News from Banks County...

MARCH 24, 2004

Banks County

Banks County

Banks County

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Jana Mitcham
A safe place for children
Since it opened in 1998, The Tree House, Inc., has been offering a safe haven for children in the Piedmont Judicial Circuit who may have been abused or mistreated.

Philllip Sartain
Hot dog heaven
Sometimes I forget about all the progress we’ve made in this country. Fortunately, when I do, someone sends me an unsolicited catalogue reminding me just how far we’ve come in the last two hundred plus years. No doubt about it, we’ve got the best “stuff” in the world.

Two wins for Banks County
The Banks County Diamond Leopards added two more wins for the season after defeating White County on Tuesday and Apalachee at home Monday night.
The team will travel to Buford Wednesday to take on the Wolves before hosting Wesleyan on Friday. They will battle Greater Atlanta Christian on Tuesday in Norcross.

News from
‘Traditions’ memo says Britt an ‘ally’ with developer
An apparent misunderstanding between developers of the county’s largest-ever residential project and the county water authority has apparently been resolved, but not before a wayward memo raised new questions about the role of county politics in the deal.

Rezoning Request Withdrawn For Smallwood Dr. Subdivision
A proposal for a 70-lot subdivision off Smallwood Drive was withdrawn Monday night after a spokesman for the developer realized that the Commerce Planning Commission was unlikely to recommend the necessary rezoning and annexation.

News from
Owner trying to keep course open
Seeks permission to sell beer, wine
Sunrise Golf Course owner John Byram says he wants to keep the Colbert course open. So he sold his 200-acre farm in Oglethorpe County, started a work-for-play deal with local golfers and appeared before the county commissioners to ask for permission to sell beer and wine at the course.

Fortson to take the stand in murder trial
Second trial of accused killer in progress in Effingham Co.
Tracy Lea Fortson will take the stand in her own defense, said her new defense attorney Bill W. Crecelius, Jr., who maintains the accused murderer “did not do any of the accused crimes.”
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Handed over key

Carter Stewart handed over the keys to Homer Drugs to the new owner pharmacist, Kim Bost. Stewart is retiring from the business and plans to spend time traveling and dabbling in concrete pottery.

Homer Drugs changes hands
Carter Stewart retires after 30 years
After over 30 years, Carter Stewart, owner of Homer Drugs, is turning in his lab coat.
“It’s been a good 27 years here in Homer,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and their families. That’s one thing about being an independent drug store, you get personalized service. It’s a lot different from the big chains.”
Having worked for a drug store chain for a few years after graduating from the University of Georgia in 1971, he knows the difference.
“I’ve gotten to know some nice people, good people,” he said. “But, it can be hard, too. When they pass away, you’ve lost friends.”
He credits Bobby Blackwell with bringing him to Banks County.
“Bobby was the force behind the move here,” he said. “He thought Homer needed a drug store. There wasn’t much around here then. But before I could open, another man from Cleveland opened a store. He didn’t last.”
Stewart rented space in the building owned by Blackwell at the intersection of Highways 441 and 98 and, in 1992, invested in the land across the street and began the construction of the small strip mall that would come to house not just Homer Drugs, but many businesses over the years.
“I took a gamble and it just worked out,” he said. “I’ve been pretty fortunate. There’s a niche for the independent pharmacies. Knowing your customers’ faces is important. I know all my customers, or get to know them pretty quickly.”
He said that pharmacists at some of the larger chain drug stores don’t get to know their customers.
“You’re just another customer,” he said. “And we’re faster. Our customers don’t have to wait two days to get a prescription filled.”
But, owning a pharmacy has its downside like any business. Working six days a week every week year after year meant giving up things like week-long vacations or extended trips.
“We’d manage a few long weekends over holidays, but that was about it,” he said. “Now, we’re looking forward to doing some traveling once Nancy and I have officially retired.”
Looking back on his career, he said he hadn’t intended to be a pharmacist. Teaching was what he wanted to do. After graduating in 1965, he taught for three years in Habersham County. But, he said something was lacking. So he quit and went back to college and got his degree in just three years.
Stewart was born in Banks County 61 years ago, but moved into Habersham County which is still home to him and his wife, Nancy, a teacher at East Jackson. They have two children and four grandchildren.
In addition to traveling more, Carter plans to devote more time to his hobbies. The concrete statuary yard near the drug store contains efforts of one of his hobbies. He has made bird baths and statues of saints and Jesus. With the free time that awaits him now, he plans to do more.
Stewart recently sold his business to the former head pharmacist at BJC Medical Center, Kim Bost.
For Bost, starting a new venture after a secure 13 years at BJC has made her just a bit apprehensive.
“I just started three weeks ago,” she said. “My husband and I batted around the idea of buying it for a long time. We just finally decided to take the plunge.”
Stewart joked: “She saw I was making a living at it and thought she could too.”
He’s been working at the drug store for her a few days a week, to help her make the transition. He comes in at 10 a.m. and leaves at closing time. It’s a luxury he hadn’t been able to enjoy while working for himself.
Bost said she may end the gift merchandise and just keep the business as an drug store.
“We’ll be selling off a lot of the gift-type merchandise in April to get ready for our grand opening in May,” she said. “The store may end up looking a lot different, but we’ll still be offering the same level of care Carter’s been giving all these years. People can still count on Homer Drugs to provide them with their medicines.”
Bost lives in Jefferson with her husband, Zeb, and three children.

