News from Jackson County...

FEBRUARY 26, 2003

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County


Our Time and Place:
A History of
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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Powers state title three-peat now complete
Don’t tell Jackson County senior Jason Powers that hard work and perseverance don’t pay off. After all, his career as a Panther wrestler is a testament to just how significant those elements are to an athletes’ success.

Five Tiger Wrestlers Take Medals At State
Five Commerce wrestlers went to state this past weekend and all five returned with some hardware.
Jesse Smith (119-lb.), Royale Goodwin (135), Eric Redmon (145), Taylor Massey (215) and Ben Wilson all took medals in their respective weight classes this past weekend, giving the Tiger wrestlers an eighth-place finish at the two-day tournament in Jefferson.

Dragon Dynasty
It started with one, then progressed to two and now, after an incredible showing this past weekend, the Jefferson wrestling program can officially say that they are a dynasty in the truest sense of the word.

Neighboorhood News ..
Schools burglarized
Three area schools were burglarized late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Board delays decision on naming asst. director for county transfer station
County commissioners discussed at length but took no action Monday on promoting a current transfer station employee to the position of assistant director.

Water director position could oversee county, city operations
County leaders may consider negotiating with cities to create a position that oversees county water operations and manages water services for Danielsville, Ila and Carlton

History on file
Willie Long’s life spanned almost a full century in Madison County.
And thanks to his daughter, Lula Thompson, his contributions to the county are now a part of a permanent pictorial record of the history of the area through the Madison County Library’s picture archive project.

Neighborhood News...
Preserving history

Gillsville’s oldest buildings are about to get a major face-lift as the final plan for their restoration has been completed.

County government to change?
Changes could be in store for Banks County’s form of government, but commission chairman Kenneth Brady said he won’t go along with it.

BOC close to signing off on spray field
Banks County and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) have apparently reached a deal on a proposed wastewater spray field at Banks Crossing.

Homer makes move on property lease
A complicated dispute between the Town of Homer and a property owner seeking higher rent has been settled, at least for now.

Chamber board asks Moores to leave post early
Banks County Chamber of Commerce executive director Carole Moores had planned to resign from her position as of March 28, but the board of directors has asked her to leave one month earlier.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Senior Hunter Garner, right, embraces Jefferson head wrestling coach Doug Thurmond following his victory in the 160-pound state championship finals. The win was a school record and Garner’s fourth state wrestling title.

Judge questions layout plans for courthouse
Senior judge Robert Adamson outlined numerous concerns Tuesday that he and other Superior Court judges have about a proposed layout for a new courthouse.
Adamson gave the comments to Cooper Carry representatives during a two-hour discussion Tuesday night in Jefferson. The meeting was called by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for the “conceptual design” to be presented. The BOC is expected to vote on the design at its March 31 meeting.
Four designs were presented at the meeting — the architects, county officials and Adamson preferring the first one proposed.
But Adamson outlined several concerns he and other judges have about parts of the proposal that could add “unnecessary cost” to the project.
Adamson said the judges’ concerns include the large amount of space allocated for some of the smaller departments, the need for a large “ceremonial courtroom,” and what he said were too many proposed secure elevators and holding cells.
“I like what you’ve done,” Judge Adamson said of the concept. “I think it’s a beautiful thing. But my first question ... is how much of that square footage does beauty cost? How much are you paying for beauty rather than function?”
The judge also questioned the proposed atrium in the design. He said he has had people commit suicide outside of courtrooms and this would be a concern with a multi-level atrium outside the courtrooms.
Although the BOC has pushed hard for quick movement on the proposed courthouse, the board has not yet discussed how the multi-million dollar project will be financed. A tentative cost of $22 million for phase one of a judicial center has been projected, not including roads and other infrastructure needs.
The BOC has also not responded to a recent grand jury report which called for a new county jail. Such a facility is not part of the courthouse plans.
In other business Tuesday, the BOC held a closed session to discuss real estate and personnel. No action was taken. Several other items were to be discussed during the open portion of the meeting, but they will instead be on the agenda at a called meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the State Courtroom (see separate

