News from Banks County...

APRIL 23, 2003


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OPINIONS
Rochelle Beckstine

Lessons learned on the field of
bridal showers
Don’t co-host a bridal shower with someone you’ve had two conversations with. Save yourself the anger, frustration and helplessness. It’s liable to keep you up nights, to fill your days with wonderings if purgatory would indeed be worse and to completely alienate someone you may very well have liked in different circumstances.

Phillip Sartain
Spring Break journal
PRELUDE: Spring Break is finally over and truth be known, it never really got started. In other words, it was doomed from day one. But the worst part is now you have to read about it — it’s uglier than you might think.


SPORTS

Track Attack
The Leopards and Lady Leopards track teams are winding down their regular season and are about to head into region competition.
The girls will comete in their region matches Monday and Tuesday. The boys region meet will come May 5 and 6.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
County’s Ordinance Enforcement Could Be Model For Commerce
If the Commerce City Council is serious about enforcing its ordinances against junked or abandoned cars and cleanliness of premises, it need look no further than the Jackson County government to see how it can be done.

BOC seeks meeting with development authority
Is another move to consolidate its power on the agenda of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners?

Braselton to soon see county water flowing
Jackson County water should start flowing soon to Braselton at the rate of a half million gallons per day.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority signed a water sales contract with Braselton Monday that manager Jerry Waddell expects to give the authority’s cash flow a shot in the arm.

Once Again, DOT Delays Widening Of U.S. 441
JEFFERSON -- The long-awaited widening of U.S. 441 has been put on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit over the method by which it and other state road projects were funded.

Request for 526-home
project to be heard in May
A rezoning request for a 526-home subdivision on Zion Church Road and Highway 124 will be heard by the Braselton Planning Commission on Monday, May 16, at 6 p.m.

Chamber banquet set Thurs.
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual awards banquet is planned for Thursday, April 24, at the Commerce Civic Center.

BOC approves $22 million courthouse design
A $22 million design for a new courthouse was unanimously approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in a called meeting Monday night.

Jackson one of nation’s fastest growing
Jackson County is one of the 100 fastest growing counties in the United States, according to Census data released last week.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
‘Puppy mill’ plans thwarted
Plans for an alleged puppy mill were thwarted in Madison County Tuesday morning when code enforcement officer Jack Huff ordered a Carl Tolbert Circle landowner to remove a number of dogs and kennels from his newly purchased property.

Water system completion date pushed back again
It now looks like the county’s new water system may not be up and running until the fall.

Confederate memorial dedicated in Colbert
A monument honoring Madison County’s Confederate soldiers was unveiled in Colbert Saturday afternoon.
The ceremony, led by Frank Gillispie, adjutant of the Madison County Greys Camp 1526 Sons of Confederate Veterans, included war re-enactors and women dressed as mourning widows.

McIntosh named new MCHS principal
Current Banks County High School principal Wayne McIntosh will replace Robert Adams as Madison County High School principal.

County moves SPLOST accounts to Merchants and Farmers Bank
Over the years, the Madison County government has kept accounts at both local banks: Merchants and Farmers and Bank of Danielsville — which became CenturySouth and then BB&T.

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Easter tradition

Julie Long has been coming to the annual egg hunt in Homer since she was just a little girl. This year, she and her husband, Shane, brought their 18-month-old son, Logan, to the 44th annual Easter egg hunt. He found a prize egg and came away with a live bunny. A crowd of over 1,000 came to the annual hunt. Moms and dads with their children fanned out across the huge field looking for the prize eggs.

BOE mulls over superintendent applications
In a special called meeting Tuesday night, the Banks County school board got its first look at the applications for the new school superintendent.
The entire meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was called to consult with the Georgia School Board Association to review the applications submitted to the agency. The board hired the GSBA in February to conduct the superintendent search.
Don Rooks of the GSBA said when the board hired him that he would bring the applications before board members divided into three categories.
He said an independent three-person panel would separate the candidates based on criteria the school board established.
According to a brochure advertising the superintendent position, the BOE requires the applicant have L-6 or higher certification and have administrative experience.
The brochure also lists prior superintendent experience and private business experience as important but not mandatory.
Rooks said in February that after the school board looks over the applications, members will decide who to interview. The GSBA will then schedule interviews and prepare board members for questioning.
BOE chairman Bo Garrison presented a breakdown of the applications during a meeting earlier this month.
According to the candidate profile, 1,186 brochures had been sent out advertising the position and 23 applications had been received.
Of the applications received, nine candidates hold an education doctorate and seven hold an education specialists degree.
Five of them have a Ph.D and two hold master’s degrees.
The candidates also break down into the following current job categories: superintendent, three; assistant superintendent, two; principal, eight; coordinator, one; director, two; former superintendent, two; headmaster, one; assistant professor, two; executive secretary, one; and teacher, one.
The school board has not set a date to vote on hiring a new superintendent. However, under Georgia law, the names and application information of up to three of the final candidates must be released at least 14 days prior to the vote.
The BOE will meet again Tuesday for further closed discussions on the matter. They’ll also likely vote on several resignations, including that of BCHS principal Wayne McIntosh.


