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Commerce Football Team Tries To Get Rid
Of The Rust With The Start Of Spring Practice
Approximately 55 kids showed up for works outs this past Monday for the Commerce football team as it kicked off its spring football practice session.
Let the Games begin
Host Dragons hope to be in Class A title
contention this week
When the states best boys track and field athletes converge
on Jeffersons Memorial Stadium this week, the hometown
Dragons hope to be in contention for the Class A state crown
which eluded them last year.
Lady Panther season
ends at state tournament for first time ever
No matter what, the Jackson County girls
golf team knew their season was going to come to an end on Monday
at the Class AAAA state tournament.
New BCMS to be
Moving day set May 21
The new Banks County Middle School will open its doors to students
when classes resume in August.
BOC approves water
The Banks County Board of Commissioners
approved outdoor water restrictions Tuesday night that are in-line
with state guidelines for water use.
to begin Tuesday
Three-day inquiry will focus on tax assessors
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.
expects rapid growth for Hull water system
Madison Countys 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.
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
Order this book online
The Jackson Herald
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
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® Copyright 2002
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
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Copyright / Terms / Privacy
AT BUS WRECK SCENE
Law enforcement, emergency workers,
school officials and staff, parents and students are shown at
the scene of an accident involving a Jackson County school bus
Tuesday on New Kings Bridge Road.
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.
The ethics commission alleges that Fletcher violated 74 counts
of the Ethics in Government Act between 2000 and 2004. No date
has been set for the hearing.
Fletcher was offered a settlement to pay a $7,000 fine and admit
guilt for the alleged violations, but he said he turned down
My interpretation from that that speaks to the weakness
of their case, Fletcher said Tuesday. I have provided
the information to the proper authorities, when I had the proper
interpretation. I have no reason to hide anything and I invite
anybody to go up to the courthouse and look at it.
According to the commission, Fletcher supposedly didnt
report his fiduciary relationship with an entity on 29 occasions,
failed to report a direct interest in an entity on 24 occasions
and failed to report property of a net value of more than $20,000
on 21 occasions.
Fletcher wasnt present for Mondays brief preliminary
hearing, which was held at the Douglas County courthouse. But
during an interview at The Jackson Herald office on Tuesday,
the commission chairman said the allegations stem from a misunderstanding
of the state law.
This is an ongoing thing, that has its basis in the fact
that I failed through a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation
of the guidelines to report five, inactive corporations,
he said. When I say inactive, it means theres been
no activity for quite some time.
Theodore Lee, executive secretary of the state ethics commission,
said Monday that Fletcher failed to file or complete a series
of financial disclosure statements.
The financial disclosure statement (requirement) is designed
to lay potential or actual sources conflict of interest before
the public on a timely basis, Lee said.
Fletcher said he filed his 2000 financial disclosure statements,
but the documents were apparently lost.
Fletcher filed an amendment of his financial disclosure statement
three weeks ago, which includes all of his fiduciary positions,
direct ownership interests in businesses and property holdings.
Twelve companies are listed, with five classified by Fletcher
The active companies Fletcher identified are: Piedmont
Realty Services, Inc.; First Piedmont Financial Services, Inc.;
Quality Home Investment, Inc., Tower Realty, Inc. and Cave Springs
Baptist Church, where he is a deacon. Fletchers interests
in Pharo Enterprise, Inc., were transferred to his two sons on
He lists a self-directed IRA account as active, although a third
party trustee handles profits from the sale of properties performed
through the account.
My only involvement in this is to determine when and what
to buy or sell. I get to see no money, he said. The
trustee wires the money to the attorneys, and the attorneys,
in turn, when I sell, wires the money back to them.
Fletcher named the inactive companies as: Diversified
Properties, Arcade Realty, Inc.; First Fletch Financial Services,
Inc.; Properties Unlimited, Inc. and Fletcher and Associates
Phillip Davis, a Pendergrass resident who filed the initial allegations
against Fletcher last year, said the commission chairman also
failed to report property transactions.
Davis said he found 231 deeds in Fletchers name or his
self-directed IRA listed at the Jackson County Courthouse from
January 1, 2000 to May 5, 2004.
