Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga
A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia
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Panthers come through against Blue Devils for seasons first victory
At long last things finally went their way.
Such was the feeling of the Jackson County boys soccer team, following their 1-0 victory over Elbert County last Friday. The win marked the first time the Panthers (1-9, 0-7 in Region 8-AAAA) have been triumphant in what has been a difficult season thus far.
Looking For A Turnaround
The Commerce baseball team would likely invite a case of amnesia to wipe away the memories of the past week on the diamond.
After going 3-0 the week before, the Commerce baseball dropped two key region contests by a combined count of 31-5 in a four-day stretch, getting bombarded 18-2 in four innings this past Friday by an explosive Social Circle squad after being trounced 13-3 by rival Jefferson last Tuesday.
Dragons ride winning streak into break
While most teams in the state will ponder what lies ahead in the second half of the season now that theyve reached the midway point, that mentality will not be found in the Jefferson dugout. For them the notion of playing until June has become commonplace, especially in light of the teams runs through the state playoffs in recent years. And so for coach Chuck Cook and the Dragons this year is still relatively young.
Neighboorhood News ..
Searching for answers
Children dying of leukemia for lack of enough drugs for sustained chemotherapy treatments.
Babies in broken incubators, placed there only to keep the flies off them.
Hospitals where mothers come in to care for their children, because the nurses have all left.
County deputy fired, charged with assault
A Madison County Deputy was arrested last week on charges that he assaulted a prisoner at the Madison County Jail.
DOT outlines Madison County projects
State officials outlined Department of Transportation plans for Madison County over the next three years in the government complex meeting room Friday morning.
City of Ila may get new chain store
Ila may soon be the home of a new Dollar General Store.
Ila city council reviewed a rezoning request by Ann Davis at Monday nights council meeting. Davis wants to rezone two lots totaling approximately 2.5 acres located on Hwy. 98 East in Ila from residential to commercial in order to lease the land to Dollar General for the construction of a new store.
Comer council approves two alcohol licenses
Two Comer restaurants have received licenses to serve alcohol with meals.
Carmines Italian Restaurant applied for and received licenses for malt beverages (beer) and wine to be served in the building but not in the outside area. Los Hermanos Restaurant applied and received a license for beer only again to be served only inside.
Armed robber hits three hotels
Less than 10 hours after a man robbed three Banks Crossing hotels at knife point, sheriffs deputies had a suspect in custody for the crimes.
David Edward Browner, 28, Maysville, was charged with four counts of armed robbery and three counts of false imprisonment in connection with the robberies. Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman said Browner is in jail awaiting a bond hearing.
Ballinger indicted for felony murder
The man accused of setting the fire that killed local firefighter Loy Williams Jr. in 1999 will stand trial for murder in Banks County.
Monday, the Grand Jury indicted Jay Scott Ballinger on one count of felony murder. District Attorney Tim Madison said the earliest possible date for a trial will be this fall.
BOC to hold budget hearings next week
The Banks County Board of Commissioners will hold budget hearings the first four days of next week.
Chamber seeks sponsors for picnic on the lawn
Board members of the Banks County Chamber of Commerce are looking for sponsors for the second annual Picnic on the Lawn to be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8.
BCHS prom planned Sat.
Its that time of year again when Banks County High School students begin looking for the perfect dress, finding a limousine and asking for a date.
The Jackson Herald
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Jackson County Comprehensive High Schools Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter sponsored a crash re-enactment scene last Friday morning at the school, complete with paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers, student victims and all the sights and sounds of an accident. SADD sponsored the accident on the day before prom in the hopes of reinforcing students awareness of the importance of safe driving habits.
Citizens give BOC low grades
While the Jackson County Board of Commissioners gave themselves high marks on a recent self-graded report card for 2002, many citizens in the county have a different opinion of that boards work.
During a recent weekend BOC meeting at Unicoi Lodge, the board graded itself on 14 points. Nine of those grades were an A.
Two weeks ago, The Herald asked readers to grade the BOC on those same 14 points this time, however, the board averaged Ds and Fs.
