News from Banks County...

MAY 14, 2003


Banks County
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OPINIONS
Angie Gary

Never too early to make career plans
With graduation time ahead, young people throughout Banks County are making career plans. While some people wait until the last minute to make career plans, others have known what they want to be “when they grow up” since they were very young.

Adam Fouche
Parents: Watch out for Oreos
The newest threat to kids these days isn’t drugs. It isn’t alcohol. It isn’t crime or bad neighborhoods or even pornography.


SPORTS

That’s a wrap
Editor’s note: See next week’s Banks County News sports section for final season stats for the Diamond Leopards.
A crazy year of rainouts and sprinkler rain delays came to an end Monday afternoon.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Class Of ‘03 67 Seniors To Graduate Friday
Sixty-seven Commerce High School seniors will wind up their local school careers Friday. At 8:00 p.m., they'll accept their diplomas from school board chairman Steve Perry.

240 to lose jobs when Valley Fresh closes
Valley Fresh, a poultry processing plant located in Talmo, will close in July, leaving 240 employees out of a job.

City Moving Forward To Get Rid Of Junked Cars
The city of Commerce plans to deputize two building officials as marshals to promote the enforcement of ordinances against junked cars, illegal dumping, trash and other nuisances.

$30 million distribution center gets ‘yes’ vote
The Jefferson City Council approved a rezoning and annexation request Monday that will lead to a large grocery store chain locating a $30 million distribution center in the town.

Special Olympics torch run Thurs. includes locals
A torch run signifying the start of the Georgia Special Olympics will make its way through Jackson County on Thursday.

Arcade to seek student input on design for city seal, flag
City council members in Arcade are giving area students and citizens the summer to think of a creative — and historic — design for a city seal and flag. The council is also seeking ideas for a city motto.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
More than $250,000 in scholarships awarded to Madison County seniors
More than $250,000 in scholarship money was awarded to Madison County seniors at Tuesday night’s honors program.

BOC approves furnishings for new county jail
Madison County commissioners approved $30,100 in furniture for the administration portion of the new county jail on Hwy. 98 Monday.

School SPLOST projects to get rolling soon
Madison County’s school board will soon kick start school improvement projects funded by sales tax revenue.

Hull may purchase new street lights
Hull may soon have new street lights along Hwy. 72.
The council agreed Monday night to have Jackson EMC provide a price quote on installing street lights within the city limits along Hwy. 72. The original street lights were removed by the DOT when Hwy. 72 was four-laned.

BOC to form committee to study upgrading public safety communications
A committee will soon be established to determine what emergency communications improvements will be funded with sales tax funds.

County schools face budget
planning with reduced state funding
Despite significant cutbacks in state funding, Superintendent Keith Cowne says there are several things he wants to see happen for county schools in the next fiscal year.

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PRAISE DANCERS PERFORM

Praise dancers from Neal’s Grove Baptist Church in Banks County were among the performers at the Fun in the Park Festival held Saturday afternoon at the V.S. Hughey Park in Jefferson. Some 400 people from across northeast Georgia attended the family-oriented event.

