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JANUARY 28, 2003


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OPINIONS
Jana Mticham
Leap Year calendar

A Leap Year calendar and everything that comes with it
It’s that awkward time of year again, when there are no current wall calendars available except for those nobody else wants either — those featuring sweet (manic, hugely up-close) kittens against hallucinogenic fluorescent backdrops or tiny Yorkshire terriers with grim smiles and giant hairbows against equally vivid backgrounds.

Proud of dedication of chamber members
A group of dedicated Banks County business people met at the historic courthouse in Homer at 4:30 a.m. one day last week. It would be 20 hours before the tired group would return to the courthouse.


SPORTS

Varsity girls beat Dawson Co.
Makes four wins in a row for Lady Leopards
The Banks County Lady Leopards defeated the Dawson County Lady Tigers at home Friday, 71-67.
The win against Dawson makes four wins in a row for the ladies, ranking them at the top of the sub-region.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY

EPD to meet on Louisiana Pacific air quality permit
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has set two meetings on the request from Louisiana Pacific for an air quality permit.
An “information meeting” will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, in the auditorium of the Athens Clarke County Library, located at 2025 Baxter Street in Athens.

Arcade PD cleared by state patrol
After more than four months of awaiting investigation results from the Georgia State Patrol, the Arcade Police Department has been “cleared of any improper use of speed timing devices,” according to a GSP release

News from
MADISON COUNTY
Icy weather blankets Madison County
Residents of Madison County and surrounding areas had their first real dose of winter weather this week, as a winter storm system began blanketing the area with a sparkling coat of ice Sunday afternoon.
And while there were numerous accidents Monday morning, trees blocking roads and sporadic power outages, no one was seriously hurt due to the weather.

The cost of running
Qualifying fees, dates set
The 2004 presidential race is already the talk of the nation.
But several Madison County posts will also be the focus of local voters this year.

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Board cutting held at opening
of new Home Depot

Banks County Board of Commission chairman Kenneth Brady, center, sawed through a board to celebrate the grand opening of the new Home Depot at Banks Crossing. Also pictured are: (L-R) Douglas, Topor, Brady, Steve Hester and general manager Cathy Barrett. See this weeks Banks County News for more photos.