Grades were assigned a numerical value, then averaged. Most of those who returned the newspaper report card, a little over 100 people, included comments about the BOCs performance, comments which indicate a deep sense of bitterness and distrust of the BOC from within the county.
Many of the comments referred to the controversial effort by the BOC to build a $25-$35 million courthouse on Darnell Road. Other comments revolved around the ethics of BOC members.
While no one was required to identify themselves, many people did. Return addresses on the envelopes indicate that responses came from all areas of Jackson County.
The following is a compilation of the comments received. Only a couple were edited due to language or other concerns.
Report card comments
In this economy, we dont need to spend millions on land and building so far from the hub of things. People of Jackson County need to realize this group of commissioners have to go or youll be taxed out of house and home. They are in this job for their own good and not the taxpayers. They are lining their own pockets.
Get rid of the BOC members now while theres still a county worth living and working in. JCCI is a waste of money and needs a new warden. One that does her job and doesnt ride around and leave everyone else to do it.
One bad situation. A bunch of a..holes trying to take over a county.
The BOC is arrogant, egotistical and insensitive to the taxpayers of Jackson County. They do not display a grasp of reality. Elected officials are to be servants, not lord and master.
If the BOC had listened to the people of Jackson County, we would not have to pay for such an expensive courthouse. Evidently they dont care what the people want. Well, election time is coming so watch out. And who paid for the weekend at Unicoi? Was it necessary to go there to have a meeting? My opinion of the whole bunch is: We dont care what the people of Jackson County want, so we will do things the way we want them and you can pay for it. Well, do what you can while you are there because you wont be there forever.
The courthouse is a fiasco. This county does not have the need or the resources to fund the grand plans for a county complex to rival the complex of Gwinnett or other metro Atlanta counties. The first step in planning is how much it will cost and how can we raise the money. This board has been ass backwards in their planning. They bought the land and developed the plans and still do not know how much it will cost or where the money will come from. I hope we get to vote for funding this grand plan for I, as a voter, will surely vote against it. The next item is economic development. How can they give themselves an A when 25 percent of the county population is below the poverty level? If economic development was this good perhaps 10 to 15 percent would be a reasonable number of the population below poverty levels.
Thank you, BOC, for the good job you are doing. It is so appreciated.
This mafia group should be put in jail.
County commissioners need to stay out of control of water and sewer and economic development.
We need all new BOC members that are concerned for the county residents instead of their own private interests.
The entire Jackson County BOC needs to be voted out of office.
Bring me Pat Bell, who is a voice of reason.
As an educator, I know you dont allow students to grade themselves, especially when the quality of their work is in question. When can we have a recall and get rid of these guys?
The county needs to have a recall.
Every one of these BOC members should be recalled. They have no ethics. I think the BOC grading themselves literally stinks in Gods nostrils and also the citizens of Jackson County. All they think about is wasting money and going on weekend trips.
Now that the BOC has tried to show us with their own BOC grapes that they have raised their hands and have said Let their be light and there was light, when can we expect them to walk on water? Too bad their light is going to come back on them as a lightning bolt in the next election. When it strikes, I hope they have on their swim trunks and wading shoes.
Code of ethicswhat a joke! Too bad its so close to election time again or the citizens of Jackson County could really show what they think of this board by recalling them.
The BOC has lost the trust of the citizens.
Have no confidence in BOC with the economy so bad citizens can not afford more taxes. How will this be financed?
Im tired of seeing the BOC attacked in the paper every week. Cant you find anything else to report. They do a fine job.
I appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinion on the BOC. Of course, they can not please every person on everything they do but I dont believe the editor should keep degrading them in everything they do. I do very much believe they are doing the right thing on selecting another courthouse site. If you were to ask the people that work in the present courthouse, I believe that you would be very enlightened. Thanks BOC for what you do.
I think the BOC is doing a very good job. The editor needs to look at himself and give the public an opportunity to grade him. A big thank you, BOC.
If this board has any ethics, they are well hidden. I am ashamed that I live in Jackson County and that I voted for Beshara and Fletcher.
Surely this county can find some leaders that will think about us (citizens) rather than themselves (board members and their legacy).
