News from Banks County...

OCTOBER 22, 2003


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OPINIONS

Angela Gary
Capturing the perfect holiday photograph
With pumpkins to be found across the county and Halloween costumes running low at local stores, my thoughts recently drifted to...Christmas.

Our View
Hug a public safety worker
They are often taken for granted. The public expects them to be available in time of need but often don’t thank them for their service.


SPORTS

Cross country team headed to region meet Thursday
Banks County’s cross country teams hope to earn a spot at the state cross country meet.
The boys and girls teams will run in the region meet at Wesleyan Thursday for that chance.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Water authority says ‘needs assessment’ out of line
Another tug-of-war between the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the county water authority is heating up over a move to “study” the authority’s operations.

Jefferson tax rate to be set Thurs. night
Probably won’t be as high as was advertised
City of Jefferson leaders said this week that the town’s millage rate won’t increase as much as previously advertised.

News from
MADISON COUNTY
Shopping center in the works for Highway 98?
Planners give thumbs up; BOC to consider plans Mon.
A new shopping center near Madico Industrial Park got the go ahead from the county’s planning and zoning commission at Tuesday night’s zoning public hearings, despite the standing room only crowd that showed up to back a petition against the development.

County student dropout rate nearly 40 percent
MCHS council says community-wide ‘Stay-in-School’ effort is needed
The Madison County High School Council is seeking new programs to address the county’s poor school completion rate, according to a report to the Board of Education Tuesday.

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Cows need a bath too

Trying to preserve history
Gillsville plans community organization for history preservation
Residents of Gillsville will have the opportunity to help preserve town history by joining an organization still in the planning stages.
At a meeting held last week, Mayor Larry Poole, councilman Ronnie Whiting, town clerk Paula Whiting and resident Gordon Jones discussed the first draft of the mission and projects of the proposed group.
The goals of the organization are: to foster community spirit; facilitate the completion of certain projects; and improve community facilities and resources.
Jones said: “The first step is to formally organize interested members of the community into a volunteer organization. It would be a non-profit run by a board of directors.”
At first, the group would gather information from the town’s residents about what kind of community they want to live in and what resources are important to them.
Mrs. Whiting suggested the town have a newsletter, a community bulletin board and website. The organization members could assist in accomplishing such projects.
Poole said the town could hold picnics on the Fourth of July and Labor Day. He also suggested encouraging decorating the town for the Christmas holiday.
With the improvements slated for the community center, he said he hopes churches, families and school classes would consider the center for reunions. One of his main objectives is to establish closer community ties with Maysville and Lula and discuss their civic organizations.
There was some discussion about holding a fall or spring festival in the town and invite the area potters, other crafters, historical demonstrators and other vendors.
Mrs. Whiting suggested the town hold a parade with the festival.
Other projects they would like to see the public involved in though the organization are: helping with the renovation of the downtown stores; further landscaping at the park; initiate an “Adopt-A-Mile” program; start a farmer’s market; and involve a Hall County fire station in a recycling effort.
Poole pointed out that these are only suggestions and is looking forward to hearing from town residents about their expectations.
Town residents will be receiving a survey/questionnaire asking for their input and their help.


Banks DFACS investigates 57 cases of child abuse
During September, case workers at the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services proceeded with 57 investigations of child abuse, said director Renota Free at a recent board meeting.
Some 29 of the cases were new investigations reported during the month. There were six reports of physical abuse; two reports of sexual abuse; 20 reports of neglect; and one infant with birth addiction. Six of the new referrals were screened out.
The staff started with 13 investigations pending from last month.
Case workers opened nine cases of child abuse with the evidence uncovered. Some 17 cases were closed after being investigated, while 10 cases are pending further investigation. Six were transferred out of the county.
Those cases combined with the 15 ongoing cases of abuse, brought the total for the month to 57.
The county currently has custody of 20 children and has 12 children in follow-up aftercare. Four children from another county are with county foster parents.
The agency also looked into seven cases of adult abuse. Two were new referrals of instances of neglect. In both instances, there was no evidence to support the allegation. One case was pending from last month and it was eliminated as well. Four cases, however, from previous months are being monitored.
In other business, Free reported:
•418 families received $74,997 in food stamps.
•$9,481 was spent on temporary assistance for 46 needy families.
•$2,972 was spent providing child care services for 18 children and employment services in assisting adults to find work.
•five families are currently enrolled in the adoption training program in the county. Another class is planned for January 2004.
•there was still no word on the new building the state approved three years ago. The current facility is up for sale and has been inspected by prospective buyers, though no deals have been made.


