News from Jackson County...

JUNE 4, 2003

Jackson County

Jackson County
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Diamond action heats up at JCPRD all this week
A slew of tournament action hits the softball diamond at the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department this week with most age groups heading into semifinal-round action beginning Thursday.

Tiger Shark Registration To Run Through Friday
Registration for the Commerce Recreation Department’s Tiger Shark swim team will run through June 6.
The team caters to girls and boys ages 5-18 who already know how to swim. Team members train most weekdays beginning in late May. The season will end in late August. The team swims a schedule of competitive meets held in Commerce and the surrounding area. The registration fee is $50. Additional expense will be required for meet entry fees and swim suits.

JHS takes sixth in Director’s Cup
Following another successful year of athletics at the Class A level, the Jefferson athletic department clinched sixth-place in the Georgia Athletic Director’s Association (GADA) Director’s Cup recently.

Neighboorhood News ..
County grievance committee upholds Temple’s firing
A five-member county employee grievance committee voted 4-1 Monday to recommend upholding the county’s recent decision to fire assistant Emergency Medical Services (EMS) director Eric Temple, after he failed a second test for illegal drug use.

Family-oriented entertainment center coming to Danielsville
Danielsville will soon have a family-oriented entertainment center in an older 7,800 square foot building on Hwy. 98, just east of the red light.
The city council voted unanimously to approve the request during its regular Monday night meeting.

School system announces summer hours
Madison County school superintendent Keith Cowne said that all schools and system-wide personnel will be working a four-day work week again during the summer break.

Comer to close recycling site
Comer’s city council voted to close the city’s recycling center at its June meeting Tuesday night. The center has become a dumping ground for people in three counties, according to city officials.

Neighborhood News...
County budget tops $8 million

After nearly 40 hours in meetings over the past two months, the Banks County Board of Commissioners has churned out a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.

Banks County under outdoor burning ban
Banks County is one of the 45 counties in Georgia under a burning ban through October 1.
According to the Banks County marshal’s office, it is illegal for anyone to burn anything outside during this period, with the following exceptions in Banks County:

West Nile in Banks County
A dead crow found near Banks County Middle School on May 21 has tested positive for West Nile Virus.
District deputy director of environmental health Cail Collins said officials have no reason to believe mosquitoes in the area are also carrying the disease and that only infected mosquitoes, not birds, can transmit the virus.

Commissioners finish budget cut talks
Before they churned out a proposed budget Friday, the Banks County commissioners met Wednesday morning for a final session of budget talks.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Blake Hopkins, Jefferson, was one of many riders of the Jordan-Heirs mechanical bull at the Jackson County Relay for Life last Friday held at Peach State Speedway.

BOC denies rezoning for 68-home subdivision
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners denied a rezoning request Monday night that would have led to the development of a 68-home subdivision on Wilhite Road.
Tina McDaniel had asked to rezone 69.82 acres on Wilhite Road from PCFD to R-1 to locate a 68-lot, single-family, residential subdivision. Five area residents spoke in opposition to the request.
Gilbert Wier pointed out that there are no subdivisions on the road and that the site is near several poultry and cattle farms. Other concerns he mentioned included traffic and overcrowding schools.
Ruby Lynn Minish also spoke on traffic concerns. She said Wilhite Road is a narrow, country road and the additional traffic would be a problem. She also mentioned that the area is a farming community and that new residents might complain about the odors from the poultry operations.
A petition was also presented with the names of 97 people who are also opposed to the plans.
In her rebuttal comments, McDaniel said that the first subdivision in a community is a change and that change is hard for the residents. She also pointed out that the request meets the medium density land use designation for the area.
In other planning business, the BOC:
•approved a request from Jacque Marlowe to rezone 10 acres on Maysville Road from B-2 to R-3 to locate an 80-unit condominium/town house.
•approved a request from Charles D. Titshaw to rezone 254.15 acres on Hwy. 129 from A-2 to I-2 to locate an industrial park. The request had been tabled last month until a regional impact study could be completed. Planning director B.R. White reported that the report found that the development would not have a negative impact on the area.
•accepted the withdrawal of a request from 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. Commissioners Emil Beshara and Stacey Britt recused themselves from this discussion and vote because of a possible conflict of interest. Attorney Daniel Haygood recommended that the request be withdrawn and the property owner apply for a business license.
•approved a request from 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.
•approved a request from 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.
•postponed action on a request from Joel Walters to rezone 119.246 acres on Holiday Cemetery Road from A-1 to R-1 to locate a 110-lot, single-family residential subdivision. Britt recused himself from this discussion and vote due to a possible conflict of interest. Billy Norris and Larry Bramlett spoke on the project, while Dr. Bruce Hollett and Mark Reynolds spoke in opposition to the plans. Reynolds said that the future land use map shows this as a low density residential area.
•approved a request from Roy D. Cowart to rezone 16.0 acres on Hwy. 441 South from A-2 to B-1 for the placement of billboard signs. Junior Cowart spoke on behalf of his brother and said he would like to place two billboards on the property.
•approved a request from 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. Beshara and BOC chairman Harold Fletcher recused themselves from this discussion and vote due to a possible conflict of interest.
•postponed action on 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. The request was postponed because the applicant wasn’t at the meeting to present the plans.
•postponed action on a request from George Land to rezone 16.67 acres on Hwy. 60 from A-2 to A-R to divide the property into two parcels. This is being postponed for 60 days pending a change in the ordinance that would allow the use without a rezoning being necessary.
•postponed action on a request from 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.

