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The question of campaign finance
This week, the United States Supreme Court is taking up the question of campaign finance. They will decide the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold bill.
The dying call of council duty
One of my first council meetings as a reporter included a lengthy discussion of whether to purchase a refrigerator for a maintenance shed.
Directions to Area Schools
Madison County rocks Hancock 42-12
Madison County tallied 14 points in the first quarter of Fridays 42-12 win over Hancock Central without its offense even crossing the goal line.
Neighboorhood News ..
BOC Oks 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.
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.
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 countys schools.
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Madison Countys Mercy Montgomery dances for the hometown crowd during halftime of the Raiders 42-12 win over Hancock Central.
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 Sheriffs 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.
Gene West and Carmine Costello told council members that they were putting citizens and businesses in jeopardy by having only one policeman on duty.
You need to do something, West said. Things are bad and can only get worse.
Comer originally had a three-man police department, but reduced it to two for budget reasons several months ago. Reeds resignation left the city with only one officer on duty.
In other matters, city clerk Steve Sorrells reported to the council that work is continuing on consolidating several old Rural Development loans with new financing to upgrade the city water system by applying for a GEFA loan. Sorrells will bring the proposal to the council for approval as soon as it is ready.
Among improvements of the water system is a proposal to install a six-inch water line along North Avenue to replace the present two-inch line. A six-inch line is the minimum to install a needed fire hydrant on the west end of North Avenue.
The council approved renewal of the citys health insurance program. The cost increase is five percent.
City attorney Victor Johnson was asked to write a letter to the Department of Transportation concerning a number of dead or partially dead oak trees along Hwy. 72. The city and state are disputing who is responsible for the trees.
A variance request by Jim Brown to pave over an old swimming pool and install a storage shed on his lot at Comer Road and College Avenue was approved. The building will be 16 feet from the property line requiring a variance from the 20 foot set back rule.
The council approved a request from Mayor William Burroughs that a trip log be kept for every city vehicle that leaves city limits.
Felton to speak at United Way Kickoff
New Georgia mens basketball coach Dennis Felton will be the guest speaker at Madison Countys 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.
The event is held in conjunction with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce coffee.
Felton is the United Ways 2003 honorary campaign chairman.
This year, Madison County has a campaign goal of $39,000. The overall United Way of Northeast Georgia campaign goal is $2 million. The goal is the amount that must be raised to ensure that the agencies continue to provide needed services in the community. In 2002, 6,954 Madison County residents received $87,043 in services from the following United Way member agencies: American Red Cross, East Georgia Chapter; Athens Area Child Abuse Prevention Council, Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens Neighborhood Health Center, Boys and Girls Club of Athens, Boy Scouts of America Northeast Georgia Council, Catholic Social Services, Community Connection 211, Extra Special People, Family Counseling Service, Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia, Hope Haven, Madison County Service Center / Fine Finish, Project ADAM, Project Safe, Sexual Assault Center of Northeast Georgia and The Salvation Army.
Building donated to city of Colbert
The City of Colbert now owns the Ed Hart building in the historic downtown area.
The building is the center of a row of commercial structures across from the old railroad depot. The 100-year-old building has suffered extensive water damage and was the stimulus for Colberts new unsafe properties ordinance. Deeds were signed and delivered by the three Hart brothers this week.
City officials will now study the building to determine what can be salvaged. Bids will be taken for clearing the damage as a first step in bringing the site back into use. The council will have to decide if they want to make repairs themselves, offer a long-term lease for someone to make repairs or take other actions. They plan to restore the current storefront to its original appearance.
We are very grateful to the Hart family for this donation, said Mayor John Waggoner. We will make the best possible use of the building.
Another building in the complex is owned by county commissioner Bruce Scoggin, who has pledged to restore his building to bring it up to the same standard, and to give it a similar appearance to the rest of the block.
In other business, the council voted to set a millage rate of 5.25 for 2004. The rate is unchanged and will yield a slight increase in revenue due to growth in the tax digest.
