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MAY 19, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jana Mitcham
Fireflies are out, summer is here
My favorite time of day is eveningfall, or twilight, when the sky begins changing and the light turns colors in that brief time between day and night. A better word for it is the Scottish one — the gloaming.

Angela Gary
Advice to those ready to work
As hundreds of students across the county get their high school diploma this graduation season, they will be entering a new stage of their life.


SPORTS
Teachers top Lady Leopards at fund-raising basketball game
The Banks County High School faculty team defeated the Lady Leopard basketball team, 36-43, at a fund-raising game held on Saturday at BCHS.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Mayors to ask BOC for tax equity study
The mayors of Jackson County’s nine municipalities want to find out if their citizens are getting a fair share of county services for the tax dollars they pay.

Britt to get $4,300 bill
JCWSA seeks payment for 663,090 gallons of water, tampering fee, illegal meter fine
Jackson County Commis-sioner Stacey Britt will be billed approximately $4,300 to cover water he allegedly stole from the county water and sewerage authority, a penalty for tampering with the line and a charge for replacing the illicit meter.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
For MCHS seniors...A day to celebrate
About 250 Madison County seniors will turn their tassels Friday night in Athens.
The class of 2004 Madison County High School graduation ceremony is set for 7 p.m. in the Classic Center in Athens. Scheduled speakers include valedictorian Nicole Temple, salutatorian Casey Allen, Sara Jones, Lauren Sapp and Kevin Cash.

Hwy. 29 to be widened?
Talk of such a project revived
Will Hwy. 29 south of Danielsville be widened from two to four lanes?
Perhaps, maybe even as early as 2011, but those wanting a definitive “yes” or “no” may continue to be frustrated for some time.

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Dozed off during Lula Railroad Days parade

The long parade Saturday through Lula put two-year-old Rebecca Wilbanks to asleep in the arms of her father, Jonathan Wilbanks, riding Cosmo. They were riding in the Lula Railroad Days parade. See this weeks Banks County news for more photos.


NHRA Southern Nationals bring 100,000 to Banks Crossing Sun.
McClenathan, Bazemore, Anderson and Savoie earn series victories
Cory McClenathan snapped a two-year winless streak Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway.
Whit Bazemore, Greg Anderson and Angelle Savoie also were winners in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The annual event brought an estimated 100,000 people to the Banks Crossing area over the weekend.
“If this wasn’t the biggest crowd we’ve ever had, it had to be close to breaking the record for the national event,” said Craig Armstrong, general manager of the Atlanta Dragway. “The sport of drag racing is growing and our event is growing every year. More and more NASCAR fans are expanding their interest to this sport. It was just amazing and the racers loved the reception they got from the fans.”
Armstrong also spoke on the economic impact the race had on the Banks Crossing area.
“There’s no telling just how much of an economic impact the four-day event generated, but it was probably in the millions,” he said. “The hotels were full, the restaurants were full, the camping areas were full.”
Mark Valentine, general manager of Tanger, said: “We had a shuttle bus going back and forth from the drag strip to both malls. From the numbers I’ve seen so far, the nationals had a positive impact in our stores, particularly our clothing stores. We ran strong numbers every day of the four-day event. The GSP did a great job keeping traffic moving. As far as I know, we didn’t get any complaints.”
WIN FOR MCCLENATHAN
McClenathan, who last won at Pomona Raceway in 2002, outran Clay Millican for the Top Fuel victory, the 28th of his career. McClenathan’s Berryman/Carrier Boyz dragster crossed the finish line in 4.651 seconds at 320.74 mph, just ahead of Millican’s charging 104+ Octane Boost dragster, which sped a 4.700 at 315.93 mph.
“There comes a time when you start to doubt yourself and begin to wonder if you will ever win another one of these races,” said McClenathan, who defeated Scott Weis, David Grubnic and Scott Kalitta to advance to the final.
“I admit when I woke up this morning, I didn’t have a feeling like I was going to win this race,” he continued. “But as the day went on and I saw how we were running, I started to gain confidence. We weren’t really the quickest car out here today, but we were the most consistent. We ran 4.60s all day and let the other cars make mistakes.”
McClenathan moved to fourth with the victory, 200 behind leader Tony Schumacher, who was upset in the first round.
Bazemore scored his first Funny Car victory of the season and moved into second place in the series points standings, defeating teammate Gary Scelzi’s Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T in the final round.
Bazemore, who outran Ron Capps, Del Worsham and Tim Wilkerson in the first three rounds, raced to a final round effort of 5.025 at 299.80 mph in his Matco Tools Stratus. Scelzi’s machine lost traction at the start and limped across the finish line in 10.847 at 90.59. It was his second victory at the track he calls home.
“To win here twice is awesome,” said Bazemore, who grew up in Atlanta. “It is always emotional for me when I win here because this is where I was introduced to drag racing as a kid. It’s great to be able to live a dream.”
With the win, he trimmed Del Worsham’s points lead to 51.
“Trying to win a championship is a learning process,” said Bazemore, who finished second in points in 2003 and 2001. “I’ve learned over the years you have to just get up, dust yourself off and keep after it. The key is consistency and we had that today.”
Anderson earned his fifth consecutive victory in Pro Stock and 22nd of his career, driving his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.812 at 203.00 mph to defeat Larry Morgan’s Team Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T, which posted a 6.850 at 202.58. Anderson beat Mike Edwards, Dave Connolly and Jason Line in earlier rounds.
The victory puts Anderson in exclusive company as only the second Pro Stock driver in NHRA history to win five consecutive races in a season, the first was Bob Glidden, who did it in 1978. The record for most consecutive wins in a season for any category is 8, set by the late Dave Schultz in 1994 in Pro Stock Bike.
“Streaks are nice and records are neat, but you can’t focus on that stuff,” said Anderson of his sixth win of the season. “You have to look at the big picture, and that’s the championship. We overcame a lot of hurdles this weekend and the team worked overtime at the shop to get our primary motor that we hurt on Friday ready for today. This was one of the toughest races I have had in a while. I didn’t have the dominant car and I wanted to see if the driver could step up. This was a really satisfying win.”
Anderson increased his points lead to 243 over Kurt Johnson, who failed to make the call in the semifinals when his car had engine problems at the starting line.
Savoie claimed her first Pro Stock Bike victory of the season and 32nd of her career on her U.S. Army Suzuki, posting a 7.119 at 191.59 mph to defeat Shawn Gann, who clocked a 7.248 at 186.15 on his Gann Speed Suzuki.
“After all of the struggles we’ve been through now I remember how good it feels to win, and it’s a great feeling,” Savoie said. “I’m really, really happy. This was a perfect weekend for me.”
Savoie moved to sixth overall with the win, 49 behind leader Andrew Hines.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals, May 20-23 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.