Besides the properties in Jackson County, Fletcher owns land
in Banks, Greene and Emanuel counties.
Ive owned property in just about every county in
Northeast Georgia over the years, Fletcher said.
He said the reason that he didnt include many of those
properties in his initial financial disclosure statement was
that state law allows any property valued at $20,000 or less
to be exempt. The exemption applies to property identified by
the tax assessors value as $20,000, minus any indebtedness,
I might have a million dollar piece of property that I
owe $990,000 on that is not required to be reported,
Fletcher said once he learned that additional properties needed
to be included in his financial disclosure statement, he provided
a complete list of all of his properties.
Every last piece of property that I own, that my IRA owns,
is on those documents, he said. His IRA has more than 100
properties, some worth almost half a million dollars.
I am probably the most investigated, the most researched
county commissioner that has ever been in office, Fletcher
said. And for them to only be to find something as frivolous
as this, that really says something.
Davis said after Mondays preliminary hearing that his investigation
into Fletchers past stems from a property transaction of
a friends parcel, which is located on the site of the planned
Toyota plant in Pendergrass.
Davis said county officials and the owner of Valentine Farms
harassed Roxie Gaines into selling her land and mobile
home to make way for the Toyota plant. Davis contends the sale
of her property was illegal and the reason he targeted Fletcher
was his name was on the check.
County attorney Daniel Haygood wrote in a April 3, 2003 letter
to senior assistant attorney general Kathryn Allen that Davis
appears to want to prove that some type of conspiracy theory
existed to deprive Ms. Gaines of her property. Haygood
added that some of Davis activities related to his investigation
have begun to diverge into the territory of harassment.
Fletcher said he feels confident that he will win his case at
the formal hearing, which hasnt been scheduled by the state
Were going to defend this vigorously, he said.
Fletcher will also be working on his re-election campaign at
the same time.
I do apologize to the people of this county that I failed
to properly interpret the requirements of those documents,
Fletcher said. And Im sorry for any embarrassment
that it might have caused, but it was an honest error, on my
man says Fletcher misled him about Toyota project in 2002 discussion
A Gwinnett County man said this week that
Jackson County Board of Commission chairman Harold Fletcher attempted
to lead him to believe in 2002 that the $60 million Toyota plant
would not be built in Jackson County.
Ron Peavey, Buford, submitted a two-page letter to the state
ethics commission last week describing what he called an unethical
abuse of power by Fletcher during a discussion about real
estate in the I-85 area north of Jefferson.
Peavey owns a 15-acre tract of land near the M.A.C.I./Toyota
project that he purchased several years ago as an investment.
In his letter, Peavey states that Fletcher indicated to him in
mid or late 2002 that the Toyota project was on hold
and that a key part of the project, Concord Road, would never
be built. According to Peavey, Fletcher referred to Concord Road
as the Waddell road, saying that road was the idea
of former county commission chairman Jerry Waddell and that it
would not be completed. The proposed road turns off Hwy. 129
next the QT store just north of I-85 in Jefferson.
Fletcher and Waddell are political foes whose relationship has
been at the center of several BOC efforts to take over the county
water authority, where Waddell is superintendent. Fletcher reportedly
wants Waddell fired from the position.
But Fletcher denied the allegations in a Wednesday interview,
saying he didnt remember meeting with Peavey.
I dont remember meeting with Mr. Peavey, said
Fletcher. I meet with a lot of folks. I would never tell
anybody that something was not going to happen, particularly
a project like Toyota. I have been intimately involved with this
project from the get-go. I dont know what Mr. Peavys
gripe is but apparently he has an ulterior motive from the get-go.
Mr. Peavy is making some allegation that he cant substantiate.
I have been supportive of the Toyota project from the get-go.
Fletcher also said that Peavey might be in cahoots
with Philip Davis, the Pendergrass man who filed with the state
ethics commission over Fletchers real estate dealings (see
Fletcher also predicted that there would be other allegations
in the coming months and that most would be connected to the
Concerned Citizens of Jackson County group which sued the BOC
over the financing of the new courthouse. That suit is awaiting
a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Over the course of the next few months, you are probably
going to find several people who are going to come out of the
woodworks with unfounded allegations, said Fletcher. For
the most part, they are directly or indirectly related to the
Concerned Citizens of Jackson County. It is unfortunate that
we have to deal with something like this.
