News from Madison County...

AUGUST 6, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
No HOPE for the hopeless
A Recent news reports reveal problems in Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program.
In spite of the millions of dollars being raised by the Georgia Lottery, the cost of the HOPE program is exceeding available revenues.

Margie Richards
Trip to Outer Banks was special
I know I’ve had a good vacation when I continue to think about it long after it’s over.
That’s how I feel about this year’s vacation.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Raider head coach’s son likely to play in Browns’ exhibition game
The Cleveland Browns’ Saturday night exhibition game with Tennessee might not count in the standings but will certainly count in the mind of Nate Hybl.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Life without parole given for double murder
A 25-year-old man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of a Jackson County couple.
Superior Court Judge David Motes sentenced David Hodges to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday morning after he pled guilty to the murder of Sherry and Junior Brady.

BOC to spend $3 million on courthouse site work
Court date on citizens’ lawsuit set for Sept. 2
In a move that was intended to send a defiant message to opponents, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday night to use up to $3 million of surplus county funds to begin foundation work on a controversial new courthouse.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY

A broken family
A story of abuse and neglect at the hands of alleged drug addicted parents
Editor’s Note: The following story is a continuation of a Banks County News special report about methamphetamine. A grandmother and her grandkids agreed to tell their story about how drugs affected their lives.

BOE approves tentative $23.7 million budget
Expenses get only 3.4 percent increase
The Banks County Board of Education has a tentative $23.7 million budget approved for the coming school year with no tax hike expected for landowners.

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The Madison County Journal
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Danielsville Elementary School special education teacher Teresia Seagraves and parapro Loretta Phillips unpack books at the school Monday. Students return to school Thursday. Photo by Zach Mitcham

School is here ...already?
Students back in class, Thurs., Aug. 7
Madison County school bells will ring Thursday, the earliest start to a school year in this county.
Besides some school renovations and a new principal at the high school, most parents and students will find things pretty close to how they were when school ended in May, according to school officials.
Beginning and ending times for all schools are as follows: all elementary schools — 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; middle school will begin class at 8 a.m. and end the day at 3:15 p.m. each day and high school bell times are 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Meal prices at all schools increased again this year. Breakfast at the high school and middle school will cost $1.25 per day and lunch will cost $1.55. Prices at the elementary level are $1.10 for breakfast (reduced rate is 30 cents) and $1.30 for lunch (reduced is 40 cents).
HIGH SCHOOL
More than 1,400 students were expected to fill the halls of Madison County High School on Thursday, the highest number ever. In response to the increase, eight mobile units were moved onto campus once again to serve as classrooms.
Renovations over the summer included replacing carpeting with tile in all classrooms except the newest wing of the school. Some rooms also received a fresh coat of paint.
Parking permit fees for students decreased slightly this year, down to $30 from $32 last year. Unlike last year, there will be no assigned parking spaces.
All room numbers, except for the new wing, have been changed, with regular academic classes bearing a “300” number and the vocational wing carrying “400” numbers.
All students were to pick up their schedules from their advisors on Thursday.
Besides new principal Wayne McIntosh, there are also 21 new teachers on board at the high school this year. They are: Connie Adams, Wayne Baxter, Natalie Bishop, Jason Booth, Denise Carlton, Christy Chandler, Milton Cooper, Chris Davis, Shawonna Fitzpatrick, Amanda Hilario, Vickie Huff, Sandra Knight, Kay May, Dana Nash, Jan Nesmith, James Spellman, Kristen Spellman, Annie Tremoulis, David Young and Michael Youngblood.
Construction plans for this year include installing 180 raised theater seats, stage, office, and staging area renovations in the auditorium.


