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JANUARY 7, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Sub-Region Turnaround?
Boys Look For Better Fortunes In
8-A South Play
A few more wins might have been nice, but Tiger head coach Rex Gregg has his own way of looking at the first eight games of the year as his team moves into sub-region play this week.

Panthers headed to Hartwell this weekend for dual
THE JACKSON COUNTY wrestling team has had some bumps and bruises along the way so far this season, but the team is starting to come together according to head coach Roger Powers.

Lady Dragons take Lady ‘Skins to the wire again
The Jefferson girls gave No. 4 Social Circle all they could handle for the second time this season on Tuesday night, but in the end the Lady Dragons were outdone in the final minute on the road, losing 53-50.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Home for the holidays
Banks guardsman marries before heading to Kuwait
A Banks County woman spent the recent holidays with a whirlwind visit with her family and friends. Two days after Christmas, she got married.

Lula man charged with New Year’s murder in Gainesville
John Fitzgerald Pierce, 39, of Lula, was arrested and charged with murder by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 1.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Duplexes denied in Danielsville
A planned eight-family development off Hwy. 29, north of the red light in Danielsville, was turned down by city leaders Monday.
Former Danielsville mayor Marc Perry wants to build four duplexes (or eight family units) on approximately five acres just past the BP station off Hwy. 29.

Colbert leaders sworn in for new terms
The mayor and two councilmen were sworn in for new terms at the Colbert City Council meeting Monday night.
All three were re-elected without opposition to two-year terms.

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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THIS WAY TO COUNTY OFFICES

Darnell Road at Hwy. 82 is now a dead end street so those who visit the Jackson Coiunty Senior Citizens Center, Head Start, the health department, mental health and the extension service will now reach those offices via the Jackson Parkway — the new road built off Hwy. 82 which will also serve the new county courthouse.
BOC hires interns for new jobs


It pays to be an intern in the Jackson County government.
For the second time since December, two part-time interns working at the county administrative office have been hired to fill two high-paying, but unadvertised, county administrative positions.
Monday night, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved hiring Rachel O’Conner for a new full-time position for the county finance department. The salary for the former intern, who worked part-time on the county’s sales tax recovery project last year, will be $35,755 per year.
The county finance department now has a department head, John Hulsey, four full-time staff members and one part-time staffer. Hulsey asked for the new position. Three years ago, the county only had one full-time finance position.
Last month, the BOC hired another former county intern, Jamie Pischke, at a salary of $36,470 to run the Clean and Beautiful program. She also works out of the county administrative office under county manager Al Crace. That position was also filled without the county advertising a job opening.
The creation of the two new high-paying administrative positions comes on the heels of a demand by Sheriff Stan Evans for additional deputies and public safety staff members. Before his appearance


SR 335 residents opposed to proposed convenience store
Jefferson council to vote on matter Mon.
Residents who live near the intersection of State Route 335 and Jefferson River Road turned out for the Jefferson City Council work session Monday night to voice their opposition to a proposed convenience store at that location.
Jack Howington Jr. appeared before the council Monday requesting that seven acres at the intersection be rezoned from A-2 (county) to C-1 (city) for the purpose of a convenience store. He was also requesting that the property be annexed into the city. He amended his request during the meeting, seeking that 1.5 acres be rezoned to C-1 and the other 5.5 acres be rezoned AG and all seven acres then be annexed into the city.
The Quad Cities Planning Commission voted against Howington’s original request, which also called for additional retail stores, when it met in December.
The Jefferson City Council will make a decision at its meeting next Monday night at 6 p.m. at the city clubhouse.
HOWINGTON’S REQUEST
Howington, who was accompanied by civil engineer Phil Munro, told the council Monday that he was wanting to build the store to add to his income, saying “since those subdivisions have been built there, my taxes have just about doubled.”
Howington said he plans to build the store to rent, not to operate himself.


