News from Madison County...

JULY 16, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Why Fyock was wrong about Confederate memorial
A letter last week from Rick Fyock attacking the new Confederate memorial in Colbert deserves a detailed response. Nearly every sentence in the letter contained errors of fact or perception. Here are a few of his statements and why they were wrong.

Zach Mitcham
Excuse me, while I kiss the sky’
“Excuse me, while I kiss the sky,” Jimi Hendrix once declared. But no thank you, I’ll keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Bowing out gracefully
A state championship will have to wait another year, but Madison County 9-and-10-year-old softball all-star coach Tony Croya isn’t overlooking what transpired on the diamond for his team the past few weeks.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC sued over $25 million ‘debt’
Citizens’ lawsuit demands halt to lease-purchase deal to fund courthouse
Just hours before county officials were scheduled to finalize financing $25 million for a new courthouse, a group of 26 citizens filed suit in Jackson County Superior Court claiming the action would be unconstitutional.

Commerce Passes City, School Budgets
The Commerce City Council passed two major spending bills Monday night.
The first was the final draft of its 2003-04 budget. The total of $27,859,850 is up by more than $8 million over actual spending in the just-completed fiscal year.

Wanda David, Clay Dale named by BOC to water board
In a move that would rival a soap-opera plot, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners named Wanda David and Clay Dale to the county’s water and sewer authority last week. The action ousted members Keith Ariail and Tom Crow, both of whom had earlier this year helped successfully fight an attempt by the BOC to take over the authority.

Crowd blasts financing plan at Fri. hearing
It was standing room only at a meeting Friday morning as some 115 Jackson Countians attended a public hearing called by the board of commissioners to receive input on financing a new courthouse.

Waddell’s Ex-Girlfriend Replaces Ariail
On Water And Sewerage Authority
JEFFERSON -- The Jackson County Board of Commission-ers named Wanda David and Clay Dale to serve on the county water and sewerage authority Friday.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
School board not backing down

A meeting with architect Steve Hill Thursday did little to settle the Banks County school board’s concerns about a mix-up on the middle school soil erosion plans.

Lula, Gillsville present SPLOST project requests
The City of Lula and the City of Gillsville presented their proposed projects to be funded by the 2004-09 special purpose local option sales tax at a meeting of the Joint Municipal Association hosted by the Lula city council last Tuesday,

Development authority signs contract to sell land to Garrison
The Banks County Development Authority has signed a contract to sell a two acre tract of land in the Banks Crossing Industrial Park.
Bo Garrison plans to buy the land for $15,000 per acre for his commercial laundry business. The contract on the land bordering the county’s water plant gives Garrison the option to buy before August 25.

Impact fees lowered by Baldwin council
At Monday’s meeting, the Baldwin City Council lowered the impact fees for new development.

Burning ban remains in effect for area counties until September 30
The Georgia Forestry Commission ban on open burning remains through September 30 in Banks, Jackson and Madison counties.

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The Madison County Journal
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Katie Wages scores one of Madison County’s 31 runs in a shutout win over West Coweta in 9-10-year-old all-star action Saturday.

Planners approve Hwy. 98 subdivision
Plans for a major subdivision just outside the city limits of Danielsville received the full support of the planning commission at Tuesday night’s public hearing.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend that county commissioners allow a request by Albert Sanders to rezone a 40.2-acre parcel on Hwy. 98 East next to Lord and Stephens Funeral Home to R-1 (single family residential, one-acre minimum with a community water system) for a subdivision with plans for 30 homes.
The property currently has three lots zoned B-2 (highway business), with the remainder zoned A-2 (agricultural, two-acre minimum).
Sanders said the property will be accessed by four driveways and that all homes built in the subdivision will face Hwy. 98. Sidewalks will be installed and the subdivision will be served by a community water system constructed to county Industrial Authority standards, Sanders added.
The BOC will give the final word on this and other zoning issues at their regular business meeting Monday, July 28.
In other business, the commission voted to recommend:
•approval of a request by Robert Hancock to rezone a 4.7 acre parcel on Paul Smith Road near Hull, from A-2 (agricultural) to R-1 in order to subdivide the property into three tracts of land of approximately 1.5 acres each, two of which are to be sold with an existing home, with the third to be sold to an adjacent property owner.
•approval of a request by Matt Bragg for an area variance in order to be able to locate a home on a 1.45-acre “lot of record” located on Parham Town Road near Royston. The parcel is zoned A-2, which requires a minimum of two acres for a homesite.
•approval of two requests by realtor Deborah Burdette, representing the estate of Olan Shubert. Both requests were for area variances on 1.28-acre and 1.31-acre “lots of record” located on Gillispie Drive near Hull so that homes can be located on the parcels. Both are zoned R-1, which requires a 1.5-acre minimum lot size.
•approval of a request by Tony Elliot, representing property owner Wayne Reese, to rezone a 4.74-acre parcel on Hardman Morris Road from A-2 to R-1 to subdivide for one existing home and two future homesites. Elliot, whose property adjoins Reese’s land, wants to purchase a 1.56-acre portion of the parcel for his son and daughter-in-law.
•approval of a request by Steve Smith to rezone a two-acre portion of a 14.025-acre parcel on Moons Grove Church Road from A-1 to R-R (rural residential, two-acre minimum). The remainder of the property is to remain A-1.
•two requests by Travis Alewine be withdrawn because the applicant was not present for the hearing.


