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MAY 12, 2004


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OPINIONS
Zach Mitcham
Father-son relationship a factor in war decision
Few things cut to the soul as much as a person’s relationship with their dad. That’s true of little kids and adults alike. Every son wants approval from his pop.

Angela Gary
What Would Mama Do?
I’m sure you’ve all seen those bracelets and T-shirts with “WWJD” (or What Would Jesus Do?) on them. I have to admit that phrase does pop into my mind as I think about how to handle difficult situations.


SPORTS
Athletes receive awards at spring banquet
A spring sports banquet was held Tuesday night at the Banks County High School auditorium.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC chairman accused of 74 ethics violations
The state ethics commission has decided it will hold a formal hearing to discuss allegations that Jackson County Board of Commission chairman Harold Fletcher failed to disclose his interest in several businesses and properties.

New Owner
After 72 Years, Jay’s Department Store Is Under New Ownership
Terry Minish Purchases Jay’s Stock,
For the first time since it opened in 1932, Jay’s Department Store in Commerce is under new ownership.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
State investigation to begin Tuesday
Three-day inquiry will focus on tax assessor’s office
A three-person team of out-of-county tax appraisers will visit the Madison County government complex for three days next week to assess the assessors.

Industrial authority expects rapid growth for Hull water system
Madison County’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) expects demands on its Hull water system to double in the next few years.
At an IDA meeting last Wednesday morning, authority secretary Marvin White said the Hull water system now serves over 200 customers and uses 70,000 gallons of water per day.

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Sack Race

Makayla Rylee hops in a sack hoping to help her class win the race during the second grade field day held at the middle school on Tuesday. Rylee was racing for Ms. Dodd’s class.


New BCMS to be completed soon
Moving day set May 21
The new Banks County Middle School will open its doors to students when classes resume in August.
A report on the progress of the new facility was given at the Banks County Board of Education meeting Monday night. Faculty, students and staff at the current middle school have planned a “moving day” for May 21 to allow everyone to tour the new school, according to middle school principal Gloria Gabriel.
In a construction report released at the meeting, progress at the new middle school is as follows:
•ceiling grid to be complete on May 11.
•brick is 100 percent complete.
•elevator is 95 percent complete.
•septic tank is 100 percent complete.
•VCT complete except in the basement.
•sidewalks are 90 percent complete.
•gym floor has been started.
•casework to be complete by week of May 24.
•carpet installed in areas A,C and D.
•glazed tile to start May 12.
•75 percent of kitchen equipment is onsite.
Superintendent Chris Erwin said he was very impressed with the quality of the work, how fast the construction is being completed and the fact that the project is still on budget.
Also in construction news, footings and electrical underground is 100 percent complete at the primary school. The plumbing underground is expected to be complete by the end of the week and steel erection will begin this week for the classroom addition.
For the cafeteria addition, footings will be complete by Wednesday, May 12.
PROGRAM REPORT
In other business, a report was given on special education programs. Debbie Bruster, special education teacher at the middle school, explained some of the community-based projects she does with students, which include teaching students to behave in public by taking them to restaurants and teaching them to work in the school.
Rosemary Williams and Theo Bracewell, special education teachers from the high school, spoke about community-based instruction programs. Programs conducted at the high school include a visit to the Roosevelt Institute in Warm Springs. The group also works in businesses around the community, goes grocery shopping once a week, learns to cook and bowls at a local alley to learn math skills. They also run the school store.
Bracewell helps students with senior transitions into the work force or technical school.
Also at the meeting, Mike Beasley, finance director, showed the board preliminary numbers for the 2005 school year. He said amounts are unofficial.
“This is a first impression of what we will have to work with, but it is something for us to start working with,” Beasley said.
Preliminary numbers show a larger cut in state QBE funding. Last year, the school system was asked to return $256,175. This year, they may have to return $549,473, according to the allotment prepared by Beasley.
The school system will begin next year with $313,420 less than it had for the 2003-2004 school year from the state of Georgia, which may put a larger burden on local taxpayers. Tentatively, the 2005 QBE allotment is $8,752,012.
In other financial news, Beasley said SPLOST is right where it should be and that accounts are favorable. Total school spending is 83 percent through the year.
“We’ll keep stretching our dollars, we didn’t have to borrow any money in April and hopefully we won’t need any in May,” he said.
Attendance and enrollment reports from last month were released. Overall, enrollment is down from 2,509 to 2,399 students from the beginning of the school year. Average attendance for last month was 93 percent.

