News from Banks County...

DECEMBER 10, 2003


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
Tis the season...for lots of trees
It took three days. It led to a lot of sore muscles. But it’s over and the results are festive, to say the least.

Shar Porier
Life’s enigma
She’s resting quietly now. Her breathing is so shallow. Her lips are quivering - silent words being spoken in a dream?


SPORTS
CHS Girls Basketball Looking To Build Upon First Two Games
Twenty practices with a full squad were nice, but live action this past week provided a much better litumus test.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Jefferson looks at impact fees
Jefferson leaders are apparently moving toward enacting impact fees for the town.
Consultant Bill Ross gave a one-hour presentation on impact fees at the Jefferson City Council meeting Monday night. City manager David Clabo asked what the next step would be and Ross suggested the town seek proposals from consultants who would lead the town in the development of impact fees. Ross said it would take eight to nine months to get impact fees approved.

Suspects sought
Robbers pose as salesmen and gain entry to Pendergrass home
Three men robbed an elderly Pendergrass man on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at his Mtn. Creek Church Road home, according to an incident report filed at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

News from
MADISON COUNTY
South Madison water purchase completed
Acquisition is key component
of development plans in Hull area
Madison County’s Industrial Authority signed final papers and wrote a check for $507,187 on Monday, Dec. 1, to complete the purchase of the existing South Madison Water System.

Journal kids pic deadline set for Fri.
The annual children’s Christmas section will be published in The Madison County Journal on Wednesday, December 24.

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Wood stove causes fire

A fire in the stove pipe of a wood-burning stove reportedly caused minor damage, mostly due to smoke, at the residence of Sean Kilker on Caudell Road Sunday afternoon. Firefighters were able to find the problem immediately and keep the fire from spreading to the 120-year-old house, which is being remodeled. Pictured are assistant fire chief John Creasy and firefighter Chuck Bray.

Chimney fires spark warning
Fire dept. offers safety tips for wood stoves
Residents cranking up their wood-burning stoves and fireplaces need to be aware of the dangers that exist with such heating systems.
Banks County volunteer assistant fire chief John Creasy said the chimneys and pipes should be checked or replaced before starting that warm fire.
“Any exposed stove pipe should be replaced every year,” he said. “If there’s a pipe going up the chimney, that needs to be cleaned out yearly. Residue builds up, particularly in joints, and can heat to a temperature that can cause the pipes to melt. Chimneys too should be regularly maintained and checked every year. People should burn only dry hardwood, not green wood or pine. Those tend to cause pitch and tar to build up quickly.”
A disaster was averted at a Caudell Road residence Sunday when just such a situation occurred.
Sean Kilker said he smelled smoke at his home and went into the living room to find a smoky haze filling the room. The stove pipe going from the back of the stove up the chimney had melted due to heavy build up of residue from burning wood, according to Creasy.
“Most of the smoke went up into the attic,” he said.
Kilker commended the fire department on their quick response time and professional manner.
“They got here fast,” he said. “I’ve seen firefighters just rip apart a house. These guys didn’t. They were methodical and quickly found the source of the problem. They told me exactly what they were doing and what was going on. They did a great job.”
Kilker said he had been remodeling the 120-year-old home for the past two months and didn’t have insurance yet.
“You can bet I’ll be getting that taken care of soon,” he said.
According to assistant fire chief Gary Pollard, the department has responded to two chimney fires over the past seven days.


