News from Banks County...

MAY 26, 2004

Banks County

Banks County

Banks County

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Angela Gary
What makes a ‘true friend’?
True friends really are hard to find. When you are in elementary school, you have lots of friends. The list may get smaller in middle and high school, but you still have 20 or 30 people or even more who you consider to be real friends.

Rochelle Beckstine
llegal teen tanning
California tanning salons may soon have to add backdoor entrances and secret passcodes for teens wanting to be tan for their prom or summer vacation.

2004 Lady Leopard basketball camp
The Lady Leopard basketball team will hold a “building for the future” girls’ basketball camp June 28 through July 2 and July 19 through July 23 at the Banks County High School gymnasium. Camp is open to all girls in first through ninth grades

News from
Tentative School System Budget Up 5.9 Percent
School Board Seeks 3.9 Percent Increase In Local Money
Though a new school is opening in Commerce next year, the proposed 2004-2005 school system budget shouldn’t strain local dollars.

Republican chairman demands ‘retraction’
Oppenheimer sends certified letter to newspaper as precursor to lawsuit
Jackson County Republican Party Chairman David Oppenheimer demanded this week that a retraction be made by The Jackson Herald over an April 28 story concerning his refusal to release the names of Jackson County GOP candidates who had qualified for office.
Oppenheimer made his demand

News from
MCHS seniors reflect on high school days
See The Journal’s special graduation section and a full page of MCHS commencement pictures in this weeks Madison County Journal.
Kevin Cash remembered how an enormous tarp covered with soap and water is loads of fun for high school seniors, how taking a teacher’s car and skipping school to get barbecue is “the best, if you don’t get caught” and how one woman can amazingly make 1,870,655 copies for a high school in one year.

Speeders beware:
Speeding motorists on Madison County roads now face a greater possibility of being ticketed.
County commissioners approved a resolution Monday to allow the use of radar guns on county roads. Radar has already been allowed on state highways within the county.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Class of 2004 celebrates

Class of 2004

Members of the graduating class tossed their caps in the air as principal Art Wheaton declared them graduates of Banks County High School class of 2004. See this weeks Banks County News for more pictures.

Sewer issues
Illegal dumping causes problems at Baldwin’s treatment plant
Someone has apparently been illegally dumping some nasty stuff in Baldwin’s sewer system and it’s causing problems at the wastewater treatment plant.
Scott Baum, Baldwin’s public works director, told the city council at Thursday’s special called meeting that the illegal dumping has been happening over a period of months and he is seeing a pattern. Three times over the past month alone the dumpers have unloaded potentially dangerous waste. Baum speculated the dumping takes place late at night on a Saturday or Sunday.
“The numbers are so out of line come Monday morning,” he said. “We get readings of 1,000 milligrams per liter, 10 times the normal amount.”
Chad Conard, wastewater treatment plant operator, said there is an “overwhelming load of waste solids that are extremely high in phosphorus” entering the system that must be countered, throwing the plant into a catch-up mode come Monday mornings. The system has managed to deal with the problem, but getting all the solids out can take over a week and raises costs by additional chemical use and power to keep recirculating it through the plant.
What worries Conard the most is the potential that the illegal dumping will overwhelm and kill the necessary types of bacteria needed in the treatment process.
“Each zone creates an environment for the proliferation of these bacteria that break down chemicals,” he said. “If something goes wrong, it can be disastrous.”
It was suggested that the dumping was being done by a company that pumps out septic tanks due to the high solid waste content.
City engineer Fred Hawkins said that the load was far more than what would come from one truck.
“One truck can’t do that,” he said. “You may want to start with your biggest users and go from there.”
Hawkins went on to say Lee Arrendale Correctional Institution provides data on the content of waste, but that shows normal levels.
Baum suggested the council consider taking samples at various places in the system by investing in samplers, meters that give a read-out of waste content. The samplers would run at chosen sites and record the composition of the waste. However, with over 1,200 manholes, catching the dumper is going to be a daunting task. Many of the manholes are in wooded areas, not visible from roadways.
Though Baum requested two meters, at Monday’s regular council meeting only one was approved at a cost of $1,695.
In the meantime, the council is asking residents to keep an eye out for any trucks pulling up to manholes late at night on weekends and call if they see anything out of the ordinary.
In other plant business Thursday night, the council:
•voted to release $32,000 in funds to WPC Inc. The council had been holding back $37,000 until a list of items affecting the plant’s operation was satisfactorily completed. Some $5,000 was retained until the operating manual is approved by the EPD.
•agreed to begin steps to decommission the old plant and pond.
•discussed the problem with the six-acres of high grass that needs cutting. Baum said the wastewater plant had no lawn care equipment. Mayor Mark Reed asked city manager Betty Harper to get the street crew out there to cut the grass and weed eat around the fence.