City Council Expected To OK Budget,
Authorize Marshals On Monday Night
The Commerce City Council expects to pass a $27 million budget and empower its building officials to serve as marshals when it meets Monday night at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center.
At Monday night's work session, City Manager Clarence Bryant reported that the budget is "balanced," and that the General Fund, Gas Fund, Electric Fund and Water and Sewer Fund are all in the black.
The budget does not include any rate increases, although Bryant said after the meeting that rate hikes may be necessary later in the budget year as the city finalizes financing of its new waste treatment plant.
Thanks to Councilman Sam Brown, members of the Commerce Fire Department will get a 33 percent increase in their per-fire pay. The firemen currently receive $15 per fire, whether it's an alarm call or a structural fire that takes five hours. The budget draft increased that to $17.50.
"I'm real disappointed," Brown said. "I had hoped we could get at least $20. The fire department did a lot of work," he added, a reference to the recent reduction in local ISO rates.
"It's your call," said Bryant to the council.
After Bob Sosebee asked what the extra $2.50 per call would do to the budget and Bryant estimated $7,000 to $8,000, the council agreed to increase the per-call rate to $20.
The city's desire to expedite enforcement of several ordinances relating to cleanliness could be fulfilled Monday.
Bryant said City Attorney John Stell will have an ordinance ready that will name David Lanphear and Billy Vandiver, the city's code enforcement officials, as marshals. That move will enable them to directly cite citizens who violate ordinances relating to unclean property, abandoned or junked vehicles, dilapidated houses or other structures, illegal dumping and other matters on a list being presented to Stell.
The ordinance will also enable the city to name one of its police officers as a code enforcement officer for the same purpose – cleaning up the city.
Under the present situation, violations such as an illegal vehicle take a month at least to get resolved. The code enforcement officers have to issue a warning, gather evidence, then take the case to police, who then cite the violator and summon him or her to court. Under the new plan, the code enforcement officers will be able to issue a citation or a warning to violators.
The action could become effective Monday night.
But Sosebee had advice for the council:
"Let's get our house in order before we start on other houses," he said. "The area behind the old City Hall doesn't look so good. We need to sell it or bulldoze it."
The council seemed to be in agreement, and Bryant said he would have the old buildings torn down. Structures on that site include the old jail, a pole barn, the old city garage and a building formerly used by the gas department – although one party has expressed an interest in acquiring the pole barn.
But residents with inoperative vehicles, unkempt yards, dilapidated structures and with furniture or tires dumped at the side of the road should be prepared to face legal action.
While it did not come up at Monday's meeting, the city has received promise of help from Jackson County's marshals in conducting a "blitz" to rid the city of such violations, after which the city expects to be able to maintain enforcement on its own. No date has been set for the blitz.
Violations are misdemeanors and will be handled by the city's municipal court.

