and I will treasure the time I had to spend with you.”


Holcomb, Lord to run for Baldwin council seat
Beverly Holcomb, wife of councilman Ray Holcomb, and Donald Lord have qualified for Post 1 in the March Baldwin special election, said city clerk Betty Harper.
Holcomb and Lord are running as independents for the vacant seat previously held by Kevin Gaddis. The term will expire December 31, 2003.
Lord resides in the Habersham County side of Baldwin; Holcomb in Banks County.
The special election will be held on Tuesday, March 18. Polls will be open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.