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AUGUST 27, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS

Frank Gillespie
The story of MCHS and the Red Raider
On January 1, 1954, a spectacular image exploded onto the sports scene in America. The place was Jacksonville Florida. The event was the Gator Bowl.

Zach Mitcham
Park issue still far from resolved
The votes are in — the county will steam ahead with the park plan.
But here are three questions that remain despite the BOC's approval of the IDA's industrial park rezoning request Monday:


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Seeking redemption
After stumbling to Franklin Co. in last year’s opener, MCHS looks
to start 2003 on the right foot
Raider head coach Tom Hybl isn’t sure what kind of effect last year’s 7-6 season opening loss to Franklin County had on the rest of the 2002 season.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Courthouse suit to be heard Tues.
Citizens’ group legal battle with BOC on the agenda
A key hearing will be held next Tuesday on the lawsuit between a group of local citizens and the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

Mill WorkforceTo Be Cut To 33 Jobs This Fall
Two-thirds of the jobs at Mt. Vernon Mills will be moved to Alto this fall, leaving only 33 workers in the 350,000 square foot building that has been a Commerce institution since 1893.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
Reviving the past
Plans for new town hall in Gillsville take shape
In between recollections of five-cent candy, men gathered around a pot-bellied stove for afternoon chats and shelves with old button-down shoes, the Gillsville City Council members walked around a century-old former general store that will one day be turned into the new town hall.

BCN office closed Monday;
Early deadlines set next week
The Banks County News will have early deadlines for next week’s issue due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday.

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The Madison County Journal
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Madison County commissioners voted 4-1 Monday night to approve the IDA’s request to rezone 32.97 acres on James Holcomb Road from “agricultural” to “industrial” use. Pictured (L-R) are commissioners Bill Taylor, Johnny Fitzpatrick, Mike Youngblood, Melvin Drake and Bruce Scogin.

Commissioners back park plans
Group votes 4-1 to overrule earlier zoning board recommendation
“Park issue still far from resolved” — See editorial .
The controversial land off Hwy. 72 looks no different today than it did last week. But Monday, nearly 33 acres off James Holcomb Road officially changed from farm property to industrial land.
The county commissioners voted 4-1, with Melvin Drake providing the lone “no” vote, to approve a request by the industrial authority to rezone the western 32.97 acres of the IDA’s 80 acres on James Holcomb Road from A-2 (agricultural) to industrial classification.
The board’s decision is a rejection of last week’s unanimous planning commission vote to deny the rezoning request. Planners said last week that the property was purchased in a “flighty” fashion, “without much thought or cost analysis.”
Many who oppose the proposed industrial park wanted to see the property sold and the business park plan abandoned, saying it would prove nothing more than a financial drain on taxpayers. But proponents say the park is a way to look at for the county’s long-term financial interests.
Both sentiments were expressed again Monday.
Four people stood at the podium, questioning whether the county would benefit from the rezoning.
A chief concern centered on the problem of accessing the property from Hwy. 72. Some say that the turn off of Hwy. 72 is difficult and that big vehicles will be left exposed to highway traffic, creating a safety hazard.
“It’s a dangerous spot for any vehicle other than a car going on that road,” said Tommy Johnson. “I’ve seen people killed right there in that spot.”
CSX trains also frequently block access from Hwy. 72 to James Holcomb Road.
“You don’t have the railway access or highway access for any sort of commercial venture there,” said Jim Warren.
But commission chairman Wesley Nash said he felt the county stands a lot better chance of getting cooperation from CSX on keeping the entrance to the property from being blocked if the land is industrial. He said there is also discussion of a possible underpass to the property through federal funding to the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS).
Opponents of the park also say county taxpayers weren’t given a voice in the decision to purchase the property. The IDA purchased the property late in 2001 for $425,000. The group has paid interest on the land, but nothing on the principal debt.
“The money these people are spending is not coming out of their accounts; it’s coming out of the taxpayers accounts,” said Doug Epps.
But others say the rezoning is in the interest of county taxpayers, in that it will help attract businesses to the county and offset the tax burden on property owners.
Former Chamber of Commerce chairman Linda O’Neal told commissioners that the land purchase was “the right thing, perhaps not done in the right way.” However, she said the property lies in a high-growth area as designated in the county comprehensive plan and that citizens had plenty of opportunity to comment on the comprehensive land use plan. She noted that earlier this year a Madison County Grand Jury recommended the rezoning of the property to an “industrial” classification. And she said she felt IDA members would follow the wishes of a business park committee, that suggested the authority develop the western portion of the property under certain noise, light and other restrictions.
“I feel I can stand before you saying the gentlemen on the IDA are men of honor,” said O’Neal.
One commissioner, Bruce Scogin, admitted the industrial authority’s purchase of the controversial James Holcomb Road property was perhaps a mistake. But Scogin and three others at the board table agreed that the best course of action now is to seek businesses to purchase the property. The rezoned portion includes six tracts of land.
“It may have been a mistake to buy the property,” said Scogin. “We can’t change that...I think it’s time for us to move forward with whatever we can do over there.”
Scogin said he felt that selling the property and abandoning the park plans would be a disservice to the business park committee that recommended developing the western half of the land.
“To deny this rezoning would be to say (to the committee) ‘thanks for nothing,” said Scogin.


