News from Madison County...

DECEMBER 17, 2003


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Saddam Hussein: truly the greatest coward to ever live.
We now know the identity of the greatest coward in the world. His name is Saddam Hussein.
How do you define a coward?

Zach Mitcham
On justice, Saddam and the hunt for Osama
Every society has its method of dealing justice. In many Arab nations, it’s an eye for an eye, literally.


SPORTS
Give ‘em five
MCHS boys claim fifth win before Christmas, off to best start since ‘96-’97
You’ll have to dig seven years back into the record book to find a Raider start this hot.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Planners threaten proposed Lula subdivision
If plans proceed with a 74-lot subdivision on unpaved Barefoot Road in Lula, the developers of the project might find themselves in a legal battle - with the Banks County Planning Commission.

Early deadlines set for next issue
The Banks County News has early deadlines for next week’s issue due to Christmas.

News from
JACKSON COUNTY
JHS cafeteria to be expanded for auditorium, BOE says
The Jefferson Board of Education plans to expand the cafeteria at Jefferson High School to serve as an auditorium for the school.
The plan, tenatively scheduled to begin in February, is the latest version of some major upgrades set for the school.

So Far, So Good On Junked Car
Removal Work
Public Understanding, Police Officer Reports
Commerce’s effort to rid its residential neighborhoods of junked vehicles is moving along slowly but well, says the man given the responsibility of enforcing the city’s cleanliness of premises ordinance.

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‘ELVES’ AT WORK

(Above) “Santa’s elves” were busy making toys during Monday night’s Christmas play at Ila Elementary School. Pictured (L-R) are kindergartners Dakota Cowart, Reece Bridges, Tyler Hanley and Dylan Vanderford.

Luminarias set for Sat.
The 19th annual Luminarias and Live Nativity will be held Saturday, Dec. 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Booger Hill and Moon’s Grove Roads in Danielsville.
This community tradition features luminarias at approximately 200 homes on a 10-mile route of country roads, a live nativity scene, carolers and other Christmas scenes throughout the drive. The event will be canceled if there is inclement weather.


Counselors talk about keeping kids in school
Madison County High School’s counseling team outlined current and proposed programs to assist incoming freshmen adjust to high school life at the December board of education meeting Tuesday night.
The programs are designed to address the problem of low test scores, poor attendance and the school’s high dropout rate. They involve direct assistance to at-risk students by teachers, administrators, parents and community representatives.
A state mandated program of Student Support Teams (SST) has been revised based on recent experience. SST meets regularly to review student process and recommend programs to assist with individual problems ranging from attendance, poor grades and behavioral problems
Parents and teachers of students being analyzed will always be invited to attend the meetings. Two teams will work with grade nine students, one team will work with tenth graders and another will assist students in grades eleven and twelve.
A recently established “freshmen focus syllabus” establishes a “required elective,” 18-week course for all incoming freshmen. The course includes 15 units of study, including high school orientation, study skills, media center orientation, career exploration, avoiding alcohol and tobacco use, academic mapping, community service and other useful information. Students will compile a portfolio to be presented to a panel of teachers, counselors and administrators. In addition, students will prepare a letter to their parents outlining their educational goals.
Counselor Britton Ayers said the syllabus will help students answer the questions, “who am I, where am I going and how do I get there?”
A third program currently in planning would establish “freshmen academies.”
The freshman class would be divided into three structured units that will allow students and teachers to eliminate anonymity. Students and teachers in each academy will be closely located within the school. Teachers will utilize joint planning and programs to build academy identity.
The purpose of this program is to give students a greater identity with their group and their place in the group. Students and teachers will work together to assure that all members of their academy perform to the best of their ability. Programs are intended to decrease the rate of absenteeism, improve reading skills, communicate with parents and increase overall academic achievement of academy members.
Superintendent Keith Cowne expressed his strong support for the programs, stating that he would be happy to present a policy to the board of education making the programs mandatory.
In other actions, the BOE approved an amendment to the budget for the Physical Education/Athletic Facility. A mathematical error caused the price of the facility to be underestimated. The original $2,709,102 budget was increased to $2,756,102. Funds for the project come from renewal of the one-cent SPLOST tax approved by voters in March.
Work on the other SPLOST projects is slightly ahead of schedule, according to assistant superintendent Mitch McGee. He said that the expansions of both the Danielsville and middle school cafeterias are 80 percent complete and the areas will be available for use after Christmas. The Ila project is 25 percent complete and will be available in April. Colbert and Comer’s projects are 20 percent done and are expected to be in use by July. These areas will be available in April, as will the Madison County High School theater, which is 40 percent complete.
The SPLOST projects include eight classrooms at Ila Elementary; five classrooms, new flooring and dropped ceilings at Comer Elementary; five classrooms, new flooring, wiring and an intercom system at Colbert Elementary; an expanded cafeteria, new flooring and a new walkway from the middle school to Danielsville Elementary; an expanded cafeteria, renovated locker rooms and expanded restrooms at the middle school; a theater at the high school and a sports complex across from the high school.


