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DECEMBER 3, 2003


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SPORTS
Next Stop: Hawkinsville
Tigers Hope Big-Game Experience Will Pay Off Against 12-0 Red Devils
Most of the Tigers were probably too busy tending to business with Bremen Friday night to hear the announcement that their next playoff foe had just polished off Miller County to the tune of 45-0.
But news of Hawkinsville’s lopsided-win hardly came as a surprise.

Slimmed down Panther Invitational field to provide early season tests
Although the number of teams participating in this year’s Panther Invitational Wrestling tournament may be scaled down somewhat compared to previous years, the quality of those taking part in the two-day event is still strong.

Dragons set to begin defense of state crown
The three-time defending Class A state champion Jefferson wrestling team has been what most would call the best program pound-for-pound at any classification in the state in recent years.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
At Banks Crossing, there’s A whole lotta shopping going on
Banks Crossing scores big with shoppers from near and far
Though it was a rainy and cold start to the holiday shopping season during Thanksgiving weekend, shoppers at the outlet centers at Banks Crossing bundled up and hit the stores looking for that special gift.
Mark Valentine, general manager of Tanger, said traffic was off a bit on Friday due to the weather, but it picked up on Saturday and Sunday.

Light dedication planned in Homer
The Homer mayor and council will sponsor a “dedication of lights"

DOT to seek public input at Dec. 11 meeting
The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting to discuss a transportation study for Banks County on Thursday, Dec. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m., at Banks County High School.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Comer Christmas Parade set for Sat.
Madison County will welcome “Santa” Saturday in Comer, as the city holds its annual Christmas parade at 2 p.m.

City approves water to sports complex
The Danielsville City Council voted unanimously Monday to provide city water to the new school sports complex across from the high school.
The school system requested that Danielsville supply water to two concession and two restroom areas at the new sports complex, which is in the early stages of construction.

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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Jefferson, Georgia
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‘SANTA’ LIGHTS UP HIS YARD

Mike Hill lights up his Plainview community yard each year and dresses as Santa Claus to welcome families two weekends in December. He is shown here (R) with one of his volunteer elves, Travis Wyrick (L), 10, his daughter-in-law, Amber Hill, and his grandson — a tiny Santa — Parker Hill. See this weeks Jackson Herald for more photos and details.

Radar back on in Pendergrass limits
DOT says police were working within the law
After a short hiatus, the radars are once again catching speeders on the Pendergrass Bypass (U.S. Hwy. 129).
Last month, the Pendergrass Police Department voluntarily halted using radar when officials learned a small strip on the bypass wasn’t in the city limits.
Following a meeting with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s area director for radar enforcement, Pendergrass officers learned they were operating the device within the law.
“What this boils down to is that we (have city limits signs in the correct place), our radar permit is and always has been valid, and the police officers are operating in the areas they are supposed to be operating in,” police officer Bill Hazelgreen read from a prepared statement at last week’s city council meeting.
The strip, or gap, in question is less than 1/4 mile along a guard rail on the bypass. DOT officials said they won’t place city limits signs that close to one another to mark Pendergrass’ boundaries, said police chief Rob Russell.
“We were advised that many other cities have gaps that are so small on their state highways that the DOT will not (place city limits signs on) them,” Hazelgreen said.
The issue of Pendergrass’ gap on the bypass came to light during a traffic court hearing, Russell said.
A lawyer representing a suspected drunk driver questioned whether the police department could use radar in the small gap, Russell said. The lawyer wanted the police department to stop using radar for the entire bypass in the city limits.
Still, the decision to shut down radar on the bypass was a voluntary one taken as a precautionary measure, police officers maintain.
“The DOT (has) reiterated that the city was not required to ever stop using its radar enforcement in the city,” Hazelgreen said. “The city police department decided on its own to stop using radar.”
Pendergrass police officers are aware of the gap and have been told where the city limits lie, Russell said.
About 15 percent of the police department’s citations are related to speeding on the Pendergrass Bypass, he added.


