News from Jackson County...

APRIL 30, 2003


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SPORTS

Lady Panthers overcome odds, finish fifth in region
Jackson County’s lone competitor in the girls state meet this year will be the top Region 8-AAAA high jumper, Crystal Yonce. Her leap of five feet, two inches was good enough to secure the region crown last week and amass nearly half of her team’s point total.
Jackson County finished with 22 points during the two-day meet, good enough for fifth-place in the region behind Region 8-AAAA champion Clarke Central.

Do Or Die:
For the Commerce baseball team, it’s a tall task — but not an insurmountable one.
That’s how diamond Tiger head coach David Cash weighs his team’s chances of extending its season into the Class A state playoffs as it sits with a 5-8 mark (as of Tuesday) in 8-A entering the final region stretch.

Heading to Albany
Success can be measured in many ways and Tuesday night’s Region 8-A championship performance by the Jefferson girls had coach Tim Corbett smiling for more than just one reason.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Relay set for this weekend
The fifth annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life gets under way in Madison County this Friday, with opening ceremonies beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Recreation Department track field.

Animal control discussed at Mon. meeting
County commissioners heard from Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter director Sara Mathews Monday, who urged the commissioners to consider implementing animal control in the county.

Chairman wants residents to get tour of new Madison County jail
One day soon — leaders won’t say exactly when — Madison County residents will be able to take a weekend tour of the new county jail.

Continuance granted in murder trial
The murder trial of Hope Buie, who is accused of killing her infant son, has been postponed.

Earthquake tremors felt in Madison Co.
Light sleepers and those already awake in Madison County felt a sharp jolt Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. as an earthquake rattled the southeast. Many others slept through the quake and were surprised to learn of the event.

James pleads guilty to theft by receiving
Prominent local businessman Tommy James pleaded guilty recently in Madison County Superior Court to three counts of theft by receiving.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
New Hwy. 441 rezoning request brings concerns

A landowner seeking a rezoning change along the new Hwy. 441 bypass could open the door for more industrial sites, Homer Planning Commission members said Thursday.

DA looks at private-public sewage system for Martin Bridge
The Martin Bridge Road/I-85 interchange gets more attractive by the day.
The intersection already has water availability, and natural gas service is only one large customer away from reality.

Chamber picnic set for May 8
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce will hold its second annual picnic on the courthouse lawn at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8.

State DOT gives update on bridges
The Georgia Department of Transportation gave an update on its road projects in Banks County at a meeting last week. Two bridge replacement projects are under way.

Rabies clinics planned May 10
Rabies clinics will be held at seven different locations in Banks County on Saturday, May 10, with vaccinations available for $7.

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TIME TO STOP

Arcade police officer Thomas Robertson directed traffic at the bike-a-thon Monday at Galilee Christian Church. The event was held as a fund-raiser for St. Jude’s.

