News from Madison County...

JULY 28, 2004

Madison County

Madison County

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Frank Gillispie
Sad to see the degradation of the family
In one way, my birth came at a great time. I am a witness to vast changes in America and the world. On the other hand, my birth came at a terrible time. I have had to deal with far too much degradation in American culture brought about by the changes.

Zach Mitcham
Why the BOC vote was right
Those addressing the five-man board of commissioners Monday to talk of a planned shopping center in a rural part of the county knew the issue was bigger than a simple rezoning request.

Raider participation numbers still strong in second week of summer football practice
The Madison County football program has a problem it likely hasn’t had in a while: It might not have enough jerseys to go around for Friday’s picture day session.

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
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.

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.
The Madison County Journal
Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056

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A Madison County growth debate

A crowd packed into the county commissioners’ meeting room Monday to witness the debate on a proposed shopping development at the intersection of Hwys. 98 and 172.

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.
Plansouth Inc. president John Purcell, whose requested 30-acre rezoning for a shopping center was turned down 3-2 by county commissioners Monday night, said Tuesday morning that he still plans to develop an adjacent 16-acre portion of land already zoned for business at the site.
“We’re just going to look at a smaller version of what we wanted to do,” said Purcell, adding that he will try to attract a grocery store to the corner, with perhaps a couple of retail stores and a bank.
Purcell said he might consider a rezoning application again if the county’s land use plan is amended in 2006 to accept a large development at the intersection.
But the developer said he has no plans for a third attempt to get the 30 acres rezoned for business without such an amendment to the comprehensive plan.
“That’s the second time — two strikes, that’s enough for me,” said Purcell, whose first attempt to get the property rezoned was denied by the BOC in October. Purcell added that he was “not mad” about being turned down, but was upset that people didn’t have the confidence that his intentions were to create a quality development.
“Right now, it’s obvious that Madison County is not ready for the growth,” said Purcell. “They don’t want big box growth and we’re not going to pursue that.”
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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.
In addition, four schools have new principals at the helm.
School meal prices for this year are as follows: all elementary schools - breakfast, $1.10; reduced breakfast, 30 cents; lunch is $1.30 and reduced lunches are 40 cents each.
Middle school and high school meal prices are $1.55 for lunch and breakfast is $1.25 each. Reduced prices are 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast.
The after school program continues at all elementary schools this year and will begin on the first day of school.
As to the changes in principals, former Comer Elementary principal Cathy Gruetter has moved to Hull-Sanford Elementary; Pam Crisohon has stepped from the middle school into Gruetter’s position at Comer Elementary; Jodi Weber joins the school system as principal at Colbert Elementary replacing long-time principal Doris Dickson, who retired last year; and Dewey Carey comes on board as the new middle school principal.
Approximately 1,417 students will come to the high school on the first day of school next Thursday, about the same number as last year.
There are eight mobile units again on campus this year. The high school saw a return to mobile classrooms last year due to a jump in the student population.
On the first day of school, students in grades 10 through 12 will be listed by grade on sheets posted by their advisors in the front hall.
Freshmen will need to report to the gym when they arrive at school on the first day.
And new for ninth graders this year is the “freshman academy,” which consists of three academic teams.
Each entering freshman will be assigned to a team and each team will consist of approximately 125 students who have the same English, math, science and social studies teachers.
According to school officials, one of the goals of the freshman academy is to provide a more successful transition from middle to high school.
The majority of freshman classes will be in the rooms in the newest wing of the high school.
As to construction and renovation projects, most of the sports complex had been completed as of press time and renovations to the art rooms were also near completion.
Parking permits for students who drive to school is $30. School officials say in order to purchase a parking permit, a student must be of legal driving age, have proof of insurance and possess a valid Georgia driver’s license. Permits must be properly displayed on the mirror at all times. Officials must also have the following information; vehicle color, vehicle model/make, year model, tag number, license number, insurance company and policy number.
Pamela Goodman is the new career and technology director and assistant principal and that office is still located in the vocational wing.
New faculty this year include: Darrell Dean Allen, Leslie Knight, Molly McCarty, Shannon McCarty and Jamie Sims - special ed; Jonie Leigh Axon and Jeremy Farr - social studies; Melissa Blankenship - media specialist; Kelly Cassidy - science; Natalea Ferrell, Dorothy Bailey and Carolyn Moore - math; Richard Houston and Paul Nelson - health and physical ed, and Randell Owens - A.D. and physical ed.
School begins at 8:15 a.m. each morning and ends at 3:15 p.m.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

