News from Madison County...

JULY 14, 2004


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
On keeping jobs in America
Our television channels are filled with political advertising as we approach the primaries. As usual, politicians are making promises they cannot keep.
Often they have no plans to keep them because they don’t understand the problem.

Margie Richards
Those barefoot summers
This summer reminds me so much of the summers of my childhood — not extremely hot (that is until the last few days) but muggy, almost tropical.
During those summers I was always barefoot, unless I was dressed for church.


SPORTS
District title belongs to senior leaguers
Madison Co. clinches District 7 crown with 6-2 win over Hart Co.; will move on to Augusta in quest for state title


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Baldwin developers seek water, sewer service
Wishing for water
Developers of a proposed 40-home subdivision on Alto-Mud Creek Road are hoping that the City of Baldwin will be able to provide water and sewer service to the first phase of a 72-acre housing project.
Greg Kelly, Carol Lovell and their project engineer Rick Wallace attended the work session last week to see if the council thought the idea was feasible.

Hearing ahead Thursday on Steel Horse
The Banks County Board of Commissioners has set a hearing for 9 a.m. Thursday at the courthouse on the reported violation at the Steel Horse.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Fletcher, Bell to face-off in Tues. vote
BOC chairman’s race tops local balloting bids
Seven local races up for decision
Two Jackson County political heavyweights will face-off in next Tuesday’s primary election in what has been one of the most heated political campaigns in recent years.

Jackson County school board calls for $70 million bond referendum
Approval would increase millage rate 2.25 mills
The Jackson County Board of Education voted Thursday to put a $70 million general obligation bond before voters during a September 21 referendum. The money, which will go toward new facilities and the renovation of existing school facilities, is needed to keep up with growth, said superintendent Andy Byers.

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‘Singing in the Spirit’

Evelyn Craig walks through the audience Saturday evening singing a soulful song. Craig and others performed at a gospel tribute at Springfield Baptist Church in Comer to the late Lemuel Penn, who was murdered in Madison County by Athens Klan members 40 years ago Sunday, July 11. See this weeks Madison County Journal for a full page of color photos from the singing. Also, see this weeks Madison County Journal for a letter by event organizer Dena Chandler, as well as a written account of that fateful day in 1964 by Linda Yancey, Lemuel Penn’s daughter.

It’s back!
Proposed business center at intersection of Hwy. 98, Hwy. 172 on the table again
Letters for, against proposal on Page 5A of this weeks Madison County Journal.
Map of proposed development on Page 2A of this weeks Madison County Journal.
A planned business center at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Hwy. 72, which was shot down by commissioners in a 3-2 vote last October, is back on the table.
On Tuesday, the county zoning board will consider a request by Plansouth, Inc., to rezone 30 acres at the intersection from A-1 to B-2 to allow for a planned development on the property.
The planning commission will make a recommendation to the BOC, which will consider the request at its July 26 meeting.
The debate over the future of the property was heated last year. Both sides contend that they are looking out for the county's best interests, with those favoring the development saying that a shopping center would bring needed tax revenue to the county, while those against the proposal say that the development is the "right idea, wrong place." (See Page 5A for letters supporting both sides.)
Last year, Bill Taylor, Johnny Fitzpatrick and Bruce Scogin voted to deny the rezoning request, while Mike Youngblood and Melvin Drake voted against denial.
Developers are hoping to swing one of the "no" votes at the BOC table to a "yes." And they speak of a grocery store possibly opening on the site.
"Although at this time we cannot guarantee a major grocery chain, the approval of our rezoning request would help make this location much more desirable to the major grocery companies," developers Lee Naylor and John Purcell said in their letter to the editor. "We also have planned space for other businesses that would offer their services to residents in the area. These types of businesses would include, but would not be limited to, shopping, banking and dining facilities. These businesses would help create more jobs in the county and provide the county with another much-needed source for tax base income."
Some county citizens say the proposal is not in line with long-term county land use planning.
"This proposal is in direct opposition to the Madison County comprehensive land use plan, which encourages such growth along the Hwy. 29 and Hwy. 72 corridors as well as in the towns, but prohibits it from agricultural areas," wrote Bobby Clements, Bill Grubb and Jimmy Parham in their letter to the editor. "Please support our efforts to protect Madison County farmland and our rural way of life. The farm beside you could be next."


Primary elections set for Tuesday
Madison County voters will hit the polls Tuesday, July 20, to participate in the primary elections:
Several local positions will be contested:
•BOC CHAIRMAN — Four Democrats will face off in the primary elections to seek the chance to oust Republican incumbent Wesley Nash in November. Democrats running include John Bellew, Melvin Drake, Burton “Chip” Chandler and Wendell Garrison Williams.
•BOC DISTRICT 1 — Republicans Cullen Wayne Douglas and James Stanley Thomas will run against each other in the Tuesday primary. The winner will face incumbent Bill Taylor, a Democrat, in November.
•BOC DISTRICT 4 — Republicans Wesley Jordan and John Scoggins will face off July 20, with the winner meeting Michael Conrad Sales, a Democrat, in November.
•BOE DISTRICT 5 — John Mason, Robert “Buddy” Fields and Melissa Dawn Skipper will seek the school board’s District 5 seat in a non-partisan election.
•DISTRICT ATTORNEY — Incumbent Bob Lavender and challenger Chris NeSmith, both Democrats, will seek the District Attorney’s post of the Northern Judicial Circuit.


