News from Banks County...

AUGUST 13, 2003

Banks County


Banks County

Banks County

among all
Georgia weekly newspapers
by the Georgia Press Association

June 29, 2001

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Angela Gary
Phone conversations with Jake
I answer the phone and hear a little voice yell, HELLO, followed by lots of giggles. In the next few minutes, I hear about 10 more HELLOs, followed by lots of giggles.

Rochelle Beckstein
Car buying is easier thanks to world wide web
Being an educated car buyer is 100 times easier thanks to the world wide web. It wasn’t very many years ago when car buying decisions relied on heresay from family and neighbors.


Bring on the heat
Lady Leopard fast-pitch softball season starts up
One year ago, Banks County started its varsity fast-pitch softball program.

Neighboorhood News ..

David confronts Waddell over consultant plan
New authority members want their own consultant to study operations
Newly-appointed water authority members Wanda David and Clay Dale attempted this week to bring in their own consultant to study the authority’s operations.

EJ high school tops priority list for county BOE
In roughly a year’s time, the Jackson County School System plans to have approximately $4.69 million to use toward the construction of East Jackson Comprehensive High School, officials announced Thursday.

Neighboorhood News ..
IDA rezoning
to be considered by planners
The requested rezoning of 32.97 acres for a proposed industrial park off Hwy. 72 will be considered by the Madison County Planning and Zoning Commission during its 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 19, meeting in the county government complex.

Changes planned for zoning, subdivisions
A zoning committee is attempting to come up with changes to subdivision regulations and zoning ordinance amendments that will put further controls on future major residential developments in the county.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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This lightning bolt inspired car was one of several on display at the Atlanta Dragway during an event last weekend. See Tthis weeks Banks County Nes for results from the racing action that took place at the track.

Baldwin sewer plant on-line
Correctional institute hook-up complete
The City of Baldwin has its new sewer plant up and running and two new large customers.
The $3.2 million plant started operations last week officially ending the seven-year-long project. According to officials, the plant encompasses many new techniques in operations that are critical to waste water treatment requirements set by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
The plant can handle 800,000 gallons per day of sewerage. However, engineering estimates show the plant will be under that capacity by about 300,000 gallons per day.
“It leaves us with room to grow,” said Mayor Mark Reed at Monday’s meeting.
The connection with Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution was completed on Monday morning, said Reed. It will be the city’s largest customer with a predicted flow of around 250,000 gallons per day and will provide an estimated $250,000 annually in revenue, said city engineer Fred Hawkins.
Another business customer, Regency Thermographics, will also come on-line this weekend, he said. Their estimated yearly service will be around $6,000.
Though there are number of small items to be completed, Hawkins added, the contractor should have them completed within two weeks.
Some lab equipment from LACI’s former treatment facility will also be purchased and moved to the new plant.
City attorney David Syfan said in his talks with Kirk Mays, an engineer with the DOC Waste Water Treatment Facility Division, the prison’s equipment would be offered at 25 percent of cost. That sum would then be deducted from the prison’s first sewer bill.
Hawkins also said the city would be entitled to regain around $20,000 to $30,000 paid out in sales tax.
Reed and the city council members are planning to hold an open house at the plant sometime in October. Former council members, legislators, the chamber of commerce, board of commissioners, department of corrections, EPD and others instrumental to getting the project going and completed will be invited.
On a related matter, the project to provide Anderson Village with sewer service, funded largely through an economic incentive program (EIP) grant, was on hold, Hawkins reported.
The EPD had the plans for the project, but had yet to approve them. The project had been scheduled to go out for bid in early August, with construction beginning next month.
“It doesn’t look like things will progress as quickly as we had hoped,” he said.

