News from Jackson County...

MARCH 26, 2003

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County


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Berry now tops among Panther high jumpers
It seems all Jackson County high jumper Terrell Berry needed was a little confidence boost. Anything that would help him get over the bar.
So, with a solid set of jumps already in hand at a three-team meet at JCCHS on Tuesday, teammates and coaches alike all decided to aid the sophomore leaper with a bit of trickery.

Gearing Up For Some Tough Games
Call it a yardstick week for the Commerce baseball team.
The diamond Tigers are playing .500 ball right now (3-3 overall, 2-2 in region play) but whether or not they maintain or improve that mark after this week will tell much about where they stand in the region pecking order this year.

Dragon sixth inning proves costly against Wolverines
IN THE SPAN of seven innings Tuesday evening the Jefferson baseball team learned several things about itself, but perhaps the most important thing they came away with during a 5-4 loss to Prince Avenue Christian Academy is that they can play with anyone in the state.
It seems the only thing left now is for the Dragons (4-4) to put together a complete seven innings — something they failed to do against the Wolverines.

Neighboorhood News ..
War on our minds
For Pepper Jones, the war in Iraq is a family matter.
Her “little” brother, George Thompson, Jr., a career member of the National Guard, is currently stationed at Fort Benning awaiting orders to ship out in the next few weeks.

BOC focuses on furnishing new jail
With Madison County’s jail expected to open this summer, county leaders are focused on more than just construction work.

Couple charged with robbery of elderly woman
The sheriff’s office arrested two people Monday for allegedly robbing an elderly woman last week.

Commissioners approve Brickyard Road rezoning
Commissioners approved a request by Ken and Dale Ross to rezone two lots to provide homes for family members Monday. The action followed a large show of support from the Ross’s neighbors at the meeting.

Woman charged with car-jacking
A 23-year-old homeless woman was arrested last week on multiple charges, including armed robbery, car jacking and aggravated assault.

Neighborhood News...
‘Water, water everywhere’

Heavy rains and high waters flooded a portion of Banks Crossing and left some campers stranded last Thursday morning.

Commerce watershed closed
A popular fishing spot in southern Banks County has been closed indefinitely.
On Friday, the city of Commerce put up gates blocking access to the reservoir at both entrances off Grove Level Road as a homeland security precaution.

A whiz at business math
Jessica Lewis has done a first for Banks County FBLA students.
The junior finished high enough in state FBLA competitions to move to nationals, representing Georgia in the business math category.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Lewis said. “I’m very proud.”

Baldwin names Betty Harper as city manager
Baldwin city clerk Betty Harper was officially appointed Monday night to the position of city manager.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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Jackson County courthouse project manager Wayne Wilbanks, commissioners Emil Beshara and Sammy Thomason and Cooper Carry architects Mark Elliot and Jerome “Jerry” Cooper review design plans for the proposed courthouse.