Duncan speaks out against chairman at Mon. meeting
Bryan Duncan, husband of Madison County chief appraiser Rebecca Duncan, spoke out for his wife and her department Monday night, saying that chairman Wesley Nash has acted in a spiteful and deceitful manner to the assessor’s department.
Nash denied Duncan’s charges.
The board of commissioners listened to the allegations but took no significant action Monday. But they did agree to meet with the board of assessors at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 27, in the county government complex to discuss the recent report from the review committee appointed by the state Department of Revenue, which conducted a three-day investigation of the assessor’s office in May.
Duncan’s most notable assertion Monday was that Nash recently cursed at Rebecca Duncan and her staff in the assessor’s office.
“Chairman Nash began to yell at the chief appraiser and stated in front of her employees, ‘I don’t give a (s-h-i) about you, I don’t give a (s-h-i) about this office, I don’t give a (s-h-i) about anything — all I want is this to stop,” said Duncan, asking Nash to respond whether it was “true or false” that he made such statements.
“False,” said Nash.
“Boy, this just ain’t your day,” Duncan said, before handing commissioners notarized statements from two assessor’s office employees saying that Nash had made such statements.
“So in other words, are you saying that you got three liars in that office?” Duncan asked Nash.
“I’m saying that I’d really love to go back to what I suggested in the first place and that would be a lie detector,” said Nash. “I’d be happy to take it.”
Duncan responded, “Well, you just flunked, it’s three against one.”
Duncan also contended that Nash’s actions amounted to “harassment” against the assessor’s office. He said the chairman had unfairly denied access to keys to the assessor’s office to department employees.
The key issue arose after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to determine whether someone had tampered with computer property records in the assessor’s office. Last week, Sheriff Clayton Lowe issued a press release stating that the investigation revealed that a computer glitch was the source of irregularities and that no tampering had occurred.
Nash said he would issue more keys when the official report from the GBI is released — not just a press release about that report.
Duncan also told commissioners Monday that the recent vote to create an Appraiser IV position — essentially, a boss for Mrs. Duncan — was wasteful. He said his wife and her staff are capable of doing a good job and don’t need a new boss in the office. He said the errors in the 2003 tax digest were corrected in the 2004 digest, and that such improvements show that they are a capable staff.
When Duncan was finished speaking, Nash did not reply to the charges, saying only “Thank you, Mr. Duncan” as Duncan returned to his seat.


Danielsville teen killed in Tues. wreck
A 16-year-old Danielsville resident died Tuesday afternoon in a single-car accident on Young Harris Road.
Adam Wilson of Cliff Griffeth Road was killed when a 1999 gray Ford Ranger driven by Samuel Curtis Kitchens, 15, Danielsville, ran off the road and overturned, according to the Athens State Patrol office.
Wilson was thrown out of the vehicle. Kitchens was treated for “visible injuries” at Athens Regional Medical Center.
The accident occurred approximately one mile east of Serenity Lane shortly after 5:30 p.m. Neither Wilson nor Kitchens were wearing seatbelts, the State Patrol said.

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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.


Danielsville to contract with county for building inspections
The Danielsville council wants to contract with the Madison County government for building inspection services for city residents.
The council agreed Monday night to contract with the county for city building inspection services and to adopt state building codes. The county must also agree to the contract. Once the contract process is completed, all city residents requiring building inspection services will be referred to the county planning and zoning office.
In a similar matter, the council agreed to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to not require a building permit for additions or other remodeling projects that are under $10,000. The current ordinance requires a permit for work totaling $500 or over. The city must advertise the amendment for 30 days and take a final vote at their September meeting.
In other business:
•The council held a 15-minute closed session for an employee evaluation of police office Danny Bennett.
•The council voted to replace employee holidays that fall on regular days off with their last scheduled work day preceding the holiday.
•The group agreed to adopt the state mandated watering restrictions, which follow the even-odd address system.
•The council tabled a decision on the purchase of city decals for city-owned vehicles. City maintenance worker Jerry Riley presented the council with a price of $390 for newly-designed vinyl decals for the city’s four trucks.
•The council agreed to refund $100 to Long Estates developers Todd Higdon and Stanley Martin for every meter connection fee received by residents who move into the subdivision. Meter connection fees are $500. This was done to reimburse the developers for the labor in installing water lines to their new subdivision on Crawford W. Long Road.


Ila to pay insurance penalty for former trash company
Ila’s mayor and council agreed Monday night to pay an additional $1,157 to the city’s insurance company to cover the failure of the city’s former trash collection company to provide the required proof of workmans’ compensation insurance.
City clerk Susan Steed reported that the city has to pay the additional premium on the city’s policy for Bolton Enterprises, which failed to provide a certificate of coverage for their workers from March 2002 - March 2004. The city may have to pay additional funds for March - June 7, 2004 when the company was terminated for breach of contract.
After discussion, the council also agreed not to pursue reimbursement from the company in a lawsuit.
An audit by American Interstate Insurance Company in May required city clerk Susan Steed to obtain workman’s compensation certificates from each of the the city’s service providers
Steed reported last month that Bolton had failed to provide the required documentation, despite numerous requests and that he had failed to return calls on the matter.
For the rest of the story see this weeks Madison County Journal.