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JULY 7, 2004


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OPINIONS
Phillip Sartain
The emotional state of the union
After 15 years of not so subtle manipulation and positioning, my wife has won one of her more critical and protracted gender battles. Well, sort of. Having managed to get through 46 years of life without a massage, my wife cornered and pinned me in Sante Fe, New Mexico, of all places.

Rochelle Becksstine
Video games—a resident evil?
Video game opponents believe that violent, gruesome video games are destroying an entire generation. Video game makers state that their games fall under the First Amendment (free speech) and that their self-imposed rating system, which includes an “adults only” rating, should guide parents to choose games appropriate for their children. I think they both may by right.


SPORTS
4-H archers compete at state contest
Banks County 4-H’ers took aim at the Georgia 4-H Compound Archery Cham-pionship held on May 1st during the 4-H Target Challenge Weekend at Rock Eagle 4-H Center.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
City Schools Again Seek
Tax Authority
City’s Cash Flow Problems Bring Issue From 2003 Back On To The Table Again
An old issue is due to resurface before the Commerce City Council Monday night.

Fletcher to settle ethics complaint
Jackson County Board of Commission chairman Harold Fletcher said Tuesday that he will settle the ethics complaint filed against him.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
On Race and Justice
Murder case put Madison Co. at center of Civil Rights storm
A lone wooden chair sits in the jury section of the old Madison County Superior Courtroom. The back of the seat is split apart from the frame, all buckled and curled forward. The forgotten chair is like the dusty relic of some violent storm of the past.

No Crime
GBI finds computer glitch was source of tampering concerns
See this weeks Madison County Journal for summary of recommendations from a state revenue committee
A review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that irregularities in the county property tax records were not the result of tampering, but were caused by a computer glitch.

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LICENSE PULLED AFTER MALE REVIEW

Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman pulled the alcohol license at The Steel Horse early Saturday morning following an undercover operation at the Banks Crossing bar. A “male review” reportedly violated the county ordinance on nudity at businesses where alcohol is served.



Sheriff pulls alcohol license at Steel Horse
BOC to set a hearing on reported ordinance violation at the Banks Crossing bar
Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman pulled the alcohol license at The Steel Horse early Saturday morning following an undercover operation at the Banks Crossing bar.
Sheriff Chapman said he first became concerned after reports of a planned “male review” at the club Friday night. The county ordinance doesn’t allow nudity, regardless of whether it is partially or entirely nude, at businesses where alcohol is served.
The sheriff said he checked into this before Friday and was told that the Atlanta dancers would not be nude during their performance.
Chapman said four undercover officers, accompanied by two females, went to the club Friday night.
“During their performance, partial nudity was exhibited, which is in defiance with Banks County’s ordinance,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff, along with investigator Kyle Bryant and Lt. David Savage, went to the club at 12:15 a.m. Saturday and met with the owner, Mike Bramonte. The sheriff said they told him of the violation and pulled his alcohol license.
Chapman said the sheriff’s office only has authority to shut the club down for 24 hours. He added that it was closed Saturday night. The matter is then turned over to the board of commissioners, who have 10 days to give the owner a hearing on the violation. The BOC will then decide whether to pull the alcohol license.
Chapman said he discussed another violation with the owner, which is the “blackened out” windows at the club. The sheriff said these are not allowed under the county ordinance. He said the owner agreed to replace them.


