News from Madison County...

FEBRUARY 11, 2004


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OPINIONS
Farnk Gillespie
Georgia should distance itself from party politics
In his farewell address to the American people delivered on September 26, 1796, George Washington warned against the development of political parties.

Zach Mitcham
Outlining our 2004 election coverage
We’re already into the second month of a major election year, but so far, only one person has officially announced his candidacy for a local office in this newspaper.


SPORTS
On the threshold of state
Berth to Class AAAA tourney hung in the balance Wednesday night at region tourney
Madison County’s postseason fate hung in the balance as of press time Wednesday night as the Raiders were slated to take on Newton County at 6 p.m. at Cedar Shoals in the second round of the region tournament.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


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.

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Sunrise to see Sunset?

Madison County High School golf coach Chris Smith takes a swing on the driving range at Sunrise Golf Course Monday afternoon. The MCHS golf team and other local golfers may soon be looking for another place to play if a rezoning application is approved, allowing the course owner to develop a subdivision on the property.

Golf no more?
Sunrise owner plans to turn county’s lone course into a subdivision
Madison County could soon lose its only golf course.
Sunrise Golf Course on Colbert-Danielsville Road, formerly known as Whispering Pines, may be developed into a major subdivision if realtor/owner John Byram’s plans are approved by county commissioners at their regular business meeting later this month.
But first, the planning and zoning committee must consider the request and make a recommendation to commissioners. They will hear the matter during their
For the rest of this story see this Weeks Madison County Journal.


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.
And listening to the pride in Martin’s voice when he speaks of the child, one would think he was talking about his own grandchild, not a child he has known for such a short period of time.
Sixth grade teacher Sandy Clark has that same tone when she speaks of her own “mentee,” an eighth grade boy she has worked with for almost two years.
Their stories and others like them, were shared by a number of mentors who met for a get-together and share-session to talk about their experiences, share their joys and problems. During the session they also tried to come up with answers to those problems as well as ways to recruit new mentors.
“We hear it over and over, they just need someone to talk to,” Mentor program director Shirley Aaron said, referring to results of a questionnaire given to students in the mentor program.
One of the questions on the sheet for students to answer read, “Do you feel your mentor has been helpful to you? Why?”
Some of the answers included, “Before I had a mentor, I didn’t have anyone to encourage me besides my family. Before, I was failing just about every subject. I have really been helped.” Another comment was, “I can have a friend who listens to me,” and still another, “It is good to talk to someone about your problems.”
The mentoring program, piloted in the middle school for the first few years, was expanded to every county school last year. There are currently 48 mentors county-wide.
Aaron said there are currently 15 mentors at the middle school; 13 at the high school; one at Colbert Elementary; two at Comer Elementary; eight at Danielsville Elementary; four at Hull-Sanford Elementary and five at Ila Elementary.
“Recruitment is our weakness,” Aaron said. “We need to get more adults interested in the program...the need is huge.”
The group discussed ways to do this at their share session, such as pitching the program to others one-on-one and speaking to churches, civic groups and others.
BENEFITS OF MENTORING
Danielsville Elementary School counselor Lyn Joiner says he sees the benefits of mentoring in all aspects of a student’s life.
“Their faces light up (when mentors visit) - it’s in their whole demeanor, even if it’s not always reflected in their grades,” he said.
For example, Joiner says a fifth grade girl who was recently paired with a mentor once had to visit the office twice a week for disciplinary problems, but she hasn’t had to make those visits at all lately.
“She walks the halls smiling these days,” he said.
Ila Elementary School counselor Susan Young agreed. She often allows mentors to meet with the youngsters in her office and makes time to talk with the children and their mentors about their experiences.
Sandy Clark and her mentee get together for lunch every Wednesday, something Clark says she looks forward to.
“One of his biggest concerns in the beginning was ‘are you really gonna stay with me?’” she said. “I told him I was, and that he was going to graduate from high school.”
The boy is in foster care, so she knew his being able to rely on her was an especially important facet of their relationship.
“I really noticed an improvement after I was there again after summer break for our regular lunches,” Clark said, adding that the boy now proudly brings her his report card and standardized test scores, with approval from his foster family.
“When we first started, he was failing a class but now he’s passing all of them,” Clark says with the pride of parent.
And she’s noticed something else; “Now he says ‘when I graduate,’ not ‘if’...and he’s discussing the armed services, something I encouraged him to think about since he could be on his own at 18.”
Aaron presented those present with results of data from the 2002-2003 school year, which showed improvement in attitude, behavior and academic performance for nearly all students in the mentor program.
“You are making a difference in these children’s lives,” Aaron told the group.
BECOMING A MENTOR
The application process to become a mentor is simple.
“You fill out an application and a background check is done by law enforcement. Once you are a mentor, you commit to the program for one year, are assigned a student and agree to spend two hours per month at school with them,” Aaron said.
And Aaron emphasized that spending the required time is really important and that the time of the visits can generally be whatever works for the mentor.
For the rest of this story see this Weeks Madison County Journal.


