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JULY 28, 2004

Jackson County

Jackson County
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Tiger Sharks Nab 17 Ribbons At League Meet
State Meet All That’s Left For Local Swim Team
The Commerce Tiger Sharks capped their regular season by collecting 17 ribbons through either individual or team relay competition at this past Saturday’s North Georgia Swim League championship meet in Gainesville.

Last area teams bow out of state tourney
The last two area all star teams still alive in Georgia Recreation and Parks Association state play were eliminated in their respective tournaments during the past week.
The 10-and-under boys and the 12-and-under boys, both from Jefferson, were each playing in Class B action in Carrollton and Americus respectively.

Senter takes Pro Late Model checkered flag at LNS
Joey Senter of Jefferson started on the pole and established leads of nearly two seconds twice before being forced to hold off Dwayne Buggay in the closing laps to win this past Saturday night’s Pro Late Model 50-lap feature at Lanier National Speedway.

News from
Steel Horse on probation
Club on probation for six months after BOC looks into ordinance violations
The Steel Horse was given six months probation after the Banks County Board of Commissioners held a hearing Tuesday morning to discuss several ordinance violations associated with a male review that took place at the business on July 3.

Baldwin fire department awarded $74,000 Homeland Security grant
Baldwin fire chief Joe Roy was all smiles as he informed the city council at a meeting last week of the department’s Homeland Security fire grant award of $74,082.

News from
No! again
BOC denies rezoning for major shopping center at Hwy. 98 and Hwy. 172 for a second time. But smaller version of development may still be on horizon.
Madison County leaders again axed a planned major shopping development in a rural area of the county Monday night. However, a smaller-scale version of the proposed shopping center could be on the horizon.

Yes, it’s school time
County students back to the books Aug. 5
It’s already time for school bells to ring around the county once again. All students in the Madison County School System head back to class on Thursday, Aug. 5.
The biggest changes at the start of this year are the completion of several SPLOST-funded construction projects, including new wings for three elementary schools and the completion of the new sports complex across from the high school.

Our Time and Place:
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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 County.

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Stacy Sheridan, a second grade teacher at North Jackson Elementary School, prepares her desk for the new school year. Sheridan is one of several first-year teachers at the school. Students return to class in the county school system on Tuesday, Aug. 3. See this weeks Jackson Herald for more back-to-school news.

School bells to ring next week
City, county school systems begin classes Monday, Tuesday
Students in the Jackson County and Jefferson City school systems are returning to class next week.
The Jefferson City School System will hold its first day of class on Monday, Aug. 2, while the Jackson County School System will begin its first day for students on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
The Jackson County School System is expecting to welcome an additional 250 students when classes begin. Superintendent Andy Byers estimates that 5,600 students will be enrolled in the county school system this school year.
“We’ve got growth all over (the county), but the middle schools and West Jackson are growing the fastest,” Byers said.
Dr. John Jackson, superintendent of the Jefferson City School System, said student enrollment is expected to jump from 1,681 students last school year to 1,845 for the 2004-2005 school year.
“The high school and middle school have grown substantially,” he said.
Jefferson Middle School is expected to welcome an additional 60 students this school year for an estimated total of nearly 450 students, Jackson said. Jefferson High School is planning to welcome an additional 70 students for an estimated total of 477 students.
Byers said the county school system isn’t planning too many changes for the new school year.
“We’re opening school just about the same as we closed it,” he said.
The county school system will continue to emphasize academic achievement to meet “adequate yearly progress” and funding from the state will remain an issue for educators, Byers said.
But, there are some notable changes for students this school year.
New bus transportation schedules are planned and students will be held accountable if they miss more than five days of class. A new state law establishes a truancy committee through superior court that will punish students it finds not attending school, he said. High school students could lose their driver’s license if they are absent too often.
Construction projects were sparse during the summer, but both middle schools received new weight rooms, and an additional warehouse and maintenance facility were built at the board of education office.
The new school year will mark the first year the city school system is charging tuition for its new elementary students that live outside the Jefferson city limits.
The Jefferson City School System has also named full-time music teachers at each of its three schools and a part-time drama instructor at the high school has been hired.
“We’re excited about the advancements in those areas,” Jackson said.
After being suspended for a year, due to budget cuts, the Spanish program at JMS will be re-instated this school year. School leaders hope to offer high school credit for eighth graders taking Spanish I, Jackson said.
The city school system also opened its eighth kindergarten class this school year, he added.
“We’re looking forward to another good year,” Jackson said. “We greatly appreciate the kind of support we get in Jefferson.”

