News from Madison County...

MAY 7, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Wanting tax money returned is not greedy
Jay Bookman is a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is well known for his outrageous statements. But last week he out did himself.

Adam Fouche
Move over Steve Irwin, here comes Fouche
Most of you have no doubt heard of Steve Irwin, AKA the Crocodile Hunter.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Nearing the finish line
While thunderstorms pound north Georgia, the Madison County baseball team’s postseason prospects hang in the balance.
At 13-7 in Region 8-AAAA and currently in second place by half a game, the Diamond Raiders were to have their regular season wrapped up and know their postseason fate by now but mother nature has had different plans.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Fletcher breaks tie in heated rezoning bid
A controversial rezoning that has apparently split a community was approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday night in a split vote.

Commerce Surgeon A Victim Of ‘National Medical Crisis’
A nationwide medical crisis reared its head in Commerce, where it appears to be forcing a local surgeon to close his practice.

Jefferson to vote on grocery distribution center
Representatives of Aldi, Inc. are seeking rezoning and annexation approval from the Jefferson City Council for property to be developed into a 400,000-square-foot, $27 to $30 million grocery distribution center on Dry Pond and Jett Roberts roads.

Plans available for road changes in Jefferson
Some major road changes are proposed for the City of Jefferson, ones that will keep the old White Bridge intact across Curry Creek, but will address the “problem” intersection at SR15 and Hwy. 335/Brockton Road.

‘Junked Cars’ To Be On Council’s Agenda Monday
If Monday night's work session is an indicator, the removal of junked cars from Commerce yards and streets will be on the agenda when the Commerce City Council meets Monday night at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.

Pendergrass considers youth curfew
Pendergrass parents who don’t know where their children are at night could face a fine, the city council discussed last week.

Tribute to Korean War veterans set for May 17
A tribute to Korean War veterans will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, at the Jackson County Comprehensive High School stadium.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Talking Trash

Members of the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau want to see the abandoned service stations at Banks Crossing cleaned up.

Maysville city court looks to increase cases
After the Maysville City Council’s meeting next month, the city’s court could get a lot busier.

Storms do little damage in Banks Co.
Violent storms that ripped through Northeast Georgia Tuesday afternoon did little substantial damage in Banks County.

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

BOE may hire new athletic director Thursday
After a two-and-a-half hour closed meeting Monday, the Banks County Board of Education decided to reopen applications for athletic director.

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The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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STORM SURVIVOR

Susan Porterfield says it was the “power of prayer” that saved her and her small mobile home during a violent storm that cut a path of destruction through the Harrison Community in northern Madison County Tuesday afternoon.

Storm rips through county
Susan Porterfield, who lives in the small community of Harrison in northern Madison County, heard the storm coming Tuesday afternoon, but felt there was nothing she could do but stay inside her single wide mobile home.
“I heard the trailer shaking, but there was just nowhere for me to go,” Porterfield said.
So she began to pray.
“And it was the power of prayer that saved us,” she added, referring to herself and the eight cats that share her home with her.
At one point, Porterfield said she felt the mobile home lift up slightly and then come back down gently. “That had to be the hand of the Lord,” she said.
“I had to climb out of my yard, but I’m OK,” she added.
The storm cell cut a swath through northern Madison County, touching down briefly on Hwy. 29 near the Franklin County line before moving on toward the Harrison Community on Hwy. 281.
And in that community, Porterfield wasn’t the only one who was counting her blessings Tuesday afternoon.
Across the road, the Pearson family wasn’t at home when the storm swept the roof off their block shop, knocked a tree onto their home and deposited their fishing boat on their front steps.
“But we’re OK,” Revonda Pearson said, surveying the damage. “I was in Athens when my husband (Stanley) called and told me our house had been hit.”
Beside them, a tree poked through the roof of their neighbor Neil Boleman’s home (it was not known if he was home at the time) and just behind them, J.D. and Lila Hendrix, both in their 80s, stood in their kitchen as the lights went out and the storm swirled around them.
Mr. Hendrix’s truck was flipped over and a backyard shop was little more than a huge pile of rubble after the storm swept through. But while an uprooted oak tree and another tree fell on the house, the small wooden structure remained intact and the Hendrixes were shaken, but OK.
Rick Esco’s home stood intact, but his two chicken houses weren’t so lucky. Both houses were flattened by the storm and chickens wandered about aimlessly.
Electricity remained out in the area as power companies worked frantically to get it back on before dark.
In the meantime, neighbors and volunteers came from everywhere as soon as the storm abated and began the work of cleaning up and repairing the damage that the high winds and possible tornado left behind.
Two of those on the scene were Dean Peters and Titus Unruh, from Hartwell, who are members of Christian Disaster Relief, Inc.
“We just came to do what we can to help,” Peters said, as they surveyed Porterfield’s yard around her mobile home.
Tornado sirens blared as people took refuge wherever they could. Around 2 p.m., county government offices shut down and workers, along with some residents, took refuge in the county complex’s courtroom.
Christine Davis, of Harrison Community, came to Danielsville to find shelter and took refuge in the courtroom with her four children.
“No one I asked really knew what to do,” she said. Finally, someone suggested going to the courtroom.
“There were probably about 40 people or so in there,” Davis said. “My kids spent the time drawing pictures of angry clouds and tornadoes.”
911 — “BUSIEST
EVER”
For about two hours Tuesday afternoon, E-911 director David Camp said the dispatch room at the 911 center in Danielsville was the busiest he’d ever seen anywhere.
Camp said tornado sirens went off around 2 p.m. when the weather service issued a tornado warning for Madison County.
Calls started to come in right after that.
Camp estimates that more than 100 calls came into the center from about 2 p.m. until after 4 p.m. causing him to call in additional dispatchers to handle the onslaught.
“We got calls from everywhere, all around the county” Camp said.
Most of the calls involved trees and power lines being down. Drivers hydroplaned in the heavy rain and one car went down a ravine.
Some drivers ran off the road, called 911, then were gone by the time officers arrived.
But amazingly, there were no injuries or deaths reported in relation to the storm system, according to Camp.
A large number of those calls, of course, came from the hard-hit Harrison Community.
“That’s definitely where the blunt of the storm hit in this county,” he said.
“My hat’s off to the dispatchers - they handled an unbelievable volume of calls and did a great job,” he said.


