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NOVEMBER 19, 2003


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
The Finishing Touches
CHS Goes Into Playoffs With
20-Point Win Over Social Circle
With the chance to put an exclamation point on its recently-won region title being the only motivation at stake, Commerce made a speedy Social Circle outfit look rather pedestrian in a 20-point romp Friday night.

It’s Playoff Time
Dragons to host Braves Friday night in first round
For the Jefferson seniors on this season’s football team, the chance to do something special awaits them Friday night in the first round of the state playoffs against Heard County.

Panthers to use Bulldogg’s turnaround as motivation in offseason
For the Jackson County Panthers this season has not been what they had hoped.
Once again the team has ended the year without a win and the current losing streak of 24 games is the second-longest in the state.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Building a foundation

Scam alert
Sheriff warns residents about con-artists
Recent scams have Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman warning county residents about potential con-artists.

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

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).

Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga

A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

Order this book online

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FRIDAY MORNING
FIRE SHUTS DOWN I-85

Michael Tate of the Jefferson Fire Department helps extinguish a grass fire on I-85. Northbound traffic on the interstate was briefly halted Friday morning for the blaze near the U.S. Hwy. 129 exit. Crews from the Jefferson, West Jackson and North Jackson fire departments assisted at the scene. Officials don’t know the fire’s cause.

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.
Walgreens — the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain — told Commerce officials last week its $150 million distribution center will be located in Anderson, S.C.
Jackson County officials have been pitching a site on Hwy. 98 to Walgreens for more than a year, Commerce mayor Charles L. “Buzzy” Hardy said. The proposal was dubbed “Project Lincoln.”
And one of the biggest reasons for not selecting Jackson County was a shift in the company’s service area, he said.
“They changed their scope,” Hardy said. “They said they were opening more stores in the North Carolina-Virginia-South Carolina area, than they were down here.”
Walgreens has more than 4,200 stores in the United States, according to the company’s website. Seventy-one are located in Georgia and almost 100 are open in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. In the past year, the company has opened 430 stores.
Despite the proposed location near I-85, the Atlanta market was still too far south to serve the new stores, Commerce manager Clarance Bryant said. The company would have lost $2 million in transportation costs, he added.
Another key factor in Jackson County not being awarded the mega distribution center was the offering of better tax abatements in South Carolina.
Although Jackson County and Commerce offered Walgreens a 10-year, $14 million tax abatement, South Carolina offered more.
South Carolina law allows the company to have a tax abatement on its estimated $150 million inventory — Georgia law doesn’t permit that, Bryant explained.
Commerce also offered water, sewer and gas service, along with road maintaince for the site.
“It was more than fair to them,” Bryant said.
Walgreens was planning an initial 600,000 square-foot building and another 300,000 square-foot facility during a second phase, he said. The deal would have brought an estimated 300 jobs.
Commerce and South Carolina were the top two sites Walgreens officials studied for the proposed distribution center. The retail pharmacy chain, which reported $33.4 billion in sales over the last year, told local officials about their decision last week.
“They came over to bring us bad news,” Bryant said Wednesday.
But despite Walgreens’ decision, Hardy remains optimistic about Commerce’s future to attract another large-scale industrial development.
“We haven’t lost anything, we haven’t gone and put anything in the ground,” Hardy said. “We’re still looking for our first major industry in 10 years.”
“We feel like Atlanta’s coming this way (and) we’re the next step up from Braselton, Jefferson and then it’ll the Commerce exit,” he added. “We will get one eventually, it’s just a matter of time.”
The proposed Walgreens distribution center was 10 times larger than the Haverty’s Distribution Center in Braselton, Hardy pointed out.


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.
Plans for a second elementary school and renovations at the high school will be discussed by the BOE when it travels to Atlanta for the Georgia School Board Association winter conference. Superintendent Dr. John Jackson, system officials and board members plan to hold a work session at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, in Atlanta, prior to the conference, to discuss these two issues.
The BOE plans to discuss what it will cost to build a second elementary school. Although only in the preliminary stages of the project, the board plans to take a serious look at what it will take to build the school as well as discuss other needs that will have to be addressed in the future of such a project.
While also in Atlanta, the board will go over plans for a renovation project at Jefferson High School, a project that has been in the works for some time. According to Jackson, design options for renovating the media center and adding or re-configuring other facilities, along with changes to the frontal design of the school, will be available at that time from an architectural firm the school system has been in discussion with.
As to why the December date in Atlanta, Jackson pointed out that the scheduling just worked out well at that particular time.
“We thought that would be a good time to consider several critical issues that need to be discussed,” he said. “This could take some time.”
Regarding the renovation project, he noted that the possibility of getting some financial support from the city for the renovations does not appear as likely as was first anticipated.
“It seems to be safe to say that their ability to join in on a joint venture with the new media center may not be as possible as we originally thought it was,” said Jackson.


