News from Jackson County...

AUGUST 13, 2003

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County


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A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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One Last Time
2003 To Be Swan Song Year For Slow Pitch Softball In Commerce
None of Donny Drew’s current players were even born when he coached his first slow pitch softball game game for Commerce in 1984.

Panthers prep for Friday scrimmage at White Co.
After several weeks of grueling preseason work against one another, the Jackson County football team will finally get to battle an opposing squad Friday when they travel to White County for a scrimmage game.

Greene County scrimmage gives Dragon faithful a taste of the team
The Jefferson football team is slowly progressing towards where their head coach would like them to be.
Following last Friday’s scrimmage at Memorial Stadium with Greene County, Dragon head coach Bill Navas stated that he was pleased with the amount of desire his team has been showing, however there is still much work to be done this preseason in his opinion.

Neighborhood News...
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.

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.

Neighborhood 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 Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority board member Wanda David (R) stands with engineer John Desselle as they ask Jerry Waddell for a tour of the JCWSA building Tuesday morning. David and member Clay Dale have said they want an outside firm to study the authority’s operations. David is the former girlfriend of Waddell and was put on the authority last month by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. The BOC and water authority have been in a political tug-of-war for months over control of authority operations.

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.
David also asked this week that the authority set up a special “work session,” bring in its auditor for a discussion, and gather a list of employees working at the authority along with their salaries and benefits.
Although the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has not discussed doing an outside study of its operations, David confronted her ex-boyfriend and water superintendent Jerry Waddell Tuesday morning at water authority offices with a consultant in tow. David wanted the consultant to “tour” water authority facilities and gather information to formulate a proposal to study Waddell’s performance and the financial situation of the authority.
But the plan was met with a cool rebuttal by Waddell. In a five-minute face-off at authority offices, Waddell declined to allow John Desselle of Stevenson & Palmer Engineering, Inc. to tour the facility.
“The process (to hire a firm) would be to send out an RFP (request for proposals) and have a pre-bid meeting and invite everybody to do a walk-through if that’s what the board wants,” Waddell said later.
Stevenson & Palmer is the engineering firm for the City of Commerce. Several city leaders have formed a close alliance with the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in recent months, but it was not clear if the BOC played a role in David’s effort to bring the firm into the authority’s operations. A spokesman for Stevenson & Palmer declined to comment on the matter following Tuesday’s meeting with Waddell.

The action comes amid increasing tensions on the authority following the appointment of David and Dale last month.
David and Waddell only recently resolved a bitter civil lawsuit after the breakup of a personal relationship. The appointment of David to the authority by the BOC has been widely viewed as another effort by that board to take control of the authority and get rid of Waddell as water superintendent.
In declining to allow Desselle to tour the authority office, Waddell said the action had not been authorized by the water authority and that it would be unfair to only allow one firm to preview data before a formal bid process had been agreed to.
Waddell said he had spoken with authority chairman Elton Collins and vice chairman Warren Walker about David and Dale’s plans to bring in a consultant and had been advised not to allow him to have access to the facility without authority approval.
David has been touting her plan to bring in a consultant in a series of one-on-one meetings with authority members and others in the community.
Although not present Tuesday, Dale said later that he agreed with David that an outside firm should be hired to study the operations of the authority.
“It’s just like a contractor looking at a job,” Dale said of the plans Tuesday to have a consultant look over the operations in preparation for doing a proposal. “All we were doing was getting an idea of cost.”
Dale said the plan had been for Stevenson & Palmer to make a presentation at the next authority meeting to do a management study.
“We need to get moving in the right direction,” Dale said.
Dale said he had not gotten a lot of cooperation from the authority in getting information he wanted. But based on what he’s seen, Dale said he “wouldn’t say (the authority) is a successful business.”
David and Dale were recently appointed to the water authority by commissioners Stacey Britt, Emil Beshara and Tony Beatty. Britt and Beshara have been outspoken critics of the authority and earlier this year attempted to engineer a BOC takeover of the group. That effort failed when local legislators declined to go along with the plan.
Beshara has also long been a critic of Waddell, harking back to when Waddell was BOC chairman. It was Beshara who made the motion to have David appointed to the authority last month.
In a related matter, county manager Al Crace has made an open records request for some of the same information David wants. Waddell said the county already receives a monthly report from the authority with most of the information requested.
In the request, Crace wants a list of employees, their job titles and salaries, a copy of the annual budget, capital construction budget, engineering reports, the status of SPLOST projects and the status of sewer line construction.
Waddell said all of that except the employee information is sent monthly to the board of commissioners.

