News from Madison County...

JUNE 23, 2004


Madison County
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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
Big gov’t crowd rewrites history
It appears to be a trend. If history doesn’t agree with your political opinions, just rewrite history. We traditional Southerners have long faced this kind of abuse. The far left regularly distorts southern history in order to justify their attempts to destroy all signs of our culture.

Zach Mitcham
A Major League experience
It's easy to go overboard with baseball sentimentality. And we often do in this country. For instance, warm talk about baseball on television or in the movies requires a somber song in the background, preferably something with violins.


SPORTS
Big League Homecoming
Madison County’s Jake Westbrook pitches in front of family and friends at Turner Field
ATLANTA — The last time Jake Westbrook pitched in front of 100 folks from his hometown there weren’t 41,000 other fans in the stands with them.
Red Raider Field didn’t seat quite that many.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Board of education adopts 13.75 millage rate
Up by 1.5 mills; citizens plead for smaller increase
Citizens of Banks County pled with members of the board of education to reduce a proposed 1.5 millage rate increase at the final public hearing held Monday night. The 13.75 millage rate was adopted by the board at a meeting called after the public hearing.

Homer plans town meeting for Tues.
The Homer City Council will hold a town meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Weather Holds, Festival Comes Off Smoothly
Hot and sticky weather may have hurt the turnout, but the threat of rain never materialized, and the 2004 City Lights Concert and Festival came off without a hitch Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Saverne Rucker-Varnum named to water authority
A Jefferson woman who teaches school in Clarke County was appointed to replace Dean Stringer on the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.

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CANDIDATES FOR
BOC CHAIRMAN’S POST

Pictured (L-R) are candidates for the BOC chairman’s seat: Democrats John Bellew, Melvin Drake, Burton “Chip” Chandler and Republican incumbent Wesley Nash. Democratic candidate Wendell Williams did not attend the forum.