Homer council seeks help with traffic control
Members of the Homer City Council are concerned with some of the intersections in the town and are hoping something can be done about the dangers.
At Monday’s meeting, the council approved the hiring of a contractor to survey the intersection of Hill Street and Greasy Creek Road.
Mayor Doug Cheek said the intersection behind the primary school needs to have “Stop” signs on all three corners. Currently, there is only one on Greasy Creek heading toward the school as it intersects Hill at a curve in the road. There are no “Stop” signs or “Yield” signs on either of the other corners.
“It presents a danger,” said Cheek.
The council agreed something needs to be done to protect residents and school children as they travel the road.
Councilwoman Sandra Garrison suggested the town install “rumble strips” in the roads in advance of the “Stop” signs should they be approved and installed.
Other intersections that have caused concern are at Evans Street and Athens Street and at Highway 98, Evans Street and Athens Street.
Cheek said a survey had been completed in the past at both of those problem areas, but the council was told the traffic did not warrant “Stop” signs.
The council is also troubled at the speed some drivers travel through town. They would like to see the speed limit lowered and the presence of deputies to help slow traffic down.
In other business:
•town attorney Gary Freeman said he is still working on researching all the deeds needed to acquire right of ways for the widening project on Thompson Street. He told the council the work should be completed by next week. There is no set completion date for the project yet.
•the council agreed to seek more bids for a new truck for the city workers. The current truck is not in good operating condition and needs to be replaced. The mayor has been soliciting bids from area dealerships, with an eye toward purchasing a six-cylinder Ford Ranger pick-up. City workers would use the vehicle to read water meters and conduct maintenance on water lines, roads and roadways.
•Cheek said the department of transportation had requested the city turn in a prioritized list of streets in need of repair and resurfacing under the LARP program. Two blocks of Church Street are slated to be resurfaced soon under the last LARP grant.
•Rick Billingslea, director of the Banks County Chamber of Commerce addressed the council and proposed the town partner with the chamber in an effort to revitalize the town. He said he believes the town could be eligible for grants to restore certain areas making them more attractive for development by small businesses. If he had office help, he would be able to seek those grants for the town. He asked the council consider sharing the cost of one staff person, so he could use the time to develop grants through programs such as Better Home Towns and StreetScapes. The council said they would consider the matter.
•Billingslea also discussed the chamber’s “Heritage Days” festival planned for Saturday, August 30, and Sunday, August 31. He said a parade, with Rep. Jeanette Jamieson as grand marshal, will feature classic and antique cars and trucks and horse and mule drawn buggies and wagons. The route will start at the middle school and end at the horse arena on the county farm land. Juried artisans and demonstrators will be selling and showing their wares over the two-day event.
•Cheek discussed moving ahead with architectural drawings for the new town hall to be built on Highway 441 at York Street. The lot has been cleared. Funds to pay for the new town hall will come from the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST).

State says BCMS didn’t meet yearly progress mark
School system disputes report’s accuracy
The state department of education says that Banks County Middle School did not meet its adequate yearly progress (AYP), though school officials dispute the accuracy of the data.
The school met all goals in improved test scores but failed to test 95 percent of its special education students, the state says. However, school officials say that information is incorrect.
Under the new federal No Child Left Behind guidelines, schools in the state must meet certain criteria in testing goals if they receive Title I money from the federal government.
Part of that criteria requires all school systems to test at least 95 percent of the students in each school. Additionally, the system must also test 95 percent of each sub-group.
Sub-groups are divided by race and even learning abilities, including special education. But to qualify as a sub-group, 40 students must fall into the category.
At Banks County, the state claims the middle school had exactly 40 special education students last year, the minimum number to be classified as a sub-group.
Therefore, the state requires that 95 percent of those students be tested in order to meet AYP guidelines. The state, however, said Banks County only tested 36 of the students, only 90 percent of the group.
School officials say the state has used erroneous information to calculate the middle school’s AYP.
“All the years I’ve been here, we’ve tested every special ed kid without exception,” special education director Pam Strickland said at a board meeting Thursday.
She said the central office was comparing its information with the state reports to find the source of the error and appeal the state’s decision.
Further, Strickland said the state had sent the school system information about its testing of special ed students that differed from reports published on the Georgia Department of Education website.
According to her information from the state, the middle school had only 37 special education kids last year, 36 of which were tested.
The school system will be appealing the report. Should the system be able to prove that the middle school does in fact meet the 95 percent testing requirement, the school could be given a passing grade on its AYP report.
This year marks the third year the middle school has been listed as not meeting AYP. After two years on the list, a school becomes classified as “needs improvement.”
During “needs improvement year one,” school officials must offer a public choice option to allow parents to transfer students in the school to another school within the system. Since Banks County has only one middle school, that requirement does not affect the county. The system did, however, have to draft a school improvement plan.
Under “needs improvement year two,” the current designation for the middle school barring an appeal, the system must use Title I funds to pay for after-school tutoring and other services to help students.
Superintendent Chris Erwin said at the school board meeting that the school should offer those tutoring services whether it wins the appeal or not.
Banks County Middle School must meet its AYP for two years in a row to come off the needs improvement list.
Other school systems statewide have also expressed problems with the report.
The primary, elementary and upper elementary schools all reached their AYP goals.
Each of the three schools passed the state guidelines in improved test scores and also in testing of students.

