News from Madison County...

MAY 14, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
NASCAR now
betraying Southern culture
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we are again being betrayed by people you would least expect to do so. The newest enemy of Southern Culture is NASCAR!

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

Directions to Area Schools

State Awaits
Ask the diamond Raiders after their first three games this season what their plans for May would be and that agenda would probably center around the swimming pool and summer vacation, not the AAAA state playoffs.


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.

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.


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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The Madison County Journal
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A night of honors at MCHS

Allison Wilkes (L) and Summer Adams congratulate each other on their awards at the end of Tuesday evening’s Honors Night at Madison County High School. More than $250,000 in scholarship money was awarded to the graduating class of 2003.

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. The following is a list of awards and scholarships and their recipients:
Senior special recognition awards
Wendy’s High School Heisman award - Joseph Jones and Brooke Kesler; Phi Kappa Scholar - Joseph Jones; DAR Good Citizenship Award - Katie Phillips; STAR student - Jennifer Costyn and STAR teacher - Latana Coile.
Academic departmental awards
English - Joseph Jones; Math - Brooke Kesler; Science - Joseph Jones; Social Studies - Trenton Wilkes; Art - Lindsey Mason; Band - Andy Branyon; Chorus - Mariann Branson; Physical Education - Bridget Browner; Resource - Cassie Maxwell; Community based instruction - Rosa Latee’ Bailey.
Vocational department awards
Youth apprentice program - Carolyn Quick; Business education - Aaron Bond; Construction - Jesse Young; Family and Consumer Science - Autumn Fowler; Professional Foods - Aaron Bond; DCT - Pam Bowen; Drafting - Erica Epps; Agriculture - Joshua Carey; Health Occupations - Matthew Baker.
Scholarship awards
Rotary Club ($1,000 each)- Scott Dills and Amy Piche’; Madison County Retired Teachers ($500) - Trent Wilkes; Madison County Farm Bureau ($1,000) - Robert Chandler; Pilot Club - Augusta Jenkins Scholarship ($500) - Tiffany Ledford; Cattleman’s Association - Welborn-Sanders Scholarship ($2,000) - Robert Chandler; Gainesville College Dean’s Scholarship ($250 each) - Seth Brown, Sallie Fitzpatrick, Sarah Owen, Allison Wilkes; Piedmont College Dean’s Scholarship ($12,000) - Melanie Elrod; LaGrange College Art Scholarship ($2,000) - Lindsey Mason; Madison County Employee Sponsored Scholarships ($700 each) - Robin Andrews, Amy Beck, Matthew Berryman, Bray Carr, Robert Chandler, Chad Coulter, Alicia Crane, Sallie Fitzpatrick, Autumn Fowler, Cory Hanley, Jonathan Hardy, Brooke Kesler, Caleb McCants, Sara Owen, Katie Phillips, Caolyn Quick, Allison Wilkes, and Gabe Zorbanos.
Madison County Association of Educators ($200) - Trent Wilkes; Future Business Leaders of America ($200 each) - Carolyn Quick, Aaron Bond, Robin Andrews; National Honor Society ($100) - Sallie Fitzpatrick, Brooke Kesler, Stephanie Moore, Katie Phillips; Band Boosters ($1,000) - Stephanie Moore; Trus Joist Weyerhaeuser Foundation ($1,000) - Jennifer Costyn; Betty Walker Memorial Scholarship ($900) - Katie Phillips; Douglass Wayne Howard ($350) - Brooke Kesler; 4-H Dollars for Scholars ($500) - Amy Piche’; Julius Benton Memorial Scholarship ($1,000) - Summer Adams; Jim Perkins Scholarship ($1,000) - Katie Phillips and Gabe Zorbanos; Athens Area Human Relations Council ($500 each) - Bridget Browner and Joseph Jones; Jackson EMC A.T. Sharpton Scholarship ($1,000 each) - Matthew Baker and Stephanie Moore; Ingles ($1,000 each) - Ashley Caudell and Matthew Baker; United Daughters of the Confederacy ($2,000) - Melanie Elrod; Athens Technical College Foundation Merit Based Scholarship ($1,068) - Tonya Evans; Gainesville College Social Sciences Scholarship ($3,200) - Allison Wilkes; Pfol Music Scholarship from Salem College in Winston-Salem NC ($68,000) - Stephanie Moore; Lettie Pate Whitehead Academic Scholarship ($16,400) - Brooke Kesler; North Georgia College and State University softball scholarship ($12,000) - Lindsey Barnette; Berry College ($64,000) - Jennifer Costyn; Murray State College Rifle Scholarship ($3,200) - Kristi Smith; John Sykes Trustee Scholarship (Queen’s University) ($22,000) - Rebecca Sovine; Temple-Inland Foundation Award ($1,000 each, presented to the valedictorian and salutatorian) - Joseph Jones and Stephanie Moore, respectively; Charles Black Construction Company College Scholarship Fund ($1,000 each to the third, fourth and fifth ranked seniors) - Trent Wilkes, Brooke Kesler and Jennifer Costyn, respectively; Governors Scholarship ($1,000 each, presented to STAR student, valedictorian and salutatorian) - Jennifer Costyn, Joseph Jones and Stephanie Moore.


