News from Banks County...

SEPTEMBER 17, 2003


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OPINIONS

Adam Fouche
Education funding becoming a critical issue

These days, I wouldn’t have a board of education member’s job for anything. Or even a superintendent’s for that matter.

Zach Mtcham
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


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Cross country runners open up home season with win over Dawson
The Banks County cross country team opened it’s new home course in fitting fashion Monday, sweeping the Dawson County competition.
“All of our kids did a good job,” head coach Kelly McDuffie said. “It was awesome.”


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY

BOC moves to ‘study’ water authority
Action could pre-stage a new takeover attempt
In a move that may set the stage for another takeover attempt by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to dominate the county water and sewerage authority, the BOC voted Monday night to hire a consultant to do a “needs assessment study” of the authority.

Concerned citizens plan rally Thurs.
County awaits judge’s decision on lawsuit


Neighboorhood News ..
MADISON COUNTY

No evidence to support claims against coach Hybl
A county judge has found no evidence to support parents’ claims that Raider head football coach Tom Hybl assaulted their son during a practice last month.

Prisoners moving to new jail
Approximately 25 prisoners were expected to be moved late Tuesday afternoon from the old jail in downtown Danielsville to the new jail facility on Hwy. 98 west of Danielsville, according to sheriff Clayton Lowe.

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Children carried flags

Members of the children’s choir of Homer Baptist Church carried American Flags and sang “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” at the 9/11 memorial service held last week.

Remembering 9/11
Homer Baptist Church holds 9/11 memorial service
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretched like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found...”
Those words echoed throughout the sanctuary at Homer Baptist Church on Sept. 11, not through the mingled voices of a choir but in the minds of the congregation inspired by the haunting music of bag pipes.
As the hymn played on, the infamous images of the horror of September 11, 2001, floated like shadows upon the chapel wall. The first tower in flames, the plane headed for the second tower, the people plummeting from the windows to escape the conflagration, the collapse, the emergency workers with hollow eyes that had no room to hold any more grief.
Members of the congregation were touched by the scenes to the point of soft sobs, and tear-filled eyes.
Smyrna Fire Chief and Maysville resident Larry Williams had prepared the memorial to the men, women and children who died that day as part of a special remembrance service held Thursday evening.
He said: “We don’t answer calls with thoughts of dying; we just serve. Our proudest endeavor is to save lives.”
The melancholy tone of the event was struck with a number of patriotic selections and heartfelt prayers.
The Rev. Charles Crabb said: “We remember the thousands who died on September 11, 2001. We pray for the firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers who lost their lives that day. It takes a special person to do what they do. We remember all those lost in battles. We pray for our troops. We pray for our enemies and hope they come to find You...”
Barbara Scales led a prayer for the president; Thelma Hart for the military; Nancy Williams for emergency personnel and law enforcement; and Jane Crabb prayed for protection from terrorism.
At the conclusion of the service, members lit candles and walked out in silence in respect for the ultimate sacrifice given by so many.

Prayer for public safety workers
Father, in Jesus name I pray for the firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers of our nation.
Thank you for their courage, dedication and commitment in serving all of the United States. I thank You for their bravery and willingness to sacrifice their own well-being and many times their own life in the service of others.
I pray for their protection. keep them safe from harm and injury. Give them Your wisdom and guidance when faced with crucial decisions. Encourage and strengthen them mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Help them overcome the stress and hardship that accompanies their occupation.
May Your blessings be upon their homes and families. Give their families peace, comfort, courage and strength to cope with the sacrifices that are required.
Amen.


