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MAY 28, 2003


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS

Annual GHSA meeting not expected to impact local high schools much
When the Georgia High School Association reclassification committee meets next week to sort schools into regions for the fall 2004 season, don’t expect the ramifications to be felt all that much in Jackson County.

Summer Strength
The Tiger football players won’t see a helmet or pair of shoulder pads for over a month, but it’s a safe bet they’ll see a weight or two during that time.

Former coach expected to return
The search for a new Jefferson High School baseball coach has turned to a familiar face.
Roughly two weeks removed from their team’s season-ending loss in the first round of the Class A state baseball playoffs, Jefferson is expected to welcome home former coach Thomas Knight to replace Chuck Cook as the new Dragon head coach. Cook stepped down following the season to devote more time to his family.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Class of 2003 says goodbye to MCHS
The red graduation caps were finally flung into the air in the Athens Classic Center Friday, marking the end of the high school journey for the Madison County Class of 2003.

Jail open house set for July 4 weekend
Madison County residents will be able to look inside the new county jail this Independence Day weekend with the freedom of no cell door clicking shut behind them.

BOE hires construction firm
County school board members hired Charles Black Construction Company as the school system’s management firm on sales tax funded construction projects Thursday.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
A ‘super’ pick

After a six month long search, Banks County has a new school superintendent.
The school board voted Tuesday morning to hire Christopher Bell Erwin to fill the position to be vacated by retiring superintendent Deborah White.

County looks at plan to put more water in northwest
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is considering a plan to boost the county’s water system in northwestern Banks County.

Trim Time
After examining initial projected revenues, the board of commissioners is seeking more expense cuts to make up for nearly $700,000 to balance next year’s budget.

Statewide voluntary water restrictions take effect June 1
Beginning June 1, residents on county and city water systems statewide will have new voluntary water restrictions to abide by, despite the record amounts of rain recently.

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HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE

Michael Cronic of the West Jackson Fire Department is shown fighting the fire at Billy and Louise Stancil’s home on Hwy. 53 Monday. The home was totally destroyed in the blaze. No one was at home when the fire started. The North Jackson Fire Department, county EMS, sheriff’s office and Braselton Police Department also responded to the scene.

