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APRIL 21, 2004


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OPINIONS
Rochelle Beckstine
Good news for dog dieters: low-carb diet debut
There is good news for pooches with a few extra pounds: they, too, can jump on the low-carb bandwagon with an Atkins-inspired line of dog food by Pedigree. Pedigree Weight Loss Dog Food is 50 percent protein and guarantees to trim dog pounds by 10 percent over 12 weeks.

Jana Mitcham
Rites of passage
I came home recently to find my husband had a new silver razor on the counter in the bathroom. That sight took me back quite a few years to another silver razor and my initiation into the rites of leg-shaving.


SPORTS
Soccer team falls short
The Banks County boys soccer team defeated Franklin and Union counties last week.
The Leopards hosted Dawson County Tuesday night in the area semi-finals and fell, 1-6. The team’s overall record for the season was five wins, two losses and one tie.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Fletcher, Thomason to make re-election bid
Britt bows out in District 1 as Crow announces plans
In what is expected to be the most closely-watched political contest of the season, Jackson County Board of Commission chairman Harold Fletcher announced during Monday night’s BOC meeting that he would be running for re-election.

Historic Opera House To Be Open To Public Soon
If Robert and Ling House have their way, the old Commerce Opera House will again see live stage performances.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Third grade retention policy to hit home
New state mandate says all third graders must pass reading test
Madison County third graders who fail the reading portion of a standardized test this week could be forced to repeat third grade.

Share and share alike
A Madison County organ donor story
Like most couples with long marriages, George and Linda Kaye Holloman have shared a lot of living in their 32 years together — in some ways more than most.

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Rappelled down tower

The new fire tower in Baldwin is useful in providing experience in rappelling, useful for rescues down steep, deep ravines such as those found at area waterfalls and hiking trails. The fire academy is planning a visit to the tower to certify it for classes so firefighters have the opportunity to train closer to home rather than make the trip down to the academy’s training facility in Forsyth. The rappellers are Smiley Cragg and Mark Wade.


Dedication held for Baldwin fire tower
When firefighters respond to a call, they need to be able to size up the situation in a matter of seconds. Experience and training lead them to take command and deal with it.
Thanks to a group of businesses, individuals and legislators, and a lot of hard work by Baldwin firefighters, the residents of Baldwin, Alto and Banks County can sleep easier knowing their fire service has at its disposal the means to train for numerous situations that may arise.
The Baldwin Fire Department officially dedicated on Saturday the four-story training tower that has already provided over 200 hours of instruction in many different scenarios firefighters face in their day-to-day duties.
Mayor Mark Reed complimented the department saying: “These firefighters have done a great job putting all this together on their own time and without using a single penny of Baldwin tax money. They did it because they’re willing to make themselves better firefighters; to be ready for whatever they encounter.”
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson was instrumental in obtaining $12,000 from then-Gov. Roy Barnes’ discretionary fund.
Jamieson said: “This is a wonderful example of people and businesses and the state working together. I understand the tower has been valued at $65,000. The dedication of these firefighters and the town is impressive. This tower is impressive. The best part about it is that they don’t have to go off somewhere and train. They can do it here. I appreciate all that these firefighters do and understand the cost on their families as they answer calls at all hours of the day and night. We owe them thanks.”
Fire chief Joe Roy said: “As you know, the profession of firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world today. Whether it is going into a burning house, answering a hazardous material call, responding to a motor vehicle accident, or even the basic medical call, firefighters face many dangers. We rely on our training to help prepare us for what can happen or may happen on a call. This tower was constructed to help firefighters in the surrounding area to train and work on the skills needed to help us in our jobs.”
Roy then read from a plaque in the building acknowledging those who provided materials and supplies and labor to build the four-story structure with its network of underground tunnels.
The tower is a training facility that provides the opportunity for gaining experience in rappelling, high angle rescue, confined space rescue through a series of tunnels and manholes, rapid intervention rescue, rapid bail-out and numerous other scenarios firefighters may face.
Over the course of the morning, several simulations were carried out by Baldwin, Habersham County and Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution firefighters.
But, the tower is only one part of the long-term goal Roy hopes to achieve over the next few years. The site on Old Cornelia Highway eventually will house the new fire station, a burn building where actual fires can be set to teach different tactics in fire control, a hazardous materials site, a vehicle extrication site and a construction cave-in site.
Roy finds pride in the fact that the Georgia Fire Academy, located in Forsyth, has planned a site visit to approve the tower for high-angle rescue and rappelling so local firefighters can train close to home instead of making the long drive south.
“This complex is going to save lives and property,” he said. “All we want to do is get the most we can out of training so we can do our job and provide our community with the best fire service we can.”