Industrial park rezoning gets OK from planners
Plans for a 254-acre industrial park near the Pendergrass bypass passed the first hurdle Thursday night when the Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approval for a rezoning request.
Charles D. Titshaw asked to rezone 254.15 acres on Hwy. 129 from A-2 to I-2 to locate an industrial park.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will consider the request when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 5, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
At the planning commission meeting Thursday, Titshaw questioned one of the conditions, leaving 50 acres undeveloped, and said it seems “excessive.” The condition was part of the recommendation for approval.
Titshaw said the park will be similar to the nearby Walnut Fork and Valentine Farms industrial developments. He added that it will include various lot sizes from two to 20 or more acres to accommodate both large and small industrial use.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the planning commission recommended
•approval to Gregory Redd to rezone .92 acres on South Apple Valley Road from A-2 to B-1 to locate a barbecue restaurant. Janice Scheck spoke in opposition to the plans and said she wants to keep the area residential.
•approval to Joe Elrod and Larry Joe Wood to rezone 11.837 acres on Hwy. 129 and Hwy. 332 from A-2 to B-2 for the purpose of commercial development. No specific use for the site was given during the meeting.
•approval to Galilee Christian Church to rezone 11.5 acres on Galilee Church Road from PCFD to A-2 for the purpose of a building for a new worship center. Tom Plank spoke on the plans and said the new sanctuary would seat 700 people and would include areas for classrooms and a nursery. Plans call for a 20,465 square foot facility “We look forward to you approving it so we can start building it,” Plank said.
•approval to Stanley and Margaret Johnson to rezone 1.84 acres on Wilson Garage Road from A-3 to B-1 to locate an automobile sales facility. Mr. Johnson said it would be an antique car dealership and he would operate it. He said there would be no service repairs and that all of the cars would be located inside the facility.
•approval to Piedmont Development to rezone 9.20 acres on Savage Road and Bear Creek Lane from A-2 to R-1 for a nine-lot single-family residential subdivision. Wayne Bagley spoke on the development and said it is part of Bear Creek Estates, which has 170 lots in it. Two adjacent property owners asked several questions about the project, including the size of the lots and the possibility of storm run-off. Bagley said the lots would be an average of 1.1 acres.
•denial to Dr. John Hill to rezone 107.225 acres on Hwy. 330 from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 90 lot single-family residential subdivision. Donald Lord had first made a motion that this be approved but it died for lack of a second. Tom Smith then made the motion to deny and Don Segraves seconded it. Mark Reynolds and Wayne Wilbanks also voted for denial. The planning staff had recommended approval.
•denial to Tina McDaniel to rezone 69.82 acres on Wilhite Road from PCFD to R-1 to locate a 68 lot single-family residential subdivision. Several people spoke in opposition to the plans and a petition was presented with the names of 97 people who are also opposed to the plans. Among the concerns given by those who spoke were increased traffic, pollution, overcrowded schools, adding to the tax burden and the proximity of poultry houses to the property. In making a motion for denial, Segraves said that it would be “spot zoning” to approve the request.
•in a 3-2 vote, approval to Bryan Acker and Todd Brooks to rezone .93 acres on Hwy. 441 from A-2 to B-1 to locate a beauty/tanning salon. Segraves, Smith and Lord voted to approve the request, while Reynolds and Wilbanks voted to deny it. Several area residents spoke on their concerns about the project. Angeline Scarborough said she is concerned about growth in the community and asked if the business could be allowed with a conditional use permit instead of a rezoning.
•in a 4-1 vote, approval to Jack Dunagan to rezone six acres on Savage Road, 55.84 acres on Hwy. 330 and 6.68 acres on Hwy. 330 from A-2 to R-1 for the purpose of a 55-lot, single-family residential subdivision. Reynolds voted against this request, while the other commission members voted in favor of it.
•approval to Jacque Marlowe to rezone 10 acres on Maysville Road from B-2 to R-3 for the purpose of 80-unit condominium/town-home.
The BOC will also consider these requests when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 5, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.