Planning board approves Holiday Cemetery Rd. homes
A Jackson County developer got the go-ahead Thursday night to locate a subdivision on Holiday Cemetery Road, but it will not have as many homes in it as he had hoped for.
The Jackson County Planning Commission approved a request from Joel Waters to rezone 119.246 acres on Holiday Cemetery Road from A-1 to R-1 for a subdivision. However, one of the conditions is that the project have 77 homes, instead of the 109 he had requested.
Voting to approve this were Don Segraves, Don Lord and Wayne Wilbanks. Mark Reynolds voted against the motion.
Billy Norris presented the plans on behalf of Waters and said the project would add to the county tax base. He said the land has been farm land and has added very little to the county tax base.
“We feel what we are doing will increase the value of the homes that are already there,” he said.
Some of the neighbors didn’t agree and five spoke in opposition to the project. Clifford Poole said he was concerned that the road is not designed for an increase in traffic. Other concerns he mentioned included overcrowding of schools and the lack of a sewage system.
Terry Sartain asked the commission not to let “someone stack houses right next to each other.” He also said he is concerned about water run-off into the streets.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will consider the request when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 2, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS
Other recommendations from the planning commission include:
•approval to Keith Hayes to rezone 1.0 acre on Winder Hwy. from A-2 to B-1 in order to comply with the current use of the property as a business.
•approval to Frank Stowe to rezone 41.7 acres on Lewis Roberts Road from A-2 and A-R to R-1 to locate a 41 lot single-family residential subdivision.
•approval to M.T. Hughes to rezone 9.619 acres on Davenport Road from A-2 to A-R to split into three tracts for three single-family dwellings.
•approval to Roy D. Cowart to rezone 16.0 acres on Hwy. 441 South from A-2 to B-1 for the placement of billboard signs. Roy Cowart Jr. spoke on behalf of his father and said he would like to place two billboards on the property.
•approval to Robert White to rezone 45.90 acres on Holly Springs Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 45 lot single-family residential subdivision. Lord, Segraves and Reynolds voted in favor of this request, while Wilbanks voted against it.
•denial for a request from Diversified Technical Group to rezone 1.99 acres on Hwy. 124 from A-2 to B-1 to locate an auto service station and convenience store. Rick Jenkins presented the plans and several area residents spoke in opposition to the project. Marsha Gordon said the project would devalue her home. She also said developers pad people’s pockets and get whatever they want. Marsha Tagg said it would be inconsistent with the use of the property in the area.
•approval to George Land to rezone 16.67 acres on Hwy. 60 from A-2 to A-R to divide the property into two parcels.
•approval to Tom and Betty Hardy to rezone 7.0 acres on Jefferson Road and Brock Road from R-2 and B-1 to B-2. One of the tracts will be used for a new facility for Redstone Tractor & Equipment.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will also consider these request when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 2, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
REQUESTS TABLED
The planning commission also tabled several requests, including:
•Darrell Hendrix to rezone 17.603 acres on Hwy. 98 from A-2 to B-1 to locate a golf driving range. Barry Daniel spoke on the plans which call for locating the range adjacent to Eagle Greens Golf Course. Planning commission chairman Wayne Wilbanks reported that the Georgia Department of Transportation had sent a letter stating that the driving range must be 400 yards from the road. The request was tabled in order for the applicant to discuss this further with the DOT.
•Wayne Tilson to rezone 84.12 acres on Hale Road from PCFD to R-1 to locate an 80 lot single-family residential subdivision. This request was tabled because the applicant was present.
•Mike Malerba to rezone 133.22 acres on Hoods Mill Road from R-1 to R-1 for the purpose of a change in conditions within R-1 zoning for a 100 lot single-family residential subdivision. The applicant request that this be tabled for further study.
•Sweet Apple Development to rezone 30.5 acres on Hog Mountain Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 31-lot single-family residential subdivision.


Odd-Even Water Restrictions Begin
Here On Sunday
In spite of an annoying abundance of rainfall in Georgia this month, starting Sunday, new state-wide water restrictions go into effect.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has ordered an odd-even "voluntary year-round" ban on use of outdoor watering.
Odd-numbered addresses may use water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with no hourly limits. Even-numbered addresses may use water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays without hourly limits.
No outdoor watering is permitted on Fridays.
"After a period of voluntary implementation of these measures, the restrictions will become mandatory and the Environmental Protection Division will monitor systems for compliance," said a letter signed by Georgia's top natural resources officials. The letter suggests that the policy will become permanent and mandatory in one year.
The action is the result of the statewide drought management plan adopted March 26 by the board of directors of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The plan provides for restrictions to be implemented during non-drought periods.
"This kind of staggered outdoor water use has been shown to be an effective water demand management tool," said the letter, signed by DNR commissioner Lonice C. Barrett and EPD director Harold Reheis. "Managing water demand is particularly important in regions experiencing rapid population growth, and few states are growing faster than Georgia has grown over the past 15 years. This water conservation initiative will help preserve a precious natural resource, help to protect an increasingly fragile aquatic environment and increase water supply opportunities for future generations."
Local governments still have the option of imposing their own restrictions, the letter noted.
There are exemptions to the odd-even policy:
•watering of small-scale landscaping if done from wells not requiring EPD permits.
•gardens growing food.
•irrigation using recycled waste water approved by EPD.
•newly-installed (less than 30 days) landscape.
•golf courses if watered with wells not requiring an EPD permit; greens and tee boxes, or using recycled waste water.
•certain commercial uses including licensed landscapers, golf course contractors, sports turf landscapers, irrigation contractors, sod producers, ornamental growers, fruit and vegetable growers, retail garden centers, hydro-seeding, power washing, construction sites, produces of food and fiber, car washes and other activities essential to daily business.