BOC finalizes budget
Budget reaches $9.8 million, up $1.4 million from 2004
The Banks County Board of Commissioners finalized the preliminary 2005 county budget at $9.8 million Monday.
Public hearings will be held June 3 at 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and June 10 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed budget. The BOC plans to finalize the budget after the public hearing on June 10.
A few individual budgets were discussed Monday at length and changed, mostly those over $1 million.
The proposed budget for the Banks County Sheriff’s Office, which was decreased by $110,000 after the first budget hearing by the sheriff, was re-submitted at $1.8 million. Commissioners said the increases are in large part due to the new jail.
“It is going to cost more to run the new jail; operation costs, utilities and employees,” said BOC chairman Kenneth Brady.
Rickey Cain said he would like to discuss the possibility of leasing vehicles instead of purchasing three new ones. He said he had spoken to a dealership that would allow the county to lease six vehicles for the price of purchasing three with a $1 buy-out option. Brady agreed that it was something to look into.
The original $1.898 million budget for the EMS and fire department was decreased to $1.6 million after Banks County EMS director Perry Dalton and the commissioners cut the budget. One cut, made by the commissioners, was a divisional equipment line item that was cut from $7,250 to $2,500. They also discussed cutting out the vehicle lease line item and paying off the notes with the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funding.
Cain said he wanted remaining SPLOST money to be used for a new station on the south end on the county to lower ISO ratings for residents.
The $130,997 building inspection budget was also discussed at length. Pat Westmoreland said he would like to put funding back into the budget for a full-time assistant.
“It wouldn’t happen to be your boy?,” said Brady.
Westmoreland said: “That’s up to Tony (Vento).”
Commissioners also wondered why the position had not been advertised in the paper. Vento said he had planned to run the advertisement after July 1, when the new budget went into affect.
“I didn’t anticipate running it until I was sure we were going to have it in the budget,” Vento said.
He also said he didn’t think the county would find a certified inspector for the proposed salary of, $24,390. Cain said he might see who applied and possibly adjust the salary at that time. Vento also said he had called the technical schools, as the commissioners suggested, and found out the students graduating were not certified to perform the type of inspections he needed.
Proposed budgets are as follows, after changes made on Monday, May 24:
•Board of Commissioners, $275,837
•Tax Commissioner , $180,075
•Tax Assessors, $333,171
•Probate Judge, $179,409
•Probation, $33,750
•Magistrate Judge, 108,050, which includes a new part-time employee that will be shared with the water department.
•Clerk of Superior Court, $179,022
•Planning and Enforcement, $65,545
•Registar, $31,058
•Extension Service, $53,270
•Recycling, $37,219
•Courthouse operation, $231,161
•District Attorney, $142,823
•Superior Court, $159,905, which includes $7,200 for a new law clerk.
•Roads and bridges, $251,722
•Coronor, $17,330
•Public Welfare, $21,800
•Non-departmental, $737,450
•Recreation Department, $420,737
•Public Health, $93,300, the board decided to cut $3,000 out of mental health. Westmoreland said people in the county are being referred to other counties for services. “They are not furnishing the same services,” he said
•EMA/ E911, $547,239
•Senior citizens center, $212,940
•Water administration, $144,336, which includes $10,568 for a part-time worker to be shared with the magistrate court.
•Water pump and purification, $341,346
•Water distribution, $256,611
•Sewage collection/ treatment, $97,249
•Public transportation, $33,179
•Contingency, $100,000


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A Day at the Fort coming up Saturday
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

10 a.m. Opening Ceremony
10:15 a.m. Ralph White Family Bluegrass Band
10:50 a.m. Edith Goodson, Storyteller
11 a.m. Crystal River Bluegrass Band
Noon The Brotherhood Quartet, Gospel
12:20 p.m. Renee Bejaran & Band,
country and gospel
12:40 p.m. Nacoochee Strummers, Dulcimer Band
1 p.m. Edith Goodson, Storyteller
1:10 p.m. Confederate Soldiers, Re-enactment
1:40 p.m. A Memorial to The Myers Sisters
The Brotherhood Quartet
2 p.m. Crystal River Bluegrass Band
3 p.m. Edith Goodson, Storyteller
3:10 p.m. The Apple City Cloggers with
The Apple Dumplings
4 p.m. Close

Memorial Day service set Mon.
A Memorial Day service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in the city park in Homer.
A memorial service to honor the men and women who have served their country will be held. A special dedication will be given to honor all World War II veterans. Rep. Jeanette Jamieson will be the guest speaker.
The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 215, Homer, invite all veterans to attend.

BCN office open Mon.
The Banks County News office in Homer will be open on Monday, Memorial Day. The news deadlines will remain at noon on Monday, but classified and display ad deadlines will be at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Taxes going up in Banks
The Banks County Board of Commissioners has announced a 2.35 percent property tax increase.
The property taxes will increase by .183 mills, going from 8.096 to 8.279
The hospital bond will increase 10 percent, going from .1 mills to .11 mills.
“Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county,” BOC leaders report. “When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s new digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.”
The budget adopted by the BOC requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate. In addition, hospital bond debt requirements have also increased, leaders say.
Public hearings on the tax increase have been set at the following times: 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 3; 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 3; and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 10. They will all be held in the conference room at the courthouse in Homer.