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JANUARY 21, 2003


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OPINIONS

Angela Gary
Dolly to host Flameworthy Awards Show
The incomparable Dolly Parton will be at the helm as CMT telecasts country music’s only video music awards, and only fan-voted awards show , the CMT Flameworthy 2004 Video Music Awards.

Contact your legislators
Another legislative session is under way and the HOPE scholarship and budget woes are being tossed around the Capitol. Children’s welfare, water resources and crime are other issues that will be debated and acted upon over the next few weeks.


SPORTS

Grapplers defeat Richmond Co., almost top Washington-Wilkes
The Banks County Mat Leopards defeated Richmond County 42-22, but fell to Washington-Wilkes, 36-39, in Friday’s match.
The team will host Hart and White Counties Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC to seek $20 million bond for road projects
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to request a $20 million bond financing package to finance several large road projects in the county. The request will be made to the county industrial development authority, which is authorized to issue bonds for economic development infrastructure and projects.

Sewer plant to cost city more money
State fines, delays, additional costs hit Hoschton project
All isn’t well for Hoschton’s plans to provide more sewage service.
The city faces mounting state fines, the wastewater treatment plant expansion project is months behind schedule and could affect the city’s growth, and another $1 million has been added to the project’s price tag.

News from
MADISON COUNTY
‘Second mama’
Jeanelle Moore recalls 26 years of operating daycare in Colbert
Days at Miss Jeanelle’s Day Care Center in Colbert may be over now, but three generations or so of folks in the community will never forget their days there under the watchful and loving eye of ‘Miss’ Jeanelle.

Planners deny dog kennel expansion
County planners gave owners of an upscale pet boarding facility the message that they need to relocate their business if they want to expand their operations.

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Met with GRWA

City manager Betty Harper and councilman Mitchell Gailey (not pictured) met with representatives from Georgia Rural Water Association to discuss the problem of water loss the city of Baldwin is experiencing. Pictured are: Baldwin city manager Betty Harper; GRWA representatives Brent Matthews and Bill Powell; and Bud Reed, Flow Metrix, Inc.


Baldwin makes plans to tackle water loss
Baldiwn leaders are taking steps to get to the bottom of water loss in the town.
Water loss, or unaccounted water, is a growing problem across the country, Bud Reed, of Flow Metrix, said at a meeting in Baldwin last Thursday. According to Reed, over half of the metropolitan water systems experience water loss in millions of gallons per day, making Baldwin’s loss seem insignificant.
But to the member of Baldwin’s city council and the city auditor, losing the annual revenue of approximately $53,000 for 76.676 million gallons of water, around 46-percent of the water produced, is more than the city can afford to lose.
Over the past few months, the water loss has been dropping nearly by half as city crews repair leaks in old lines and replace faulty or old water meters.
Still, over 4.624 million of gallons were unaccounted for during the month of December and that has caused the council to call in some experts to help develop a strategy to find where it’s going.
Councilman Mitchell Gailey and city manager Betty Harper met with representatives Brent Matthews and Bill Powell from the Georgia Rural Water Association and Reed recently to ask their help.
Reed said there can be a number of different problems within the system, including faulty meters or leaks. There can also be human error involved when meters are read.
The very terrain and rural setting of the Baldwin system also creates problems, he said. With over 25 miles of water main and 1,478 water meters, the task of finding the problems increases.
“Usually, there are small hidden leaks between the main line and the meter,” he said. “Even with a pin-hole-size leak, you can lose 80 gallons per minute. Over a month, that can add up. Leak detection should be an on-going process to locate them, repair them and recover losses.”
He also explained that there will always be unavoidable water loss in any system. For Baldwin, that loss may be around four-percent.
Reed’s company finds leaks in systems for a percentage of the cost of the lost water. That cost, he explained, is made up when the system has been repaired and the revenue is recovered.
Zones would be set up in the city’s system and crews would work the lines with leak detectors. City employees would be trained in leak detection.
Gailey said the city had different types of pipe, including the old concrete asbestos and some PVC.
Harper said most of the leaks have occurred along old lines down Highway


Pruitt sentenced to 35 years for Fain murder
Close to three years after the back woods murder of Cornelia businessman Phillip Bobby Fain, his attackers have admited their guilt and have been sentenced to serve time.
Thomas Pruitt, charged with the malice murder of Fain, was sentenced to 35 years in jail in Banks County Superior Court, held Wednesday, Jan. 7.
Pruitt pled guilty to concealing the death of another, conspiracy to commit the hijacking of a motor vehicle, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and theft by receiving. He was sentenced to serve 35 years for his crimes, but is eligible for parole in 20 years.
Pruitt’s alleged accomplice, Patrick Henry Cagle, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault and hijacking a motor vehicle before Pruitt’s murder trial began last summer. Cagle was also sentenced to serve 35 years. He will be up for parole in 20 years.