Courthouse Plan Calls For Grand Architecture
JEFFERSON -- While they don't know how much it will cost yet, the county commissioners do know one thing about the proposed courthouse—it'll be the most "majestic" building in Jackson County.
"This is THE public building in Jackson County for a long, long time," commissioner Sammy Thomason said Friday during a meeting with architectural firm Cooper Carry.
"We're not building an office space, we're building a public building," county commissioner Emil Beshara said of the structure that officials hope will become the "pride" of Jackson County.
One of the central highlights of the planned three-story structure is a wide-spanning atrium that will greet people as they enter the courthouse.
Behind a facade of six Greek columns, a wall of glass will open to the atrium, which will span 75 feet wide and 105 feet wide to a rear waiting area for jurors. The atrium will be open to all three floors with the final view wrapping to a heightened copula, which is also surrounded by glass. The copula is similar to one constructed at the University of Georgia's Student Learning Center, which Cooper Carry designed.
"You'll have a sense of people all the way up through there, then at the top of this you'll see light coming down inside," said architect Jerome "Jerry" Cooper. "What you're really talking about doing is building a courthouse that will be an important piece of architecture."
That architecture is best described as "Georgian style," Cooper said. And Jackson County's courthouse won't just be any structure with a Greek facade, it'll abide by the rules and procedures of classical Greek architecture that were established 3,000 years ago, he explained. By contrast, the current courthouse includes a blend of classical and Victorian styles.
The expansive open area in the atrium could include a sculpture or fountain as the centerpiece, Cooper pointed out.
"That's where you could put Harold's statue," Beshara joked of a possible monument to county commission chairman Harold Fletcher. Fletcher was not present for the meeting.
Thomason commented that 75 percent of one's impression of the planned courthouse will include the front view and atrium. Most people won't see the various offices and courtrooms within the building, he added.
But, after viewing the ambitious courthouse plan, Beshara wanted to know how costs could be trimmed.
"We did (an alternative plan) because I knew that question would come up," Cooper said.
The alternative plan essentially calls for the elimination of the atrium and copula. Instead, the courthouse interior entrance would be an impressive hallway. A smoke evacuation system needed to remove smoke in the event of a fire from the atrium of the larger plan would not be needed in the alternative plan.
"You'll really lose the majesty of that atrium space," architect Mark Elliot said of the alternative plan's design to remove the 14,000-square-foot atrium.
Project manager Wayne Wilbanks also pointed out that maintaining the high level of security outlined in the more ambitious plan could be difficult to achieve with the alternative plan.
"It's not going to be more difficult," Thomason said the security concerns. "It's going to be more difficult to make it aesthetic."
Even with the alternative plan designed to trim costs, officials still don't know how much a proposed courthouse will cost.
Holder Construction is expected to present one cost estimate April 2, Cooper said.
Commissioners are then planning to approve the final concept design April 7, after hearing additional comments from judges. Design development will then take five weeks before a guaranteed maximum price is given by Holder Construction.
A final courthouse cost is slated to be given the second week of May, Beshara said. The Darnell Road site could start to undergo site preparation in May.
Construction documents are expected to be issued Aug. 4.
After reviewing four concept plans by Cooper Carry, the architectural firm presented one plan Friday. Elliott said the commissioners and architectural firm still want to “massage” the square footage depending on additional comments from employees.
Overall, it is estimated that the courthouse will occupy 115,000 square feet.
Office space and courtrooms would flank two sides of the atrium on each level. A winding staircase on one side would connect all three floors.
Besides the atrium and juror waiting area, the first floor will include up to 24 rooms for the district attorney's office. A grand jury suite and 1,113-square-foot command/security room are also planned. The current courthouse has no security post.
The other side of the first floor will include room for the county clerks.
Most people visit a courthouse to obtain records from the clerk of court, Thomason said.
Among the various offices for the clerks will be three vaults for deeds, juvenile, civil and criminal records. Vaults for probate court and real estate are also planned.
The clerk of courts will have six windows for the public to obtain records or pay fines. Two windows will be for traffic court, another two for deed records and one each for juvenile and criminal court.
Thomason said county clerk of courts Reba Parks liked the square footage offered in the design, but did not like the current layout. Some of the other offices shown on the current plan are expected to be altered before a final design is approved.
The second floor will include a vast network of offices, conference areas and courtrooms. A secured law library and lawyer's study room are further included.
A 918-square-foot juvenile courtroom is planned, along with a 1,242-square-foot magistrate court. Each courtroom will feature small witness rooms and the juvenile courtroom will have a waiting room as well. The courtrooms will be served by a secure holding area for prisoners.
Plans for a ceremonial courtroom have been removed, Cooper said.
Office space for juvenile, state and magistrate court judges and secretaries are shown on the second floor. Additional room for the public defender's office is expected to expand, due to a currently proposed law in the Georgia General Assembly.
The third floor calls for two superior courtrooms, two hearing rooms and one standard courtroom. Once again, small witness rooms and secured holding areas are included with each courtroom. Several jury rooms are also shown.
The superior court office will be located on the third floor.
Also, the courthouse's basement will include room to hold 40 prisoners among two cells. A third cell could be added for an additional 20 prisoners, plans show.
Vehicles bringing prisoners to the courthouse will enter a sally port in the basement. A door will close on the entrance and the prisoners will then be escorted to one of two holding cells.
Most of the basement, however, will remain unfinished.
Architect Elliot said the courthouse's plans have security as a top priority.
"There's never an opportunity for an escorted prisoner to be in contact with a judge or with the public," he said.
"Or get a good shot," Thomason joked.
Cooper Carry's plans also show two additions to the courthouse on each wing of the building. No square footage or usage is shown in the plans, but the additions will connect to a seven by six-foot hallway opening on the main courthouse.
Beshara said plans for the additions are "for future generations to screw with."
Cooper said: "To the extent that it's feasible, I think that we would be well-advised to pay for tomorrow's additions with tomorrow's money."
The courthouse plans are designed to accommodate the next 20 or 30 years of growth, Cooper said.