Tax notices lead to complaints
Tax assessment notices went out last week and many in the county are upset by the increased appraised value of their land, something tax assessor board chairman John Bellew said is caused by rising construction costs and an increase in the value of land in the area.
Bellew addressed the issue of appeals — something the assessor’s office is in the midst of dealing with as property owner’s come in to complain — at Tuesday night’s work session between the board of commissioners and the tax assessor board.
District 4 commissioner Mike Youngblood asked chief appraiser Rebecca Duncan what her staff was telling the public about the reason for the changes in their property evaluations.
“We tell them that it’s due to a county-wide evaluation of land schedules and an increase in property values,” Duncan said.
As to handling tax assessment appeals, Bellew said an appraiser in the office is meeting with each taxpayer who comes in with an appeal “one-on-one.”
“Each taxpayer is taken to a cubicle where an appraiser explains their rights and the process used (in the assessment),” Bellew said.
In addition, Bellew said a guide to how property values are set is on the counter in the assessor’s office for the public’s information.
“We’re trying to provide individualized service to the taxpayer,” he said.
Bellew, who will face Chip Chandler in an Aug. 10 runoff for the chance to face Wesley Nash for the BOC chairman’s seat, said the board feels confident that this year’s assessments were very good.
“Once we get through the appeals process we’ll have a very good digest in place,” Bellew said. “It’s important that we keep people assured that we’re doing our job - a lot of folks don’t understand their assessment notices - they think it’s their tax bill...and that’s where y’all (BOC) can help us - by letting folks know that once the tax digest is out there you can roll the millage rate back.” Bellew added: “The main thing is that we can all get on the same page. It doesn’t do the citizens any good for us to be arguing.”

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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.

Major music festival planned in Madison Co.
Over 50 bands, 5,000 fans anticipated at Sun Ray Music Festival near Carlton
Right now, it’s a freshly-trimmed summer hayfield tucked away on the quiet dirt stretches of Newton Church Road. But within weeks, the sounds of Marshall-stack amplifiers and crashing Zildjian cymbals will pervade this secluded tract of Carlton pasture.
The inaugural “Sun Ray Music Festival” will draw over 50 bands and what organizers hope will be 5,000 music fans to Southeastern Madison County for three days in late August in what’s likely the first rock show of its kind to ever venture into the county lines.
The bill is heavy on regional acts but includes a few nationally recognized names like Kevin Kinney of “Drivin’ and Cryin’” fame, Todd Nance of jam-band heros “Widespread Panic” and even Cee-Lo, formerly of the rap group Goddie M.O.B.
The Sun Ray Music Festival is the brain child of the team of Daniel Chapman and Patrick Kunes — both young entrepreneurs in the Athens music scene who’ve found a place in Madison County to turn a five-year-old idea into a reality.
“I’d been looking for a place to throw a festival and I found one in Carlton,” Chapman said.
Chapman, 26, an Athens area native, is the festival’s founder. Kunes, 23, who’s lived in Athens for almost six years, is the promotional director. Both own “2 Dogs Productions” and “Stage Left Presents.”
“We’re two music lovers and we’ve been around the business a little while in town (Athens) and it just kind of clicked,” Kunes said.
The inspiration for Sun Ray lies partly in the overwhelming success of grass-roots events like the Bonnaroo Music Festival where 90,000 music fans descend yearly upon the small town of Manchester, Tenn.
Chapman and Kunes said it’s their desire to start a true music festival for the Athens area, given the city’s vibrant and nationally-renowned music scene.
That’s where Madison County came into the equation.
Landing a location was the missing link in the plan and Chapman got his wish when he secured a spot on a 212-acre farm near Carlton owned by a family friend.
Chapman and Kunes have been at work ever since readying for the August 27 date when the first note is played at Sun Ray.
If all goes according to plan, music will fill this Carlton field on an annual basis.
Both hope this inaugural show will cater to the masses by offering a melting pot of Southeastern musicians, though the lineup is not restricted to that.
While some of the acts might fall into the “jam band” category, Chapman and Kunes insist that Sun Ray isn’t a “jam-band fest,” pointing out that sounds coming from the festival’s three stages will span from rock to bluegrass to funk to rap.
“We’re not trying to limit ourselves to any particular genre,” Kunes said.
“We’re trying to make a festival that gears to whatever you want to do, whatever you want to listen to at that point in time,” Chapman said.
The push for variety is evidenced by one of the lineup’s most recognizable names — Cee-Lo, formerly of the rap group Goodie M.O.B., who’s embarking on a solo career now.
“He does a lot more soul singing now than actual rapping,” Kunes explained.
But Chapman and Kunes hope the shtick of Sun Ray is that it will provide more than music. In addition to 30 bands a day, the festival will include a ferris wheel and an entertainment area known as “Villageville” which will feature a lazer tag arena, an arcade and a cinema.
“There’s some festivals where it’s just a stage and a field,” Kunes said. “You can go out there and tell that people might have put thought into what bands they get but they might not have put a lot of thought into the infrastructure — a lot of the stuff that gives people something to do outside of just watching the music.”
The preparation process for Sun Ray hasn’t come without some friction.
What Chapman and Kunes said were erroneous posts had been swirling on an unregistered music internet chat board with messages ranging from claims of poor planning to those that said the concert location didn’t meet zoning requirements or that it had been
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.