Possible sewer infiltration cause found in Lula
For months, the Lula City Council and street employees have been searching for the source of rainwater infiltration into the sewer system which has led to a sewer moratorium.
Mayor Milton Turner announced at Monday’s meeting that a major possible source had been located on Mill Street where a large hole had been found. City employees will be digging to uncover the sewer line and take the necessary measures to divert the rainwater.
In March, a number of leaks were discovered during a smoke test and were fixed.
The smoke tests were to continue on Tuesday if it didn’t rain, he said.
The council imposed a moratorium on sewer tap-ons in October when it was discovered that the plant had a faulty flow meter. However, after the new meter was installed, it was evident there was another problem. The council suspected there were leaks in the pipes or new drain culverts allowing rainwater to enter the system. The additional water put the city over its permitted discharge level. A company was hired to perform smoke tests on the system.
The moratorium will continue, Turner added.
The city is waiting to hear from the environmental protection division on a permit for an additional discharge of 20,000 gallons per day (gpd) which would bring the city up to 85,000 gpd. He said a future expansion to 375,000 gpd was in the engineering stages.
Trash pick-up was also discussed at the meeting. Lula residents may be asked to put their bagged trash into garbage cans. Animals have been getting into trash placed on the curb the night before pick-up and the city workers are finding household garbage strewn in the streets.
Some residents pour a strong cleaning solution over the bags to prevent animals from getting into it. That, however, poses a health risk to employees and can ruin their clothing, city leaders say.
A limit on the number of bags of trash may also be imposed.
The council also discussed the amount of debris from house renovations city employees are dealing with weekly. They said the contractors working on the homes should be responsible for debris removal.
The pick-up time for trash is at 8 a.m. on collection day. All trash should be curbside by that time, leaders said.
In other business, the council discussed:
•purchasing 50 more high intensity Stop signs. Two bids had been received and the council approved the bid from Vulcan Signs. They bid the signs at $30.98 each and $9.05 for the 10-foot posts. Another company, The Donut Shop, had bid a lower grade sign for $30,98 and the posts at $21.00.
•charging more for water tap-on fees and a special fee for turning water on and off for house clean-ups in subdivisions. The matters were turned over to the water committee for more research and discussion.
•the annexation of two parcels on Belton Bridge Road and Highway 365. David Register has requested the city annex a 1.8-acre lot on one side of Hwy. 365 and two smaller lots on the other. The city limits will extend to three corners at the intersection.
•talks with a developer about the possibility of an Ingle’s being built on Highway 365 and a combination convenience store/restaurant/gas station. If such businesses decide to come into the city limits, the council will have to consider beer/wine licenses.
•finding one more person to serve on the zoning committee. Councilman Perry Bridgeman said the person he had asked was not going to be able to serve.
•the landscaping through the main part of town will be done through volunteer work of an architect working with a nursery. The council wants to have the landscaping and planting completed by Railroad Days to be held in May.
•the resurfacing of Maiden Lane. The council accepted the bid of Apex Paving for $11,089 which includes striping the road. A second bid from T & S Paving came in at $13,200 with no striping included.
•Norfolk’s offer of $50,000 for the city to take ownership of the old overpass.
•setting subdivision regulations. The council has plans to require curbs and gutters and possibly underground utilities. Play areas for children in larger complexes may also be required. The matter was turned over to committee for evaluation.
•the petition for quiet title by Margaret Chambers, who is seeking to increase the easement to her property from 20 feet to 60 feet. Lula was named in the petition as well as Lula residents Winford Popphan, Elaine Popphan, Bobbie Moore and Michael Barrett. City attorney Brad Patton explained the petition was not actually a lawsuit.