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.
The board of commissioners unanimously approved a contract with Georgia Correctional Industries (GCI) for all of the furniture in the administration section of the new facility, set to open this summer. No official jail completion date has been set. But BOC chairman Wesley Nash said Monday that he anticipates the jail will be completed by July 4.
GCI was the only respondent of eight solicited bidders who met the county’s bidding guidelines on furnishings, such as providing color samples.
Volunteer government adviser Leo Smith, who is working with the sheriff’s department on furnishing the new jail, asked the board to approve another $3,000 to prevent delays if there are any unforeseen furniture expenditures once the jail is opened. The board agreed 4-1 to approve additional funds, with commissioner Mike Youngblood providing the lone “no” vote.
Smith said he will have proposals for remaining jail furnishings, such as kitchen equipment, utensils, clothing, bedding, etc., at the board’s next meeting.
Also Monday, Nash reported that the new EMS station in the old Fine Finish building on Hwy. 98 is nearing completion.
“Hopefully, we’ll announce an open house soon,” said Nash.
In other business, the commissioners agreed to meet with local tax officials at 6:30 p.m., June 2, to discuss mobile home taxation.
The board discussed disposing of at least 37 old voting machines now being stored at the county transfer station. The old lever machines have been replaced by electronic voting. The group agreed to allow Nash to dispose of all of the machines — except those that local officials may want to keep for historical purposes — by using them as scrap metal or by selling them.
The commissioners approved a resolution essentially declaring that in the event that the county school board has to raise property taxes to pay off its bond indebtedness for construction projects, the BOC will not roadblock the increase. County attorney Mike Pruett explained that such a resolution is a standard formality when the school board issues bonds.
The BOC hired Joseph Brown and Wesley Switzer to the road department mowing crew and Glenn Wiggins as a superviser of inmate laborers at the old county courthouse.
The board approved an amendment to the land lease for the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter off of Colbert-Danielsville Road. The old lease gave the shelter a narrowly defined use of the facility. The amended lease states that the shelter can use the facility for anything “reasonably connected” with the shelter as long as it is consistent with a non-profit function. The issue came up recently when the shelter asked the BOC for permission to operate a surgical suite at the facility.
The BOC agreed to seek any available federal funds for “watershed structure remediation.” The group did not discuss specifics of what might be remediated.
The commissioners agreed to advertise the sale of a gate opener left over from jail construction.
The board agreed to pay for paving of Colbert Grove Church Road that is not covered through the state Department of Transportation’s Local Assistance Road Program (LARP).


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.
Mayor B.W. Hutchins said Jackson EMC had previously quoted a price of $24,000 when the matter was investigated over a year ago. He reminded the council that since that time the city has sold the city hall building, leaving them with two CDs of $10,000 each, almost enough to pay for the lights.
Hutchins said the money needs to be used for taxpayer purposes. The street lights could also be used to hang Christmas decorations.
In other business, the council:
•heard from Mayor Hutchins that Pope Miller Road had been approved for repaving through the state’s LARP program.
•tabled the official closing of Patton Drive until Graham completes the necessary paperwork.
The previous council voted to close the road several months ago, at the request of Hull Baptist Church members, who purchased the property adjacent to the road, including Hull City Hall.
The road has been used primarily as a cut-through road since the Charlie Bolton Road access to Hwy. 72 was closed when the highway was four-laned. Charlie Bolton Road was re-routed to connect directly with Old Elberton Road since that time.
In other business the council heard that the monthly charge for grass-mowing for the city is $350. The council voted to have councilman John Barber serve as mayor pro-tem, tabled a decision on what to do about bookkeeping services for the town, heard that plans are moving forward for the annual Hull Spring Festival, set for May 24, and heard that a board member from the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter will speak to the council next month about animal control issues.