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.
The money will be granted to the school system as part of the state capital outlay funding project and should be enough to get started on a core facility, according to school superintendent Andy Byers.
The majority of the money, $3.36 million has already been allotted to the system, which received a copy of the entitlement recently.
The remainder of the money, approximately $1.324 million, is expected to be received roughly a year from now, given current student projections.
The funding will cover approximately $58 per square feet. The projections show the system will need to pay some $20 per square foot for the rest of the project. A core facility is estimated to be roughly 50-60,000 square feet in size.
Byers indicated that the top priority in the coming months will be the construction of the new high school.
In other business, a lengthy discussion was held about West Jackson Middle School and East Jackson Middle School, each of which were among more than 450 schools across the state that did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards as set by the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Under the AYP standards, not only must the overall student population meet average goals, but also specific “subgroups” of students must, as a separate group, also meet the goals. It was in the subgroup areas that the two Jackson County schools failed to meet standards, curriculum director Mary Leuzinger said.
The subgroup in question for Jackson County — students with disabilities — was the only reason the middle schools did not meet AYP. The other eight subgroups met AYP standards and the schools, overall, continue to make progress, according to school system officials.
“The bottom line is, I’m extremely pleased with the overall progress of our schools,” Byers said.
“It’s ridiculous to label a school as not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress by the performance of just one subgroup,” he explained.
No calls had been received by the school system about the issue and the general consensus among educators in Jackson County is that teachers are more concerned about the situation than parents.
“We’re just going to take this in a positive manner and look at it as a challenge,” Byers added.
In other business, Byers said that as long as the City of Nicholson continues to make strides toward upgrading road conditions in the Ivy Plantation subdivision, the school system will continue to route buses through the area.
“These are children that would not be able to get to school many days,” Byers explained. “And these are children we need to educate... education is the only way to break the cycle that these children are living in. We are not supposed to run buses on private drives, but I feel like we have an obligation to in this case.”
Because Nicholson has no road department, it can only incorporate streets the state department of transportation agrees to maintain.
In January, Byers and Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell reached an agreement that allowed buses to enter the neighborhood as long as the city was working with the DOT to remedy the problem of road standards in part of the subdivision.
In other business:
•a construction easement at West Jackson Middle School for sewer line construction was granted to the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.
•a fixed price contract for health services with Northeast Georgia RESA was approved.
•a bus driver salary schedule for the coming fiscal year was approved.
•policy KC, related to advisory councils, was revised to meet current standards.

County school enrollment up more than 5%
The Jackson County School System saw its student population increase by more than five percent this school year, compared to the third day of classes last school year.
Schools opened last Wednesday and attendance figures from all of the county schools show the system has an additional 299 students, as of Friday. The county school system now has 5,487 students.
With 113 additional students, Jackson County Comprehensive High School experienced the greatest increase in the number of students, from 1,361 last year to 1,471 this year.
Among elementary schools, West Jackson Primary School gained the largest number of new students. The school, which includes pre-kindergarten through second grade, jumped from 398 students last year to 469 students this school year.
Meanwhile, both of the county’s middle schools have reported virtually the same number of students are enrolled for this school year versus last year. At 714 students, West Jackson Middle School has the same number of students, while East Jackson Middle School reports increasing by three students to 611 for the school year.
The Gordon Street Center also reported six students were enrolled for the first day courses last Wednesday.

An article in last week’s Jackson Herald about methamphetamine mentioned Jackson County Comprehensive High School specifically as having a problem with the drug.
But Superintendent Andy Byers said this week that no arrests have been made at the school for the drug and that officials contract with a private company and routinely use drug dogs to search for illegal substances.
The article should have pointed out that the problem with methamphetamine use in Jackson County has begun to rise among high school-aged kids, not specifically JCCHS students.
Further, an 18-year-old mentioned in the story was not a student at JCCHS at the time of his drug arrest. He was however a former JCCHS student who had been expelled from the school system.
The information in the article was based on an interview with an undercover officer. Sheriff Stan Evans also commented on the matter in a letter to the editor this week.

Mar-Jac Story Correction
The story published last week about Mar-Jac being investigated following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, contained two errors.
The date of the U.S. Customs visit to the Gainesville headquarters was March, 20, 2002. Also, Jamal Al-Bazinji, Al-Talib Hisham and M. Yaqub Mirza, corporate officers of Mar-Jac and of its parent company, are Middle Eastern descent but not from Saudi Arabia. Two are from Pakistan and one from Iraq, according to John McCosh, a company spokesman.
Mar-Jac, an international distributor of chicken products based in Gainesville, intends to build a feed mill in Maysville. The company employs 1,200 people in North Georgia and is Hall County's third-largest employer.
McCosh points out that neither Mar-Jac nor its management is under investigation and that all materials taken by the U.S. Customs Service have been returned.
Mar-Jac sued the CBS news program "60 Minutes" after a May 2003 segment featuring an anonymous author of a book alleging that Mar-Jac engages in money laundering, funneling revenue to charitable organizations, which send money to terrorist groups. Mar-Jac says "60 Minutes" never contacted anyone from the company for comment.