Banks commissioners finish final round of budget hearings
The Banks County Board of Commissioners have finished budget talks, for now.
The BOC will likely meet again in May to look at the complete budget and to finalize salary requests for each department.
Though each department submitted salary requests during hearings last week, a new pay plan commissioners implemented has forced department heads to recalculate salaries.
Budget items discussed during the final two days of hearings last week include:
FIRE/EMS
Fire chief Perry Dalton says he’s only asking for increases in salary. Since the adoption of a new county pay plan, the fire and EMS departments stand as one of the most out of alignment of any county departments.
Dalton said he likely won’t be able to catch all of his employees up to their pay scale in the coming budget year.
The fire and EMS budget is up just shy of $200,000 over the total from last year.
However, more than half of the increase comes from a lease payment on a fire truck and ambulance and a fire contract with Baldwin.
The lease payments were made last year out of surplus funds. Neither the lease payments nor the fire contract were in last year’s budget.
SHERIFF’S OFFICE/JAIL
Sheriff Charles Chapman has asked for an increase in his budget of about $200,000.
Chapman requests two new patrol cars (he asked for three but one of the $25,000 cars didn’t receive initial approval) and he also asks for funds to hire two additional deputies.
The sheriff’s office and jail budget also includes salary increases for personnel. Chapman’s department does not have to comply with the county’s new personnel policy. The sheriff’s office and jail are separate.
RECYCLING CENTER
The recyling center has asked for only a $3,000 increase.
The additional funds will be used for increased phone usage by Keep Our Mountains Beautiful and an increase in contract fees for North Georgia Resource Management Authority.
The center also reported about a Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) grant for a loader at the recycling center.
ROAD AND BRIDGES
The roads and bridges budget, up by about $20,000, includes an extra capital expenditure for a new tractor that was not included in last year’s budget.
BUILDING INSPECTION
The building inspection budget has decreased just over $20,000 thanks in part to a change in the way the clerk for the office is paid.
The clerk works for both the building inspection and planning departments and her salary will be split between the two in the coming year.
The building inspection department is also considering hiring a part-time trainee since hiring a full-time trainee would require an increase in permit fees.
Revenues must equal expenses in the building inspection department.
PLANNING/ENFORCEMENT
The planning department’s budget jumped nearly $30,000. But the department took on half of the clerk’s pay in the coming budget year.
Also, legal fees and newspaper ads will fall solely in the planning budget.
WATER ADMINISTRATION
The water administration has gone up only slightly. The increase has been primarily attributed to a payment of $6,900 to cover the costs of a new computer system for the water, tax commissioners and commissioners departments.
WATER PUMPING/PURIFICATION
The water pumping and purification budget will likely see a $40,000 increase.
Funds from the budget will be used to pay a new expense of $15,000 for a homeland security assessment.
Chemical costs have also increased due to rising costs and higher production levels.
EXTENSION SERVICE
The extension service has requested a budget increase of $700. The department will get a new DSL phone line. The budget also includes a new capital expenditure for a computer system.
The extension service also hopes to receive a grant to purchase a bus-type vehicle for the 4-H program. If so, the county must match the grant with $13,400.
REGISTRAR
The registrar budget has gone done by more than $20,000. Several line items that were once paid from the budget have been shifted to the probate court office.
MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health officials requested a budget that was nearly doubled over last year’s request.
However, the BOC agreed to give the same amount as last year and also pay all utlities but phone service, a payment of nearly $3,600.
LIBRARY
Though the library was requesting only a slight increase over last year, the BOC did question the library board about $15,000 added into the budget several years ago that they thought was for a new heating and air system.
Director Stacey Krumnow explained the increase was not just for the system but also to increase the library’s hours and to purchase books.
NO MAJOR CHANGES
Several county departments have submitted budgets that are up only slightly from last year’s total.
Those departments, along with this year and last year’s budget are as follows:
•Magistrate court—this year, $101,526; last year, $98,605.
•Commissioners—this year, $202,622; last year, $199,255.
•Recreation department—this year, $297,560; last year, $280,700.
•Coroner—this year, $18,330; last year, $18,330.
•DFCS—this year, $24,300; last year, $24,300.
•Water distribution and maintenance—this year, $240,517; last year, $235,351.
•Sewage collection and treatment—this year, $97,412; last year, $89,204.
•Public transportation—this year, $31,388; last year, $29,155.
•Adult literacy—this year, $2,000; last year, $2,000.
•Health department—this year, $75,000; last year, $75,000.
Commissioners also declared last week as national public safety telecommunicators week in Banks County.



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DFACS has
investigated 67 cases of child abuse
In the first three months of this year, the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services has investigated 67 cases of child abuse.
As DFACS director Renota Free gave the monthly report at last week’s board meeting, she said the department had received 19 new referrals for the month of March. Of those, two were for physical abuse; one sexual abuse and 16 were for neglect. Six cases were screened out.
The staff was still investigating 12 cases from February.
Of those combined 31 cases, nine remain pending, three were substantiated and opened, 17 were unsubstantiated and closed and two transferred out of the county.
The department is working with 22 families from previous months and is offering support services and counseling.
The county has legal custody of 20 children and is boarding five from other counties.
Six children remain available for adoption, though proceedings for adoption of one child have been initiated, she said.
In the adult protective services, she said the staff had received three new referrals, one neglect, one physical abuse and one exploitation. There was one case still being investigated from previous months.
Of those, one case remains pending and three were found to have no grounds and the cases were closed. Two cases continue to be monitored on a monthly basis.
In other business, Free reported:
•a $3,000 increase in food stamps allotments for March totaling $70,623 for 397 Banks County families.
•temporary relief for needy families totaled $8,896 for 44 families, a $700 drop from February.
•staff members received 345 requests for Medicaid assistance.
•the Banks County Board of Commissioners agreed to try to get the state to move along on the much-needed and larger new DFACS building. Free said the staff is getting by as best they can, but with the growing number of families being served it is becoming harder to maintain privacy and supervised visitations.