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JUNE 2, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jana Mitcham
Another go at the lazy river
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost a year since I wrote a column about getting married and going to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for our honeymoon.

Shar Porier
For my war hero
While standing alone in the room filled with Civil War memorabilia and the old wool uniform at the old White home site, it got me thinking about war and battle and warriors.


SPORTS
Spring football brought 28 new recruits
Spring football practice brought 70 hopefuls to the field May 4 through 14.
Banks County’s head football coach Greg Moore said the group worked on fundamentals. Official practice begins July 19.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
IDA rips BOC on Toyota road project
Business leaders want to know why key road isn’t built
Saying that the county’s “integrity” is on the line, members of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority said Friday that they want a meeting with the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to find out why a key road for the $60 million Toyota/ MACI industrial project has not yet been started.

Plan B:
Move Into New CMS Is Pushed Back To Mid-June
For months, the plan has been to move into the academic wing of the new Commerce Middle School during the week of post-planning.
“You’ve always got to have a Plan B,” Superintendent Larry White observed.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Hwy. 29 widening to be discussed Mon.
A proposed Hwy. 29 widening project will be among the road improvements discussed at a public hearing Monday night.
That hearing is set for 7 p.m., Monday, June 7, in the public meeting room of the county government complex.

Tax assessment notices to be sent out
Tax Board votes to mail new assessment notices for 13,000 taxable properties
The Madison County Tax Assessment Board voted to mail new assessment notices for approximately 13,000 taxable properties on June 9.
Mailing of the statements is contingent on the county administration releasing funds for postage for the notices.

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Brought in wreath

Banks County American Legion Women’s Auxiliary members brought in the wreath honoring the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country in battles across time and the world. The annual service was held indoors at the historic courthouse Monday morning. See page this weeks Banks County News for additional photos.


Memorial Day service held in Homer
Banks County honors fallen soldiers
In an honored tradition, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and their families gathered to memorialize those who did not come marching home. The annual Memorial Day service was held on a rainy Monday morning in Homer.
Memorial Day is to pay respects to those whose trips home were in flag-draped wooden coffins.
Homer American Legion president Bobby Eubanks said: “No matter what war we were in, we all shared the specter of death and mutilation of fellow soldiers, no matter the continent or circumstances. Without the unselfishness, the commitment, the dedication and the service of these great men and women, we may not be here today.”
The Rev. Jim McClendon offered thanks to those who left their farms and factories, their homes and families, to preserve freedom.
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson remembered the “most handsome picture” she has of her father was when he was in uniform.
“How could it have taken 60 years to get a memorial to honor these men and women who served in World War II?,” she asked. “I watched the dedication on television, but I cannot imagine how it must have felt for those veterans to see the nation’s beautiful tribute to them.
“Sixty years ago, 5,000 men died on a beach in France for freedom. It bothers me that today we tend to take our freedom for granted. We should fall on our knees in thanks for the grace that has been given us to have been born Americans. It should be the first prayer on lips at the start of every day.
“Right now, there are 800,000 men and women serving in the armed forces across the world. To them, we should offer our heartfelt thanks. Some of those 800,000 are in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Some of them will not be coming home. We must remember that freedom is not free. It carries a price. A high price. We need to acknowledge the sacrifice these men and women have made and continue to make.
“In our hearts, every day we should take a moment to realize what freedom means. We should take time in our busy lives to give thanks that we were born here.
“I leave you with this, remember 365 days a year that there were some who came back less than whole, and some who did not make it home at all in the hope that we would live in freedom forever.”

