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AUGUST 4, 2004


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OPINIONS
Shar Porier
The story of Big Foot
While walking around the field early one fall day last year, I thought I caught a glimpse of something. But, no, just my imagination.

Jana Mitcham
People here and there...
Jerry Payne, Jackson County’s director for the Department of Family and Children Services (better known as DFACS), officially retired as of Friday with 34 years of service to his credit


SPORTS
Softball starts season Tuesday
Armed with a new coach and eleven returning players, the Banks County Lady Leopard softball teams will start play on Tuesday, August 10 against Athens Christian.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Student population numbers up 6% to 9%
Judging by the number of students starting a new school year this week, the county and city school systems are continuing to see rapid growth.

IDA to meet Mon. on Toyota roads
A meeting of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority has been scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. in the Grand Jury room to discuss the possible financing of road projects for the $100 million Toyota project for the board of commissioners.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
IDA awards $2 million water expansion contract
Madison County’s Industrial Development Authority awarded contracts to Raco, Inc. of Getna, Va., today (Wednesday) on a $2 million water expansion project that will link Madico, Colbert, Danielsville and South Madison water systems, while providing water to an area off Hwy. 29 contaminated by petroleum spills.

Runoffs slated for Tuesday
Bellew, Chandler to face off in BOC chairman’s race; Mason, Skipper seek BOE seat
Madison County voters will hit the polls Tuesday for two local runoffs — the Democratic nomination for the BOC chairman’s race and the election of a District 5 school board representative.

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‘The whole world in His hands’

Homer Alliance Church children sang “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” during the 127th annual Sunday School Celebration held Saturday in Homer. Pictured are: Marissa Long, 9; Victoria Long, 6; Alexandria Long, 5; and Henry Long, 5. See page this weeks Banks County News for more on the Sunday School Celebration.


Run-off elections ahead Aug. 10
Schaefer, Caudell in Aug. 10 run-off
Nancy Schaefer and Chan Caudell are headed for a run-off race for the District 50 Senate seat that covers Banks County.
Last week’s story incorrectly stated that Schaefer had won the Republican primary. She did have the most votes, but she didn’t have more than 50 percent, which is required when there are more than two candidates in a race.
Schaefer had 6,690 votes, or 47 percent, while Caudell had 5,625 votes or 39.5 percent. Stanley “Butch” Darnell had 1,916 votes.
The run-off election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those who voted a Democrat ballot in the primary will not be allowed to vote in this Republican run-off. If a person did not vote in the primary or voted Republican on a non-partisan ballot, they can vote in this run-off.
Advance voting is also under way and will be held through Friday at the courthouse.
The winner in the run-off will face Democrat Bob Stowe in the November election.

Popphan, Mote face off
Winford Popphan and Ivan Mote will be facing each other in a run-off for the magistrate judge’s seat on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Popphan came away with 912 votes in the recent primary election, while Mote had 750.
Popphan is a retired conservation ranger for Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and served in the Army for 20 years. He and his wife, Elaine, live in Lula.
Mote was employed in the retail and wholesale pottery business for a combined 13 years. He is currently employed as a design drafter with Patterson Pump Company. He and his wife, Tonya, live in the Mt. Carmel community.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Advance voting is under way through Friday at the courthouse in Homer.
Those who voted a Democrat ballot in the primary will not be allowed to vote in this Republican run-off. If a person did not vote in the primary, they can vote in the run-off.
STATE RACES
Two state races will be on the ballot in the Aug. 10 run-off election.
On the Democrat ballot, voters will be asked to choose from Denise L. Majette and W. Cliff Oxford for the U.S. Senate seat.
In a non-partisan race for the state court of appeals, Debra Berns will face Mike Sheffield.
If a person voted in the Democratic primary, they can only vote in the democratic/non-partisan run-off. Those who voted in the Republican primary, cannot vote for the Democratic race, however, they can vote for the non-partisan race. Those who didn’t vote in the primary, can vote in either run-off.

Schools to hold open house
The Banks County School System has announced its open house schedule for Thursday, Aug. 12.
•Banks County Primary School will hold its open house from 3-6 p.m.
•Banks County Elementary School will hold its open house from 4-6 p.m.
•Banks County Middle School will hold its open house from 3-7 p.m.
•Banks County High School will hold its open house from 5-7 p.m.
School starts on Friday, Aug. 13.

