News from Madison County...

AUGUST 13, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
My past andcurrent news
While there are many things about getting older that I do not particularly like, having a small stake in big historical stories keeps life interesting.

Zach Mitcham
The Cold War and my remote
My remote control shoots a signal to an orbiting satellite and back 22,400 miles away. The command travels 44,800 miles in less time than it takes to raise the Dorito with bean dip on it to my mouth.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Making it to the last weekend in October
Softball Raiders have eyes on fourth straight trip to Columbus
It’s a humble way of saying it, but a statement that nevertheless leaves little doubt to the stability of the Madison County softball program right now.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

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.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
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First day back

Madison County students return to class Thurs., Aug. 7
(Above) Collin Roberts gives his full concentration to his building block set on the first day of kindergarten at Colbert Elementary last Thursday morning. (Left) Lindsey Chandler, 5, appears a bit unsure about this “school business” on her first day of kindergarten at Colbert. School was back in session for all Madison County Schools on Thursday, Aug. 7.

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.
The agenda item is as follows: Marvin White for the Madison County Industrial Authority — a request to rezone a 32.97-acre parcel from A-2 to industrial for light industrial and business use. The property is located on James Holcomb Road and Hwy. 72 in Colbert.
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.
Industrial authority members say they now are simply following the recommendation by an advisory committee established by county commissioners 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.
See this weeks Madison County Journal for other items on the planning commission agenda


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.
“We want quality subdivisions - such as those with landscaping, sidewalks and the like,” zoning committee chairman Leo Smith said. “And we want to avoid the sort of ‘helter-skelter’ developments that we’ve seen happening in other counties.”
A major goal is to try to keep larger developments concentrated in areas where water is readily available.
Officials are also planning to tighten requirements for lot sizes to exclude “non-buildable land” from being considered as part of the minimum acreage requirements.
For example, if zoning requires a rural residential two acre minimum, the two acres must consist of “buildable land” which does not include road rights of way, easements for power lines or other utilities, bodies of water, flood plains and other similar limiting factors.
Proposed changes, if approved, will also encourage the use of municipal or public water systems, as opposed to private wells, wherever feasible.
Municipal water systems will be required to be used by all platted lots in a subdivision, where available.
Otherwise, the subdivider will be required to provide either a public water source, shared water system, or indicate on the plats that water will be supplied by private wells to be established by lot owners. Private wells will not be allowed in a conservation subdivision.
All public water systems must be built to county Industrial Authority standards and the establishment of a homeowners association will be required where shared water systems are installed to help insure the system’s maintenance.
A public hearing will be held on the proposed changes and amendments at the planning and zoning commission’s public hearings to be held next Tuesday night, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.


Danielsville bank robber connected to Franklin County robbery
The man who allegedly robbed the Danielsville branch of the Merchants and Farmers Bank on June 30, is also being sought in connection with another other local bank robbery, according to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Springs Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect,” the release said.
Last Wednesday, Aug. 6, a man matching the description of the June 30 robber entered the Franklin Springs branch of Pinnacle Bank in Franklin County around 9:30 a.m. and demanded money before leaving the bank on foot.
The man who robbed the Danielsville bank also demanded money and left on foot.
“Based on information available, it appears the robberies were committed by the same individual,” GBI agent John Bankhead said in the release.
The suspect is a slender, black male, 5 foot 9 inches to six feet tall, 25 to 35 years of age, with brown eyes and black hair. The suspect is considered to be “armed and dangerous.”
Anyone with any information is urged to call Madison County 911 or the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 706-384-2525.
A reward is being offered in the case.


Two schools cited for not meeting AYP standards
Enough students at Madison County Middle School and Hull-Sanford Elementary School passed reading and math exams last year to keep their overall student bodies off a federal list of schools failing to show adequate progress.
Nevertheless, both schools were recently cited for failing to show “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) under George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative due to other factors.
Under the federal initiative, schools that are cited for failing to show progress are required to allow for student transfers to other schools or provide “supplemental services,” such as tutoring or extra classes.
The news of two local schools being cited sounds troubling for parents, but the blacklisting may not be as black and white as it seems.
For instance, Hull-Sanford was cited not because of its students’ test performance — overall 75 percent of the school’s students passed the reading portion of the test and 72 percent passed math (the federal government requires that 60 percent of all test takers pass the test to avoid citation.)
Instead, the elementary school was cited because the school reportedly failed to meet the 95 percent participation level on the standardized Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) for a subset of test takers, or more specifically, it didn’t have enough economically disadvantaged kids taking the test to pass muster.
Or did it? County superintendent Keith Cowne explained Monday that the county school system is appealing the citation, noting that the school discovered mismatching student ID and test numbers. Madison County notified the state of the mistake and received correspondence that the error was acknowledged. However, Cowne said the department of education then failed to make the necessary changes in documentation.
In a nutshell, Cowne contends that Hull-Sanford did have the proper number of “economically disadvantaged” children taking the test, but that the state’s failure to correct the documentation made it appear that the school didn’t meet the 95 percent participation requirement. (The requirement is imposed so that schools don’t alter their numbers by encouraging poorly-performing students to skip the test.)
Of Hull-Sanford’s students deemed “economically disadvantaged,” 63 percent passed the math test and 65 percent passed the reading portion.
At Madison County Middle School, 72 percent of students taking the CRCT reading exam passed, compared to 60 percent of MCMS test takers passing the math exam. Both of these numbers were good enough — though the math was just barely passable — to keep the school’s overall population off the AYP list.
However, three testing subsets — black students, special education children and economically disadvantaged pupils — failed to meet adequate testing requirements. Among these, the results were often borderline — had one more black student passed the reading exam, the school would not have been cited in this category, had three more — out of 180 — economically disadvantaged children passed the reading exam, MCMS would have avoided citation.
For more on this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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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.


County inmate commits suicide
A 50-year-old Colbert man committed suicide in the old Madison County jail Sunday morning.
According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, Richard Grantham was found in a cell shared by two other inmates, hanging by a bed sheet torn into strips, wrapped around his neck and tied to the top of a bunk bed.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. Sunday while his cellmates slept, according to chief deputy Bill Strickland.
Strickland said Grantham was arrested around noon the previous day and charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery and false imprisonment.
The charges stemmed from an incident between Grantham and his live-in girlfriend at their Lem Edwards Road home.
The woman was placed in intensive care at a local hospital and is being treated for injuries she allegedly received from Grantham during the incident.
According to the press release, Grantham had talked with a pastor from a local church only moments before the incident. Several pastors, who were ministering to other inmates at the time of the incident, discovered Grantham as they passed back by his cell, alerting jail personnel, who attempted to revive him.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident, as is standard procedure in such cases, according to the press release.
Sheriff Clayton Lowe said Tuesday that autopsy results confirmed the death was a suicide.


Game room operator arrested on drug charges
Sheriff Clayton Lowe and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, along with officers of the Northern Piedmont Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad arrested Melvin Hooper, a long-time county resident, last week on two counts of the sale of marijuana at a game room he operated on Hwy. 98 between Ila and Commerce.
Several other charges are pending and the investigation is continuing.
Hooper was arrested after a search warrant of the game room Friday afternoon, Aug. 8. Seized during the search was over $20,000 in cash, several hundred pain pills, nerve pills and other illegally possessed narcotics, along with a number of firearms.
Hooper was released on a $3,000 bond.