The BOC stinks. The citizens need to take control before it is too late. Please leave the county water and sewer service as it is. Do not have the system under the control of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
Failure to represent the people.
The board members will not get our vote again.
BOC leave water and sewer alone. Leave chamber of commerce and IDA alone. Dont want an Atlanta airport. 17 acres is not enough for county greenspace. Courthouse is unnecessary, unethical and ridiculous.
Recall them all.
As bad as it gets.
Building site wrong area. Plans are calling for too many frills. Twenty-four rooms for DAs officeif that many are needed, we really need more police and prisons. A correctional institute study really should be high priority. Present shameful conditions. Note: Really think high of themselves. Would like to see salaries of county officials and managers published.
As a board, you are a total failure. You all need to resign. We can not afford your grand ideas. Just who do you think you are? You are all pompous asses who have overstepped any authority you might have had.
I hope this results in a recall of all BOC members.
F in working with cities and towns. F in concern for citizens of Jackson County and giving taxpayers a voice.
These students need to have a parent-teacher conference but they are afraid to hear the truth.
I think we need to get rid of all our BOC members. Apparently, theyve forgotten how they got in office and how they can be taken out. Theres no not a one of them I would ever vote for again.
LOST negotiation results from cribbing off the cities paper. Economic development: a fair grade would be an F as no new infrastructure to support quality commercial industrial development has come on line, yet taxes and regulatory burden has increased dramatically. Airport expansion botched protracted condemnation due to chairmans real estate meddling. Sells Mill and Hurricane Shoals were initiated under previous BOC, as was the greenspace plan that provided funds.
First, I am a lifelong citizen of Jackson County and have been so for nearly 60 years, and a taxpayer since age of 16. Courthouse plans: The board of clowns are attempting to build a monument to themselves for an unknown amount that our grandchildren will be paying for. The planned site is out of the way for most citizens of the county. Citizens having no input to location or cost shows the power hungry county manager and the board of clowns at their best. The sandman making a statement about putting up a statue of their head bozo, jokingly or not, was in bad taste. If a statue is placed in their monument house it should be of Floyd Hoard. A statute of the head bozo might be donated by McDonalds, a state of Ronald, of course. The new courthouse should be designed so that it fills the needs of the county court system for many years to come and not the egos of the current county manager and the board of clowns to have the most majestic building in the county to have been built by them. Hopefully, we have nothing happen to cause a federal court mandate to build a new jail, possibly stopping the plans for the monument-house in its tracks. Code of ethics: if the board of clowns had any ethics, the head bozo would fire Crace and then resign before being recalled for the screwing their attempting to put on the heads of the taxpayers of Jackson County and their descendants.
Economic Development, C: This grade could have been higher, but you dont threaten to remove county support for a major new industry in order to achieve selfish political gain and its awfully arrogant to assume youre more qualified to be the countys lead economic developer than professionals who have made a career in that field.
I think we need new BOC members. We should be allowed to vote. We pay taxes.
I think we need someone that considers the wants of the people of Jackson County and also think that we, as taxpayers, should have a chance to vote on the location and type of courthouse.
The worst commissioners this county has ever had. Lets throw them out of office.
We need to get a new BOC. The one that we have now is not for the people of Jefferson for themselves. We need honest people for our BOC. Come on people. Send them to fight the war. Need a leash law.
BOC does not appear to have firm and wise plans for the future of the county. Trying to take over the water and sewer department (which are already run properly) is a waste of effort. BOC should make more of an effort to better serve the county.
What a mess!
Leave the chamber of commerce, IDA and water and sewer authority alone. Please dont build this Taj Ma-Fletcher.
Current BOC is a disgrace. They are power hungry and do not care what is best for the county. They all need to be replaced with people who do not have self-serving personal agendas.
Recall all commissioners.
BOC is very two-faced. Will stab the citizens of Jackson County in the back at the flip of a coin. Very ignorant to citizens needs. Very smart to their needs.
Did Stacey Britt just purchase land on South Apple Valley Road? Isnt it getting paved now? Supposed to be paved years ago...well now! I understand the BOC did not sign or produce to citizens a document giving/granting money for water in areas that dont have anyHale Road, Dixon Bridge Road. Whats wrong? We need water too. Raises to county employeesWhat a mess. Glad you guys got something right. Thank you. CourthouseWhy do you want to move it out of downtown?