Inmates to inhabit new county jail soon
Inmates will most likely be inhabiting the new county jail sometime within the next two weeks, according to chief deputy Bill Strickland.
Approximately 20 inmates will move from the old jail in Danielsville to the new jail located on Hwy. 98 across from the recreation department.
Strickland said inmates being housed out in other counties will most likely remain where they are for now as the sheriff’s office attempts to serve a back log of arrest warrants.
Strickland said the 65 bed jail is expected to be at capacity very soon.


The first days of MCHS
“We took four years on top of that red hill and built a new school with a new school spirit - I’m more proud of what we did in Madison County than anything in my career before or since.” — Dan W. Bramlett, Madison County High School’s first principal
School’s first principal recalls challenge of combining four schools into one
The year was 1955 and Madison County High School’s first principal Dan W. Bramlett was facing what many would have called a daunting challenge — how to successfully bring 500 to 700 teenagers from four rival high schools together under one roof.
Now retired, Bramlett, 89, spends his days with wife Margie in their cozy Winterville home, but he well remembers “the whole story” of the making of this county’s first consolidated school, writing down the high points in a three-page penciled outline before being interviewed for this story.
“We took four years on top of that red hill and built a new school with a new school spirit, “ Bramlett said. “I’m more proud of what we did in Madison County than anything in my career before or since.”
A HISTORY LESSON
Previously, students around the county who made it to ninth grade had attended one of four local high schools in either Danielsville, Ila, Colbert or Comer.
But by the mid-1950s times were changing in the educational system all over the state as locally-controlled country schools were being consolidated under the Georgia School Building Authority.
Madison County was the first county in the state’s northeast ninth congressional district to receive a state-funded grant to build its own high school, according to Bramlett, who credits then county superintendent James K. Brookshire for getting it done.
For the rest of 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.


BOC hires water utility director
Citizen complains that personnel matter inappropriately handled
Madison County commissioners unanimously approved Tyson Culberson as the industrial authority’s utilities director Monday.
The hiring comes after more than a year-long search for someone to oversee the IDA’s day-to-day water operations. The IDA had conducted interviews for the post last year, but found that most qualified for the post asked for more money than the authority could afford to pay.
The new position will begin in the $25,000 range with opportunity to move up the pay scale to around $40,000.
Citizen Doug Epps addressed the commissioners Monday before the vote on the hiring, saying that commission chairman Wesley Nash, who also serves as a non-voting member of the IDA, promised the job to Culberson, who had been employed at the recreation department, before the position was even advertised.
“I am under the impression that this was advertised on Monday and on the Friday prior to that, Mr. Nash met with Dick Perpall (recreation director) and told him that he (Culberson) had the job,” said Epps. “...We have a non-voting member of the IDA board hiring people at least three days before the position was posted.”
Epps said Nash was doing business “the boss hog, good-ole’-boy way.”
“My wife needs to double her salary,” said Epps to Nash. “Can she join your hunting club?”
Nash told the commissioners that the position did not legally have to be advertised. He said he was asked by the IDA to see whether there was anyone employed by the county who would be interested in the job.
Nash noted that Culberson has worked as a plumber’s helper and can operate a backhoe. He added that he and the authority were open to considering anyone who was interested in the position.
The Madison County Industrial Authority is expanding its water system in the Hull area, hoping to attract businesses to the area and add 185 customers currently served by Athens in the Hull vicinity.