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NOVEMBER 19, 2003


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OPINIONS
Jana Mitcham
Hot cocoa is good for you
Have you heard? Hot cocoa is good for you.
Really! No, really.

Rochelle Beckstine
Public opinion be cudgeled
Public support and confidence in the United States is waning in Iraq, at home and abroad as the end of official fighting is more than six months past and Iraq appears to become more uncontrollable every day.


SPORTS
Lit ‘em up
Banks County puts up strong senior night showing in season finale
Going into Friday’s game, the Banks County Leopards were chanting one thing — “Christmas tree.”


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Huge distribution center picks another site
Walgreens to locate $150 million building in S.C.. One of the largest planned distribution centers in the United States won’t be coming to Jackson County, officials announced Tuesday.

New school, JHS work to be topics for Jefferson BOE
Group to meet in Atlanta next month
Next month, the Jefferson Board of Education is planning to discuss two important projects that have the potential to change the school system in a profound way.

News from
MADISON COUNTY
Decision delayed
Lem Edwards Road rezoning vote postponed by planners
Neighbors who showed up at Tuesday night’s planning and zoning public hearings in opposition to a proposed 45-lot major subdivision on Lem Edwards Road will have a chance to speak their minds again at December’s public hearings.

Hull water line purchase still on track for Dec.
It probably feels like an early Christmas present to Industrial Development Authority members, but they may finally be on the verge of completing their purchase of the Hull water line loop from Athens-Clarke County (ACC).

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TEACHING THEM TO READ

Banks County school system teacher of the year Amy Pardue works with her kindergarten students recently as they practice reading.

Building a foundation
“When they catch on to it, it’s amazing and wonderful. It lets me know that I’ve done my job.”
—Banks County teacher of the year Amy Pardue, on children learning to read
Top county teacher tries to build with kindergarten basics
Being named system teacher of the year was a big honor for kindergarten teacher Amy Pardue, but it’s probably not the biggest reward she gets as an educator.
After all, Pardue does get to help kids build a foundation in learning and reading that they will use their entire lives. And ask her what the biggest reward is and she’ll tell you quickly.
“When my students read to me,” she said. “When they catch on to it, it’s amazing and wonderful. It lets me know that I’ve done my job.”
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Pardue said she always wanted to be a teacher, pointing to her grandmother who was an educator, as a top inspiration for her.
Naturally, she said she always enjoyed school. But it was a class at Banks County High School that really got her seriously interested.
As part of a friends in education course, Pardue spent time at the primary school with first grade teacher Linda Hawkes.
“I saw how the kids were drawn to her and what a motivator she was,” Pardue said. “She was a role model for her students.”
And so when she graduated from BCHS in 1990, Pardue went on to West Georgia College for her bachelor’s degree and then to Piedmont College for her master’s degree.