Colbert issues sign moratorium
Colbert has issued a 180-day moratorium on construction of billboards pending a rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance.
No new signs over 32 square feet will be allowed until the moratorium is lifted.
Mayor John Waggoner informed Colbert council members that an outdoor advertising company has expressed interest in erecting billboards that can support up to two 400 square foot signs along Hwy 72. One councilman said he didn’t want Colbert to “start looking like Banks Crossing.”
The council reviewed the city’s zoning code preparing several changes that will update the document and make several major changes.
Plans are to eliminate mobile home and recreational vehicle parks from the city. Mobile homes would be allowed on properly zoned lots as stand alone units, but not as part of a mobile home park. Mobile homes would have to be mounted on permanent foundations and be underpinned with masonry. No mobile homes more than eight years old would be permitted. The new rule would set a limit on the time people can live in a recreational vehicle.
Another change would require a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet or “one city acre.” A city acre is described as a one-acre lot reduced on each side to allow 20-foot alleys.
A public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 2 to receive public input on the proposed changes.
In other actions, the council heard a report from Mayor Wagoner that the Clothes Closet located in the old school house is closing. There are several rooms of clothes that need to be distributed. Anyone with a program or facilities to help get these clothes into the hands of people who need them should contact city hall.
The council agreed to spend $300 for a new water cooler for the meeting room.
They heard a report from a man who wants to do a preliminary engineering study of the city’s water system that would be used to seek grants for new water projects. The man told the council that he wanted to earn the right to be the city’s engineer. Cost of the preliminary study is $5,000. The council took his suggestions under advisement.

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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.


Commissioners talk roads, transportation
County commissioners talked about which county roads are most in need of work Monday, while also looking at some of the county’s broader transportation goals.
Some of the roads named included Seagraves Mill Road, Lloyd Nelms Road, Piedmont Road, Colbert School Road, Old Kincaid Road, Young Harris Road, Old Church Road, Snow Farm Road, Eugene Hardman Road and Glenn Carrie Road.
No vote was taken Monday on how to proceed with road improvements. The session was simply to discuss transportation needs in the county.
Madison County voters recently approved approximately $8.4 million in special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds over the next five years for road improvements.
Chairman Wesley Nash told commissioners that he feels it’s important to spread road funding evenly throughout the county’s five districts.
“I want to try to spread it (road funding) over the county,” chairman Wesley Nash told the commissioners. “So that you guys get the most pushing thing in your area.”
While SPLOST money will be available, the commissioners will also try to solicit state and federal funds for road upgrades.
Madison County’s annual allotment in the state’s Local Assistance Road Program (LARP) has dropped significantly in recent years, but more federal funds may be available for southern Madison County.
County planner Jay Baker attended Monday’s meeting to explain Madison County’s new grouping in the Athens metropolitan region. Due to an increase in population density, the southern portion of the county — up to Adams Duncan Road on Hwy. 29 and up to Charles Hart Road on Hwy. 72 — is now part of MACORTS — the Madison, Athens-Clarke, Oconee Regional Transportation Study.
Leaders from the three counties will hold meetings May 27 and June 17 to discuss how federal funds can be used in the three counties.
The commissioners talked Monday about what road and transportation improvements could be made in Madison County with potential MACORTS funds. There are 68 roads that fall within the MACORTS boundaries in Madison County. (Leaders had no projection of how much funding may be available and the MACORTS director for Clarke County was not available for comment this week.)
The commissioners discussed possible improvements to the heavily-traveled Glenn Carrie Road, including widening the road, installing sidewalks and creating a turn lane on Glenn Carrie Road at the Hwy. 29 intersection.
The BOC talked about possibly linking Ivywood Drive and Ferndale Court to help reduce the traffic flow on Glenn Carrie Road. The board talked about a possible red light at Hwy. 29 and Old Danielsville Road.
There was also talk of alternative transportation measures, such as having a bus route in the county, taking commuters to Athens.
Nash said including Madison County in an Athens-Atlanta rail line would be ideal.
He said he envisions a day when he can park his car in a lot off Hwy. 72 in Madison County, hop on a commuter rail-line through Athens all the way to the Atlanta airport and board a plane.
“I’d like for us (Madison County) to have a draw,” said Nash. “That (a park and ride service) would be our draw....We have the land out there on Hwy. 72. It could be a real revenue generator.”
Of course, a Madison County park and ride service hinges on the enormously expensive Athens-Atlanta rail line actually being built.