Local holiday events kick off this weekend
The holiday season has arrived in Jackson County and festivities are planned throughout the month, beginning this weekend in Jefferson, Maysville and Hoschton.
Parades, tours of homes, visits with Santa and luncheons are among the holiday events planned throughout the county.
OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS
AT CWL MUSEUM
Did you ever wonder when Santa Claus came to the New World? Join Crawford Long Museum staff and special guest, Old Father Christmas, for stories, goodies, and holiday crafts this Saturday, December 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the museum. Refreshments will be served at 2:45 p.m., finishing in time for the Jefferson Christmas parade.
“Young visitors will get to meet our current Santa Claus’ great-great-great grandfather when he visits us, straight from the Black Forest of Germany,” said Donna Butler, museum director. “To help children and adults understand our special guest, we’ll have stories and a craft, as well as visits with Father Christmas. This is a great photo opportunity, so parents might want to bring their camera, but we’ll have one on hand, just in case.”
Photos with Father Christmas will be $3, with proceeds benefiting the museum. For more information, contact Donna Butler or Trudy McAfee at 367-5307.
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 Friday, December 5.
For more information and to register a float, call Chantel at 824-9930 or Ashley at 654-5353.
MAYSVILLE PLANS
The Maysville Community Improvement Club will hold its annual “Christmas in the Park” at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6. Santa will be at the “old-fashioned Christmas” celebration and will be available for photographs.
Hot chocolate, coffee, soft drinks and hamburgers will be served.


County, Jefferson disagree over fee for inmate labor
The City of Jefferson is no longer using county inmate labor after more than a year of controversy that included the state stopping the program at one time due to a “serious infraction” and the county later contacting the city about not paying for the service.
This matter was on the board of commissioners agenda to be discussed at Monday’s meeting but Jefferson officials weren’t present. The BOC was presented with a packet of information from county manager Al Crace on the issue.
The latest controversy over the inmate detail program came after the city questioned the fee charged by the county for the service. Jefferson city manager David Clabo sent county manager Crace a letter dated Oct. 22 questioning the fee.
The city had received a bill for inmate services at the Jefferson Police Department in September and October. The city had paid for the services for April through August at a rate of $680 per month.
Clabo said he didn’t understand why the city was being billed by the county for this service since it isn’t incurring any expenses.
“After the mowing detail was terminated last March, there were no more expenses to the county for the continuance of an inmate for custodial work at the city police department,” Clabo wrote to Crace. “Why then have we been charged $680 for an inmate that our police officers sign in and out, transport, monitor and provide lunch for him?”
Clabo said the payment of the services for April through August was “an internal matter for us to work out.” He asked for a reimbursement of $3,404 for those fees paid and said the city would not pay for September and October.
“We have inquired about how this fee was determined and everyone says that you set a percentage of an old contract,” Clabo also wrote. “I don’t know what this is all about. I thought the city had no more expense for inmate labor after the mowing crew was stopped.”
In his letter of response, Crace pointed out that the county does have a “basic payment system for the use of all inmates to outside agencies.” Crace also referred to an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the county for the services. In this document, it states that compensation is for the “labor supplied, benefits and overtime for correctional officers assigned to inmate work details.”
This latest controversy led the city to terminate the inmate service with the county as of October 31. The city had been using one inmate to provide custodial service for the police, recreation and library facilities.
EARLIER CONTROVERSY
The first controversy over the city’s inmate program came in July 2002 when the Georgia Department of Corrections shut down the program after alleged “serious infractions” at the Jefferson Police Department. While an inmate was assigned to the police department, he allegedly purchased a truck from the father of the police chief for $3,000 and a computer from one of the officers.
“It is not proper or lawful for government employees or their family to have personal and business dealings with incarcerated state felons,” James Parrish of the DOC wrote in an August 2002 letter to warden Vickie Underwood.
The inmate reportedly told the warden that police chief Darren Glenn didn’t know about the transaction. He said that Glenn’s father brought the truck by the police department and he purchased it. He added that he had a check with him and used it to pay for the truck. Chief Glenn also reportedly told Underwood that he didn’t know anything about the matter.
In early fall, the county manager asked the DOC to reinstate the inmate program for Jefferson. The request was declined. In late 2002, the county manager again asked the DOC on behalf of the city to reinstate the program and assured the state that the officials had a clear understanding of the state rules. The program was reinstate at that time.


