News from Madison County...

OCTOBER 1, 2003

Madison County

Madison County

Madison County H.S.

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Frank Gillespie
Ten Commandments debate comes to Ga.
The debate over the Ten Commandments has come to Georgia in a spectacular way. Who would have ever believed that members of a black church would be cheering a professed member of the KKK at a rally supporting the document?

Zach Mitcham
Choosing substance over symbolism
Next time you flip a quarter, look at George Washington. Notice that “God” is printed under his chin — “In God We Trust.”


Directions to Area Schools

A rare stalemate
Jefferson County rallies to tie Raiders
A methodical, grinding assault or a quick strike offense.
In the end, one’s just as good as the other.

Neighboorhood News ..
Big changes ahead in Pendergrass?
Two subdivision requests call for 600-plus housesAbout 400 people call Pendergrass home, according to the 2000 Census. But if plans for two residential projects are approved, the North Jackson city could welcome more than 600 new houses.

Brown’s Council Seat To Be Filled
In Nov. 4 Election
Long-Time Ward 3 Councilman Died On Friday, September 26
Following the death last Friday morning of long-time Ward 3 city councilman Sam Brown, Commerce will hold a special election concurrent with the Nov. 4 general election to fill the Ward 3 seat.

Neighborhood News...
A new place to learn
New middle school centered around students
When Banks County’s new middle school opens next year, students will find a vastly different learning system.

Debate ahead in Lula
Candidates in the November 4 city election in Lula have been invited to participate in a candidate debate.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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from the fairgrounds

Cassie Bowden, 3, (above) had the “Dragon Wagon” all to herself at the start of the Madison County Fair last Tuesday night, but rides quickly filled as fair goers took advantage of the crisp cool fall weather to visit the fair last week in Comer.

Tax time on the way
Madison County BOC to set rates at Monday meeting
The nip is back in the air, the chill that brings thoughts of coats, cold hands around a warm drink, Christmas...and tax season.
Yes, it’s nearly that time again.
Madison County property owners can expect their tax bills to arrive in the mail sometime near the end of this month, with their payment due around Christmas or the beginning of the new year.
The county commissioners will officially set the county tax rates at a special called meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the county government complex. County tax commissioner Louise Watson will then submit the tax digest to the state and her office will begin preparing to mail tax bills to county property owners.
Watson said she couldn’t specify a date yet for when the bills will be mailed, but she estimated it would be near the end of October. Once the bills are mailed, property owners have 60 days to return payment.
Neither the commissioners nor the school board are planning tax hikes this year. In fact, both are planning slight reductions in their tax rates, though the overall revenue generated for both the county government and the school system will increase due to growth in the tax digest — the cumulative value of taxable land in the county.
The BOC will roll back its incorporated tax rate (which applies to property within municipalities) from 11.51 mills in 2002 to 11.15 mills in 2003 and its unincorporated rate (for property outside of city limits) from 10.13 mills last year to 10.03 mills this year.
Still, the BOC will see a slight increase in revenue generated through property taxes, up from $4.63 million in 2002 to $4.74 million in 2003.
The school board is lowering its tax rate for maintenance and operations from 16.88 mills last year to 16.72 mills this year, with revenues off local property taxes increasing from $7.61 million to $7.81 million.
While the two largest tax-levying entities, the BOC and BOE, are planning slight reductions in the tax rate, another government group, the BOC-appointed industrial development authority (IDA), is planning to raise its tax rate from .24 mills to an even one mill.
This means that a person owning a $100,000 home in the county will pay approximately $40 this year in taxes to the authority.
The increase is due to the authority’s efforts to establish a water system in Hull. Last week, the IDA approved a $475,246 budget for 2004, up from $128,740 this year. The new budget includes about $110,000 in loan payments for the water system and $20,000 in interest payments for the purchase of 80 acres off James Holcomb Road for a business park.

Local program helps those struggling to learn English
Enrique Bautista, 29, works on a farm in Colbert, taking care of cows and doing any other farm work he is assigned. Bautista is a Mexican native who has lived in this country for the past three years, and like many who have immigrated to the United States, he has had a difficult time learning English.
But thanks to a new English as a Second Language (ESL) class offered in the county this semester, that is changing for Bautista and others who attend the twice-a-week evening program at Colbert Elementary School.
“He’s made a lot of progress in just a few days and is doing remarkably well,” instructor Mayra Wood said Monday evening while conversing with Bautista in English; teaching him how to introduce himself and carry on a simple conversation with a new acquaintance. Bautista is also learning how to pronounce the alphabet and read and write English.
“It’s amazing how so many can live in this country, some for many years, and not speak, or write, English. It makes it so much better for them, and for their children who are learning English at school, when they are taught the language,” Wood said.
The ESL class meets twice a week at Colbert Elementary from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and is at no cost to students. The program is sponsored by Athens Technical College in partnership with Riverside Baptist Church.
Wood said the program was developed after Madison County Career Opportunity Center coordinator Michelle Whitlow heard that Athens Tech was looking to develop ESL classes in the county. Whitlow did some research and found out that Riverside Baptist was already conducting an ESL .
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

Comer council approves GEFA loan
Comer’s city council has taken another step toward securing funding for a water and sewage expansion and refinancing the city’s debt.
At a called meeting Thursday, the council approved a resolution declaring that the debt will be serviced from the city’s water and sewage fund.
The new loan is being negotiated with the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority. It will combine funding for a needed expansion of the city’s water and sewage system and refinance three existing USDA bonds. By combining the bonds into a single package, the city will finance the expansion while reducing its annual payments by $14,000 annually.
City clerk Steve Sorrells said that GEFA’s staff has approved the package and submitted it to the GEFA Board for its approval.

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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.

Local doctor faces new allegations
A Madison County physician faces additional trouble following an income tax evasion conviction.
A Channel Five report accuses Dr. Bradford G. Brown of improperly prescribing pain medication, alleging that the prescriptions could have led to several deaths.
Brown is currently serving a 41-month sentence in an Alabama federal prison. He has also been sentenced to a $40,000 fine and $3 million in restitutions. A news item from The Athens Banner Herald stated that Brown used unreported income to purchase property, a radio station and a 1995 BMW convertible, the release noted. Brown owns WBKG, 880 AM which is licensed to Jefferson, Georgia, but with studios and offices in Athens.
Brown had converted his OBGYN clinic in Dogsboro into a pain management clinic where he prescribed pain medication on a first-come, first-serve basis to patients who paid a $200 cash fee. The Channel Five investigation, uncovered eight cases of fatal drug overdoses among Brown’s patients. Three cases, including two from Madison County, have been ruled accidental. The other cases are under investigation.
The station’s undercover cameras found a number of Brown’s patients who were re-selling pain pills obtained through his prescriptions. Another person was offering to buy pills from his patients.
Brown said that he never abused his prescription privileges.
“That is something I simply will not do,” he said.
In addition, he implied that the attacks on him are racially based.
Brown faces suspension of his medical license once he is released from prison, according to the report.
The Brown Medical Center was opened in the Dogsboro community of Madison County in 1986. It is equipped with 20 treatment rooms, overnight rooms, offices, a health spa and swimming pool. A sign just placed in front of the building offers it for lease.
Brown was the first black physician in modern times to perform surgery in the Athens area, and the first to hold a medical specialty. He attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville and interned in Saginaw, Michigan. He served his residency at Louisiana State Medical Center. His area practice included offices in Athens and other surrounding communities.
Brown blames his problems on the Georgia Medical Board for suspending his access to local hospitals.