It’s down to three
The Banks County Board of Education has narrowed its search for a new superintendent.
During a meeting Monday, board attorney Phil Hartley released the names of the three final candidates for the position. Tuesday morning, information pertaining to their background and qualifications was released.
The board has set meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, both closed to the public, to conduct a second round of interviews with the three.
The BOE has not announced a date to name a new superintendent. However, under Georgia law, the board must wait 14 days from the date it announces the finalists until it hires a new superintendent. The earliest possible date for that announcement will be Monday, May 26, which also happens to be Memorial Day.
Information about each of the final three applicants is available for review at the board of education office.
Following is a brief summary of each candidate and his background:
LESTER (LES)
SAMUEL BIVENS
According to his application information, Bivens lives in Harvest, Alabama, where he is an assistant professor at Jacksonville State University where he teaches public school finance, personnel management and school plant planning to graduate students.
He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1969. Bivens has since earned a doctorate of education in school administration from Indiana University.
He has been superintendent in both Alabama and Kentucky for a total of six years. Bivens stated on his application that he left his last superintendent position in Athens, Ala., because he had “accomplished goals.”
As listed on his resume, he has experience as a high school principal in Kentucky and Indiana. He has also been a principal in the Fulton County School District for five years and an assistant principal for Atlanta City Schools for one year.
In response to a question on his application about why he wants the job, Bivens wrote: “I wish to return to the school superintendency because it is a position for which I have been trained. I wish to be closer to family who live in Cobb County. Finally, I would like to return to the Georgia Teacher Retirement System.”
CHARLES THOMAS “TOMMY” DANIEL JR.
Daniel works as interim superintendent for the Brooks County School System located in extreme southern Georgia on the Florida border near Valdosta.
He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and currently holds an educational specialist degree in administration and supervision from UGA.
Daniel became the interim superintendent in Brooks County in January of this year. Before that, he served as Wayne County schools superintendent for three years before being “released from contract without cause.”
According to his application material, while in Wayne County, the board of education decided to cut costs in the central office by eliminating an assistant superintendent position. The position was being held by a long-time Wayne County resident, and the board decided to make the assistant superintendent the new superintendent. The Wayne County BOE decided then to release Daniel from his contract.
“I left the office on good terms with the board and all those who served within the organization,” Daniel said.
He also said his wife is a principal in the Wayne County school system.
Daniel has experience as an elementary school principal and assistant principal. He has also taught at the elementary, middle, junior high and high school level.
In response to a question on his application about why he wants the job, Daniel wrote: “I have served at virtually every level of education in a variety of school systems. As superintendent, I can offer a commitment to pursue excellence as a mission and as an expectation. I would like to share my passion for education with your school system and your community.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL ERWIN
Erwin currently serves as principal of Central High School in Carrollton, where he has been since 2000.
Prior to that, Erwin worked as a middle school principal in Carrollton for three years. He has also been an assistant middle school principal and a teacher at the high and junior high school level. He has been an athletic director and football, basketball and golf coach and the chair of the fine arts department.
Erwin graduated from the University of Georgia in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. He currently holds an education specialist degree in school administration from the State University of West Georgia.
In response to a question on his application about why he wants the job, Erwin wrote: “I am interested in using my leadership talents in a capacity that will impact a larger group of students and people. The Banks County School System has a wonderful reputation and I would enjoy being a part of it.”


Alto acts on animals
The Alto Town Council approved the town’s first animal control ordinance at Monday’s meeting in an effort to curb the “overpopulation of unwanted animals.”
The ordinance allows the city to pick up stray or injured animals and, if necessary, euthanize them if the owners cannot be found.
The town has contracted with N & J Trapping at a cost of $18.50 per animal captured.
Residents can call town hall with animal complaints.
In other business, the council:
•heard a complaint from Virgil Ordiver who has been billed $500 for a damaged water meter at a rental dwelling he owns. The town had turned off the water for non-payment, but the residents destroyed the meter and re-routed water to the home. Town attorney Jim Acrey said that it was a criminal act to destroy the meter and was not sure legally if the town could hold the owner responsible for the damage. He said he would look into the matter and get back with the council.
•approved a 10-foot setback from the street for all signs. This includes businesses and residential signs.
•approved following state guidelines for setting a spending cap. The council may call two or three companies and request quotes on jobs under $100,000. Any job over that amount must go out for public bid.
•heard from resident Mary Bell that she would slow down so that the council would not have to put speed bumps on her street. Several residents had complained of her driving too fast and had requested the speed bumps be put in place. Bell said that it was not necessary to punish the other residents for her fast driving. Mayor Carolyn Gully said she appreciated Bell’s coming forth and being an adult about the matter.
•approved the appointment of John Closs as overseer of the playground and gazebo.
•learned that the new town flag would be ready in two to three weeks.
•discussed holding a dedication ceremony for the new flag and playground equipment.
•learned that the town’s zoning map would be ready as soon as work done in Banks County is completed.
•approved sending letters to residents who do not keep their grass cut.