Seven brush fires reported across county last week
From one end of the county to the other, last week was a busy one for Banks County firefighters who fought seven brush fires in five days.
Fire chief Perry Dalton said the first call came in Wednesday afternoon for a 15-acre wild fire on Sheridan Drive. An unidentified land owner was burning off a field and, with the high winds, the fire quickly spread to the surrounding trees and into the bordering woods. Georgia Forestry had to be called in to help with bulldozing a fire line.
Dalton said: “That was a bad one. There was so much dry debris on the ground that just provided more tinder to feed the fire. Flames licked up in the pines and the heat was on.”
Roger Lane, chief forest ranger for Georgia Forestry, said the farmer had intended to burn only seven acres. He had sent a man out to make a fire break early in the day.
“Things went fine in the morning, but in the afternoon, the wind kicked up and that fire just ran,” he said.
Assistant chief Gary Pollard said the fire came close to burning down a nearby house. The homeowners returned to find the blaze and they called the fire in to 911.
Minutes later, firefighters were also called to a roadside blaze on Browns Bridge Road. It appeared to have started from a discarded cigarette.
On Friday, they faced a 1.5-acre fire on Mt. Bethel Road and fought it with help from Georgia Forestry.
Saturday afternoon, there were three fires, one on Charity Drive, one on Vaughn Road and one on Moccasin Gap Road.
Sunday afternoon, a three-acre fire on Borders Road took a few hours to bring under control. Again, Georgia Forestry had to be called in.
“The Borders Road fire had spread into the woods,” Pollard said. “It was up in the trees. We had to make a fire line and back-rake all the debris.”
Captain Richard Crowder said he was grateful to Rep. Jeanette Jamieson and Georgia Forestry for helping the department get the brush fire four-wheel drive pick-up.
“Without that truck, we’d have had some trouble,” he said. “The truck allows us to get ahead of the fire line and attack it in places where our fire engines can’t go. That truck has saved a lot of land. We owe them a lot.”
The fires took a lot of manpower, he added.
“We have to get along the fire line and work with hoses,” he said. “Another team gets in front of the fire and tries to get a fire break going so it can’t progress. Firefighters work the pumps on the trucks and hook up enough hose to reach the fire. Others may have to cut trees and haul them out of the way. When Georgia Forestry comes with the bulldozer, one man has to walk point for him to let him know what lies ahead. It’s a very involved undertaking that can last hours.”
Lane said: “The past couple of weeks have kept us pretty busy. With the dry weather and the high winds, people just don’t realize what they’ve gotten themselves into until it’s too late. People who burn land or debris need to understand they are responsible for the fires they create. They can be held liable for smoke damage as well as any fire damage to structures or timberland if the fires get out of control.”
Lane said Georgia Forestry will allow permits for fires on days that are considered safe, meaning high humidity, low wind speed.
“Most of it is just common sense,” he said. “If it’s dry, don’t burn. If it’s windy, don’t burn. If you don’t have a permit, don’t burn.”
Lane added: “The people in Banks County have been adjusting well to the constrained periods of permitted burning. And the Banks County Fire Department has really come a long way. They are fine professionals who know how to handle things. They get down to business and get the job done.”
Permits from Georgia Forestry are free and can be obtained by calling (770) 869-3641. Lane said the unit would also offer advice and inspect the site for tips on handling the fire. At times, when they have the manpower, they will assist a land owner.

Forestry Department sets burn ban to start May 1
The Georgia Forestry Department has announced that a burn ban will start on May 1 and continue through October 31.
People may burn organic debris, including tree limbs, branches, leaves, until April 30, but only if they have a burn permit.
The free permits may be obtained from Georgia Forestry by calling 1-800-634-8521.


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Gene Watson concert ahead
Band Boosters’ car show, concert planned Saturday
Country music legend Gene Watson will be in concert Saturday in Banks County.
The Banks County High School Band Boosters will be hosting a one-day fund-raiser on Saturday, March 27. The day will include the concert and a car show.
Watson will be in concert Saturday night at BCHS. Opening for Watson will be the Lord’s Messengers, Bent Creek Band and Little Elvis (Christian Parson).
Tickets for the concert are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
The day will begin with a car, motorcycle and tractor show from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Registration will be from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Each entry is $10.
Prior to the concert, there will be an auction in the auditorium. It will begin at 5:30 p.m.
For tickets or for more information, call (706) 677-4200.

Clean-up day, ‘Spring Fling’ ahead in Alto
The City of Alto is planning a clean-up day on Saturday, March 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is looking for some volunteers to help.
Toni Sheridan, Alto’s bookkeeper, said gloves and bags would be provided. Volunteers are needed to help walk the roads and pick up litter. The city is also providing refreshments and drinks for the crews.
For more information, call Sheridan at (706) 778-8035.
Alto is also planning a “Spring Fling” to celebrate Georgia’s Cities Week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 3.
Toni Sheridan, organizer, said a parade will be held and a craft show is also planned.
“We need antique tractors, classic cars, cyclists, skateboarders, and the like to be in the parade,” Sheridan said. “We also hope to have a little gospel singing.”
Sheridan is also looking for vendors of art, crafts and food to participate.
For more information, contact Sheridan at (706) 778-8035.

State funds to pave, improve county roads
Sidewalks planned for historic Hwy. 441
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson has announced that state funds will pave the way for several road improvement projects in Banks County.
The projects include 1.9 miles of improvements on the following roads: Yonah-Homer Road in unincorporated Banks County; Nix Road in Alto; Church Street in Baldwin; Bel Aire in Maysville; and Oak Street in Homer.
These projects will come at no cost to the county as they are fully funded by the state.
Jamieson also announced that $500,000 in state funds had been allocated for sidewalk construction along historic U.S. Hwy. 441 in the city of Homer.

Tax assessors to meet April 7
The April 14 meeting of the Banks County Board of Tax Assessors has been changed to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7.