Lula plans wastewater treatment plant expansion
The City of Lula has received preliminary approval from the environmental protection division to increase its wastewater treatment plant from 80,000 gallons per day to 400,000 gallons per day (gpd).
City manager Dennis Bergin went over the plan for the expansion at the city council meeting Monday and summed up the discussion that had taken place during a work session held last Thursday.
With growth along Highway 365 surging, the council decided to make plans to provide service for future industrial and business needs. Bergin said the city could gain up to 1,500 new customers with the recently increased sewer delivery service area.
He has been working with an engineering firm, Rindt-McDuff, to develop the initial plans to submit to the EPD for final approval at a cost of $10,000.
The cost of the $3.9 million expansion could be funded in part through an economic incentive grant from the department of consumer affairs.
He said the city had obtained verbal agreements for the plant site and right-of-way easements to run the sewer lines. As for the plant, it could be constructed in such a way that adding capacity would be relatively easy.
“Though we now have a permit for a facility that can handle 400,000 gpd, the plant could be constructed so that it could be expanded to handle a capacity of 2 million gpd in the future,” he said. “The current design allows for stream discharge and urban re-use. Discharged treated water could be used to water resident’s lawns or for golf courses.”
Bergin helped write the current code of urban re-use standards and is familiar with the requirements of the composition of such water.
But, to get to that point, he recommended the council officially designate the service delivery system area and try to estimate the revenue that could be generated for short and long term needs.
Mayor Milton Turner added that in recent meetings with the Hall County Board of Commissioners they indicated that as city boundaries expanded so could their service delivery area as long as it was not offered by another governmental agency. That means the city can annex new property and claim the area and be the service providers.
Bergin concluded saying: “Sen. Casey Cagle and Rep. Stacy Reece should be incorporated to assist in our endeavor. From an economic development stand-point, the city has to develop additional sewer capacity or lose control over quality development. The city will benefit by attracting a better clientele of retail and commercial businesses and raise the quality of homes built in the area.”
Water/sewer, solid trash abatement ordinances slated for up-dating
Council members also discussed changing certain fees pertaining to water and sewer connections and disconnects.
The council is proposing a cut-off fee of $100, $50 for water and $50 for sewer. A $35 one-time administration fee would be required when signing up for service. The deposits and fees would be due upon applying for service, which would then be connected within 24 hours.
Bergin said: “It’s not feasible for someone to come in the office at 4:45 p.m. and expect the crew to go there and get their water on. The city crews can’t be dropping important projects to go turn of water metes.
Water bills will be required to be paid by the 15th day if the month and all customers should get their bills not later than the 10th day if the month. Since every customer knows the bills are due, it is up to them to call if for some reason the bill failed to be delivered by that date.
Bergin added that a $10 fee would be imposed. If payment is not received by the 25th day of the month, service would be disconnected.
If a resident illegally turns water back on at the meter, the city crew will remove the meter. In such instances, the water thieves would have to pay $75 to reinstall the meter, $25 for the reconnection fee, and must pay the entire outstanding balance in full. Once paid, the city would reconnect service within 48 hours.
Residents have the right to appeal their bills to the council.
Garbage is to be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on Fridays for pick-up and cannot exceed 90 gallons per household.
The city will pick-up bulk loads at a cost of $125 to cover tipping fees at the landfill and labor costs.
On the second Monday of the month, yard debris will be hauled off for a 10-month period that includes peak periods during spring and fall. Branches can be no larger than six inches in diameter and six feet long.

