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Aikido Expert Passing On Martial Arts
Robert House went around the world to get to Broad Street in
Honing an expertise in the martial art known as Aikidio with
19 years of study and a seven-year pilgrimage to the far East
during the last decade, the sensei is now passing on the knowledge
of his travels here in Commerce where hes lived with his
wife and daughter since 2001.
remains top public school in Directors Cup
Jackson County finishes in top half of
Class AAAA on the strength of strong girls programs
As has been the case the last several years, Jeffersons
athletic program was once again the top public school in Class
A in the recently released Georgia Athletic Directors Associations
Directors Cup standings.
baseball coach Roberts resigns
Mark Mahoney takes over head baseball
Jackson County head baseball coach and assistant football coach
Scott Roberts is leaving the Panther athletic program to return
to a position closer to home.
Monday the Jackson County Board of Education approved Roberts resignation and JCCHS athletic director Brent Brock c
adopt 8.279 millage rate
The Banks County Board of Commissioners
adopted the 2003 millage rate after the third public hearing
held Thursday night in the conference room at the Banks County
No opposition to BOE
Public hearing held; another set for
After two public hearings have been held, the Banks County Board
of Education has yet to hear any citizens speak in opposition
to the proposed millage rate.
takes ugly turn
BOC chairman proposes lie detectors amid
allegations of records tampering
Talk about lie detectors, office break-ins, property record tampering
Mondays county commissioners meeting had all three.
The conflict between the commission chairmans office and
the tax assessors department has been a lengthy ordeal,
a hostile dilemma.
And it just got a lot uglier.
Friends and family
ready for Westbrooks homecoming
Ex-Raider star to start against Braves
in Atlanta this weekend
This Fathers Day weekend will be only the second time Cauthen
Westbrook has made a visit to Turner Field for a Braves
Its safe to say this trip will be quite different since
hell be pretty familiar with the visiting starting pitcher.
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
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CANDIDATES ADDRESS CROWD
Harold Fletcher (left) addresses a Hoschton crowd
at a Tuesday night political forum as Pat Bell (right) listens.
Both Republicans are running for chairman of the Jackson County
Board of Commissioners. The Republican primary will be held July
Bell face off at first political forum
Roads, water authority among debated topics
In their first face-off of the political season, the two Republican
candidates running for chairman of the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners met in Hoschton Tuesday night to debate some hot
Incumbent Harold Fletcher and challenger Pat Bell debated questions
surrounding road projects to the new Toyota plant and the controversy
surrounding the BOCs relationship with the county water
and sewerage authority.
Referring to the fact that the county had missed a June 1 deadline
to have built two key industrial roads for a $60 million Toyota
project, Bell said the impact of that failure could be devastating
to this county.
This road is really key to this industry coming into this
county, Bell said. If we mess around with this industry,
and something happens, it will be devastating to this county.
It will create a tremendous image problem for economic development
for this county.
As part of the 2002 deal with Toyota, the county had agreed to
have Possum Creek (now Valentine Parkway) widened and paved and
a new road, Concord Road, built by June 1 2004.
Where I come from, if you make a promise, you keep that
promise and if you sign a contract, you keep that contract,
Bell said. You do what you say youre gonna do.
She also said she helped to obtain a $1.5 million grant more
than three years ago when she was a state representative for
the Concord Road project.
Fletcher said that the county had begun work on Valentine Parkway
and would have it completed by the end of August. As for Concord
Road, he was less specific on the schedule, saying it would move
forward just as quickly as we can get the engineering completed
in time for Toyotas schedule.
Another hot topic during the debate was the political controversy
surrounding the leadership and management of the Jackson County
Water and Sewerage Authority. The BOC recently paid the authoritys
manager, Jerry Waddell, nearly $100,000 to leave his position.
Fletcher said nine water and sewer projects were identified in
a 2000 sales tax referendum only five of the projects
have been earmarked for completion.
The only way that these projects can be completed and others
taken on is for someone to take the initiative, take the leadership
and get the money, find the money and build it in such a fashion
that the revenues will pay for the retirement of those bonds,
Its very important that we exercise leadership in
that direction and this is exactly what I intend to do in the
next term, Fletcher said.
But Bell said she politics should be kept out of
decisions on water and sewer lines.
The main purpose of (creating) the water authority is to
keep politics out of it, Bell said.
She said she believed the countys water and sewerage authority
is doing a great job at managing water from the Bear
Creek Reservoir, which is located in South Jackson and provides
water for four counties.
Given the recent political squabble between the BOC and other
county groups, both candidates were asked how they would bring
teamwork back in the county.
Bell said a sense of teamwork was in place when she previously
served on the BOC.
You have a job to do, whoever was the most qualified to
do that job was the one who did that job, she said.