Mayor blasts councilman during courthouse discussion
Jefferson councilman Bosie Griffith’s questions about the town’s stance on the relocation of the Jackson County courthouse led to a brief but fierce debate at Monday’s council meeting.
Griffith presented a letter and copies of checks from the Jackson County government to the city applying for water and sewer allotment at the site of the new courthouse on Darnell Road.
Griffith said he was contacted by a “person in the community” questioning the town’s decision to allow the county utilities at the site.
“Are we now supporting the location by saying we’ll supply water?” Griffith asked.
Mayor Jim Joiner said the city was supplying water because the county will be a customer. He also said the request for sewer allotment came before the sewer allotment committee created by the town council and that the committee approved the request.
“Whether or not we supply water or sewer ain’t going to stop the courthouse,” Joiner said.
Griffith continued to question the city’s stance on the courthouse location, angering Joiner.
“If you want to discuss this privately, we will,” Joiner said to Griffith. “Bosie, you take every opportunity you can to bust someone’s chops.”
Griffith responded by saying he was only asking the questions “a person in the community” asked of him.
Councilman Steve Kinney stepped in and said the city was still opposed to the courthouse location but that they “had to answer the request.”
He also said the allotment was only for the initial phase of the courthouse construction and that the city might not have the capacity for the remainder of the project.
Council member Marcia Moon said the county had gone “through due process” with its request.
“It’s not what I wanted either,” she said. “But you can’t change the criteria because it’s not what you wanted to happen.”
Councilman Philip Thompson added that the town might still be able to block the project. Thompson said initial drafts of the watershed protection ordinance call for a maximum of 15 percent impervious surfaces (surfaces which do not absorb rainwater) within a development.
Thompson said the courthouse project probably would not meet that requirement. However, the ordinance in its final form has not been completed or approved by the city council.
He added that the city was abiding by its own ordinance by allowing water and sewer to a customer that meets city requirement but the county might not honor the city’s watershed protection plans.
“It sounds like they’re playing their own rules and we’re the ones paying the price for it,” Thompson said.

Bear Creek Reservoir Managers Adopt Plan To Help Conserve Water Next Time Drought Hits
ATHENS -- The owners of the Bear Creek Reservoir serving Jackson and three other counties are looking forward to the next drought.
The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority doesn't want a drought, but its members voted last Wednesday to adopt a draft of a plan for managing water when the next drought arrives.
The reservoir and water treatment plant became functional last summer, just in time for the worst drought in area history. While the reservoir water level was sufficient to meet the dry period, the authority decided its drought management plan needed major changes.
The authority voted unanimously to send the plan created by its Operation Committee to the Environmental Protection Division for its approval. The EPD requires such a plan as part of its permitting process. It also voted to implement the plan pending EPD review.
The highlights of the new plan are:
•a new matrix of indicators for determining when the plan goes into effect and when it advances from various stages. The three primary criteria will be the flow in the Middle Oconee River, the reservoir level and the Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index, which considers rainfall and soil moisture as drought indicators.
•a schedule of minimum consumption reduction goals that go into effect as the drought begins and increases in severity. Those goals range from 2.5 percent in Level 1 to 22.5 percent in Level 4.
•responsibility left to the individual counties as to how they will meet their reduction goals.
In accepting the plan, the motion included a revisiting of the percentages of reduction to take into consideration increases in water usage as Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties begin to take more of their shares of reservoir water. The draft plan was based on 2002 data, but both Barrow and Jackson have water sales contracts that will increase those counties' usage by millions of gallons daily.
"Barrow County has two contracts to sell water that are not implemented yet," noted Eddie Elder, chairman of the Barrow County Commissioners. "When those contracts are signed, we will double our sales that day. If you hit me with reductions ... I could not meet those contracts."
"Those numbers need to be factored in in some way," agreed Elton Collins, who chairs the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, which just signed a sales contract with Braselton and is finalizing another with Jefferson.
Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties are entitled to take a total of almost 30 million gallons per day from the reservoir, but the 2002 consumption upon which the drought contingency plan was based factored in usage of less than 4 mgd. As those counties' water systems grow, there may be a need for higher reductions in use during times of drought.
Had the current plan been in effect in 2002, it would have extended the reservoir's water supply by 17 days, said Mike Leonas, Oconee County's engineer, who chairs the Operations Committee.
Leaving individual counties to figure out how to meet reduction goals fails to respond to complaints the authority received last summer. In that instance, some water restrictions imposed in Jackson County were not imposed in Athens-Clarke, which led Jackson County nursery and landscaping firms to complain that they were not being treated fairly.
Enforcement is another area not yet addressed in the proposal. Officials acknowledge that there is a strong possibility that one or more counties could fail to meet reduction goals in drought periods and that some leverage is needed to promote compliance, Leonas speculated that the EPD may require enforcement provisions.