Bond vote tops school system concerns for year
Jackson County School System students won’t notice too many changes this school year, superintendent Andy Byers said.
Parents, however, will encounter an “educational process” about the proposed $70 million bond package, slated for a vote on Sept. 21, he said.
And should voters approve the ambitious funding package, changes will begin to happen quickly for the growing school system.
“If this passes, you’re going to see a good part of construction in Jackson County,” Byers said Thursday.
Top priority for the county school system is a new high school in East Jackson and a third middle school in South Jackson.
Construction on the new high school was slated to begin this year, but when the economy soured last year and SPLOST funds waned, the project was delayed, he said.
Jackson County Comprehensive High School, which was designed to handle 1,200 students, will face more overcrowding this school year with at least 1,670 students, Byers said.
And for the first time in the school’s history at its Winder Highway location, portable classrooms will be used for regular classes, he said.
JCCHS has been using the Gordon Street Center in recent years as an overflow location, but even that facility is no longer able to handle the growing student population, Byers said. The school system had to ask that the GED classes be moved to the Lainer Technical College campus in Commerce to make room for two classes.
The county high school isn’t the only facility that will be using trailers to handle regular classes this year — East Jackson Middle School and Maysville Elementary School are doing the same, he added.
Byers said voters of the bond referendum have a choice on whether to fund several new schools and additional classrooms or allow students to continue meeting in portable classrooms.
Also included in the proposed bond package is one new elementary school — and quite possibly a second.
The county school system has two areas of concern when it comes to the rapidly-growing student population.
The first concern is Traditions of Braselton, where Byers said that more younger families with children are purchasing lots than was previously anticipated. Traditions of Braselton will have 1,550 homes and demographics show the population will be similar to Hamilton Mill, he said.
The second concern is the number of large developments on the drawing board for Pendergrass. Hundreds of houses have been proposed for the city in recent months.
The county school system already has enough land near West Jackson Middle School for a new elementary school, but it hasn’t purchased property for a school in North Jackson, Byers said.
Schools leaders will continue to watch the growing populations in West and North Jackson to determine which area will need an elementary school first, he said. And they hope enough money, along with state funds, will be available for a second elementary school.
“We’re going to be suffering a good bit before those schools open,” Byers said.
But, new schools aren’t the only items in the proposed bond package.
South Jackson Elementary School and MES are slated to receive additional classrooms, he said. West Jackson Primary School will have a new bus loading area, while additional money will be used to purchase land for future school sites. The school system has purchased land on New Kings Bridge Road for the third middle school.

County land use map amended for industrial park
Proposed 264-acre industrial park on Holly Springs Road still has to be rezoned
A request to bring a 264-acre industrial park off I-85 on Holly Springs Road received approval from the board of commissioners at a called meeting on Friday.
Commissioners Stacey Britt and Emil Beshara voted in favor of the request and chairman Harold Fletcher also voted to give the green light for the project. Commissioners Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty weren’t present for the meeting.
Billy Norris asked the commissioners to amend the county land use map from urban residential and gateway corridor to industrial workplace for the site located near Freightliner.
The county planning and development department advised denial of the request to build three million square feet of warehouse space, while the Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approval.
B.R. White, director, said the planning department recommended denial of the request after an extensive process to amend the county’s future land use plan was completed.
Commission chairman Harold Fletcher asked Norris to help “ease the fears” of nearby property owners about the proposed development. The project still has to be rezoned for industrial use; Friday’s vote just approved a change to the county’s land use map.
Commissioner Britt said some of the concerns of nearby property owners can be addressed during the rezoning process.
And one nearby property is the site of Cave Springs Baptist Church, where Fletcher is a deacon. The church has been at the site for 120 years, he said.
“I could envision that there could possibly be some things that would be detrimental to our development and our continual use of our properties,” Fletcher said. “I will, however, feel that those can be worked out to the satisfaction of everyone in the rezoning process.”
Commissioner Beshara said he opposes many permitted uses in the industrial zoning district, because of the proximity to residential properties.
Norris’ project will use 75,000 gallons per day of sewage treatment capacity in the Jefferson system that is owned by the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority. According to a letter from David Clabo, city manager, Jefferson officials approve the move.

More county debt ahead?
IDA, BOC meeting on road work cancelled
Two roads critical for the Toyota/MACI plant
Is more debt on the horizon for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners?
The board of commissioners has been pushing for approval of an approximately $20-million-plus financing package from the county industrial development authority for a series of roads and other projects. Included in the deal are the two roads for the Toyota plant.
The IDA members have reportedly been hesitant to agree to the full $20 million bond resolution and have instead wanted to fund part of the projects.
There have been some behind-the-scenes negotiations, which apparently have become controversial. A joint meeting of the BOC and IDA had been set up for Wednesday, July 28, to discuss the matter but it was cancelled less than two hours before it was scheduled to be held.
Pat Bell, who beat incumbent BOC chairman Harold Fletcher in the recent primary, planned to attend the meeting, as well as over 100 concerned citizens.
The two groups had met on the matter in February, and the IDA appointed members Jim Dove and Jim Shaw in March to a committee to review the issue and report back.

