News from Madison County...

APRIL 30, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
‘Real Georgia Flag’ will not go away
Don’t believe what the Atlanta media are saying about the flag. They are convinced that the battle is over. The Southern Cross is finally dead as far as the state flag is concerned, they say. The legislature has decided that we will decide between the Barnes Rag and the newly invented Franklin Flag. The battle flag will not appear and is not a choice in the flag referendum.

Zach Mitcham
The struggle between feeling and logic
My father told me when I was a kid that while I may feel something, I don’t really understand what I feel unless I can put it into words.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Three-peat
The classification was different this year.
The result wasn’t.
Madison County’s 16-1 girls’ tennis squad made the jump from 8-AAA to 8-AAAA with no problem, claiming yet another region championship, its third in a row.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

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.

Nicholson Daisy Festival this weekend
The annual Nicholson Daisy Festival will be held Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3.

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.

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.


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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The Madison County Journal
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A moment to relax

Dakota Goss and Olivia Burger, both of Ila Elementary, take a moment to relax under the shade trees at the recreation department last week before the start of the area Special Olympics games. This was the second year for Madison County to host the area games, which included participants from Oconee, Greene, Walton, Oglethorpe, Clarke and Jackson counties.

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.
Chairperson Louis Watson says there are 23 teams participating in this year’s Relay, with three other “non-participating” teams raising money for the event.
“The past five years have been very rewarding for me as chairman,” said Watson. “I’ve come in contact with so many who’ve been touched by cancer in some way, and I’ve been amazed by their strengths and how they’ve overcome so much in their fight against this illness. I want to encourage everyone to once again open their hearts, and their pocketbooks, to benefit cancer research.”
Watson offered a “special thank you” to the Relay’s new and returning sponsors.
“They help so much by covering the cost of putting on the Relay so team fund-raising can go directly to cancer research,” said Watson.
The theme for the Relay is “The Power of Purple.”
This year’s honorary chairperson is Brenda Bonds. Bonds works for the U.S. Postal Service in Commerce and is a member and works in the children’s program at Liberty Church.
Bonds told her survivor’s story to the crowd of 100 or so people at the Relay’s kick-off in late January, speaking about how a hereditary form of cancer, brought on by too much exposure to the sun, invaded her face, destroying nerve endings in her teeth and skin before she was finally diagnosed due to a blister that would not heal.
Five surgeries later, Bonds has beaten cancer and is eager to encourage others that they can do the same. She says she is proud to be this year’s honorary chairperson.
Organizers ask that participants commit to being at the Relay and not tearing down campsites until the Relay ends, so every one can “wrap this up together.”
Williams Gas Pipeline/Transco is sponsoring this year’s Relay for Life. Other sponsors for various events within the Relay include: Ty Cobb Healthcare System, Inc.; Happy Kids; BB&T; C&S Paving; Dr. Robert Hooper; Thomas W. Scott and Associates; Wal Mart; Jackson EMC; Hill’s Custom Cabinets; The Medicine Shoppe and Tomorrow’s Homes.
Special services
for survivors at Relay
Organizers of this year’s Madison County Relay for Life will offer a special shuttle service for cancer survivors attending the event.
Survivors are asked to park in the Senior Center parking lot, adjacent to the Madison County Library and recreation department, where they will be transported to the track field.
All survivors are asked to be at the track field no later than 6:15 p.m. for a group picture.


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.
The board took no action on the matter.
Mathews thanked county code enforcement officer Jack Huff for keeping a woman cited for animal cruelty from opening a “puppy mill” — where dogs are bred and kept in poor conditions — in the county.
Mathews said she fears others who mistreat animals may try to open breeding businesses in the county where the zoning doesn’t prohibit such operations. She said some form of animal control is needed.
Commission chairman Wesley Nash said the “state already controls that.” He pointed out that Billy Caudell is “on call on any abuse” issue involving animals.
“Trust me, he enforces real good,” said Nash. “I’ve seen him take horses and cows away from people.”
(Caudell was last employed in that position with the Department of Agriculture in 1998.)
Nash said that county zoning keeps people from opening breeding operations where they shouldn’t. But he said that people have the right to have kennels, provided they meet all required guidelines.
The chairman said it would be best to wait until the animal shelter is more soundly established before tackling animal control in the county.
“We just got the animal shelter open, and now we’re hearing about putting an ordinance in place, and we’re just now catching our breath (on the animal shelter opening),” said Nash.
Mathews agreed that the shelter is “catching its breath.” She noted that the shelter has taken in over 1,000 animals since it opened in December, including 36 animals from one person last week.
Mathews said one good way to reduce the number of stray and unwanted animals the shelter receives is to open a surgical suite for spaying and neutering animals, providing the services to the public at a low cost.
“It could generate income to help keep the shelter running,” she said, adding that if the shelter had the clinic open it would be in “a good position to ask for state money.”
Nash was puzzled over why she was proposing this to the board.
“You’re a non-profit entity,” he said. “Why are you asking the board?”
Shelter board member Susan Fisher said the land lease between the shelter and the county doesn’t specify what activities could be carried out. Thus, she said the shelter board felt it necessary to verify that a surgical suite would be met with approval by the board.
Fisher added that the surgical suite would help attack the problem of strays and unwanted animals at the “source of the problem.” She said many people now seem unmotivated to get their animals neutered, preferring to just drop their unwanted animals off at the shelter.
Nash said he didn’t want the board to get in the middle of a potential conflict between the shelter surgical suite, which could offer low-cost services, and local veterinarians, who may feel that their businesses are threatened by the shelter.