Her first teaching job was at the primary school in 1994, working for her former elementary school principal Jimmy Hooper. During that time, finding a job in education was tough.
“I’m so thankful to him for giving me my first job,” Pardue said.
She started at the second grade level for three years before moving on to kindergarten, where she’s been since.
“I enjoy it the most,” she said of her current grade level. “It’s very rewarding.”
TEACHING THE BEGINNINGS
Kindergarten and first grade teachers have some of the most important jobs in education. Those teachers help build the foundation in reading and learning that kids carry with them their entire lives.
And on that level, not all kids can exercise the same abilities in the classroom.
“Kindergarten is very difficult,” primary school principal Lynn Ginn said. “Not all children know the same thing. Amy does an excellent job at seeing the needs of the children and meeting those needs.”
Pardue said that not all of her children leave her class on the same academic level. Some will be able to read easy chapter books. Others will be able to read single words. But all of them, she says, will find success with reading.
“All of my children are successful in some reading sense,” she said. “I just try to build upon their knowledge.”
Pardue said she enjoys seeing kids “catch on” as they begin to learn how to read. Watching the learning process begin and seeing kids read are rewarding to her.
NOT JUST ACADEMICS
The kids in Pardue’s classroom come from all different sociological backgrounds. Some of them likely have very affluent parents while others may live in subpar housing.
Some of the children have very stable home environments. Others live in a negative atmosphere.
But Pardue tries to be a role model to them all, stressing character education as well as normal book learning.
“I try to be a very positive role model,” she said. “I let them know that they are important to me.”
She said she stresses good values and making good decisions, starting with simple concepts like not taking things that belong to others.
“I hope when they grow older they can look back on this and find the positive thing and the right thing to do,” she said. “I hope making right choices will stay with them.”
GETTING THE HONOR
Had Pardue chosen not to be a teacher, she says she’d probably have become a pharmacist. She was good at math and science in high school.
But instead, she went with teaching and has made a name for herself at Banks County Primary.
“The word for her is exceptional teacher,” Ginn said of Pardue. “She is very contentious about her job and very caring. She wants children to learn the most she possibly can.”
Pardue said she was honored to be named the primary school’s teacher of the year and shocked to take the honor system-wide.
“We have a wonderful principal who is very dedicated to the teachers and students,” Pardue said. “All the teachers work very hard and each of us are very deserving of the teacher of the year honor, not just myself.”
She was given the honor by a vote of her peers. However, being named system teacher of the year was done by an outside group that interviewed the teachers of the year from each county school.
“I was totally shocked,” she said.
She won a $1,000, something she said was nice to have being this close to the holidays.
For others looking to become a primary school teacher, she said the position takes lots of hard work.
“Kindergarten and first grade take lots of preparation and time outside of the school day,” she said. “And then patience and giving, non-stop from 7:30 until 3:00 when the kids go home.”