A Day at the Fort coming up May 29
A Day at the Fort will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 29, at Fort Hollingsworth/White House
Activities planned include tours of the frontier fort built in 1793, music, storytelling and old-fashioned arts and crafts. Everyone is asked to bring a lawn chair and spend the day.
The fort is located just off Hwy. 441 between Cornelia and Homer.
For more information, call (706) 754-4538 or e-mail - wmote@hemc.net.


BCHS graduation ahead Fri.
Banks County High School will hold its graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, May 21, in the stadium.
This year’s valedictorian is Catie Murphy. The salutorian is Heather Beck and the honorarium is Joshua White.


Development authority looks at land combination to lure business
The Banks County Development Authority is looking at combining several tracts of land into a 300-acre site that could be used to recruit businesses to locate in the Hwy. 441 area.
The development authority discussed the project at its meeting Thursday morning in Homer.
Last month, the Banks County Board of Commissioners signed over a one-acre tract of property on Hwy. 441 to the DA so the authority could arrange for the sale of the property. The authority is looking at combining five other tracts with this one acre for the project.
Jack Banks, chairman of the DA, told other members he has discussed the property with several real estate agents.
“I want to get ideas on how to effectively put this property together with others,” Banks said.
If all properties are combined, the potential tract would join both Hwy. 441 and Hwy. 59.
Banks said he has had conversations with one of the property owners about joining the two properties.
“We’ve discussed it as a joint venture to try to bring some major development that could bring in tax revenue,” he said. “It is just conversation, but it is being pursued.”
Banks also stated realtors were discussing the option with other land owners in the area.
Wayne Abernathy said he had spoken to developers who said it would be best if properties could be assembled.
“Without additional land, we can’t do much of anything,” Abernathy said.
Carole Ciriacks from the Georgia Department of Trade and Tourism attended the meeting and said she would put the board in contact with someone at the department who works with restaurants, hotels and other large scale development.
“You need to get the right people in on this, make him aware of what is going on here,” she said.
Sam McDuffie said: “The more people working on this, the better. We need to get some ideas together and as many people as we can.”
McDuffie asked the board about the possibility of a called meeting prior to the regular meeting scheduled for June 10.
“As quickly as possible, we need to assemble the properties, owners, and prices so we can get some prices set. If we are not careful, we will sit here and drive the price of this property up,” McDuffie said.
Ciriacks told the board that as a development authority they have access to state programs and assistance, if the DA owns the property.
“I’d like for us to purchase property, we need to own and direct development to it,” Abernathy said. “We can get state and federal money for property.”
He said he was aware of a situation in Mississippi where the DA received money from the government to direct industry into a 1,000 acre tract of property.
“If they can get 1,000, surely to God we can get 100,” Abernathy said.
Terrence Dale, Horace Campbell and Jimmy Morrison were absent at the meeting.
Also discussed at the meeting:
•a .67-mile long extension to Industrial Park Drive that will connect to Hwy. 59. Banks said the contract is in process and that the project is close to being advertised for bids.
•the possibility of installing sewer lines around the current Wal-Mart property, which would include lines along Hwy. 441 and Hwy. 59.
•a large, 108.56 acre tract owned by Jay Wayne Hill, et. all, behind Pritchett Tire for possible development. Banks said the DA had no involvement in the property, but several conversations had taken place. “There is a lot of property we have our foot in the door on, which we need to be aware of before we throw rocks in the back of the pick-up,” Banks said.