 


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Residents protest more speed bumps
Several residents of Narramore Way appeared at Monday’s Lula City Council meeting to protest the planned installation of another speed bump on the road and the video taping of drivers done by resident Tony Whitfield.
Kenneth Griffin began by saying each driver of the road should have had a say in the installation of the existing five speed bumps on the three-quarter of a mile road.
“We all should have had a say in this, but we didn’t,” he said. “No one asked us to sign anything. I don’t believe it will help protect the kids. That’s up to proper parental supervision.”
Eddie Reeves added: “The problem is for the people who have to traverse all those speed bumps every day on our way out and back in. The residents at the beginnig of the road don’t have to go over them.
“Someone should have come and asked us for our opinion. As for the taping, a number of folks were put out by that tactic. My wife was videotaped. This could have been handled in a neighborly way rather than as a confrontation. We have to travel the full length of the road. We should have been considered. Besides if someone travels faster than 25 mph, there would be serious damage to the car.”
Reeves went on to say that the sheriff’s office and state patrol had checked out the road and did not find anyone speeding and thought the five existing speed bumps were enough.
“I think the $1,100 could be spent in a better way,” he said. “You can’t legislate child control. That’s up to the parents.”
Sharon Freeman told the council three of her vehicles had been damaged going over the speed bumps which she thinks are too high. Cars with a low chassis tend to scrape bottom no matter how slow they go over the bumps.
“To me, the issue isn’t the speeders, it’s kids in the roadway,” she said. “We do have a problem on the road with kids playing in the street.”
Nica Jardine claimed to have lost two vehicles to the speed bumps which ruined the undercarriages. She said other residents have had to trade in cars that sat low to the ground because of the speed bumps.
“We shouldn’t be penalized for something we aren’t doing,” she said. “I don’t speed.”
The opposing residents wanted to know if the council had told Tony Whitfield to tape the drives traversing the street.
Whitfield, who was present at the meeting, said the mayor had told him to video the drivers, but Mayor Milton Turner said he had not. He did tell Whitfield the video could be shown at a council meeting.
Whitfield said the additional speed bump (approved at last month’s meeting) was necessary to slow drivers down protect the children. He suggested the residents at the end of the road leave for work earlier and ease up on the accelerator.
City manager Dennis Bergin said the city could face a liability issue if the speed bumps damaged cars and that an incident could raise the city’s insurance rates.
He cautioned the council saying: “We could be setting a precedent by putting them in certain subdivisions. This may be something you want to have the developer do doing construction. The city should not be spending the money.”
He suggested the council set up a committee and review policy and re-consider the issue of speed bumps and how to handle installations. He also said the council should look into requiring better roads with less of a grade and slope that would alleviate the problem.
Councilman Lamb Griffin was the opposing vote at the meeting last month and is against speed bumps.
“We didn’t handle this right from the beginning,” he said.
Turner brought up the fact that under the LARP [local assistance road projects] DOT will not resurface roads unless speed bumps are removed. That costs the city money to remove them and then replace them.
Councilwoman Vicky Chambers agreed that everyone on the road should have contacted and the city needs a policy to deal with the issue.
The council voted to approve the $1,100 expense of installing the sixth speed bump, with Griffin and Chambers voting in opposition.
The council did approve holding off on approving any other installations until a policy could be formulated that everyone could live with.
In other business, the council:
•tabled the deannexation request of David White until the city attorney could determine if the city could do it without an act of legislation.
•discussed the intergovernmental agreement with Hall County to handle code enforcement.
•tabled a discussion n installing speed tables in Morgan Manor subdivision.
•approved evicting the Last Saints Church pastored by former councilman Perry Bridgeman from the city’s old library building to use as a sheriff’s precinct. The church will be given a written 30-day notice.
•approved scheduling a work session to be held at 11 a.m. on the Thursday prior to the third Monday, the day of the regular council meeting.