Still no appointment to IDA
Britt named BOC vice chairman
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has once again tabled making an appointment to the Jackson County Industrial Develop-ment Authority.
At the first BOC meeting of the year, BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said he did not have anyone to recommend for this seat. This appointment was also tabled at two meetings in December.
Scott Martin, whose term on the IDA ended Dec. 31, has said that he would serve again. His fellow IDA members have also spoken in support of him being re-appointed.
Fletcher also said that he didn’t have a recommendation for someone to serve on the county planning commission. The term of Don Lord, who has said he does not want to serve again, also ended on Dec. 31.
In other action at the two-and-a-half hour meeting, Stacey Britt was elected as vice chairman of the BOC.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business Monday:
•county manager Al Crace announced that a new digital recording system and public meeting light timer are in place for BOC meetings. The timer will be used during public hearings when speakers are given an allocated amount of time to speak.
•commissioner Tony Beatty said he didn’t have a recommendation for a District 4 appointee on the county airport authority.
•Jud Trapnell and David Varnadoe were named to the county airport authority. Both terms are for Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. Fletcher recommended Trapnell and Britt nominated Varnadoe.
•Joe Cook was named as the District 3 representative on the county planning commission. This appointment fills the expired term of Mark Reynolds, who said he didn’t want to serve again. The term is for one year.
•agreed to a change order with APAC to extend the term of its 2003 paving project bid through Dec. 31, 2004, at the same price per ton. This program is also available to the municipalities to directly purchase resurfacing at the same price.
•approved a proclamation congratulating Lovett and Lucille Law on their 50th wedding anniversary. Mr. Law is employed with the county sheriff’s office and Mrs. Law is retired from the Jackson County Senior Citizen’s Center.
•approved a new retirement plan.
•heard from Virginia Patton of Commerce, who said someone presented “bogus information” to the county tax assessors office in order to “steal” her property. She said her father, the late Jesse Rucker, has owned the property for 30 years and she has the official documentation to prove it. She asked the commissioners to implement a “checks and balance system” to ensure this doesn’t happen again. County attorney Daniel Haygood said state law dictates how these matters are handled. He said Mrs. Patton’s only recourse would likely be to file a civil lawsuit. He said the tax assessor’s job is not to determine the title but to collect the taxes.
•heard a request from Michael Ahern that the county implement a “no smoking” policy for restaurants. He said Gwinnett County has approved a similar ordinance and it will go into effect on April 1.
•heard a request from commissioner Tony Beatty that a traffic study be done on Holiday Cemetery Road and Jefferson River Road. Instead, the BOC asked planning director B.R. White to inform any developers who have projects on those roads to be aware that they may be required to fund a traffic study before the BOC takes action on their rezoning request.


Rezoning approved after lawsuit filed
Action comes after attorneys negotiate matterA rezoning request that had been denied by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners last summer was approved Monday night after the developer filed a lawsuit over the matter.
The BOC approved the request from Tina McDaniel to rezone 28.119 acres on Geiger Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a single-family residential subdivision. The property adjoins a 56.619-acre site on W.H. Hayes Road that has already been rezoned for the subdivision. There will be a total of 83 homes in the development.
Commissioners Stacey Britt, Sammy Thomason and Emil Beshara voted in favor of the rezoning Monday night. Tony Beatty abstained from voting.
County attorney Daniel Haygood said the action comes after negotiations with attorney John Stell of Winder, who represented the developer in the lawsuit that was filed after the rezoning was denied. He said the approval comes with several conditions, including one that no lots have direct access off of Geiger Road. This had been a concern of the BOC and area residents when the request was first presented. Access for these lots will be through Fincher Subdivision, off of Jackson Trail Road
Other conditions in the agreement are that there be a maximum of 27 lots, a 20-foot buffer be in place, the developer provide $10,000 to go toward road improvements; and that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Before the vote was taken, Scott Busha, a Geiger Road resident, spoke and said he is opposed to the rezoning. He asked the BOC to uphold its original denial.
“This party is engaging in what I call a “my way or else” stance on this matter,” he said. “The simple tactic for this is that ‘I want my way on this matter. I want my way despite the opinions of this community.’...We in the Geiger Road community believe the original ruling of May 2003 is the fair one for this community and reasonable to all parties.”


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‘New’ Council To Be Sworn In
Monday Night
There will be two city council meetings Monday night at the Commerce Civic Center.
The “old” council will meet at 6:30 p.m., hold the opening prayer, accept the minutes of the previous meeting, conduct any old business, then adjourn.
Immediately thereafter, the “new” city council will be sworn in. To be precise, Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. incoming Ward 3 Councilman Mark Fitzpatrick, Ward 5 Councilman Richard Massey and Ward 4 Councilman Bob Sosebee will be sworn in.
Fitzpatrick is the only new face on the city council, but after reapportionment, Massey, previously an at-large councilman, becomes the councilman for the new Ward 5.
Joe Booth, judge of the Superior Court of Jackson County, will install the council members.
Among the items due for consideration Monday are:
•an amendment to the city budget to add $16,000 to $17,000 for the replacement of the roof of the Commerce Cultural Center.
•approval of a lease-purchase agreement through the Georgia Municipal Association to purchase $46,000 worth of software and hardware for the police department. The city recently passed a $12 per case “technology surcharge” to all city court cases except those relating to seat belts to cover the costs.
•rehiring of Wilcox & Blevins, the city auditors for the past two years. The council would pay a base charge of $18,000 per year for the next four years to retain the company. City Manager Clarence Bryant recommended the extension, noting that it will get the city through the period by which it must have all of its capital assets (roads, buildings, utility lines, etc.) listed in the audit.


‘Topping Out’ ceremony set at courthouse
Construction of new facility on schedule
A “Topping Out” ceremony has been set at the new Jackson County courthouse for Friday, Feb. 6.
The ceremony will be a celebration of the enclosure of the structure and will feature the Jackson County judicial officials and their staff as guests.
The public is invited to attend the event and see the courthouse completely raised and enclosed. The time for the event will be announced later.
The next stage of construction involves bricking the exterior, adding the 240 pieces of precast concrete and then completing the interior.
As for the surrounding area, paving is completed on Jackson Parkway and the surrounding parking lots. Landscaping has also begun around the area.
All construction remains on schedule and within budget with the completion expected in October 2004, according to county officials.