News from Madison County...

JULY 23, 2003


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Rural America highlighted in Lynch’s return
As I write this, the people of West Virginia are preparing to welcome home a national hero. Private Jessica Lynch, a 20-year-old former POW is being returned to her home to continue a long, painful rehabilitation from her injuries.

Zach Mitcham
Critical growth issue still looms
It’s no skydiving crew.
But the industrial authority is clearly the county’s risk-taking board of recent years, spending many thousands of dollars in hopes of generating business growth in the county.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

The heat is on
Madison County head football coach Tom Hybl said he’ll start his sixth summer practice with approximately 50 players running through drills this week.
Monday was the first day that state schools could hold workouts according to Georgia High School Association rules. All teams must workout in helmets and shorts this week before being allowed to move to pads next week.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
$22 million price tag
Holder Construction Company presented the final maximum price for a new courthouse facility at a called meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon.

Rezoning Requests Could Lead To 600 More Residences
The Commerce Planning Commis-sion will consider requests Monday night that could result in the addition of nearly 640 residential units.

Citizens plan rally Thurs.
Concerned Citizens of Jackson County has planned another rally to gain support in its lawsuit against the board of commissioners over the financing of a new courthouse.

CMS Builders Take Rain in Stride, Says Superintendent
Rains continue to dampen the construction site at the new Commerce Middle School but that hasn’t stopped workers from marching forward with the project.

Beshara to call for vote on beer and wine at Aug. 4 meeting
Commissioner Emil Beshara plans to call for a vote at the Aug. 4 board of commissioners meeting on allowing the sale of beer and wine in unincorporated areas of the county.

BOC sitting on key water document
The political tug-of-war between the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the county water and sewerage authority is apparently holding up the adoption of a key document necessary to serve a major new industry.

New JCWSA members attend first meeting
Despite the political tensions surrounding the new member appointments by the board of commissioners to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, Thurs-day’s water authority meeting proceeded without incident.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Days gone by

“I’ve been coming to the Sunday School celebrations since before I knew it was a Sunday school celebration,” said 89-year-old Thomas Wilson.
“One year, a car came by and the driver asked what was happening and why all the people were gathered,” he said. “We kids just said it was a celebration. We didn’t know.”

Lula council to change variance procedures
At the behest of councilman Mordecai Wilson, the members of the Lula City Council agreed Monday to look into changing the process for granting variances to the zoning ordinance.

Schedule given for celebration
The 126th annual Sunday School Celebration is planned from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at Veterans Park in Homer.

Moore finds old city charter, presents to Lula council
Lula resident Bobbie Moore surprised the members of the Lula City Council by presenting them with the original charter of the former City of Bellton, dated October 7, 1879.

Alto to hold public hearing on zoning
The Town of Alto will hold a public hearing for the purpose of receiving comments on the proposed zoning procedures, zoning ordinance and zoning map at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12, at city hall.

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The Madison County Journal
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This Spanish-American cannon is one of only six left in the United States. It was brought to Danielsville in 1921 as part of a memorial to honor those who fought in World War I. Charleston is home to a sister cannon, which doesn’t have the shield. (Above, right) Alice Hanley holds a tiny antique cream pitcher from a doll set. The pitcher was found by her husband in the 1960s while digging a ditch for a water line.