Alto, Lula elections heat up
Elections in Alto and Lula could prove interesting as several incumbents will be facing challengers.
Six people qualified for two seats up for re-election in Alto.
Candidates for Post 2, currently held by Susan Wade who is not seeking re-election, are Shawn Shirley, Ricky Sutton and John Closs.
In the Post 4 race, Phil Lomax, Sharon Christmas and Patricia Baylor-Ivry qualified. That seat was vacant for nearly one year before the council appointed Christmas at the regular meeting earlier this month.
In the mayor’s race, only Audrey Turner had qualified by the deadline last Friday, but Post 1 councilman Donald Wade and/or his sister, current mayor Carolyn Gulley could still announce their intentions to be write-in candidates. Wade and Gulley had both said earlier that they intended to run for the mayor’s post. As write-in candidates, they would have to advertise in the town’s legal organ their intent to run by Friday, September 19.
Turner must give up her seat and position as mayor-pro tem to run for mayor leaving Post 3 open. The same would be true for Post 1 if Wade declares his candidacy for mayor.
LULA
In Lula, two incumbents, councilmen Mike Ostrander and Perry Bridgeman, will face challengers.
In Ward 1, Ostrander will run against Larry Shuler.
In Ward 4, Bridgeman will face opponents Clyde Moore and Greg Smith.
Incumbent councilman Lamb Griffin, Ward 5, is unopposed.
BALDWIN, GILLSVILLE
In Baldwin and Gillsville, the council seats coming up for re-election are unopposed. Mitchell Gailey, Barbara Holcomb and Jeff Bohannon were the only ones to qualify in Baldwin.
Richard Ferguson, Keith Segars and Todd Dale were the only ones to qualify for their seats in Gillsville.
Town elections will be held Tuesday, November 4. Voter registration continues through Monday, October 6.


Ribbon cutting planned for Lula walking trail
Lula Mayor Milton Turner announced at Monday’s council meeting that a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening Lula’s new walking trail in the park would be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 20.
The half-mile, 10-foot wide paved walking trail around the city park was built with county funds. Benches have been installed for walkers to rest and enjoy the park.
Turner said various Hall County officials would be on hand for the event.
Betty Jo Evans, Lula Area Betterment Association, pointed out that water, from Lula Drug Store, and apples, from Jaemor Farms, are being donated for the event.


Sidewalks for Maysville?
Jerry Presley, transportation planner of the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center, gave Maysville residents the first look at a proposed sidewalk plan at a meeting Tuesday night.
The pedestrian/bicycle plan includes installing curbs, cross walks, handicap ramps at crossings and sidewalks to encourage Maysville residents and visitors to enjoy the “historic character” of the town, explained Presley.
As outlined in his presentation, sidewalks would be installed along the west side of Main Street from the intersection of Highway 98 and Highway 82 Spur north to Freeman Street with a dog-leg from Maysville Elementary School down Sims Street back to Main Street at the fire station.
Another section includes a circle around the city hall, post office, bank and churches tying into a leg heading north on the west side of Homer Street to Mitchell Street.
“The project was begun by the Maysville Beautification Committee who wanted to have a sidewalk around Maysville Memorial Park,” he said. “There seemed to be a desire by the city council to make the pedestrian walkway happen. So, we started developing a good, solid plan that we could present to the department of transportation and the federal highway administration to acquire a grant to do the work.
“But, funding could be difficult. There are fewer grant dollars and a lot of competition. But, the DOT is promoting pedestrian/bikeway projects across the state.”
The idea is to get people comfortable enough to walk to the post office or the bank or the convenience stores and not drive there in vehicles.
Presley said the four- to six-foot wide sidewalks would be made of concrete. The estimated cost for the entire project has not yet been determined. However, the average cost of sidewalk installation is around $11 per square foot with curbing costs of around $15 per linear foot, he said. Each of the handicap access ramps at the street crossings would cost around $800 each.
Pedestrian crosswalks vary in price. $100 would cover the cost of a regular double-white striped cross walk. A double-white striped cross walk with ladder stripes would cost $300. Other more intricate crossings would cost more, he added.
There would be a four- to six-foot buffer zone between the sidewalks and the streets, requiring the acquisition of right of ways either from property owners or from utility companies.
Presley said he and RDC preservation planner Bryan Flower would use global satellite positioning to determine the amount of concrete, taking into consideration slopes and dips in the terrain. He anticipated having an estimate ready within the next few weeks. Federal dollars through transportation enhancement activity (TEA) grants will be one source the team looks to for funding. The project can include landscaping, lighting, crossings and signals, he said.
If such a grant, which could be as much as $1 million, is awarded, the city will have to match 20 percent to the 80 percent in federal funds. The city’s match could be made through in-kind labor or materials.
The Center for Disease Control also offers grants to promote healthy living, as was in the case of a project awarded to Carnesville for installing a walking path from the town to the school.
Other public and private funding sources could be approached to partner in the project. He also suggested contacting businesses in the area for financial assistance. Other funding could come through local option sales tax or special purpose local option sales tax initiatives.
“You have to show you have a good, solid plan and public support,” Presley said. “You have to be totally committed to the project. DOT wants to know you are committed to doing what you say you are going to do.”
For help in administrating the grant, the RDC would get five-percent of the total grant.
He recommended members of the city council or members of the Maysville Beautification Committee attend a DOT workshop next week on the TEA grant application process.
Presley said the next meeting would entail presenting the first draft for public review and input. Another meeting will be held for final review. After that is completed, the city council will vote to approve the project and proceed with the grant-seeking process.