New ‘shared services’ talks could spark controversy
In what could be the first round of some serious local government infighting, the county government and nine municipalities are set to meet next week to discuss updating the local “shared services” agreement.
The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Monday at the Gordon Street Center in Jefferson. Two additional meetings will be held in June to discuss the update.
The services agreement is an outgrowth of state legislation from several years ago that mandated local governments split up service territories so there would not be duplication of services in a community.
Jackson County’s initial agreement was completed in 1999. This update is being done because the county has a new land use plan, said county manager Al Crace, and also because the City of Arcade wants to get into the sewerage business.
But this particular update of that agreement comes at a time of increased tension between the county government and several local city governments. The ramifications of the agreement will also impact the county’s three school systems and how tax money is shared between them.
Of particular importance in the agreement will be deciding who controls water and sewer development along the county’s main industrial and commercial corridors. Some observers believe that some members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners will push a plan for the county water and sewerage authority to give up some of its territory along I-85 near Commerce so that the city can annex property and provide services to the area.
But that idea has met with resistance from some members of the water authority and the Jackson County School System. Water authority members are reluctant to give up a prime industrial area unless Commerce is willing to “trade” territory for an equally valuable area. But since Commerce has little undeveloped prime commercial territory to trade, making such a deal may prove difficult.
In addition, leaders of the county school system generally oppose plans that would erode its potential industrial tax base. Under an annexation agreement between the county’s three school systems, when Commerce or Jefferson reach the per pupil tax base of the county school system, the cities could actually have to pay the county school system a portion of taxes collected on all property annexed since 1995.
Still, county school leaders are wary of plans that would allow any loss of that system’s limited potential commercial tax base.
Also complicating the issue is the potential for a split between some BOC members and the county water authority. Some BOC members have been critical of the water authority in the past for not being “aggressive” in getting new business. If those members now call on the water authority to give up prime commercial territory, they could find themselves in a politically difficult position of having to explain why they favor making such a deal for Commerce at the expense of their own water authority.
If there is a difference of opinion between the BOC and water authority, the BOC would make the final decision, said Crace. The water authority only acts in an “advisory” capacity, he said.


TOO WET: Like The Drought, Rainfall Causes Problems
Who would have thought a year ago that we'd be complaining about having too much rain?
Drying up in the fourth year of a regional drought – one that would see severe water restrictions and reservoirs going dry – even the possibility that you could have too much rain seemed remote.
But after this month's nine-plus inches of rainfall, the drought seems just a faint memory – and a good one for some, as the rain has created problems just as the drought caused difficulties.
Commerce superintendent of schools Larry White wouldn't go so far as to bemoan the rain, but construction of the new Commerce Middle School building is probably 50 days behind schedule due to wet weather.
Used to a drought, White and the system's architect thought there was a good chance before ground was broken that the $6 million school could be done by Dec. 15 and ready for occupancy when the second semester of the 2003-04 school year begins Jan. 5.
"I feel certain now, and I have tried to prepare the board for it, that the school will open next fall," said White.
While the contractor has not asked for extra days yet, he certainly will, said the superintendent.
"What I'm hearing from the last meeting with the architect, the subcontractors and the contractor is that (completion) is into the first of February or March now," he stated.
Other construction projects suffer similarly.
"Our community development block grant project on Bennett Street is going slow because of the weather," noted Commerce water and sewer system director Bryan Harbin. "It's hard to put in sewer lines, water lines and tear up the road when it's raining."
At this point, the project should be 80 percent completed; Harbin said it is about half done.
A city sidewalk project, scheduled to have started a week earlier, was also an apparent victim of rain delay, although the contractor did arrive on the site last Friday to put up traffic signs warning of construction.
Water and sewer projects of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority are also affected by the rain.
"It is slowing down construction, but not stopping it," said Paul Mims, water system manager. In addition to hampering construction, rainfall causes erosion problems in areas where construction is ongoing or has just been completed.
"When it's too wet to lay pipe, it's too wet to clean up," Mims said. "We have to do a lot of re-re-grassing, checking silt fences, checking all the rip-rap, making sure silt is not getting into the rivers and making sure grass is coming up."
FARM WOES
Even the farmers are having problems.
A bumper crop of hay created by the best spring rain in years is being ruined – by rain.
"As much as I'm loving the rain, it's devastating our hay crop," said Mark Shirley, county Extension agent. "We can't get it in. Those who have cut hay, it's getting rained on and reducing the quality. Some folks have had hay on the ground for two weeks."
Early forecasts for this week promised hope of a window during which hay could be cut, dried and baled, but who knows.
Shirley also said that the abundance of rain is causing more diseases in wheat and other crops, but that is not a major problem since Jackson County has so little in the way of row crops.
"Hay is the biggest casualty so far," he said. "The last couple of weeks and before were the optimum time for cutting hay. We've lost that. Farmers will still cut it, but it just won't be as good."
One group you won't see complaining is the reservoir managers. Last summer, reservoirs were extremely low. The new Bear Creek Reservoir was down nine feet, no water was coming out of the Commerce reservoir into the Grove River. Lake Lanier was at record low levels. As this summer approaches, they're full or in flood, which bodes well for water supplies and, in the case of major impoundments, generating electricity. And while there is no guarantee that the rains will continue all summer, meteorologists say the return of the El Niño weather system suggests they will.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