New bill helps Georgia’s poultry growers
After years of political wrangling, Georgia’s poultry farmers now have rights under House Bill 648 that previously were denied.
Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance president Barry Edington spread the news at a recent gathering in Maysville of poultry growers from the Banks/Jackson/Franklin area.
Growers now have the right to seek legal counsel before signing grower contracts and have three days before such a contract takes effect. The act includes all contracts, whether new, extended, amended or renewed.
Previously, growers were required to sign on the spot, relinquishing their rights to legal counsel, Edington said. They also were required to keep the contract secret from other growers and were not allowed to discuss the details with anyone.
The companies are also now required to provide the growers with “any statistical information and data including stock, feed conversion rates, feed analyses, origination and breeder history.”
One of the main concerns of poultry farmers has been that they do not know the quality of stock they receive or what is in the feed they receive from their poultry companies. Some growers have lost thousands of dollars due to receiving the wrong feed or contaminated feed for their specific types of birds, said Ernie Curtis, GPJA board member, while others have been sent diseased birds and told to deal with it. The sick birds can either live without reaching normal weight or die by the hundreds or thousands, he added. Commonly, growers are given the wrong medicine or no medicine for the flocks, he said.
Another change discussed is that the growers now have the right to be present at the weighing of poultry they produce and be present at the weighing of the feed delivered by the “integrators” (poultry industry field supervisors) and “observe the weights and measures used to determine compensation” due the growers.
The bill made it through the House and Senate, in part due to the work and lobbying of members of the Georgia Poultry Justice Association.
Edington said: “This is good for us, good for all the growers, but it doesn’t go far enough. We want to help in any way we can. There is a lot more that we can accomplish as a group. We need to join together to make things better in the industry.”
A GPJA member noted that before the bill’s passage there were rumors of companies threatening to pull out of Georgia or passing the state by in looking for a relocation site. Sanderson Farms was reportedly considering expanding operations into Georgia, not running from it. Sanderson representatives set up meetings with potential growers despite the bill making its way through the state legislature. Even members of the legislature agreed with the growers’ assessment that the rumor of a decision by Sanderson hinging on HB 648 was an obvious bluff.
For the past four years, the GPJA has taken on the giant poultry industries in Georgia, according to Curtis. All the group is seeking is to be treated fairly and justly, he said. In spite of the numerous hearings held at the state capitol that brought to light the injustices practiced by the poultry giants, which placed undue hardships upon the growers, catchers and workers in the processing plants, Georgia legislators were apparently swayed by the spin of lobbyists. The bill did not make it out of committee.
That did not stop the GPJA or the executive director, Rosalynn Evans. They went to work on the legislators, talking with them individually, pushing them for support.
Though the bill passed both the senate and the house in April, it didn’t include to major points to benefit poultry grower.
One is to abolish binding arbitration from contracts and allow poultry farmers to seek the right to “the legal remedy of trial by jury.”
Curtis said: “We still have to work on this. Arbitration can run $20,000 or more. And it favors the industry, not the farmer.”
The other battle concerns the waste that comes from the chickens the poultry industries own, Evans said. No grower actually owns their flocks – they just provide the housing. So if the industry owns the chickens, why not own what comes out of them? That seems to be a question that is ignored, he said.
The poultry farmers share environmental concerns, he said. They know the problems that can occur and do not want to be labeled as polluters. Nor do they want to shoulder the financial burden to meet the restrictions and regulations being enforced by the environmental protection division. They firmly believe the industry should accept the responsibility of disposal of litter and dead birds.
Both issues were dropped from the bill, much to the dismay of the GPJA membership and growers.
Evans, however, said she intends to pursue those issues and the votes needed to pass an amendment that includes them.
The GPJA is a non-profit coalition dedicated to bettering the lives and working conditions of people whose livelihood depends on the poultry industry. Members include poultry growers, environmentalists, labor organizers, poultry catchers, poultry processing workers and members of the faith-based community. For more information, call (404) 323-1884 or visit the website at gpja.org.



Chamber to hold ‘meet the candidates’ Sun.
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce is holding a “Meet the Candidates” session on Sunday, July 11, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the cafeteria of Banks County High School.
All candidates and residents are invited to attend.

Meetings coming up in next week
Several meetings are coming up in Banks County in the next week, including the following:
•Chamber of Commerce, 8 a.m. Thursday at Garrison Civic Center, Homer.
•Family Connections, 9 a.m. Thursday.
•Development Authority, 9:30 a.m., Thursday, July 8, at courthouse.
•Lula City Council work session, 11 a.m. Thursday at city hall.
•Baldwin City Council work session, 6:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
•Board of Education work session, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 8, at BOE conference room.
•County Planning Commission, 7 p.m. Monday at courthouse.
•Baldwin City Council regular meeting, 7 p.m. Monday
•Board of Education regular meeting, 7 p.m. Monday
•Maysville City Council, 7:30 p.m. Monday at public library.
•Homer City Council, 6 p.m. Tuesday at city hall.
•Alto City Council work session/regular meeting, 6:30/7 p.m., Tuesday, July 13, at city hall.
•Board of Commissioners, 7 p.m. Tuesday at courthouse.

 


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Entire fire building didn’t fail inspection
A page one article in last week’s newspaper contained a misleading headline, “Building fails inspection.”
The article was on the new Banks County Fire Department built on Industrial Drive at Banks Crossing. The entire building did not fail the inspection. The brickwork is the only part of the building that failed the inspection and the developer agreed with the county that it be replaced.
We apologize for the headline on the story and any indication that the entire building failed the county inspection.


