News from Jackson County...

NOVEMBER 26, 2003


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OPINIONS
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SPORTS
One Down
CHS Runs Away From Whitefield In Second Half In First-Round Playoff Win
Don’t let the Commerce grinding it out style fool you. The big play is alive and well in its arsenal.
It’s been there all year long and was ever-present Friday night in Commerce’s first-round matchup with a stubborn Whitefield Academy outfit.

Nice Debut
Lady Leopards, new coach open with a win; tourney on tap after holiday
Lady Leopard head coach Jodie Watkins couldn’t have hoped for much better of a coaching debut.

Movin’ On
Dragons travel to Trion for second round game Friday
If the Jefferson football team has a recipe for an upset in their arsenal, now is the time to break open that cookbook.
Friday the Dragons will head to Trion to face one of the more highly touted teams in Class A in the second round of the state football playoffs.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin holds off on water rate hike
City tables the fee matter for vote at later meeting
Though the Baldwin City Council has approved a hike in wholesale water rates, they have yet to determine how to pass that increase on to customers.

Assistance to families continues to go up
The Banks County Department of Family and Children Services is continuing to see a rise in the number of families seeking financial assistance, according to director Renota Free.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Colbert man charged with murder
Suspect held without bail, claims he fired after being startled by girlfriend
A Colbert man was charged with murder Sunday by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office following the early morning shooting death of his live-in girlfriend, 25-year-old Dana Brookshire.

Time for turkey — or pizza?
Children share their Thanksgiving thoughts
Dylan Vanderford, 5, says he’s going to Mamaw and Papaw’s house for Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday where he plans to eat grilled cheese.
No turkey for him, thanks.

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.

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SHARING THANKSGIVING LUNCH

Raeanne Waters, a first grader at Maysville Elementary School, shares lunch with her mother, Paulette Waters, when the school hosted a Thanksgiving lunch last week.