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Lula considers new regulations for zoning requests
Lula council members Vicky Chambers and Mordecai Wilson presented a new set of regulations Monday for the town to consider on handling variance and rezoning requests.
The new requirements include public notification for all rezoning and variance requests through advertising in The Gainesville Times and/or in The Banks County News. The city would run an ad at least 15 days prior to the regular council meeting; place signs in a conspicuous location on the property; and notify by letter adjoining property owners within 300 feet of the property to be rezoned or granted a variance.
The applicant would be required to maintain the rezoning signs in a visible location on the property and the council may require multiple signs be posted if deemed necessary.
The council will hold a public hearing on the new changes to the zoning ordinance at a meeting to be held Monday, October 13.
On another building matter, the council agreed to discuss requests to build two or more homes, that are to be sold, on one piece of property. Previously, the mayor could sign off on building permits that included several houses.
Mayor Milton Turner brought the subject before the council members for their input.
During the discussion, councilman Mike Ostrander said it was a good idea for the council to know about what was going on in the city. He added that if all setbacks and building requirements are met, building permits could not be denied.
Councilman Perry Bridgeman said he is concerned that the move would cause a delay to developers by having to wait to appear before the council.
Council member Lamb Griffin said it would alleviate pressure on the mayor and keep the council aware of growth in the city.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business;
•it was revealed that Lula residents will be receiving a survey form from the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to develop a 10-year comprehensive plan. To be eligible for state funds for community development, the state requires each municipality to develop a plan for growth. The survey seeks to allow the citizens the opportunity to give their input on land use, historic and natural resources and economic development. The surveys, when approved by the RDC, will be sent out with utility bills or may be picked up at city hall.
•the council discussed two paving projects, one on County Line Road and one on Railroad Avenue. Turner said the city has $92,000 remaining in the special purpose local option sales tax fund that could be used for the re-paving. He estimated the jobs would cost around $45,000.
•the council approved, in a 3-2 vote, a 25-cent pay raise for two city employees, Joel Cleveland and David Jones. Ostrander and Griffin voted in opposition to the raise, saying it should have been more.
•the council heard complaints from Hemlock Springs subdivision residents Sheryl and Elmer Prince who said a neighbor had junk vehicles near a city well. Turner said the resident had been sent a letter to clean up the property and nothing has been done. He added the new code enforcement officer would be able to help with the matter.
•David White requested the council remove a speed table on Railroad Avenue. Turner said the council was petitioned to install the speed breaker when a child was nearly run over by a speeding car. He said it was done to protect children playing in the area. White said the city could be held responsible for damage to vehicles that bottomed out going over the breaker. The council agreed to send out letters to the area residents asking them whether or not they wanted to keep the speed breaker.
•resident Suzanne Wingfield complained about problems with vandalism, drugs and junk yards in a split subdivision of stick-built homes and mobile homes on Lookout Court and Eastwind Drive. She said she has been unable to sell her double-wide mobile home. She said one house has three families living in it and that it was also used as a day care center, which caused traffic problems. Ostrander and Chambers said she needs to call the health department about the day care center. Turner and Wilson said they would look into the matter.