A Classified Ad
and BOC Minutes
Go to Banks
We the people now have a chance to regain control over our govt
The federal courts suggestion for drawing Georgias state legislative districts accomplishes most of the goals set by the three judge panel.
A chilly time at the beach
As most things do, it started out simply enough.
When Charles and I decided to head to one of our favorite places to celebrate my 45th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I had one request - I wanted to take two of my best buds; that dynamic duo, Shirley and Virginia.
Shivers sets school record in track meet
Marcus Shivers set school records in the 200 and 400-meter races as Madison County took third in a three-team meet at Oglethorpe County Thursday.
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.
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.
Rezoning Request Withdrawn For Smallwood Dr.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A proposal for a 70-lot subdivision off Smallwood Drive was withdrawn Monday night after a spokesman for the developer realized that the Commerce Planning Commission was unlikely to recommend the necessary rezoning and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.
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Ms. Geneva McLeroy holds up the mirror for Suzie Davis at the Madison County Senior Center Thursday during the centers Celebrity Show, in which Delane Kehm acted as a talk show host and senior center members answered questions about their lives.
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.
He said hes taken these measures to raise revenues and cut expenses in hopes of keeping the struggling course open.
The course owner was recently denied a rezoning that would have allowed him to turn the golf course into a subdivision.
Asked after the meeting with the commissioners if he planned to sue the BOC on the rezoning matter, Byram said no and added that he bought the course with the intention of keeping it, not turning it into a subdivision.
Byram said hes seeking to build community support for the course. And he pointed out that golfers can now volunteer to work eight hours a week at the course. In exchange, they can play all the golf they want for free.
The course owner told the BOC Monday that selling alcohol would be another revenue source and he noted that a large percentage of golfers already drink alcohol on the course.
Byram asked if the board could exempt the golf course from restrictions that require at least 70 percent of gross revenue to be from food before an establishment can sell alcohol and free him from a mandate that alcohol sales be at least 400 yards from the nearest residence.
I see it as something thats a good income stream, said Byram. A lot of golf courses have it. Its another way to make it (the golf course) float.
The board of commissioners took no action Monday, agreeing that they needed to have their attorney review the countys beer and wine ordinance.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin said he did not feel good about approving any alcohol sales at the golf course, adding that he doesnt approve of drinking.
Scogin said he feared that there would be no control over how much golfers drank and whether they left the course driving drunk.
Byram said golfers currently drink and that allowing him to sell alcohol would at least give him a little control over alcohol consumption since he could refuse to sell beer or wine to those who appeared inebriated.
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.
Fortson is standing trial for the June 2000 death of her boyfriend, Doug Benton, whose body was found on an Oglethorpe County hunting preserve in a steel horse trough covered with concrete.
In his opening statement, Crecelius told the jury to pay close attention to the times and dates as the story is told. He said that evidence will dispute not only the probable time of death, but also the dates and times when Benton was known to be alive, and Fortsons own movements during the time of his disappearance.
This is the second trial for Fortson. She was convicted by a Madison County jury in July 2001. An appeal by Fortson was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial due to a legal technicality involving jury selection
Judge Lindsay Tise agreed to move the new trial at least 150 miles from Madison County. He made it clear that he wanted a jury that was not familiar with the case. At 200 miles, distant Effingham County filled the bill. As jurors were questioned Monday, March 22, in Springfield, almost all indicated that they had not heard of the case.
In his opening statement, District Attorney Bob Lavender detailed the case against Fortson. He described the at times argumentative relationship between Fortson and Benton, suggesting that Benton wanted to end the affair. He described how Fortson purchased the trough, the concrete and a shower curtain used to hide the body. He described efforts to burn Bentons home by pouring kerosene in the house and leaving burning candles behind. He indicated that expert witnesses would say that Fortson probably forged a note left on Bentons truck at a friends house, and that the bullet that killed Benton could have been fired from Fortsons gun.
Key to the prosecutions case is the tape used to post the note on the window of Bentons truck. The tape is similar to fingerprint tape used by law officers to lift fingerprints from crime scenes. Fortson was a deputy sheriff in Oglethorpe County for a number of months and would have had access to such tape.
Lavender described the discovery of the body on a hunting preserve in Oglethorpe County. He said that Fortson was an avid hunter and was familiar with the preserve.
He said that he would come back to the jury after the evidence had been presented to ask that Fortson be found guilty of all charges.
Crecelius countered by saying that his expert witness will say that Fortson did not forge the note, that the concrete residue in her truck could have come from any source, that thousands of rifle barrels could have fired the fatal round, and that an unidentified blood splatter in Bentons home was from some male other than Benton.