County to pursue lease financing for courthouse
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is moving forward with financing a new courthouse through a lease/purchase agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
Under that arrangement, no public vote would be held on creating the proposed $25 million debt, although citizens would be asked to approve using some SPLOST funds in 2004 to pay the lease debt.
County manager Al Crace addressed the financing of the $25 million project at three public hearings this week and said a lease purchase agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) is the “most prominent” option. Crace said the cost for the courthouse is projected to be $22.1 million, but the additional money would be needed for parking lots, furniture and other development needed at the site.
Only a few people turned out for the three meetings held by the BOC this week to present the design of the new courthouse. Three people were at the Commerce meeting, 13 at the Pendergrass meeting and 10 at the Jefferson meeting. County officials and architect Cooper Carry staff members also attended.
The officials also discussed financing the project through a special purpose local option sales tax after a citizen questioned whether it is an option. Chairman Harold Fletcher said putting the courthouse on a SPLOST vote in 2004 had been discussed. He pointed out that other needs, such as water, roads and recreation, would also be a part of that SPLOST vote. Commissioner Emil Beshara also mentioned including funds for a new jail as part of that SPLOST vote.
As for how the new facility would impact property taxes, Fletcher said this would depend on whether sales tax is used to finance the project.
“If we go with the sales tax, it shouldn’t have any impact,” he said.
The courthouse would be financed for 20 to 30 years, according to county officials. A SPLOST would have to be renewed every five years. The yearly payments for the courthouse would be $1.7 million, Crace said. The county is currently collecting $6 million each year in SPLOST revenue which is being used to fund water, roads and recreation needs and to construct a new fire training facility.
In other financing news, Crace said the BOC is already soliciting proposals from investment bankers to handle the bonds for the project. He said this would take six to 10 weeks. He said the financing would be completed by the end of June.
Under Georgia law, however, county officials would have the option of walking away from the lease deal at the end of each year. Technically, the county would not own the new courthouse but would be leasing it from the ACCG. This type financing is sometimes called a “backdoor bond issue” since it is done without a public vote, as would be required in a bond referendum.
PROJECT TIMELINE
Courthouse consultant Wayne Wilbanks spoke on the time line for the project and said site work would begin in August. He added that it will be a 13 to 15 month construction project and that the facility would be ready to be occupied by the fall of 2004.
Also at the meeting, Mark Elliott and Don Bush of Cooper Carry spoke on the design process and the layout of the three-story, 124,000-square-foot facility which features a central atrium. Elliott said the next step for the company would be the design development which would include “ironing out the exact details.” He said the 12-week construction document phase would be ready next and would include preparing information for the construction company.
Fletcher said the design is one that county residents can be “proud of.”
“It will reflect favorably on the citizens of Jackson County, not only from the aesthetics but also for the functionality,” he said. “There has been a lot of work done by a lot of professional people that brought this together so that we might have something that is truly an asset to Jackson County.
The group also took questions from those present at the three meetings. At the Commerce meeting, Angeline Scarborough, Center, asked if the design would be final by the end of June and Crace said that it would. Fletcher added that the three Superior Court judges have already signed off on the plan and that the other elected officials are also being asked to review the design.
“I think you will see something that will truly provide the degree and level of service that the people of Jackson County are deserving,” he said.
Scarborough also asked whether it is feasible to leave space in the new facility uncompleted to allow for future growth. Fletcher said that the architects are considering this option.
At the Pendergrass meeting, one man questioned why a site in the “boondocks” was selected. County officials pointed out that the site is only 1.1 miles from downtown Jefferson.
Fletcher also addressed this and said that at least 10 acres would have been needed and this would have cost $4.5 million in downtown Jefferson. He added it would also be room for only one facility to be located and wouldn’t allow for growth. He said the commissioners looked for another site and found the property adjacent to property already owned by the county. He said they found it “natural” to put all of the county buildings in a campus style layout.
This man also asked why the citizens were not allowed to vote on locating the courthouse on the Darnell Road site.
“We don’t live in a democracy,” Beshara said. “We live in a representative society, at least in Jackson County.”
There was also a question about the amount of land purchased. Fletcher said Jackson County is the 63rd fastest growing county in the nation with 1,000 new homes being built each year. He said additional facilities, including a jail and administrative building, could be located at the site.
“The land is available and we’re going to see growth,” he said. “...As we see these new residents, they are going to demand services and those services are going to have to be met.”
Sonny Cheatham, who lives in the Holly Springs community, thanked the commissioners for their “courage” in selecting the site.
“I’m so glad our commissioners have done what they’ve done,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of courage to go out of the metro area and buy this 160 acres. This is a wonderful facility. We’ve got enough area out there. I’m all for it.”
At the Jefferson meeting, there were several questions about how the roads needed for the project will be funded. Crace said the road improvements are not part of the $25 million, but that they would be handled by county crews as part of their annual road projects. Fletcher added that this could be done without raising taxes.
There was also a question about the ACCG funding and whether it would go through. Crace said he didn’t believe there would be any problems. He pointed out that Jackson County has a good bond rating and meets the other requirements.
Another question was on the water and sewer availability at the site. Crace said Jefferson has agreed to provide these services and the county has already made a down payment. He added that the county also has an agreement in writing with Jefferson on providing these services.


