News from Banks County...

JULY 2, 2003


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OPINIONS
Angie Gary
Welcome to the family, baby Bowen
Your nursery is filled with cowboys and other western decorations. It already has plenty of toys and little blue outfits.

Adam Fouche
Growth not the biggest threat to rural areas
Make no mistake about it. The Banks-Jackson-Madison area is one of the fastest growing in the state of Georgia.


SPORTS

All-star 9 and 10-year-old girls headed to state
A 2-2 record in the district all-star tournament was enough to earn Banks County’s 9 and 10-year-old fast-pitch girls a trip to the state tournament in two weeks.
The team will play on Thursday, July 17, at 6 p.m. at Union County’s Meek Park against the winner of the District 5 tournament.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Citizens’ rally set Thurs.
BOC lawyers threaten to sue citizens’ group
A group of Jackson County residents planning to sue the board of commissioners over proposed financing of a new courthouse has set a public rally this week.

Accident Victim Fights For Recovery
"Pray for Eric," advise simple black and white signs posted in strategic locations all over Commerce.

Body found in North Jackson
The body of a black female was found near a mailbox at the intersection of Holly Springs Road and Hwy. 346 around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25.

Shared service talks grinding along, but little progress made
Efforts to move forward on the mandated renegotiation of government shared service agreements are grinding too slowly for some county officials.

JH office to be closed Friday
The Jackson Herald office will be closed on Friday in observance of the July 4 holiday.


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY
Pomp, parade, patriotism....
The city of Colbert is preparing for its 34th annual Fourth of July celebration this Friday.
The day will begin with Colbert's Canna Run, a five K and one-mile race. Registration will be at 6:30 a.m. at Colbert Elementary School. The five K run will be at 7:30 a.m. and the one mile race begins at 8:30 a.m.

Bank robber remains at large
A man who robbed the Danielsville branch of Merchants and Farmers Bank on Monday remains on the loose.

Shelter holds open house; debuts spay/neuter clinic
Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter staff, volunteers and board members celebrated their first six months of operation last weekend with an open house that included a barbecue lunch, games, a raffle, face painting, and an agility course. The steady stream of visitors to the shelter were able to tour the facility and see the many animals available for adoption.

Two charged with seven Madison Co. burglaries
Two people have been arrested in connection with burglaries of four convenience stores and three elementary schools in Madison County.

IDA approves bids for Hwy. 29 project
The county industrial authority last week approved low bidder E.R. Snell Construction Company to install acceleration and deceleration lanes for Alewine Development on Hwy. 29 just north of the Hwy. 29 - Glenn Carrie Road intersection.

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Kicked up their heels

Courtney Strickland, 10, and her cousin, Lacey Jarrell, 10, both of Homer, kicked up their heels to the sounds of bluegrass at the Chicken Shack on a recent Friday night.

BCHS, BCPS principals hired
The Banks County Board of Education filled two of its administrative positions last week.
Former Jefferson High School principal Art Wheaton was tapped to be the new principal at the high school.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the teachers and the kids and I’m really excited,” Wheaton said. “I looked at a number of different jobs and Banks was the most exciting.”
Wheaton said he likes the school’s size and he knows some of the people in Banks County, people he calls “exceptionally good educators.”
He also said he likes the ideas of new superintendent Chris Erwin.
Erwin said Wheaton comes highly recommended and that “his experiences and references sold me.”
Wheaton has worked most recently in the private sector as a facilities planner with H.E. Hodge Co., a Cumming company that sells equipment and furnishings to schools and other institutions. He’s been there since 1997.
Prior to that, he was principal at South Forsyth High School and also principal at Jefferson High School for five years.
Wheaton said he misses education and wants to get back involved.
“I miss working with the young people and the teachers,” he said. “Once you get education in your blood, it’s real hard to get it out.”
GINN TAPPED
AT PRIMARY SCHOOL
Long-time Banks County educator and counselor Lynn Ginn was hired to be the new primary school principal.
“I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity,” Ginn said of her new position.
She will be starting her 15th year as an educator in Banks County this fall.
Ginn has been a teacher at the middle school level in nearly every subject area and has, for the past two years, served as the counselor at the primary school.
“I’m looking forward to a great year,” she said.
STRICKLAND COMES BACK
The board also hired Pam Strickland back as the special education coordinator.
Strickland retired from the position in May but will come back to lead the program once again.
She was instrumental in turning around a struggling program and helping to bring it back under state compliance during her three years working for the school system.
OPEN ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS
Erwin said he will begin the process this week to find a new assistant superintendent who will also be the school system’s curriculum director.
He said he has started screening applicants already.
A front desk/secretary position also remains open at the central office.
Erwin said he has started interviews and hopes to have recommendations for the board soon.
With Ginn taking the primary school principal job, her counseling positions also opens at that school.
POSITIONS FILLED
The board filled six teaching positions at the high school, cutting drastically into the number of vacancies there.
System-wide, few positions remain open as faculty prepare for an early August start to school.
Those hired by the board include: James W. Wiles, math, BCHS; Kathryn L. Church, science, BCHS; John W. Dean, English, BCHS; Jodie Watkins, social studies, BCHS; Teresa Weiser, special ed., BCHS; and Donald Gillig, social studies, BCHS.
Also, Cindy Autry, special ed. parapro, BCHS; Joshua K. Lord, health and physical education, BCUES; Anne Moon, half-time reading recovery teacher; and Ernest R. Savage, maintenance helper.


