News from Madison County...

MAY 12, 2004


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
Let he who is without sin throw the first stone

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone. . . .” John 8:7

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.


SPORTS
Raider vs. Raider
First round of state pits MCHS against foe that ousted them last year
The team that eliminated the diamond Raiders in the Sweet 16 of the state tournament last year stands in the way of them getting there this year.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


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.

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Play at the Plate

Bryce Nix of the Madison County T-ball Indians tags out the Braves’ Caleb Brown Thursday afternoon.

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.
The review committee will be on hand Tuesday through Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. each morning, to meet with local officials, county staff members and interested citizens in an effort to determine whether property is fairly assessed in Madison County.
The committee includes a property tax appraiser from the state Department of Revenue, the chief appraiser in Walton County and an appraiser from Wilkes County.
County commissioners voted earlier this month to ask for an investigation of the county assessor’s office by the State Revenue Commissioner.
County clerk Morris 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 board of assessor’s chairman John Bellew said Fortson is simply using minimal errors evident in any digest to validate a witch hunt against chief appraiser Rebecca Duncan and her department. Bellew says chairman Wesley Nash and Fortson are out to get Duncan and that their actions led him to qualify for Nash’s seat as chairman — Bellew is one of four Democrats who qualified for the post recently.
But Nash and Fortson have denied those allegations, saying that they are simply looking out for the fiscal well-being of the county.
On Monday, Bellew told Nash that the board of assessors is ready to approve the 2004 tax digest at its Thursday meeting, but Nash asked that the tax board hold off on approving the digest until after the state investigation. Bellew agreed that the board can wait, noting that the deadline for digest approval is Aug. 1.


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. The pumps run up to six hours a day to meet the demand.
A proposed new housing development, Kimberly Village, would add an additional 100-plus homes to the system. The proposed development includes the so-called “Solomon Well,” and approval of the development would require access to the well. The adjacent landowners would also have to approve the well’s use before it can be put on line. White said additional water sources are vital if the system is to meet future demands.
Developers of another subdivision, Millbrook Subdivision on Spratlin Mill Road, have asked to be connected to the system. White reported that the subdivision was built with four-inch pipes that do not meet the county’s standards for fire hydrants. Current rules require a hydrant every 1,000 feet. The Millbrook system is 2,200-feet long. Authority members discussed connecting both ends of the system to the county line and placing a hydrant on each end of the system.
In other business, White informed the authority that a mild problem has developed at the Hwy. 72 well. When it went on line, the well was within acceptable levels on iron and magnesium content. However, in recent weeks, the iron content has started edging up. He is recommending that a filtration system be installed to prevent future problems. The filter, which is guaranteed to clear the water of iron, will cost $20,000. For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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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.


Adaptation
Blind Madison County student teaches others about living with a disability
Fifth grader Matthew Giles is like most kids, enjoying many of the same things in life his peers do — like going to school (he’s a straight-A student), spending time with his many friends, or even playing a game of ball.
And also like his peers, principal Brenda Moon says he was busy taking the all important CRCT test a few weeks ago — in Braille.
Matthew, 13, is blind and also has cerebral palsy.
He has attended Hull-Sanford Elementary School for the past year and a half and in that time he’s learned a lot, but also taught a lot to both students and faculty at the school.
And he was at it again last week, playing an exhibition game for his classmates with his “beep baseball” team, known as The Lobos.
Simply put, beep baseball is a game developed to allow the blind to play an adaptive form of baseball — players rely on a series of beeps to know where the bases are, plus there are several modifications to the rules of baseball as well, according to Matt’s instructor and friend Roger Keeney, who is also blind. Both the pitcher and the catcher must be sighted; all other players can be blind. Sighted players who play other positions on the team are blindfolded while playing those positions.
To help illustrate the game, several of the elementary school faculty, blindfolded, participated in the game’s first inning.
“This is hard,” P.E. teacher Mike Osborne was heard to say after taking a few swings at the ball.
The Lobos squad is the only team in Georgia registered with the National Beep Baseball Association, but there are currently 150 teams in the United States alone, with a growing number of others around the world.
Originally developed for blind adults, Keeney has helped modify the game for children and has traveled to various countries to help start teams there.
The Lobos are in the process of trying to raise $4,000 in funds to attend the World Series of Beep Ball in Cincinnati, Ohio in early August.
“Transportation is a big issue for us, of course. For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.