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BOC approves three new businesses
The Banks County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night approved two rezonings and a conditional use permit that will pave the way for three new businesses.
The board approved Rickey Cain’s motion to grant a conditional use permit to Byung Chung to locate a health spa in the basement of MVP Sports Café.
Chung agreed to close the health spa at the same time as the MVP and stated that after he establishes his business, he plans on closing around 9 p.m. Chung will offer spa and massage services and also tanning services at the business.
The commissioners also approved the rezoning of land where the Homer bypass ties into Hwy. 441 near English Road, also on Cain’s motion.
Lamar Frady said Mt. Express Oil Company plans to build a convenience store there very similar to the Chevron station on Hwy. 441 at Otis Brown Road just south of Baldwin.
Frady added that the project will have a detention pond to catch any possible fuel spills.
David Jones Jr. also received a rezoning of property he owns on Hwy. 441 at Samples Scales Road from ARR to C-2. He said he has plans to locate a produce stand and antique shop at the location.
His future plans, Jones said, are to convert the business into a weekend BBQ shack or ice cream shop to attract tourists along Hwy. 441. He added that he lives very near to the property and owns land around the location and would not be doing anything detrimental to the area.
At Tuesday’s meeting the BOC:
•approved an ordinance amendment that prevents any development made within a flood plain from hooking onto the county’s water system. BOC chairman Kenneth Brady said the change was required by the state in order to keep loans and grants for water and sewer system improvements coming.
•denied three ordinance amendments that would have done away with the 40-foot height limit on signs in C-1, C-2 and M-1 zoning. The new ordinance would have established a 103-foot height limit in those zoning designations and eliminated the process of seeking a variance from the county for signs greater than 40 feet tall. In his motion, Cain suggested the planning commission come up with an ordinance that would allow taller signs within a radius around I-85 but keep the lower height requirement in the rest of the county.
•voted to keep the sewage system change order for the system expansion project at Banks Crossing on the table. Brady suggested bringing it off the table for discussion. However, Cain said he was working on the project and didn’t want to act on the change order at the meeting.
•agreed to allow the chamber of commerce to use the county’s insurance underwriter to get a policy to cover the Heritage Days festival at the county farm. The chamber will finance the cost of the policy.
•agreed to allow Banks County Mental Health to use the Senior Center when the department needs additional space.
•approved Gunby Communications’ $30,280 low bid for the maintenance contract on the E-911 Center equipment. Director Deidra Moore asked for a stipulation on the contract approval that Gunby first demonstrate the ability to repair equipment in the center. Successful completion of that evaluation will give the contract to Gunby.
•reappointed Gene McDuffie to the planning and zoning appeals board and added new members Edward Barrett and George Worley.
•declared the old election equipment and the senior center’s old van as surplus items and available for sale.