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JANUARY 28, 2004


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SPORTS
Commerce Wrestling Team Hopes To Take Healthy Squad To Area Duals
The Commerce wrestlers have been looking to hit a stride as the regular season winds down but the group hasn’t had luck on its side lately.
As many as seven wrestlers were out during the past week for various reasons which has obviously made it hard for the team to wrestle to its full potential.

Lady Dragons needing strong close to regular season
Brandy Corbett doesn’t mince words when talking about this time of year.
Her team is currently third in the sub-region and has three games left to make an upward move.

On to the Duals
8-AAAA Area duals ahead for Jackson County grapplers
The Jackson County Panther wrestling team is headed to area duals Saturday, which will be hosted by Clarke Central.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


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.

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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JACKSON COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS HELP OUT WITH BIG BLAZE

Firefighters from the Jefferson, Plainview and North Jackson fire departments helped Hall County emergency personnel on Monday morning, when a tanker truck carrying gasoline crashed on U.S. Hwy. 129. Other Jackson County fire departments remained prepared to provide additional assistance during the fire that closed U.S. Hwy. 129 for several hours. The accident occurred north of Sugar Hill Elementary School. The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.


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. The meeting will be held to discuss the “technical terms and issues” involving the application, according to EPD officials.
The purpose of this informal meeting is to present information about the proposed air permit as well as to answer any questions citizens may have regarding this issue, according to EPD officials. There will be brief presentations by representatives from the EPD and Louisiana Pacific. Following these presentations, representatives from both the EPD and Louisiana Pacific will be available for questions.
“We value and encourage citizen participation in the permitting process,” said Jimmy Johnston, manager of the EPD’s stationary source permitting program. “We want them to understand the technical and regulatory issues involved. That’s why we have information meetings. A public hearing is a much more formal process and only comments can be taken. Information meetings encourage more two-way communication.”
The next meeting will be a “public hearing” and it will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Athens-Clarke County Department of Public Services, located at 3035 Lexington Road, Athens. This meeting is being held to provide an opportunity for citizens to give written and oral comments on the permit application.
Louisiana Pacific has applied for a Title V significant modification permit for plant upgrades which include: replacement of dryer burners; upgrade for forming line; rebuild of board press; improvements to the saw line and tongue and groove line; a powder resin delivery system; modification of the press room ventilation and the venting of the paint booth exhaust to the inside of the main building.

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.
The investigation summary shows that a complaint was filed with the GSP on August 22, 2003, alleging that the department was misusing speed detection devices to generate revenue. While in the midst of the investigation, the GSP received an anonymous phone call in October indicating that an Arcade officer was using radar but was not fully certified to do so.
Following its investigation, the GSP reported that the speeding tickets in question — those issued for motorists driving 17 miles per hour over the speed limit or less – only account for 5.8 percent of the department’s budget. A department is in violation if such tickets account for 40 percent or more of the budget.
The GSP investigation summary notes that the “Arcade Police Department generates a great deal of revenue; however, there is a large volume of traffic on Highway 129 since this is the main highway between Athens and Jefferson, Georgia. Also, the Arcade Police Department has written more non-speeding citations than speeding citations.”
In addition to checking on the department’s speeding tickets, the GSP investigators also verified the speed detection device certification of all officers, Arcade Police Chief Dennis Bell said.
“They checked every person we had for certification,” he said.
According to the GSP summary, the officer in question about radar use had completed the classwork for certification, but had not turned in a field training form. The officer and police chief were notified that he was not to operate radar by himself. The officer stated that he had worked with a certified officer and had not used the radar alone and had written citations for speeding in the presence of the other officer as part of his training.
The GSP began reviewing Arcade PD speeding tickets and related budget matters back in September. Bell noted that he had heard back in December that the investigation was completed, but did not receive final written notice until last week.
“I got a letter Friday,” Chief Bell added of his notification from the GSP that the investigation had been completed and no further action will be taken. “People jump to conclusions and talk before they have all the facts....I’m just glad it’s done.”
GSP Col. George Ellis had announced Friday that allegations that the police department misused speed timing devices to generate revenue were unfounded and that the case has been closed.
A law enforcement agency is in violation of Georgia law if it uses speed detection devices to levy fines to make up more than 40 percent of the agency’s budget; speeding violations exceeding 17 miles per hour over the speed limit are not considered in calculating total speeding fine revenue.
According to the GSP findings, total revenue from speeding citations of 17 mph or less in Arcade totaled $31,050, or 5.8 percent of the department’s budget for 2002. Investigators also noted that there were 2,301 speeding citations written by Arcade police in 2002 where the charged speed was 18 mph or more over the posted speed limit, compared with 207 speeding citations written for 17 mph or less.
“I want to ask people to please slow down,” Chief Bell said. “If you’re going 18 miles per hour and over (the speed limit), you’re going to get stopped. If you’re going 18 miles per hour over the speed limit, you need to get stopped.”
In addition to the amount of fines levied in Arcade, the GSP investigators also examined the radar permit, radio station license, Department of Transportation approval letter, the city’s speed zone ordinance, the resolution authorizing use of speed detection devices and a DOT list of roads approved for radar use. No discprepancies were noted in the investigation, according to the GSP release.


