News from Madison County...

MARCH 19, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Here we go again!
By the time you read this, we will likely be at war. By the time my next column comes out, it may well be over.

Zach Mitcham
I hope, by God, that I’m wrong
I adamantly oppose the war, but I am just one in a sea of powerless voices.
And because I am powerless, I hope that I am wrong about everything I feel now.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Battling back
Diamond Raider head coach Charlie Griffeth stressed last week that the greatest remedy for his 0-3 team’s struggles would be to break into the win column.
Wish granted, in dramatic fashion.
Thanks to a game-winning, seventh-inning solo homer from Trey McCay against AAAAA Oconee County, Madison County (1-3) has halted a three-game season-opening losing streak as it enters region play.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
County employees prepare for war
With war with Iraq just hours away, employees at the Jackson County Correctional Institute began making ribbons to honor their fellow co-workers stationed literally on the brink of conflict.

Oft-Delayed Road Project Supposed To Begin Monday
The long-delayed and often-postponed resurfacing of Broad and Elm streets in Commerce is back on the calendar, according to the Department of Transportation.

Failed audits could cost Braselton in grant funds
Braselton’s failed attempts to submit its audits for the past five years on time to a state department is costing the town any state grants it applies for.

Concert Lineup To Be Announced Monday
Country music legend Bill Anderson will announce Monday the lineup for the musical events of the June 19-22 City Lights Festival, including the headliner of the 2003 City Lights Concert.

Another takeover?
Taking control of Jackson County’s economic development efforts could be the next move in the works by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. And like several other actions by the board to consolidate control over county operations, this effort is likely to generate a lot of controversy in the coming weeks.

Employee raises get BOC vote of approval after all
County employees will be getting a raise after all.
On Monday, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a two-percent cost of living raise for county employees. The board also approved up to an additional two-percent merit raise.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Commerce: We can get gas to Martin Bridge

If the right industrial customer wants to build at Martin Bridge, Banks County might not have to worry about natural gas availability there. Commerce will take care of it.

Baldwin woman dies in two-vehicle wreck
A Baldwin woman died and eight people were injured in a two-vehicle accident early Thursday morning at the intersection of Hwy. 441 and Thompson Street in Homer.

Harper leading water department
The man that helped build Banks County’s water system has returned to run the department.

Alto looks at collecting past due water bills
The Alto Town Council discussed ways to collect past due water bills, including holding property owners who rent out housing responsible.
At last week’s meeting, mayor Carolyn Gulley asked town attorney Jim Acrey if there is a way to hold owners responsible for the bills of their tenants.

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Getting out to vote

Sidney Somers (R) and Harry Daniels take their turns checking in  at Mill Precinct Tuesday to vote on the SPLOST issue. Precinct worker Elena Hart (seated) helps them fill out the required paperwork before casting their votes.

‘Yes, Yes’
Madison County will receive approximately $19 million in sales tax revenue over the next five years, thanks to voters' overwhelming support of two sales tax renewals Tuesday.
Eighty-eight percent of voters (1,513 to 206) approved renewal of a one-cent sales tax for county school improvements, while 85.5 percent of voters (1,443 to 245) approved renewal of a tax for county government projects.
Both sales taxes are expected to generate approximately $9.5 million in revenue over the next five years.
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, which will include a cross country course, a track and soccer field with bleacher seating, a baseball field, tennis courts and a practice field for the marching band. A 180-seat fine arts theater is also planned.
The school system plans eight additional classrooms at Ila Elementary, five additional classrooms at Comer and Colbert Elementary schools, expanded cafeterias at Danielsville Elementary and Madison County Middle School
Approximately $1.6 million from the education SPLOST will also go to retirement of old construction debt.
Meanwhile, 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.


Hull residents elect three new council members
Residents of Hull chose three new council members to fill vacant seats at the city's council table Tuesday.
Elected to serve on the council were: Paul and Rebecca Elkins and John L. Barber.
According to city clerk and election supervisor Janet Seagraves, 18 of the city's 121 registered voters turned out to vote for council members. There are 107 active voters on the registry.
There were four residents running for the three positions vacated by Mark Cronic, Ken Murray and Trina Hill. William Wilkinson was not elected.
Mr. Elkins received 13 votes; Mrs. Elkins received 14 votes; Barber received 12 votes and Wilkinson received 10 votes.
The new council members will be sworn in at the council’s regular business meeting at 7 p.m. on April 14 at city hall.
The council is now comprised of two married couples. Mayor B.W. Hutchins and his wife, council woman Rebecca Hutchins, were the only two members left on the council since Murray and Hill resigned in February.
Cronic resigned more than a year ago.


IDA awards contracts for Hull water system expansion projects
The county industrial authority approved two construction contracts for the Hull water system Monday.
The authority awarded a bid of $260,918 to Dale Construction to install a ductile-pipe water line that will cross under the CSX rail line and Hwy. 72 and run west down Hwy. 72 and around the Golden Pantry on Glenn Carrie Road. The line will connect to an Athens-owned water line that extends into Madison County and will soon be taken over by the authority.
The other contract was awarded for a well pump and chemical feed building for $137,000 to Fortson Well Drilling.
Both companies must begin the projects within 30 days. They will then have 120 days to complete construction.
The projects are part of the industrial authority's effort to expand the Hull water system. The expansion of the Hull water system is seen as a key to attracting businesses to the county and lowering the tax burden on property owners.
A backup well for the system is mandated by the state before the Athens line can be turned over to the industrial authority.
With the new well and water line, the industrial authority will take over service to some 200 Hull customers currently served by Athens.
The industrial authority is scheduled to take over service to those customers on June 1. Though the construction contracts include finishing dates beyond the June 1 takeover date, authority members are hopeful that the construction will move quickly and that the deadline will be met.
The authority has not asked Athens about another possible deadline extension — the takeover date was moved back from December of 2002 — but Marvin White, industrial authority secretary and Chamber of Commerce president, said the authority doesn't anticipate much trouble getting a brief extension of the takeover date if construction of the new line and well house is not completed by June 1.
In other matters Monday, the authority agreed to start billing businesses in Madico Park in May for water on a quantity basis instead of allowing them to pay a flat fee.
The authority also said goodbye to outgoing chairman Ed Brown and named Tom Joiner acting chairman.