Crecelius told the jury that a sales slip from Wal-Mart that included a time and date conflicts with the prosecutions time line. He said that Fortson would take the stand to say that she saw Benton on June 5, after the proposed time of death, but he refused to talk to her.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.
IDA, Colonial contract on hold
The industrial development authority (IDA) plans to ink a deal with Colonial Pipeline for almost $1 million for water service to the Colbert Grove Church Road area off Hwy. 29, where the petroleum company contaminated deep well water with oil spills.
But that deal may be on hold, at least temporarily.
County commissioner Bruce Scogin told IDA members at their called meeting Monday morning that the BOC has not been adequately informed about the negotiations between industrial authority representatives and Colonial.
Industrial authority chairman Tom Joiner, non-voting IDA member Wesley Nash, the county commission chairman, and IDA secretary Marvin White have been meeting in unofficial, non-quorum settings with Colonial representatives in recent weeks to negotiate a possible deal on a water line to the contaminated Colbert Grove area with the IDA planning to use an estimated $950,000 in Colonial funds as part of a $1.7 million water system development project that would essentially link Madico Park, Colbert and Danielsville water systems.
Scogin urged the IDA to meet with the BOC before any deal was approved. Later that day, the BOC agreed to hold a work session with the IDA at 6:30 p.m. (today) Wednesday in the meeting room of the old county courthouse.
Id just like yall to explain this stuff to the BOC and not sign the contract until you do that, Scogin told the IDA.
IDA member Roger Tench told Scogin that the industrial authority could back away from the negotiations with Colonial and leave the matter to the BOC.
But Scogin responded that he felt the industrial authority is the proper group to negotiate a water deal with Colonial. However, he said he wanted the industrial authority to stop letting Colonial dictate the negotiations. He warned the authority that Colonial is a business that puts profits before people. The commissioner said he fears Colonial will fund a water line in the area and then wash their hands of the contamination they caused.
Colonial Pipeline admits to six petroleum spills around its booster station off Colbert Grove Church Road between 1966 and 1979. Benzene, a harmful contaminant that can cause leukemia, was discovered in deep, residential wells around the station in the mid 1990s, some 15 years after the last documented spill. Deep wells in the area still show benzene contamination. And the company has purchased over 20 pieces of contaminated land in recent years.
Scogin, the countys District 5 commissioner, spoke with disdain for Colonial Pipeline, saying that the company lies and doesnt play ball the way we do. He noted that there have been health problems in the Colbert Grove area and that he had asked Colonial representatives to meet with residents of the contaminated area to see if their health needs are being met. Scogin noted that a Colonial official had visited several homes, but when he questioned residents about the Colonial visit, they said the company representative didnt even ask about their health, but offered them a small pen and pad. He said this is an example of how the company is not concerned about residents of the area.
Scogin urged the IDA to insist on Colonial completely funding a 12-inch line directly to the contaminated Colbert Grove area.
I want them (Colonial) to pay for every red penny, said Scogin. If we can figure out the percentage of contamination that the residents of Madison County caused, then thats the percentage they (Madison County residents) should pay...This county did nothing to cause that contamination.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.
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Still obstacles ahead before county has animal control
The county does not have a dog catcher, not yet.
County commissioners clarified Monday that a recent vote to approve an animal control officer under the supervision of the code enforcement office does not mean the county will soon have someone to round up unruly animals.
The county has no animal control ordinance, only a state-mandated dangerous dog ordinance approved some 15 years ago. This ordinance allows counties to appoint someone to pick up dogs that have inflicted serious harm on a person without provocation.
The dangerous dog ordinance is not the same as an animal control ordinance in that it doesnt address dogs that prove a nuisance, such as those that roam neighborhoods and threaten walkers.
County commissioners say that they will work on developing an animal control ordinance in coming months.
In the meantime, they approved county code enforcement officer Jack Huff to oversee the dangerous dog ordinance, meaning that if a dog has bitten someone, he can be called. They agreed to provide him with any needed equipment and training to do that job.
MIMOSA DRIVE SOLUTION
In a separate matter Monday, the board agreed to allow chairman Wesley Nash to work out an arrangement to provide a gravel access road to Mimosa Drive, where residents have been inconvenienced by trains that stop in front of the dead-end road. Creating this road will also include installing a fence for one property owner in exchange for the right of way for the road.
A ONE-WAY HOPE THOMPSON LANE
The commissioners agreed Monday to move forward with plans to make Hope Thompson Lane a one-way road. The county school board requested that the commissioners drop that plan, contending that making the road a one-way street will cause more school traffic problems in Danielsville.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.