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.
At 4:59:36 a.m. Tuesday, an earthquake fault in the Southeastern Tennessee Seismic Zone slipped generating a 4.9 magnitude quake. The epicenter of the quake is listed as 8 miles NNW of Menlo, Georgia just inside the Alabama line. It was approximately 3.1 miles below the surface. It was felt in seven southern states including the northern two-thirds of Georgia. According to seismologists, it is the strongest quake on record for this area. No significant damage has been reported.
Many people in Madison County reported feeling the quake. The E-911 office was flooded with calls reporting the event and asking for information. Many reported being shaken awake, or feeling their houses sway during the event.
Several reported their homes being shaken twice, followed by several seconds of trembling.
A seismograph in Cottonwood Point, Tennessee verifies this account. It shows two separate incidents of shaking just seconds apart, followed by gradually decreasing tremors.
North Georgia is not a major quake zone, but occasionally they are felt here. The most recent quake occurred seven miles south of Rayle in Oglethorpe County on March 18, 2003. It was listed as magnitude 3.5. A magnitude 2 quake was recorded on the Georgia-Tennessee line near Cohutta on April 7, 2002.
While many people felt the earthquake, many others did not. One customer at Ingles thought he was being teased when told of the quake. A worker there said she did not feel the quake at all, and none of the merchandise was shaken or damaged.