The development of Concord Road has come under much behind-the-scenes
discussion in the last year after Fletcher reportedly indicated
to other people that the road would not be built. However, the
BOC committed to build part of the road as one of the conditions
set in 2002 to lure the $60-$100 million Toyota facility. So
far, however, no work, other than engineering plans, has been
done on the road.
Peavey attended Mondays hearing in Douglasville before
the state ethics commission where other allegations against Fletcher
were discussed, but he did not speak at the hearing (see other
The 2002 meeting between Peavey and Fletcher, which took place
at Fletchers real estate firm, Tower Realty in Jefferson,
was apparently a chance encounter. Peavey said that following
the July 2002 announcement of the Toyota project, he began to
receive inquiries about selling his 15-acre tract, which is located
near the property purchased by Toyota.
Peavey said he wasnt anxious to sell the land in 2002,
but had set up an appointment with a real estate agent from Tower
Realty to discuss the potential for the land.
While waiting for the agent to arrive, Peavey said he had conversation
with Fletcher and another man he believes was Fletchers
When asked what he wanted for his land, Peavey said Fletcher
chuckled at his asking price.
Harold asked me how much I was looking to ask for my land,
wrote Peavey. I explained that I was in no hurry to sell
and that I would not let it go for anything under $25,000 per
acre. Harold chuckled.
Peavey said that both men then indicated that the Toyota project
was on hold and quoted them as saying That
road (Concord Road) over there aint coming.
He (Fletcher) wasnt specific when he used the word
canceled, but we were discussing the Toyota project
at the moment, wrote Peavey. I brought up how all
of this was news to me.
Peavey said in a Tuesday interview that although he doesnt
live in Jackson County, he had kept up with county politics through
the newspaper. He had not read of the project being canceled,
so he was concerned to hear that information from Fletcher.
Peavey said that during the meeting, he figured out the man Harold
he was talking with was the chairman of the BOC, whom he had
read about, but that Fletcher never revealed his public position
during the discussions.
I just dont think he knew I knew who he was,
Peavey said during an interview Monday.
Peavey also said that the two men told him that the land on the
North side of I-85, where Toyota is locating, would not develop
until all the land on the South side of I-85 had been developed.
Peavey said Tuesday that he argued that idea with Fletcher, pointing
out the other development already on the north side of I-85.
He said that Fletcher also told him his 15-acre tract was worth
less than residential property, although it was next to the Toyota
I thought it (Fletchers analysis) was absurd,
Peavey said the agent he was supposed to meet never arrived,
so he left, but immediately began calling other county leaders
to see if indeed the Toyota project had been canceled. He said
he was told by the other leaders that the project was still ongoing
and that it had not been canceled.
He (Fletcher) was sitting there as a principal party,
Peavey said Monday. Only after I realized that everything
he said was patently false, it made me wonder how this could
be accomplished. If I was some ignorant person off the street,
taking his advice, who knows I could have said, This
is never going to amount to nothing, Im just going to let
it (the property) go.
Peavey said Fletcher never offered to buy his land during the
discussion. The land is currently listed for sale by Norris Realty,
Jefferson traffic re-routing plan
Would keep bridge, create one-way loop
The Department of Transportations proposed plan for re-routing
traffic in Jefferson revolves around the historic White Bridge
that spans Curry Creek, literally looping around in one-way stretches
on either side of the creek.
In an effort to keep the bridge intact but to also alleviate
traffic congestion around the bridge and the S.R. 335 intersection,
DOT engineers and a local task force have worked their way through
at least a dozen proposals over the past few years before settling
on the one presented at a public hearing Thursday evening. The
design on the one-way pair is not final and the DOT
held the hearing to get public input on the plan.
Three sets of the plan, highlighted in yellow and blue, were
taped to the walls in the Jefferson High School cafeteria for
three hours Thursday. Citizens looked at the map, asked questions
and listened as DOT representatives explained the concept.