County school transportation routes to change this year
School bus routes and parent pick-up and drop-off routes will change for the new school year.
With the opening of the new middle school, expansion at the primary school, moving the second grade from the elementary to the primary school and concerns about safety and efficiency, new bus routes and parent drop-off lanes have been developed.
Bus traffic changes
Dennis Marlow, Banks County director of transportation, said the changes will be safer, faster and will eliminate the current shuttle buses.
“It’s going to work,” he said. “We have cut the route time by 10 minutes and we have a plan devised to take care of the traffic.”
The new routes split the number of buses at each school to eliminate the traffic from one school to the next. Drivers will take a count of how many students get on the buses in the afternoon so they can line up in the most efficient order. Lining up efficiently will limit the amount of time students are sitting on the buses in the heat, Marlow said.
A trial run of the new routes was conducted on Thursday, April 29. Marlow said everything went according to plan.
“One area for improvement will be the elementary school,” he said. “Double stacking of buses at that location is no longer an option. In order to load safely and quickly, buses must line up in single file.”
Buses at the elementary school will line up behind the gymnasium at an awning. After loading, the buses will circle around and exit right onto Evans Street. Buses will then turn onto Athens Street and end up on Historic Homer Highway.
A total of 34 buses will be used in the new plan. Each bus will stop at all four schools in the morning and in the afternoon. Stops are split so that at most stops only seven or eight buses will line up at one school. Currently, most buses stop at the primary school first creating traffic that carries through to the other schools. The new routes also eliminate the 16 shuttle buses currently used to transport kindergarten, first and second grade students to their afternoon buses.
“It is too dramatic for a small child to get on one bus and then get on another when several are lined up,” Marlow said. “With this plan, a child will only have to load one bus.”
Afternoon routes are subject to change. Marlow said drivers will travel in one direction and buses won’t have to double back through town. For example, if a driver is heading north they will start at the school farthest south, the high school, and end at the school farthest north, the primary school, before starting their north-bound route. Most drivers have been reassigned to put the driver closest to their house after the route is complete.
Marlow said buses traveling to the middle school will not use Thompson Street. The school system recieved permission from the Department of Transportation for school buses to use the new Hwy. 441 bypass for school bus traffic. Buses will be permitted to use one north-bound and one south-bound lane.
“The first six days are going to be long days and a lot of decisions will be made once we determine how many kids are getting on the buses at the different stops,” he said. “We will put the shortest stops at the front to create a smooth transition and cut the time even more. Be patient during those first few days of school and give it a chance, I know this will be better for everyone; parents, students, drivers and teachers.”
Parent drop-off and pick-up changes
Marlow said the plan also separates parent and bus traffic at the schools, an issue that causes traffic at the schools now. However, Marlow said, “no plan will work without the fullest cooperation of all people involved.”
Several changes have been made at schools in Banks County to provide faster and easier transportation of students.
Parents driving their children to the primary school will now turn onto Hill Street to drop off children. Once on Hill Street, cars will turn right onto a one-way road that leads to the gymnasium where a newly installed awning covers the sidewalk. After children are dropped-off or picked up, cars will circle around the new play ground and exit on Hill Street. A parent parking lot is being added where the playground used to sit next to the road.
Third grade students at the elementary school will be dropped off by parents in the front of the school, where buses used to park. All trailers have been moved out of the parking lot.
Parents driving children to the new middle and upper elementary school, located on Thompson Street, will turn in the second entrance to the school.
There will be no change in the parent traffic at the high school.

 


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257 acres annexed into Gillsville
The Gillsville City Council held the second reading Monday night for the combined annexation of 17 properties, totaling approximately 257 acres, into the city limits. The land is located in Banks and Hall counties.
The Hall County property owners are: Dwayne and Tina Crocker, Eva and Donald Perdue, George Otis and Nervie Lee Turpin, Cheryl D. Poore and James Bales, Doris Poore, William Larry Poole and George Richard Ferguson. The Banks County property owners are: Terrance Dale, Jerry Ferguson, E. Gordon Jones, Nelle Wheeler, Darren Parks, James Parks, Bobby Watkins and Helen Pauline Thompson. Those who own land in Hall and Banks are: Jerry Poore and Dorothy Garrison.
On a related matter, the council discussed installing three-way stop signs at the intersection of School Street and Bennett Road. Residents had requested the council do something about the dangerous intersection, said Mayor Larry Poole.
“They say people are speeding down the road and there was an accident there recently,” he said.
Council members Richard Ferguson and H. Todd Dale agreed and with council member Ronnie Whiting voted to install the signs and caution signs warning of the stop sign ahead.
They also talked about turning Wilson Drive, off Highway 52, into a one-way street.
“Turns would be allowed off Highway 52 onto Wilson, but we need to have drivers come down Stone Throw Drive to Bryant Quarter to get back on the highway,” Ferguson said.
People tend to park close to the intersection preventing a clear field of view, said Poole. Though the council anticipates placement problems, they voted to move ahead with the action.
In other business:
•Gordon Jones, Friends of Gillsville, recommended the city install trash receptacles at the parking lot downtown to help with road litter. He also suggested the council allow the group to help with the downtown building renovations by doing the interior painting of the smallest building, which has been finished on the inside except for a coat of paint on the walls and sealer on the old wooden ceiling. The council agreed to provide the paint and materials the group needed to do the job.
•the council held the second reading of the ad valorem tax ordinance, which set the city millage rate at 15.01 mills. Residents will not be receiving any tax bills though, since the city receives enough money through local option sales tax funds from Banks and Hall counties.


Planners cancel Tues. meeting
Members of the Banks County Planning Commission canceled the August meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday, August 3.
According to Banks County planners, the meeting was cancelled because nothing was on the agenda.
"It's the first time that has happened in years," said Brenda Williams, planning commission clerk, on Wednesday morning about the cancellation.
The next meeting for the Banks County Planning Commission will be held on Tuesday, September 7, at 7 p.m. There should be several items on the agenda for that meeting.