News from Jackson County...

MAY 14, 2003


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SPORTS

Diamond Dragons land third seed, to play at Bowdon on Thursday
One pitch at a time, one hit at a time and one game at a time.
That’s the mentality Jefferson coach Chuck Cook hopes his team will have when they travel to Bowdon on Friday to play in their first-round series of the Class A state playoffs.

Flint, Eason To Throw Against State’s Best Thursday
Tiger track team throwers Kenny Flint and Tommy Eason have spent all spring improving and their coach hopes they’ll continue to be on the upswing this Thursday at the state meet in Jefferson.

Georgia’s best to converge on Jefferson
Much like they have been doing for roughly the last three decades the pinnacle of high school boys track and field in the state will call Jefferson’s Memorial Stadium home for three days beginning Thursday.


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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
It’s down to three

The Banks County Board of Education has narrowed its search for a new superintendent.

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.

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.”

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.

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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Jefferson, Georgia
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A DAY AT THE PARK

Pictured are (L-R) Tyree Swift, Christopher Jackson, Emon Baker and Naonna Moore feeding one of the horses available for riding Saturday afternoon at the Fun in the Park event held at V.S. Hughey Park in Jefferson. The Helican Springs Saddle Club had a couple of horses on hand for children to ride, with more than 180 horseback rides given throughout the afternoon. See page 1C for more festival photos. Photo by Jana Adams

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.
Graduation exercises will be held at Tiger Stadium or, if it rains, in the CHS Gym.
Four students will deliver the graduation messages based on the school's alma mater.
They include Jeremiah Dennis Swaim, valedictorian; Tina Marie Cronic, salutatorian; and honor graduates Jennifer Nicole Pope and Heather Renee Tiller.
The event begins at 8:00 with the processional, played by the Commerce Tiger Band. Evan Crawford will give the invocation, Kevin Powell will welcome guests and the four students will give their addresses.
Next on the agenda, Megan Hix will introduce special guests, Dr. Nancy Baird, associate superintendent, will recognize students for awards and superintendent Larry White will confirm the graduates, who will accept their diplomas from Perry.
Kenny Flint will close the event with a prayer, the audience will sing the alma mater and graduates will march to the north endzone to the playing by the Tiger Band of the recessional.
On Wednesday, starting at 8:00 a.m., Honors Day will be held in the gym. Seniors completed final exams Tuesday, but other students will take theirs through Friday.
Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Jefferson High School will hold their graduation ceremonies the following Friday, May 23.


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.
In a letter to the Georgia Department of Labor, Matthew Kwasek, Valley Fresh president, said the closing is due to a “decline in viable sales outlets for light fowl based products.”
According to reports, the closing also comes after the USDA discontinued its diced cooked chicken meat program for schools, which accounted for 60 percent of the Talmo plant’s production.
A plant used for poultry or pork processing has been at that site since 1929 when the McEver family opened the business in Talmo. It was later purchased by Gold Kist and operated as a pork production plant until 1981 when it was purchased by Mott’s. Mott’s had a poultry production plant on the property from 1982 to 1988. It was purchased by ConAgra in June 1988 and operated by that firm until November 1995. Valley Fresh has had its poultry production plant at the site since that time.
The announcement of the closing comes less than two months after the plant was fined $45,500 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety and health hazards and lack of safety training.
G.T. Breezley, OSHA’s Atlanta-East area director, said Valley Fresh received 19 serious citations in February, including failure to maintain an effective program and procedures to render machinery inoperable during maintenance and cleaning. Other citations were for improperly guarded machinery and failure to implement a respirator protection program, including medical evaluations, fit-testing and training for employees.
“Accident prevention is key to a safe workplace,” said Breezley. “The wide range of alleged violations at Valley Fresh placed employees at considerable risk for injury or illness.”
The company was also charged with failing to: “review and update its plan for controlling the exposure of workers to bloodborne pathogens; failure to train employees on the hazards of bloodborne pathogens and offer them Hepatitis B vaccinations; failure to protect employees from noise exposure and maintain an effective hearing conservation program; and failure to provide required medical exams and training for technicians handling hazardous materials.”
The citations further alleged that the company improperly locked exit doors and exposed workers to electrical hazards. The agency issued five other-than-serious citations.