The plan calls for a one-way flow of traffic out of town, beginning
in front of SouthTrust Bank and Storey Street and then continuing
across the bridge, going toward Commerce and the S.R. 82 intersection.
At that intersection, traffic will become two-way again.
Likewise, the traffic coming into town from Commerce and the
S.R. 82 intersection will traverse a one-way path across a new
bridge to Kissam Street and in front of the new Jefferson civic
center. Traffic will flow onto Storey Street alongside SouthTrust
Bank and become two-way again into downtown.
The S.R. 82 intersection itself will be shifted, coming to a
stop, rather than the current yield, on the Jefferson-Commerce
Road. The road will intersect with the Jefferson-Commerce Road
(S.R. 15A) at a location between the existing convenience store
and the new store and car wash currently under construction.
A left turn lane will be established for motorists turning onto
Other proposed changes include removal of the traffic light at
the S.R. 335 (Brockton Road) intersection with S.R. 15A at the
Curry Creek bridge. One-way traffic will simply flow into S.R.
335 from across the bridge. Traffic leaving S.R. 335 will turn
right into the one-way flow. Motorists who are heading into downtown
will turn right from S.R. 335, looping around. They will cross
the existing (but extended) bridge that leads over the creek
onto Kissam Street and follow the one-way route in front of the
At Thursdays public hearing, DOT district preconstruction
engineer Russell McMurry explained the benefits of the project,
saying that the bridge will be preserved and no residents will
be displaced. There are 26 parcels of property involved in the
McMurry added that the purpose of the public hearing was to present
the grand scheme and to get comments.
The design is based around the historic bridge, a historic
home (at the corner of S.R. 335) and the flood plain at the intersection,
he said. Youll be coming into town one way and going
out of town one way....Really, the whole thing is to improve
downtown Jefferson as a main thoroughfare. That intersection
is causing a lot of headaches...This plan has the least impact
and has the biggest bang for the buck.
According to Todd Long with the DOT, once the preliminary plan
is finalized, with public comments incorporated, the next step
in the project is to complete the environmental document.
Long said the timeline includes getting rights-of-way in fiscal
year 2006 and construction several years after that.
After an initial meeting about completely replacing the historic
bridge an idea that was met with a lot of community opposition
the DOT started again from scratch, Long said
of the planning process.
Some of the alternatives investigated for re-routing Jefferson
traffic included an all-way stop, the current signal at the intersection
and completely re-routing S.R. 335.
Some of the citizens who attended the public hearing Thursday
asked questions about rights-of-way for specific properties,
while others commented on the inconvenience of the traffic loop.
But DOT representatives said that the overall comments they had
heard during the public hearing were positive.
People are pleased that the bridge is staying intact,
said Mark Ballard.
The plans and displays will be available for review at the DOT
District 1 office until May 17. Written comments will be accepted
until that date, as well. The office is located at 2905 Athens
Hwy., Gainesville, GA 30503. The project number is BHF-052-2(20)
Jackson County, P.I. numbers 122510.
Auto Parts & Service
Garden & Agriculture
Industry & Manufacturing
Personal Care Services
Retail Stores & Outlets
After 72 Years, Jays Department
Store Is Under New Ownership
Terry Minish Purchases Jays Stock,
For the first time since it opened in 1932, Jays Department
Store in Commerce is under new ownership.
Long-time employee Terry Minish, who has managed the store since
1990, completed the purchase of all stock in Jays Department
Store last week. He will keep the stores name and its staff.
I would like to thank all of the people for all the years
of business, and I welcome their continued support, Minish
stated. I just feel like Commerce needs Jays and
Jays needs the Commerce area. Its an institution
we want to see continued.
The store got its start in 1932 when the late Harry Jay opened
on State Street. It moved into its current location at the corner
of South Broad Street and Central Avenue in the late 1930s. After
the death of founder Harry Jay, his son Nathan owned and operated
the business until his recent retirement.
Minish joined the business part-time while in high school at
Commerce High School, taking on such duties as sweeping the floor
and washing the windows.
Ive never worked anywhere else, he notes.