‘Pro troops’ rally planned in Braselton
A “pro troops” rally will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Braselton.
It is being planned by Braselton resident Stephanie Roberts, who said she is tired of hearing all of the “negative voices” about the war effort.
“The brave men and women who are risking their lives to protect ours deserve unconditional and unwavering support,” she said. “We need to unite and raise our voice to support our troops. No matter how you feel about our government’s decisions or the war in general, our Armed Forces need us to show them we care.”
Roberts asks those who attend to come dressed in red, white and blue. Inspirational/support signs are also welcomed and encouraged. If you have any questions regarding the rally, contact Roberts at

War Hits Close To Home For Family Of
Marine Combat Engineer
The Iraq War hits close to home for Keith and Sandy Massey of Commerce.
Their son, Kyle, is a combat engineer with the Seventh Regimental Combat Team of the First Marine Division. It's an occupation that, while making the family proud, also puts Kyle on the front lines.
So, watching the war unfold on TV is not just a casual affair.
"It's very stressful," conceded Keith Massey, who said he tries not to watch too much TV, "but kind of feels guilty not doing it if there's something going on."
"What they do is they will breach the minefield, the barbed wire, the berms or any kind of obstacle," Massey said. "They put bridges across any ditches, rivers, any of that kind of stuff," paving the way for troops to advance.
The First Marine Division has been in Iraq since the first day of ground operations.
Another son, Josh, is an air officer at the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, CA, where he teaches things like high-altitude helicopter flying for Marine airmen going to Afghanistan. Both sons are graduates of Auburn University, whose ROTC program is likely to attract youngest son Taylor as well, his father said.
It's not just Kyle that the Masseys worry about. A large number of friends of Kyle and Josh are involved in the war, people who have become sort of an extended family for the Masseys.
"Two of Kyle's best friends are over there with him," Massey said. "And a guy who used to fly helicopters with Josh is assigned with Kyle as a forward air controller."
Kyle Massey married in July. Virtually all of the Marines who took part in the wedding are in the war.
"Between him and Josh and their acquaintances, we probably know 30 to 40 people that are in the middle of it as helicopter pilots or combat engineers. We try to be alert to see if any names come up," Massey noted.
The Masseys and other military families have an unexpected ally in keeping up with their loved ones' activities at war: the media.
"It's really helped. Kyle's unit has two embedded journalists. One is from a paper in Lakeland, FL, and the one closest to his group is with The Pittsburgh Tribune," said Keith Massey. "The Marine Corps gave us their web sites. They're entering stuff all the time. It's the best information we can get."
Massey thinks letting the press accompany units gives Americans "a better feel for what the guys are going through" and gives the Marines the feeling that press accounts of their activities will be accurate since they're written by people actually on the scene.
(The web sites are and The writers are Carl Pine and Dianne Allen respectively)
Meanwhile, Massey said he's been impressed with the support system that helps spouses cope with the anxiety and separation.
Kyle was not able to contact his family in the days prior to the war because he was at a forward location in Kuwait with no access to telephones or e-mail, but was able to call his wife twice from a base further to the rear, his father said.
But the family got a letter Saturday, written before the war started.
"He said boredom has been the worst enemy," Massey said. The family sends books, magazines and newspapers. A long-time friend, Becky Hanley Duke, had her third-grade class send letters, Massey said, and CHS economics teacher David Cash sent Kyle the class "business" T-shirt for the year, which says, "Commerce supports our troops." At last report, that shirt was on the map board in the headquarters tent in Kuwait.
Like most of the rest of America, the Masseys watch the news and hope for an early end to hostilities.
"We're holding up pretty good. It's not a pleasant experience, but we're proud of what they're doing," Massey stated.



