News from Jackson County...

SEPTEMBER 17, 2003

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County


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Can the Panthers get the monkey off their backs?
It’s not often in this day and age that teams come away from a loss talking about the positives of such a result.

Dragons limp into Fri. game with No. 9 Landmark Christ.
Considering the circumstances surrounding Friday’s game with Landmark Christian, it’s hard to imagine a tougher challenge this season than the one facing Jefferson at Memorial Stadium this week.

Air Commerce?
Tigers Discover Passing Game In 35-14 Rout Of Banks County
With two weeks of practice to prepare for Commerce, Banks County probably thought it had run through every scenario that the Tigers would possibly present them.

Neighborhood News...

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...”

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.

Neighborhood News...

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.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Firefighters from the West Jackson Fire Department were some of the emergency response personnel honored last week by the Braselton Rotary Club for the second anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Members of the Braselton Police Department and Georgia State Patrol were also honored. The West Jackson Fire Department has 28 volunteers and two full-time firefighters covering a 20 square-mile area. Shown are Ricky Maddox, Ben Stephens, Stephanie Roberts, Rusty Turpin, Tony Harris, Derrick Brock and Michael Cronic, fire chief.

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.
The move comes just weeks after two new authority members, Wanda David and Clay Dale, failed to have the authority do the same thing.
Earlier this year, the BOC attempted to have legislation introduced that would allow a BOC takeover, but that effort failed following a huge outcry by many citizens in Jackson County.
As in the earlier efforts, Monday’s action was led by commissioner Stacey Britt, who has been an outspoken critic of the authority. Britt made the motion that the BOC pay a consultant to conduct a “needs assessment study” of the authority. He said the consultant would be selected by a committee, consisting of one BOC member, one water authority member and county manager Al Crace. It was not discussed how the BOC and water authority members would be selected.
Tony Beatty seconded the motion and BOC chairman Harold Fletcher voted in favor of it. Commissioner Emil Beshara wasn’t at the meeting and Sammy Thomason wasn’t present when the vote was taken.
“It is prudent that the board of commissioners see that the tax and SPLOST money is being spent as it should be,” Britt said. “I think with the turnover that has been on the board, it will also show exactly where we are at, just like a final audit.”
The latest action comes amid increasing tensions on the authority following the appointment of David and Dale last month. The appointment of David to the authority by the BOC has been widely viewed as another effort by the county to wrest control of the authority and get rid of water superintendent Jerry Waddell, David’s former boyfriend.

Correction on arrest report
Subway owner was not arrested
An arrest report in this week's issue of The Jackson Herald contained an error.
It was incorrectly reported that Tracey Walden, 36, 94 Swann Court, Jefferson, had been charged with theft by taking and possession of drug-related object. He was not charged by the police department.
Walden had filed a report with the police department and was listed as the victim in the incident, not the accused.
The news report should have listed Anthony Sims, 22, 64 Riley Road, Jefferson, as being charged with theft by taking and possession of drug-related objects.
The Jackson Herald regrets the error and apologizes to Mr. Walden.

Feds: Alternative proposal won’t work
Zion Church Road, I-85 ramp change plan doesn’t suit federal highway officials
National transportation officials aren’t interested in changing I-85 to suit an alternative traffic plan for Zion Church Road, Braselton Mayor Pat Graham said last week.
H.B. “Kit” Braselton asked the town council last month to consider his alternative plan for alleviating traffic woes along Zion Church Road. His plan included a five-point intersection at the road with Ga. Hwy. 53 and I-85, and would have eliminated a proposal to re-align Zion Church Road with the entrance of Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics and Year One.
Mayor Graham said last week she met with Georgia Department of Transportation district engineer Larry Dent recently to present Mr. Braselton’s plans. Dent, in turn, provided information about changing the ramp to the federal interstate, she said.
“Any ramp of interstate changes to I-85 must go through the federal highway agency,” Graham said.
The Federal Highway Administration told local officials it isn’t interested in changing I-85 and is seeking to remove similar ramps currently existing in Georgia as Mr. Braselton proposed.
In other business, the Braselton Town Council:
• approved a speed bump ordinance.
• approved an alcoholic beverage license for Yu’s Chopstix Chinese Restaurant, to be located in the Mulberry Walk Shopping Center.
• approved the revised final plat for the Legends, block B, phase II for three lots.
• approved the preliminary plat plans for Turley Estates on the New Liberty Church Tract. The council approved the residential portion for 399 homes on Ga. Hwy. 211.
• approved the final plat plans for Reflections, phase III for 84 lots on Dunbar and Friendship roads.
• authorized town manager and clerk Jennifer Scott to re-negotiate the Jackson County Housing and Booking Contract. Scott said she wasn’t happy with some of the proposed clauses in the agreement with the county jail.
• learned the police department made four drug arrests and seized $22,000 in cash in August. The K-9 unit also submitted 16 hours of training.
• approved a street closing for the Braselton Business Association for its annual festival, set for Nov. 13-15. A small portion of Harrison Street will be closed, along with Ga. Hwy. 53 during the parade.
• approved the parks and recreation ordinance, which establishes rules, regulations and hours of operation for the city park.
• learned town manager and clerk Jennifer Scott and police chief Terry Esco have completed a two-year course at the University of Georgia and are now certified government managers.
• learned the town will apply for state transportation grants by November to help revitalize downtown Braselton.
• heard from Mayor Pat Graham, who said the Pilot Truck Stop has submitted plans for a truck driver entrance sign and is seeking to place a privacy fence along Chardonary Trace Drive. Residents of the nearby subdivision have been publicly complaining about the truck stop for several months.