Under Nathan Jays tutelage, Minish learned the business
and was given more responsibility. He remembers his first purchasing
trip to New York with Jay in 1990 or 1991.
The first time, I was scared to death, he recalled.
He was there. I was making the decisions, but he was behind
me saying yea or nay. He made two New York trips with me and
turned me loose.
In 1998, Minish purchased one of the two buildings comprising
the store. Hed been negotiating with Jay to acquire the
company for about six months.
Minish plans a big celebration in July to coincide with the stores
72nd anniversary. He hopes to do something resembling the early
annual give-away of a bale of cotton, an event that flooded the
streets of Commerce with patrons hoping to get lucky. The celebration,
featuring give-aways Minish hopes to get from his suppliers,
will last four to five days, he said.
Little will change to the average customer.
Minish has been there 30 years. Gloria Ford, 25-plus years, and
Mary Ann Cook and Pauline Blalock, both of whom have been with
Jays for more than 20 years, will continue to work, as
will Minishs daughter, Abby, 19. Store hours will continue
to be 9-6 Mondays through Fridays and 9-5 Saturdays.
Nonetheless, there will be subtle changes, Minish said.
Were working to acquire new lines of shoes. Weve
added Florsheims mens shoes and were going
to add a line of ladys sandals that is very popular now,
Clarks of England. We will also expand our line of University
of Georgia merchandise.
Eventually, Minish hopes to develop the second floor of the store,
possibly into loft apartments.
Thats down the road. When youre in debt, everythings
way down the road, he laughed.
A website, ngeorgia.com
/jays, is now operating. It contains an order page, a contact
page and a demonstration of Zippit ties, for which Jays
is one of the only area retailers. Other items will be added,
Im always open to suggestions and comments. We strive
to provide what the community wants. Anyone with suggestions
can reach the store online at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store
receive minor injuries in bus wreck
Six Jackson County School System students
received minor injuries in a bus wreck Tuesday afternoon.
The students received minor injuries and were taken to Athens
Regional Medical Center, according to reports from the Georgia
Keith Everson, director of administrative services for the Jackson
County School System, said the students ranged in age from 6
to 12, and all were released from the hospital by 6 p.m. Tuesday.
He said the most serious injury was a hairline fracture. The
bus driver also only received minor injuries, Everson said. He
said she had a sore arm, neck and back.
A Jackson County school bus driven by Kelli Lynn Brown, 43, Jefferson,
was traveling north on New Kings Bridge Road around 3 p.m. The
bus had stopped to make a left turn at Ansley Road and a cement
truck driven by Perry Wingard, 47, Bethlehem, also traveling
north could not stop and rear-ended the bus, according to the
Everson said the bus driver was really the hero in
She saw the cement truck coming when she was about to turn
into a subdivision, he said. She knew it was going
to hit her. She accelerated to go straight and try to avoid the
accident. By doing that, it absorbed quite a bit of the impact
of that cement truck. She did a tremendous job.
postpones action on courthouse annexation into city
Some members of the Jefferson City Council
want more information on the new courthouse project before voting
on an annexation request from the county.
The Jefferson City Council tabled action at its meeting Monday
night on a rezoning request for 4.37 acres on Darnell Road at
the new courthouse site.
Councilman Philip Thompson said he wants to find out whether
the rezoning request should come from the Association County
Commissioners of Georgia instead of the county. The ACCG has
ownership of the courthouse under its lease-purchase agreement
with the county.
County manager Al Crace said the matter has been discussed with
the ACCG and the county had support to proceed with the rezoning
Thompson also wants the legal definition of a courthouse and
the floor plans for the new facility.
Mayor Jim Joiner said the county and city attorney could get
together to compile this information for the council.
Jefferson officials first discovered that part of the courthouse
sat on a tract of land that had not been annexed into the city
limits when they were working on some plans for new sewerage
lines to the area.
City officials brought the matter to the attention of the BOC,
who then discovered that 30 percent of the building, which is
still under construction on Darnell Road east of Jefferson, sat
on unincorporated land. The part of the courthouse not in the
city limits is a triangle shaped wedge on the back of the building
where the corner of one unincorporated tract falls.