Bids for BCPS classroom addition to go out soon
Addition projected to be open by August
Bids for the 11 classroom addition at Banks County Primary School are set to go out in February and officials are hoping to open the new wing by the start of next school year.
Superintendent Chris Erwin told the school board Monday night that the next project slated under the sales tax funded construction and renovation work for the system should get started soon.
He hopes the state department of education and the fire marshal will approve the plans for the 11 classroom addition, lunchroom expansion and car awning to be able to get the bids out early in 2004.
If the weather cooperates and the system receives good bids on the work, the new portion could be open by the start of the new school year. And if that happens, tentative plans are to shift some grade levels around to begin renovations at the current middle school.
Erwin said that if the new middle school and the classroom addition open by August, the system will consider temporarily moving the fifth grade to the middle school, third and fourth grades to the elementary school and the second grade down to the primary school.
Moving those classes around will allow renovation work to start at the current middle school. And doing the work without any students around will save the system money on the renovation.
Erwin added that the current elementary school will come off the state registry as an approved school building in 2006 and that getting it re-registered will cost the system costly upgrades.
Hopes are to have the renovation at the current middle school done in time to have a new place for those students to go.
The tentative plans, however, are contingent upon the completion of construction at the new middle school site and the addition to the primary school.
TENNIS COURTS
The school board revisited an issue raised last month about building tennis courts at the high school.
Erwin said the first proposed location adjacent to the agriculture barn won’t work due to sewage lines on the land.
He asked board member Neal Brown to inspect with him the high school property to find another suitable location for the possible court construction. He said the process could take a month or more and that grading work would have to be done at any other location on the property.
FIELD HOUSE
After some last minute work on the female locker room addition to the new field house wraps up, the new stadium facility should be completely done.
Erwin recommended that the board inspect the field house and will likely suggest they vote to officially accept the stadium and field house as school facilities as the January meeting.
NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL
Erwin said work continues to roll along smoothly at the new middle school, with all of the structural steel work finished.
Officials are hoping to have the building completely “dried in” this month. More than half of the block has been laid and electrical roughing in is done.
The board voted Monday night to change the planned thermostat system. Originals plans called for a timed system that cut the heating and air on and off at certain times to get the building ready for students and teachers.
The board approved an $11,000 upgrade to a “smart thermostat” that can be controlled by a computer off site.
The new system will self diagnose problems and is projected to save over $15,000 in energy costs in the first two years of operation.
Erwin said the school gets the system at a considerable cost reduction because the company installing it plans to use the new middle school as a “show school” to showcase the thermostats to other school systems.


BOC approves chicken house requests, sign variance
Two different applicants seeking chicken house-related requests from the county got permission Tuesday night to do what they want.
The board of commissioners approved a chicken house variance request and a conditional use permit for the construction of two chicken houses.
The BOC allowed Hugh Gordon’s request to build two breeder houses on his 42.5 acres on Skeeter Drive. He told the board he plans to direct the fans on the houses away from nearby residences.
Joe and Cindy Tu also got approval for their variance request to reduce the setbacks on their CAD (commercial agricultural) property for their two chicken houses.
Joe Tu said the lay of the land and a nearby creek prevent him from keeping one of the houses 200 feet off the property line. The BOC granted a reduction to a 150-foot setback off a line that adjoins vacant and undevelopable state-owned property on Hwy. 441.
In addition to the two chicken house requests, the board approved Ramada Inn Limited’s variance application to relocate a 55-foot high sign on the hotel’s property at Banks Crossing.
Sam Patel said he plans to move the existing hotel sign closer to the roadway.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the BOC:
•change the timber harvesting ordinance to require harvesters present a surety bond or irrevocable bank letter of credit prior to beginning work in order to protect county roads from damaged that does not get repaired. The old ordinance required a cash bond, which has become illegal under recent state laws.
•approved a new bereavement leave policy for county workers that specifies the amount of paid days leave for a death in the family. Chairman Kenneth Brady said employees could only get a paid leave day if they are forced to miss work because of a death.
•unanimously denied Lamar Hendricks’ conditional use application to locate a substance abuse treatment clinic on Industrial Boulevard in Banks Crossing. That application was tabled from last month’s meeting.
•approved the hiring of a temporary full-time worker in the tax assessor’s office to help with work during the county’s property re-evaluation project.
•learned that Brady will be meeting with state officials after the holidays about getting a new county extension agent in Banks County. Brady said due to state cutbacks, the University of Georgia has not been able to replace retired agent John Mitchell. He hopes for a new agent by this spring.
•approved 18 of the 21 alcohol license renewals in the county. Brady said three beverage vendors have yet to pay their license fees and won’t get a renewal vote until they are paid. Commissioner Pat Westmoreland abstained from voting on the matter.
•agreed to proceed with an underground storage tank corrective action plan to avoid state penalties relating a tank once in the ground at the road department.
•reappointed Ron Gardiner and Wila Bell Rucker to the recreation advisory board and appointed new member Kenny Crumley. David Martin was chosen as an alternate in case Rucker declines her reappointment.
•reappointed Ernest Rogers to the Chestatee Chattahoochee RCDC and appointed new member Rickey Cain.
•approved a contract with the state DOT for $27,691 for rock to put on about 6.58 miles of county roads.
•renewed the ambulance billing and collection service contract with A & O billing.
•met behind closed doors for about 20 minutes to discuss land acquisition.