Fletcher pointed out that a good example of teamwork among county
officials during his past three and a half years as commission
chairman was the effort to bring Havertys to Braselton.
Its been often said that anything can be accomplished
if we dont care who gets credit for it, he said.
And I think thats what it takes bringing together
a group of people who put the overall good of the county (and)
community above their own.
And I think thats we have done and we have been successful
at tracking industries that weve been able to get with,
Fletcher added. And I think that will continue.
For their closing statements at the forum, both candidates summed
up their leadership style and experience.
I will restore honesty and integrity to our county government,
said Bell. She also said she will establish an aggressive
economic development team to lower taxes.
Fletcher said county officials are already doing some of the
ideas Bell mentioned in her closing statement.
We see that there are many, many challenges, Fletcher
said. And in order to address those challenges, were
going to have to have people in office that are duly qualified.
The Republican primary will be held July 20. Also running for
chairman is Democrat Roy Grubbs. The Hoschton forum, however,
was just for Republican candidates.
The Hoschton Womens Civic Club, whose members monitored
the timed debate, hosted the event.
forum ahead Tues. at JEMC
A political forum for candidates in the
July 20 election has been set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22,
at the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation auditorium in
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson County
Farm Bureau are sponsoring the event.
There will be a moderator from outside Jackson County who will
take written questions from the audience and direct them to the
by meet with BOC
But ill-advised ad a concern
for IDA, Toyota officials
Members of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority
said Friday they were encouraged by the tone of a
recent meeting with county officials to discuss why two industrial
development roads missed a June 1 deadline. But IDA members were
concerned about an ill-advised advertisement the
Jackson County Board of Commissioners ran in response to the
The two roads, Valentine Parkway (formerly Possum Creek Road)
and Concord Road, were supposed to have been completed by June
1, according to a 2002 contract the county signed with Toyota
for a $60 million industrial plant. But so far, little work has
been done on the roads and Toyota officials are reportedly upset
about the missed deadline and the fact that county officials
had misled them in a series of meetings about the real status
of the projects.
The road projects have been on the back burner apparently due
to political opposition from BOC chairman Harold Fletcher, who
in private conversations had been critical of one of the roads
because it dated back to a previous BOC chairmans administration.
But when the BOC missed its June 1 deadline, IDA members spoke
out in public about the issue, bringing the matter to a head.
Members of the IDA were key players in the effort to lure the
Toyota plant to Jackson County and believe that the BOC had failed
to follow through with its part of the deal.
But while IDA members said Friday they are hopeful that the county
would soon begin working on the roads, they expressed concern
about the countys newspaper advertisement in response to
the matter. Toyota officials were reportedly very upset with
the BOC over a full page advertisement in The Jackson Herald
and The Commerce News last week that attempted to downplay the
I think the ad running in The Jackson Herald for the county
was ill-advised, said IDA member Jim Shaw. The prospect
(Toyota) was upset. I hope this doesnt set us back.
IDA chairman Scott Martin agreed that he didnt think
the ad was appropriate.
I would like to clarify that the industrial development
authority didnt have any part in the ad, he added.
At Fridays IDA meeting, members John Buchanan and Shaw
said they came away from an early-week lunch meeting with several
county officials encouraged that all available county
resources will now be aimed at getting the roads finished.
We discussed the project and what to do now that we dont
have roads in at the original (June 1) date what to do
to get back on track, said Shaw. The fact of the
matter is, we didnt get them done on time. Thats
been a concern for the project and for the prospect. That cant
be changed....Now we can try to get them done as expeditiously
Shaw added that IDA members will continue to meet regularly with
county officials on the progress of the roads, saying the next
discussion will be on June 17, just days before Toyota officials
are slated to be in the county.
Well have more information to give the (Toyota),
Shaw said. It appears to me were now devoting all
resources available to us to get the roads done.
Buchanan echoed that sentiment.
Its been a kind of rudderless project after Stan
Brown left in January, Buchanan said. They have now
hired a project manager. With us having a meeting every week
or two, that should keep everyone on their toes... I came out
of the meeting very encouraged.
Both Shaw and Buchanan said they appreciated commissioner Emil
Besharas efforts to get the projects under way and his
technical expertise. Martin added that, per a phone conversation
last week, I feel Emil has a sense of urgency.
Jefferson approves courthouse annexation
In a 3-2 vote, the Jefferson City Council approved a request
on Monday to annex 4.37 acres of courthouse property on Darnell
Road into the city.
C.D. Kidd III and Steve Kinney voted in favor of the request,
while Philip Thompson and Bosie Griffith voted against it. Mayor
Jim Joiner broke the tie by voting in favor of the request. Council
member Marcia Moon wasnt present.
In voting, Mayor Joiner said that he supported locating the courthouse
in the downtown area, but felt that voting No on
the annexation wouldnt accomplish anything.
