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FEBRUARY 11, 2004


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
‘Vacation again’
“Vacation again, Gee Gee.” This is a phrase that I hear from my 2-year-old nephew at least once a day. He had so much fun on our last vacation, a Christmas trip to Nashville, that he has been saying “Vacation again” ever since we returned home.

Jana Mitcham
Speed dating comes to area
Who says first impressions don’t matter? In the world of speed dating, they must be crucial. The “dates” literally have minutes to make an impression and introduction that might make one or the other want to come back for more.


SPORTS
Leopards seeded first in region tournament
The Banks County Leopards head to the 8- AA region tournament Wednesday where a win will take them to state.
The varsity basketball team ended their regular season, 15-9, which ranks them first in the sub-region and sets them to face either Providence or Greater Atlanta Christian Wednesday night at Dawson County.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Student raising funds for dog’s bulletproof vest
Looking out for MaxAinsley Lee, a third grader at Benton Elementary School, is concerned about the number of law enforcement canines killed and injured in the line of duty and wants to do what she can to help.

End Of An Era
Mt. Vernon Mills To Close This Spring
The last vestige of an industry that once dominated Commerce will end this spring when Mt. Vernon Mills shuts down local operations.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Golf no more?
Sunrise owner plans to turn county’s lone course into a subdivision
Madison County could soon lose its only golf course.

Someone to talk to
Mentors discuss the joys
and challenges of helping children in need
Charles Martin says there has been “a marked improvement,” not only in the grades, but in the attitude of the fourth grade boy he has mentored at Ila Elementary School for little more than a year now.

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By the light of the moon

Gillsville Coon Club holds show and hunt Friday night Hawkins readied dog for bench show Jackie Hawkins, Lula, posed his Treeing Walker “Tree Daddy’s Little Storm” for the judge during the bench show held by the Gillsville Coon Club prior to last Friday’s hunt. It was 10-month-old Storm’s first show. See this weeks Banks County News for more on the show and the hunt.


Homer reviews proposed town hall plans
The Homer City Council reviewed an architect’s rendering for a proposed new town hall when it met Tuesday night.
The plan calls for a 60 by 60 square foot brick building, to be located on the town’s property on Hwy. 441, adjacent to The Banks County News office.
The new town hall would have a meeting room with a seating capacity of 100, offices, storage space and a reception area. It would also have 2,000 square feet of unfinished space upstairs that could be used for future expansion.
“It looks good,” Mayor Doug Cheek said. “I think everyone will be real proud of this.”
The main entrance would be on Hwy. 441. There would also be an entrance on York Street.
A citizen’s building committee worked with the architect to come up with the plan, which was unanimously approved by the city council at Tuesday’s meeting.
The council members also discussed the need for a retaining wall at the site. They agreed to ask the building committee to discuss this further with the architect.
In other business, the council:
•discussed the improvement project planned on Thompson Street. Cheek said the plan has been sent to the department of transportation for review. The council plans to move forward with rights-of-way acquisition for the needed easements.
•discussed the special purpose local option sales tax funds the town has been receiving since October 2001 for street and sidewalk projects, the new town hall and public safety complex, fire department equipment and water projects. The town has already allocated $269,000 for a new fire truck and $80,000 for water projects.
•approved several new road names in the downtown area, including Crane’s Mobile Home Park Drive, Duplex Drive and Turk Street.


Alto subdivision to have water
Members of the Alto City Council approved a $26,595 bid from Griffin Brothers to lay 1,780 feet of six-inch water line down Crane Mill Road during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Developers of a 75-unit subdivision have been waiting over a year for the city to make good on its commitment to provide water. Randy Harkins, one of the developers, appeared at the council meeting and asked when work would begin.
Mayor Audrey Turner said the blueprints had to be approved by the state environmental protection division before work could start. She added she thought she would have the needed approval by the end of the week.
The council decided to notify Griffin Brothers of the bid award as soon as possible so a starting date could be determined.
Other bidders on the project were: Mark Lewallen, $25,500; and Gooch Construction Inc., $31,000. Neither of the two bidders gave an itemized list of the scope of the job as Griffin Brothers had done. That proved to be the determining factor in the council’s choice of awarding the bid.
In other business, the council:
•discussed the 2004 budget for the general fund and water. The general fund revenues of $219,346 balance with the expenses. In the water budget, revenues are reported at $381,700, but expenses total $503,036, a $121,336 loss. The loss is explained as the difference due to capital expenditures for the Gilstrap well and new water lines on Crane Mill Road. Auditors say the items will become capital assets when the audit is completed.
•agreed to hold off on paying any more money down on the GEFA loan taken on to replace aging water lines. Turner said she thought it would be best of the council held off paying down the loan until some of the other projects are completed.
•agreed to purchase a new mower, $4,000, and a new tractor and bushog, $7,500, from Ron Roberts, who is going out of business and offering equipment at a reduced price. The council is also looking into purchasing a new back-hoe that could cost over $12,000.
•tabled the agenda item of the cost of living raise for city employees. Councilman Donald Wade said he would prefer waiting until the employees took their operators tests and then decide. Councilman Phil Lomax made a motion to increase the wage of Wiley Cook by 75 cents per hour. John Closs seconded the motion. But before a vote could be taken, councilwoman Patricia Barlo-Ivry moved the issue be tabled for further discussion at another meeting. The council then voted 3-to-2, with Lomax and councilman John Closs voting in opposition, to table the matter.
•approved installing two new power poles and three street lights at a cost of $1,596 as requested by residents living on Cook Street.
•discussed updating the city’s software and computers to handle billing water customers more efficiently. The bookkeeper, Toni Sheridan, took on the task of re-entering every Alto water customer so the records would be uniform and easy to pull up if a person came in without a water bill. The staff currently has to look up accounts in a number of books to determine the amount owed which is a time-consuming job.
•set a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 24.


