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Track Team Boasts Seven
First-Place Finishes Monday
If the Commerce track teams have any early-season rustiness it didnt surface Monday afternoon.
Participating in only their second meet of the season, the squads boasted a combined seven first-place finishes in a four-team meet at Franklin County in a performance that impressed their coach.
Jefferson bests local rivals on the court
The Jefferson High School tennis teams had an eventful week recently, defeating two local rivals.
The boys team ran their record to 3-1 on the season as they defeated arch-rival Commerce 5-0 and cross-town rival Jackson County 4-1 last week.
Panthers to host first home game of the season Thurs.
On Thursday night the Jackson County soccer program will get a taste of something that it has yet experience so far this season a home game.
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.Its been a good 27 years here in Homer, he said. Ive gotten to know a lot of people and their families.
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.
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.
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SUNNY DAY PLAY
Children at the Jackson County Boys and Girls Club, located on Gordon Street, Jefferson, spent their outdoor time Tuesday afternoon jumping rope and playing basketball. Shown jumping rope are Candace Welch, Amber Harper, Xavier Harper and T.J. Harper. Melia Morris looks on while J.T. Scott turns the rope along with a club staff member, Susan Burnette (not pictured).
Photo by Jana Mitcham
Its actually too early to make that call, he cautioned. Weve only been open one quarter and it takes a little while for things to grow. There seems to be quite a bit of interest, so we feel very strongly the enrollment is there.
Traditions memo says Britt an ally with developer
An apparent misunderstanding between developers of the countys 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.
Bluegreen, the developer of Traditions of Braseltons 1,500-lot golf subdivision in West Jackson, had been sparring with the county water and sewerage authority over the development of the subdivisions water and sewer infrastructure. The two groups met Friday and, according to Jerry Waddell, manager of the authority, have worked out the differences. Bluegreen has $9.2 million in closings waiting upon W&SA approval.
But prior to Fridays meeting, a misdirected memo from Bluegreens Tom Powers, a division president, to Dan Koscher, a Bluegreen attorney, was included in information faxed to the authority apparently by mistake. The memo attempted to lay out the political landscape about the issue between the firm and the water authority and it identified county commissioner Stacey Britt as an investor in a part of the Traditions project.
Said the memo: Finally, Stacy Britt is our county commissioner and has become an ally (he is an investor with Gary Brock on his deal in Traditions). He has no power here, but he can help me through the political side of this thing. And, he, like all the county commissioners, wants the authority to go away in the worst way.
The Bluegreen development was approved by a previous county commission before Britt took office.
The memo outlined the history of the fight between the commissioners and the water authority and appeared to be heartened by the fact that the BOC plans to take control of the authority this summer.
A second place they are spooked, especially Jerry Waddell who heads up the W&S Authority operations, is a serious political tiff between the authority and the county commissioners. All this is well documented in the newspaper the county commission wants W&S operations to come under them and the board and the authority will not relinquish control. The only option this county has is to get their state rep. to step in and force the issue through the Georgia Legislature, but the state rep. has so far declined to do this.
A saving grace for us is that in July, the head of the board of the authority is stepping down. And at that time, the county will be able to appoint his replacement; and this should swing the current authority board voting structure from a 2-3 against the county requests to a 3-2 for adhering to county requests. No guarantee on this, but that is the political thinking in Jackson County at this time.
The dispute between Bluegreen and the water authority had been over the need for a letter of credit from Bluegreen. The authority insisted that Bluegreen deliver an irrevocable line of credit to the authority as part of an agreement that will allow Bluegreen to continue to sell lots in Traditions before the developer finishes building the water and sewer systems inside the development. The purpose, from the authoritys viewpoint, is to guarantee it the ability to finish building the systems inside Traditions in the event the developer is unable to complete them.
The (Friday) meeting went well. Basically, the lawyers are drafting a contract, said Waddell. They (Bluegreen) still have to do a letter of credit for anything they want to sell in advance (of completing the water and sewer system) and they have to indemnify us.
While Powers saw the demand of a letter of credit as a change in authority policy, Waddell said the companys attorney understood the need.
He understood exactly what we are saying, Waddell said. Hes the one writing the contract, which he will fax to our attorney.
Traditions sewer lines not approved by county
The developer of Traditions of Braselton will be required to perform a number of tests on sewer lines it installed without state or county approval.
Jerry Waddell, manager of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, said the developer will be made to perform a mandril test (basically, pulling a cylindrical object through the pipe to make sure it retained its shape), a vacuum test and possibly a smoke test, all designed to verify the integrity of the pipe and its connections.
In addition, one year after the line is installed, the developer must perform a camera examination of the interior of the line. That is a standard requirement of the water and sewerage authority before it accepts sewer lines in developments as part of the county system.