Volunteers build church in two weekends
Amid the sounds of banging hammers, screeching saws and high-powered heaters, a voice booms across the construction site.
“Be sure to keep your hard hats on,” the voice tells the workers over a speaker system. “We want everyone to be safe.”
Coordinating hundreds of volunteers from across the state isn’t an easy task — especially when they’re building a 5,000 square-foot church in two weekends.
“Just the logistics of getting this up is a big thing,” said Bob Coleman, chairman of the Georgia Regional Building Committee, Number Two.
The volunteers — estimated in the hundreds — descended upon a four-acre site on Ednaville Road in Braselton to build the next Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses during the recent chilly weekends.
It’s a massive operation to provide the supplies, food and workers the new church facility requires for its doors to open to worshippers just two weeks after construction starts.
And to accommodate all of those unpaid workers, the Jackson County site turned into a small village for the two-weekend project.
Trailers providing first-aid, equipment, food and tools were rolled to the site, while one worker was given the task of coordinating the numerous vehicles bringing volunteers.
During the first weekend, a crew of volunteer cooks provided a total of 2,084 meals to workers. Some of those meals (including pork chops, chicken breasts and catfish) were served to construction workers working into the deep of night hanging sheet rock.
Just feeding the workers requires meals to be prepared in a specially-made trailer for these “old-fashioned church-raisings.”
Mickey Baker, a long-time cook for the organization, says he “enjoys every minute of it.”
Baker, a Moultrie resident who has been to an estimated 50 church-raisings for Jehovah’s Witnesses, is like many volunteers at the Braselton site that have given their time to building the next Kingdom Hall.
“We have various people by trade,” said Coleman, who is an engineer.
It isn’t uncommon to see lawyers laying roof shingles or computer technicians painting walls, he said.
U.S. Postal Service worker Larry Green, Augusta, said he volunteers when his schedule allows.
The process of building these churches quickly is something the organization has refined over recent years, Coleman said. It used to take one year to build a Kingdom Hall, but now it takes two weekends.
“The more often we do it, the more organized it gets,” he said.
Similar Kingdom Halls have been constructed in Jefferson, Commerce and at Hamilton Mill. The group will build the next one in Danielsville.
And the demand for the rapidly-built churches is exceeding the organization’s expectations. The regional building committee at the Braselton site is based in south Georgia, Coleman said.
“The workload is so great in Atlanta, they asked us to come over and help,” he said. The Braselton location was purchased in July 2002.
Coleman said workers are selected for a construction project based on their skills. While organizers are selecting a site and planning for construction, the volunteers are contacted about a particular project 30 days prior to its start.
“We probably have more licensed people on a job like this than at a regular construction job,” Coleman said.
And for a project like the church-raisings, inspection standards are still closely followed during the two-weekend process, he added.
At its completion, the Braselton Kingdom Hall will include an auditorium to accommodate 225 people, a library and two school rooms. About 18,000 bricks will be used at the site.
Volunteers completed construction on Sunday with only minor details remaining to be finished this week, said Bill Butler, construction coordinator. The icy weather didn’t delay the project.
The church could be open for services next weekend, he added.