County pushes forward with reassessment
The ground work has started for Banks County property reevaluation to start soon.
The commissioners Tuesday morning agreed to the board of tax assessors’ plans to hire WPF Inc. for work on the project.
The board of tax assessors have not officially hired WPF Inc. but had a meeting slated for Wednesday morning to vote on the matter. Results of the meeting were not available at presstime.
Tax assessors board chairman Len Dalton told the commissioners Tuesday morning he felt WPF was the better of two bids for the county’s reevaluation of nearly 8,500 pieces of property.
Bill Ferris of WPF will charge $50,000 for his work on the reevaluation. In addition, the county must finance nearly $50,000 in computer software costs, upgrade a computer terminal and printer, and hire a temporary worker to assist in the project. Dalton estimated the total costs to the county at around $150,000.
The other bid, from Russ Worthen, would cost the county $180,000.
Dalton said he preferred Ferris’ bid because WPF will train the staff in the tax assessors’ office on the use of the reevaluation software, benefiting the county in the long run.
“The office will have the ability to do the majority of a new reevaluation with a minimum of outside help,” Dalton said.
He explained that the training the staff will get from Ferris will allow them to do most of the next reevaluation in-house, minimizing the costs to the county at that time.
Worthen’s more expensive bid won’t include any software or training. He’ll do all the work himself.
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady expressed some concerns about the temporary worker needed under the Ferris plan.
Dalton said the worker would be doing a lot of field work, including photographing parcels in the county. Dalton said the employee would know up front that the position was only temporary unless more services were needed at the end of the reevaluation.
Upon the completion of the 18-24-month long reevaluation project, the worker could either be let go or kept as an in-house mapping person — a much-needed employee for the tax assessors office.
Dalton added that the Ferris plan would put additional work on an already heavily-loaded staff. The temporary employee will help the work load some but the other assessors indicated they understood that the workload will increase.
TAX DIGEST
Brady questioned chief tax assessor Connie Garrison about the county’s digest.
She said it may be completed in about the same time frame as last years. Problems with getting data back from the mapping company have delayed work in the assessors office.
Garrison indicated that the hiring of an in-house mapping person would speed up the process.
OTHER ITEM
At the called meeting Tuesday morning, the commissioners also amended a vote made at last week’s regular BOC meeting.
At that meeting, Robin Trotter was selected to fill the unexpired term of Lou Sokowoski on the Georgia Mountain Community Service Board until June 30, 2004. She will actually hold the post until June 30, 2005, and the BOC amended its vote to reflect the change.
The commissioners also honored the county’s public safety workers by presenting a certificate to the public safety department heads.

 


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Halloween at the Fort planned for October 31
Fort Hollingsworth-White House will be open for tours and stories of the fort on Halloween, October 31, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Admission will be $5.

Lula candidates debate planned Thursday night
Candidates running for the Lula council seats will be facing off at a debate to be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 23, at city hall.
Mayor Milton Turner said the event was sponsored by the Hall/Gainesville Chamber of Commerce. Well known WDUN Gainesville radio talk show host Martha Zoller is the scheduled commentator.
The candidates running for council seats are: Ward 1 – incumbent Mike Ostrander and Larry Shuler; Ward 4 – incumbent Perry Bridgeman, Clyde Moore and Greg Smith.
Incumbent Lamb Griffin will assume the Ward 5 council seat unopposed.
The election will be Tuesday, November 4.
Elected officials will be sworn in at the January city council meeting.

Alto to hold special called meetings
The town council of Alto will hold a special called meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 27, to review applications for the clerk and bookkeeper positions and part-time help.
The council plans to select several applicants to interview. The second special called meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 3, to interview the selected applicants and proceed with hiring.