News from Jackson County...

SEPTEMBER 10, 2003


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS

Clearing The First Hurdle
Despite what it might have lacked in style points, Commerce will mark down its Friday night’s Commerce win over Franklin County under the “we’ll take it” column.

Panthers ready for home debut against Glads
The past week-and a half has allowed the Jackson County football team plenty of opportunity to study up on Friday night’s opponent, Clarke Central.

Dragons seeking payback as home season kicks off
When Jefferson hosts Lumpkin County this Friday at Memorial Stadium there shouldn’t be much in the way of motivation lacking come game time for the Dragons.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
County SAT scores drop one point
System working on initiatives for score improvement
The Banks County school system got mixed results when its SAT scores for last year arrived.

School system working on positive public relations
The Banks County School System has put one of its employees in charge of its public relations in the hopes of spreading information about the county’s schools.


Neighborhood News...
MADISON COUNTY
City of Comer searches for new police chief
The City of Comer has started the search for a new police chief, voting to advertise for a replacement for Chief Barry Reed who left two weeks ago for a position with the Elbert County Sheriff’s Department.
The council, which made the decision following a closed session Tuesday night, had come under criticism for not acting from at least two prominent citizens.

Felton to speak at United Way Kickoff
New Georgia men’s basketball coach Dennis Felton will be the guest speaker at Madison County’s 2003-2004 United Way Campaign Kickoff set for Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 a.m. at Williams Transco on Transco Road off Hwy. 98 between Danielsville and Comer.

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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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ENTERTAINING THE CROWD

The Jefferson High School marching band entertained the crowd at half-time of Friday night’s football game. Shown are: (L-R) Andrew Stephens, Clay Skinner and Dane Richards.

BOC Ok’s new county code, land use plan
After more than two years of meetings and work, the new county unified development code and land use plan and map have been approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
The BOC approved the updates when it met Monday. The plan only affects unincorporated areas of the county.
The BOC met for more than three hours Friday to finalize the document in preparation for Monday’s vote. One of the last items settled, which had been debated on several occasions, dealt with the age of mobile homes that are moved into the county. The final decision was to allow homes 10-years-old or newer to be moved within the county. However, homes moved into Jackson County from outside the county must be five-years-old or newer.
The BOC also settled on a plan for property splits that do not have road access. The new plan will allow property owners one five-acre property split without road frontage. However, the split must meet all density requirements and a permanent easement must be filed on the deed.
After this one five-acre split, property owners will be allowed eight-acre splits without road frontage, as long as they also meet density requirements and have a permanent easement recorded on the deed.
A third issue that was discussed at many of the public hearings was the minimum home size. The BOC set this at 1,400 square feet.
The code will be available for review on the county website, jacksoncountygov.com, within the next week, county officials said.
JFD to honor 9-11
The Jefferson Fire Department will hold a brief service in remembrance of the September 11th terrorist attacks on Thursday, Sept. 11, around 9 a.m. at the main station.
Jefferson Fire Department chief Doug Waters will provide a few remarks.


No decision yet in BOC lawsuit
Jefferson wades into courthouse fray
It could be several more weeks before a visiting Superior Court judge hands down a decision in the high-profile lawsuit against the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over the financing of a new courthouse.
Meanwhile, the City of Jefferson has begun to step into the courthouse fray by demanding that the BOC follow city permitting procedures for construction of the facility.
In late August, the city sent a letter to the BOC saying that the county had not filed for building permits for the facility as mandated by state law.
“Apparently, you thought that Jefferson should not be involved with approvals of construction plans, but that is not the case,” stated the letter. “Any construction, including land disturbance and/or buildings, conducted by a county government within city limits must obtain city permits before doing so.”
The letter also points out that the construction of any roads on the property must receive city approval. The Georgia Constitution states that no government may build a road inside the jurisdiction of another government without approval.
The letter also blasted the county over its plans to run county water to the new courthouse site. The facility is inside the City of Jefferson’s water service area.
“The existing Service Delivery Areas in the HB 489 Agreement are being totally ignored,” stated the letter. “There is no doubt that the County leadership has instructed its architects and engineers to design the water system extension to disregard the Jefferson water system standards and to design the water system to meet Jackson County standards, which are different..... The City insists that it will be the sole source of public water supply to any development or facility that serves the general public within its service area.”
Friday, county officials delivered the paperwork to the city to begin the permitting process, said city officials. The first staff review of the materials is slated for early next week.
Meanwhile, construction at the site continues unabated. City officials have not insisted that the county stop construction until the review process is completed.
COURT PAPERS FILED
Meanwhile, in the lawsuit filed by a group of citizens against the BOC over the proposed financing of the courthouse, both the BOC and state attorney general’s office filed briefs in the case Monday, again defending as legal the county’s plans to do a $25 million lease-purchase deal to finance a new courthouse.
A group of Jackson County citizens filed suit in July contesting that deal, saying that the lease-purchase plan is nothing more than debt financing. The Georgia Constitution prohibits local governments from incurring debt without voter approval.
Attorney Wyc Orr, Gainesville, represents the citizens’ group and said Tuesday that he would have his response to the court filed Friday.
In a hearing last week, the two sides met before Judge Carlisle Overstreet to argue the case.