The behavior of the current commissioners is reprehensible; especially regarding the courthouse and water authority Whatever the truth is, the perception is money talks and its our way or the highway. Public opinion is irrelevant.
Lets go back three years and start over.
Several of the commissioners seem to be very selfish and greedy with no respect for the needs of the average citizen.
BOC members are greedy, power hungry and very egotistical. There is definitely a conflict of interest with their professional jobs. I am a lifelong resident of Jackson County and cannot remember a BOC this bad. It appears as if they are trying to financially break this county.
Every week its the same old crap. Pointing fingers, passing the buck, lies, deception, rotten politics, good old boy camp. I really dont know how you guys can even face people in the county. Hell, if I were you, Id meet out of town too.
Complete failure on courthouse. How did we get all these incompetent people.
BOC is hurting the county by trying to run the county by their dictatorial ways without complete knowledge of everything they think they know. They should ease off their dictatorship and work with the other county departments.
Failed all attempts and anything.
Accountability of a leader..Dear Lord, when Im wrong make me willing to change. When Im right, make me easy to live with so strengthen me that the power of my example will far exceed the authority of my rank.
The University of Georgia is in big trouble by giving high marks for little or no work done. The BOC is doing the same thing, only worse. Lets start over with a new BOC. The people of Jackson County will be hoping for years to come.
It is my hope that a real leader will come forward and work for the taxpayers of this county. Code of ethics is just a joke.
Buffington needs to give it a rest. We all know he is not happy about where the courthouse is going to be built.
What have they done about Jackson County homeland security? The BOC has never been run so poorly. They need to be removed and another election held. I know Harold Fletcher would not be re-elected.
The BOC is not in office to serve or listen for the people but for their own self. How much have they listened to the voters of Jackson County.
We are truly disgusted with this current BOC. It is appalling that these men have continued to do as they wish, regardless of how Jackson County citizens feel.
Get rid of these men. Isnt there some way these men can be recalled in order to stop this Do as they please when they please to whomever the please? Our taxes will be so high until a lot of elder will be forced to sell.
Public input on significant issues are ignored. Excessive power grabbing tactics employed. Failure to seek facts (truth) on issues before speaking is non-existent. This BOC needs to go out of office.
If the BOC doesnt want the taxpayers to have a vote on the courthouse, let the BOC pay for it.
Courthouse-too much building, wrong location. Animal control-not needed at this time. Code of ethics-havent heard of any code. The ethics of this board stinks. None of them can be trusted for anything. Correctional institute study-no study needed.
With the current economy, what fool thinks this county can pay for a multi-million dollar courthouse?
If we did some of the same things that this board has done, they would put us under the jail. They should be in jail.
You are a group of undermining crooks. A disgrace to Jackson County. I can see adjoining counties sitting back laughing at you. By the way, I am a taxpayer/senior citizen.
Power hungry. Should get rid of Beshara, the arrogant know it all.
Though Im not well-enough informed on all of these issues to vote intelligently, I figure that if this BOC has anything to do with it, it must be wrong, crooked or both.
Citizens will never be proud of the courthouse as Mr. Beshara predicts. Theres been too much secret, hidden decisions by this board. The BOC is a power hungry, oppressive group who care nothing for the taxpayers in this county. They only concentrate on lining their pockets.
Public opinion means nothing to this BOC. Power hungry group. Consumed with greed. A very vindictive group.
I think we should have a recall.
Sad that taxpayers will be hung with this BOCs mismanagement long after they are gone.
I dont think there is a leader among the BOC. Cant wait for election time.
With the present commissioners and county manager, the county we know now is very soon going to be a thing of the past.
Commerce Set To Award
Sidewalk Contract Monday
A long-planned city project should get the official go-ahead when the Commerce City Council meets Monday night at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.
The city council is expected to award its "transportation enhancement" project several miles of sidewalks around the school system and out old U.S. 441 contract.
The project includes more than $688,448 in federal Department of Transportation funds plus Georgia DOT and local money.