 


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Lula proceeds with sewer plans
The Lula City Council plans to expand its sewer system, build a new treatment plant and increase its sewer system delivery system to 400,000 gallons per day. The council has received environmental protection division approval for the expansion.
At a special called meeting held Monday, May 10, city manager Dennis Bergin and Brian Rindt, of Rindt McDuff Engineering Consultants, spoke with the council and presented the advantages of going with a new system rather than trying to expand the 25-year-old existing facility.
The major thrust of the project is being brought about by new strict requirements set by the EPD to clean up discharge water, said Bergin. Currently, the city uses a mechanical plant that can handle up to 80,000 gallons per day (gpd) to clean wastewater. However, the system has aged and outlived its usefulness in volume, structure and technology, said Bergin. Over the years, the city has not been financially capable of upgrading the system or the plant. Now, the council has little choice in the matter.
The EPD has set standards that must be met by all private, municipal and county systems by January 2006.
For the most part, the plant has stayed within the permitted discharge limit, though there have been instances of water infiltrating the sewer system causing problems and EPD infractions that have led to fines and costly testing to find the sources.
Bergin said the city currently has 394 wastewater customers discharging around 152 gpd per household. Though that figure is below the average usage of 250 gpd, the industry standard in figuring potential usage and plant capacity, the current state of the system remains at risk due to the existing problems.
With the new planned developments and businesses already under construction coming on line, the system could reach full capacity.
As development continues to spread north along the Highway 365 corridor, Lula’s customer base, both residential and commercial, will exceed the current treatment facility’s capabilities within a few short years at the least, he estimated. It has been projected that 346 new homes alone will be built in Lula over the next five years. As for commercial and industrial growth, that seems to be an area that cannot be anticipated in numbers, but must still be considered as an unknown factor in determining the system capacity.
The city’s waste water system is a factor in attracting commercial development, he pointed out. Businesses have come to expect a municipality to provide such a service.
“Wastewater management will be a major factor in how the community will grow and will help determine the quality of development,” he said. “Expansion of a waste water treatment facility will bring commercial, retail and industrial development and employment that will help educe the tax burden on city residents.”
Along with growth, he said the city has an environmental obligation as well.
“As the city continues to estimate and measure future growth, we have to recognize the responsibility to meet environmental needs,” he said. “Today, the area streams are being adversely impacted by environmental factors that include storm water run-off, ineffective wastewater treatment discharges and septic tank systems. Continuing to allow septic usage is irresponsible and will produce long term effects that could be costly and difficult to correct.”
During Monday’s regular council meeting, the council unanimously approved the expenditure of $10,000 to Rindt McDuff to complete a design development report to be submitted by July 29 that will show how the city plans to meet EPD requirements by the 2006 deadlines.
Also at the meeting, Bergin displayed a map showing the proposed delivery system area that covers an area from Highway 52 north to Mud Creek Road and west to Hagen Creek.
Mayor Milton Turner said the first step would be to build the new plant on land west of Highway 365, upgrade the city’s sewer lines and run them to the new plant. That cost, he estimated, would be around $3 million.
The council will be seeking grants to help fund the project.