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Braselton mayor defends proposed 2004 budget
The Braselton Town Council fielded questions about the proposed 2004 fiscal year budget from two residents on Monday.
Stephanie Roberts, a two-year resident, and Jim Leben, a 10-year resident, asked the mayor and council a variety of questions about the budget, ranging from Braselton’s growing police department to grants being used by the town.
“What I what to know is where are we going with this thing? What are we going to be 10 years from now?” Leben said, while adding town officials should consider more controlled growth.
Mayor Pat Graham, however, explained more services are needed in Braselton as the town inevitably continues to grow.
“Well, Jim, there is going to be growth,” she said. “We know that in December 2001, 1,260 new homes were approved in one night and those citizens are going to need services as well.”
When Leben moved to Braselton 10 years ago, there were about 460 residents. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the town has 1,206 residents but town officials now estimate Braselton has 1,500 residents, Graham said. The town now includes 10.5 square miles.
Braselton’s proposed 2004 fiscal year budget includes a 17 percent projected increase in revenue from last year. For the 2003 fiscal year, the town had a $1.3 million budget; this year, town officials are proposing a $1.6 million budget.
“In the last 16 months there’s been a dramatic difference in the amount of growth that’s been approved for property owners,” Graham said. “I think we need to look carefully at growth and whether or not it’s good for the town of Braselton.”
Roberts asked Graham if proposing three new police officers for the town would be too many for the department. The Braselton Police Department now has eight officers and a police dog.
Graham said when town officials looked at proposing additional officers, they considered how many people are located in Braselton during daylight hours. Town officials estimate 2,071 people work in Braselton during the day and Chateau Elan reports 500,000 people visit the resort and winery each year, she said.
And if the town is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Cops Grant, it could save $330,000 on salaries for the three officer positions, Graham said. The town council would amend its fiscal year budget, if it received the federally-funded grant.
Another issue addressed at Monday’s public hearing was a proposed new assistant for several town departments. The full-time assistant would help the water and sewer department, along with general administration. A clerk at town hall’s front desk would then be able to provide more assistance to the planning and development office.
When Leben asked Graham if the town is considering passing a property tax, Graham said not at this time.
“This council is committed to operating as long as it can without (property) taxes,” she said.
The city council is expected to vote on its proposed 2004 budget during its meeting on June 9.
Copies of the proposed budget are available at town hall.

County continues to review courthouse design
Report given on sewer system
Jackson County leaders are continuing to review Cooper Carry’s design for a new courthouse.
Board of commissioner Sammy Thomason, county manager Al Crace, courthouse consultant Wayne Wilbanks and public works director Stan Brown met for three hours Friday with Cooper Carry, architects for the project, and Long Engineering, who is preparing a sewer master plan for the site.
Jerry Cooper, Don Bush and Krista Theiler of Cooper Carry met with the county officials to review the courthouse design. Floor finishes, lighting, doors, windows, the roof pitch, elevators and heating and air are among the issues discussed as the group reviewed the blueprints for the courthouse.
“We will continue to study these (plans) and set up another meeting,” Wilbanks said.
Also at Friday’s meeting, a report was given from Long Engineering on its study of locating a sewer system at the courthouse site. It would cost $250,000 to put in a 10,000 gallon per day sewage system, according to Long.
The options being considered by the county are establishing its own sewage system at the site or hooking up to Jefferson’s system. Thomason said that hooking up to Jefferson would limit their ability to expand in the industrial sector by taking their capacity. No decision has been made on which option to pursue.