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APRIL 14, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Panther road trip to start against first place Red Raiders
The Jackson County baseball squad has its work cut out for it this week.
Beginning today at Madison County, the Panthers will face three of the top five teams in the region standings, all on the road, in the span of a week.

Dragons remain in region hunt
As far as region games go, Friday’s showdown with first place Athens Academy will be the biggest to date for the Jefferson baseball team. And it appears the Dragons know it.
After struggling with a pesky Towns County team to win 7-6 in eight innings on a miserable Tuesday night, the Dragons (12-5, 7-3) made it past their potential “look-ahead” game and came out on top.

Still Looking For Momentum
Diamond Tigers Drop Non-Region, Region Contests During The Past Week
The Commerce baseball team (4-11, 3-6) experienced some erratic results this past week in its quest to get its season back on the right track.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Road named for Garrison
DOT honors Buster Garrison at ceremony Mon. in Homer
The Homer Bypass in Banks County was officially dedicated by the Georgia Department of Transportation on Monday as the M.E. ‘Buster’ Garrison Bypass.

Qualifying coming up for county offices
Dates set April 26-30
Qualifying for several Banks County offices will be held from 9 a.m. on Monday, April 26, through noon on Friday, April 30.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Let’s play ball!
Opening day of youth baseball, softball set for Saturday
Have the gloves been broken in?
Have the eyes been trained to watch the ball meet the bat?
Are infielders dreaming of diving backhanded grabs in the dirt?
Let’s hope, yes, to all of the above.

Madison County BOC adds member to tax board
Tax assessor chairman, chief appraiser write letters to the editor concerning ongoing conflict.
Madison County commissioners added a member to the county board of assessors following a brief closed meeting Monday.

Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga

A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

Order this book online

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REPRESENTS CHILD ABUSE

During April, which is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Jackson County Department of Family and Children Services is participating in Prevent Child Abuse. Georgia’s “Pinwheels for Prevention” program raises awareness of the state’s abused children and encourage communities to get involved in prevention activities. One colorful pinwheel for every child affected by abuse or neglect in Jackson County is displayed on the square in Jefferson. Shown putting the pinwheels in place are: Andrew Wheeler (L) and Dave Clippard (R) of the Jefferson Parole Office.


Pat Bell to run for chairman of BOC
Former state representative will run as Republican candidate
Pat Bell has announced her intentions to run for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. She will run as a Republican and likely face incumbent chairman Harold Fletcher in the July balloting.
Bell is a former member of the BOC and a former state representative.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University and was employed for 30 years as a University of Georgia Extension Service agent, 23 years as director in Jackson County. Bell also served on the Upper Oconee Basin Authority.
Bell has received numerous honors and awards, including the Chamber of Commerce leadership award, 4-H Agent of the Year for the state, Martin Luther King Award, UGA Kellogg Fellow and UGA Community Public Service Award.
Bell and her husband, John, have one son, Greg, and one granddaughter, Hannah Bell.


JCWSA opposes HB 489 ‘erosion of service area’
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority voted 3-1 Thursday night to issue a notice of its opposition to the erosion of its service area under House Bill 489 service delivery negotiations.
In theory, the move could lead to a legal showdown between the authority and the board of commissioners, who propose granting Arcade water and sewer service territory at the expense of the authority.
In reality, however, the 3-1 vote will likely be reversed in July, when the county commissioners are expected to replace members Elton Collins and Dean Stringer, who voted for the motion, with more commissioner-friendly appointees.
The issue is the dilution of the authority’s territory without input from the authority. Representatives of the various governments will meet Thursday at 5 p.m. in the grand jury room to review the changes. It is not clear if the authority will have a representative.
Following a 32-minute closed session Thursday night, Warren Walker, authority chairman, outlined the issues.
According to Walker, representatives of the municipal governments in Jackson County, plus the county government, met to review “service delivery” arrangements as spelled out by House Bill 489. The measure is designed to prevent the duplication of public services and is subject to periodic reviews.
The authority was denied a presence at the meeting, Walker said, where county manager Al Crace represented the county’s interests – and supposedly those of the authority, although the authority and board of commissioners have been greatly at odds for more than a year.
Having Crace speak for the authority amounts to the de facto takeover of the authority by the county government, Walker intimated, in spite of the fact that the authority is a legally constituted government entity under the state constitution.
In that capacity, Crace signed off on changes that would allow Arcade to develop water and sewer systems in territory previously assigned to the water and sewerage authority. Currently, the authority serves Arcade with water and the entire city is in the authority’s water and sewer service areas as set forth in an intergovernmental agreement reached in 1999.
Walker also pointed out that in the forms Crace filled out delineating the changes, he marked “No” in response to the question: “In developing the strategy, were the overlapping service areas, unnecessary competition and/or duplication of this service identified?” Crace also responded “No” each time to the question, “Is this (the person completing the form) the person who should be contacted by state agencies when evaluating whether proposed local government projects are consistent with the service delivery strategy,” but in the following box, gave his name and telephone number as the “designated contact person.”
Arcade has been pressing for the right to develop its own water and sewer systems as a means of “controlling our destiny,” in the words of Mayor Doug Haynie. The authority has resisted, expressing fear that any erosion of its customer base would affect its finances and hurt its ability to repay the debt service on the Bear Creek Reservoir.
Arcade sees the potential for attracting commercial and industrial growth if it can offer water and sewer services to developers, something it must now go before the cash-strapped authority to accomplish. Unable to get commitments from the authority, Arcade decided to press for water and sewer territories through the HB 489 process.
The proposed changes would create a new water purchase agreement between Arcade and the authority, in effect making the authority a wholesaler of water to Arcade. The problem, the authority’s engineers have reported in the past, is that the switch will be expensive because there will need to be so many master meters due to the layout of the system. All of the authority’s water from the Bear Creek Reservoir passes through Arcade. The proposed change grants Arcade the right to collect wastewater, but does not spell out who will treat it. Presumably, that would be the authority.
“If Arcade collects it, how do we certify that they meet our pre-treatment standards?” asked Gene Carlson, the authority’s sewer superintendent.
“Jackson County will have to do it,” replied Collins. “We won’t have anything to say about it.”
Members Walker, Collins and Stringer voted for the motion to protest the change; Wanda David voted against the motion and Clay Dale was not present.


