News from Madison County...

APRIL 23, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Don’t forget Confederate Memorial Day
Saturday, April 26, is a holiday in Georgia. I know it is because state offices will be closed and Georgia employees get holiday pay.

Margie Richards
Past time to talk about animal control
The Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter staff and board members have been inundated in the past few days with calls from people concerned about a convicted Barrow County puppy mill owner’s statement that she might bring her “business” to our county, or to Jackson County, where animal control regulations are “lax.”


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

One more to go
There was a time when a single win on the soccer field was cause for celebration for the Madison County boys’ program.
Now, one victory is all that stands between this year’s team and school history.


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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.

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.

Banks commissioners finish final round of budget hearings
The Banks County Board of Commissioners have finished budget talks, for now.

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Empty pet carriers and pieces of kennels are all that remains of the 30 or so dogs housed for several days on newly purchased property in the Paoli Community. Code enforcement officer Jack Huff ordered the landowner to dismantle the kennels and remove the dogs because the kennel violated the county’s zoning ordinance.

‘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.
Huff said he investigated the situation Tuesday after he received information that a Barrow County woman convicted on charges related to the operation of a puppy mill had moved some of her operation to the Paoli area of Madison County.
There were around 30 dogs in kennels and pens on the property and they appeared to be smaller size breeds, Huff said.
All that remained on the newly graded property Tuesday afternoon were a number of portable containers and dismantled kennels and watering utensils.
Both Huff and Sheriff Clayton Lowe said the landowner was believed to be a relative of Gloria Warner, who was convicted on a number of charges related to the operation of a puppy mill. A number of officials testified last week in Barrow County that Warner maintained unsanitary conditions for the dogs, didn’t provide adequate water or social interaction, and violated county zoning ordinances. Most of the dogs, all smaller breeds, were infested with internal parasites and many came down with the canine parvo virus after they were confiscated.
Warner received probation and community service. Her breeder’s license was also revoked and the more than 100 puppies and breeding dogs in her possession were removed from her custody, with many being placed for adoption.
At the time of her trial last week, Warner reportedly said that she “planned to move to Madison or Jackson County, where animal control laws are more lax.”
Huff said he began “looking out” for her as soon as he heard about the statement.
Huff said he told the landowner that he would have to obtain a B-2 (business) zoning classification on his property in order to operate a breeding facility there. The land is currently zoned either R-R (rural residential) or A-1 (agricultural).
Madison County sheriff Clayton Lowe also said Tuesday that he was aware of the situation and that he had been in touch with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which regulates state licensing for animal breeders, kennels and shelters, to make the department aware of the situation as well.
“If this is true, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure she doesn’t establish the same type of operation in this county,” Lowe said.


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.
In another setback, industrial authority members said Monday night that they had to re-apply for Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) funds when they discovered that the previously applied for monies could only be used for the new water system’s construction, but not for the purchase of the Athens-Clarke County owned water line in Hull.
“This thing just gets longer and longer,” IDA member Roger Tench said in frustration at one point, referring to a number of deadline extensions since early last year. “Where do we keep dropping the ball?...We keep getting one date after another and then it just goes away.”
Board of commission chairman Wesley Nash, also an IDA member, told Tench the delays “have nothing to do with money — it’s that back-up well,” referring to last year’s repeated problems with the back-up well. The second well is required by the state before the Athens water line in Hull can be turned over to the IDA.
The Authority will most likely take possession of the water line as soon as the loan process is complete, which could be sometime in June, with ACC continuing to furnish water to customers until water system construction is complete on the Madison County system.
According to engineer Bob Ward, contractors will have an additional 120 days after the project start date to finish their work, putting the projected completion date to October or even November.
The IDA has reapplied for the funds separately, requesting a $507,000 loan at 3.5 percent interest to purchase Hull water lines from Athens-Clarke County, and a separate $539,000 loan for a well pump, well house and chemical feed building for the Hwy. 72 back-up well, to be done by Fortson Well Drilling for $137,000. The second loan will also pay for construction of the new water line that will connect Madison County’s current water system, which serves Hull-Sanford Elementary School, with the Athens-owned water line.
Up to 75 percent of the second loan may not have to be paid back, with 25 percent being repaid at zero percent interest.
“This (loan) will allow the customers currently being served by this (A-CC) water line to continue to see a bill in line with what they’ve been paying (to A-CC),” IDA member Marvin White said.
Bob Ward, representing project engineers Carter and Sloope, said that the funds for the two projects should be approved at a GEFA board meeting on May 14. Ward said the expected “order to proceed” start date for contractors working on the well house and water line has been set for July 15. The contractors, Dale Construction and Fortson Well Drilling, have agreed to guarantee their bid prices for an additional 60 days.
In the meantime, the IDA has asked for another extension of 120 days from Athens-Clarke County from the June 1 completion date to purchase the Hull water system, giving them until Oct. 1 to complete the purchase.
“We opted to go through this loan process again instead of going into a short term loan debt of one million dollars,” acting IDA chair Tom Joiner said.
In other business, IDA members heard that meters have been installed inside Madico Industrial Park, allowing them to begin billing customers for the amount of water used, instead of at a flat rate. Beginning in May, customers can expect to be billed for their water usage monthly instead of quarterly, as under the flat rate system.
Also Monday, the IDA signed a contract with Joe Alewine, owner of Georgia Outdoor Sports, which is under construction on Hwy. 29 North, to pay for deceleration and acceleration lanes required by the Dept. of Transportation, provided that the county receives funding for it through an Employee Incentive Program (EIP) grant. Madison County is applying for the EIP grant through the Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs in a separate expansion project to extend the county’s water line from the Dogsboro intersection north approximately 1,000 feet to Georgia Outdoor Sports. If the grant is not received, or if funds from the grant are not allowed to be used for the road project, Alewine will have to pay the $34,922 fee for the lanes himself.