Man with shotgun barricades himself from police Sun.
Four-hour stand-off ends with surrender
Charges are pending against a Jefferson man who barricaded himself in a wooded area on Hwy. 129 Sunday with a shotgun and threatened suicide.
The Jefferson Police Department was called to a 1968 Hwy. 129 address in regards to an incident involving David Peck, who officers say is approximately 30 years old. When the officer arrived, Peck had reportedly fled to a wooded area behind the home with a 12-gauge shotgun and threatened suicide.
Several other officers came to the area as back-up and they reportedly heard shots fired from the woods. Peck surrendered to officers around 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening after a negotiator had talked to him for several hours.
Peck was taken to BJC Medical Center for a medical evaluation and then transported to Central State Mental Hospital in Augusta where he remained at press time. Charges are pending, according to Sgt. Barry Gardner.
Traffic was closed for several hours along Academy Woods Drive and Hwy. 129 Sunday during the stand-off with police.
“He was less than 100 yards from the road, so if he shot in that direction, it could have been very dangerous for passers-by,” Gardner said. “...We’re just glad that nobody got hurt.”


Crimes against the elderly topic for senior citizens
‘Being careful is the best defense,’ police officer says
Sometimes an action as simple as locking the house doors while doing yard work, refusing to allow a stranger to come into the house for a glass of water or not giving out financial account information over the phone can serve as a crime blocker.
And while senior citizens are more likely to be at risk for property crimes through robbery, fraud, forgery and scam artists — there are 2.5 million property crimes against the elderly each year — “being aware is 99 percent of preventing problems,” Sgt. Barry Gardner of the Jefferson Police Department told a group of senior citizens Monday morning.
Sgt. Gardner spoke to the Jackson County Triad/Seniors and Lawmen Together (SALT) council about crimes against the elderly during the group’s monthly meeting at Jackson EMC.
He cautioned that crimes against the elderly, such as taking checks and property, is often perpetrated by a family member, and the crime is generally not reported.
“Flim-flam” artists also are on the lookout for the elderly who, often on a limited budget, will be looking for a “good deal,” Sgt. Gardner said. “The best thing is to deal with legitimate companies (for house repairs or whatever), a company that someone you know has recommended and has references. Call and check the references...Everybody is susceptible, everybody’d like to save a buck.”
And then there are the examples of “creepers,” a pair working together to take property. While one person stops someone working in the yard, the other person may go around to the door — usually unlocked while someone is working outdoors — and slip inside the house to take items. Or, one person may ask to come inside for a glass of water or to use the phone, then using that time to “case out” the home for a future break-in or to pass along items out the back door while the homeowner is in the kitchen getting the water.
One attendee at the meeting told how her mother keeps a spare key so she can lock the doors to the house when she is out working in the yard or in her workshop. Sgt. Gardner suggested, too, handing a portable phone out the door for a stranger to use or handing a bottle of water out the door, rather than let a stranger in the home.
“Don’t let anyone you don’t know into your house,” he said.
While phone scams and other crimes of property are real, Sgt. Gardner told the Triad/SALT group, “you don’t want to be so afraid you barricade yourself in your home. Being real careful is your best defense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true...It’s about being aware of yourself and your surroundings, and knowing who you can trust. Whatever these people can think of to take your money, they will...If you look like you know what you are doing, people will leave you alone because there are other vulnerable people.”
Most crimes are crimes of opportunity, Sgt. Gardner added, saying that most break-ins occur between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., when most people have left for work and are not yet home for lunch. Changing a schedule around — a weekly trip to the grocery store, for example — can often act as a deterrent.
Neighbors can look out for their neighbors, too, Sgt. Gardner said.
“The police and deputies can’t cover every house, but you can look out for your neighbor,” he said, adding that the Jefferson Police Department is encouraging a more “community-oriented”
Sgt. Gardner suggested letting “people you trust know about your comings and going so they won’t worry.”
He also said that with the holiday season coming up, it’s a good idea to let someone trusted know of travel plans and ask them to check on your home periodically.
“Make sure someone checks the house and don’t leave presents out in plain view,” he said.
Sgt. Gardner added: You’ve got to be on your toes — that’s true for everybody.”
As a final note, Sgt. Gardner told the group that the JPD’s Citizen Police Academy will start its second round of classes in February.
The next Triad/SALT meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, December 15, at Jackson EMC, Jefferson.


