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We the People are tired of the negativity
I am already sick and tired of the political season. The campaigns so far are full of distortions, mudslinging and out right hatred. This is the kind of campaign that causes so many Americans to drop out of the process and not bother to vote at all.
From hanging chads to hacker Chad?
Remember hanging chads and the Florida cross-eyed vote counters? Oh, it was awful, wasnt it?
But if the Bush-Kerry battle is as close as the 2000 election, we could be in for an even greater election fiasco this year.
Raiders roar to second region title in three years
Madison Countys boys tennis team will hit the brand-new courts this week at the school sports complex with a future banner already secured for the new home court 2004 Region 8-AAAA Champions.
Sheriff asks for $1.9 million at BOC budget hearing
Budget hearings come to a close
The Banks County Board of Commissioners wrapped up budget hearings Thursday after hearing from 17 departments on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Planners to meet Tuesday
The Banks County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the courthouse in Homer.
Republican chair refuses to give candidate names
Oppenheimer cites anger at Herald editor
Jackson County Republican Party chairman David Oppenheimer refused Tuesday to release the names of local candidates who have qualified to run in the July 20 primary.
Water board asks for GBI probe of Britt
Illegal water meter found at commissioners property
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is being asked to investigate circumstances surrounding an illegal water meter discovered on a county water line that was feeding water into a barn on the property of county commissioner Stacey Britt.
The Madison County Journal
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PINWHEELS FOR PREVENTION
Child Protective Service caseworkers from the Danielsville DFACS office gather at the Pinwheels for Prevention display at their office recently. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the 87 pinwheels serve to remind the community of confirmed child abuse cases in the county in 2003. Pictured (L-R) are: CPS workers Shannon Jones, Stephanie Higdon, Donnie Morgan, Marlene Crocco, and DFACS director Rick Chamberlain.
Madison County's qualifying ended Friday at noon, setting the stage for six contested races this year.
Meanwhile, nine elected posts will include only one candidate.
Here's a look at the contested and uncontested county races:
BOC CHAIRMAN Five men are seeking the post of chairman of the Madison County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Republican Wesley Nash qualified for re-election, while four Democrats qualified for the post, including John Bellew, Melvin Drake, Burton "Chip" Chandler and Wendell Garrison Williams.
BOC DISTRICT 1 Incumbent Bill Taylor (D) will be challenged in November by either Cullen Wayne Douglas (R) or James Stanley Thomas (R).
BOC DISTRICT 2 Incumbent Johnny Fitzpatrick (D) will be challenged by John Pethel Sr. (R).
BOC DISTRICT 4 Either Wesley Jordan (R) or John Scoggins (R) will face Michael Conrad Sales (D) in November.
BOE DISTRICT 5 Incumbent Robert Buddy Fields will be challenged by Melissa Dawn Skipper in the non-partisan race for the school board's District 5 seat.
TAX COMMISSIONER Incumbent Louise Watson (D) will be challenged by Kathy Stamps (R).
BOC DISTRICT 3 Incumbent Michael Youngblood (D) will not be challenged for re-election as District 3 commissioner.
BOC DISTRICT 5 Incumbent Bruce Scogin (R) will not be challenged for re-election as District 5 commissioner.
BOE DISTRICT 3 Leslie T. Neil faces no opposition in the non-partisan race for the school board's District 3 post.
BOE DISTRICT 4 Incumbent James Howard Patton faces no opposition in the non-partisan race for the school's board's District 4 seat.
SHERIFF Incumbent Clayton Lowe (D) will not be challenged for re-election as county sheriff.
CLERK OF COURT Incumbent (D) Michelle Strickland will not be challenged for re-election as Clerk of Superior Court.
PROBATE JUDGE Incumbent Donald "Hoppy" Royston faces no opposition for re-election to the non-partisan post.
CORONER Incumbent Michelle Cleveland (D) faces no opposition for re-election.
SURVEYOR Incumbent J.R. Smith (D) faces no opposition for re-election.
The tangled web
Bitter county conflict includes computer controversy
Board of tax assessors chairman John Bellew filed the necessary paperwork this week to challenge Wesley Nash for the county commission chairmans seat in November.
He also turned in some other papers to county commissioners a two-page memo explaining why he feels Nash and county clerk Morris Fortson have stooped to evil and dirty politics.