Lula council faced tough crowd in development talks
Gated Lula community approved
The Lula City Council had its hands full Monday night as residents neighboring a two-acre, nine-home development voiced their displeasure with the project.
Newly-elected city councilman Larry Shuler, whose property adjoins the project, said: “I don’t appreciate having that development shoved down my throat. It should never have been approved.”
Shuler read an excerpt from the minutes of the September meeting that dealt with the council’s approving a minimum lot size of one acre.
Mayor Milton Turner said the property had been zoned R-3, multi-family use, for some time. Under that designation, he said, the minimum lot size is 7,500 square feet. He also said the development had been approved prior to the establishment of the one-acre minimum lot, size.
“That’s why we approved this,” he said. “We didn’t want this to happen again. The building codes and regulations are being revised so that we can have control over development. We didn’t have a choice when the request was brought before the council. It could have resulted in legal action that would cost the city thousands.”
Shuler also took issue with the city’s lack of action when construction on the property began without a building permit, as specified in the city’s zoning regulations. He said the city should have fined the developer for not following the building code and should have shut them down.
Turner explained the job site was shut down until the developer obtained the necessary permits. The city zoning book has no specified fine structure for non-compliance, but that issue is being addressed as the city revamps its zoning regulations.
Councilwoman Vicky Chambers said there is a phrase dealing with non-compliance of the code book, which involves a $1,000 per day fine, but there is nothing that sets fines for individual violations.
“That’s the problem we are doing our best to resolve,” she said. “We have been working to update our codes so this type of thing can be handled effectively. But, right now, we don’t have the authority to impose a fine on a contactor for any violation.”
Turner attempted to assuage the protesters by saying the city did shut the job down when it was discovered the crew was working without a permit. The contractor then obtained the necessary permits to resume construction.
Shuler insisted the city impose a fine on the contractor for violating city regulations.
“You can do it after the fact, can’t you,” he asked. “Just because they have everything in order now doesn’t erase the fact they were building without a permit.”
City attorney Brad Patton said the city would have to notify the construction company of its intent to seek a judgment for the violation, allow them the opportunity to respond and then, seek a judgment. However, with no city code to back the charge, there would be little chance of obtaining a favorable decision, he added.
Shuler also contended the construction was not meeting set-back requirements and he had been told by Sammy Reece, city works supervisor, that the measurements were off. Shuler was told Reece had signed off on the setbacks indicating compliance with the setback regulations.
“Then I was lied to,” he replied.
Residents also complained of the mud covering the city street from the trucks. Turner said he had already spoken with the contractor and that gravel was to be laid to end the problem.
NEW GATED COMMUNITY
In other news, the City of Lula will soon have its first gated, up-scale subdivision after final approval by the council was granted. Some 52 new homes will be built on 62 acres on the Banks County side of Lula on Hammond Road. Developer Don Heard said the subdivision will have strict requirements that include a minimum of 2,000 square feet of heated floor space, follow a historic house design and will have sidewalks, along with other covenants. He also plans to provide a swimming pool and playground for the residents.
Though the subdivision will be on septic systems to alleviate concerns of neighbors on wells, Heard plans to use a new treatment process to help clean the waste water. The system uses an aerobic process that blows air through the drain line helping eliminate some of the pollutants.
Also approved was the abandonment of an unfinished portion of 6th Street that runs through the property. In return, Heard agreed to grant easements on Hammond Street that would increase the right-of-way to 50 feet and easements for water lines.
The council also approved rezoning a parcel from Ag-1 to R-1, with stipulations, for a wood-working business operated by Heard and his family. The business will be built on his own property within the subdivision.
The business will be enclosed in a new building, have air-cleaners to recapture dust and use only water-based stains and dyes that are environmentally safe. Hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays regularly, and on Saturdays if needed.
Traffic to the business would be minimal, he explained. The company owns two 14-foot “cube” trucks that are used for delivering. Twice a month, a tractor trailer will deliver plywood.
Should the business outgrow that building, Heard said he would look to move to Highway 365.
Since the community will be private and gated, the council asked city attorney to draw up an easement agreement to provide ingress and egress for water meter reading and trash removal.
Neighboring poultry farmers, Lane Griffin and Greg Caudell, said they wanted it stated that they had warned of the problems that could occur with odor and noise from their working farms.
Heard said he had shown the property and the poultry farms to prospective buyers and received no negative comments.
In other business, a 45-acre plot adjoining a 168 acre multi-use development was approved for annexation and rezoning from A-1 to M-1 (light industrial).
G & D Properties plans to add an additional nine businesses to their industrial/residential development on Highway 365.
John Purcell, speaking on behalf of the firm, said the businesses would be selected to comply with the comprehensive plan.
A road serving the large development will be extended to include the new one.