Holiday happenings announced
Parades, home tours, luncheons among events planned
The holiday season has arrived in Jackson County and festivities are planned throughout the next month. Parades, tours of homes, visits with Santa and luncheons are among the holiday events planned throughout the county.
CHAMBER LUNCHEON
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Christmas luncheon on Thursday, December 11, at Jackson EMC in Jefferson.
Tommy Nobis, the Atlanta Falcons vice-president of corporate development, will be the featured speaker for the luncheon. A former NFL Pro-Bowl player and defensive rookie of the year in 1966, Nobis has been tied to the Falcons as a player and front office staffer for over 35 years.
Away from the field, Nobis is the founder and a board member of the Tommy Nobis Center, which provides job training and employment services for youth and adults with disabilities. The center has provided over 9,000 jobs to young people and adults throughout metro Atlanta.
Sponsored by Women in Business, the event provides an opportunity for all chamber members to network, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Lunch will be served at noon.
Ticket prices are $15 per person. To make a reservation, call the chamber office at (706) 335-1896.
NICHOLSON PLANS
The Harold S. Swindle Library has announced its event schedule for the next few weeks.
A Christmas flower arrangement workshop will be held Dec. 8-9, and Santa Claus will visit the library Friday, Dec. 12, from 6-7:30 p.m.
“He will be visiting with children and checking their Christmas lists,” organizers stated. “There will also be a time of music and fellowship.”
A “Grandma’s Fan” queen-sized quilt will be given that evening by the Friends of the Harold S. Swindle Library. The quilt was hand-made by the Jackson County Seniors Citizens Center and is on display at the library. Tickets are $2 each and may be purchased at the library or from any member of the Friends of the Library.
“Miss Bea” will begin her Christmas readings for children Monday, Dec. 1.
For more information, call Bea Pearre at (706) 757-3577.
JEFFERSON PARADE
The Jefferson Christmas parade will be held Saturday, December 6, at 3 p.m., announce the Jefferson Junior Women.
The theme for this year’s parade is “Christmas Past.”
The parade lineup will begin at 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, with judging at 2 p.m.
Prize money donated by the Jefferson Area Business Association (JABA) will be given to winners for “Most Original,” “Most Christmas Spirit” and “Most Participation.”
Entries must register by December 5.
For more information and to register a float, call Chantel at 824-9930 or Ashley at 654-5353.
FESTIVAL OF LUMINARIES
A Festival of Luminaries is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, December 11, at the courthouse square in Jefferson to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Jackson Couty Relay for Life efforts.
Hundreds of candles will light the night, each one a tribute to a cancer patient – in honor of a survivor or in memory of a loved one . Luminary bags will display the names of those being honored or remembered, with a minimum donation of $5 per luminary. In honor and in memory names will be read at 7 p.m.
A singing of Christmas carols will also be a part of the program.
“What an inspirational sight and what a great way to start the Christmas holidays,” said Sandra Fite.
All proceeds will go to the Relay for Life in Jackson County. The Festival of Luminaries will be an annual event and similar programs will be held at multiple sites in 2004, Fite said.
For more information or to order a luminary bag, call Fite at 367-8574 or Gail Banks at 367-9721 or contact a Relay for Life team captain.
TOUR OF HOMES
Better Hometown Jefferson will hold its second annual holiday Tour of Homes, to be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 7.
There will be seven homes on tour this year. Five are modern homes and two are historic homes. Most have never before been seen on tour.
Parking for the event will be available on the Jefferson Square, at the Jackson County courthouse, and downtown area churches. Shuttles will run from the courthouse, Jefferson First Methodist and Jefferson First Baptist parking lots. Transportation will be provided for the entire tour, with shuttles leaving from the Crawford Long Museum. Entertainment will be provided throughout the tour, with holiday tea and cookies being served at the museum.
Tickets are $15 before December 7 and $20 the day of the tour. Tickets are available at the Crawford Long Museum, the Jefferson Public Library and other locations around Jefferson.