BOC waiting for budget requests
from 11 departments
Madison County department heads were asked to submit their budget requests to the commissioners’ office by July 1, but county clerk Morris Fortson reported Monday that 11 departments still had not turned in the requested paperwork.
The commissioners agreed to set a new deadline of July 28 for those department heads who have yet to turn in their requests. Those department heads who fail to meet that deadline will find their offices with the same budget as 2003.
Those offices that have yet to submit a 2004 budget request include the tax commissioner’s office, the planning and zoning department, the building inspections unit, the code enforcement office, the sheriff’s department, the jail, the district attorney’s office, the DARE program, the emergency management (EMA) office, the coroner’s office and the streets and roads department.
“It bothers me that there’s a lack of concern among these department heads,” Fortson told the commissioners. “They’re not taking it (the budget request deadline) seriously.”
SMOKING BAN
AT REC FACILITIES
In a separate matter Monday, the board heard from Christa Estes of the county recreation board, who outlined proposed smoking guidelines at county recreation facilities. (See box, “Proposed Smoking Guidelines” on Page 2A).
The commissioners agreed to have county attorney Mike Pruett “draft necessary language” to adopt the recreation board’s proposals.
EXCAVATOR PURCHASE APPROVED
Also Monday, the commissioners approved the purchase of a $114,000 excavator for the county road department. The equipment will be paid for with special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds. County voters approved in March some $8 million in anticipated sales tax funds for county road improvements.
NEW ASSISTANT EMS
DIRECTOR NAMED
In other business, the BOC agreed to promote John Pethel to the position of EMS assistant director, replacing long-time assistant director Eric Temple, who was recently fired after he admitted to a drug problem, then failed a second drug test. The board also agreed to increase the hourly pay for the post and to make the job a salaried position, with administrative and training responsibilities but no regular paramedic duties, except when the staff is shorthanded. The commissioners agreed to hold a work session with the EMS to discuss possibly staggering the shifts of the director and assistant director. Commissioner Mike Youngblood proposed the staggered-shift idea, saying that he felt it would be beneficial to have an administrator work an evening shift, since the EMS is a 24-hour service.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other matters Monday, the board hired Kevin McIntire as an appraiser trainee/ code enforcement officer, a position that will help the county recover past due taxes from mobile home owners. The commissioners also hired Jerry Tiller to the road department mowing crew.
The board approved a request by county maintenance man Alan Lapczynski to make the old EMS office on Crawford Long Street in Danielsville a storage building for the county maintenance crew. The EMS office is moving to the old Fine Finish building on Hwy. 98.
The commissioners approved 25 mph signs for the entrances of Millbrook Circle and Millbrook Lane.
The board agreed to meet with the county zoning ordinance committee at 6 p.m., Thursday, July 31.
Chairman Wesley Nash reported that road improvements through the state’s Local Assistance Road Program (LARP) are scheduled for Colbert Grove Church Road, Collins Dudley Road and Piedmont Road.
The commissioners agreed to an increase of approximately $2,000, up to approximately $51,000 annually, for Madison County’s portion of the Northern Judicial Circuit’s indigent defense fund. Pruett told board members that the state legislature approved an indigent defense reform bill this year and that the state will begin funding indigent defense in 2005.
The commissioners approved a contract with the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center (RDC) to handle the county’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and to provide the county with a map that will distinguish taxable parcels in the county.