Rep. Jamieson to speak at dedication
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson will cut the ribbon and serve as the keynote speaker at the Banks Crossing beautification project dedication ceremony planned by the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau on Thursday, July 10.
The event will take place at 10 a.m. in front of the Boots Etc. store on U.S. Highway 441 at the northern end of the Banks Crossing interchange, at Exit 149 on I-85.
According to Bonnie Johnson, CVB president and long-time resident of Banks County, Rep. Jamieson was selected based on her extraordinary efforts representing the county on the state level, as was the case with this project.
“There was a great deal of coordination and liaison work between the county, the DOT, and the Federal Highway Program,” Johnson said. “And as we have come to expect, Jeanette has always been there to keep things moving in the right direction; she simply has a knack of getting things done.”
Elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984, Jamieson is currently serving her tenth term. She is a member of the House education committee, the House appropriations committee and the House ways and means committee.
Prior to her election to the House of Representatives, she served for six years on the Stephens County Board of Commissioners.
Jamieson has been a participant in the “Leadership Georgia” Program and has been recognized throughout the United States for her work on behalf of development in the rural areas of Georgia and the nation. She serves as president of the Georgia Resources Conservation and Development Council.
Jamieson was invited to appear before the Board of Harvard University to make a presentation on behalf of rural development.
The program she represented was recognized in the fall of that year as one of the ten most innovative programs in the United States in the delivering of service to local governments. This recognition came from a field of 1,925 entries.
Rep. Jamieson was invited to receive the “President’s Award for Innovative Government” from President George E. Bush in recognition of her role in rural development.
LOGAL DIGNITARIES
The Banks Crossing dedication event will take place outdoors under a giant tent on the lot immediately in front of Boots Etc.
A variety of dignitaries and local businesses will be on hand to mark the project’s completion.
The beautification project began in 1997 when Banks County applied for and received an Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) Matching Funds Grant, wherein the Federal Highway Administration provided 80 percent of the funding via the Georgia D.O.T., while the Banks County CVB put up the 20 percent in local funds.
The purpose of the project was to improve the landscaping, signs, lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks, rest areas and related facilities at Banks Crossing as well as to provide visitor information displays to facilitate increased tourism and economic growth and development.
The Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization organized under state CVB Guidelines for the purpose of promoting and attracting visitors to the area.
The organization currently consists of over 40 local Banks County businesses, most of which are tied in some way to the tourism industry. Officially chartered in 2001, the bureau funding comes from its share of the five percent hotel-motel tax.
As regulated by state legislation, the CVB receives 40 percent of the total revenue generated from this tax while the county receives 60 percent.
Banks Crossing, consisting of over 200 outlets, 10 hotels and 25 restaurants, is located at the intersection of I-85 (Exit 149) and U.S. Highway 441 and is a major retail hub serving surrounding counties as well as an outlet shopping attraction for interstate travelers and residents as far away as Atlanta, Augusta, Greenville, S.C., and beyond.
The Atlanta Dragway, home of the annual NHRA Southern Nationals, is also located at Banks Crossing.
For more information on the Banks County CVB or Banks Crossing, visit www.bankscountyga.org or call (706) 677-5265.