The race for the chairman’s seat
Candidates speak at Tuesday forum
It wasn't standing room only, but there was quite a crowd at the Chamber of Commerce's second political forum held Tuesday night, this time at the Madison County High School performing arts theater.
This two-hour forum was held for candidates of the hotly contested county-wide chairman's seat on the board of commission, board of commissioners’ District 4 and the District Attorney's position.
The forums — this was the second of three — are designed to give voters a chance to meet and hear from candidates in contested races for county seats.
A final forum will be held in October for all candidates.
Local attorney Victor Johnson moderated the forum, introducing each of the candidates, including incumbents, with a brief biography, after which each was given a five-minute opportunity to introduce himself and briefly touch on issues he is concerned about before the floor was opened to written questions from the audience.
Four of the five BOC chairman candidates, including incumbent chairman Wesley Nash, a Republican, were present. Wendell Williams, a Democrat, did not attend the forum.
Williams, John Bellew, Burton "Chip" Chandler and Melvin Drake will face off in the Democratic primary July 20, with the winner facing Nash in the November general election.
Here's a look at what each candidate said at Tuesday's forum:
JOHN BELLEW
John Bellew, a business owner and Army veteran, served on the county commission from 1989-92. He currently serves as chairman of the county board of tax assessors and has been a member of the board since 2000.
"I'm very direct and I will stand up for you as chairman," Bellew told the audience. "The chairman basically serves as your county manager and we're coming to you to be hired."
Bellew said he had copies of his resume' for the job which he would be glad to give to anyone.
"On Dec. 31, 2004 this term of the chairman's job expires," he said. "On Jan. 1, 2005, it's a new position. So I'm basically not running against anyone either. I'm applying for this job because I have the business experience to do this job and I will be accountable, number one to the people and number two, to the five district commissioners."
Bellew added that he would work with whomever the voters send him.
Bellew said the county is far behind on many issues the commissioners tried to implement when he served on the BOC 12 years ago, such as the water system.
"We also need a small sewer system to attract businesses and commercial growth," he said.
"And we need to make sure the growth pays for itself — we can control it and manage it but we can't stop it."
Bellew said he feels there should be no major subdivisions allowed in the county unless they are hooked to the county water system.
"If we'll go by our comprehensive plan we won't get into trouble," he said.
BURTON "CHIP" CHANDLER
Burton "Chip" Chandler, a former District 5 county commissioner, serves as the Carlton fire chief and in various other civil service positions.
"Madison County is experiencing rapid residential growth; we're not the farming community we were for the past 200 years or so — we're at a crossroads," Chandler said.
Chandler added that he ran and was elected District 5 commissioner in 1992 on a platform of establishing a 911 system, zoning and a senior center. He noted that he was the only commissioner to vote for an animal shelter when the matter first came before the BOC.
"Bill Madden (former commission chairman) did a good job of upgrading roads in the county but at that time (early 1990s) we had very little infrastructure," Chandler said.
"I want you to ask yourselves what you want Madison County to look like in 10 years or 15 years: how many people do you want to live here? 50,000? 100,000?, 500,000 - or 680,000 — that's the number that Cobb County now has," Chandler said. "You have some control over these issues right now. We're at a good point. The county's at a good point to guide growth. We're still small-town friendly."
Chandler pointed out that he has had many diverse careers, including operating a tree farm, serving as EMS director, a subdivision developer, a teacher, a builder, a conservationist and a former county commissioner.
"You're not starting at scratch with me, together you and I and everybody here has the opportunity to make this the best county in Georgia — I picked here to live in 1974 and we'll be here...," he said.
MELVIN DRAKE
Melvin Drake, who is completing a term as District 4 commissioner, is a local business owner and also works for the board of education as a bus driver, a position he has held for the past four years.
Drake has served on the 911 advisory board and other committees. He said he is running for chairman for several reasons.
"One reason in particular is to meet oncoming growth as we have in the past, moving forward with the dignity and grace of the fine southern lady she is," Drake said.
Drake acknowledged that the county was growing by "leaps and bounds" and should not be allowed to get out of control.
"We have to blend growth and industry and as county chairman this can be accomplished — all we have to do is work together," he said. Drake said the chairman's job should be to work hand in hand with municipalities, schools and citizens alike.
"Everyone has a right to express their opinion and my office (as chairman) will maintain an open door policy and I will make myself available to all the citizens of Madison County and be willing to adjust plans to serve everyone as best we can," he said.
Drake said although it would be impossible to satisfy everyone he would work to make things better.
"I will give my best to get things done in a timely, unbiased manner with good ole'
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.