Pendergrass approves subdivision request
114-lot development to be located on U.S. 129 and bypass
The Pendergrass City Council approved plans Tuesday night for a 114-lot subdivision on U.S. 129 and the Pendergrass Bypass.
The Estate of R.H. McEver Sr. requested a total of 175 acres be annexed and rezoned from A-2 to R-1. The proposed subdivision is planned on 152 acres on the east side of the Pendergrass Bypass; the remaining 23 acres are near North Jackson Elementary School.
“It was all one property prior to the bypass coming through,” said Gina Mitsdarffer, director of planning and development for the Quad Cities Planning Commission.
Keith Hayes, representing the request, told the council the houses will be at least 1,600 square-feet, and the developers will establish a homeowners’ association and architectural review process for the subdivision.
“We think it’s going to make a nice addition to the city,” he said.
Following concerns raised at November’s Quad Cities Planning Commission meeting, the council attached additional requirements for the development.
A 50-foot buffer along Chuck Titshaw’s industrial site and a fence along the property’s south side with another landowner are required.
No one spoke in opposition to the request and the council didn’t discuss the proposal in depth.


Planners deny requests to amend new land use map
The Jackson County Planning Commission denied two requests Thursday night from developers who want to change the zoning designation of their property as listed in the new land use map.
The new land use map was only approved a few months ago and the planning commission seemed reluctant to begin making changes to it.
The planners denied a request from Duluth 120 Corporation for a future land use map amendment to change 82 acres on Hwy. 124 and Zion Church Road from residential growth to industrial work place.
Joe Walter with Precision Planning spoke on the request and said the plan is to eventually locate an industrial park on the site. Walter said the property across the road from the site is already industrial.
The Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center’s report found the proposal to “not be in the best interest of the state.” No one spoke in opposition to the request at the meeting.
The planning commission also denied a request from Everwood Developers LLC for a future land use map amendment from agricultural preservation to residential growth for 111.82 acres on Brock Road and Holiday Cemetery Road.
Robert White with Premier Real Estate spoke on the project.
“There has been significant change in this area and on this road for residential growth,” he said.
He said it should have been designated as residential on the new land use map.
A nearby property owner spoke in oppostion to the request and mentioned the poultry and cattle operations near the property.
“We just adopted this land use plan,” planning commission member Don Segraves said. “There is a lot of agriculture use down there. I make a motion we deny it.”
Planner Joe Cook added that if the planning commission “starts changing and changing” the new land use map, it would be “rendering it useless.”
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will address the recommendations of the planning commission on these matters at a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 2, at the Administrative Building.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the planning commission:
•tabled a request from Jack Howington Jr. to rezone 117.56 acres on Jefferson River Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate an 117-home subdivision. The commission said the developer needs to meet with the staff before next month’s meeting to determine the exact tract involved in the project.
•agreed to a request from Diamond Development to withdraw its request to rezone 11.6 acres on Sheep Pasture Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 12-lot single-family residential subdivision.
•approved a request from Billie Black to rezone 35 acres on Hope Haven Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a 30 lot single-family residential subdivision. Her son, Gary Black, spoke on the request. Rob Jackson, representing Hope Haven School, asked that a buffer be put in place between the project and the school. Black agreed to locate a four-foot chain lengh fence along the side of the property between the residential area and school.
•approved a request from Saul Omar Lopez to rezone 5.0 acres on Jackson Trail Road from A-2 to R-1 to locate a single-family residential home.
•approved a request from Mike Malerba to rezone 74.39 acres on Hwy. 124 from A-2 to R-2 for a master planned development. His proposal calls for locating 148 homes on 74 acres with six percent of the overall development to be commercial. Malerba also asked for a special purpose use permit to locate a master planned develpment on the site. The planning commission tabled this due to a lack of specific information about the proposed development. The developer was aksed to get additional infomration to the staff.
The BOC will address the recommendations of the planning commission at a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 2, at the Administrative Building.
WILBANKS NAMED
In other action at Thursday’s planning commission meeting, Wayne Wilbanks was re-appointed as chairman of the planning commission and Segraves was named as vice chairman.
New members Cook and Tim Cornelison were introduced.


