News from Madison County...

APRIL 2, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
April is Southern History and Heritage Month
April is Southern History and Heritage Month. I am telling you this because the chances of you hearing about it in the major media are extremely small.

Zach Mitcham
Hip hop brings hair metal flashback
Everywhere I go bling, bling.
What is that?
Am I bling bling? If not, would pursuing “bling bling” status be a valid endeavor for this 30-year old newspaper guy?


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

A good start....but a long way left to go
Standing near the top of the 8-AAAA standings with a 5-2 region record, the Madison County baseball team (6-5 overall) no doubt has enjoyed a swift start out of the gate in a new classification.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Building authority bill dead this session
Options for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to finance a controversial new courthouse were narrowed this week after the county’s legislative delegation didn’t agree to a BOC request to create a building authority as a financing vehicle.

Mobile homes under the ax of proposed UDC
A leader in the mobile home industry says the proposed unified development code (UDC) would not allow single-wide manufactured homes to be located in Jackson County.

Fire Insurance Rates To Fall In Commerce, East Jackson
Property owners in most of the East Jackson Fire District and throughout Commerce will save substantial amounts of money on their fire insurance premiums.

School Board, City Council Find Consensus At Retreat
HIAWASSEE -- The exercise was part pep rally, part family counseling and part goal-setting, but when the Commerce City Council and Commerce Board of Education ended their joint retreat Saturday afternoon, the consensus was that they'd reached a consensus.

Ethics complaint filed against Fletcher
Pendergrass man says BOC chairman didn’t report corporate positions, property ownership

BOC talking with ACCG about financing
Lease/purchase through association another way BOC might seek to finance courthouse project


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Religious group sues Banks BOE

A religious group has gained access for the time being at Banks County’s primary, elementary and upper elementary schools.

Banners won’t be up in time for big race
The more than 150,000 visitors expected to pour through Banks Crossing during the first week of May won’t likely get to see the new street light banners planned for the area.

State problems mean some Banks County students won’t have to take CRCT this year
Some Banks County elementary and middle school students, along with their counterparts throughout the state, won’t have to take one of the most important standardized tests this year.

Whitlock to give talk to chamber
Bobby Whitlock, Workforce Development coordinator from Pioneer RESA, will speak at the Banks County Chamber of Commerce meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 10, at the civic center.

Several legal issues remain unresolved
Though the primary access issue for a religious group seeking to use school property has been reached, attorneys for the fellowship vowed Monday to continue pressing two other issues.

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The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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‘A CALL TO DUTY’

Matt McElroy (pictured) is currently serving with the army’s Third Infantry Calvary, flying one of five Apache attack helicopters in his company. The company is currently stationed just south of Baghdad in preparation for entering that city.

A soldier’s story
Watching television has taken on a whole new meaning for many people around the country since the war in Iraq began, complete with live coverage of the action, particularly for those who have family members involved in the conflict.
For Ricky McElroy, monitoring the TV has become a way of life for he and his family since his 29 year old son Matt left in February for Kuwait. And since the war began two weeks ago, Ricky and his family have had to struggle not to stay glued to the TV 24 hours a day.
Matt is currently serving with the army’s Third Infantry Calvary, flying one of five Apache attack helicopters in his company. The company is currently stationed just south of Baghdad in preparation for entering that city.
Unlike most families of soldiers, Ricky and his family have been able to track many of Matt’s movements by following reports of an embedded TV journalist and cameraman who have been assigned to the third infantry.
The reality of the war really hit home last Monday, five days after the conflict began, when two of Matt’s comrades were taken prisoner by Iraqi forces when their helicopter went down during a fierce three hour battle. One of those, Ronald Young, Jr., of Lithia Springs, is a close friend of Matt.
“It was most of that day before we knew it wasn’t Matt and his partner who were taken,” Ricky said. “We just held our breath because we knew, with only five helicopters in his unit, that there was a good chance it was him.”
“It was a tense time, it still is, just to know two of the guys so close to him are prisoners,” he added.
The last time Ricky saw his son was at Christmas. In an e-mail to his dad shortly before he left, Matt wrote, “I feel good about what we’re doing and certain that we’ll accomplish our mission quickly and as safe as possible. This is what we all signed up for.”
In addition to his parents and older brother Trent, Matt has a wife, Lisa and two children; Blake, 9 and Ashley, 5, waiting for his return.
Lisa and the children live in a home in Texas, so they keep up with each other and the war’s events through numerous e-mails.
Matt hasn’t had much access to e-mail since the war began, or to a phone. McElroy said he stood in line six hours recently to use the phone to speak with Lisa.
Getting live reports helps, McElroy says, but sometimes it also increases the tension when all the details aren’t immediately known.
Matt, a 1992 honor graduate of Madison County High School who lettered in football, joined the army shortly after graduation, soon after the end of the Gulf War.
He was first stationed in Tacoma, Washington, at Ft. Lewis before going to the Panama Canal for three years where he was named “Soldier of the Year for South Command” in 1996.
Then he went on to Fort Rucker for flight training for two years before being sent to Korea for a year. Since that time, he and his family have lived in a home near his assignment at Ft. Hood, Texas, before he shipped out to Kuwait in February.
“I’m proud of him - and I’m scared for him,” McElroy said of his son. “My stomach’s been in a knot since this all started.”