Contact Donna Butler or Trudy McAfee at 367-5307 for more information.
The Better Hometown design committee is seeking donated white outdoor Christmas lights and any sort of outdoor Christmas decorations for use this holiday season. The decorations will be used for the pocket park in Jefferson, Church choirs are invited to sing in the park throughout the holiday season.
For more information on the pocket park, contact Butler at 367-5037.
MAYSVILLE PLANS
The Maysville Beautification Committee will holds its annual “Christmas in Maysville” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 13, and will include caroling and a live Nativity at Veterans Park. Hot beverages will be served.
“This year, we are particularly excited about the horse-drawn carriage rides through the city to see the decorations,” Kathryn Daniel said.
Tickets will be sold for the carriage rides alone or for the carriage ride and the tour of homes, she said. No price had been set at press time.
Homeowners interested in opening their homes for view that night are asked to call Daniels at (706) 652-3013 (work) or (706) 652-2565 (home).


HOPE proposals could affect local students
If parents fully understood the changes proposed for the HOPE Scholarship, they’d be outraged, said one local high school counselor.
Ed Wyrick, a counselor at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, said a proposal by the HOPE commission to alter the vastly popular scholarship program could actually hurt students who make good grades but don’t earn a 3.0 grade point average.
“Not only are you going to have a lot of unhappy people, they’re going to be angry,” he said Wednesday.
One proposal on the drawing board for state legislators to debate early next year includes a redefinition of the B average.
Currently, Georgia high school students who earn a B average qualify for the HOPE Scholarship. The lottery-funded scholarship now pays tuition, fees and gives college students a $300 a year book allowance.
But it’s the proposal to change the 80 numeric average requirement to a 3.0 G.P.A. standard that could harm more students with higher grade averages than prevent those below the spectrum from qualifying for the HOPE Scholarship, Wyrick said.
“The most problematic (of the proposals) is going to be the proposal to use the 4.0 G.P.A. rather than numeric average,” he said.
He points to an example of one student earning mostly high B’s, but garnishing one “C.” Based on his 2.8 G.P.A. the student wouldn’t qualify for the HOPE Scholarship.
But a second student who consistently maintains an 80 numeric average and never slips with a “C” in his core classes would qualify for the HOPE Scholarship, based on his 3.0 G.P.A.
“Once parents full understand what’s going on — it won’t stand the test of time,” Wyrick said the proposal.
Another proposal to save the HOPE Scholarship program — to link SAT scores with those who qualify — was proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, but is “exceedingly unfair,” Wyrick said.
Perdue is proposing high school students earn an unspecified SAT score to get a full tuition ride on the HOPE Scholarship. Critics have said the governor’s idea would drastically limit the number of minority students who would qualify for the program.
“That’s a political answer, it’s not a educational answer,” Wyrick said of the governor’s proposal.
If high school students were required to take the SAT to earn a certain score, more students would take the test. And more students taking the test could mean Georgia’s low SAT average would decline further, he said.
The most valid indicator for a successful academic career in college is transcript records, Wyrick added.
Last year, about 100 of JCCHS’s 230 graduates qualified for the HOPE Scholarship, he said.
At Jefferson High School, 35 students who received diplomas among 68 graduates last year qualified for the HOPE Scholarship, said Annette Beckwith, counselor.
Beckwith, however, said she wants to see what state legislators will decide on how to retool the HOPE Scholarship program before getting concerned.
“I like to wait to see what’s happening, before we communicate anything,” she said.
And both high school counselors agree “something’s gotta” give to save the HOPE Scholarship. Without changes, the HOPE and free pre-kindergarten programs could sink $434 million in debt in five years, according to some estimates.
Despite state-wide concern about the scholarship program’s finances, few local parents have expressed opinions about the HOPE commission’s proposals, the counselors said.
Wyrick maintains pantherhelp.com, which provides additional information about the various proposals.