I.W. Davis Detention Center slated for possible closing
The I.W. Davis Detention Center is one of 12 facilities across the state slated to be shut down next year if the legislature approves the closings.
The Jefferson facility, which opened in 1989, houses 200 state inmates.
Plans call for the legislature to tackle the issue of closing the detention centers when it convenes in January. If approved, the Jefferson facility would close July 1, 2004. The Gainesville Diversion Center is also on the list.
The closings are due to the shortfall in the state budget, according to officials.
“Because of the shortfall in the state budget, we’ve had to make some adjustments so that we can keep our core mission going,” said Scheree Lipscomb, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections. “Our core mission is to house inmates, especially those who have committed violent crimes. We are trying to do our best that we are able to do with the budget cuts that we are having to take.”
Lipscomb said there are other prisons and boot camps in the state that will house the inmates from the centers that close.
“We do have some facilities for them,” she said. “We can’t cut them loose. We don’t let them go.”
County manager Al Crace said the loss of employees would be the most immediate impact to Jackson County. There are 61 employees at the facility, which is located across the road from the county sheriff’s office and correctional institute near Jefferson.
“I think the state is obviously working through unusual budget stress,” Crace said. “I have never seen a budget face this much dramatic stress.”
Crace also considered the possibility that the facility would re-open if the economy strengthens.
“Obviously, they need the capacity,” he said. “...I would expect if the economy gets back to a normal would come back. That would be my first thought but we’ll see what the legislature does

Art in the Park ahead this weekend
The 13th annual Art in the Park Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21, at Hurricane Shoals Park.
The activities will begin early Saturday morning, with the annual 5K Millrace and fun run/walk. The arts and crafts booths and other festival events will open at 10 a.m.
“Funland” for children will be set up both days and the Heritage Village will also be open to the public both days, with re-enactors, quilting, historic crafts and storytelling and other activities and tours available.
Musical entertainment will be provided Saturday and Sunday afternoons by local gospel, praise and school bands.
The Tumbling Waters Society will have ducks available for the annual duck dash, as well as barbecue, corn meal and prints of the covered bridge.
As always, the duck dash at the foot bridge and down the shoals will be the grand finale of the festival, and is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Hurricane Shoals Park is located on Hwy. 82 Spur between Jefferson and Maysville.

Schedule of events
Some of the highlights of the 13th annual Art in the Park coming up this weekend at Hurricane Shoals Park include the following:

Saturday, September 20
•7 a.m. - park opens for runners on the Jefferson side
•7:30-8:15 a.m. - 5K Millrace, fun run/walk registration
•8:30 a.m. - fun run/walk begins
•9 a.m. - 5K Millrace begins
•10-10:45 a.m. - race awards given at amphitheater
•10 a.m.-6 p.m. - Art in Park festival opens, including Funland, grist mill, children’s art in round pavilion, and Heritage Village on the Maysville side
•11 a.m.-4 p.m. - storytelling, historical crafts at Freeman Cabin
•11 a.m. - JCCHS band performs at amphitheater
•11 a.m.-6 p.m. - gospel bands perform at stage in park (Crystal River Bluegrass Gospel Band, Kim and Kathy Lawson at 11 a.m.; Southern Travelers at noon; Old Time Sounds of Praise, 1 p.m.; Crystal River, 2 p.m.; The Journeymen, 3 p.m.; Almost Bluegrass, 4 p.m.; Crystal River, 5 p.m.)
•11 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 44th Infantry re-enactors drill at Heritage Village
•2:45 p.m. - children’s art contest winners announced
•6 p.m. - festival closes

Sunday, September 21
•12:30-5:30 p.m. - festival opens, including children’s art at round pavilion, Funland, puppet show, grist mill, Heritage Village
•12:30 p.m. - entertainment begins at park stage (Crystal River, 12:30 p.m.; Kim and Kathy Lawson, 1 p.m.; Almost Bluegrass, 2 p.m.; Crystal River, 3 p.m.; Old Time Sounds of Praise, 4 p.m.)
•4:30 p.m. - duck dash
•5:30 p.m. - festival closes

