News from Madison County...

JUNE 4, 2003

Madison County

Madison County

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Frank Gillespie
Search for Rudolph was a waste of money
Let me see if I have this right. The FBI, GBI, NCBI, Game Wardens and several hundred others spent five years and millions of taxpayer dollars trying to find Eric Rudolph. He was finally caught by a rookie cop on routine patrol. That means that all that money was wasted.

Margie Richards
Fielding animal control calls
A couple of weeks ago, my husband Charles and I received a call about a dog that had been left chained to a tree with no one to care for him. His owner had died and relatives had abandoned him for various reasons.


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Raider netters honored at banquet
The Madison County boys’ and girls’ tennis teams were recognized at a recent banquet.
The 18-2 girls were region champions for the third straight year and were in the state playoffs for the sixth straight year. The 17-3 boys were in state playoffs for the third straight year.

Neighboorhood News ..
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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Little League under the lights

Jesse Morgan of the Whittington Paving A’s brings the heat to home plate during Tuesday night’s major league baseball action at the recreation department. Both the major and minor leagues will wrap up their regular seasons this week.

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.
Temple was fired in May after a second drug test came back with a positive result for cocaine use. Temple appealed his firing to the BOC, who, according to county policy, formed a grievance committee made up of two department heads and three county employees.
Temple, who was represented at the hearing by attorney Dean Clark, told the committee that he went to his supervisor, EMS director Dwayne Patton, on the weekend of April 26 - 27, to tell him of an on-going problem with substance abuse.
Patton referred him to county personnel director Connie Benge, who had Temple report to Regional First Care, a local clinic associated with Athens Regional Medical Center, for a drug urine test, which came back positive for cocaine use. At that time, Temple was suspended with pay, while he was given a chance to seek treatment “at his own expense” as mandated by the county’s personnel policy, according to county attorney Mike Pruett.
A subsequent test, administered on May 6, showed negative results, but a third test on May 9 came up positive for cocaine once again, according to Pruett, who submitted a letter from a Regional First Care physician supporting those findings.
Temple pled his case before his peers, thanking them for serving on the committee and submitting that he came forward on his own to “do the right thing” and should be given another chance. He maintained that he had not used drugs since he reported the problem to Patton in late April. He stated that he had submitted a recovery plan to Benge and also handed out an itinerary of support group meetings that he had attended recently.
But Pruett pointed out that employees in public safety, law enforcement, and/or leadership positions are “held to a higher standard in county employment policies.”
And Pruett maintained that Temple could not be allowed to continue in his position of public safety leadership under the circumstances.
“We simply cannot have somebody in a leadership position while he’s testing positive (for drug abuse) during his recovery period,” Pruett said. “...We must put our personal feelings aside to do the right thing.”
Temple countered that he had never used drugs, nor been under their influence, while on the job.
“I’m a paramedic who loves my job and I’ve helped a lot of people..but sometimes we (paramedics) need help too, we’re only human,” Temple added.
Attorney Clark supported Temple’s position, saying the county had “failed to follow their own policy” in the matter, and that the third test was not done in a correct manner and that there was no evidence of the reliability of the physician reporting the test results.
“The employees deserve better when they come forward and you (grievance committee) deserve better evidence than a faxed letter from a doctor you know nothing about,” Clark told committee members.
“If you can’t terminate someone in his position of public safety after a second positive drug test, you’ll never be able to terminate anyone again on a second positive test,” Pruett warned. “This is not a situation that gives us any choice - we owe it to the citizens of Madison County.”
County clerk Morris Fortson said Tuesday that Temple has worked for the county since July, 1994.
“Everyone feels really bad about this - it’s just an unfortunate situation,” Fortson said.
Temple will have a chance to present his appeal to the BOC Monday night at their regular business meeting, where they will have the final vote on the matter.

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.
Sharon Ossipchouk, Elberton, representing Pamela Pressley, Ila, came before the council to request a conditional use permit to establish the entertainment center, to be called “The Den.” Ossipchouk said the center will provide family-oriented activities and fast food. She said the business will cater to families and will be open from 7-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights only, at least initially.
In other business, the council tabled a decision on a request by Albert Sanders to provide water service to a proposed 32-lot subdivision to be located on Hwy. 98 East just outside the city limits (beyond Lord and Stephens Funeral Home).
The council set a special called work session for Tuesday, June 17, at 6 p.m. to discuss the matter further.
Sanders, who plans to divide his 35 acre tract into one acre (R-1) lots, told the council that the zoning ordinance requires city-supplied water lines or a community water system for the R-1 designation.
Sanders said he will also consider providing some of the land to the city for an additional well.
In other matters, the council:
•postponed a decision on the Madison County water billing error once again. Mayor Cross said the city is still “negotiating” with the county on the matter.
•hired Keith Riley as a part-time maintenance worker at $8 per hour.
•postponed a decision on accepting a revised contract with Charter Communications Cable Company until the council’s regular work session in July since the current contract does not expire until December 2005.

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.
City maintenance director Gerald Kemp reported to the council that he needed an additional part time employee for the summer because the recycling center is taking up so much time for his crew. Twice each week, city employees have to go to the center and remove tons of illegally dumped garbage from the center. He said that most of the improperly dumped materials come from outside the city.
“We have people from Elbert and Oglethorpe counties hauling trash into the site,” he said.
Kemp told the council that the only way to protect the recycling center from abuse was to install a security fence that can be locked at night, and hire a full time operator to supervise it during the time it is open.
He listed three options: keep things as they are and have the city absorb the additional expense, build a fence and hire an operator or close the center.
The council voted to close the center as of July 1, 2003, and directed Kemp to immediately install a sign to that effect. The sign will direct users to carry recyclables to the Madison County recycling building on the Colbert-Danielsville Road.
The council voted to deny a rezoning request for 25 acres owned by Allen Kidd from RR to R1. The tract is in the Spring Drive and Stone Drive area. The change would have allowed development of a subdivision using one-half acre lots. A petition was signed by 27 local residents opposing the rezone.
Speakers opposed to the petition argued that the streets in the area are already overloaded and were not designed for heavy traffic. Others argued that it would be unfair to deny the petition when similar requests have been approved.
Scott Nichols, one of the developers seeking to purchase the land, indicated that a new request will be filed after the required waiting time of six months.
Gene West spoke to the council asking that it seek ways to obtain additional police protection. He reported that in his work as a security guard, he has heard of the development of a criminal gang in the Comer area and that additional protection was vital. He said that the newly -approved Federal Homeland Security bill provides funding for additional local police.
Chief Barry Reed promised to look into the new federal legislation to see if it will provide any assistance to the city’s police force.

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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 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.
Monday, June 2, through Thursday, July 24, all offices and personnel will observe a four-day work week of 10 hours per day.
Monday, July 28, will mark the return to the normal school year schedule of five workdays. The school system will observe a holiday on July 3.
All five elementary schools will be closed for all business except cleaning, maintenance and renovation from June 12 through July 10. Supt. Cowne said parents should call ahead to set up an appointment with principals.
“I know from being a principal myself, that it’s frustrating to all involved for someone to come by the school and not see who they want to see,” he said. “But the truth is, the principal is often times there, busy at work, but not in the office, showing a new teacher or student around, unloading a shipment, working in a classroom.”
Summer hours (June 2 - July 24) are: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Comer Elementary, Danielsville Elementary, Ila Elementary and Madison County Middle School and 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Colbert Elementary, Hull-Sanford Elementary, Madison County High School and the Board of Education Central office in Danielsville.