Show and Tell
The tale of the old cannon on the courthouse square in Danielsville was just one of a number of local stories shared at a “show and tell” session of the Madison County Heritage Foundation held at the Madison County Library Sunday afternoon.
For many native Madison Countians, the old cannon on the square in Danielsville has stood sentinel beside the old courthouse as long as they can remember.
And while many have wondered, probably very few have ever known its origins, or its purpose, in being there.
Well, wonder no more.
Clarke County resident and history buff Hans Neuhauser knows exactly where the old cannon came from and why.
“It was brought to the county in May, 1921 to honor the 484 soldiers and sailors from here who served in World War I,” Neuhauser announced.
The cannon, he continued, was constructed in northern England in 1897, just prior to the start of the Spanish American War in 1898.
It was then shipped to Fort Pickens near Pensacola, Florida, and later sent to an Albany, NY weapons arsenal. The arsenal didn’t use it during the war and sent it back to Fort Pickens. Some Danielsville residents got wind of it and requested that the cannon come to Madison County to serve as part of a memorial ceremony. Permission was granted, and here it has been ever since.
Neuhauser said it is one of only six such cannons still in existence in the United States; there is one in Charleston, SC; Rhode Island, Connecticut and two in Hawaii.
“You need to realize what you have here and take care of it,” Neuhauser said, adding that he had examined the cannon and noticed that besides having a piece missing, parts of it are rusting and that paint is peeling off.
Neuhauser developed an interest in similar cannons while touring a fort on the Georgia coast.
He discovered the same model cannon in Charleston and was told by someone there to come to Danielsville to see another one.
Historic Foundation president Jennie Ruth Echols, who has also done some research on the subject, said that two men from Charleston had come to see the cannon some time back.
Life-long Madison Countian Augusta Jenkins, who just celebrated her 88th birthday, had her own “war story.” It was about a piece of steel given to her by her Uncle Rural, who served in World War I.
“In fourth grade at Ila School our class studied a book called Lessons in American History,” Jenkins recalled. “Toward the end of the book was a section about World War I...Well, I remembered my parents huddling together over a lamp to read my Uncle Rural’s letters during that war and that made it real to me,” Jenkins said.
On her next visit to her grandparents’ home, where Uncle Rural lived, Jenkins asked him to “tell her all about the war.”
Her uncle refused, unwilling to share the details of his experiences with his young niece.
But on another visit two weeks later he handed her a small piece of shiny steel “about the size of his hand.”
Although still not willing to talk about the war directly, he did tell her about the piece of steel, which he gave her as a keepsake.
It seems that during the war the soldiers had to use their helmets as bowls to hold water in while they shaved, and Uncle Rural kept the shiny steel in his pocket to use as a mirror.
Jenkins still has the piece of steel as a keepsake.
“I hope if Madison County ever has a museum that I won’t be ‘selfish,’ that I’ll share it with everyone by placing it in the museum,” she said.
George Nale brought along a bag full of items discovered when he helped with part of the courthouse’s renovation recently.
Among the items were huge eight-inch nails, a tin of “silk gauze” used as typewriter ribbon, a real metal beer can, and an old fountain pin.
Historian Charlotte Bond brought along treasures from her family’s rich history in the county, among them old photographs of family members including Nelson Collins, who served as county treasurer from 1903 - 1906 and who lost his leg in a buggy accident, and Charlie Collins, who lived in the Strickland House on Hwy. 98 (Madison County’s first courthouse) while he served as superintendent of the county pauper’s farm located across the road from the house.
“I like to ramble in old abandoned houses, old historic sites and the like,” she told the group as she shared several of her “finds” which included a woman’s boot that belonged to another ancestor (from an old Madison Springs homesite), nails and a burned brick from Fort Lamar (an old Indian fort) and nails from two of the county’s oldest churches, Old Lystra, which was torched by vandals several years ago, and Union Baptist.
Bond says she hopes someone will utilize the Lystra nails to make a memorial for the old church.
Irelle Glenn, of Danielsville, brought the circa 1898 wedding dress of Maude Boggs Moseley, the bride of Judge Moseley. The couple’s only child, Virginia Moseley, was a well-known county school teacher for many years.
Alice Hanley shared a tiny doll’s cream pitcher that her husband found in their yard while trenching a water line in the 1960s. Hanley said research showed the tiny pitcher was created around 1910.
Attorney and life-long resident Al Stone shared what he called “two pieces of wood.”
One was used as a corn-shucker and the other was part of an old spinning wheel.
Historian John Barton, coordinator of the picture archive project “Vanishing Madison County,” brought along several reproductions of old area maps, several which showed the boundaries of other counties which would later become Madison County when it was incorporated in 1811.
“People don’t realize how much information, including genealogy, can be discovered using old maps,” Barton told the group.
Echols presented several of her keepsakes, including an old “bee smoker” used to rob bee hives of their honey, a bar of Octagon soap, a school scripture book, a 1915 cook book and several tin photos of relatives.
She modeled her mother’s apron, which was made from flour sacks, explaining how the multi-purpose sacks were often used as everything from diapers to dish towels in a typical household.
NEXT HERITAGE
MEETING
The next Madison County Heritage Foundation meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17, at 2:30 p.m.
Chamber of Commerce president and Heritage Foundation member Marvin White said everyone is invited to attend and get involved.
“We have a great need to preserve the rich history of our county,” White said.
Heritage Foundation membership forms may be picked up at the Chamber office in the courthouse in Danielsville or at the Madison County Library. Annual individual memberships are $15 and family memberships are $25.