Trash talks held in Alto
Resident says town is a ‘mess’
Resident Margaret Beaupre suggested at a meeting Tuesday night that the Alto City Council take action to enforce the ordinance requiring yards be maintained for the health and welfare of the residents.
“For two-and-a-half years, I’ve been coming in here talking about the mess this town is in,” she said. “There’s trash and garbage everywhere and it just keeps getting worse. There are couches, mattresses, TVs, appliances just sitting in people’s yards. It looks pitiful. It’s a disgrace. It’s embarrassing. A small town like Alto should not look this bad. There’s a trailer on B.C. Grant Road that has been told many times to clean up their yard and there’s no change. Then there’s the junk cars piling up in yards.”
Some of the residences do not have 911 addresses or even mailboxes listing the address, she added.
Councilman John Closs said it was time the council stepped in and did something. He suggested passing the information of possible health hazards to the county which also requires 911 addresses be posted on homes.
He also recommended a call be made as a first contact to remedy the situation. If the resident does not comply, then a written reprimand and deadline for a clean-up will be given to violators to avoid fines.
Attorney Jim Acrey said the city had an ordinance that could be enforced. It calls for fines up to $350 per day for garbage and trash deemed to be a health hazard and a danger to the public.
City clerk Penny Rogers produced the city’s ordinance book which the council looked over.
Councilman Donald Wade said the ordinance does not cover junk cars, only car parts.
Acrey recommended the council address the issue in revamping the zoning ordinances.
Councilwoman Patricia Barlo-Ivry said: “We’re not together as far as our ordinances go. We need time to look this over. You’re working with a new council.”
That didn’t sit well with Beaupre who rebutted: “I don’t want to keep fighting and waiting and waiting. There needs to be something done now.”
Acrey told Ivry it would cost a person more to fight the ordinance in court that it would to clean up their land.
The council decided to notify the resident in violation of the current ordinance through a certified letter and one through regular mail as suggested by Acrey. Then proceed with the legal channels to enforce the ordinance.
TEENS ADDRESS COUNCIL
Three teenagers, Seth Burns, Eric Ryles and Dakota Ryles, appeared before the Alto City Council requesting something be done for the teenagers in the town and that old buildings be torn down to make the town more attractive.
All agreed that the council needed to address the teenage population and provide them with activities and jobs.
Burns said: “Teens need something to do in Alto. All we have to do is walk the streets and get in trouble. Alto needs a place for teens to go.”
Eric Ryles said the town looked after the needs of the younger children by providing them with a playground. He said teenagers needed a place, too.
Turner suggested they join youth groups at the local churches, since the town has no funds for a teen center.
Barlo-Ivry said the young people were looking for something other than churches.
City attorney Jim Acrey said it was up to businesses to provide entertainment for the youth.
He said: “Town’s don’t build skating rinks and video stores.”
Dakota Ryles suggested the council seek new businesses, such as fast food restaurants and more stores that would make the town more appealing and provide jobs. He also said the council should get rid f old broken down buildings and clean up the town.
Eric Ryles even suggested Alto and Baldwin merge and come up with a new name.
He said: “Alto needs to be updated. We need business to come in and help us out.”
Councilman Donald Wade said the town wasn’t big enough for all that and it would have to grow considerably.
Barlo-Ivry said she would strive to have something for the youth by summer, though, she did not indicate what that might be.
Beaupre told the young men to volunteer to help clean up the trash around the town to give themselves something to do.

 


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Commissioners approve three rezoning requests
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved three rezoning requests at its meeting Tuesday night.
Kay and Mike Butcher were given approval for a conditional use permit for a home occupation mail order business. Mr. Butcher said they plan to locate a mail order business for antique car parts. The business will be operated from their 8.63-acre tract of land on Model A Drive, located off of Ridgeway Road. They also plan to live at the site.
Two land owners were also given approval to rezone their property from agricultural rural residential to commercial agricultural district. Applicants Morgan Saxon and Tom Booker both said they wanted their land rezoned to protect their farms.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the council:
•approved Keith Segars’ request for a conditional use permit to locate a fencing company on Silver Shoals Road.
•approved a motion by commissioner Pat Westmoreland to name Terrance Dale of Gillsville to fill Jerry Boling’s term on the county development authority. The term expires on Feb. 28 and is for four years.
•approved a motion by commissioner Rickey Cain to name Dennis Brown to fill Thomas Wilsons’ term on the county development authority. The term expires on Feb. 28 and is for four years.
•approved a motion by Westmoreland to reappoint Jimmy Morrison to serve another four-year term on the development authority.
•approved several resolutions related to a Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority loan for sewer expansion. The resolutions include approval to pay the interest on the loan and to allow the state to withdraw the payments through an electronic service. The BOC also agreed to use industrial tax revenue funds to pay for the loan.
•approved an application for a Community Development Block Grant for a new adult literacy center in the county. Director Tammy Kennedy presented the minutes from a recent public hearing held as part of the application process.
•approved several road name changes recommended by 911 director Deidra Moore, including Old Webbs Creek Road, Brook Trail, Creek Way and Historic Homer Highway.


Jamieson named to task force
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson has been named to a new education task force formed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
The task force will review the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula. The QBE funding formula determines the amount of state funds that are allocated to Georgia’s schools. The formula is based on population and the demographics and the needs of the student population. The QBE formula was created in 1985.
The task force is comprised of legislators and school system officials from across the state.