News from Madison County...

JANUARY 28, 2004


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Farnk Gillespie
The values we learned from Mr. Bramlett are his legacy
When the first four graduating classes from Madison County High School gathered for a joint reunion last fall, we did not know we were saying goodbye to a great man.

Zach Mticham
Pipeline in Madison County deserves closer look
The only sound now is the thump of the fat file — case (97-MV-135-J) — dropping on the desk.
But in 1997 there was plenty of noise, at least in the form of legal briefs, well water chemical analysis and out-of-court negotiations.


SPORTS
‘Building for region’
MCHS makes statement in huge win over Heritage Saturday
It began with a solid start with two tournament titles before the New Year. Then came the 10-win plateau.
But now, as the season matures and hits its later stages, the Madison County boys’ basketball team (13-7, 3-4) looks poised to evolve from a group that’s already proved it’s a good team — after years of struggles — to one that could be one of the region’s top dogs come tournament time.


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
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

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Ice clings to branches on a tree in front of the old county courthouse Monday morning.

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 rain that began overnight Saturday continued steadily all day on Sunday, turning to freezing rain by late afternoon, catching some folks unaware as earlier predictions had called for warmer weather by the first of the week.
But instead, weather conditions continued to deteriorate Sunday evening into Monday morning, causing Madison County school officials to call off classes by 6 a.m. Monday, following suit with several other surrounding counties that had announced closings as early as Sunday evening.
More rain showers Monday evening and predictions from area weather forecasters caused concern that a second wave of freezing conditions might compound problems with power lines and roadways Tuesday.
But a winter storm warning for the area set to expire at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning was called off a couple of hours early as temperatures hovered just over the freezing mark.
Jackson EMC representative Bonnie Jones said Tuesday morning that less than 100 homes were out of power on Sunday night into Monday morning and that all power had been restored by 5:30 a.m. However, a second problem occurred around 9:30 p.m. Monday night when the company lost a circuit at the Pocataligo substation, causing loss of electricity to 860 customers in the area. All power was back on in the county as of Tuesday morning, Jones said.
Jones also said that Jackson EMC was still dealing with quite a few outages in neighboring Jackson County, but that Madison County appeared to have seen the worst of it.
"All the outages were directly related to the weather, primarily limbs and trees falling across power lines," Jones said.
And the company remained poised for additional problems from falling tree limbs as strong winds swept through Tuesday afternoon.
"We're just hoping all the ice melts before the wind blows in, or we could have some more problems," Jones said.
The county road department also had its share of problems to deal with.
"As usual in these cases, our primary concern was bridges and overpasses, For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.


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.
The county commissioners rubber-stamped a state-mandated qualifying fee schedule for local elected posts Monday. Positions up for grabs this year include the district attorney, sheriff, clerk of court, probate judge, tax commissioner, coroner and chairman of the county commissioners. Five county commission posts and three school board seats will also be determined.
Qualifying fees are set at three percent of each position’s annual base salary. Those throwing their hat in the ring for a Madison County elected seat in 2004 can do so between 9 a.m., April 26, and noon, April 30.


Voter registration deadline set for Feb. 2
The voter registration deadline for the March 2, 2004, Presidential Preference Primary is Monday, Feb. 2.
Voter registration applications are available at the Board of Registrar’s office in the Madison County Government Complex from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Applications are also available at the Madison County Library and can be downloaded from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ga.us.
Those who have applied for voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles and have not received a precinct identification card in the mail are encouraged to inquire about the status of their application with the Board of Registrars at 795-6335 or through their “poll locator” option at www.sos.ga.us. Likewise, anyone wishing to confirm his or her voter registration is encouraged to do so.
Feb. 2 is the last day for a voter to change their name or address if he or she has moved within the county to an address different from the address shown on the voter’s registration card. It is the duty of the voter to notify the Board of Registrars by this date in order for the voter to be placed in the correct precinct and for the voter’s name to be placed on the correct list of voters.
Applications for absentee ballots are available at the Board of Registrar’s office and the Secretary of State’s website. For more information, call 795-6335.


Fortson re-trial set for March 22
Tracy Lea Fortson, who was convicted in July of 2001 and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Doug Benton, will be tried again for Benton’s murder March 22 in Effingham County, just north of Savannah.
The re-trial was scheduled after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled this fall that Fortson, a former deputy sheriff in Oglethorpe County, was denied effective counsel in her 2001 trial when her attorney, Tom Camp, used one of his jury strikes to remove a juror who had already been excused. The juror had been excused because several members of her family were in law enforcement, but her name had not been taken off the jury list when attorneys began striking names to reach the final list.
Fortson will be represented in the re-trial, not by Camp, but by attorney Bill W. Crecelius Jr. of Duluth.
Benton, a self-employed welder and bodybuilder from Colbert, was last seen alive on June 5, 2000. He was reported missing by neighbors several days later after a group of exotic birds in his garage were left unfed. Sheriffs officers investigated and found the birds to be neglected, with some dead. On Monday, June 19, his body was found in a concrete-filled horse trough in rural Oglethorpe County.
Investigators found that Fortson had purchased supplies, including a horse trough and Quick Crete at about the same time. Other evidence suggested that Benton had been killed in his home, encased in the cement and dumped on an Oglethorpe County farm. A candle intended to start a delayed fire at the home failed, according to testimony at the trial.
Fortson’s attorney in the first trial claimed that Benton’s friends had killed Benton, then tried to pin the crime on Fortson, but the jury did not buy this version of events.
The 2001 case attracted national attention. An article in the National Enquirer publicized the discovery of the body encased in a concrete-filled horse trough. Court TV attempted to provide live coverage of the trial, but Judge Lindsay Tise refused to allow TV cameras in the courtroom.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.


A Celebration of Life’
‘Jalapeno Cayene Gumbo File’ featured at Lowery Gallery through Feb. 18
Despite this week’s icy winter weather, there’s a definite Jamaican, New Orleans type flavor in Madison County.
Booger Hill Road’s Lowery Art Gallery is celebrating the arts with “Jalapeno Cayene Gumbo File,” a “celebration of life that shows the cultural migration of the deep south ever northward,” according to one of the show’s artists, Margo Candelario, of Oconee County.
Candelario has made painting her life’s work over the past 10 years and has shown her work in many places, including New York. Born in California, Candelario lived in New York through college before moving to Georgia in 1992. Her medium of choice is pastels and she likes to showcase vibrancy and movement in her work.
“I love it here (in Georgia), it’s so beautiful and my work has gotten a great reception,” she said at the show’s opening at the Gallery Jan. 18.
Candelario also invited friend and fellow artist Margaret Warfield to exhibit some of her work at Lowery alongside hers.
“I felt our work compliments each other very well; her work has a lot of dance and similar color textures to mine,” Candelario said.
The two even collaborated on a piece together for the show, which features a lot of their new work.
Warfield lives in Oxford, Georgia, but hails originally from Tennessee. “I came here by way of Florida,” she says jokingly. “I went from Tennessee to Florida to visit my brother and ended up moving to Georgia, kind of a half-way point between the two.”
Warfield has been painting for the past 20 years, the last 11 full time.
Her primary medium is acrylics on water color paper. “I like to paint the energy from people and I think our paintings here (at Lowery) are something that all can relate to, it’s definitely not a color thing.
Jalapeno Cayenne Gumbo File’ will be on display at the Lowery Gallery through Feb. 18.