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.
On Wednesday, county commissioners agreed by a 4-1 vote — with Melvin Drake opposing — to move its sales tax accounts from BB&T to Merchants and Farmers Bank.
County clerk Morris Fortson proposed the change, saying there had been a pattern of poor service from BB&T.
Fortson said the latest problem occurred when the county lost significant money this year in its SPLOST account because the bank had failed to credit the account for interest accrued in a timely manner.
Fortson said the interest had not been credited when it was supposed to. So the county clerk sent a letter to the bank in January informing them that the money had not been posted to the account. Fortson said he got a response in February and that the money was not added to the account until March.
“We’re just not getting the service we were promised,” said Fortson, who added that the problems with BB&T mean that the county must spend considerable time monitoring the accounts. Drake said he would like to have a BB&T bank representative on hand to answer questions before a vote was taken. No bank representative was at the meeting.
Nash said the county has had problems with the bank for the past couple of years after two changes in ownership. The commissioners noted that a BB&T representative attended a commissioners’ meeting around a year ago promising to iron out the problems.
Contacted by a reporter Monday, Barry Hardeman of BB&T said that he was unaware of the commissioners’ decision. He said he would have liked an opportunity to discuss the issue with the board.
“They did what they felt they had to do,” he said.
Hardeman said that the bank has gone back and “refigured the interest and (the lost interest) has been applied” to the account.
OTHER MATTERS
In other matters Wednesday, the board unanimously approved a request by Dale Ledford for owner Wilbur Ledford to rezone four parcels for a total of 14.8 acres on Hwy. 106 from A-2 to A-1.
The board approved a contract with Bulldog Waste Removal for trash pickup at the recreation department. The BOC agreed to adopt Millbrook Lane as a county-maintained road.
The commissioners agreed to pay $9,058 in election expenses incurred during the March 18 SPLOST referendums. The county will be reimbursed by the school system for half of the cost. The commissioners asked elections superintendent and probate judge Donald “Hoppy” Royston to provide the commissioners’ office with a purchase order before the next election, estimating the cost of the election.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin briefly discussed one man’s complaints of barking dogs on Valley Road. The complainant was not in attendance Wednesday. Scogin said he told the complainant that the county does not have an animal control ordinance and that it may be “years down the road” before the county can enact animal control due to limited finances.
The board took no action on approving an ambulance collection services contract that complies with new federal privacy standards enacted last Monday. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996, which took effect April 14, restricts access to an individual’s medical information, unless that individual consents to the release. Assistant EMS director Eric Temple asked to speak on the matter, but chairman Wesley Nash told him “no” because he had not signed up to talk. The board then voted to “suspend the rules” to allow Temple to speak. Temple said he felt the new federal guidelines were unclear. Through the years, the county EMS has been helpful toward the media in providing information about its response to local emergencies. He said EMS fears it can no longer provide the press with information about those injured and the severity of their injuries due to possible penalty.
Also Wednesday, the board approved a $75,000 state grant for the expansion of Sammy Haggard Park on Hwy. 98. Last year, the board purchased over 30 acres to expand the park with more fields, walking trails, etc.
The board agreed to hold a sale of surplus county equipment June 7 at the county farm. Nash said the county sheriff’s department will have a number of firearms for sale.
Recreation department maintenance supervisor Grady Autry said recent water tests at Mize Park revealed no evidence of contaminants.
The board approved a food services contract at the senior center. They named John Mallonee to the board of assessors and Rachel Chandler to the recreation board. They scheduled a work session for 7 p.m., April 21, in either the public meeting room or the conference room of the county government complex to discuss proposed zoning ordinance amendments. The board agreed to place “no thru truck” signs on Moore’s Lane and to have road department head Charles Temple see if putting such signs on Lowe Road and Clements Road would be appropriate.
The commissioners also approved buying a 2003 extended cab, 4X4, Ford F-150 truck for the EMS department. The department had received a two-wheel drive instead of a requested four-wheel drive truck. Road department head Charles Temple will be given a choice of driving the new two-wheel drive truck or continuing to drive his current county vehicle. Maintenance employee Alan Lapczynski will get to drive the truck if Temple continues to drive his old vehicle.

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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.


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.
Local dignitaries were on hand, including four of the five county commissioners. County commission chairman Wesley Nash played “Taps” on an old bugle. Commissioners Bruce Scogin and Johnny Fitzpatrick also spoke.
Several people took the podium to tell about their ancestors who fought in the war.
The ceremony began with pledges to the U.S. flag, the Georgia flag and the Confederate flag.
“Until now, these men (Madison County Confederate soldiers) have never received the recognition they deserve,” Gillispie said. “This monument is an attempt to correct that oversight.”


McIntosh named new MCHS principal
Current Banks County High School principal Wayne McIntosh will replace Robert Adams as Madison County High School principal.
The Madison County school board approved McIntosh to the post Tuesday night by a 4-0 vote, with Jim Patton abstaining.
The new MCHS head, who was at Banks County for one year, has 30 years of education experience. He was a teacher and administrator in South Carolina for most of that time.
Previous administrative experience includes eight years as principal, four years each at Indian Land High School in Lancaster, S.C., and York Comprehensive High School in York, S.C.
McIntosh holds a B.A. from Furman University and M.A.T. from Converse College. He has also served on the South Carolina State SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) committee.