It will fund the construction of a sidewalk from Willoughby Homes out Waterworks Road, up Minish Drive to the elementary school, then out Lakeview Drive past Commerce High School to Jefferson Road. A second segment will build sidewalks along both sides of Homer Road from Bi-Lo out.
It's a project that's been in the planning stage for months. The city has had the grant for more than a year as it wrangled with the Georgia DOT for assistance on drainage aspects and worked to acquire sidewalk easements.
"The contractor is ready to go and all the easements are in," said City Manager Clarence Bryant at Monday night's work session. Municipal Contracting Co. Inc. was the low bidder.
Bryant also revealed that the city's hedging last summer of winter natural gas paid off for city gas customers.
During the heating season November through March the city saved its customers $165,096.
Hedging is a gamble that gas prices on the future market at the time of the purchase will be lower than prices at the time the gas is needed. For several years, Commerce has hedged a high percentage of its gas and has produced a savings in all but one of those years.
Because the city typically retains a firm margin the difference between its cost for gas (including transportation) and what it charges the savings benefit the city's customers.
The city council will have a long agenda for its April meeting. Other items include:
action on three recommendations of the Commerce Planning Commission, including amending the zoning ordinance to include the city ordinance on directional signs, zoning for annexation of the Griffeth property on Jefferson Road so the city can annex Montgomery Shores, and a request from Ragan Reed to rezone the site of the old Uncle Remus Motel from C-1 to C-3 for a subdivision.
approval of a package beer sales license to Pilot Travel Center (formerly Williams).
a request for $1,500 for the Jackson County Senior Center.
a request by Joyce Wood and Thomas Nicholson relating to a sewer line running across their property on King Road.
a budget amendment of approximately $27,000 to buy a used trencher and trailer for the Electric Department.
approval of the annual contract with the Piedmont Multi-Agency Narcotics (MANS) unit at a cost of $12,158.
approval of two electrical service upgrades, one a $15,000 upgrade to a circuit on the south side of town and the other an upgrade on Jefferson Road at a cost of about $65,000, both of which came in well under budget.
Also at the work session:
Bryant reported that the city has extended to April 15 deadline for the cleanup of Pardue's Mobile Home Park, which he said is going well.
Bryant reported that he and Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. will fly to Michigan this week to try to sell MACI (Michigan Automotive Compressors Inc.) on using city electricity at its Valentine Farms plant. The city is competing with Jackson EMC and Georgia Power on the $100 million project.
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Courthouse project should stop, Britt says
Likening the Move forward on a new Jackson County courthouse to beating a dead horse, commissioner Stacey Britt has proposed a halt in the project.
Commissioner Tony Beatty supported Britts suggestion during the Jackson County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, saying he, too, is tired of it and doesnt see a bunch of support for it.
The motion to suspend operations on the courthouse project failed, however, in a 3-2 vote. BOC chairman Harold Fletcher broke the tie by voting against the motion along with commissioners Emil Beshara and Sammy Thomason.
After Britt made his motion, which was seconded by Beatty, Beshara wondered if it could be amended to let editor Mr. Mike Buffington personally dictate where the courthouse should go...since he seems to know more than anyone on the planet?
The motion was not amended.
Theyve met in that courthouse for how many years, let them meet in that courthouse four or five more years, Britt said. Im tired of hearing it. Ive heard enough of it.
Although Britts motion did not pass, the topic prompted much discussion among the commissioners, who voiced disappointment in the lack of legislative and mayoral support for options to fund a new courthouse on Darnell Road. Recently, mayors of six local municipalities sent a letter to legislators opposing a building authority or future SPLOST as funding options for a new courthouse. The countys building authority issue was turned down by the legislative delegation.
HURT WITH MAYORS, LEGISLATORS
Britt broached the subject during the commissioners report segment of Monday nights meeting, saying, Im ready to call an end to the courthouse and let the next folks deal with it. I think its a bigger issue than were prepared to deal with. I think the courthouse is really bogging us down. I just say we ought to step back, put a halt to it and maybe look at it at a later date. Were beating a dead horse.
Beatty echoed Britts sentiments, saying, I think its time to step back...We can use that property for recreation or something else.