IDA to provide water to proposed Hwy. 29 subdivision
The county’s industrial development authority (IDA) agreed Monday night to provide water service to Bryant Woods, a proposed 26-lot subdivision on Hwy. 29 South at Joe Graham Road (in the Diamond Rock community).
The agreement is contingent on developer John West, of Dearing Development, paying the expense of a 2,300-foot extension of six inch water line from nearby Piedmont Road north to the subdivision entrance -— at a cost of approximately $27,600, which all agreed will be cheaper and more reliable for the developer than the expense of installing a community water system to IDA specifications.
The IDA will foot the additional cost of an upgrade to an eight or 12 inch water line along the Hwy. 29 route to the subdivision to prepare for future cut-ins to the water supply.
West, who appeared before the planning commission last week, has yet to receive final approval from the board of commissioners for a rezone on the 30-acre parcel his company is purchasing from property owner Melba Bryant. (The planning commission voted last week 4-3 to recommend the BOC approve the rezone, despite protests from several neighboring property owners.)
West will present his request to the BOC at their business meeting Monday night.
Walter Searcy, a planning commission member who voted against the rezone last week and who was at the IDA meeting told the board that their decision to provide water to the development put his concerns over the proposed subdivision to rest.
In other business, IDA secretary Marvin White said the Colonial Pipeline water project is progressing “slightly ahead of schedule.” The board has received a DOT permit for construction of water lines for the project on Hwy. 29, and is awaiting permits for Hwys. 72 and 172 as well as permits to cross Williams Gas Pipeline. Colonial has already approved crossing their lines and most of the engineering work has been completed. White said the IDA will advertise for bids on the project from July 1 - 31, with bids being opened in early August.
The board will then have 30 days to award a contract with a “notice to proceed” being issued sometime around Sept. 1.
In other matters Monday :
•The board also heard Searcy’s concerns about trash and other debris being dumped on the proposed business park property on Hwy. 72 at James Holcomb Road. The IDA agreed to put up a chain or cable to prevent vehicles from driving on the land.
•Utility director Tyson Culberson told the board that the South Madison Water System has completed its fifth month of water service to residents and is in “good shape.” He also reported that an iron filter has been installed on the Hwy. 72 well to reduce excessive iron content.
•Culberson told the board that the influx of new water customers slowed down slightly last month. Water tie-ins have been averaging approximately 10 to 15 new customers per month.
•The board heard that IDA and county commissioners have been invited to tour Colonial Pipeline’s booster station facilities on Colonial Drive off Colbert Grove Church Road on Thursday, June 24, at 9:30 a.m.
•The board agreed to advertise their intent to amend the water system’s ordinance to adopt the Water Conservation Plan mandated by the state’s Environmental Protection Division. The board plans to adopt the amendment at their July meeting. The plan calls for restricted outdoor watering based on the odd/even address system, with tighter restrictions in the event drought conditions worsen. Violations will be treated as midemeanors. Attorney Victor Johnson pointed out that enforcement of the ordinance would have to be carried out by the county, not the IDA and that the county would have to adopt an ordinance to enforce the restrictions.

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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.


Colbert festival set for July 3
The city of Colbert will hold its 35th Annual Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, July 3 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Call Colbert City Hall at 788-2311 for more details.
An agenda of events is as follows:
•6:30 a.m. — Registration for the 17th Annual Colbert Canna Run 5K and One Mile Fun Run begins at Colbert Elem. School (look for the signs), which is located on Hwy. 72 one-half mile from the Depot. The 5K begins promptly at 8 a.m. followed by the One Mile Fun Run at 9 a.m. Call for registration forms, prices and details.
•8:30 a.m. — Parade participants should meet in the staging area located in the open area next to the old Colbert Elementary School off Colbert- Danielsville Road.
•10 a.m.- Parade begins.
•12 noon - Barbecue sponsored by the Colbert Lions Club.
There will be booths set up across from the post office with food and arts and crafts vendors, along with activities for both children and adults.


BOE to approve 5% budget increase Tues.
Madison County’s Board of Education will meet Tuesday night to approve the school system’s 2004-2005 budget, which was tentatively set at $34.6 million — up almost five percent from last year’s $33 million budget.
The BOE will hold a special called meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday, in the high school media center, then officially approve the budget at 6:30 p.m.
No tax rate increase is planned to cover school expenses, with the school system tax rate expected to stay at 16.72 mills. While the tax rate will remain steady, property owners could see an increase in their tax bill due to a projected 29 percent increase in the county tax digest. However, according to state law, tax levying boards must hold public hearings if they choose not to roll back their tax rate in proportion with tax digest growth.
Those hearings and the official approval of the school tax rate will come after the county tax digest is officially approved.
And that may be awhile.
A date for official approval of the tax digest is up in the air as the conflict between the county commission chairman’s office and the assessor’s department continues.
Assessment notices have been delayed as the BOC waits for an official report from the Georgia Department of Revenue concerning the findings of a three-man committee that conducted a three-day investigation of the assessor’s office in May.
That report has been completed, but as of Tuesday, the Revenue Commissioner had not officially signed off on the document. Once the commissioner has signed the document, it will be released to county officials.