News from Banks County...

JANUARY 14, 2003

Banks County

Banks County

Banks County

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Angela Gary
What goes in a community newspaper?
Small-town community newspapers are something that I love. I always have. During my travels, I pick up newspapers from across the country and delight in seeing what is going on in these communities.

Rochelle Beckstine
Terror alert burnout
The problem with a good defense system is that the visible need for such a defense system soon becomes invisible. The defenders do their job well and no one sees a threat.

Banks County Leopards defeat Rabun County Wildcats, 86-65
The Banks County Leopards basketball team beat the Rabun County Wildcats, 86-65, at home last Friday.

News from
Sikes seeks EPD permit for garbage transfer station
Residents concerned, mayor says he was unaware of plans
Arcade business owner Joe Sikes is applying for an EPD permit for a garbage transfer station to be located at his property on Rock Forge Road, but the news came as a surprise to area residents and city officials who just learned about the plan on Monday.

Judge to speak at MLK Jr. birthday event on Sunday
Jackson County will hold its 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 18, at the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation auditorium, Jefferson.

News from
Red hats required
Madison County Senior Center members join group for fun-loving, hat-wearing women
Four ladies, dressed in glowing purple and varying styles of flamboyant red hats were busy at the Senior Center last Friday afternoon making plans for their own local chapter of the “Red Hat Society.”

Talking educationState school supt. speaks at Republican breakfast
State school superintendent Kathy Cox described efforts to improve graduation rates, school attendance and the state’s core curriculum in a speech to Madison County educators and Republican activists in Danielsville Saturday morning.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Commissioners agreed to participate in Second year of Tanger co-op

Mark Valentine (right) asks BOC members Kenneth Brady and Pat Westmoreland (right to left) to participate in the Tanger Outlet Center advertising co-op as county clerk, Jenni Gailey (L), records particulars.

BCMS may be ready in August
BOE hears construction, technology update
Work is continuing on the new Banks County Middle School and the board of education hopes students can fill the classrooms this August.
In a construction update given at Monday’s BOE meeting, officials reported that the new middle school seems to be on track for the next school year. Ceiling grid is currently being installed, painting is almost complete in three areas of the building, tar on the roof is almost dry and 135,000 bricks have been laid.
In other school construction news, the board is awaiting final approval from the state fire marshal for the plans of the addition to the primary school. Once approved, the plans will be open for bids.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board made several technology decisions for the new middle school. Technology director Karl McElwain presented bids and specification information from the two companies which supplied bids to provide Internet access to the new middle school and urged that the project move forward.
“We need to get the lines in place before the ceiling goes up or it could slow down construction,” he said.
McElwain recommended the board purchase Internet access from Trillion, a company based out of Florida and Alabama.
“They offer twice the speed for less money,” he said. “It is cheaper, faster and is going to work.”
Internet access will cost $4,416 per year through Trillion, $22,080 in total over the five-year contract period and there are no up front installation costs.
Board members mentioned the possibility of receiving technology grants to help pay for the new service and they agreed to seek financing.
The board voted and accepted the bid from Trillion.
The BOE also decided to outfit the new school with Personal Computers, (PCs), instead of Macintosh machines.
McElwain discussed the benefits of purchasing built-to-specification machines instead of name brand computers. Price and maintenance advantages were discussed and the board agreed to consider options.
The board also learned the technology department:
•completed 498 technology requests from faculty and staff since the school year began in August.
•installed a new mail server over the holiday break, giving 10 times more storage than the old server.
•implemented Power Book, a new electronic grade book system.
In other business, Tom Nicholson, director of maintenance, gave an update of the department’s progress and asked the board to approve a new heating and air conditioning specialist position for his department. The board agreed to consider the personnel request, but no action was taken.
Included in the maintenance update:
•330 maintenance requests have been completed so far this school year.
•playgrounds at the primary and elementary schools passed inspection.
•a roof leak at the high school has been fixed.
•trees were taken down and roots were removed in front of the elementary school and asphalt was replaced creating an easier pathway to walk on and a less obstructed view for buses at the gate.
Future plans for the maintenance department discussed at the meeting include:
•installing lights under the bus canopy at the high school.
•pouring shot put and discus pads at the new track.
•fixing grassy areas in front of the high school.