Lula agrees to seek city manager
With so much development on the horizon and facing the task of rejuvenating the downtown district and improving and expanding the city’s public works, the Lula City Council is considering hiring a city manager.
Mayor Milton Turner said he spends between 20 and 40 hours a week on city business. With the possible expansion of the sewer system, he said a full-time city manager was even more necessary.
“City business has been taking up more and more time,” he said. “If we’re going to continue to grow, we need a professional to handle these things. We need to find someone experienced in municipal work and well-qualified for the job. It’s possible we may find a competent person for around $40,000 to $50,000.”
When asked where the money was going to come from to pay the position, Turner said the city had $1 million in funds available. He also said the manager would end up paying his or her own salary by grants and development brought to the city.
The council agreed to begin a search for a city manager.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business:
•The council reluctantly agreed to collect impact fees for Hall County if the referendum for the next special purpose local option sales tax passes. The council agreed to begin collecting the fees when collection of SPLOST goes into effect on July 1. It also agreed check payments for the fees would be made out to Hall County and not the city so the city lost no expense in the case of a bad check. Turner said the city had no choice but to collect the fees or be denied the city’s portion of the SPLOST funds, an estimated $400,000.
•At councilman Larry Shuler’s suggestion, the council voted four to one to not charge the city for any work session meetings that take place. The council makes $50 gross per meeting. Councilman Mordecai Wilson voted in opposition to the motion.
•The council denied a five-foot variance request made by Steve Strickland to accommodate a porch on a home under construction. The council agreed Strickland should have followed the city ordinance and adhered to the set-back regulations. Strickland said he would move the house towards the rear of the lot to be in compliance.
•The council agreed to change the magistrate court agreement and name a new judge, Elizabeth Riesman, to replace Chief Magistrate Gene Roberts who had been appointed to the state court.
•The council elected Councilwoman Vicky Chambers to the position of mayor pro-tem.
•The council appointed council members to serve on city committees.
•The council defeated a motion made by councilman Mordecai Wilson to make Martin Luther King Day an official city holiday. Shuler said he thought there were already too many holidays. No other council member commented on the motion. It died on the floor with no second being made. Wilson said he was surprised that no other council member spoke up about the holiday or even considered it.
•The council pproved moving an agenda item to the February meeting concerning a new development of 63.9 acres on Barefoot Road. Turner said there had been some disagreement between Banks County and the city over the 74-home subdivision. Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady said he had not received the required notice of annexation into the city. Brady later apologized for the misunderstanding and said he had gotten the letter. John Swartz, the developer, is now in negotiations with the county and there is the probability that the road will be widened.
•The council agreed to open the floor for citizens’ concerns at future meetings. Currently, a person had to be on the agenda to be able to speak. The council may set a time limit in how long a person can talk.

 


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Lula council looks at minimum lot size changes
The Lula city council is talking about changing the minimum lot sizes required for future development.
Mayor Milton Turner told council members the Georgia Mountains Rural Development Center had recommended the city change the zoning ordinance to require new lot sizes for Residential 1, Residential 2 and Residential 3 zoning areas depending on the type of city services the development would require.
GMRDC suggested the following:
•For developments that will have wells and septic systems: R-1 would be 52,270 square feet (1.25 acres), and R-2 and R-3 would be determined by the county health department after soil percolation tests are completed.
•For developments that will have septic systems and city water: R-1 would be 26,140 square feet (.6 acre); and R-2 and R-3 would also to be determined by the county health department.
•For developments on city water and sewer systems: R-1 would be 21,780 square feet (.5 acre);R-2 would be17,500 square feet; and R-3 would be 12,500 (one-quarter acre).
The current requirements are 15,000 square feet for R-1; 10,000 square feet for R-2; and 7,500 square feet for R-3.


Alto awaits word on Gilstrap Road well
The Alto city council has been waiting for over a year to learn whether or not the city will be permitted to withdraw water from a well the city drilled on Department of Corrections property on Gilstrap Road.
According to mayor Audrey Turner, the contract negotiated between the city and the DOC allows Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution to take over the well if work had not proceeded on it.
“I believe there is a clause that allows them to take the well over,” she told council members at a work session held Tuesday. “I don’t know whether there’s anything in it about compensating the city for the cost of drilling the well.”
The well produces 125 gallons per minute and is a needed water source said councilman Donald Wade. Alto’s source of water has been its wells, which produce enough to serve the city’s customers during the winter months. But in the summer, during the dry spells, Alto has had to buy water from Demorest to meet demand.
The Gilstrap well would possibly end the reliance on purchased water.
“The agreement is still waiting legislative approval,” Turner said. “I don’t know what the hold-up is.”
WATER LINE DEBATE
In other business at the work session, the council discussed running a new water line down Crane Mill Road to serve a subdivision. The current two-inch line is not sufficient to provide water for the proposed 77 new homes. The council had agreed to provide water for the development by November 2003.