Home Depot opens at Banks Crossing
Hundreds of people gathered for the grand opening of the new Home Depot at Banks Crossing last Wednesday evening.
Cathy Barrett, general manager, said: “We wanted to give a sneak peek and let people who may have not been to a Home Depot see what the store is like. We have five million items for sale and we’re stocked from floor to ceiling with everything the do-it-yourselfer or commercial builder could want.”
The new store is the most modern in the world, said Barrett, with wider aisles and it holds the equivalent of 12 stores under one roof. At the tool rental section, 250 different tools from concrete mixers to power staplers can be leased. The store carries name-brand appliances, cabinets, kitchen and bath fixtures and just about anything else one needs for home or business projects. Outdoor equipment, such as grills, mowers or weed-eaters, and plants and supplies for landscaping are also avaliable in the garden area.
It employs 115 people, 90 of whom are new hires from the area, she said.
“We’re proud of our staff,” Barrett said. “We’re dedicated to customer service. If you have a question, just look for someone in the orange apron.”
Instead of the usual ribbon-cutting ceremony, Home Depot holds “board cutting” ceremonies. Doing the honors of cutting the 12-inch plank to officially open the store was Banks County Board of Commission chairman Kenneth Brady.
Brady said: “We are glad to have this store in our county. These are good corporate neighbors. They help the community and our businesses.”
As good corporate neighbors, Home Depot donated $1,500 to Peace Place, the shelter for abused and batterd woman that serves Banks and Jackson counties. Charlene Garrett, Peace Place outreach advocate, thanked Barret for the donation and said the funds would be added to the capital campaign to raise funds for the transitional housing project currently under way.
Barrett also said the employees nationwide put in over six million volunteer hours each year and supports local charities.
Throughout the night, nine $100 gift cards, a grill, a chest freezer and a cordless power toll set were given away.
Barrett said, “We needed an area like Banks County for our store and Banks County needed us. It’s a winning situation.”
The store is open Mondays through Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays fom 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Banks Countians spend a day in Washington, D.C.
Need for sewer grant among concerns local leaders present to congressmen
A 17-member Banks County delegation traveled to Washington, D.C., last week for a fast-paced visit to the Capitol to discuss the needs of the county.
Among those going on the trip were representatives from the Banks County Board of Commissioners, Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau, along with business leaders from the banking, manufacturing and technology fields, as well as those who work in continuing education and social services.
The group met with five congressmen during their 12-hour visit to the nation’s capitol, including Rep. Charlie Norwood, Rep. Max Burns, Rep. Mac Collins, Sen. Zell Miller and Rep. Johnny Isakson. A meeting had been scheduled with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but he was in a Moultrie hospital after undergoing emergency surgery. His projects manager, Rick Goddard, met with the Banks County delegation.
The Banks County group took along a handout for the legislators outlining some of the needs for the county, including a request for federal funds for a sewer system expansion. Banks County leaders are working toward an expansion of the system to serve the Martin Bridge Road exit and other areas along I-85 to help attract selected business and industry.
“One of our primary goals was to make sure that Rep. Norwood and Sen. Miller, along with their staffs, were personally aware of the importance of Banks County obtaining a sewer improvement grant,” said Rick Massey, vice president of the new Northeast Georgia Bank at Banks Crossing. “Additional sewer capacity at the waste water treatment level will benefit the county in the future as more and more industries look at this area to relocate or expand their existing operations.”
Massey said the leaders also wanted to address other needs of the county.
“We also wanted our electeds official to know that Banks County is changing rapidly,” he said. “Maintaining a solid agricultural base along with the residential, commercial, and industrial growth that helps promote a positive economic balance is key to maintaining the quality of life that Banks County residents want to continue to enjoy.”
Jerry Boling, outgoing chamber president and owner of Document Destruction in Banks County, said he was pleased with the chamber’s visit to Washington, D.C.
“My goal as president of the chamber was to get participation from community leaders and elected officials and get them on the same page with a focus helping the citizens of Banks County and businesses,” he said. “Our goal for the fly-in was to let our elected official on the national level know of our focus, needs, wants and that we are preparing for the future of our county. Also to get feed back from them on, grant opportunities, suggestions and to get to know us better so that we can communicate more on a personal basis. The trip also brought us together so that we can work together in a more focused environment.
“As a business owner, I wanted to participate because I am concerned about the future of our county — the need for a more diversified tax base, need for more business to locate here, need for better and more jobs. I believe these things were accomplished and the chamber will be better because of it. I would like to see the same thing on a state level.”
Tammy Kennedy, the new chamber president and director of the adult education program in the county, said she felt the delegation had a good agenda to present to the congressmen.
“From their response, we may have accomplished some things for Banks County,” she said. “I would like to continue this venue and invite anyone from Banks County to go with us again next year.”
Kennedy also used the trip as an opportunity to tell Sen. Miller that Banks County needs an adult literacy center and to ask him to speak at the upcoming GED graduation. He jokingly called her “pushy.”
Lisa McClure, chamber board member and retired 911 director, said she thinks the group made a “good impression” on the congressmen.
“I hope that they realize that we are concerned with our future and well being of our county,” she said. “The statement was made by one of the congressman about how important a chamber was and that a strong chamber made a difference in a county. I thank God that the members of the chamber care enough for our county to take time to go on this trip. I enjoyed the trip and the company of each individual. Hope we get to do it again next year.”
McClure, who is an officer with the local AARP, also questioned all of the legislator on medical insurance concerns of senior citizens.
“I am a senior citizen and very concerned with health insurance, our Social Security and Medicare issues,” she said. “I have heard people when they retired that the did not anticipate becoming sick and that their medication where so high they could not afford them. That to me is very sad to hear. Congress passed the HR 1 for Rx Drug Plan. I am glad that it passed but I have some concerns on this bill. When I hear of someone having a stroke, it makes me wonder if they took or had medication for said condition. I am an AARP person and I want to help our people.”
Jack Banks, president of the Banks County Development Authority, said: “I think it was a good trip. I think it was worthwhile. The only thing you can do in a trip like that is make contact with people to let them know Banks County is here and some of the interests we have and express that opinion to them and really just say hello.”
Banks said it was important to talk with the representatives and senators about the needs of Banks County. He said these needs include: “industry that would help the county, sewage treatment facilities, the need for a county agent and the loss of jobs and the economy and how things are going to foreign countries.”
“To me, one of the highlights was talking about our education system and the no child left behind program,” he said. “I really don’t think that program is working because there are too many kids who are going to be left behind. We were able to talk about those things. Also, health care, particularly the prescription drug situation...I thought it was really good to hear from Johnny Isakson’s on standpoint on the importance of going to a county manager form of government.”
Banks added that it also good to be on a trip with “ a group of people from Banks County with different backgrounds and different thoughts and ideas.”
Banks County commissioner Rickey Cain also said it was a productive trip.
“I’ve already had phone calls from Zell Miller’s office on some of the projects that I asked about,” Cain said. “We’re talking. Maybe we can get some grant money out of Washington, D.C., instead of all out of the state. Johnny Isakson did a great job. He really acted like he wanted to help us. He did tell us if we needed any road work, he would help us. I’m going to be calling on him and see.”
State Rep. Ralph Hudgens, who serves Banks County in the Georgia House of Representatives, offered praise to the group for taking the initiative to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with the congressmen.
“I thought it was outstanding. I really did. It will open lines of communication between the business community and elected officials that have never been opened before. Y’all are plowing new ground. This is the perfect first step to reach out to elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats. I don’t think it could have gone any better.”

 


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Community meeting ahead in Gillsville
The Town of Gillsville will hold a community organization meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 5, at the community center.
Town clerk Paula Whiting said the meeting is planned in response to the surveys the town recently mailed requesting opinions of the residents and what areas of volunteerism would appeal to them.
The fledgling organization has been tentatively named “Friends of Gillsville” and will work to preserve the history and hometown appeal of the town, she said.
“Everyone is invited to attend,” Whiting said. “We hope all those who responded to the surveys will come and help kick-off this program to benefit all the residents of Gillsville.”
For more information, call Whiting at (770) 869-3827.


County schools closed, power outages reported
An ice storm blanketed Banks County early Monday morning leading to power outages and schools being closed for the day.
Banks County joined counties throughout north Georgia in closing school on Monday. Icy roads were reported throughout the county, as were power outages.
In Jackson Electric Membership Corporation’s Jefferson district, which includes Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties, some 700 customers were affected with power outages, some by scattered outages that occurred from Winder up through Homer. Service was restored by 10:30 a.m. for the scattered outages.
The most significant outage occurred in Homer and Lula areas where circuit outages from the Homer substation interrupted service to about 500 customers for about four hours beginning around 10 p.m. Sunday evening.


Meeting dates given for Tax Assessors
The meeting schedule for the Banks County Board of Tax Assessors for 2004 has been released.
Meetings are generally held the second Wednesday of each month and are held in the assessor’s office at the courthouse. All meetings begin at 10 a.m. and are open to the public.
Meeting dates for 2004 are: Feb. 11, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8, Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8.