Planners Say No To Mobile Home Upgrades
Two couples who hope to improve their housing by upgrading mobile homes in areas zoned for site-built houses are hoping the Commerce City Council will not listen to the Commerce Planning Commission.
The planning panel, which makes recommendations to the city council on planning and land use matters, voted unanimously to recommend that the city council deny the requests of John and Brenda Wood, Baxter Road, and Nancy Smallwood Summers, Harris Street.
The Woods sought a rezoning from R-1 to R-5, the classification for mobile homes, to install a new double-wide. Summers sought a change from R-3 to R-5 for the same purpose. Both the R-1 and R-3 zoning classifications are restricted to site-built houses.
Under the city's zoning ordinance, owners of mobile homes that are nonconforming uses – both of the cases – cannot be replaced as they age or if they are destroyed.
"The idea is to get folks into stick-built houses," explained Greg Perry, chairman, who expressed sympathy for the applicants. "If this request is granted," he told the Woods, "we have set a precedent for every person who has a mobile home. Instead of replacing it, they will want to upgrade."
Mrs. Wood questioned how two other residents managed to accomplish an upgrade in similar circumstances, but the planning commission determined that in both cases, the action was taken before the current zoning ordinance was implemented.
The Woods' petition was supported by their neighbor, Joyce Bradshaw, who said the upgrade would be good for the neighborhood and called the Woods "good neighbors who keep up their property."
Vice chairman Doug Newcomer made the motions to deny both requests "based on nonconformance with the future land use plan." Ronnie Seabolt provided both seconds.
"Brenda, sometimes the law isn't good," Perry said. "We're sorry. Maybe the city council will be kinder and gentler."
The city council will make the final decision at its March 10 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
In other business, Mike Malerba showed the planning commission the latest conceptual plan for a senior-citizens-only subdivision on Mount Olive Road. The plan calls for 76 lots on the 29-acre tract.
He presented two scenarios, the second showing 84 lots and almost eight acres of greenspace, but Newcomer pointed out that the ordinance requires a maximum of 76 lots, regardless of the greenspace set-aside.
In the (subdivisions) we've done before, the smaller the lots the better they like it," Malerba told the commission. "They like the security of being closer together."
Malerba indicated he would have his engineer tweak the plan. By dedicating more land to greenspace, he would be permitted to reduce the lot size further.
All yard upkeep would be done by the homeowners' association, the developer indicated.
The commission took no action on the matter.
Mike Lacey had hoped to get 22.06 acres at 188 B. Wilson Road rezoned for annexation, but his paperwork did not get copied to all of the planning commission members, so the matter was tabled until a called meeting Tuesday, March 4, at 6:30 p.m.

1,600 acres sold in South Jackson
What is believed to be Jackson County’s single largest undeveloped land transaction took place last month when 1,600 acres in South Jackson was sold to a Gwinnett County investment group.
Brand Partners, L.P. paid $8.95 million for the property, which includes the old 4-W Farm along Hwy. 129 between Jefferson and Athens. The deal also includes a tract on the opposite side of Hwy. 129 along Holiday Cemetery Road.
The property had been owned for a number of years by an investment group made up of doctors from Hall County. Various plans for the property have been proposed over the years, including at one point a plan for a mixed-use research community tied to the University of Georgia. But none of those plans ever took root.
Currently, the new owners don’t have any specific plans for the site.
“We don’t have any plans, as of now,” said Brand Morgan, managing partner of the group.
Morgan said the company will likely keep the land undeveloped for five to 10 years, depending on the economy and the availability of sewage lines to the site. Water from the Bear Creek Reservoir is already available at the site.
According to Morgan, the land will likely become a mixed-use development with residential, commercial and industrial space.
Morgan and other family members are the principal owners of Brand Banking Company in Gwinnett County, the oldest locally owned bank in that county. The bank has five locations in Gwinnett County and one location in Hall County.
The purchase is the first land bought by Brand Partners, L.P. in Jackson County, he explained. The company primarily purchases property in Gwinnett County and is developing two industrial centers near the Mall of Georgia. One of the them, the Technology Center of Georgia, is a 275-acre commercial, industrial and residential site.
Morgan said his company sees the Jackson County purchase as a long-term investment. Growth is quickly moving out of Gwinnett County and into Jackson County, he added.
The undeveloped farmland which makes up the 1,600 acres has been named one of the most scenic views in Jackson County, according to the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center. Previously, 4-W Farm operated on the land but the farmland has been relatively inactive for years.

Nicholson City Council Meets Thursday, Monday
The Nicholson City Council will hold a work session Thursday night and its regular meeting Monday. Both are at 7:00 at City Hall and both are open to the public.
The work sessions are usually dedicated to going over items on the agenda for the regular voting meeting.
Those include:
•payment of the annual dues to the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
•the hiring of an architect for the land purchased to locate the Daisy Festival.
•further discussion of whether or not to accept the road in Ivy Plantation, which would allow Jackson County school buses to continue picking up children inside the mobile home park instead of along U.S. 441
•renewal of membership in the Nicholson Booster Club,
•hours for the Harold S. Swindle Public Library.
•consideration of a resolution concerning support for legislation to create a municipal option sales tax, which would enable cities to approve local sales taxes similar to the special purpose local option sales tax available to counties in Georgia.