Cpl. Dustin Wilkes performs national Toys for Tots song
Not too long ago, Dustin Wilkes was performing with the Jackson County Comprehensive High School Chorus, but in the past few months, the 23-year-old’s venues have broadened to include TV spots on Good Day Atlanta and 11 Alive News and radio interviews on WNGC 106.1, Eagle 106.7 with Rhubarb Jones, and the Bandy and Baily in the Morning show on Kicks 101.5.
Now a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, Cpl. Wilkes is also an aspiring singer/songwriter with a 10-song CD to his credit who has been selected to perform his original single,“One Toy at a Time,” as the national Toys for Tots song this holiday season. The single was released in mid-November and since then, Cpl. Wilkes has made an appearance on Good Day Atlanta and has been contacted by CNN News.
He’ll make another appearance on Good Day Atlanta on Fox 5 between 7 and 9 a.m. Friday, November 28, to promote the Toys for Tots toy drive, and will also open the Toys for Tots Holiday Event concert for T. Graham Brown Sunday, November 30, at the Classic Center, Athens.
Throughout the rest of November and into December, Cpl. Wilkes will make a number of other appearances, including the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame Awards, to promote awareness of the Toys for Tots mission and to perform “One Toy at a Time.” Proceeds made by the CD single/album sales will benefit the Toys for Tots campaign.
TOYS FOR TOTS PROGRAM
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program was established in 1947 and expanded nationwide in 1948; it is an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps, and is a collection and distribution program for toys for needy children at Christmas. Between 1947 to 2002, U.S. Marines distributed over 298 million toys to over 145 million needy children. Toys for Tots campaigns are conducted between October and December each year in more than 450 communities across the nation.
Cpl. Wilkes said that the Marines, both active and reservists, who work behind the scenes to make Toys for Tots happen each year are “unsung heroes.”
“They do such an important job and nobody sees it,” he said of the Marines and the civilian volunteers who work at the Toys for Tots warehouse in Marietta.
According to the album cover, the song “One Toy at a Time” was “inspired by a Toys for Tots volunteer experience.”
And it’s true, Cpl. Wilkes said, relating how the song grew out of his experiences working at the warehouse last year.
“Around three weeks before Christmas, I got selected to be one of the Marines to help out with Toys for Tots,” he said. “You’re either a driver or a warehouse worker; you do what it takes to fit in the big scheme of things. You’re racing with the clock to get everything done before Christmas.”
Cpl. Wilkes described the warehouse as looking more and more like “Santa’s workshop” as Christmas drew nearer. And toys were still coming in. One of the days he was working, he was called to the front lobby to pick up a load of toys being brought in.
“I bent down to pick up a box of toys, and as I stood up, I looked to my left — the whole wall was a wall of windows — and I saw a little boy, he was about 5 or 6, or that’s how he appeared to me,” Cpl. Wilkes recalled. “He had rough looking clothes and like he hadn’t had a bath, and he looked kind of homeless...The look on his face was really in awe of all the toys we had, like he’d never seen so many toys. It really stuck with me, made me realize what we were doing this for.”
Cpl. Wilkes said he hadn’t really had a charity that he had been involved in before because he felt it was important to really believe in what you supported.
“I started thinking, it’d be a really neat idea to write a song about something like that, ” he said. “I started humming and putting it together. I started writing a song about the charity, and it all came together about two to three months after that.”
Cpl. Wilkes told the Atlanta coordinator for Toys for Tots that he was going to write a song about the charity. Once it was completed, he called her and started singing the song over speaker phone.
“Once I got halfway through the chorus, I stopped,” he said. “She was crying. She liked the song. From there, the ideas were endless....this could be a promotional tool for Toys for Tots.”
The song underwent a number of revisions before it was ready for release with the help of Andrew Belling and H.D. Arends Productions in Hollywood, Calif., with a “pop-country feel.”
“We went out there and worked with a lot of different musicians, and within three and a half days we had recorded a lot of tracks and they gave me an hour and a half to record my final tracks,” Cpl. Wilkes. “I got on an airplane and came back here. Within three or four days, they had it mixed and we had a final copy of ‘One Toy at a Time.’”
Cpl. Wilkes said he really wants to stress that any time an album is bought, they know the money has bought a toy for a child.
“We’re trying to raise money to raise toys for the children,” he said. “So that’s what the song is used for.”
LOCAL TIES
Cpl. Wilkes has been in the Marines for four years and is currently stationed at Dobbins Air Force Base near Atlanta. He is the son of Luther Wilkes, Jefferson, and the late Vivian Wilkes.
Cpl. Wilkes has been singing and playing guitar since he was 11. In high school, he began writing songs and singing in the school chorus and church choir. At age 18, he studied voice and music theory at Brenau University, Gainesville, before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999. After basic training at Parris Island, S.C., Cpl. Wilkes trained as a parachute rigger and served in several marine aviation units on both U.S. coasts and in Okinawa, Japan.
He returned to the east coast of the U.S. in 2002 and volunteered for the Toys for Tots program in Atlanta, which served as the inspiration for “One Toy at a Time.”
Locally, Cpl. Wilkes’ songs from the as yet unsigned 10-song CD will be played on WJJC radio out of Commerce, and “we’ve been getting tons of requests for it and Rhubarb Jones was asking about it,” Cpl. Wilkes said.
Cpl. Wilkes said he is looking for local support.
“I really want the support from my hometown,” he said. “This project is important for anyone who has kids.”
Cpl. Wilkes said he aspires to be a country singer in his “next job,” and is looking forward to opening the concert for T. Graham Brown, another singer with local ties.
“That’s a very big deal,” he said. “It’s gonna be a good show. I’ll have the album (‘One Toy at a Time’) for sale and I will sign every one until I run out of copies or run out of ink. I will sign every one of them.”
For more information on Toys for Tots, including area drop sites, and to order “One Toy at a Time,” visit www.toys4totsatlanta.com. The Toys for Tots warehouse phone is (770) 919-1872. To contact Cpl. Wilkes, email him at dustinwilkes@hotmail.com.