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Commerce Council Rejects Annexation For Subdivision
The Commerce City Council Monday night rejected a rezoning and annexation request that would have led to almost 400 new houses.
It turned down the proposal by Glen D. Chatham to rezone from A-2 in Jackson County to R-3 176 acres on Georgia 15 and Traynham Road, accepting the recommendation of the Com-merce Planning Commission.
KMV Enterprises had a contract to purchase the land from Vans Clinkscales for the development of a subdivision featuring 405 single-family lots, according to the company's initial proposal. The number of lots was later dropped to 387.
It didn't matter. No one was present Monday night to pitch the virtues of the development to the city council, and a motion by Bob Sosebee to accept the planning commission's recommendation passed unanimously without comment.
Another rezoning request continues to live on. The city council voted 5-0 (with Sosebee abstaining) to send back to the planning commission Andy Barnett's request to rezone and annex 30 acres on W.E. King Road.
The planning commission had recommended that the city council turn down Barnett's request, made on behalf of property owners Gelu and Eugene Balaban.
This will be the planning commission's third review of Barnett's request.
In its first look, the planning panel suggested that Barnett look at creating an "overlay" district, where houses are clustered on smaller lots to leave open space. Barnett told the council Monday night that power line rights of way made that impossible.
At its second look, the planning commission proposed that Barnett try for R-2, which has larger lots.
"We looked at R-2 and could get 26 lots," Barnett said Monday. "That wouldn't even get the infrastructure into the property."
The would-be developer noted that he could put 48 houses on 30 acres already zoned R-3 if it were inside the city.
"I need R-3 for the easements," Barnett stated.
He also suggested that houses in the development would not be starter homes.
"I don't think the city needs any more $99,000 homes. I don't think the city needs any more starter homes. It needs houses for $130,000 and up," he said.
In other business related to the planning commission, the city council re-elected Chairman Greg Perry to a second four-year term and named Mark McCannon to the Ward 3 seat formerly held by Doug Newcomer, who did not wish to be reappointed.

Annexation, rezoning requests to be heard in Braselton Annexation and rezoning requests for properties in Barrow and Hall counties are among four proposals the Braselton Planning Commission will hear when it meets Monday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m.
The four requests are being sought by two separate parties for nearby or adjoining properties.
Craig and Joanne Miller, Hoschton, are seeking to annex a total of 18.55 acres on Ga. Hwy. 211 in Barrow County for a conservation subdivision and six commercial buildings. The property is currently zoned R-1 and the Millers are seeking C-2 zoning on 3.7 acres and R-3 zoning on 14.85 acres for the subdivision.
The subdivision, called Miller’s Chapel, will include 68 homes with 2,400-4,400 square-feet. Plans show a park, two ponds and a clubhouse for the proposed subdivision. Twenty-eight homes will have rear-access alleys.
An additional two acres located behind the subdivision will also be part of the development, which will allow the project to have 30 percent of greenspace.
Two other annexation and rezoning requests being sought by Frank Duncan, Buford, are located on properties in Hall County at the intersection known as Duncan’s Crossing.
Duncan is seeking to rezone property on the corner of Thompson Mill Road and Spout Springs Road from residential to C-2 for the purpose of five commercial buildings totaling 74,700 square-feet with out-parcel retail space. The buildings would be located near Duncan’s Corner Bottle Shop.
He is also seeking to have a 37,400 square-foot commercial building and out-parcel space be located at the intersection of Thompson Mill Road and Friendship Road.

Crowded jail costs Jackson $123,000 so far this year
Overcrowding at the county jail has already cost Jackson County more than $122,902 this year.
The county has spent this to house prisoners outside of the county because there is no room at the Jackson County jail.
The county is housing 57 inmates in other county jails throughout the state, including Towns, Monroe, Butts, Lumpkin and Appling counties. The charge is $35 per day, per inmate, not including medical costs.
The county has also ordered extra mattresses in order for more inmates to sleep on the floor.
Sheriff Stan Evans said his staff has spent more than 125 hours transporting inmates to and from county facilities.
“This situation is as bad as I have seen it in 19 years and it appears to be getting worse rapidly,” the sheriff said. “Additional staffing is desperately needed to handle more inmates and provide security at the jail.”
Evans said the overcrowding conditions have created a “very dangerous work atmosphere” for the employees, as well as the inmates.
“Our staffing was already below a minimum standard with below capacity conditions,” Evans said. “Overtime hours will become exorbitant and burnout among employees is already noticeable.”