News from Banks County...

MARCH 12, 2003


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary

Nothing should stop the fun of vacations
A sinus infection, an unexplained (and sudden) nauseous afternoon, two blisters from wearing new shoes, two shaving wounds, bad sunburn and a sprained ankle...

Bill Shipp
A tale of two presidents
Michael Adams probably wishes he could change places with Kirby Godsey.
Godsey, on the brink of retirement as the accomplished president of Mercer University, is edging toward a race for the U.S. Senate to succeed Zell Miller.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Leopards looking for bats
It’s all slowly starting to fall into place for the Leopards.
They’ve got the uniforms of a professional team. The pitching is coming together. And the defense has rebounded from the Commerce debacle.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Courthouse plans drastically different than earlier efforts
Like night and day.
That might be an apt analogy between plans for a new county courthouse in the late 1990s and the one being planned today.

Jackson Residents Of Maysville To Pay
4.9 Mills; Banks Residents To Pay Zero
MAYSVILLE -- Compared to their Banks County neighbors, Maysville residents living in Jackson County will pay considerably more in taxes this year.

Zoning Applicants Opt For ‘Modular Homes’
Two couples hoping to rezone their lots so they could upgrade their trailers to double-wide mobile homes accepted the Commerce City Council's rejection of their request Monday night.

Braselton re-used water not used
Braselton developers who aren’t taking “re-used water” are costing the town, Mayor Pat Graham said Monday.

BOC headed to Helen for weekend
meeting
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will hold a two-day meeting this weekend at Unicoi Lodge in Helen.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Special Tuesday
It's not the 64 million dollar question.
But it's the closest thing Madison County's got, with an estimated $19 million in revenues over the next five years on the line.

Madison County to get $420,000 for jail expenses incurred during delay
The new county jail may not be completed until this summer. But the legal wrangling over how much money Madison County will get back for its jail headaches is over.

A story of success
Madison County’s Scott Seymour was born with Down’s Syndrome, but he hasn’t let his disability stand in his way.

Hull to fill vacant council seats March 18
The city of Hull will have a full council table in April for the first time in over a year, once Hull residents select new council members at a special called election Tuesday.

Boatwright named new Madison Co. Republican leader
Paul J. Boatwright of the Sanford Community has been chosen to lead the Madison County Republican Party, replacing Hank Burnham.

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WATER SYSTEM
NIGHTMARE

Baldwin officials worked feverishly over the weekend and Monday to repair several water line breaks that left the city customers without water. Above, Junior Robinson and Scott Gailey dig down to find a faulty valve at West Airport Road and B.C. Grant Road.

Baldwin goes dry
This past weekend, Baldwin water customers turned on taps and quickly discovered there was no water.
Two separate breaks in water lines and a faulty water valve caused a system-wide failure that lasted for nearly four days and completely emptied the city’s water supply.
“This was a disaster for our city and the residents,” Mayor Mark Reed said. “All of us have been inconvenienced by this. Hats are off to Habersham and Banks County Fire Departments and EMAs and the City of Cornelia. I don’t know what we’d have done without their help.”
The first reports of no water started coming in at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, he said.
“It was tough figuring out the problem on the corner by Whitfield’s at Industrial Boulevard and Airport Road,” he said. “We have a six-inch, an eight-inch, a 10-inch and a 12-inch all in the same general area. It took a while to figure out which line was leaking and where. Within a short time, we lost all the water in the system.”
Reed said crews worked all day Saturday to find and fix the break in the line. They thought that was the end of it. But, early Sunday morning, the calls were coming in again. This time the leak was discovered by Ray Holcomb and councilman Robert Bohannon at Cornelia Airport on a grassed median between the taxi runway and the main runway. Holcomb said the lines at the airport were old and had been laid before the airport even existed.
That line had shifted four feet and broke at both ends. Summit Pipeline was called in to help with that repair and went to work on it first thing Monday morning. Councilman Mitchell Gailey was with the men Monday as they dug down to find the faulty water valve at the intersection of West Airport Road and B.C. Grant Road.
At one point, the digging had to stop when it was thought a natural gas line had been breached. But Atlanta Gas Light employees quickly were on the scene and found no leaks.
Joe Roy, Baldwin’s fire chief, called other counties for aid and soon water was rolling into Baldwin, from Habersham County and the city of Cornelia. Non-drinkable water tanks, called water buffaloes, were used at nursing homes throughout the ordeal and on Monday and Tuesday, at Baldwin Elementary School for use in flushing commodes.
Reed said the Red Cross provided 600 gallons of drinking water and Habersham EMA gave all the drinking water they had on hand.
Banks County Board of Commission chairman Kenneth Brady called Reed Monday morning to ask what help the county could give.
So, Banks County Fire Chief Perry Dalton provided tankers of water and hooked up the county system with fire hoses to Baldwin’s system at Hollingsworth to provide water to the southernmost end of Baldwin’s service area. The department also supplied 40 gallons of drinking water to Scenic View Nursing Home.
Banks County E-911 director Diedre Moore called the department of transportation and got a 10,000-gallon tanker full of drinking water on its way to Baldwin. It was delivered late Monday night.
Roy said: “We’ve been run ragged for the past three days. It’s been non-stop. Cornelia has helped us out, Habersham County has helped us, and now Banks. We appreciate everybody’s assistance. I don’t know what we would have done without all the help.”
Richard Crowder, Banks County fire training officer, said: “That’s what mutual aid is all about. We help each other out. Baldwin would do the same for us if we were in that predicament.”
Outside the fire station in Baldwin, Charles Chaffin and Joe Brown were filling up five-gallon jugs to use at Habersham Metal Products Monday morning.
“We can get bottled water to drink, but we need water for other purposes,” said Chaffin. “We have to have water.”
Other Baldwin residents stopped by the station for drinking water and carried buckets for other purposes.
Though one line and the valve were repaired late Monday, the airport line was found to have another leak. Crews isolated that pipe from the system. Reed estimated it would take over 24 hours for the system to regain the two million gallons lost in the leaks. He regretted the bind the water loss put on the city of Demorest who buys water from Baldwin.
City engineer Fred Hawkins said: “Even though we may have water, people need to boil it. We’re going to have to bleed all the lines. We’re going to have to run bacteria tests. Once we get results back from those tests, the residents can stop boiling water. But they need to wait and hear from us before drinking out of the tap.”