Bellew has said that the chairman and clerk have unfairly targeted chief appraiser Rebecca Duncan, wrongly claiming that she has failed to adequately perform her job. Now Bellew says that Nash and Fortson have even gone so far as to tamper with key evidence related to a highly controversial firing in the assessors office.
Meanwhile, Nash and Fortson maintain that they arent interested in political games, that they havent compromised any evidence and that they are simply looking out for the financial well-being of the county.
The commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Madison County, said Nash. And when a problem arises and its brought to our attention, its our responsibility to investigate it.
STATE CALLED IN TO REVIEW
At the request of Fortson, the county commissioners voted earlier this month to ask for an investigation of the assessors department by a three-person committee appointed by the State Revenue Commissioner. The committee will review whether the tax assessors office is adequately assessing county properties. That review is expected to take about three days, but the county has yet to receive a review date from the state.
Fortson called for the review after he said he discovered numerous errors in the tax digest and found that values for recently sold properties were inflated when compared to land of long-time homeowners, meaning that new residents to the county are being unfairly taxed. He also said assessments have been about 25 percent too low and that the county government and school system could have significantly lowered their tax rates if land values were appropriately appraised.
But Bellew said Fortson is simply using minimal errors evident in any digest to validate a witch-hunt
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.
Preventing child abuse
Local DFACS workers are on the front lines
Kathy Seymour, Child Protective Services (CPS) supervisor for the Danielsville Department of Family and Childrens Services (DFACS) office, has seen it all since coming to work there in 1987.
But the biggest change in reports of child abuse, she says, is in those instances involving some type of parental substance abuse.
It is highly likely that substance abuse of some kind is going to be involved in most cases of child abuse or neglect that we see these days, Seymour said. And thats really sad.
A recent case involved a set of twins, a boy and a girl, who were born prematurely to a cocaine-addicted mother.
The children were sent to a neo-natal care unit at a hospital in Augusta and removed from their mothers custody. The mother left the area and did not attempt to see the children; they were her sixth and seventh.
None of the others were in her custody; the other five had either been taken by DFCS or were in the care of relatives.
The twin boy was later adopted, but the little girl was not so fortunate. After languishing in the neo-natal unit for six months, she died.
Seymour doesnt know where the mother is now.
She left the area and shes probably still using drugs, Seymour said.
For some, they (parents) just dont realize what it (drugs) can do to these babies...Then again, when youre addicted all you care about is the drugs, she said.
Another case from earlier on that stands out in her mind is that of a very young girl who was sexually abused by her mothers boyfriend. The girl had gone to school bleeding and in pain. The teacher discovered the childs injuries when she went to check on her in the school restroom. Law enforcement, medical, and DFACS officials were called in immediately and the abuse was discovered. The child was placed in a foster home and had to undergo several reconstructive surgeries as a result of the abuse. The mothers boyfriend was eventually found guilty of the crime.
You dont forget something like that, Seymour said.
DFACS has received an average of 30-35 calls about child abuse or neglect each month so far this year.
Of the calls investigated in 2003, 87 were substantiated (proven) to be abuse or neglect.
Besides dealing with the actual circumstances of seeing children that have been abused or not properly cared for, DFACS workers must deal with a common misconception.
A lot of people think DFACS is out to take their children when in fact, the opposite is true we do all we can to keep families together, Seymour emphasized. We want to help the families we work with by providing services and resources they might not otherwise have.
For example, CPS workers can provide a lot of intense, in-home care to the children, and their parents, using a variety of contracted
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.
Hats in the ring
Qualifying continues through Friday
Madison Countys political season officially began this week, with local candidates tossing their hats in the ring for various offices.
As of 10 a.m. today (Wednesday), 13 candidates had qualified with county elections superintendent and probate judge Donald Hoppy Royston, including Royston himself, who will seek re-election as probate judge in a non-partisan race.
Others who had qualified as of Wednesday morning include the following:
John G. Bellew, county commission chairman, Democrat.
Bill Taylor, BOC District 1, Democrat.
Stanley Thomas, BOC District 1, Republican.
Johnny Fitzpatrick, BOC District 2, Democrat.
John Pethel, BOC District 2, Republican.