County digest up 9%
The Jackson County tax digest grew by nine percent in 2003, up to $1.39 billion from $1.27 billion in 2002.
The growth in the tax digest means that even without a hike in millage rates, local governments will be taking in more money than the year before.
No local government has officially set its tax rate for 2003, although several are in the discussion phases.
Because of its multitude of independent fire districts, three school systems and a number of incorporated towns, Jackson County’s tax structure is one of the most complex in the state.
The growth in the county’s tax digest reflects both new construction that has happened in Jackson County since last year and also the rising assessments of land, homes and businesses in the county.
Countywide, 42 percent of the net digest comes from residential structures. Some 37 percent comes from industrial and commercial businesses while agriculture accounts for 13 percent.
But that overall picture varies somewhat inside some of the smaller tax districts in the county. The City of Commerce, for example, is more dependent on homeowners for its tax base at 47 percent residential.
Likewise, the Jackson County School System, which taxes outside the towns of Jefferson and Commerce, has a much smaller industrial and commercial tax base than the two towns. Only 31 percent of the county school system’s tax base comes from industrial or commercial sources.
In addition, the county school system is more heavily dependent on agricultural sources for its taxes than either Jefferson or Commerce. But because of the impact of the conservation use program, the county school system loses some $96 million off its tax digest each year.
Jefferson remained the largest town based on tax digest numbers with a net digest of $229 million, up four percent from 2002. Commerce was second at $119.4 million, followed by Hoschton at $32.2 million and Braselton at $26.2 million. Although fourth in size, Braselton’s digest grew 19 percent since last year, the largest of any town.

Town Tax Digests
Jefferson $229 million
Commerce $119.4 million
Hoschton* $32.2 million
Braselton* $26.2 million
Arcade* $16 million
Maysville $15.8 million
Pendergrass* $7.2 million
Nicholson* $6.1 million
Talmo * $5 million

*(Does not levy a city tax.)

Five-Year County Digest History
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
$794 million $1.07 billion $1.14 billion $1.27 billion $1.39 billion



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Local Lanier Tech Campus To Be Dedicated
Local officials will help Lanier Tech celebrate the opening of its Commerce campus Friday morning in a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at 11:00.
The school is in the former Bi-Lo shopping center building at 675 South Elm Street that most recently housed St. Mary's Home Health Care. It doesn't look like a school, but it has classroom space where 19 classes in the areas of business and office technology, computer information systems, emergency medical technician training, horticulture maintenance, practical nursing and early childhood care and education will be offered, according to Dr. Mike Moye, president. There will be morning and evening classes.
"We will have some general math and English classes and will have some adult literacy classes as well," Moye stated.
Local officials hope that eventually the campus will grow into a permanent satellite campus. Currently, Commerce has a 15-month lease on the building.
Future plans will depend upon student demand. If it is sufficient, Lanier Tech would seek funds in the Georgia Department of Education budget for a permanent facility.
"Based on the interest we have had thus far, we think we will be very successful at the present site," Moye stated. "A permanent site will truly depend upon the budget, so we may stay where we are for several years."
However, Moye conceded that "frankly, this is the wrong time of the decade, a bad time for the state in terms of the budget." Like every other state-funded entity, Lanier Tech is figuring how it will meet the 7.5 percent budget reductions ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue. A 2.5 percent cut is ordered for the current budget, to be followed by another five percent cut for the 2004 fiscal year.
The local effort represents a partnership between Com-merce, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and BJC Medical Center. Jackson County's inmate crews did extensive renovation. BJC Medical Center will offer classroom space, clinical rotations for the medical-related programs and provide other resources.
The original plan was to start the campus and lease or build another interim facility if enrollment this year warrants it. Lanier Tech has three other satellite campuses that are permanent.
"This will be a great opportunity for all citizens of Jackson County," Moye stated.

Concerned citizens plan rally Thurs.
County awaits judge’s decision on lawsuit
Concerned Citizens of Jackson County, the group behind a lawsuit against the county board of commissioners, will hold a rally at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, Jefferson.
The lawsuit the citizen’s group filed against the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over the financing plan for the new courthouse will be among the topics discussed.
Meanwhile, both sides in the suit have filed briefs in the case. Attorney Wyc Orr, who represents the citizens’ group, filed a 25-page response this week in the case.
Judge Carlisle Overstreet of Augusta is presiding over the case. His ruling is expected to come within the coming weeks.
Orr argues in his brief that the proposed lease-purchase deal between the BOC and outside financing entities is really long-term debt. Long-term debt is prohibited by the Georgia Constitution without the consent of the voters.
Although the BOC argues that it has the right to terminate the lease agreement at the end of every year, Orr pointed out in this week’s brief that the courthouse hasn’t been constructed yet and therefore, the county would be obligated to the payments for at least three years while the facility is being built.

Also on the agenda for Thursday night’s rally will be a discussion on the procedures in the Georgia law regarding recalling elected officials.
“More and more Jackson County citizens are alarmed, angry and frustrated at the efforts of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to take over the water authority, airport authority and IDA, as well as their give-away of $14 million in perks to a new industry in Commerce,” said Tim Venable, chairman of the citizen’s group.
Future events planned by the Concerned Citizens include a booth at the 13th Annual Art in the Park Festival, September 20-21, at Hurricane Shoals Park on Highway 82, between Jefferson and Maysville and a fish-fry at Hurricane Shoals on October 18.
For more information, call Venable at (706) 552-3295.