Hoschton ball field work may be halted
Construction of Hoschton’s ball fields could be halted, if the county parks and recreation department doesn’t fix a sedimentation problem at the site, the city council warned this week.
City engineer Charlie Armentrout was expected to draft a letter on Tuesday possibly calling for the immediate halt of the ball fields’ construction. As of press time on Wednesday, however, Armentrout hadn’t notified Hoschton officials if construction should be stopped.
The problem, councilmembers say, is a large amount of red clay sediment headed out from the construction site and into a nearby residential pond.
On Monday, council member Rosemary Bagwell voiced strong concerns that drainage from the site isn’t being properly maintained by the county. She also said various permits needed for the construction project haven’t been submitted to the city.
“I don’t want to see another piece of dirt move or another equipment or another person doing anything until they get to the city all of the required paperwork,” Bagwell said.
The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department, however, says the problem isn’t coming from their construction site.
Ricky Sanders, JCPRD director, said the sediment could be coming from a nearby residential site that has recently cleared more than 35 acres.
Ken Gary is developing 90 homes in several phases just across the street from the Hoschton ball fields. Gary has agreed to improve the roads that will serve his development and the ball fields. Trees have been removed from the site, but the land hasn’t been graded yet.
“We’ve done our job,” Sanders said, while adding the JCPRD would make additional erosion-control changes, if asked.
One of those erosion-control items involves temporary fences to steer sediment coming from the construction site.
“The site is too large to expect a silt fence to control everything,” Armentrout said Monday.
The county needs to make additional plans to prevent sediment from leaving the construction site, Armentrout said.
But one of the biggest factors controlling erosion from the site has been the weather, Sanders said.
Initially, construction was to have started on the ball fields in the fall, he said. Yet, when Tropical Storm Isidore signaled the beginning of several weeks of rainfall, the county pushed the start date back several months.
Originally, the Hoschton ball fields were to have been completed in April, but the soggy winter months have forced the opening date to be pushed closer to late May, Sanders said.
“We’re already stopping with the weather,” he said. “We don’t need to stop for something else.”
Once completed, the renovated ball fields will include four-lighted baseball fields that can be used also as soccer fields, a T-ball field, a large playground and walking trails. It will also have a two-story concession stand and restroom area, along with expanded parking to accommodate 300 vehicles.
Bagwell said some of those plans, including construction plans for the concession stand, haven’t been given to the city. Sanders said the city hasn’t asked for them, but he is willing to give them to Hoschton.
“I’m just trying to get this project done so the kids can have a place to play,” Sanders said.
The opening date, however, still depends on favorable weather conditions, he added.
Hoschton entered a 10-year lease agreement with the county last year. While the city still owns the site, the county is responsible for maintenance and construction of the ball fields.
Another problem with the ball field situation is Hoschton’s lack of a certified code enforcement officer and building inspector, Bagwell said.
Bagwell said the city assumed the county would do the project right, but that “they’re not.”

Councilmembers discussed requiring the city code enforcement officer and building inspector positions to be filled by certified personnel. Paul Turman said the city might have a hard time finding one person to fill both positions.



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Prime blasts BOC rumors
There was no hunting trip, says president of firm
The president of Prime Engineering last week blasted rumors that the firm had hosted a Texas hunting trip for members of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.
In a letter to authority chairman Elton Collins, Thomas D. Gambino, president of Prime Engineering, denied rumors being circulated by members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners that the firm had hosted anyone from the water authority on a hunting trip.
Commissioner Emil Beshara had made the allegations to authority member Warren Walker before an authority meeting earlier this month. Beshara reportedly stated that Prime Engineering had hosted water superintendent Jerry Waddell on a hunting trip.
During a Feb. 13 authority meeting, Walker asked Waddell about the allegation. Waddell told Walker that the story was false, that he’d never been taken on any trip with Prime Engineering and that he’d never been to Texas.
Gambino’s letter to Collins confirmed Waddell’s statement.
“Please accept this letter as my personal guarantee that Prime Engineering has never taken Mr. Waddell and or any other person at the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, the Jackson County Commission, nor any resident of Jackson County on a hunting trip to Texas or anywhere else,” Gambino wrote.
“Prime Engineering, Inc. takes this allegation very seriously and we would like to stop these rumors. I am willing to address this issue in a public or private forum with whomever has brought this issue to your attention.”
The allegations against Waddell were made during an effort by the BOC to take control of the water authority. That effort failed when state legislative leaders refused to gut the powers of the authority and to allow the BOC takeover.
Beshara has been a vocal critic of Waddell and the water authority since taking office in January 2000. In addition to the hunting trip rumors, Beshara has also alleged that Collins created a personal escrow account for Waddell of half-a-million dollars, an allegation Collins strongly denied.

DFACS plans emergency shelter training
The Jackson County Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) will hold a two-day mass emergency shelter preparedness training in May, with the training open not only to DFACS employees, but also to community members interested in becoming Red Cross volunteers, said DFACS director Jerry Payne.
The training will be held May 1 and 2, with the training location yet to be determined, Payne told the DFACS board Thursday.
For more information, contact Janet Fong at 367-3018.