 


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Patricia Barlow-Ivry to serve on Alto council
Mayor breaks split vote on matter
Patricia Barlow-Ivry was appointed in a split vote to fill a vacant seat on the Alto City Council Monday.
Councilman Donald Wade made the motion that Ivry be appointed and Susan Wade seconded it. Both Gary Terrell and Sharon Christmas voted against the appointment. Mayor Carolyn Gulley broke the tie with a vote in favor of Ivry.
After Ivry accepted the appointment, she was sworn in by Mayor Gulley, and she was asked to sit with the council for the rest of the meeting.
In other business, Mayor Gulley said Sam Benfield approached her about the possibility of a joint venture in a new town well. The council told the town clerk to contact Benfield and let him know that he needs to come before the council with the proposal.
The mayor also informed the council that a cost had been obtained for street lights on Cook Street in Rolling Ridge Subdivision. The price was $246 per pole for three poles to be installed. The developer of the property agreed to donate $500 to be used to pay for part of the cost.
The developer had reportedly previously told the mayor and town attorney, Jim Acrey, that he was not responsible for the lights but was willing to make the donation to help cover the cost. The council voted to pay the balance.
Bill Massey, a resident of the subdivision, was in the audience and was told the street lights will be installed.
In other business:
•job descriptions for the positions of city clerk, finance director and water operator/maintenance worker were accepted, as they had been discussed at a previous meeting.
•the council agreed that Christmas bonuses would be the same as last year, $100 for each employee.
•a citizen in the audience, Phil Lomax, said that John Closs, Bill Massey and himself were donating a new flag to the town to be used on the pole in front of city hall.
•the council asked Mrs. Christmas to serve on the zoning board for the town. A recommendation was made by the attorney to Mrs. Christmas that she needs five citizens to serve on this board as well. She agreed to serve.


No tax hike planned in Baldwin
Baldwin residents will not see a rise in their city property taxes this year to make up for an estimated $117,000 shortfall in the 2003-04 budget.
Much of the shortfall came from the decrease in background checks performed by the police department.
Anticipated revenue was set at $500,000 but, as of November, only $80,000 had been received. With seven months remaining in the current budget year, it was estimated the city would lose $250,000.
Baldwin police chief Lamar Clark said the normal charge was $3 per name.
However, another company was offering the checks for less, causing many departments to lose customers.
Though the city estimates increases of $26,000 in property tax, $13,000 in alcoholic beverage tax, $102,000 in fines and forfeitures and $12,000 in vehicle tax, it still left a gap to fill.
To avoid a hike in the city’s tax rate, the council requested the current budget be cut.
City manager Betty Harper went back through it and found $238,000 that could be axed.
The cuts included: two new patrol cars, $60,000; $150,000 in salaries for background checks; $18,000 for city park improvements; and $10,000 for a chipper.
At Monday’s meeting, the council voted in favor of keeping the current 5.25 mill rate.