Folk festival set for Sat. in Danielsville
Folklife in Georgia, an event celebrating the traditional music, dance and handiwork of rural Georgia, will be held this Saturday, April 5, at the county park on Hwy. 29 South in Danielsville. The festival will be held inside the old Danielsville Elementary Gym if it’s raining.
The festival begins at 1 p.m. with free musical performances by the following artists, to include blues, southern harmony, bluegrass, acoustic and old time styles. 1 p.m. - Ash Raymond and Joe Willey; 1:40 p.m. - Mr. Neal Pattman; 2:20 p.m. - Gabe Zorbanos and Friends; 3 p.m. - Solstice Sisters; 3:40 p.m.- Marion Montgomery; 4:20 p.m. - Packway Handle Band.
There will also be on-going craft demonstrations by the following artists: Amy Abrahamsen - medicinal herbs; Benny Barr - mountain laurel carving; Chip Chandler - log cabin building; Paul Chew - wooden ware/carved spoons; Mark Davis - blacksmithing; Sharon Grist - weaving; Catherine Haley - plants and herbs; Barney James - oak and bark baskets; Isabel and Reese King - walking sticks and wood turning; Peter Loose - folk art painting; Joan Lurwig - quilting/rug hooking; Benny Morrison - folk art painting; Charles Pinckney - jewelry; Dell Ratcliffe - soapmaking; Katherine Ratcliffe - triangle loom weaving; Sarah Ratcliffe - heirloom seeds; Janice and Pat Shields - pottery; Gae Stovall - spinning; Ike Stovall - tatting and pineneedle baskets; Beth Kelley Zorbanos - cornshuck dollmaking.
Pinto beans, cornbread, desserts and drinks will be available for sale.
Then from 6 - 9 p.m. there will be an Old-Time Barn Dance in the old elementary school gym featuring The Darlin’ Boys with Janet Shepherd calling.
Dance admission is $5 (under 12 is $3) plus food for the Madison County Food Bank.

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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.


Fortson’s motion for new trial denied
Convicted murderer Tracy Lea Fortson was recently denied a new trial.
Fortson, a former Oglethorpe County sheriff’s deputy, was convicted in July of 2001 for the murder of her ex-boyfriend Doug Benton of Colbert. She was found guilty of shooting Benton to death, stabbing him, encasing his body in a cement-filled water trough, leaving the tomb in a wooded area in Oglethorpe County and attempting to burn down the victim’s house.
She was sentenced to life in prison for malice murder and felony murder, 20 years in prison for two counts of aggravated assault and 10 years confinement for attempted arson. Fortson could be considered for parole in 2033.
An order of denial for a new trial was filed in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court of Madison County on Feb. 27. A “notice of appeal” of that denial was filed on March 24.