Lula covered bridge needs repair
Eleven years ago, the historical society, the chamber of commerce, county commissioners, the school superintendent and property owners signed a preservation and utilization agreement spelling out responsibilities for long-term care of the newly refinshed Lula Covered Bridge. Large gaping holes in the roof and overgrowth on the property threaten the historical bridge once again.
Since that time, the bridge has not been maintained and is in need of repair.
Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady said he is willing to fix the bridge.
“I’d like to get together with the historical society and chamber so we can do it right,” Brady said.
“Would we support fixing it? Absolutely!” said chamber director Rick Billingslea about the damaged bridge. “We will work with the historical society.”
But Billingslea, who has been with the chamber of commerce for one year, said he wasn’t aware of any responsibility regarding the bridge.
“I don’t know, I’m not aware of anything regarding the bridge,” he said. “If there is a contract out there I want to see it. I’m not aware of one.”
A preservation and utilization agreement dated August 10, 1993, and signed by property owners Clint Tate and Sam Rogers, chamber president Bonnie Johnson, school superintendent Dock Sisk, board of commissin chairman Milton Patterson and the president of the historical society explains the maintance of the bridge.
It reads: “whereas the bridge was restored through the efforts of Andrew K. Walker, Georgia First Bank, and Harry Holland, Marietta Bridge and Culvert, and whereas the bridge has now fallen into a state of disrepair and the immediate land area as well as the old road bed are overgrown with brush, trees and scrubs and it is the intention of all parties to preserve the Blind Susie Bridge and to provide reasonable, but safe access for the community and other interested parties enter into the agreement.”
It states that Banks County will provide labor and equipment to complete the restoration and agree to maintain the area on a regular basis in the future. The Banks County Chamber of Commerce and historical society will promote the preservation and utilization of the bridge for the betterment of the community. Property owners, Sam Rogers and Clint Tate, agreed to easements for the county. The agreement also states that the school system, and the school children, will take part in activities at the bridge to encourage the continued preservation, love and respect of the bridge.
“...parties have agreed to the same and will cause this agreement to be a part of their permanent records to be passed on from generation to generation, from sale to sale, from conveyance to conveyance, from now and hereafter.”
A deed signed on October 16, 1967, sold an 80-foot right-of-way on the property to the county for $1. Included in the right-of-way is “that tract of land lying and being in the Poplar Springs Grove River along and on either side thereof for slopes fills and draingage necessary for the construction and maintencance.” The document boasts 12 signatures and is notarized and recorded.
Billingslea said he had an issue with the fact that the bridge was on private property.
“We are trying to find a place to create a village with historical buildings,” Billingslea said. “I agree that it needs to be preserved, but it needs to be moved to property with public access.”
Brady said a property owner told volunteers to leave in 1994 when a group went to clean-up the area around the bridge. He said a third party, not included in the legal deeds, owns a small piece of property between the road and the bridge property.
“If we could get some kind of easement from him, then we’d get it done as best we can,” Brady said. “We’d go back up there and bush-hog because that’s what we are supposed to do,” Brady said.
ONE OF FEW LEFT
The Lula covered bridge is one of only 13 covered bridges left in the state and is one of the smallest in the country, it measures 34 feet long. The bridge was constructed in 1911 by W.M. Thomas using the King Post design. The bridge was built across a small tributary to the Oak Grove Creek. Moved from its original location, the bridge is now located off of Ga Hwy. 51 about three miles east of Lula on Antioch Church Road.
It was added to the register of historical places in 1975. The Banks County courthouse was added to the register in 1980 and the jail was added in 1982.
The covered bridge is known as the Lula covered bridge, the Hyder Bridge or the Blind Susie bridge. According to Bobby Blackwell, president of the historical society, “Blind Susie” was believed to be an old woman who sold moonshine to travelers near the bridge.
An article published in The Times on December 21, 1975, described the bridge as “a pitiful sight.”
“The old tin roof lay among the broken planks of the flooring, the far end of the bridge no longer existed, nor did one side,” Tina Carlson wrote. “The floorboards sagged under the invisible weight of long-past years and decay had sapped the strength of the strongest supporting planks. It hurt me to see such a valuable part of our heritage left alone to ruin”
Harry Holland, a bridge builder from Marietta, volunteered to re-build the shambles into a bridge for free. The wooden bridge was refurbished with as much of the original materials as possible and it still stands on the original platform. The sides and the roof were shingled to keep the water out.
A dedication ceremony, hosted by the chamber of commerce, was held on October 21, 1994.