Jefferson calls for July 20 bond referendum for recreation complex
Bond to be $7 million for first phase of $10-12 million project
Jefferson voters will go to the polls on July 20 to determine whether plans proceed with a $7 million recreation project for the city.
The Jefferson City Council voted Monday night to hold a bond referendum for recreation on July 20. The referendum is for up to $7 million for the first phase of the recreation complex project. The entire project will cost an estimated $10-$12 million.
The city purchased 100 acres last year on Old Pendergrass Road and Old Swimming Pool Road for the recreation complex. The first phase includes a community building with two gymnasiums, multi-purpose fields that can be used for football, soccer and other sports, baseball/softball fields and trails and walkways. The first phase would also include the roads, parking lots, lights, batting cages, fences and bleachers.


Arcade council agrees to in-car cameras for police
In the near future, any traffic stop an Arcade police officer makes will be recorded on video tape.
The Arcade City Council voted Monday night to purchase six Eagleye in-car video system cameras at $3,380 each to be installed in the city’s patrol cars. With a two-year warranty and installation costs, the total for the cameras is $22,980, which the council agreed to pay outright.
Council member Dean Bentley suggested that the use of such cameras would be for the good of both officers and citizens.
“This has been an issue for several years,” he said. “This will be proof of what exactly goes on. We need to go ahead and bite the bullet.”
Bentley pointed out that the council hadn’t actually budgeted for the cameras, but city clerk Barbara Kesler said that the budget to date is better than expected and that the cameras can be capitalized. In his financial report, Bentley had announced that the year-to-date budget for the city was $55,000 “to the good.”
The council saw a demonstration of the cameras when Angel Capo, a representative for Eagleye based in Rome, and Lloyd Chester, representing Motorola’s Mobile Communications, attended its March meeting. Motorola will install the cameras and train officers in their use.
Capo explained at the March meeting that the camera is located in the trunk of the police car and is locked in a vault so the videotape can’t be altered.
“Officers can’t get to it, but the police chief can buy a device to access it,” she said. “(The camera) marks the tape between stops. They can review it, but they can’t tape over it.”
Locally, Jefferson Police Department is one of Eagleye’s customers.
POLICE REPORT
In other police matters, Chief Dennis Bell gave the March report, which included: 20,360 miles patrolled; 24 felony arrests; 30 misdemeanor arrests; 32 assists to other departments; 67 calls; 66 incident reports; three wrecks – one resulting from speed and two from inattentive drivers; and 33 miscellaneous reports.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, Chief Bell told the council on behalf of his department that their work is appreciated.


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City Police To Focus On‘Suppression’ Of Drug Trade
With cooperation from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, good intelligence, unspecified equipment from the U.S. Army and the involvement of local citizens, the Commerce Police Department expects to see “a significant reduction in drug activity in our community.”
So stated Police Chief John Gaissert to the Commerce City Council Monday night shortly after the council voted to terminate its contract with the Piedmont Northern Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad for drug undercover work.
The motion to terminate the $12,000 per year contract was made by Councilman Bob Sosebee and seconded by Archie D. Chaney Jr.
The plan is to work with the sheriff’s office on drug operations and to hire an additional investigator dedicated to drug operations, city officials say.
Chaney warned that he expects results.
“If they need the manpower, I’m for it, but I’d like to go on the record, if they don’t (get results), I’ll come back,” Chaney said.
Gaissert stressed the importance of a “good partnership with the community” in the suppression of drugs. As part of that effort, the department will begin a “citizens’ police academy” later this month. It also has a drug tip hotline and “good sources of intelligence,” Gaissert said.
“I’ve got preliminary approval from the army for some specialized equipment we need,” the chief said. Asked later about the equipment, Gaissert declined to comment.


Pendergrass subdivision might have 321 lots
Plans call for twice as many houses as approved
A subdivision approved for 114 houses in Pendergrass now could have 321 lots, thanks to the availability of sewer lines.
In January, the Pendergrass City Council approved an annexation and rezoning request for a 114-lot subdivision located on the Pendergrass Bypass (U.S. Hwy. 129). The property is 151.6 acres and is owned by Keith Hayes.
But, the current development company, Pinnacle Land Investments, LLC, is now seeking 321 lots, since the property is located near a planned sewer line. The development company is seeking a variance for smaller lots.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority plans to have sewer lines available to the area in mid-summer 2005, said Gina Mitsdarffer, director of planning and development for the Quad Cities Planning Commission.
The property, which is located next to an industrial site being developed by Chuck Titshaw, was once part of the R.H. McEver Sr. estate.
A Development of Regional Impact (DRI) study has to be completed by state officials prior to the QCPC hearing the request.
The QCPC is expected to hear the request on May 18.