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.
While the city council took no action on the matter at its meeting Monday night, City Manager Clarence Bryant reported that he had talked with City Attorney John Stell and with county officials on the issue.
The matter came up at last month's council meeting, when members complained about the number of disabled cars, dilapidated buildings and overgrown lots that abound in spite of ordinances designed to prohibit all.
As he had reported at the work session a week previously, the city manager stated that the general plan is to "borrow" a couple of marshals from Jackson County to conduct a 'blitz" of city streets, issuing warnings to offenders.
"Then we'll come back in 30 days and make cases" where the matter has not been resolved, he said.
"Beyond that, with our building officials having marshals' authority, we should be able to keep a handle on it."
To make the plan work, the council may have to approve ordinances relating to its marshals and may opt to create a special court to deal with such cases, all of which would be civil, not criminal.
Asked what the marshals would do besides enforce the junked car ordinance, Bryant responded, "We will basically give them a list of things," he said. Later, Police Chief John Gaissert added that, when necessary, the building officials would be accompanied by police as they performed their marshals' duties.


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.
As part of the state Special Olympics, the torch run is a 1,000-mile journey through Georgia that will end at Emory University, where the annual event will be held May 30-31.
Arcade will start the run at 9 a.m., when the torch will leave city hall. Mayor Doug Haynie, police chief Dennis Bell and investigator Rachel Love are the Arcade representatives running the torch.
Making its way along the Highway 129 business route, the Jefferson Police Department will escort the torch.
And running the torch between Arcade and Pendergrass will be the Jackson County Comprehensive High School JROTC. Twenty-seven students will pass the torch for the journey.
In Pendergrass, Mayor Monk Tolbert will take the torch and will be escorted by the city’s police motorcycles and other law enforcement vehicles.
The Special Olympics Georgia Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest annual fund-raiser for the organization. Officials expect the torch run will take two hours to run through Jackson County as it heads to Gainesville.


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.
Council member Cindy Bone agreed Monday night to chair a committee to develop contest guidelines for the city seal, flag and motto search. When school starts back in the fall, the council will promote the contest among area schools and in the community. Council member Polly Davis, as well as citizens Teresa Swaim, Beverly Jackson and Anne Roberts will also be on the committee.
Bone said she would develop guidelines for the contest, including prize amounts, and will present them to the council this summer.
“I think it will be more of a community theme if we get everybody thinking about it,” Bone said.
Mayor Doug Haynie added that the design ideas can incorporate some of the city’s history, pointing out students could research some of Arcade’s “little known facts,” including that it had the first airport in the county and was originally founded for an academy.
“Let’s put it out there and let the students run with it,” he said.


Scout Hut opens Thurs.
The dedication and open house of the new Jefferson Troop 158 Boy Scout Hut is set Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Scout Hut is located in the Jefferson City Park on Lynn Ave. and Old Swimming Pool Rd.
A special section inside this issue has a schedule for the dedication, photos of the hut’s construction and some old photographs from Troop 158 taken in the 1950s.
Former scouts and community supporters are invited, say leaders.


Tribute ahead Sat. for Korean War veterans
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.
The organizers also wish to recognize any World War II veteran not recognized during the May 2001 program.
Anyone with information on Korean War veterans is asked to call Amanda Hewell at 367-5151.