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School Board, City Council
Head To Hiawassee For Retreat
The Commerce Board of Education and Commerce City Council will travel to Hiawassee this weekend in the hopes of forging a partnership to deal with the city's future.
The event is the school board's annual two-day joint "retreat," to which the board has invited the city council.
"The main thing I would like to see happen is for us to be able to communicate a lot better between one board and another and we look at what is best for the community and school system and work toward those goals," explained Larry White, school superintendent.
With Sherri Lawless of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, as facilitator, a primary goal will be to identify common problems and to come up with strategies to resolve them.
"For example, my personal concern is the city's tax base," White said. "Can we work together recruiting business and industry so we don't burden the taxpayers? What are the specific strategies? As we brainstorm with this facilities, what are the things that crop up most often?"
For the school board, the retreat begins at 9:00 Friday morning at the Fieldstone Inn. Sessions will include 45 minutes discussing vision and mission, then two hours to cover school system issues, goals and strategies.
The city council will join the retreat at 2:00. The first order of business will be to identify the retreat outcomes, finalize the agenda, explain the facilitator's role and to set the "ground rules" for discussion.
At 2:30, the groups will begin a half hour identifying the major issues to discuss, followed by a 45-minute session on "vision," a half hour discussing who are the Commerce "stakeholders" and what do they want, followed by 45 minutes relating to the "joint legacy to Commerce's citizens."
The Friday session will end at 5:00, but there will be a joint social hour followed by dinner, which will include spouses.
The Friday session will begin at 8:30 with 45 minutes to clarify the issues and set priorities, followed by nearly three hours to discuss the issues, set goals and plan action.
Lunch will be from noon to 12:45, followed by a "start-stop-continue-modify" activity from 12:50 to 2:00 and a review session from 2:00 to 2:30.
From 2:30 to 3:30, the two groups will "revisit" the planned retreat outcomes, discuss "what's next," hear closing comments, complete an evaluation of the retreat and see a "Words to Lead By" video.
That will end the joint meeting, but the board of education will continue its retreat for another hour as White discusses the planning for the 2004 fiscal year budget.

Commerce shooting Wed. injures minister
A Wednesday morning shooting in Commerce apparently left a local minister seriously wounded.
The shooting occurred at 192 Louise Circle at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Anderson. The victim was the Rev. Willie Frank Pattman, minister of Warren Chapel United Methodist Church in Commerce.
Mr. Anderson is reportedly being held as a suspect in the case. Authorities said it appeared the shooting was domestic related.
Pattman was taken out of the home by the Jackson County EMS, reportedly with one or more gunshot wounds. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial in Atlanta. His condition at press time Wednesday was unknown.

County ranks fourth in conservation use
Jackson County is ranked fourth in the state in the amount of local tax dollars lost due to the conservation use program. That is according to the Georgia Department of Revenue ranking for 2001.
In the report, Jackson County is shown with a total loss of $2.57 million in potential tax revenue. That was behind Gwinnett, Morgan and Cherokee counties.
With 1,416 parcels under conservation use in 2001, some $99 million of value was eliminated from the county’s tax digest. That netted a loss of $1.5 million to local school systems and $868,500 to the county government.