Scoreboard, fencing going up at athletic complex
With the new high school athletic complex taking shape, workers are ready to begin installing some of the auxiliary items associated with the facility.
The school board agreed in a called meeting last week to have the football field scoreboard erected facing the stands and the field in the corner of the endzone nearest the fieldhouse.
The scoreboard was originally planned to be put up on the side of the field exactly opposite of the fan seating.
But superintendent Chris Erwin said the football coaches informed him that the Leopards will be using the side of the field facing the stands. He said the coaches wanted the visitors to be on the noisy side of the field where the fans will sit.
Erwin also said the coaches didn’t want the scoreboard directly behind the team and recommended moving it to the corner. He said the Georgia High School Association doesn’t set up specific rules for the placement of a scoreboard so long as it faces the field.
In other stadium news, Erwin said contractors were ready to begin installing the perimeter fencing around the facility.
He said the current plans call for the fence to start at the corner of the gym nearest the parking lot, go around the stadium and then come back to the other corner of the gym.
Erwin recommended the board approve an amendment to the plan in order to bring the fence to the back of the auditorium rather than to the second corner of the gym.
He explained that the fence would then be straighter and evacuating students from the school into the athletic complex in case of a bomb threat or fire would be much easier with the new placement.
The board agreed to the changes. Erwin added that he was reviewing the plans for the fencing to find out how many gates the facility was allotted.
He said an additional gate at where the fence runs into the back of the school may be necessary in order to move equipment in and out. He estimated the cost for a 12-foot gate at $635.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the board:
•learned the carpet at the elementary school was in poor condition and needs badly to be replaced. The board agreed to allow Erwin to compare bids for re-carpeting the facility and for tiling the facility and decide which would be the best course of action for a new floor covering.
•approved the BCHS cheerleader’s project request to hold a car wash on June 28.
•approved the leasing of two portable classroom trailers, one each for the elementary school and the middle school. The lease on each trailer costs $185 per month.
•learned the school system’s capital outlay program application was approved. Erwin said the school system stands to gain a projected $2.3 million because Banks County has been labeled as a “high growth” system by the state. The anticipated funds will likely be used to help with the new middle school costs.
•learned from Carl McElwain that the school system’s website was getting a facelift to make it more “interactive and informative.” McElwain said he and Erwin have discussed keeping the website updated. He added that he will be implementing a new mail system as an additional option for teachers. He said staff can elect to the use the old one or the new one when school starts later this summer.
•learned that McElwain has submitted the student information system report to the state and that the county’s date would be on the state’s report card soon. Erwin commended McElwain for his work on the project.
•learned from financial officer Mike Beasley that he was working on getting the new budget compiled. He said all budget requests had been submitted and that he and Erwin were “making progress” and hoped to have a budget by the end of July.



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Piping mad
over water
Trotters Glen resident George Payne spoke at the Baldwin City Council meeting on behalf of the residents of the subdivision and voiced his concerns over the low water pressure and questionable water quality being provided to them through the city’s system.
It was the second time in June the council had heard from the worried residents.
“We have inconsistent service at best,” Payne said. “We want action taken to correct the problems. I’ve been there for 13 years and have always experienced these problems of low water pressure and cloudy water.”
Payne said he could fill up a glass and the water would be cloudy. After a few minutes, though, the water would clear up.
Mayor Mark Reed said the council had sent the water superintendent to the subdivision to test the water quality and the lab tests showed the water was fine and drinkable.
“Nothing was found in the samples to determine the water was unfit,” he said. “From a public health standpoint, we will continue to monitor the situation and take samples.”
Reed suggested the problem may not lie in the city’s system, but in the system installed within the private subdivision. Since the development lies outside city boundaries, the city is not obligated to maintain the lines.
The residents are responsible for the lines within the subdivision. He said he would be glad to give names of contractors the home owners’ association could call to per-
form pressure tests to see if there were any leaks in their lines.
He also said the subdivision was built prior to the stiffer development restrictions currently used and that the installed system could have been sub-standard.
Water superintendent Jim Holloway said there could be a number of reasons why the development is having problems.
“It’s possible that the ground could have shifted, bending or breaking lines,” he said. “Metal rusts and plastic breaks.”
He said if the residents are getting cloudy water that cleared upon settling, the cause would be due to air in the lines, or in other words, a leak.
Reed said the city planned to run a larger water main down Harmony Church Road from Highway 105 to Old Highway 441 North. The city had budgeted up to $50,000 for the project which would be funded through Banks County special purpose local option sales tax. While that may alleviate some of the problems the city is encountering in old lines leaking, it still may not help the beleaguered residents. Any work done would have to stop at the property line of the subdivision. The residents would have to take it from there, officials said.
In another water related matter, the council discussed installing an emergency tap-on to the Banks County water system. The city has experienced a number of leaks in the lines and has few cut-offs valves to isolate water line breaks. The situation can turn disastrous as was proven a month ago when two water main breaks had the entire city system without any water for three days.
Council member Ray Holcomb said more cut-offs need to be installed at strategic points in the system so that would not happen again.
The council decided to pursue the emergency tap-on with Banks County.


Homer fireworks planned July 4
The Homer Volunteer Fire Department will be sponsoring the annual July 4 fireworks display.
The event will be held at the Garrison’s (where the annual Easter egg hunt is held) on Highway 51 South across from the Banks County Primary School.
Sandra Garrison said the show would start around 9 p.m.
Every year, the Homer VFD holds chicken-cues to raise funds for the show.
A special July 4 show is also planned at the Chicken Shack on July 4 beginning at 4 p.m.