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.
James pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property which he “knew or should have known was stolen,” as the charges stated. The stolen property included: a uniloader belonging to a Lawrenceville rental company, a 1999 International Truck/Rollback Wrecker and a 1996 backhoe belonging to Northeast Underground.
James’ sentence was not in his case file as of Monday.
James was arrested in January of 2001 after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation discovered approximately $150,000 to $200,000 in reportedly stolen items on his property.
In an unrelated case, Ron O’Neal Kelly, 28, of Alberta Drive in Colbert, was sentenced recently to 12 years confinement on two counts of VGCSA — sale of cocaine. He was sentenced to 12 years confinement, 13 years probation and over $165,000 for trafficking in cocaine, marijuana and illegal drugs.
He was also sentenced to one year of confinement for obstruction of officers and five years confinement and nearly $400 in fines for criminal interference with government property.
According to his case file, Kelly was caught selling cocaine at the Bread Basket in Colbert in 2001 and was later caught with five ounces of crack cocaine after attempting to elude a police officer in February of 2002.
Other actions filed recently in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court of Madison County include:
•Charley Mac McMullins, 55, Athens, was sentenced to five years confinement, five years probation and over $1,300 in fines for burglary.
•Casey Lynn Langford, 20, Arnoldsville, was sentenced to 18 years confinement, seven years probation and over $2,300 for armed robbery. He was also sentenced to seven years probation for aggravated assault.
•James Andrew Hyde, 18, Athens, was sentenced to 14 years confinement, 11 years probation and over $2,500 for armed robbery. He was also sentenced to 11 years probation for aggravated assault and a $1,000 fine and five years confinement for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
•Jeffery Ray Sorrells, 28, Danielsville, was sentenced to five years probation and over $1,200 in fines for violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substance Act (VGCSA) — possession of methamphetamines. Sorrells was sentenced to one year probation and a $600 fine for DUI and one year probation and a $100 fine for driving with a suspended license. He was also fined $100 for another count of VGCSA and $25 for no proof of insurance.
•Gordie McKinley Stanley, 34, Danielsville, was sentenced to five years probation and almost $700 in fines for VGCSA — possession of cocaine.
•Richard Bryan Statham, 18, Comer, was sentenced to five years probation and over $700 in fines for burglary.
•Roy Graham Jr., 57, Royston, was sentenced to 10 years probation and over $1,200 in fines for cruelty to children.
•Robert Don Sims, 37, Ila, was sentenced to three years probation and over $400 in fines for possession of firearms by convicted felons and one year proabtion and a $350 fine for DUI.
•Susan Moon, 37, Athens, was sentenced to four years probation for shoplifting.
•Corey Treymane Brown, 28, Commerce, was sentenced to three years probation and over $500 in fines for VGCSA and three years probation and $100 in fines for possession of tools for the commission of a crime.
•James Lee Huth, 17, Colbert, was sentenced to five years probation and over $1,500 in fines for robbery. He was sentenced to 10 years probation and a $500 fine on a second charge of robbery, as well as five years probation and a $500 fine for VGCSA and possession of tools for the commission of a crime. He was also fined a total of $1,250 and sentenced to one year probation on each of the following counts: obstruction of officers, possession of marijuana, theft by taking and theft of services.
•Quincy Cornell Jones, 24, Bogart, was sentenced to three years confinement for violation of probation.
•Nathan Lamar Drake, 20, Colbert, was sentenced to six months intensive probation for probation violation.
•Jerry William Cooper, Comer, was sentenced to two years confinement for probation violation.
•Troy Lamar Sears, 39, Colbert, was ordered to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement for probation violation.
•Ghandi Bowens Jr., 30, Athens, was sentenced to 18 months confinement for probation violation.
•Amy Paige Strehler, 35, Hull, was sentenced to six months probation and fined $187 for criminal interference with government property. She was also sentenced to six months probation for disorderly conduct. A charge of public drunkenness was dismissed.
•Christy Webb, 25, Hull, was sentenced to one year probation and $125 in fines for battery. A charge of robbery was dismissed.
•Shantez Booker, 23, Hull, was sentenced to six months probation and fined over $90 for obstruction of officers. Four counts of false imprisonment and one count of theft by taking were dismissed.
•Ricky James Ramsey, 27, Danielsville, was sentenced to six months probation and fined $187 for simple assault.
•William Kenneth Smith, 38, Hull, was sentenced to one year probation and over $900 in fines for DUI, as well as one year probation for driving while license suspended or revoked and open container violation.

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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.


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.
The jail construction project — mired in shoddy construction, endless legal hassles and repair work — is expected to finally be complete in coming months.
Chairman Wesley Nash said earlier this spring that he anticipates the jail being functional by July 1.
Nash was reluctant to give a completion date at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting. But he said the project is down to the stage of “dotting i’s and crossing t’s.”
“We’re getting very close,” said Nash. “Just don’t ask me when. It will be soon.”
The chairman said he would like county citizens to have a chance to look around the jail before it begins housing prisoners.
“I’d like to have a whole weekend for the public to tour the facility,” said Nash. “It’s the citizens’ jail. I think they deserve to ramble around the whole thing.”
The chairman gave a brief update of the jail status Monday, saying the county already has a “certificate of occupancy” for the administration portion of the jail.
“There are a few sashes to put around the window,” he said, adding that some paint work needs to be touched up too.
The chairman said floors were “messed up so bad” in some areas that they could not be stained as originally planned. So the jail has tile flooring in the kitchen, laundry room and holding cells and stained floors in the main cell area.
The county is now working with Leo Smith, a frequent government adviser, on charting exactly what furnishings are needed for the facility — desks, chairs, computers, etc.
Smith said he will work with the sheriff’s department to determine exactly what is needed in the building. The commissioners told Smith to make sure that Lowe himself signs off on the furnishings list, not one of his employees.
Smith agreed to do that, adding that he and Lowe have agreed to bring any items that they disagreed on before the board for a final decision.
Madison County is being reimbursed approximately $420,000 for expenses incurred as a result of substandard work by Boatwright Construction, the original jail builders.
County clerk Morris Fortson told the commissioners that some of this money may be directed toward furnishings.


Continuance granted in murder trial
The murder trial of Hope Buie, who is accused of killing her infant son, has been postponed.
The trial was set for May 5, but a defense motion for a continuance has been granted, according to the District Attorney’s office.
No new trial date has been set.
Buie was charged with the Sept. 29, 2001, murder of her 16-month-old child, Ceasar Bolton Jr.
According to a press release from the sheriff’s department, the cause of death was later ruled to be “peritonitis, which was the result of a severed intestine.”