Beatty also said he is hurt and disappointed by the lack of support for the project.
When we first came into office, we were pounded with We need a courthouse, he said. Those people have disappeared into the bushes...Im really hurt that six of our mayors have written letters (saying they are opposed to the building authority and SPLOST). Im hurt with our senators and representatives. (It seems) our mayors have more pull than we do with the legislators.
Thomason, however, said he has heard a lot of support for the project.
I hear people all the time who are supportive of it, he said. Their only question is, When will it be done?
WHAT FUNDING OPTIONS LEFT?
With the building authority option put off and six mayors writing that they are opposed to future SPLOST money being used for the courthouse project, the commissioners discussed what funding options are left.
Beshara listed the ACCG lease, a bond referendum, SPLOST or property taxes as funding options.
If they are against SPLOST, they are in favor of property tax (to pay) for the courthouse to be used by everyone, he said. Im very disappointed that the six mayors would be as selfish as that, to impose an increase in property tax to build a courthouse. I, as a property owner, am offended.
The ACCG lease is the only option we have left, Britt said. I dont want to raise property taxes. And now weve got the editor of the newspaper telling people to walk out on us.
To sue us, Beshara added.
Both Beshara and Thomason said they thought SPLOST could still be an option.
All that stuff about the BOC doesnt want public input SPLOST can only be approved by the public, Beshara said. We can spread it out over several SPLOSTs so no dime of property tax is spent on it.
Thomason said he felt there has been some misunderstanding about how SPLOST would be used for the project.
It would not require all of the 2005 SPLOST funds for the courthouse, he said. There would be a lot of funds left to share...Its one of those projects that can best be partially funded by SPLOST.
Britt disagreed that the publics problem is with SPLOST.
I dont think were hearing about SPLOST, he said. Its about where the property is located and how the property was obtained. Its not hard to see that we need a courthouse, but the perception is we mishandled the choice of location. Its just more and more and more.
Maysvilles Jackson Co. Residents
Steamed Over 4.9-Mill Tax Hike
Maysville residents living in Jackson County spoke out against a tax increase at a public hearing held Monday night on the budget for 2003.
They are upset about a 4.914-mill increase in their city taxes.
Residents questioned the council on the reasoning behind the decision not to charge Banks County residents of Maysville any city taxes.
City attorney Gary Freeman explained that under a Georgia Supreme Court ruling made last year in a case in Baldwin, Maysville could not use Banks County local option sales tax (LOST) money to roll back the taxes of the entire city. It could only be used to roll back the Banks County residents' taxes, he said.
Money received from Banks County LOST is enough to roll back their taxes to zero. Jackson County LOST is not enough to roll back those residents city taxes, he said.
"Specifically, when county voters approve a one-cent local option sales tax, that tax has to be used only for that district, in this case Banks County," he said.
City clerk Lois Harper said of the approximate 1,250 people living in Maysville, the majority reside in Banks County.
Freeman said that changing this would require a legislative action.
Mayor Richard Presley said the council had worked for hours on the budget and had cut to $100,000 less than last year's. No department heads are receiving raises. Five city employees will get a three-percent cost-of-living raise.
"I don't see how we could have cut it any more," said Presley.
One resident asked why the council just doesn't dissolve the city since the city only duplicates the services of the county.
Councilman Scott Harper said: "I hate as much as anybody to have to pay this increase. I live in Jackson County. I don't see that we can do anything about it. Sure, it will cost me more this year, but this is where I live. I will fight anyone who suggests dissolving this city. I appreciate everybody in this town, but that is uncalled for."
Councilmen Marion Jarrett and Andrew Strickland agreed.
The council closed the public hearing and approved the $642,676 budget in the regular meeting and the tax hike.
In other business, the council discussed:
cosing well #4 since it is a low production well and costs more to maintain than is made off water sales.
the extension of the water line along Alley Street to Sims Street at a cost of $9,300. The project will be paid through Jackson County special local option sales tax money. Once the work is completed, Sims Street will be paved.
replacing galvanized line on Smith Street.
the hiring of Steven Lewis for part-time work in the water department.