The ‘File of Life’ makes contact information easy to find in an emergency
It’s called the “File of Life,” because having it posted on the refrigerator and carrying it in a wallet or purse can literally be a lifesaver, quickly providing emergency medical technicians with personalized medical history.
It’s a small packet available for a $2 donation, including a wallet-sized information card, as well as a couple of magnetized cards to stick on the refrigerator. The cards can be filled out in pencil with name, emergency contact numbers, medications taken, medical allergies, doctors’ names and numbers, insurance contacts and other pertinent health information. A red and white sticker that says, simply, “File of Life,” is posted near the door, thus alerting emergency responders to look on the refrigerator for the information card.
Bobbie Freeman presented information on the “File of Life” at Monday’s Jackson County Triad/Seniors and Lawmen Together (SALT) council. She was filling in for Clo Hayes, a former nurse who is now in charge of distributing the “File of Life” for Triad/SALT councils, and who has the cards available at the group’s monthly meetings.
“It’s very helpful,” Freeman said. “You have (a card) at your home and one with you and it can save your life...You fill out all your emergency contacts, the medications you’re on, the ones you’re allergic to — so you don’t have the wrong medications mixed together.”
For more information, contact Clo Hayes at 654-1352.


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Seeking A Definition
City, Planning Commission Seek Consensus On ‘Greenspace’It was relatively easy to amend Commerce’s subdivision regulations to require a 20 percent set-aside for greenspace. It’s quite another to define what exactly constitutes greenspace.
That’s the dilemma facing the Commerce Planning Commis-sion. Last month, it tabled approval of the preliminary plat of Chandler’s Walk Subdivision off State Street because members couldn’t reach a consensus on what greenspace should be. The developer used the set-aside as a buffer zone, an idea opposed by some members because of concerns over who, if anyone, would maintain such land.
Possible definitions include conservation easements and open spaces, both of which would be deeded to the city and left untouched; recreational greenspace, such as ball fields, playgrounds and areas with walking trails; and amenity area greenspace, land set aside for certain facilities. Some members of the planning commission want the area in the center of a development so every resident has easy access.
Following a 45-minute “work session,” the group found it was no closer to a consensus.
“We found out nobody knew enough about open space or greenspace to make an intelligent decision,” reported Greg Perry, chairman. “We asked them (city staff) to get us some videos from the RDC about creative greenspace, where to locate it and how to maximize it. Then we will be in a better position to formulate a definition.”
The goal, said Perry, is to discourage the slash and burn techniques used by some developers. The need arose after Brentwood Estates was created off Mount Olive Road where more than 100 houses are together with very little vegetation. The developer did not bulldoze trees – the site had been used for crops before – but it demonstrated what can happen. At the time Brentwood was platted, the city had no greenspace set-aside.
“We’re going to start having to get landscape architects and people like that involved,” said Perry, regarding future developments.
It is expected that the use of greenspace will be fluid, which is to say it could be used in one way in one subdivision and in another in the next, depending on the size of the development, geography and other factors.
“That’s why we have the pre-planning meeting where they (the developers) sit down and talk with the planning commission before they do their plan,” explains David Lanphear, head of the city’s Department of Building Inspection. “The pre-construction meeting is essential to that.”
City Clerk Shirley Willis, who is also the planning commission’s clerk, said she will get in touch with Lee Carmen, zoning specialist with the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center, and with Bill Ross of Ross and Associates for further help.
“We want Ross to look at our ordinances and give us some advice,” Willis said. “We need to develop greenspace to fit the needs of the city of Commerce.”
One of the needs is to eliminate any city maintenance of property set aside as greenspace, but there is also a concern that if a development’s greenspace needs regular maintenance who will do it? In theory, a neighborhood association could be given that responsibility, but that may not be feasible with smaller developments.


Early deadlines set for next issue
The Jackson Herald will have early deadlines for next week’s issue due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The deadline for classified advertisements will be at noon on Friday, Nov. 21. The display ad deadline is 3 p.m. that day and the deadline for news, including church and social announcements, will be at 5 p.m.
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 Herald office will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving Day.