Homer seeks legislation on changing its charter
The Homer Town Council is moving forward on updating its town charter.
City attorney Gary Freeman reported at Tuesday’s town council meeting that the paperwork has been reviewed by the state legislative council and will be considered by legislators this session. “We’re on our way to getting a new charter, effective July 1,” Freeman said.
In other business at Monday’s meeting:
•Freeman reviewed the city’s definition of a subdivision and the council discussed the confusion over this. Freeman was asked to clarify the portion of the 1991 ordinance on subdivisions that is confusing. The council agreed that a subdivision is any tract of land that has been divided five times or more. Once the land is divided five times, all subdivision regulations must be met, including those concerning a public road.
•the council approved a resolution requiring all plats to be reviewed by city officials before they are recorded at the courthouse. This will enable the town to know when property is being divided.
•the council was given an update on the Thompson Street improvement project. The council reviewed a proposal to locate a left-hand turn lane at the intersection of Hwy. 441 and Thompson Road. The council agreed to seek bids on this project and then seek assistance from the county and state in financing the turning lane.
•council member Sandra Garrison reported that a meeting with the architect will be held Thursday to discuss the new city hall. She said they hope to have plans available by next month’s meeting for the council to review.
•Garrison asked the status on projects that are to be funded through the special purpose local option sales tax approved in 2001. This money must be spent by 2007, Freeman said. The projects include the town hall, a fire station and street improvements. Mayor Doug Cheek said he would have a report at next month’s meeting on how much money had been collected so far in SPLOST revenue.
•the council agreed to a request from the fire department to fund repairs on one of the fire trucks, at a cost of $3,900, and improvements to the office, at a cost of $16,000. The office needs remodeling due to termite damage, according to reports. The council also agreed to get bids to repair the roof of the facility and proceed with that work.

Baldwin takes steps to find water loss
Fire chief Joe Roy talked with the Baldwin City Council at last week’s work session about a way the fire department may be able to help pin down some water leaks.
“We have to test the flow pressure of every hydrant in the system,” he said. “We note the flow of water in gallons per minute and record that figure. It’s then entered into our computer, along with the date it was tested. This new meter will give us a far more accurate reading. With the old one, it was hard to hold it steady in the water flowing from the hydrant. This one connects directly to the hydrant and also evenly disperses the flow.”
There are152 hydrants in the city’s system the fire department checks. The council suggested having the hydrants checked quarterly, rather than semi-annually.
Roy also reported that in the rural areas the water lines need to be walked to look for leaks.
“There are places out there back in the woods where you wouldn’t know there were leaks unless you walked the lines,” he said.
The city has been experiencing a massive water loss for some time. Last month, 8 million gallons was unaccounted for, costing the city around $50,000.
Mayor Mark Reed reported at the council meeting held Monday the water loss had been reduced to 4 million gallons.
“We don’t know how it happened, but we saw a reduction,” he said.
Reed said two large industries in the city were provided new commercial water meters at a cost of around $20,000. Habersham Metal had a meter that had stopped working and the city was estimating their bill by averaging past bills.


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BOC approves Tanger advertising co-op program
County’s cost for second year of participation will be $25,000
The Banks County Board of Commissioners decided Friday to participate in the Banks-Jackson-Georgia Department of Industry Tourism and Trade-Tanger advertising co-op program for the second year.
This will cost the county $25,000 for billboards, magazine ads and rack card distribution.
Mark Valentine, general manager of the Tanger Outlet Center, attended the BOC meeting Friday to discuss continuing the advertising program with Banks County.
The program is an advertising campaign promoting tourists’ visits to Banks Crossing. The campaign includes billboards along I-85, advertisements in tourist magazines and rack card distribution along interstates and in state visitor centers.
Banks County will pay $25,000 of the total budget, while Jackson pays $12,500, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. pays $37,500 and Georgia department of ITT pays $22,500. A total of $97,500 will be spent on this project.
If not paid by June, the campaign loses $22,500 from the Georgia Department of ITT, funds which have already been secured.
Although BOC Chairman Kenneth Brady and board member Pat Westmoreland approved funding the program, Brady said the BOC will have to “find the money” since it isn’t in the current budget.

Hwy. 441 will become Historic Homer Highway
Road name will change once new bypass opensThe stretch of road located north of English Road and south of Webbs Creek Road, currently Hwy. 441, will become Historic Homer Hwy. once the new 441 bypass opens.
Due to the new four-lane 441 bypass, going around Homer, the Georgia Department of Transportation needed to change the road names where the current Hwy. 441 passes through. The DOT wanted to change the names of several roads in Homer and split the current Hwy. 441 into two separate roads.
Deidra Moore, E-911 and EMA director, and Tony Vento, Banks County building inspector, said changing the names in this manner would be confusing for residents and those at the 911 center.
“We just can’t do it that way,” Vento said. “We need to name it one name.”
The Banks County Board of Commissioners voted to change the name of the road to Historic Homer Highway at a meeting Friday.
BOC chairman Kenneth Brady and board member Pat Westmoreland approved the change during Friday’s meetings.
Board member Rickey Cain was absent.