BOC to meet with courthouse architect Fri.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will meet with courthouse architects Friday.
The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the grand jury room, adjacent to the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
Cooper Carry staff members will present the design development report.
Meanwhile, the BOC is moving forward with the financing of the new courthouse. The commissioners agreed last week to hire Knox Wall as the investment banker to finance the project. Five firms submitted proposals to the BOC.
Richard Woodward of the firm King & Spaulding will serve as bond counsel for the county.
Plans are to finance the $25 million courthouse project through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia through its lease purchase program.
“We’ve been assured that everything is fine with the ACCG,” county manager Al Crace said. “There are lease hold agreements and things like that have to be exchanged and as long as all those things fit and everybody’s lawyers are happy with the documents, we will get there.”
The finance plans are expected to be finalized by July, according to Crace.


10th annual Relay for Life ahead
The 10th annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Jackson County will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Peach State Speedway, with activities continuing throughout the night.
The schedule of some of the events are:
Friday
•10 a.m. - track opens for campsite set-up
•5:30 p.m. - hospitality tent opens for survivors; survivor registration begins
•6:30 p.m. - survivor lap, caregiver lap, opening remarks, team lap
•7:30 p.m. - Relay for Life begins
•9:30 p.m. - luminaria service
•11 p.m. - “Miss Relay 2003” contest
Saturday
•7 a.m. - breakfast, track clean-up
•8 a.m. - closing ceremonies
•8:30 a.m. - campsite clean-up
Music and other entertainment will be ongoing throughout the night, with hours after midnight devoted to country, beach, dance and other types of music. Games and various relays will be held throughout the night.


State water limits to take effect June 1
Beginning June 1, residents on county and city water systems statewide will have new voluntary water restrictions to abide by, despite the record amounts of rain recently.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the agency that issued the restrictions, will make them mandatory after a brief implementation period. The DNR has not released the date when the restrictions will become mandatory.
The restrictions, which are effective year round, establish an odd-even schedule for outdoor watering.
Residents with an odd-numbered address will be able to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Those with even-numbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Residents can use water outdoors anytime during the 24-hour period of their water use day. The restrictions do not apply to those who get their water from a well at their home.
The state board of natural resources adopted the statewide drought management plan in late March to help prevent problems like in recent years with low lake levels and water shortages.
To learn more about proper outdoor watering techniques, visit www.georgiadrought.org.


Memorial celebration set Thursday
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the City of Commerce will hold a Memorial Week celebration on Thursday, May 29.
A reception honoring military personnel, veterans and their families will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center. Congressman Charlie Norwood will speak at 6 p.m. Other speakers will include Doug Rice, Jefferson, a former prisoner of war.
Other guests will include members from the rescue team of former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch.
“During this trying time it is important for our communities to come together and honor those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom,” said Andy Newton, assistant county manager. “Come and help Jackson County and the City of Commerce pay respects to our local and national heroes.”
For more information, call Newton at 367-4840.