Kids’ photos taken through Dec. 1
The annual children’s Christmas section will be published in The Banks County News, The Commerce News and The Jackson Herald on Tuesday, Dec. 23. The newspapers will accept photographs of kids ages 8 years and younger through 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, for the section.
The child must live in Jackson or Banks counties. Photos of grandchildren will be taken only if the child resides with the grandparents, and that residency should be noted.
Please submit the following information along with the photo: the first and last name and age of the child, as well as the parents’ names, their city of residence and phone number.
Black and white or color photos can be used, but no Polaroids or photographs printed out from a computer onto laser paper will be accepted.
The photos may be dropped off at or mailed to any of the newspaper offices and may be picked up there after publication in the paper. Photos may also be emailed to news@mainstreetnews.com in a .jpeg format. Names and other information listed above should be included.


Early deadlines listed for next week’s paper
The Banks County News will have early deadlines next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Early deadlines are as follows: classified ads, noon on Friday, Nov. 21; display ads, 3 p.m. Friday; and news, 5 p.m. Friday
The Thanksgiving issue will be on the news stands on Tuesday, Nov. 25. Mailed subscriptions will also be sent to the post office one day ahead of the regular schedule. The News office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

 


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Scam alert
Sheriff warns residents about con-artists
Recent scams have Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman warning county residents about potential con-artists.
“This time of year, people seem to be worse than other times for flim flam and scams,” Chapman said.
Last week, an elderly man shopping at Wal-Mart was approached by another man, who started a conversation. The man told the victim that his brother passed away and he was inheriting a large cash estate.
He also told the victim that he planned to go back to Africa where he is from and he couldn’t take the cash out of the country with him. He said he wanted to donate the money to a church.
The man then convinced the victim to withdraw $1,000 from his account at the bank so he could be sure the man was not a bum and could be trusted with the large cash estate.
Chapman said the two men then drove to a church in Banks County and returned to Wal-Mart, where a third man joined the conversation.
The two men then led the victim to a car in the parking lot where the leader of the scam led a prayer about the money. During the prayer meeting, the men took the victim’s $1,000 and handed him a bundle of what he thought was the large cash inheritance. It was actually newspaper that had been wrapped up. The men then left with the unknowing victim’s money.
“This seems like an unlikely story,” Chapman said. “It’s just one of those cases where an innocent victim falls prey to a con-artist who does nothing but live day to day devising schemes and plots to deceive people and rob them of their valuables.”
Chapman also referenced a recent phone scam attempt of a Banks County couple. A person called claiming to be from a clearing house in Illinois, telling the couple they had won $1.5 million but needed to send $2,500 in cash via Western Union to collect the winnings.
The couple contacted the sheriff’s office and the sheriff waited with the couple at their home at the time the person had scheduled to call again about the winnings.
After the couple talked a while, the sheriff said he took the phone and identified himself, at which point the caller hung up.
“If they won the prize, they would not have to give money up front,” Chapman said. “It’s just a scam people use to deprive people of their money.”
Chapman said that the time leading up to Christmas brings an increase in flim flams and even burglaries. He asks citizens to be aware of their surroundings and keep a close watch on their property and report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s office by calling 911.
“We at the Banks County Sheriff’s Office can encourage anyone who might be approached by anyone with anything even similar to notify authorities,” Chapman said.
He said the sheriff’s office depends on help from residents for information to pursue criminals.


Zoning appeals board rules with planning commission
In only it’s third ever meeting Tuesday, the Banks County Zoning Appeals Board unanimously upheld the planning commission’s denial of a subdivision.
In August, Doug Dorsey asked the planners for permission to split land on Hembree Road. The planning commission unanimously denied the request saying that the split would create a Class II subdivision inside what is already a Class II subdivision, an act prohibited by county regulations the planners said. Dorsey has since appealed the denial.
Attorney Wanda David argued on behalf of Dorsey at the appeal hearing.
She pointed out that Dorsey never got a written detailed denial of his request. She also said the ordinance under which the planning commission acted was too vague.
The county has interpreted the ordinance to mean that no Class II subdivision shall ever be permitted on a tract of land that was a part of a Class II subdivision.
David argued her interpretation of the ordinance, saying it only prevented the same landowner from dividing the land again to circumvent the much more stringent Class III subdivision requirements. She said the ordinance does not prevent subsequent property owners from splitting the land.
David also said that due to how vague the ordinance is written, the appeals board must rule in favor of the applicant, Dorsey.
The county disagreed. Planning member Ed Lindorme said the purpose of the ordinance was to prevent an “unscrupulous developer” from continuously cutting up lots, placing a burden on the schools, roads and emergency services.
He also addressed the matter about a formal written ruling, saying the planning commission does not give written statements but issues its decisions at the meeting.
“If we must give written approval, our lawyer is at fault for not telling us,” he said.
Planning commission chairman Harold Ivey added that the particular ordinance in question was one of the clearest in the county’s subdivision regulations, preventing the approval of Dorsey’s subdivision.
Appeal board chairman Gene McDuffie said he too interpreted the ordinance to prevent any future dividing of a Class II tract of land into another Class II subdivision, regardless of whether the land changes hands to a new owner.
Appeals board member Ed Barrett made the motion to deny the appeal. Gordon Worley seconded the motion and it was unanimously denied.
Dorsey’s only remaining course of action would be a civil suit against the county challenging the ordinance.
David said after the meeting that she and her client had not decided about any future legal action in the case.