Collins off the JCWSA
BOC fills post with West Jackson resident
Elton Collins is no longer a member of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided at a Friday afternoon called meeting to end Collins’ three-year term on the JCWSA, following several recent spats between the two boards.
And according to commission chairman Harold Fletcher, Collins won’t challenge the move to name his replacement and approves the BOC’s decision.
“In discussion with Mr. Collins, he expressed his desire not to be re-appointed,” Fletcher said at the meeting. Collins served as chairman of the authority from June 2001 to February 2004.
Commissioners named Hunter Bicknell, Braselton, to the authority, effective immediately. He will serve until June 30, 2007.
“Hunter is very impressive when you meet him, he’s a very intelligent person,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he looked around Jackson County for Collins’ replacement and decided on the Liberty Crest North subdivision resident. Fletcher said he met Bicknell a few months ago.
Bicknell said Tuesday that he met Fletcher at a meeting of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce. He has lived in Jackson County for four years.
The 59-year-old native of Southeast Atlanta is now retired.
According to Bicknell’s resume, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marketing from Georgia State University.
He retired as vice president in April 2002 from Sky Climber, Inc., a manufacturing construction company based in Stone Mountain. Bicknell served as head of another Stone Mountain-based manufacturing company, Sky Access, from 1998-2000. He was also a partner in a commercial and residential construction company in Lilburn from 1995-1997.
For 22 years, Bicknell worked in various positions with the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, which makes S&H Green Stamps.
Commissioners Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty weren’t present for the meeting.

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Coming Wednesday, August 11

Ribbon-Cutting, Open House Set At New CMS Sunday
Workers are scrambling to put the finishing touches on the new $7 million Commerce Middle School. Ready or not, the school system will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Sunday, a second open house on Wednesday and will open the doors to an estimated 360 students on Friday, Aug. 6.
“We’re going to have some loose ends even while we have school,” said Superintendent Larry White. “They (the contractors) will come in after hours and work on those.”
The state fire marshal was scheduled to make a crucial visit Tuesday (results were not available by press time), but officials were confident they’d get a certificate of occupancy contingent on making any changes ordered by the fire marshal.
“The main thing is getting his clearance. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday the architect’s people will do a punch list of things that need to be done for the building acceptance,” White said.
Originally projected to open this past January, the 75,000-square-foot building has been plagued with delays that have made its opening by Aug. 1 a sweat. Wet weather in late 2002 and a plumbing contractor that went bankrupt in early 2003 extended the construction period from an expected 16 months to more than two years.
The open house Sunday will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:00, after which the school will be open for tours until 4:00.
The second open house will be Wednesday night from 6:00 to 8:00 concurrent with open houses at the three other city schools, and students will be able to view their classrooms and meet their teachers.
Meanwhile, the staffs of the middle and elementary school anxiously await the chance to move into their new space.
“We’re looking forward to having more space. Just moving into the new building is such a wonderful thing,” said CMS Principal Mary Evans. “I’ve never been able to open a new building. It’s just a wonderful, neat experience to go through.”
Built for 600, the school will seem luxuriously spacious at least for this year. Special education teachers will have full-size classrooms, as will the English as a Second Language class, until the school population grows enough to force them back into smaller classrooms.
Furnishings have arrived and will be set up this week, White said, while teachers moved their materials in earlier. Hopefully, late this week they’ll be able to begin setting up their classrooms.
With the old middle school building becoming a grade 4-5 facility, fourth and fifth grade teachers are also anxious to occupy their space in their “new” building, while the Pre-K-3 teachers at Commerce Elementary School are also ready to spread out as the grade 4-5 teachers exit.
“We’ve moved one Pre-K class that was outside (in a portable classroom) in and moved three special ed classes into the building, moved a kindergarten class in and moved a fifth-grade class in,” said Principal Kim Savage.
Mrs. Savage, assistant principal Mona Seabolt and media specialist Christy Johnson are all doing double duty in both buildings. In fact, the system purchased a gas-powered golf cart to expedite daily movement between the two elementary school buildings.
“This is going to be good for the kids,” Mrs. Savage predicted. “We’ll have to work out the kinks and the traffic, but as far as the kids go, having more space can only be better. The fourth and fifth grade kids will have lockers, have a gym for PE, have an art-music classroom and have their own computer class.”
The abundance of space is only temporary. Like the Jackson County and Jefferson systems the Commerce School System is experiencing steady and increasing growth from the housing construction boom throughout the county. While Commerce is not growing at the rate of the other two systems, new housing developments suggest a wave of growth that will build steadily for the foreseeable future.

Benton wins House seat
After the final votes were tallied, Tommy Benton of Jefferson was the winner in the District 31 Georgia House of Representatives race.
Benton had 3,186 votes, while incumbent Chris Elrod had 3,109. In Jackson County, Benton was the top vote-getter, but Elrod had more votes in Hall County. The district also includes a small portion of Barrow County.
Benton is a retired teacher and this is his first time to serve. Elrod, a Jefferson lawyer, served one term.