Baldwin election coming Tuesday
Two candidates will be on the ballot for the special called election Tuesday in Baldwin.
Beverly Holcomb and Donald Lord are both seeking the Post 1 seat on the city council.
Both 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.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m.


Plane makes emergency landing in southern Banks County
A Mississippi pilot had to make an emergency landing in a single-engine airplane when it ran out of fuel off the Fort Lamar Road in Banks County early last Wednesday afternoon.
Perry LeBlanc of Lyon, Miss., was flying a Grumman crop duster from South Carolina back to Mississippi when it ran out of fuel at about 1:25 p.m.
“The gas gauge was on empty, but I should have had about another 25 miles,” said LeBlanc, shortly after landing, adding that the gas gauge was broken. He was headed to the Gainesville airport for refueling.
Approaching from the north, LeBlanc’s bright yellow airplane clipped the ConAgra sign signifying Rickey Cain’s farm, leaving pieces of yellow fiberglass in Cain’s driveway, cleared the fence across the Fort Lamar Road and landed with no further incident in Cain’s pasture.
Asked if the situation created unusual tension, LeBlanc shrugged it off almost as business as usual.
“It comes down by itself,” he said. “You’re strapped in, you’ve got a good safety harness and good metal around you. You’re only doing about 60.”
Banks County fire and rescue were called to the scene, but there was no need. LeBlanc was uninjured, and the only damage, besides a little missing fiberglass at the end of the right wing, was to the propeller and (possibly) the landing gear.
LeBlanc promptly called the Federal Aviation Administration, which sent investigators to the scene. The plan was to repair the plane in the field and then fly it out. The crop duster is owned by Gator Flying Service, Edwards, Miss.



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New middle school to cost
$1 million less than projected
Bids for construction of the new middle school have come in well under early projections for the project.
In fact, the school system stands to build the school for about $1 million less than originally projected.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of bids,” superintendent Deborah White said.
The board of education voted Monday to accept the $8.8 million bids on the project. Early projections had put the cost of the middle school between $9.8 and $10.2 million.
However, the county will get the finished building, minus furnishings and a phone and data system, for about $70 per square foot. White said the school was efficiently designed and should allow for future growth.
White said the savings on the building would likely give the board the extra money it needed to finish other projects under the same SPLOST proposal, including 11 classroom additions at the primary school and renovations at the current middle school.
The board also voted to go ahead and brick the new field house being built behind the high school at the football stadium. The BOE had earlier agreed to leave off the brick to cut costs, with the plans to add brick later on.
But board member John Williams pointed out that the same brick to match the stadium may not be available in the future. Other board members agreed that the building should be bricked now and issued a change order for the bricking, with costs not to exceed $22,000.
The school board also discussed possible locations for a practice field at the high school. School officials, including football coach Greg Moore, will likely be meeting soon with project officials and surveyors to determine the best location.
The board also tossed around the idea of having the practice field serve as a soccer field. But White pointed out that doing so would require the construction of stands and lights at the practice field and that the current football field was serving well as a soccer stadium.
White also suggested the board consider using some of the excess funds—if any—from the SPLOST referendum to build a new bus barn. She said one was badly needed.