Industrial park still planned by IDA off Hwy. 72
An industrial park may still be in the works on James Holcomb Road off Hwy. 72 near Hull.
The county industrial development authority (IDA) agreed Monday night to seek rezoning of 33.4 acres off Hwy. 72 from residential to industrial classification. The IDA will present the rezoning request to both the county zoning board and county commissioners perhaps as early as August. But no hearing dates have been set.
The rezoning request is for the six-lot, western half of the 80 acres purchased by the authority in late 2001 for an industrial park. Plans for the park were stymied early last year as many citizens complained that the IDA’s $425,000 purchase of the land was a backdoor attempt to locate a previously-denied cold storage facility on the property.
The fallout from that purchase led to several contentious BOC meetings, the eventual dismissal of IDA chairman John Scoggins and the temporary halt of any business park plans.
County commissioners put an end to last year’s furor, establishing an advisory committee composed of county officials, business leaders and Hull-area citizens. That committee studied the feasibility of creating a second industrial park in the county — the other, Madico Park, is located off of Hwy. 98 near Comer — and determined that the western portion of the James Holcomb Road property was suitable for business development, but that most of the eastern property was not suitable.
Authority members say they now are simply following the recommendation by the advisory committee — albeit after a lengthy wait — to develop the western half of the land, provided businesses follow certain stipulations regarding noise, light and buffer areas. Committee recommendations for types of businesses to be located on the property included light manufacturing, retail, office, wholesale, public utilities, cell towers and parks.
No businesses have made plans to locate on the property, but authority secretary and Chamber of Commerce president Marvin White said he expects businesses will show interest in the six available lots, particularly after the rezoning.
White said no plans have been made for the eastern tract of the property, where the authority’s backup well for the Hull water system is located.
White, who became Chamber president and authority secretary last May, said he recognizes that the issue of developing the property was volatile early last year.
He stressed that he has never had any discussions with management from the previously proposed cold storage facility, adding that the cold storage business is not a possibility for the property now. He added that no “chicken processing facility” or any other business that is inappropriate for the area will be courted by the authority.
“We don’t want to put something over there that will be unpopular,” said White.
Some opponents of the proposed park last year stated that the idea of industrial development in the county was good, but the proposed locale was all wrong.
Opponents noted accessibility problems from Hwy. 72, as well as the nuisance of trains blocking the path to the property. White said the authority has spoken with CSX and that the railroad company has said it would unlink cars to open crossings if trains remain stopped for excessive periods of time. But he acknowledged that the railroad company is not currently doing that and that there are often lengthy waits for motorists due to stopped trains. He added, however, that he believed the railroad could be convinced to cooperate.
Other opponents said the purchase was not planned out, that money was squandered before the property was appropriately studied and that the IDA should just sell the property and abandon the plan.
On the flip side, proponents of the plan have said that citizens need to consider the big picture, that the county needs commercial development to offset the tax burden on property owners, and that the establishment of an industrial park on the property is in line with the county’s comprehensive land use plan for the area.
Authority members said Monday that they wished they could establish the property as a multi-use zone for both business and industrial classifications. Athens has a multi-use designation, but Madison County would have to amend its zoning ordinance to establish that classification. Such a zoning would designate the property as suitable for both retail and manufacturing businesses.
Since there is no multi-use zoning in the county, the IDA seemed to agree that seeking the “industrial” classification for the property would be preferable to a “business” designation, since businesses seeking a rezoning from “industrial” to “business” would have an easier time than vice-versa.
With the rezoning proposal, IDA members said they want to avoid the ugliness of last year and the talk of “snakes needing their heads chopped off.” Authority attorney Victor Johnson stressed that the IDA will act in an above-board fashion in the rezoning, noting that they will make sure to give citizens ample opportunity for comment.
The authority will present the rezoning request to the planning commission, which will then offer a recommendation to the board of commissioners for a final vote.
“We will proceed with this just like any ordinary citizen seeking a rezoning,” said White.
The authority is actually not subject to county zoning guidelines, meaning the group could designate the property as “industrial” and lease the land to manufacturing businesses without first getting approval from the county zoning board or the county commissioners.
But prospective businesses do not share the same exemption from county zoning. So even if the IDA says the land they own is for “industrial” use, any business that buys property from the IDA would find that its property falls back to the county’s “residential” classification for the land.
By going before the zoning board and the BOC, the IDA is seeking to improve the attractiveness of the land for prospective industrial businesses. A rezoning now means prospective manufacturing businesses won’t have to go through the rezoning process before locating in the industrial park.