BOC decision on warehouse/distribution center postponed
A rezoning request from an Atlanta developer who wants to locate a warehouse/distribution center on John B. Brooks Road was postponed Monday at the Jackson County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The BOC held a lengthy discussion on the rezoning request from Collier Properties to rezone 60.60 acres on Hwy. 332 and John B. Brooks Road from A-2 to L-I but decided to postpone action at the request of developer Richard Collier. Collier said he would like to discuss the purchase of a two-acre tract and home located adjacent to the site further before any action is taken.
The BOC heard from the property owner, Andy Marlowe, and other neighbors who berated the developer for only offering $40,000 for the home and property.
Larry Brooks, another adjacent property owner, said: “Offering someone $40,000 for a house is not acting in good faith.”
Marlowe’s property would be almost entirely surrounded by the industrial site.
“There is no question as to what it will do to the value of my property,” Marlowe said. “...There is not an industrial park anywhere that has a house sitting in the middle of it.”
Pendergrass Mayor Monk Tolbert also said he didn’t like the way Marlowe was treated by the developer and asked that a condition of the rezoning be that he is “adequately compensated.”
Bob Bates, who lives across the road from the site, also spoke. His concerns include the traffic the development would bring to the road and the lack of a site specific plan.
“I’m not against progress,” he said. “I just like to know what is going on.”
Bill Cornell also spoke on behalf of Collier and said the request is consistent with the land use map. He said there are no specific plans for the site but that the developer would only build if he has a client.
The rezoning will be addressed when the BOC meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, at the Administrative Building in Jefferson.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other planning business at Monday’s meeting, the BOC:
•postponed a request from Keith Occhipinti for a special use permit for 5.0 acres on Old Pendergrass Road because the applicant wasn’t present to speak. He plans to operate a car restoration business on the site.
•denied a request from David Scott Hawks for a future land use map amendment from Agricultural Preservation to Rural Places. His 10.66-acre site is located on Hwy. 334.
Hawks said he wants to locate six stick-built homes on the property. Sharon Lee, an adjacent property owner, said the request would be “spot zoning.”
•approved a request from E. Milam Ayers


BOC approves ACCG lease purchase
agreement for patrol cars, fire equipment
A lease purchase agreement with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for 16 vehicles and one crime scene van for the sheriff’s office and a pumper truck for the South Jackson Fire Department was approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday night.
The payment will be $738,000 for three years. The 16 patrol cars will cost $400,000, the crime scene van will cost $77,500 and the pumper will cost $260,000. The South Jackson Fire Department will pay for the pumper.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the BOC:
•approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Pendergrass for assistance with the construction of a new parking lot for city hall. The county will grade and base the lot and the city will pay all costs for material.
•approved a request from BJC Medical Center for assistance removing and disposing of excess warehouse materials. The county will provide an inmate labor crew for loading and transport and BJC will pay the disposal fee.
•reaffirmed Andy Newton as county airport manager and authorized him to execute all actions to assure compliance with federal regulations.
•approved a resolution for the county board of education to refinance its $2.8 million general obligations bonds from a higher interest rate to a lower interest rate with a savings of $147,555.
•heard an update from county attorney Daniel Haygood on the lawsuit filed by citizens over the financing of the new courthouse. He said the Supreme Court rejected the citizen’s “discretionary appeal” on the ruling but agreed to hear the “direct appeal” over the constitutionality of the financing. This will be heard in February, Haygood said. The county’s brief on this issue will be posted on the county website by the end of the week, officials said.
•recognized finance director John Hulsey for completing the local financial management introductory course and scoring 100 on the course exam.
•held a 30-minute closed session to discuss land acquisition. The board agreed to move forward with several property matters. The details will become final after the closing on the property. County officials had said in the regular portion of the meeting that the right-of-way acquisition for Jackson Parkway, the new road at the courthouse site, would be discussed during the closed session.