County teen’s case in Supreme Court
Among some of the nation’s key players hearing arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday about a sweeping campaign finance reform law was a resident of the Dry Pond community.
Emily Echols, 14, is one of several plaintiffs contesting the constitutional merit of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which became effective in 2002. Numerous interest groups, including the National Rifle Association, have all filed suits disputing areas of the law.
Echols is one of five minors ages 12 to 16 who are suing the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for the right for those 17 and under to give money to a federal election campaign. Daniel Solid, 15, is Echols’ next door neighbor near Commerce and is also a plaintiff in the suit.
On Monday, Echols was in Washington, D.C. to view the unusually long hearing in the Supreme Court, according to media reports.
During an interview in May, Echols told The Jackson Herald that if she wins her case she will give some money to State Sen. Robert Lemutt, who is running for the 6th U.S. House District, currently occupied by Johnny Isakson. Echols, the primary plaintiff, said she plans to give money she raised through conducting horse camps and baby-sitting.
Pendergrass mayor draws opposition for re-election
Only incumbents qualify in Jefferson
As of Wednesday afternoon, five candidates had qualified for Pendergrass City Council posts, including two for mayor and three for council seats.
Incumbent Melvin Tolbert and Harris Denver (Dink) Elrod both qualified for the mayor’s post. Sandy Stowe Funderburk, Peggy Jean Hooper and James T. Marlow had qualified for the two open council seats held by Tom Marlowe and Rebecca Danner.
In Jefferson, city council incumbents Steve Kinney (District 1), C.D. Kidd III (District 3) and Philip Thompson (District 5) had qualified by Wednesday morning.
For the Jefferson Board of Education, incumbents Guy Dean Benson, Angela McKinney and Willie Hughey qualified.
Qualifying in Pendergrass and Jefferson ended at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
In Talmo, seat 1, held by Myra McEver and seat 2, held by Dana Woods, are up for election. As of press time, no information was available on who had qualified.
Qualifying will continue in Talmo at the library through 5 p.m. on Wednesday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
Elections will be held in the towns November 4.


Proposed Jefferson PUD facing Mon. vote
555-acre project calls for 438 homes, commercial tracts
The Jefferson City Council will vote Monday night on a 555-acre Planned Unit Development (PUD) that could bring as many as 438 homes, an apartment complex and commercial tracts to Old Swimming Pool Road, the bypass and Hwy. 11.
The Jefferson City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, September 15, at the city clubhouse.
In August, the proposal brought a tie vote at the Quad Cities Planning Commission and has repeatedly brought opposition from residents in the area.
Dudley Ottley and Jim Nygard of Jeffco Investment Properties presented the proposal at a public hearing during the city council’s work session Monday night. Jeffco is requesting rezoning of the acreage from A-2 (county) to R-3 (city), as well as the annexation of 66.52 acres and 13.533 acres on Old Swimming Pool Road, for the single-family residential, multi-family residential and commercial use project.
Ottley and Nygard told the city council that they had sold eight acres last week to the Bryan estate for use in a subdivision, and that they planned to donate to the city a 177-acre tract for a park or other greenspace use, as well as an eight-acre tract for a possible fire station, library or police precinct.
The PUD would include five residential and five commercial tracts.
OPPOSITION
As they have in the past, Old Swimming Pool Road residents Jay Cory and Tim Land spoke against the Jeffco request.
Cory pointed out that residents have circulated a petition in protest of the development, which he said would adversely affect the existing residential use. He said safety and crime hazards would increase in the “well-established residential area,” and that the street would be overcrowded.
“This does not conform to the existing city land use plan,” Cory said, adding some residents located on the road based on that plan. “The land should be developed consistent to the current land use plan and current zoning.”
He suggested that any commercial use in the area should be light and limited to “the other side of the bypass.”
“We ask that you do not approve it,” Cory said. “It would set a dangerous precedent for the city.”
Land agreed, emphasizing that the residents who located on Old Swimming Pool Road were told the area would stay residential, even with the bypass coming in.