Tax rate increase may be on horizon for IDA
Facing considerable loan costs for the Hull water system, the county industrial authority may be forced to raise the .24 tax rate it currently levies.
IDA members met Monday morning to begin hashing out the group’s 2004 budget. The board will advertise two public hearing before setting the budget, but no hearing dates have been set.
The industrial authority has a total 2003 budget of approximately $128,000, with about $108,000 in revenue generated off the .24 mill property tax rate.
But the authority has embarked on a Hull water expansion effort in hopes of attracting businesses and improving the county’s tax base. And the group will look for considerably more revenue in 2004 to help cover the expansion costs.
Two loans of over $500,000 have been approved by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) — one to purchase the Athens-owned system in Hull and the other for the cost of constructing of a well pump, well house, chemical feed building and water line to connect the authority’s current system with the Athens-owned system.
The authority must also pay back a loan of $425,000 for the purchase of 80 acres for a proposed industrial park off Hwy. 72.
IDA secretary and Chamber of Commerce president Marvin White said the authority may be forced to increase the tax rate, adding that the IDA is still early in the budget process and that the group does not know how much of an increase may be necessary.
“There’s got to be some more revenue from somewhere to make the GEFA loan payments,” said White. “There will probably have to be some increase (in the tax rate).”
Of course, the authority won’t rely entirely on property taxes for its revenue. There will be revenue from customers in Hull who are currently being served by Athens.
White said the authority is waiting for GEFA to determine what water rates should be charged for IDA customers.
“Until you get that, you can’t set the budget,” he said, adding that he anticipates getting those figures within the next couple of weeks.


New principal says he seeks openness with parents, community
The offensive lineman from Jordan Vocational High School in Columbus, Georgia, was headed to Furman on a football scholarship in 1968.
But before tussling with collegiate big men for four years on the gridiron, Wayne McIntosh got to lead a group of 7-and-8 year olds on the basketball court. His first coaching experience “pretty much sealed the deal” — McIntosh knew he was going to be a coach and an educator.
“I don’t know if we won a game,” joked McIntosh about the kids’ team he coached. “But I had such an enjoyable experience. I knew then what I was going to do.”
Madison County High School’s new principal for the 2003-2004 school year said he “always loved going to school.”
His college diploma in hand in 1972, the former football standout would spend his next 30 years in Palmetto state schools, taking his first teaching and coaching job at Berea High School, where he stayed between 1972-76. He took a job as head football coach of Blue Ridge High School in Greenville in 1976 and stayed until 1979, when he accepted the job as head football coach of Chester High School in Chester, S.C.
In 1987, McIntosh moved to Rock Hill as assistant football coach at Northwestern High School and made the move to administration in 1993, when he became the school’s assistant principal. He took his first principal’s post in 1995 at Indian Land High School and stayed until 1999, when he accepted the principal’s position at York Comprehensive High School, where he stayed until he retired from the South Carolina school system in 2002.
McIntosh then moved “halfway home” to Banks County High School, where he served as principal last year. He said the move back to Georgia allowed him to visit more with his mother and brother in Columbus and two brothers in Atlanta. His wife, Judy, also took a job in Banks County as a reading specialist for upper elementary school and middle school, a position she still holds.
The new MCHS principal said a factor in his decision to move from Banks to Madison County was his acquaintance with Linda Holloman, a former Madison County High School principal who retired as Banks County’s assistant superintendent last year.
“She said Madison County is a great place to live and a great place to be in education,” said McIntosh.
McIntosh is the third MCHS principal in the past four years.

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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.


Colbert approves unsafe properties ordinance
Colbert’s City Council voted to approve an ordinance for the “abatement of unsafe or unhealthful properties” at its August meeting Monday night.
The new ordinance makes provisions for determining what properties are unsafe, and requirements that such properties be restored to minimum codes or be demolished.
The ordinance lists those agencies that are empowered to declare a structure as unfit for habitation or commercial use, the method of notification of property owners, opportunities for hearings and a final decision.
If property owners do not comply with the ordinance, the city is empowered to either repair or demolish the building, sell any salvageable material to help fund the action and to use the county tax office to collect any additional expenses.
Authority for the ordinance is Official Code of Georgia 41-2-7. The ordinance was in effect as of the council’s vote Monday night.
Owners of the building that brought on the ordinance are already in negotiations with the city about donating the building to the city. The building is located in the center of the row of commercial buildings across the street from the City Depot. The building has so badly deteriorated that the roof is now lying on the floor. If the city accepts the building, the council will seek grants to restore the structure and lease it out for commercial use.
Officials say that rather than sit vacant and falling down, the structure would become the centerpiece of an economic revitalization of the downtown Colbert area and an income source for the city.
Completion of the donation depends on verifying the property’s probate status and obtaining a clear deed.