I firmly believe that (downtown) is where it should be
located, he said. We have a nice courthouse out there
that no one can see. Thats a shame and disgrace...We accomplish
nothing by not voting to annex that piece of property, so I vote
to annex it.
He pointed out that the facility has already been built and the
taxpayers will have to pay for it.
The request for annexation originally came from the Jackson County
Board of Commissioners, but the Association County Commissioners
of Georgia later sent in a request since ACCG has the title to
the property through the lease-purchase agreement.
After construction of the new courthouse was already under way,
it was discovered that approximately 30 percent of the building
was located outside the city limits.
wrestling with budgets for 2005
Tentative budgets from both the Jefferson
and Jackson County school systems have been presented for discussion
in recent days, but no final action has yet been taken by either
system to officially set the budget or tax rates for fiscal year
In the county system, a budget of $52.4 million is expected for
the year, down from the year before due to the completion of
East Jackson Elementary School. But during the last year, the
county system has had to use up a significant amount of its cash
reserves, some $900,000, in part because of an error in last
years county tax digest.
Already at 18.5 mills for a tax rate, superintendent Andy Byers
said it was possible that the system could reach the maximum
allowed tax rate of 20 mills this year.
Theres always that chance, he said. If
the tax digest doesnt grow enough, then that could happen.
Byers said the system had done some significant cutbacks last
year as well as in the new budget. A number of staff positions
were cut, he said.
The next place to cut would be in physical education, art
and band programs, he said. But our community supports
and expects those programs. I dont know what well
The Jefferson Board of Education discussed a $10.5 million tentative
budget at its meeting Thursday, a package that was figured based
on an anticipated three percent increase in the tax digest. A
vote on that systems final budget is expected next month.
All in all, given what weve been through...this budgets
tight, but we didnt put anything in here that we didnt
think we had to put in here, Jefferson City Schools superintendent
John Jackson said Thursday.
The bulk of the systems expenditures, $7.4 million, will
go toward salaries as the system plans to add four full-time
and four part-time teachers next year. Full-time Spanish, kindergarten,
band and special education teachers were budgeted, as were part-time
Art, Drama, English, and Science instructors.
Maintenance and operations funds in the amount of $738,918 make
up the second-highest expenditure in the package.
The system expects to get around $3.4 million from local property
taxes, based on a three percent growth in the citys tax
digest. That digest has not yet been finalized, said officials.
to charge $400 for new out-of-district students
Tuition set for Jefferson Elementary
Out-of-district residents whose children plan to attend Jefferson
City Schools for the first time next year may have to pay a tuition
fee, according to a new policy approved by the Jefferson City
Board of Education last week.
The Jefferson BOE unanimously approved a policy Thursday that
calls for out-of-district students who enroll in the school system
in a school with an unweighted FTE count to have
to pay $200 per semester in order to attend.
Essentially, that means that for now, only out-of-district students
in grades K-5 will have to pay the tuition because only the elementary
school is overcrowded, based on state guidelines. Jefferson Elementary
School has 807 students in grades K-5 while the state base-size
elementary school is 450 students.
Exempted from the new policy are out-of-district students already
enrolled in the system, students of parents who own property
in the City of Jefferson and who pay city property taxes, and
students who are the children of employees in the city school
Also approved in the vote was a change to the boards enrollment
priority policy, stating that the level of performance on academic
preparedness tests as prescribed by the state and Jefferson school
system will also affected admittance.
Its something weve been talking about for quite
some time and I guess its just time, chairman Ronnie
Hopkins said. Its a lot less than people pay for
child care, and hopefully we do a much better job than that.
The fees can be paid in the form of $400 per year, or broken
down on a monthly basis, Jackson said.
Theres probably more in here than needs to be, but
we just want to make this as clear as can be, said schools
superintendent Dr. John Jackson.
School system officials plan to call those whom they anticipate
the policy will affect and letters will be sent out also informing
people of the change.
In addition, if the policy change causes a reduction in the number
of students that come to Jefferson Elementary School next year,
then an additional kindergarten position, which is tentatively
budgeted, will be cut.
July events planned
Independence Day celebrations are planned
in Braselton and Jefferson.
In Jefferson, the annual Freedom Festival is being planned for
July 3 by the Jefferson Area Business Association. It will be
held Saturday, July 3, on the square in downtown Jefferson.
JABA members have been holding an Independence Day celebration
in the downtown area, featuring fireworks and a street dance,
for many years.
This years festivities will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with
games for children and food concessions. Pony rides, a mechanical
bull, slide, dunking booth and pie in the face booth are among
the plans. The concessions will include ice cream, apple pies,
barbecue and soft drinks.