Braselton council member resigns
Special election called
Braselton council member Tom Clark resigned Monday, after citing a new job schedule that conflicts with council meetings.
A special election to fill the District 2 post will be held to coincide with the regular election on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Qualifying for Clark’s former post, however, will be held Wednesday through Friday, Sept. 17-19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at town hall.
Clark, who is a retired Gwinnett County employee, notified town officials on Monday night after the council meeting of his resignation.
“I will be unable to fulfill my duties as District 2 councilman because my schedule requires me to work on Monday night,” he wrote in an e-mail to town manager and clerk Jennifer Scott about a change in his job position.
Council members held a called meeting Wednesday morning to call for a special election.
“We appreciate Tom Clark’s service to the Town of Braselton for the past two years,” Mayor Pat Graham said. “We wish him success in his future endeavors.”
Besides Clark’s former post, November’s election will also have the posts of Braselton council members Bruce Yates (District 1) and Elise Cotter (District 3) on the ballot.
As of press time on Wednesday, Yates is the only person to file a qualifying statement for his post. Cornelis Boudewijn has qualified for Cotter’s post. Cotter said recently she won’t run for a second term.
HOSCHTON ELECTION
Five Hoschton residents, including two incumbents, have qualified for three city council posts, so far.
Incumbent Paul Turman (District 4) has qualified, along with Ronald Holcomb, a former Hoschton council member.
Another incumbent, Jerry Meyer, has qualified for the District 6 post. His opponent for the position is James M. Keinard.
For the post currently held by Rosemary Bagwell (District 5), Deborah Donaldson has qualified.
QUALIFYING
Qualifying for both municipalities will be held until Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The qualifying fee in Braselton is $36 and the fee in Hoschton is $11.25. Non-registered voters must register by Oct. 6. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

 


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See Galilee Preschool Flyer


Only Incumbents (So Far) Qualify For City Elections
As of noon Tuesday, only incumbents had qualified for the Nov. 4 elections of Commerce City Council and Board of Education members.
Qualifying closes at 4:30 Friday afternoon.
All seven incumbents filed the paperwork and paid their qualifying fees by mid-morning Tuesday, and while no challengers have yet put their money down, some are expected by Friday, City Clerk Shirley Willis indicated.
Seats to be filled in city government include mayor, held by Charles L. Hardy Jr., 62; Ward 3 city council, held by Sam Brown, 54; Ward 4, held by Bob Sosebee, 55; and the new Ward 5 position, which replaces the at-large Post 1 position held by Richard Massey, 69, who qualified for the new post.
Board of education positions open include District 3, held by Bill Davis, 62; District 4, held by Steve Perry, 50; and District 5, held by Dr. Paul Sergent, 52. Sergent is filling the unexpired term of Lanny Pope and seeks election for his first four-year term.
So far, one other candidate has indicated plans to challenge Davis for the district 3 seat on the school board and a couple of others have inquired about city government positions, Willis said.
The qualifying fee is three percent of the office's salary. That amounts to $126 for mayor, $81 for city councilmen and $66 for school board members.


Toyota project nets grants
Local Officials received notice last week that a $300,000 federal grant to help build a sewer line to the new Toyota plant at Valentine Farms north of Jefferson has been approved.
The office of Rep. Charlie Norwood sent out a news release on the approval of funds by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“This is good news for the continued development of business and industry in Jackson County and the surrounding areas – which translates into good news for the people of Jackson County and surrounding areas,” said Norwood.
That grant comes on top of an Economic Development Administra-tion grant of $1.5 million, a $500,000 community development block grant and a $1.8 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA).
Design of the line is due to be completed this month. The acquisition of permits and easements is under way and the deadline for finishing the project is June 30, 2004.


Arcade to meet Sept. 15 on planning issues
The Arcade City Council has rescheduled its September meeting for Monday, September 15, beginning with a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. and the council meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.
The city council cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting set for September 8 due to a lack of quorum.
The September 15 public hearing will be on items discussed and voted upon in August by the Quad Cities Planning Commission, including:
•a variance request from James Pirkle and Don Gravitt for 10.35 acres at 200 Woodland Court Drive in the City of Arcade for property access by an easement. The two propose to divide the property into two tracts. Steve Lambert spoke against the request at the QCPC meeting, saying that the deed prohibits subdividing the land. The QCPC approved the request with the condition that if the deed restrictions are validated, the recommendation is null and void.
•a rezoning request for David Williamson for 18.086 acres on Arcade Park Road from A-2 to R-1 for a single family site built home subdivision. The conditions for QCPC approval included a right-of-way on lot 1 so the city may eventually pave the road.
The items will also be on the regular city council meeting agenda.