Tax rates going up for county, schools
BOE plans 12% hike in millage rate for schools
The Banks County Board of Education is planning a 12 percent hike in the county school millage rate this year. In a called meeting last Thursday, the BOE set a tentative rate of 13.75 mills, up 1.5 mills from the year before. Officials said that equates to about $60 per $100,000 in property value.
The final tax rate will be set in a called BOE meeting scheduled for June 21 at 7 p.m. in the BOE office.
The vote last week to increase the tax rate was split, with Neal Brown, Ron Gardiner and Johnny Williams voting for the 1.5 mill hike and Bo Garrison and Ben Ramsey voting for a smaller .75 mills increase.
“I’m young, I can get out and work, but there are several people in this county on a fixed income and that’s who I’m worried about,” Garrison said.
The tax increase will net the school system an additional $654,700 over the year before, a net increase of 13.5 percent.
The last raise in the millage rate took place in 1998, when the millage rate jumped from 10.4 mills to 12.4 mills. Since then, the BOE has been lowering the rate each year.
Cuts in state funding were at the center of the decision to up the millage rate. Mike Beasley, financial director for the Banks County School System, provided figures for the board members to review, including local cost per student figures provided by the state education department.
According to Beasley, one student costs local taxpayers $1,985 per year. At the old millage rate, 12.25 mills, it would take a piece of property valued at $405,102 to support one student for one year. The school system currently serves around 2,500 students.
The governor also approved a two percent salary increase for teachers this year. Currently, 87 percent of the total school budget is used to pay salaries.
“I think it will cost us more to have school this year than it did last year,” Erwin said. “And it is hard to absorb the (state) austerity reductions.”
Those austerity reductions totaled $549,500 for the 2005 school year. Since the reductions began in 2003, Banks County schools have lost $1.2 million in state funding. Erwin suggested the board raise the millage rate to off-set the austerity reductions.
“We can make a prediction about what it will cost,” he said. “It’s going to cost more, how much more? I don’t know, we will receive less from our government.”
Gardiner asked Erwin for a recommendation. Erwin suggested the board raise the millage rate a minimum of one mill and a maximum of 1.5 mills.
“It gets to a point where you will have to cut things out and I’m not willing to cut anything out,” Gardiner said.
Student population increases, a proposed alternative school, salary increases and a new middle school opening were among the increases suggested for next year.
“We can’t sit here and think of what all the increases will be,” Brown said. “We can’t continue services at that rate.”


Alto to meet June 8
The Town of Alto will hold a public meeting at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8, at city hall.
A discussion will be held on amending the town ordinance relating to junk, trash and other materials that need to be taken care of in order to clean up the town. The meeting will be open to the public.
The regular monthly meeting will directly follow at 7 p.m.

 


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BOC looking at 4% hike
Three hearings set on tax rate
The Banks County Board of Commissioners have set three public hearings to discuss a proposed tax increase of nearly four percent.
The schedule is as follows: 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 3; 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 3; and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 10. All the hearings will be held in the conference room at the courthouse in Homer.
The property tax millage rate is slated to be increased by .183 mills, from 8.096 mills to 8.279 mills.
The hospital bond millage rate is scheduled to increase 10 percent, from .1 mills to .11 mills.
The Banks County tax digest was up only slightly this year, about 1.3 percent to $395 million. With the proposed millage rate, the county will take in an estimated $3.2 million in property tax funds.


Hammer’s Glen annexation, rezoning approved by planners
Homer City Council to take action at June 8 meetingIn what may have been one of its longest meetings, the Homer Planning Commission addressed just one item, the annexation and rezoning of 193 acres at Hammer’s Glen Golf and Country Club, when a quorum was finally convened Thursday evening.
Chairman Mack Garrison and commission members Max Sanders and Danny Mason called the three missing members—Ken Stancil, who was said to be out-of-town; Martha Crane, who was found to be teaching a class; and Swain Faulkner, who was working late. If a quorum was not present, the commission was concerned that the whole process of advertising and holding a public hearing would have to be started all over again.
Tammy Brand, of Hammer’s Glen, was also concerned, but sat patient and hopeful that a fourth member would be found. After a two-hour wait, Faulker was contacted and soon the panel was discussing the reasons for sending the request on to the city council.
The property, currently zoned by the county as agricultural, will be designated R-1, single-family residential. They then took a vote and unanimously approved the recommendation.
Tammy Brand thanked the members for their perseverance and for the nod of approval.
“We really appreciate this,” she said. “We’ve been waiting to get the whole 300 acres into the city.”
Brand said there had been interest in several home sites in the new phase at Hammer’s Glen, an up-scale golf community, and that one home was already under construction.
The city council will address the matter at its June 8 meeting at 6 p.m. at city hall.