Planning commission chairman resigns
For the second time in less than a year the planning and zoning commission will need to select a new chairman.
Commission chair Rob Trevena surprised his fellow commission members by announcing his resignation at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s public hearings on zoning.
Trevena said he was resigning from the commission because he sold his home in Colbert and is planning to move to Athens-Clarke County later this month.
“I have enjoyed serving on the commission, and living in Madison County for the past 20 years,” Trevena said.
Trevena was selected by fellow commission members to serve as chairman when previous chair woman Pat Mahoney resigned from the commission last fall.
Vice-chairman Bill Holloway will act as chairman until a new chairman is selected. Holloway’s term on the planning commission expires at the end of this year.


Crack cocaine seized from Comer couple
Authorities seized 114 crack rocks, with an estimated street value of $20 apiece, from a couple at 124 Flint Street in Comer Friday.
Lonnie Lamar “Motor” Grant of Flint Street in Comer was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Tonya Kaye Upshaw of Hill Street in Comer was also arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and possession of tools for the commission of a crime.
Upshaw posted bond on her charges, but Grant is being held on an outstanding probation warrant as well as the drug charges.
The arrests were made by Madison County deputies and agents of the Piedmont Northern Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (MANS unit.)

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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.


Two killed in Tuesday accident
Two people were killed in a three-car accident on Colbert-Danielsville Road Tuesday afternoon.
Cheryl Wilbanks, 31, Clinton, S.C., was flown by helicopter to Grady Memorial Hospital but died from injuries sustained in the wreck.
A 10-year-old child riding in the truck with Wilbanks also died in the wreck and another child in the vehicle was injured in the accident, but an official with the Athens Post of the State Patrol would not release the names of the children involved as of Wednesday morning.
The three-vehicle accident happened at approximately 1:59 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
Wilbanks and the two children were traveling in a small, silver pickup from Colbert toward Danielsville when they reportedly crossed the centerline, striking the left front corner of a dark blue Toyota T-100 traveling toward Colbert, causing it to spin off the road into a ditch.
According to witnesses at the scene, the silver truck then went airborne and struck a blue Ford Crown Victoria driven by 17-year-old Shawn Smith, of Danielsville, who was traveling behind the T-100. Smith was not seriously injured, nor was the driver of the T-100, according to reports at the scene.
No further information was available as of press time.


Hull city council approves
purchase of computer equipment
The city of Hull approved the purchase of new computer software and equipment for city clerk Janet Seagraves at Monday night’s council meeting.
The council had previously approved $450 for the project, but heard that $339 more will be required to have the package installed by city auditor Jerry Hawkins, who will also provide up to six hours of training to Seagraves for that price.
An additional eight hours of training will be available for $280, if needed.
The council voted to approve the additional $339 for computer software purchase, installation and training.
The purchase was necessary due to a new law which no longer allows city auditors to also provide bookkeeping services.
In another matter, the council heard from Calvin Broom, a local lawn maintenance person, who offered to mow the city’s grass at $300 per cutting.
Gabe Martin currently performs the job for $350 per cutting.
The council postponed any decision on the matter until they determine from Hull Festival Committee chair O.P. Jones, who paid for the service last year and what type of agreement was given to Martin. The council currently has no written contract for the service.
Councilman Paul Elkins said they also needed to be fair to all concerned by asking Martin to re-figure his bid.
In other business, the council:
•heard from city attorney Pat Graham that advertisement for the abandonment of Patton Drive by the city would begin this week, and that certified letters had been sent to property owners who might be affected.
•heard that Graham is still awaiting a response from GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) on their opinion on how to set the term expirations for the three new council members. Council members Paul and Rebecca Elkins and John Barber all qualified and were elected at the same time this spring for three terms of office with different expiration dates.
•agreed to have Mayor B.W. Hutchins contact the county road foreman about cleaning out the ditches on Old Elberton Road in front of city hall. Councilman John Barber said he received a complaint from a resident about the road after recent heavy rains caused drainage and flooding problems.
•heard that the county is now expected to complete the purchase of the Hull water lines from Clarke County by Dec. 1.
•heard from Mayor B.W. Hutchins that the state will resurface Pope Miller Road.
•heard that Graham has sent annexation documents to Mike Reilly and to Spratt Bullock.