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Commerce Plans Major Rate Hikes
To Pay For Waste Treatment Plant
Water And Sewer Fees To Be Hiked 17-58 Percent Starting Jan. 1
Atlanta isn’t the only Georgia city facing higher water and sewage rates to upgrade an old system. Residents of Commerce will pay up to 58 percent more for water and sewage treatment starting in January to help the city pay for its $9 million waste treatment plant. Another smaller rate increase could follow in a year or two.
The matter may come up at Monday night’s city council meeting, which is at 6:30 at the Commerce Civic Center; or it may come up at the Jan. 12 meeting, but the rates will go up effective Jan. 1, based on comments made in Monday night’s city council work session.
Hardest hit will be water and sewer customers using 3,000 gallons of water per month (sewer rates are based on water usage). They will see their total water and sewage bill go from the current level of $17 to $27 – a 58 percent hike.
There are 286 customers inside the city limits who use 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per month, officials say.
The rates of the proposed increase run from 17.65 percent for customers using 2,000 gallons or less to 58.82 percent for those using 3,000 to 4,000 gallons.
Commerce has 2,404 water customers inside the city limits and 759 outside; it has 1,997 sewer customers inside the city and 181 outside.
What’s driving the rate hikes is the repayment of $6.8 million the city borrowed to build the new waste treatment plant, which will double the city’s capacity from 1.05 million gallons per day (mgd) to 2.1 mgd. The city must start repaying that loan in the fall of 2005.
“We’ve got to start raising some money for that date,” said City Manager Clarence Bryant. “I would like to have by the first payment already escrowed the first year’s payment. then if we get into hard times and can’t do something, we have it.”
“Are we not planning any impact fees?” asked Councilman Bob Sosebee. “As we take capacity out of this plant, what are we doing for the time when we need eight million?”
Engineer Charles A. “Corky” Welch explained that the establishment of impact fees is a “complicated business” but that the proposed rate structure takes care of some of the capacity replacement.
“We need to make sure that the new growth pays its own way,” Sosebee said. “We don’t need to subsidize developers in any way.”
Welch estimated that 55 percent of the cost of the new plant can be attributed to meeting Environmental Protection Division mandates and the rest can be attributed to adding capacity.
The new rates, which are accompanied by increased tap fees, are expected to generate $322,000 in new revenue per year. But officials warn that another rate increase will follow shortly as the city tries to increase its revenue by the more than $500,000 a year needed to amortize the plant.
Not only must the city repay the loan on the plant, but the new plant will also be considerably more expensive to operate, according to Brian Harbin, director of water and sewer operations. Harbin said the plant must be manned seven days a week, compared to five days now, and will require more electricity as well.
Bryant and Welch both compared Commerce’s dilemma to that facing Atlanta.
“The $6.8 million we have to borrow equates to the $4 billion they have to borrow,” Welch insisted.
TAP FEES
The proposed new tap fees will be increased by 25 percent to 51.52 percent. Most residential taps will cost $2,500, up $300 for water; and $2,500, up $850 for sewer.


Last call for kids’ Christmas photos
The annual children’s Christmas section will be published in The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News and The Banks County News on Wednesday, December 24. The newspapers will be accepting photographs of children ages 8 years and younger through a final deadline at 5 p.m. Friday, December 5, 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.