The council voted to pay the $15,000 cost of the new 5th Avenue well and to set aside an additional $15,000 in the 2004 budget for another well. Colbert owns the city water system and contracts with Piedmont Water to administer the system.
The council voted to limit the size of future signs to 32 square feet for a one-sided sign or 64 square feet for two sides. Signs on a store front can be up to 64 square feet but cannot extend above the roof line. Existing signs are grandfathered.
A final vote on the revised zoning ordinance is scheduled for the October meeting.
Motorists may hit construction work in the next few weeks on Neese-Commerce and Nowhere Roads.
The state Department of Transportation has put off widening the remaining portions of those roads for months, but commissioners approved contracts with the DOT for the road widening Monday and the projects are expected to get rolling again soon.
There is no definite starting date set for the widening, but officials believe the projects should be under way again within the next month.
The commissioners briefly addressed the matter at their Monday meeting.
In a separate issue, the board talked about moving Madison Countys Mill precinct from the old building voters currently use to the Jones Chapel United Methodist Church. County commissioner Johnny Fitzpatrick will meet with church leaders to discuss a contract for use of the building. No action on the matter was taken Monday.
In other business Monday:
The commissioners agreed to meet at 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 15, in the county government complex to discuss the 2004 budget.
The board agreed to change its unimproved driveway ordinance to require all non-residential driveway owners to place gravel on their driveways if deemed necessary by the county to keep mud off public roadways.
The commissioners approved a 35 mph speed limit sign for a curve on Duffell Martin Road. They agreed to set a 45 mph for Cleghorne Road. The board agreed to have the road department perform a traffic speed study on McCannon Morris Road. They heard from chairman Wesley Nash that the Furnace Creek Road will be ready for paving within the next two or three weeks.
The board agreed to seek bids on a new sand truck for the road department to spread sand on icy patches of roadway during the winter. The BOC also agreed to seek bids on a bush hog for the road department.
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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.
Hull to get new street lights
Ten new street lights will adorn the northern side of Hwy. 72 in Hull, across from the railroad tracks, perhaps in time for a display of Christmas lights.
The city council voted unanimously Monday night to have Jackson EMC install the new street lights and poles at a cost of $24,310.
JEMC representative Kenny Beck, who presented the price at Monday nights meeting, said he estimated it will cost the city an additional $187 per month to power the lights.
The city currently pays a flat rate of $293.25 for other street lighting.
Beck said the poles would need to be ordered and that delivery would take about six weeks.
In a separate matter, the council heard that it is councilman Paul Elkinss seat that will come up for re-election in November. Elkins is filling the unexpired term of Mark Cronic, whose seat at the council table remained vacant for over a year.
Qualifying for the four-year post will be Wednesday, Sept. 10, through Friday, Sept. 12. The qualifying fee is $15.
In other business, the council heard that Kevin Broom has decided not to cut the citys grass after the council accepted his bid last month, because the citys acceptance included a stipulation that the $375 per month fee would only be paid during the growing season, (April - October) not on a 12-month contractual basis, as Broom had submitted.
The council will ask Gabe Martin, who mowed the grass previously, to continue through the end of this season and will request bids for grass mowing again next spring.
BOC ponders requiring dept. heads
to attend meetings
Madison County commissioners will likely require county department heads to be at the boards meetings whenever there is a sensitive issue regarding their department on the BOC agenda.
The commissioners did not officially approve the policy change Monday, but discussed the matter at length.
The issue was raised by District 3 commissioner Mike Youngblood, who said that he wanted the requirement added to personnel policy amendments currently being considered by the board, changes which primarily address protocol on dealing with employee grievance matters.
Youngblood said he remembered that at a previous board meeting, he posed the idea that department heads be required to attend meetings whenever there is an item concerning their department on the boards agenda. He said none of the board objected and he said he assumed that meant the suggestion would be included in the policy amendments.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.