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.
He pictures a school nurse position created at the middle school — all five elementary schools in the county have nurses; only the middle school and high school don’t. The superintendent said he’d like the school system to hire an art teacher and five additional bus drivers.
The new personnel proposals will be among the issues considered when the county school board begins planning the school system budget this month for fiscal year 2003-2004, which begins July 1.
Like the county government, which has seen its state road funding cut in recent years, the county school system is also grimacing from the fiscal pinch of the state, which has levied cutbacks in education funding amid a struggling economy.
Cowne points out that Madison County will be $1.1 million behind where it could have been without funding cuts the past two years.
While the seven-figure setback in funding opens eyes, the superintendent said he doesn’t anticipate the school system hitting any budget pitfalls.
This year’s general operations budget is $30.3 million. Cowne said it’s too early to say how, or if, that total budget figure will change in 2003-2004.
Of course, it’s too early as well to answer the most pressing question to county property owners. Will the schools be forced to raise the property tax rate to help offset reductions in state funding?
Cowne said this is a possibility, but he added that any increase will be moderate.
“We’re not going to try to get all that (loss in state funding) back through local dollars,” said Cowne.

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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.


School SPLOST projects to get rolling soon
Madison County’s school board will soon kick start school improvement projects funded by sales tax revenue.
The county school board will meet next Thursday, May 22, to open bids and then hire one or more construction management firms to oversee construction projects, which include eight new classrooms at Ila Elementary, five new classrooms at Comer and Colbert Elementary schools, expanded cafeterias at Danielsville Elementary and Madison County Middle School, an athletic complex across the street from the high school, new flooring at Comer, Colbert and MCMS and a 180-seat amphitheater at MCHS.
County voters renewed a five-year, one-cent sales tax for school improvements in March. The school system will have an initial $5.9 million to fund the projects — with $3.9 million covered by bonds and $2 million covered by a federal loan.
Madison County Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations Mitch McGhee said the schools’ first construction priority is to “get the flooring issues complete” by the beginning of the 2003-2004 school year.
McGhee said the school system will also strive to have structural additions finished by the first day of school, Aug. 7. But he said a more realistic expectation is for the new rooms to be completed “six to eight weeks” into the school year.
The assistant superintendent pointed out that new environmental regulations must be observed in constructing the athletic complex and that the Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on plans for the complex before work can actually begin. But he said the school system intends to get the project moving soon.
“We hope to begin moving earth by about the end of June,” said McGhee.
McGhee added that the school system intends to have the new sports complex functional for physical education classes and sports that don’t require a grass field — such as track and tennis — by next spring. He said that new baseball and soccer fields may take longer to prepare depending on how quickly the grass fields become functional.


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 commissioners agreed Monday to offer names of potential committee members at its next meeting later this month. The group will study what kinds of radio equipment, towers, etc. will best enhance the county public safety services.
County voters approved $500,000 in sales tax funds in March for public safety communications upgrades.
E-911 director David Camp asked commissioners Monday to approve the formation of a committee composed of one representative from the sheriff’s department, EMS, fire departments, rescue services, the road department and 911.
Commissioner Bill Taylor said he felt the BOC should have some representation on the committee. Both chairman Wesley Nash and commissioner Mike Youngblood agreed to serve on the committee.
In a separate matter, the board received reports from Camp on 911 activity during the first quarter of 2003. Those reports are free and available to the public at the 911 office on Waggoner Lane in Danielsville.
Commissioners Johnny Fitzpatrick and Bruce Scogin praised the 911 office, along with fire departments and paramedics for the job they did during last Tuesday’s heavy storm. Camp said the 911 radio room was “the busiest I’ve ever seen.” Nash added that last Tuesday was evidence that “this service (911) has really paid off for this county.”