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BJC Presses To Find A New Surgeon
New BJC Medical Center Administrator Jim Yarborough used a basketball metaphor to describe efforts to hire a general surgeon at the facility.
“We’re on a full-court press to generate candidates,” Yarb-rough reported in his first meeting of the BJC Medical Center Authority Monday night.
The hospital has sought a surgeon since Dr. Donald McFadden resigned last summer because of escalating malpractice insurance premiums – even though he had no serious claims against him.
Reporting Monday night, Yarborough indicated that two potential recruits had “withdrawn interest” from BJC, while three others are still expressing an interest in the facility.
One of those is a doctor who last spring opted for another job paying two and a half times what BJC offered but who is looking again because the company he selected could not live up to its commitments.
“We might look better to him now,” quipped member Jimmy Hooper.
According to Yarborough, the search committee, chaired by authority member Howard Smith, and assistant administrator Oscar Weinmeister, are hard at work on prospects.
One surgeon visited last week, where he met with Smith’s committee, staff and the senior management. Another prospect is a Florida native finishing residency in New York. In addition, a consultant is working on candidates.
“Hopefully, in a month or two we will be able to make a decision,” Yarborough stated.
On another matter, Yarborough introduced Bill Williams, who will begin a role in February as interim chief financial officer to replace Tommy Patey, who has accepted a job elsewhere.
Williams, currently serving as interim CFO in Smithville, NC (where he was offered the permanent position), is also interested in the permanent position at BJC. Yarborough said Williams has 25 years of experience in the medical field, a master’s degree in business administration from Georgia State and is interested in the area because he has a son at the University of Georgia and another at Lakeview High School. He lives near Flowery Branch.
The authority also accepted a recommendation of its building, equipment, grounds and maintenance committee to lease 28 IV pumps for 60 months at a cost of $1,375 per month. Yarborough said the lease gives the medical center the option of upgrading if new technology becomes available during the lease period.


Clarification
County manager Al Crace said this week that a statement in an article last week about the county seeking a bond inducement resolution for several road projects needs clarification. The article stated: “Although not discussed, there is some speculation that the road to the new Jackson County courthouse site might also be included in the financing package.” Crace said that the bond inducement resolution the board of commissioners is seeking can’t be for any road work that is already under way. He added that the BOC committed the funds for the courthouse road project in 2002 as part of the budget for the land purchase.


Jefferson River Road closed to thru traffic
Jefferson River Road has been closed to thru traffic from State Route 335 to New Kings Bridge Road due to construction. The speed limit has been posted at 35 miles per hour on the road.


Icy weather leaves thousands without power
An ice storm blanketed Jackson County early Monday morning leading to 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 on Monday, 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 on Monday occurred in the 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.
Power outages were also reported late Monday evening and Tuesday morning by Jackson EMC customers in Jackson, Madison and Hall counties. In the Jefferson district, a circuit was lost out of the Lavender Road substation northwest of Atlanta at 9:30 p.m. Monday, disrupting service to more than 540 customers. Service was restored at 10:42 p.m. on Monday
A circuit was also lost out of the Russell substation, east of Winder, at 10 p.m. Monday, disrupting service to more than 1,640 customers, including East Jackson Elementary and Middle Schools. Service was restored at 7:37 a.m. on Tuesday.
Two circuits were lost out of the Center substation in Southeast Jackson County at 6:07 a.m. Tuesday, disrupting service to Benton Elementary School in Nicholson, as well as more than 1,000 customers. Service was restored at 8:27 a.m., although the power in some areas went out again shortly after that and was restored later in the morning.
The majority of these outages were due to ice-coated trees falling on power lines, according to JEMC officials.
While schools were closed throughout North Georgia due to the icy roads and power outages, the Jackson County schools did not shut down due to the ice storm.