News from Madison County...

MARCH 12, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
UGA muddied
by scandal
You can’t play in the mud without getting dirt on your hands. This fact has been clearly demonstrated by the University of Georgia basketball program.

Zach Mitcham
SPLOST is
crucial to county health
It’s not a “sexy” story, as my old journalism professor would have said.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Diamond Raiders searching for first win
At 0-3, Madison County is off to its slowest start in years.
And the problems aren’t that complex to diagnose according to the Raiders’ head coach.
“It’s really a simple game, but we’re not doing the simple things,” said Charlie Griffeth whose team has committed 11 errors in its three defeats.


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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin goes dry

This past weekend, Baldwin water customers turned on taps and quickly discovered there was no water.

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.

Baldwin election coming Tuesday
Two candidates will be on the ballot for the special called election Tuesday in Baldwin.

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.

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The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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SIGNS OF SPRING

A redbird perches in a tree in bloom off Crawford W. Long Street in Danielsville Monday afternoon.

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.
Referendums will be held for both county government and school special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) proposals from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 18, at all Madison County polling precincts.
Numerous improvements in the county hinge on voters saying "yes" to both taxes, which would generate an estimated $9.5 million for both the county government and county schools system.
If the county government SPLOST is approved, commissioners plan to allocate approximately $8.4 million for needed road work in the county. Another $630,000 will go to an EMS/sheriff's station in the Hull area, along with new patrol cars and a fingerprinting system, while another $500,000 will be tagged for upgrades in public safety communications.
“How can I express how important this is?" said county commission chairman Wesley Nash. "Let’s just say that without SPLOST we’ll be pretty dead in the water as far as moving forward with new road projects and maintaining a schedule of keeping existing roads in shape.”
The county school system plans numerous facilities upgrades at county schools, with primary aims of reducing classroom overcrowding and moving forward with a long-awaited PE/athletic complex across from the high school and middle school. A 180-seat fine arts theater is also planned.
Approximately $1.6 million from the education SPLOST will also go to retirement of old construction debt.
“This is vital to the future of our schools," said county school superintendent Keith Cowne. "It will be used for the good of our kids. I hope everybody will come out and vote ‘yes.’”
In November of 1997, the sales tax for schools passed with 78 percent of the vote. Most of the money raised from this tax funded the construction of the Hull-Sanford Elementary School, as well as new classroom wings at the high school and middle school.
In March of 1998 the county SPLOST was approved with 75 percent saying "yes." That tax funded roads, the new jail, a 911 system and recreation improvements.


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.
County commissioners approved a “takeover agreement” with Atlantic Mutual — the county’s insurance company on the jail project — after a 45-minute meeting behind closed doors Monday.
The agreement reimburses Madison County some $420,000 for expenses incurred as a result of faulty construction work by the original jail builders, Boatwright Construction, which was terminated last March.
Additional costs included hiring an independent inspection firm to evaluate the jail construction, paying additional construction consultant, attorney and architect fees and providing security to protect construction equipment at night.
The agreement included no reimbursement from Atlantic Mutual for housing-out costs incurred by the county during construction delays. However, county clerk Morris Fortson said that had the jail actually been completed last year, savings in housing-out costs would have been absorbed by the expense of additional personnel that a new and bigger jail would require.
Last year, Atlantic Mutual hired Nicholson Professional Consulting Inc. to repair the faulty jail construction caused by
the Boatwright firm and to finish the building.
In early January of this year, David Tolar, site manager for the new jail construction firm, said he expected the project to be completed by late March or early April.
Tolar had not retured a phone call as of press time this week, but Fortson said that the construction firm had backed up the completion date to May 26.
This may be somewhat optimistic, according to BOC chairman Wesley Nash. After constant delays and postponed completion dates, county leaders seem somewhat cynical when given a new day that the red ribbon for the jail can finally be cut. There’s even talk now of “remediating the remediation.”
“It’s really strange,” Nash said. “They’ll get in there and work on one project, they’ll tear up a floor, then get underneath find out the conduit is not the right size. They try to fix one thing and then find something else in the process.”
Nash believes a more reasonable completion date, rather than late May, is early July.
“I’m real confident that we will have it running, with employees trained and 90 percent of the bugs worked out by July,” he said.
The chairman said he believes all of the headaches of the jail construction fiasco will prove worthwhile. He said he feels holding the construction firm accountable was a better route than allowing shoddy work to serve as passable.
“It’s a good product we’re getting,” said Nash. We’re getting what we’re paying for.”
The BOC included just over $1 million in the 2003 budget for the county jail this year.