Watkins to serve life in prison for 2002 murder
A Carnesville man will spend life behind bars after pleading guilty to murder.
James Willie Watkins, 27, pled guilty to malice murder, kidnapping and armed robbery in the January 2002 murder of Laynette Fincher. He was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole.
“He will never, ever get out of prison,” District Attorney Tim Madison said. “He will stay for the rest of his life.”
Fincher, 52, the manager of Presto’s convenience store, Commerce, was shot and killed during an armed robbery at the store.
Watkins had pled not guilty in December 2002 and Madison filed a motion on his intent to seek the death penalty in the case. The case had been expected to go to trial this summer.
“I met with the family and they thought that would be a good resolution,” Madison said. “They knew that was probably the second best penalty. He can’t appeal it. Whereas, if the jury had given a death penalty, appeals could go on for the next 20 years...It was a very emotional time for the family. One of the family members spoke up and talked about what the loss had been for them-losing their mom and grandmother and somebody who was really a good person. She was a good Samaritan.”
Officials say Watkins had been out of jail after a burglary conviction for less than one month when the murder occurred.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


$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.
The council agreed to the request from Aldi to rezone 61.37 acres on Dry Pond Road from C-2 to M-1 and 18.25 acres on Jett Roberts Road from A-2 to M-1 for the project. The Jett Roberts Road property was also annexed into the town.
Aldi Inc. has 250 grocery stores in the United States, including seven in the metro Atlanta area.
Aldi’s plans include locating a 400,000 square foot facility on the site in the first phase of the development. The building will eventually be expanded to 660,000 square feet, according to company officials. The distribution center will serve the company’s grocery stores in the metro Atlanta area.
Aldi has been in business for 25 years and operates 675 grocery stores with the majority being in the mid-west. The closest distribution center to Jefferson is Salisbury, N.C., and the nearest grocery store is in Lawrenceville.
At full capacity, the company will employ 145 people at the Jefferson business, including 70 warehouse workers, 30 office personnel, 10 staff members in the trucking area and 35 drivers. The company offers part-time hours, 30 per week, with full-time benefits.
Construction will begin in August 2004. with the opening planned for 2006.


Braselton looks at $1.6 million budget
Despite the past year’s economic downturn, Braselton is still planning on a 17 percent revenue increase in next year’s fiscal budget.
Last week, town manager Jennifer Scott presented the proposed $1.6 million 2004 fiscal year budget. Last year’s budget was $1.3 million.
“It’s estimated very conservatively because, of course, revenues had such a shortfall this year I hope we won’t run into that same problem (again),” Scott said. “Should revenues pick up, we can address that in our quarterly review (of the budget).”
Among the largest anticipated revenue increases for the town are Jackson County sales tax from $100,000 to $120,000 and the three-percent hotel/motel tax from $300,000 to $350,000. Building permit fees are expected to increase, while the electric franchise collection will fall $55,000.
Another revenue booster projected for the town is a $50,000 increase in court fines. That figure will be $350,000, if Braselton hires three additional police officers over the fiscal year.
The police department, which accounts for more than half of the town’s total budget, is asking for the officers to be hired in August, November and February. With $55,000 proposed for their salaries, along with related expenses, the department’s budget would increase from $595,967 to $678,915 next fiscal year. Should the town be approved this summer for the federally-funded Cops Grant, Braselton would have to only fund one of the positions.
Also asking for more personnel is the town manager, planning and development department, and water and wastewater departments.
Scott said she needs an assistant that would also provide support for the mayor and town council. The budget includes $6,500 for the proposed town manager assistant and $7,000 is proposed for an assistant in the planning and development office. The water and wastewater departments are asking to share an assistant budgeted at $7,600.
The wastewater department is hoping to hire two additional operators, while the water department wants one new operator. Both will share the expense of a maintenance employee.
And since the West Jackson Library is expected to extend its operating hours to 40 hours a week, a part-time worker is proposed with a $5,500 annual salary. Librarian Bev Atkins said she doesn’t want to work more than 29 hours and a high school or college student might occupy the remaining hours, Scott said.
Braselton’s water and wastewater departments are proposing a combined fiscal year budget of $4 million. Of that, expenditures will amount to $1.2 million from the water department, $728,055 from the wastewater office, $750,000 for debt payments and $125,153 for administration for both departments.
As for revenue, both departments expect to collect $4 million, compared to $3.2 million from last fiscal year.
The departments have placed $1.1 million into the reserve account for the proposed budget.
The Braselton Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2004 fiscal year budget on Monday, June 2, at 5:30 p.m. The council will vote to adopt the budget on Monday, June 9.