Chamber Pays Tribute To Individuals, Companies
Close to 400 members of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce recognized and awarded individuals and companies for their contributions to the chamber and the county Thursday night at the chamber's annual banquet.
Dr. Tom Lewis, pastor of Commerce Presbyterian Church, was named "Citizen of the Year."
Lewis leads the "ethics" section of the Leadership Jackson County program and is a leader in the effort to start a Boys and Girls Club of Jackson County. Lewis also published a book last year about his personal fight with depression: "Finding God: Praying the Psalms in Times of Depression."
Lewis declared himself "greatly humbled and completely surprised" to receive the award, after which he presented the "Volunteer of the Year" award to Aloise McNichols.
McNichols, said Lewis, "has a heart of compassion and empathy" and "gives her life away to help other people."
McNichols chaired the Leadership Jackson County program for the chamber and is active in Piedmont CASA and the Choices program, serves as an advisor in the Youth Apprenticeship program and is active in the Jefferson Area Business Association.
Jackson County School superintendent Andy Byers was awarded the chamber's William H. Booth Citizenship Award for a career dedicated to children. Kathy Wilbanks, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Education, made the announcement, but Byers had a previous commitment to the Georgia FFA that night, where he was presented an honorary State FFA Degree.
Byers, superintendent since 1993, has taught, served as principal of three county schools and served as curriculum director. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who received, among other medals, the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
"His life has been about serving others," noted Wilbanks. "He has touched nearly every person's life in Jackson County."
An email message from Byers explaining his absence stated that he was "honored and humbled" to receive the award.
Two businesses were singled out for recognition.
The first was Gift Works, whose owner Gina Hagan serves as the chamber's treasurer, is chairman of the Women in Business, serves as secretary of the Commerce Kiwanis Club, is a member of the Banks County High School Council and is active in the First United Methodist Church of Commerce.
She started Gift Works, a gift basket business, in April 2000 in Commerce, has already placed in national competition in her industry and will serve on the faculty (for the second time) at Holiday Jubilee, the summer show of the national gift basket convention and trade show in San Francisco.
Southeast Toyota Distributors was recognized as the "Large Business of the Year."
In presenting the award, Elton Collins noted that the company started its Commerce operation in 1989 with 17 employees and that year processed 12,000 Toyota vehicles. In 2002, the company had 159 employees who processed more than 100,000 vehicles.
The company also offers a full-time nurse, has a doctor who visits weekly and will soon open a lunch line and a work-out facility.
"Jeff is a great leader for Jackson County," Collins concluded.
For his part, Geisler insisted that "It is impossible to think we could have won this award without the work of Emily Bradberry," his administrative assistant, and said the company, a part of J.M. Family Enterprises, "always tried to live up to our commitment to you."
LEADERSHIP JACKSON
The night also served as the "graduation" ceremony for the 2003 Leadership Jackson program.
Aloise McNichols presented the diplomas to Jeff Blair, Chris Bulls, Bill Burns, Lee Chapman, Clay Eubanks, Clay Fisher, Clark Hill, John Hulsey, Erica Johnson, Barbara Kesler, Trisha Massey, Elizabeth McDonald, Tom Murphy, Mary Ann Robinson, Sandy Fee Romer, Christy Schrader, Tom Taylor, Chuck Titshaw and Ashley Williams.
Dr. Jeffrey Rosenweig, an economist, was the keynote speaker. He presented a lighthearted case for the emerging economies of China and India, proposed that Americans can practice "patriotic economics" in the global economy by purchasing goods and services from American companies and those of its allies, and praised the virtues of Emory University (where he teaches) and Coca-Cola (which funds scholarships to Emory).

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


Nicholson Daisy Festival this weekend
The annual Nicholson Daisy Festival will be held Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3.
Booth set-up will be at 3 p.m. on Friday and the softball tournament will begin at 7 p.m. A cake walk will also be held Friday at 7 p.m. and Eric Hulsey and One Way will perform at 8:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the afternoon entertainment will begin at noon with the Revelations. Others scheduled to appear include: Southern Stompers, 1 p.m.; Bridgeway, 2 p.m.; Crystal River, 3 p.m.; auto extrication demonstration, 4:30 p.m.; auction, 6 p.m.; and karaoke, 9 p.m.
The event is held on the Benton Elementary School grounds. The festival is sponsored by the Jackson County Volunteer Rescue, the Nicholson Area Fire Department and the City of Nicholson.


Too Hot!Lacking AC, Planning Panel
Postpones Action
A lack of electricity – and of air conditioning in particular – caused the Commerce Planning Commission to delay action on two rezoning requests for a week.
Power was off at the Commerce Civic Center during a rewiring project, so Chairman Greg Perry decided to put off the hearing as well.
"The chair has determined that the room we are in is not suitable," he said. "This meeting is continued, not adjourned, continued until Monday night when we will have more time and a much more suitable environment."
The commission did approve the future land use map, with zero discussion, on a motion by Doug Newcomer, seconded by Ronnie Seabolt.
The map has been the subject of previous hearings, although little interest has been shown by the public.
Some 18 citizens had attended – a large crowd by Commerce Planning Commission standards – to watch or make comments on the two rezoning requests.
Laura Chandler seeks to rezone 13.04 acres off State Street from R-1 to R-2 for an 18-lot residential development. Jerry Chastain seeks rezoning from R-2 to R-3 for a lot at the corner of Hospital Road and Old Maysville Road from R-2 to R-3.
Those issues will come up Monday night at 7:00 at the Commerce Civic Center as the planning commission's April 28 meeting continues.
Final action will be up to the Commerce City Council, which will consider the planning commission's recommendation at its May 12 meeting at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.