Zoning board stalls plans for repair shop on Loop Road
County planners put the brakes on plans for a transmission shop on Loop Road, just off Hwy. 98, at Tuesday night’s planning and zoning public hearings.
Steve Grogan requested a rezoning of approximately 1.42 acres of a 6.42-acre parcel from A-2 to B-2 in order to construct and operate a transmission repair shop adjacent to his home on Loop Road, a dirt road just inside the Madison County line.
A number of neighbors spoke or wrote letters protesting the rezoning, stating concerns of having a business located in a residential area.
Commission member Jeep Gaskin pointed out that a rezoning follows the property from now on, which could allow for other businesses in the future. He also mentioned that Grogan “wasn’t helped” by the close proximity in the area of two other automotive shops with junk cars.
In a separate hearing, the commission was split 3-3 on a request by Ethan Baird to rezone a 2.5-acre portion of a 7.5-acre parcel from A-2 to R-R, with the remaining acreage to remain A-2. Baird, whose home is on the proposed 2.5-acre parcel, wants to provide a home for his brother on the five-acre parcel, which is between his home and his dad’s home.
Walter Searcy, Gaskin and Wendell Hanley voted no, expressing concern about creating an R-R parcel in this primarily agricultural area.
The BOC will have the final vote on these and other zoning matters at its regular business meeting next Monday night.
In other hearings, the commission recommended:
•approval of a request by Charles Richards, representing the Madison Co. Board of Commissioners and the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter, for a sign variance to post a sign larger and higher than the zoning ordinance allows on Colbert-Danielsville Road. The animal shelter wants to place a sign 10-feet high (six feet is allowed) and 24 square feet in total space (12 feet is allowed).
•approval of a request by Amanda Morgan-Buice for a conditional use permit for a group home day care of up to 12 children.
•approval of a request by Dale Ledford for Wilbur Ledford, to rezone a 4.85-acre parcel from A-2 to A-1 in order to combine it with three adjoining parcels for a total of 14.8 acres. Ledford wants to place two poultry houses on the combined land.
•denial of a request by Ken Ross, Jr. to rezone two lots (one lot 7.87 acres and one lot two acres) from A-1 to R-R. Ross wants to subdivide the 7.87-acre parcel into three equal lots, with two to be served by an easement or private drive. Ross wants to subdivide the land for family members. Several neighbors, all of whom own large tracts of land, showed up to protest this rezoning request, stating that they wanted the property in the area to remain rural. They fear a “mini-subdivision” in the area will encourage others to divide their land.

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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.


Resident remembers long ago days at Harrison School
Nellie Sue Parham King remembers her school days at Harrison School in northern Madison County during the 1920s and 30s very well.
“Those were some hard times then,” she said of going to school just before and during the Great Depression. “But I have a lot of good memories of those times too.”
King still lives in the same community she was born in 84 years ago.
Harrison was just one of a number of small community schools that dotted the countryside in those days, providing a rural education to children who couldn’t travel far from home to get it.
The first Harrison School burned in 1923, leaving King to begin school in the first of two houses used for the purpose before classes were moved to nearby Bethel Congregational Holiness Church.
“I got a late start; I didn’t start until age 7 because I was considered ‘sickly,’” she remembered.
In fact she remembers a moment of mischief before she started to school when she and a young nephew threw rocks at the home where school was being held on their way to fetch water from a nearby spring.
“We were scared we would get caught so we went through the woods to avoid going back by the school,” she said, laughing.
But once she did get to enroll at Harrison she hardly ever missed a day of walking the one mile each way to school with her older sister and younger brother.
In 1929 a second building was constructed for a school house, which still stands along Hwy. 281, (also known as Wildcat Bridge Road) in northern Madison County.
This last school consisted of five classrooms and a lunchroom.
“They (school leaders) bought an A-Model truck and made it into a school bus. Penick Jordan was the bus driver,” King remembers. “It had curtains to cover the windows on the sides until the boys on the bus made windmills and tore the curtains off by sticking them out into the wind as we went down the road.”
“We had to buy our books back then, I remember once my father hunted and hunted for a book I needed and finally bought one second-hand for three dollars...That was a lot in those days,” she said.
King made it there through the ninth grade - the highest grade at Harrison. Further education would have required her to travel several miles more to Royston, not an easy undertaking in those days when there were “mighty few cars.”
Instead she followed the custom of the day, marrying at 16 and beginning a family. She and her husband worked a farm in the community and reared two boys. After a while she went to work at a sewing plant in Bowman, where she held a job for 37 years. “I made 40 cents an hour when I started and $3.50 an hour when I retired,” she said. “Those were some different times then,” she said.
Like most other country school houses, Harrison closed its doors in the mid 1950s when schools were consolidated by the state.