Civic and other non-profit organizations will also have booths
and offer items for sale as fund-raisers. Balloons, brooms, note
cards and glow in the dark necklaces are among the items to be
JABA members ask that politicians who attend not give out balloons
or other promotional items that may be sold by the civic groups
as fund-raisers. They may give out brochures and cards.
A street dance featuring The Georgians and a fireworks display
presented by the Jefferson Fire Department are also planned for
The Town of Braselton will hold its Celebrate Braselton festival
on Friday, July 2, through Sunday, July 4. The annual event will
feature concerts, displays, fireworks and a parade. Most of the
activities will take place at the Braselton Park, located on
Harrison Street, near West Jackson Primary School. (See this
weeks Jackson Herald for additional details)
Auto Parts & Service
Garden & Agriculture
Industry & Manufacturing
Personal Care Services
Retail Stores & Outlets
Passes School Budget,
But Not Citys Spending Plan
Approval Expected At July Meeting
The Commerce City Council approved the near $2 million local
budget for the Commerce City School System Monday night, but
took no action on its own $34.5 million budget.
In prior years, the council has used its June meeting to approve
the new fiscal year budget, then came back in July with year-end
numbers from the previous fiscal year plugged in, and passed
a final version.
It may have been coincidental, but close to 20 citizens turned
out to see how we are going to be spending our tax dollars
for the next year. The citizens did not speak out during
the meeting, but after it was over, several lingered to grill
City Manager Clarence Bryant and council members about specific
Superintendent of Schools Larry White was first on the agenda
and he wasted little time on details, having spelled out the
spending plan at the previous weeks work session.
The document calls for $1,994,337 in local funds, an increase
of $75,000 or 3.9 percent over last years local appropriation.
The total school budget is $9.26 million, an increase of 6.2
percent. The bulk of that, $6.5 million, comes from state QBE
I think weve got a good budget in light of the austerity
cuts, White told the city council. If it wasnt
for the austerity cuts, wed be here asking you to roll
The council approved the school budget unanimously on a motion
by Mayor Pro Tem Archie D. Chaney Jr.
Then Mayor Charles Hardy asked if the citizens had a spokesman
who would like to address the council. Maria Smallwood obliged.
Were here tonight as concerned citizens of the area
and we would just like to see exactly what takes place at council
meetings and how we are going to be spending our tax dollars
for next year, she explained.
In reviewing the budget, Bryant noted that no changes had been
made in the document since the June 7 workshop. On the spending
side, he pointed out that the General Fund, comprising 12 departments,
accounts for 20 percent of spending, the gas fund will require
36 percent of the budget revenue, the water and sewer system
will eat up another 30 percent and the electric system will absorb
14 percent of all funds.
POOL AN ISSUE
When Bryant asked if any council members had questions, Ward
2 Councilman Donald Wilson, representing many of the citizens
in the audience, proposed that the city postpone about $60,000
in repairs planned for the city pool.
I have to put things at my house on the back burner that
I cant afford to get done, Wilson reasoned.
If you consider not repairing the pool, you have to seriously
consider closing it, replied Bryant. The city manager went
on to explain that the pool costs about $50,000 to operate and
that the porous walls result in the loss of about a foot and
a half of water every day. He also added that the cost for the
repairs comes out of special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST)
funds that must be used on recreation.
Wilson also questioned the need for a city planner, to which
Bryant said the planner was needed two or three years ago.
We need some kind of professional staff to make recommendations.
I think were all shooting in the dark sometimes he
The council took no action related to Wilsons comments.
The police department also came under Wilsons scrutiny.
When Captain Rick Darby reported on the activity of the department
during the past month, Wilson complained about someone being
fined $87 for running a stop sign he admitted to running frequently
himself. He also advised that the department should station officers
near the Ila Road intersection on the bypass instead of checking
on tourists (running radar) on the bypass, complained about
an unmarked police car he said was driving too fast at Banks
Crossing, alleged that some city workers are using city vehicles
to take children to school or church and complained about one
city worker he said was putting a lot of miles on
a vehicle. He provided no names, but promised to talk to Bryant
about the individuals later.
In a related action, the council approved a Wilson motion to
require city decals to be placed on all city vehicles except
unmarked police cars a policy already being enacted.
In other business, the council
authorized the Downtown Development Authority to spend
$30,000 to buy a parking area off View Street for off-street
accepted the Commerce Planning Commissions recommendation
to let Debbie Love develop what used to be Southern Oaks mobile
home park into a development of stick-built houses on 11,000
square foot lots.
reappointed Anne Rogers to represent the city on the Piedmont
Regional Library Board for three more years.
approved the billing and collection of city taxes by Jackson
County Tax Commissioner Don Elrod at a cost of $1.50 per bill.
authorized a loan from Community Bank & Trust of up
to $250,000 at four percent for five years to pay for the new
Utility and Planning Department building under construction on