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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.


BOE hears report on SPLOST projects
A timetable for completing SPLOST-funded construction on the Madison County school system was released at the board of education meeting Tuesday night.
According to assistant superintendent Dr. Mitch McGee, renovation of floors in existing buildings is nearly complete.
He predicted that the floor upgrades will be completed by Monday, July 28. Danielsville Elementary lacked only completion of the “punch list.” Colbert Elementary requires threshold molding and the “punch list.” Comer Elementary has to have some cove base molding in classrooms and the glazed tile in the cafeteria. The high school has two classrooms, a hallway, two ramps and “punch list” items. Special non-skid tiles for the ramps approaching the lunchroom are on order.
New construction bids will be received over the next several weeks. Bid proposals for Danielsville Elementary, the middle school and Ila Elementary were mailed on June 30 and will be opened on July 31 by Charles Black Construction Company and submitted to the board of education for approval.
Bids for Comer and Colbert Elementary schools went out July 21. Bid opening is scheduled for Aug. 19.
The high school theater and PE/Athletic complex should go out for bid in early to mid August. Bids will be opened four weeks after advertising and submitted to the board.
Winning bidders will have 10 days from the awarding of the contract to begin construction.
McGee said that the projects are slightly behind schedule, but he expects to catch up.
“We are still on schedule to play tennis and run track in the spring of 2004,” he said.
In other actions Tuesday night, the board approved a local vocation plan and the comprehensive plan for special education.
They delayed approval of a “memorandum of understanding” with the Madison County Board of Health for use of school facilities for public health emergencies. Superintendent Keith Cowne was instructed to clarify several issues with the health department and report back.
A called meeting of the board of education was set for 7 p.m. on July 31 to vote on approval of construction bids.
A public hearing on road construction near Hull/Sanford Elementary School will be held at the school on Aug. 5 from 5 to 7 p.m.


Armed robbery reported at Hwy. 72 convenience store
The Golden Pantry on Hwy. 72 in Hull was reportedly robbed at gunpoint around 2 a.m. last Sunday morning.
According to the incident report on file at the sheriff’s office this week, a black male entered the store and robbed the two clerks “under the threat of a weapon.”
According to Madison County Sheriff’s Investigator Cody Cross, the crime is not believed to be related to the armed robbery of Merchants and Farmers Bank in Danielsville several weeks ago.
In other incidents, the Dollar General Store in Danielsville was burglarized sometime between 8:30 p.m. last Thursday and 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with an undisclosed amount of cash being taken.
According to the report, an employee opening the store on Friday morning noticed that the alarm keypad had been tampered with. She also found her office door open and the light on. She discovered the phone line dead when she tried to call 911.
The Midway Farm Supply Store on Hwy. 98 West was also burglarized sometime between Thursday, July 10 at 10 p.m. and Friday, July 11 at 7:15 a.m., with an undisclosed amount of cash being taken. According to the report, the phone lines were dug up and cut and the perpetrator(s) entered the store by breaking in a door.
The sheriff’s office and the GBI are investigating both incidents.