Alto raises commercial water rate
The Alto City Council voted Tuesday to increase the commercial water rate from $2.50 to $2.75 per 1,000 gallons over the base rate of $15.
The city is losing income when it has to buy water from the City of Demorest to supplement the growing demand, according to officials. Demorest charges a $40 base rate plus $2.80 per 1,000 gallons used. In January alone, the city’s bill due to Demorest was $3,500.
Council members Donald Wade, John Closs, Phil Lomax, Gary Terrill and Patricia Barlo-Ivry felt it was time to make up the difference, so they added the cost that was not being absorbed by the city.
Barlo-Ivry said she would support a higher hike, to $3.25 cents per extra additional 1,000 gallons. When time for the vote came, the raise to $2.75 was approved 4-1, with Barlo-Ivry in opposition.
On another water-related issue, Turner said she was unable to locate any documentation or the deed to the one-acre lot and easement on the Blalock property purchased a few years ago. The council is preparing to sell the property since the city has found two other more productive sources of water to supplement the system.
A resident who runs a mobile home park on Nix Road brought water quality concerns to the council’s attention. Water coming out of the taps was reportedly discolored causing damage to tubs and sinks.
Turner said the problem most often occurs when Mount Vernon Mills “pulls a load” and that shocks the city’s system. The plant can pull as much as 200 gallons a minute.
Lomax added residue builds up in the lines and comes loose during such events.
Wade said the high content of manganese reacts with chlorine and settles out as a solid that can coat the water lines and can cause the “muddy-looking” water. He also suggested the water could become muddy or cloudy during a major rain event that affects the underground aquifers of the wells.
The council discussed installing an above-ground water tank to serve the mill and the city to help prevent shocking the system.
To prevent the continuing theft of water, the council voted to place 11 locks on hydrants. Three are to be placed on Crane Mill Road and eight on Cedar Creek Road.
In other business:
•Habersham County sheriff Rick Moore was asked to come to the meeting to discuss more patrols by county deputies. Turner said there were problems with teenagers congregating at the post office, the store, and city hall late at night. Moore explained he had only four deputies on each shift covering the entire county. He said he would try to get a deputy to patrol the streets two or three times a night to discourage gathering. Barlo-Ivry said the teenagers were congregating because they had nothing to do. She said the town has an obligation to provide activities to keep the teenagers off the streets.
•the council iscussed the annexation of 86.95 acres on B.C. Grant Road requested by owners Jerry L. Barron and Larry D. Franklin. Kim Christopher, the realtor handling the sale of the acreage, said developers are interested in purchasing the property to build 100 to 120 homes in the $150,000 range. A portion of the property is considered a flood plain. The subdivision would also have to install a septic system since Alto has no sewer system. Closs said the city required one-acre lots and he would not be in favor of reducing lot size. The developers hope to have a concrete plan for the council by the June meeting.
•Barlo-Ivry requested the council be paid for travel to mandatory training. Turner said the city picked up the tab for hotels during the recent seminars the council members attended. She added being a council representative was a volunteer public service job. The subject will be discussed at the meeting next month.


Lula Railroad Days ahead this weekend
The Lula Area Betterment Association has announced plans for the 28th annual Lula Railroad Days.
The festival will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 14, and from 10 a.m. until dark on Saturday, May 15. Friday’s festivities will kick off with a cake walk.
The annual parade will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday. There will be entertainers featured throughout the day on Saturday.