BOC says ‘no’ to DOT on taking over stretch of Hwy. 72
Thanks but no thanks — that’s the message from the Madison County commissioners to the state DOT on taking over maintenance of a future appendage of Hwy. 72.
The state is converting Hwy. 72 from a two to a four-lane roadway and the Department of Transportation wants Madison County to take on maintenance of the old, two-lane portion of the highway after a four-lane road is constructed from Comer to the Elbert County line.
Commission chairman Wesley Nash urged BOC members Monday to turn down the DOT request, which would involve the county maintaining approximately 9.6 miles of roadway.
“My preference is that they (the DOT) make it an alternate state route and maintain the upkeep,” said Nash.
The chairman said the two-lane roadway would likely have considerable traffic and that taking over the maintenance of the road would be an enormous and costly responsibility for the county.
DOT PLANS
PUBLIC HEARING
Monday’s discussion comes just days before a scheduled DOT public hearing to discuss the proposed Hwy. 72 widening in Madison and Elbert counties.
The meeting will be held at Comer Elementary School, located at 565 Gholston Street in Comer, on Thursday, Feb. 26, from 4-7 p.m.
At the open house format meeting, DOT engineers will be available to discuss the proposed changes to Hwy. 72.
Anyone unable to attend the public information meeting may send comments on the project to Harvey Keepler, Georgia DOT, 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, Georgia 30336. All comments will be considered in the development of the final project design and must be received by March 12.
Following the meeting, the public may view displays of the project at the DOT area office, located at 301 Conger Road in Carnesville. The phone number at the office is (706) 384-7269 and citizens are asked to make an appointment to ensure a DOT representative will be available.
All citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting.

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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.


Colbert Grove subdivision plans still alive
Plans for a new subdivision in an area where petroleum pipeline spills have contaminated deep well water are still alive.
But developer Dale Overstreet of Oakland Estates LP said he can’t say whether a planned subdivision on Colbert Grove Church Road will be constructed in the next six months, year or two years.
“We’re not in any hurry,” Overstreet said last week. “I can’t give a specific time...But we’re working on it.”
Despite talk of lingering contamination in the Colbert Grove area from petroleum line spills, Overstreet said he doesn’t believe any contaminants would affect water for a new subdivision, so long as wells serving the development are bored, not drilled.
“It (the contamination) is not on top of the ground,” said Overstreet. “If it was on top of the ground, we wouldn’t want to do anything, but it’s 300 to 400 feet deep...A lot of people are using bored (shallow) wells and not showing any sign of it (contamination).”
Colonial Pipeline began testing residential wells near its booster station just south of Danielsville in December of 1994 after finding petroleum products in the on-site water well. Deep, drilled wells in the area were found to be contaminated from petroleum products.
There was talk of a link between sickness in the area and contaminants — benzene, which was found in well water, can cause leukemia. Ultimately, the company settled out of court and bought property from a number of residents in the area.
But the Colbert Grove subdivision proposal has highlighted lingering questions about the contamination and led local leaders and media to make an earnest effort at determining the extent of the contamination problem.
Meanwhile, Colonial representatives are meeting individually with commissioners to discuss the Colbert Grove contamination issue and the possibility of installing a water line to serve the area.
Notably, these negotiations are being conducted out of the public eye. As long as the company meets individually with BOC members and avoids a quorum — three or more commissioners meeting together at one time — the public can legally be shut out of the dialogue.
While some have called for a public hearing on the matter and an opportunity for residents of the area to directly address company representatives with their concerns, no hearing has been set.