IDA discusses possible road for business park
The county industrial development authority (IDA) may swap some land for a road at the planned business park off James Holcomb Road.
The group took no action Monday but agreed to meet again Jan. 13 at 8:30 a.m. in the old courthouse in the center of Danielsville to discuss possibly giving Adams Paving Company a portion of land at the park if the company would create a road from Hwy. 72 through the park.
Just where the road would be located and exactly what property would be exchanged were not determined Monday, but the IDA talked about a portion of land — approximately five acres — on the back side of the park.
Adams Paving is currently accessed only by Musket Ridge Road. A new road would give the company a direct passage to Hwy. 72, as well as provide a pathway for future businesses at the park.
WATER TO SUBDIVISION APPROVED
In a separate matter Monday, the industrial authority approved a request by developer Phil Munro for water to a planned 39-lot subdivision on Spratlin Mill Road in Hull. However, details of the agreement, such as what size water line — eight or 12 inches — will link the subdivision to the county system, have yet to be determined.
BILLING ISSUES DISCUSSED
Also Monday, the IDA discussed billing issues related to the authority’s upcoming takeover of water services to 200 customers in Hull currently served by Athens-Clarke County. (Athens Clarke County has until Jan. 15 to turn over the system to the IDA.)
The authority noted Monday that customers served by Athens who will be switched to Madison County will get refunds of their deposits from Athens. Those customers will not be required to pay a deposit to Madison County. However, once service is switched to Madison County, those customers who have their water cut off due to failure to pay their regular bill on time will have to pay a $100 deposit to be reconnected to the system. (Water will be cut off if a monthly bill hasn’t been paid by the next month’s meter reading.)
All new water customers must also pay a $100 deposit. The IDA agreed to include a flyer spelling out these stipulations in the first water bill of transferred customers.
OTHER BUSINESS
In a separate matter Monday, the authority extended a construction contract to Jan. 31 with Fortson’s Well Drilling as the company waits for equipment that will help set up a radio system that will ensure that both water pumps in the South Madison Water System aren’t running at the same time.
The authority heard a brief update on the installation of a water line up Hwy. 29 north from Dogsboro to Piedmont Road.
The IDA also met briefly in closed session to discuss personnel but took no action.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.


Planners approve Lem Edwards Road subdivision
Plans to develop 53 acres on Lem Edwards Road into a major subdivision got a step closer to reality Tuesday night.
The planning and zoning commission voted 7-2 to recommend that the board of commissioners approve a rezoning of the property from A-1 (agricultural) to R-1 (single family residential, .75-acre minimum with a community water system).
The request was presented by civil engineer Phil Munro, representing developers Randy Vick and Brenda Jung, who want to purchase the land from owner Dorothy McGuffey and divide it into a subdivision of 46 new homes, some with lot sizes as small as three-quarters of an acre.
A decision on the request was postponed last month to answer the commission’s concerns over whether there was adequate road frontage for the subdivision.
Munro said there is 126 feet of road frontage, which is adequate for the rezoning. He pointed out that the property fell within the high density area of the county’s future land use plan, allowing for smaller lot sizes for residential property.
But like last month, several neighbors spoke against the rezoning, citing concerns about the small size of the lots, increased traffic on Lem Edwards, water supply and other infrastructure concerns.
Walter Searcy and Wendell Hanley voted against the rezoning. Searcy said his main reason in voting against the request was concern over fire protection in such a heavily-populated area.
But chairman Jeep Gaskin said he felt the commission was compelled to recommend the approval of the R-1 rezoning since the property is located in a high-density area. Gaskin said he felt the “battle over the subdivision comes later,” referring to subdivision regulation hearings that major subdivisions must go through, adding that he wasn’t sure whether the commission would approve the three-quarter acre lot sizes.
The board of commissioners will have the final say on this and other zoning matters at its regular business meeting next Monday night.
In other hearings:
•The commission recommended approval of a request by Ryan Benton to rezone 5.12 acres on New Haven Church Road from A-1 to R-R (rural residential, two acre minimum). Benton wants to subdivide the land for his son to have a mobile home on.
•The zoning board recommended approval of a request by Gabe Martin for owner Jimmy Echols for an area variance on 1.91 acres on Del Cedar Lane. A variance is required since the parcel, which is zoned R-R, does not meet the two-acre minimum requirement.
•The commission recommended a request by Cullen Bryant, for owner Ralph Bryant, to rezone two acres of a 20.85-acre parcel on Nowhere Road from A-1 to R-R in order to build a home.