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.
Scott, 26, receives services from Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, a/k/a Fine Finish, in Danielsville, where he is enrolled in their Community Employment Program.
Fine Finish helps adults like Scott with disabilities to find work and also helps to teach them the skills needed to perform their duties once on the job.
An employee of Kroger on College Station Road in Athens for the past five years, Scott continues to increase his independence day by day. Scott works 20 to 25 hours per week, in four to five hour shifts at the store.
Margie Fitzpatrick, one of Scott’s case managers at Fine Finish, says Seymour is a “great success story” for the center.
Barbara Turner, a Kroger store manager, agrees.
“Scott has really opened up more since he started here,” Turner said. “He’s become one of my best workers and everyone out here loves him.”
Turner said that watching Scott work, and giving it all he has while enjoying every moment of it, gives her, as well as his fellow employees some perspective.
“It just helps us not to take everything so much for granted and to try to have his attitude,” she said smiling.
Scott’s duties at the store include bagging groceries, clearing the parking lot and general cleaning duties.
Fine Finish drops off Scott each morning and his mother picks him up in the afternoon after his shift.
Fitzpatrick said she has recently trained Scott to call her on Saturday evenings to give her his work schedule for the following week. “That in itself is a new step of independence for him,” she said. “He’s so proud of his achievements and often asks me ‘Did I do good?’ - I always tell him, ‘You did great!’”
“We go on site and re-train as necessary, but we haven’t had to do that for a while for Scott,” Fitzpatrick said.
“We’ve had lots of compliments on him from his employers and from customers who shop there,” she added.
Scott’s mom, Elaine Seymour, said she and her husband, Gary, are very proud of the way her son has progressed over the years. “He’s went so much farther than we could have hoped for him when he was born,” she said. “The assistance the training center (Fine Finish) has provided for him has been wonderful...It’s their assistance in getting him to work each day that has allowed him to have this job.”
Mrs. Seymour said Scott has always strived to go beyond what was expected of him. “When his younger brother Marty learned to do things, that encouraged Scott to try to learn those things, too,” she said. “And he’s so proud of his job - when we get back from vacation he has to stop by and pick up his work schedule on the way home. He’s always ready to get back to work.”
Scott is also mindful of giving back to the community by donating a portion of his wages to the United Way each pay period and by serving as an usher at his church, Friendship Baptist.
His pastor, the Rev. Joe Davis, said Scott is a real asset to the church.
Davis, who is also Scott’s cousin, said he often babysat Scott and his brother when they were young. “He was a good kid then and he’s matured along the way into a fine young man....I’d say there’s no doubt he’s a real success story.”

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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.


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.
Four town citizens qualified to run for the city council’s three vacant council seats, leaving Hull to hold its first city election in several years.
Candidates qualifying to run in next week’s election are: Paul Elkins, Rebecca Elkins, W.H. “Bill” Wilkinson IV and John L. “Johnny” Barber.
They are running to fill the council positions vacated by Mark Cronic, Trina Hill and Ken Murray.
The hand ballot election will be held March 18 at the Hull Civitan Club adjacent to the fire hall at the corner of Davis Road and Old Elberton Road.
The polling place will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to election coordinator and city clerk Janet Seagraves. Voters will also be able to decide on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) issue at the same polling place.
Since the council now consists of only two members: Mayor B.W. Hutchins and his wife, councilwoman Rebecca Hutchins, the council was unable to conduct any new business at Monday night’s meeting.


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.
Vice chairman and secretary will be Mike Sales. A dozen party faithfuls gathered at the county complex Saturday morning to choose new officers, set rules and name delegates to the district and state conventions.
Featured speaker at the convention was State Senator Ralph Hudgens who outlined current legislation. He commented on efforts to adopt a budget, consider tort reform, and address the state flag issue.
Madison County School Superintendent Keith Cowne, who was not attending as a delegate, urged the audience to support the board of Education’s SPLOST election on Tuesday. He outlined the school system’s needs from more classrooms to athletic improvements.
Chairman of the Madison County Board of Commissioners, Wesley Nash added his appeal for support for the commissioners’ SPLOST election as well. He said most of the new round of taxes will be used for repairing and paving roads.
Madison County still has 141 miles of dirt roads that need to be paved. Both elections will be held the same day.
Nash spoke strongly against non-partisan county elections. He urged the convention to oppose efforts to make the Probate Judge and Magistrate Judge non-partisan elections. Both Judge Harry Rice and Judge Donald “Hoppy” Royston are supporting the move.
Also addressing the convention was Stephanie Walker of Youth for Georgia. The relatively new group arose from the Mike Beatty campaign and involves young people between the ages of 10 to 25. It is now active in eight counties and its leaders hope to organize statewide.
Outgoing Chairman Hank Burnham said that he has no immediate political plans.
“I just need some time off,” he said.