Graduation set at BCHS
Banks County High School will hold its 2003 graduation ceremony on Friday, May 23, at 7 p.m. The event will be held in the BCHS gym.



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Baldwin council revisits impact fees
The Baldwin City Council held a long discussion at last Thursday’s work session about reducing the $2,500 impact fees that were initiated in 2001.
Following the lead of many municipalities, the council wanted to re-coup some of the expense in laying new water and sewer lines for capital development. They felt current residents should not have to shoulder the financial responsibility of new development.
At the time, the council felt it was only fair that the developers and businesses coming into the city help pay for the cost of the city services including waste water treatment and water. Running new lines to the industry or development is a costly proposition, the council agreed.
However, after losing some development opportunities over the high fees, the council is reconsidering and reconfiguring the actual cost of equivalent residential units (ERUs) that the original development fees were based upon.
City engineer Fred Hawkins used the state average, which the council believes to be higher than Baldwin customers actually use. Rather than the 400 gallons per day (gpd) for a single-family residence, averages from Baldwin’s water customers have shown a significant difference in usage by nearly 200 gpd.
City attorney David Syfan said the council could make the impact fee ordinance as broad or narrow, as they liked.
Mayor Mark Reed suggested lowering the fees to $1,100 to make it more “palatable” to developers and industry.
The council will continue to consider lowering fees and plan to discuss it further at the next work session, Thursday, June 5.


Banks Co. Family Connections may get the budget ax
For Robin Trotter, director of Banks County Family Connections, the past few months have been filled with worry over the possible elimination of state funding for the organizations that have formed in many counties state-wide.
Family Connections exists in several Georgia counties helping families connect with services that offer the help they need.
In Banks County, Family Connections was instrumental in serving 389 families last year and 214 already this year, she told board members at the meeting last week.
“We’ll probably double last year’s figure with the state of the economy and the loss of jobs,” she said.
She hopes the news will be good when June 30 rolls around, the date final acceptance of the 2003-04 state fiscal budget is approved.
“I hope that we will still receive state assistance,” she said. “Family Connections is well known and I would like to keep it going somehow. If not, we may try to go to the county for help.”
The organization provides a variety of services from getting school supplies for children in need to delivering food for the elderly over the holidays.
In the Banks County schools, Family Connections has taken an aggressive approach to try to reduce teen pregnancies, school absenteeism, child abuse and neglect and the dropout rate.
Thanks to Family Connections, seventh grade students participate in the “Choices” program. The two-day sessions take students through a range of activities, from showing how much money it takes to pay for the basics of living on one’s own, to education requirements to get jobs that will support a family. It shows how important decisions made in seventh grade affect their future. It takes students through a range of activities that impress how important high school diplomas are when it comes to getting jobs, she said.
Trotter bought eight “Choices” kits to be used in the middle school encouraging students to stay in school and graduate, one of the main goals of the group. The program was first introduced two years ago.
The organization also shares with the Banks County Board of Education the cost of providing nursing care, medicines and first-aid supplies for the schools. That program will not be able to be funded for the 2003-04 school year, she said. Parents will have to send medicine from home for their children to take.
Trotter and board members have also been tossing around ideas for fund-raisers. After a recent story about the need for fund-raisers ran in The Banks County News, Trotter said she had gotten a call from a woman who was in the quilting class at the Banks County Public Library. She was told the group was willing to donate a quilt for a raffle.
The Banks County Recreation Department has also offered to hold a benefit softball tournament for the organization sometime this summer, said Trotter.
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce has also offered the organization a booth to raise funds at the upcoming Heritage Days Festival.
For more information on Family Connections or to help, call Trotter at 677-3103.