“All those little girls, all those little boys, it’s for all those kids at Christmas time who aren’t gonna get toys.
Mend those broken dreams, of all those families,
We can make this world a better place,
One toy at a time.”
— From “One Toy at a Time,” written
and performed by Cpl. Dustin Wilkes, USMC


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Hopes Dashed
Walgreens ‘Loss’ To Test City’s
Commitment To Industrial Growth
When Walgreens announced that it will not locate a $300 million distribution center in Commerce, the city lost more than potential jobs and tax benefits.
It also lost the near-free ride to provide infrastructure to what may be a major industrial park.
Project Lincoln was the state’s code name for a Walgreens distribution center proposed on 100 acres off the yet-to-be-built Bana Road north of Interstate 85 and south of Georgia 98. It was to include a building 600,000 to 1 million square feet, inventory ranging from $150 million to $300 million and 200-600 jobs offering wages of $14-$16 per hour.
With that kind of “bird in hand,” Commerce expected to get grants to cover the vast majority of costs to build water and sewer lines and roads to the site. Preliminary estimates included $2.12 million to complete Bana Road, $358,000 to extend water lines to the site and $1.76 million to extend a sewer line to the site. The city and Jackson County expected to get more than $1 million in road work from the state, $1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission plus funding from the Department of Community Affairs.
Unfortunately, Walgreens revealed Thursday, Nov. 13, that it will build in South Carolina, a decision the industry attributed to South Carolina’s greater tax incentives and the fact that the bulk of the business done from the facility would be in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Commerce officials did not make the decision public until last Tuesday night when Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. announced it at the quarterly “Jackson County Roundtable” held in Hoschton.
While the “anchor” industry is gone, interest in developing the site remains, officials say.
“We talked to the developer and he wants to work with the city and county to develop it,” said City Manager Clarence Bryant.
Without a major tenant in hand, financing becomes a major issue.
“We’re the utility provider and the county is the road provider,” Bryant noted. “None of us have any money sitting around. We can go out and get funds, but who’s going to leverage the debt?”
The developer, Republic Properties, has expressed an interest in building a 500,000-square-foot spec building, which would require substantial commitments from Jackson County and Commerce.
One option, said Bryant, is to issue bonds to fund the infrastructure and let the developer retire them as property is sold.
“We’ve met with them once. We’ll sit them down after the first of the year and get the county attorney involved,” Bryant said.
For Commerce, the major expense is providing sewer service to the site. According to Bryant, the city would have to build a gravity flow system from the site, bore under I-85, and over to Georgia 98, where a lift station would take the materials over the ridge. After that, a gravity flow line would run north along Edwards Creek to the city’s lift station across I-85 from the Tanger II outlet center.


Chamber office to relocate
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce will vacate by June 30 the Commerce building that has been its home since 1998.
The building, owned by the city of Commerce and called “The Chamber Building” has been sold to the Georgia Agribusiness Council, which has shared the facility with the chamber for several years.
At the request of Gary Black, president of the Agribusiness Council, the chamber directors have agreed to reduce the term of the chamber’s length from 2005 to 2004.
Jimmy Bailey, president of the chamber, touched on the matter briefly during the chamber’s board of directors meeting Friday.
According to Bailey, a “relocation committee” is working on finding new space.
Technically, the building was owned by the Commerce Downtown Development Authority. Formerly city hall, it was conveyed to the DDA earlier this year to facilitate the sale to the GAC. While the city would have had to take bids to sell the building, the DDA was under no such obligation.
The Georgia Agribusiness Council is a lobbying organization.
Bailey said the chamber was happy to accommodate the GAC by shortening its lease so “the Agribusiness Council can grow in downtown Commerce. We think that’s important to Commerce.”
In other business Friday, the chamber directors accepted a slate of 10 candidates to be voted upon by the membership to replace four directors whose terms expire.
In addition, Bailey named the same committee that produced that slate of candidates to come up with a slate of officers that will also be elected this fall.
The Nov. 6 Taste of Jackson/Business Showcase was also the topic of conversation Friday.
President Pepe Cummings called it a “tremendous, tremendous event,” Treasurer Gina Hagan revealed that it earned a profit in excess of $6,000 and Bailey called it “amazing.”
Cummings also announced that as an outgrowth of the “eggs and issues breakfast” held Nov. 5 with local legislators, Sen. Casey Cagle has asked the chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee to host a “listening session” Dec. 17 at Jackson EMC. Cummings said Cagle has invited various groups to meet in sessions to tell him of their needs and concerns regarding the 2004 legislative session.


Kids’ Christmas photos deadline is Monday
The annual children’s Christmas section will be published in The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News and The Banks County News on Tuesday, December 23. The newspapers will be accepting photographs of children ages 8 years and younger through 5 p.m. Monday, December 1, to be published in the section.
The child must live in Jackson or Banks county. 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 child’s photo: the first and last name and age of the child, as well as the parents’ names, their city of residence and phone number. Please print clearly.
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, as they do not reprint well.
The photos may be dropped off at or mailed to any of the newspaper offices and may be picked up there after the publication runs in the paper. Photos may also be emailed to news@mainstreetnews.com in a .jpeg format. Names and other information listed above should also be included.