The authority, upon discovering that a contractor was building and covering lines that had been approved by neither it nor the EPD, last week ordered all work stopped.
The developments original sewer plan did have authority and EPD approval, but Bluegreen hired a new engineer who designed a new sewer collection system for the subdivision. Those plans were not submitted for review.
Small town could see 1,000 houses, supermarket added over next 10 yearsA major subdivision and a supermarket could be on the horizon for Nicholson over the next decade.
After having over two weeks to think about it and then hearing from developer Bud Chandler Thursday night at a called work session, Nicholson leaders unofficially gave Chandler the OK for him to get the ball rolling on a 10-12 year project for a planned community development with its own sewerage plant that could bring approximately 1,000 houses and a grocery store into the city limits on Hwy. 335. The subdivision could potentially quadruple the population of the small, 1,200 person town.
It was the second meeting between the council and Chandler or those working with him. The idea was originally pitched at the councils March 1 meeting by representatives of the developer.
Nicholson mayor Ronnie Maxwell said he understood the potential weight of the city giving the project its blessing but felt that growth in the town was inevitable, adding that a supermarket in Nicholson something that could come within three years would be a great addition to the city.
Im scared, Maxwell admitted. Im very scared. But it looks like an asset to this community.
The council also seemed content with Chandlers presentation as none of the members voiced any objections to the plan when the mayor asked for the councils opinion.
It sounds really good if its like he says hes going to do with it, councilman Lamar Watkins said.
The council will tour one of Chandlers existing developments in Braselton April 10, a subdivision similar to what he has in mind for Nicholson.
Chandlers idea is far from a reality right now though.
Chandler, whos built houses since 1969 and developed subdivisions since 1980, hasnt purchased the land owned by Staghorn subdivision owner Jack Holder at the proposed location which currently isnt even in the city limits.
He also pointed out that there would be over six months worth of paper- work to go through with the Environmental Protection Division before theyd have the finalized drawings which the city, of course, would have to approve before the project could begin.
The city would have paperwork to do as well since Chandlers initial plans call for lots as small as a third of an acre. The minimum size required by the Nicholson ordinances right now is 1.25 acres.
Since the city has no zoning laws and has been historically opposed to the concept, the council would have to annex the property into the city and then draft a comprehensive planned community development (PCD) ordinance to meet that aspect of Chandlers plan.
The PUD would then allow the city to layout its guidelines for the subdivisions concerning aspects like setbacks in addition to lot size.
If everything fell into place and the council approved the finalized plans, it likely wouldnt be until 2005 before Chandler and his team started work on the development.
Chandler used the first part of Thursdays work session to outline his plans for the project, stressing that it could be a winning situation for both he and the city.
The crux of the plan for Chandler is that the propertys 300 acres of flood plain would allow him to construct a 500,000 gallon sewerage plant to service the subdivision, a point discussed at length during the March 1 meeting. Chandler added that having sewerage is essential to luring commercial interest to the development.
But the plant could also be expanded and potentially service Nicholson if the city wished to buy it.
This makes every bit of sense in world to both of us, Chandler said.
As for a population influx, the developer reiterated that the subdivision would be a gradual change to the city.
Chandler explained that he usually phases in 100 houses a year, meaning it would take over a decade to complete the subdivision. The supermarket could come as early as three years into the project though.
The council was told at the March 1 meeting that the subdivision could have up to 1,400 houses but conceptual designs that Chandler brought Thursday night called for 1,158 houses.
However, that number could even drop to as low as 950, Chandler said, after an engineer looks at the plans.
Still, nearly 1000 houses would potentially bring at least 3,000 people into the city over the next decade but Maxwell said growth is something Nicholson will have to get used to.
Growth is going to come whether its you, said Maxwell, referring to Chandler, or someone a year behind you. Were going to be blessed with it whether we want it or not.
Explaining that he has been a developer whos developed on the fringe for 20 years, Chandler said that Nicholsons rural back drop should make the subdivision appealing to potential home owners.
Its clean, its country and people like it, he said. They want to drive to live in a nice development.
Water authority makes reservoir payment
After a month of controversy and conflict over the February payment for the regional reservoir, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has sent the money to finance director John Hulsey.
Hulsey reported this week that he received the full payment for February on March 19. The payment covers the billing from the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority for Feb. 1-29.
Hulsey had reported to the BOC at its February meeting that Jerry Waddell, manager of the county water authority, had asked the BOC to establish a line of credit to pay the debt service with the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority. This led the commissioners to again criticize the management of the county water and sewerage authority.
The water authority reportedly asked for the line of credit because of low water sales typical for this time of year. Plans were to repay the money to the county in the summer when water sales pick up.
Lanier Tech looks at expansion options
The Commerce campus of Lanier Tech is just finishing its first quarter and already officials are exploring options to double the classroom space.