Bruce Scogin, BOC District 5, Republican.
Michelle Strickland, Clerk of Court, Democrat.
Louise Watson, tax commissioner, Democrat.
Kathy Stamps, tax commissioner, Republican.
Robert Buddy Fields, school board District 5, non-partisan.
Clayton Lowe, sheriff, Democrat.
J.R. Smith, surveyor, Democrat.
Candidates have until noon, April 30, to qualify at the probate office at the county government complex.
For more information, call 795-6365.
Madison County voters will also choose two state senators and two state representatives for the Georgia General Assembly.
According to the Secretary of States website Wednesday morning, Republican Ralph Hudgens of Comer has qualified for re-election as State Senator for District 47, which includes most of Madison County.
Republican Renee Unterman of Loganville has qualified for re-election as State Senator for District 45.
Republican Jack Murphy of Cumming has qualified for re-election for the House District 23 seat, which includes the northern half of Madison County. Democrat Jonathan Flack has qualified to challenge Murphy.
Democrat Mike Barnes of Hampton has qualified for re-election as House Representative for District 78, which includes the southern half of Madison County.
Incumbent Northern Circuit District Attorney Bob Lavender, a Democrat from Elberton, has qualified for re-election. Chris NeSmith, a Democrat from Comer, has also qualified for the DA seat.
Northern Circuit Superior Court judges Lindsay A. Tise, Jr., Thomas L. Hodges and John H. Bailey, Jr. have all qualified for re-election. As of Wednesday, none of them faced opposition.
Dispute leads to battery charge for Comer Mayor
Comer Mayor William Billy Burroughs was charged with battery by the Habersham County Sheriffs Department April 17 after a dispute with his ex-wife and her husband in Clarkesville.
According to a report from the Habersham County Sheriffs Department, Burroughs and his ex-wife got into an argument because her current husband would not allow Burroughs to take their two children for the weekend.
According to the deputys report, the complainants said Burroughs snatched their two young children out of their car without permission. The ex-wife attempted to stop Burroughs from putting the children in his van. She alleges that the Comer mayor then grabbed her by the arm and held her against a parked vehicle.
The complainant also alleges that Burroughs shoved her down on the ground and shut the van door on her arm.
The deputy said Burroughs said he did make physical contact with his ex-wife, but only to defend himself.
Contacted Tuesday, the Comer mayor maintained that the charge does not at all reflect what really happened. Burroughs said he did not hit anyone and that he had been given permission to pick up his two kids from the house of his ex-wife and her husband. He said he is simply looking out for his kids, trying to make sure they are cared for appropriately. The mayor said he got his kids in his vehicle, then his ex-wife tried to stop him and that he pulled her arm back, but he said he did not strike her.
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To read more about the local events in
Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school
news, see this week's Madison County Journal.
County receives federal funds for fighting terrorism
Madison County emergency workers will hopefully never be called upon to respond to a local terrorist incident.
But a federal funding measure may help emergency workers provide more efficient response if such a catastrophe ever happens.
County 911 director David Camp informed county commissioners Thursday that Madison County has qualified for $186,570 in new equipment from a Domestic Preparedness Grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Office of Justice Programs.
The grant will help the county improve its emergency responder communications systems, providing $19,170 for the Emergency Medical Services, $95,450 for fire and rescue, $56,950 for law enforcement and $15,000 for the 911 center.
The county requested approximately $273,000 for communications upgrades, but fell some $87,000 shy of that mark. Camp said he was disappointed 125 tone-activated voice pagers for the fire and rescue services in the county for a total of $50,000 were not approved. The 911 center was also denied approximately $37,000 in requested items, including a GIS system, computer upgrades and printers.
Though the county didnt get everything requested, Camp said the federal funds will prove very helpful.
Madison County is extremely fortunate to be approved for the grant money, said Camp, who also noted the support of Johnny Bridges, Marc Perry, the sheriffs office, Dwayne Patton and the EMS and the BOC in attaining the grant.
Relay for Life set for this weekend
Madison Countys Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, April 30 and May 1, at the county recreation department in Danielsville.
The Survivors Tent opens at 5:30 p.m. with Relay activities beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the Survivor Lap around the track.
Organizers encourage the community to attend this important event.
Organizers say that those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.