BOC approves rezoning for pottery shop
Plans for a retail pottery and gift shop on Hwy. 441 North got the green light Tuesday night after the Banks County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning for the project.
The BOC unanimously approved a request from Carter Stewart to rezone two acres on the new Hwy. 441 North from Agricultural Rural Residential to C-1 for the business. Stewart spoke on his plans at the BOC meeting Tuesday night. No one spoke in opposition to the request.
In other planning business, the BOC approved:
•a rezoning application from Mercer Dalton to rezone 206.22 acres on Wynn Lake Road from ARR to Commercial Agricultural Development for an existing farm. No changes are planned for the use of the property.
•a rezoning application from Evelyn G. Dalton to rezone 136.29 acres on Dalton Circle from ARR to CAD for an existing farm. No changes are planned for the use of the property.
•an application from Chuck Walls to rezoning 363 acres on Hwy. 52 from ARR to CAD for an existing hog farm. Walls said the land had been used for a hog farm for over 30 years and it was in his best interest to rezone the property commercial.
•a variance request from Sarah and Charles Cross to reduce setbacks for a poultry house on Hwy. 105.

 


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BOC approves water restrictions
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved outdoor water restrictions Tuesday night that are in-line with state guidelines for water use.
The restrictions call for residents with odd-numbered addresses to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Those with even-numbered addresses will be allowed to use outdoor water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
These restrictions are only for county water. They do not apply to private wells.
The first offense for those who violate the guidelines will be a warning. The second offense will be a $15 fine. The third offense will be a $200 fine and water service will be cut off.


Homer citizens ask council for Evans Street speed-breaker at church
A member of Homer First Baptist Church appeared before the Homer City Council Tuesday night to ask the council to put two speed breakers on Evans Street.
Donnie Smith said that people are driving faster than the 25 miles per hour speed limit on Evans Street, which is where the church is located.
“It’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” Smith said. “ I don’t want to see any child hit and drug down that hill.”
City council member Betty Borders, who also attends the church, also spoke on the need for the speed breakers.
“Drivers don’t always obey that 25 miles per hour speed limit,” she said. “I’ve seen some near misses...I think a speed breaker would help because they would have to stop or slow down.”
Mayor Doug Cheek said the city would get information on the costs of placing the speed-breakers on the road and other options to help stop the speeders.
There was some discussion on reports that the Georgia Department of Transportation no longer places speed-breakers on state roads because of the liability issue. It was reported that the state had been sued by people who were injured or damaged their cars because of speed-breakers.
“We need to come up with something and get it done,” Smith said. “We don’t want to see children get drug down that road.”
In other business, the city council:
•learned that the engineer is looking over plans for the new city hall. Cheek said bids for the project will possibly be taken in two weeks.
•heard that all of the rights-of-way needed for the Thompson Street improvement project have been acquired. The paperwork will now be sent to the board of commissioners. Cheek said he hopes the county will begin work on the project as soon as possible.
•learned that several board appointments made by the board will be ending on June 30. They include: Ken Stansell and Swayne Faulkner, planning committee; Doug O’Neal and Faye Reynolds, code enforcement board; Martha Crane, library board; and Sandra Garrison, Georgia Mountains Regional Development board of directors. These appointments will be made at the June council meeting. Everyone except for Stansell has agreed to serve again if re-appointed.
•learned that a meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, at the old courthouse to discuss a $500,000 federal grant the town has received. The council will seek input on how the funds should be send on a downtown improvement project. The money must be spent for “transportation enhancement.” Money in other towns has been used for sidewalks, landscaping and underground utilities.
•learned that a planning committee meeting will be held on Thursday, May 17, to hear a rezoning and annexation request for Hammer’s Glen. The city council will hear the request at its June 8 meeting.
•discussed replacing the water line under Hwy. 441. Cheek said this would be funded with special purpose local option sales tax money and he would look into how much money is available for the project.