Weve been in conversation with county officials about expanding, and theyre looking at options at the shopping center, said Dr. Michael Moye, president.
The Commerce campus is in the old Bi-Lo shopping center on South Elm Street. It opened last fall with about 5,000 square feet, with local officials hoping that enrollment would be such that Lanier Tech would eventually establish a permanent presence in Commerce.
Commissioner Sammy Thomason continues to lead the effort by the board of commissioners to locate space.
They need to expand and were exploring options, said Thomason. They have a need for more space now. Weve already divided the large room in the back with temporary dividers.
The need will get more critical by the summer quarter, Thomason said, because Lanier Tech will relocate its adult education program (adult literacy and GED classes) from the Gordon Street Center in Jefferson.
For sure, weve got to double the existing space at a minimum by summertime, Thomason said.
For his part, Moye is not ready to declare that the Commerce campus deserves a Lanier Tech presence.
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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.
Barry Lord, speaking on behalf of David Ringo, asked to withdraw the request so the owner of the property could seek other options.
His request came moments after planning commission Chairman Greg Perry offered a critical comment on the proposed R-2 development.
My opinion is the city doesnt need 70 more houses of the R-2 nature, Perry said, noting that the houses would be jammed in together and that the surrounding property is all R-1.
The development came before the commissioners in two requests. One was the rezoning in Jackson County from A-2 to R-1 in the city for .93 acres owned by Dewitt Price. The annexation of that tract was necessary for the larger parcel to be annexed. The other was 47.76 acres owned by David and Stephanie Ringo, seeking the same rezoning and annexation.
After 9.5 acres were dedicated to greenspace, the project would put 70 houses on the remaining 38 acres. Lord proposed houses with a minimum of 1,800 square feet of heated space and 400-square-foot garages. According to Lord, the developer needs 70 lots to recover financially from the cost of building a sewer lift station.
The planning commission voted unanimously to table the request. That move allows Ringo to come back as early as the April meeting with another proposal; had the planning commission voted to deny the rezoning recommendation, hed have had to wait six months to try something else.
A second rezoning request was tabled because the developer had a death in the family. The petition of Kenneth W. Gary of Gary-Olsson Properties to rezone 35 acres in Highland Estates from R-2 to R-2 with conditions will be heard at the April 26 meeting.
The planning commission did approve the preliminary plat of Millstone Development Group for 70 lots on 29.4 acres between Hospital Road and Mount Olive Road but the approval is conditional.
Before the planning commission fully signs off on the plat for the retirement community, its members insisted that a list of protective covenants be provided and approved and that the 30-foot sewer easement be dedicated on the east side,
The planning commission also recommended for approval Bobby Patmans request to rezone a quarter acre on Hill Street from C-2 to R-5 so he can sell the lot to the occupant of a mobile home on the property. All of the surrounding land is zoned R-5.
The Commerce City Council will make the final decision on that recommendation at its April 12 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Peach Room of the Commerce Civic Center.
The group also voted to recommend that the city council amend its zoning map to show Bobby Daniels property on Harris Street to be zoned C-2 instead of R-3 to conform both with its use and with the zoning of adjacent property.
Planning commission members Greg Perry, Ronnie Seabolt, Mark McCannon and Joe Leffew were present. Member Kenneth Suber was absent.
Good Ol Daze Festival ahead Sat. in Jefferson
The Crawford W. Long Good Ol Daze Festival will be held Saturday at the Crawford W. Long Museum and on the square in Jefferson, and the Ether 5K will be held Sunday afternoon (see this weeks Jackson herald for more details).
The schedule of events is as follows:
Craft booths, food and health checks will be available during the day, as well as hands-on history crafts for children and a touch and sniff medicinal herb table.
11 a.m. - Akbar Imhotep storytelling and puppet show begins. Two shows will be offered.
Doc Johnsons 1840s Traveling Medicine Show will be held twice during the day.
2 p.m. - music begins, including performances by Paradise A.M.E., St. Paul Baptist, Crystal River and Spontaneous Cracker Eruption.
Demonstrations by the Jefferson Scottish Country Dancers will be given during the day.
6-7:45 p.m.- Banish Misfortune will hold an Irish music concert. Step dancers accompany the band and dances can be taught to audience members.
8 p.m. - Doc Johnson will hold a lantern show a magic show by lantern light.
Bluegrass jams will be held after the lantern show.
2:30 p.m. - Ether 5K run.
Saturday parking will not be available on College Street from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the north side of the square will be closed from 5 to 9 p.m. Parking will be available on the south side of the square and at the courthouse, the civic center and at downtown churches. The festival is sponsored by BJC Medical Center, the Grassroots Arts Council, the Georgia Council of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts.
Call 367-5307 for more details.