News from Banks County...

AUGUST 11, 2004

Banks County

Banks County

Banks County

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Shar Porier
20 years ago...
I pulled into the parking space outside the restaurant. An older couple was coming out and as they did, I saw a small handprint appear as the sunlight grazed the door.

Angela Gary
40 years later,renewing vows
The bride wore a lace-covered ivory dress. Her bridesmaids wore long flowing lavender dresses. The groom and his attendants, including his 2-year-old grandson, wore tuxedos.
The bouquets were made of fresh red roses with matching boutonnieres for the men.

Leopards bang heads with Spartans
The Banks County Leopard football team had its first taste of competitive play on Thursday, when the team played a scrimmage game against the Athens Academy Spartans.

News from
IDA tells BOC it is ready to finance Toyota roads
The future of a $100 million industry coming to the county is now in the hands of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
Monday evening, the county industrial development authority agreed to send a letter to the BOC saying it was ready to proceed with financing $7.6 million in roads for the Toyota industrial project and for other industrial land just north of I-85 near Pendergrass.

BOC strapped for cash, officials report to IDA
One of the key concerns in the Jackson County government today is a shortage of cash, officials told the county industrial development authority Monday night.

News from
Bellew edges Chandler
... To face Nash in November

Skipper tops Mason by 13 votes for BOE seat. Only 13 percent of eligible voters turn out for runoffs.
Just hours after the death of his father, John Bellew was victorious in the Democratic Primary runoff for the right to face incumbent Republican Wesley Nash in the race for Madison County Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

IDA to re-bid portion of water contract
Less than a week after accepting it, the industrial development authority threw out its bid award on the second portion of the upcoming $2 million Colbert Grove Church water main extension project Tuesday afternoon, agreeing to begin the bid process all over again.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Thomas congratulated Mote on his win

Banks County Probate Judge Betty Thomas congratulated the new magistrate judge Ivan Mote after the final tally Tuesday night at the courthouse. Mote is holding his youngest son, Connor, 2, and his wife, Tonya, is holding 4-year-old Jasper.

Mote wins county’s magistrate seat
Ivan Mote came away a winner Tuesday night and will take over as magistrate judge in Banks County in January.
He had 1,069 votes, while Winford Popphan had 699.
Mote was “speechless” as supporters came up to wish him well after the results came in Tuesday night.
Board of education member Bo Garrison joked: “He isn’t seasoned yet. Just give him some time.”
Mote said: “I look forward to getting started and serving the people of Banks County.
“I wanted to do this, wanted to run,” he said. “There were a lot of people supporting me and encouraging me to run. I’m just grateful for all the support from the voters. I also think the other candidates deserve thanks for running a clean campaign. We set a good example.”
Voter tally by precinct showed run-off opponent Winford Poppham only carried two districts, Anderson and Baldwin. Several other districts were extremely close, but Mote came away with the win.
With 96 percent of the vote in early Wednesday morning, it looked as if Republican Nancy Schaefer will be facing Democratic contender Bob Stowe in the November election for the new District 50 senate seat.
Run-off opponent Chan Caudell carried Banks, 483 to 358, and Habersham, 2,673 to 2,276, but could not turn the tide in Franklin, Hart, Stephens and Towns counties.
The Georgia Secretary of State election website reported 5,846 votes, or 53.6 percent, for Schaefer, and 5,058 votes, or 46.4 percent, for Caudell.
In the U.S. senate Democratic run-off, Denise L. Majette took the win statewide for the seat now held by Zell Miller. But W. Cliff Oxford was the favorite of Banks voters, by almost a 2-to-1 margin, in a 619 to 263 vote
With 97 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Majette had a clear lead with 59.2 percent of the vote, or 156,066 votes, to Oxford’s 40.8 percent, or 107,747 votes.
Majette will face Republican candidateJohnny Isakson in November.
A press release from the secretary of state office Monday stated the run-off election for the judge of court of appeals was postponed after the Georgia Supreme Court handed down a ruling. It has not been rescheduled

Back to school
Classes resume Fri. in Banks County
After what seems like a short summer break, it’s already time for kids to return to the classroom. All students in the Banks County School System head back to class on Friday, August 13.
Getting accustomed to changes in bus routes and parent pick-up lanes, adjusting to second graders moving out of the elementary school and getting acquainted with the new $8.8 million middle school are the biggest changes in store for the 2004-2005 school year. In addition, two new assistant principals at the high school and a new part-time assistant principal at the primary school, along with 25 new teachers join the staff.
School meal prices for this year are as follows: students at the primary and elementary schools will pay $1 for breakfast and $1.25 for lunch, reduced lunches will cost .25 cents. Students attending the middle and high schools will pay $1 for breakfast and $1.50 for lunch, reduced lunches will cost .25 cents.
Approximately 689 students will be on the roll at the high school on the first day of school.
“We want to go from good to great,” said principal Art Wheaton. “Last year, we had a good year. We may not make it to great this year, but we are going to try.”
The school day begins at the high school at 8 a.m. and students will be released at 3:08 p.m.
Wheaton wants to introduce a positive incentive program that rewards students for attendance and good behavior. The Leopard Lottery will take place every Friday. The name of each student will be put into a drawing for $20. If the student whose name is drawn is absent, the drawing will be worth $40 the following Friday.
Another new incentive program is the student of the month program that rewards students with a free lunch and a T-shirt. Photos of the students of the month will be displayed in the halls. Wheaton said the school will have “a lot of positive programs this year.”
“Our feeling is if kids are in school, they are in a positive place and it will be a more positive place to learn,” Wheaton said.
Two new assistant principals are on board to help Wheaton reach his goals, Christine Bray and Murphy Ownbey, join the Banks County High School staff.
Parking permits for those students who drive to school will cost $20. School officials say in order to purchase a permit, a student must provide a driver’s license number and information on the insurance carrier and policy number. A parent signature is also required. Officials must also have the following information: vehicle color, vehicle model/make, year model and tag number.
Lockers can be rented for $5 and a parent signature is required.
An after-school tutoring program will begin after school starts. The program will be held in the media center.
Changes in the health occupations program will provide additional opportunities for students at the high school. The BOE hired Kay Mitchell, a retired teacher and the instructor who began the program several years ago, to work part-time at the high school. Health occupations students will be able to participate in a youth apprenticeship program at BJC hospital. They will receive instruction for health occupations II and III at the hospital.
Open house will be held at the high school on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Parents of the more than 600 primary school students will be invited to a cook-out planned for the first day of school at the old middle school football field. The picnic is scheduled to last from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Second grade students will now attend classes at the primary school.
School starts for pre-K, kindergarten, first and second graders at 8 a.m., students are considered tardy at 8:05. The school day ends at 2:50 p.m.
A new half-time assistant principal will be added at the primary school. Debra Ayers, who is currently working on her doctorate, will spend half of her time at the primary school as a special education teacher. The rest of the time she will serve as vice-principal.
Parent drop-off and pick-up traffic will change this year. 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 drive 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.
Open house will be held at the primary school from 3 to 6 p.m.
Enrollment at the elementary school, which is exclusively third grade, stands at 198 students.
Second grade students will now attend classes in the primary school.
“It’s going to be good, having all the kids inside the building, not having classes in trailers,” said Jan Bertrang, elementary school principal. “It’s good for the children to go ahead and make the move and not have to move in the middle of the school year.”
Bertrang said she was excited to have a computer lab at the elementary school.
The school day begins at the elementary school at 7:50 a.m. and ends at 2:55, students are considered tardy at 8 a.m.
Only one new faculty member, Vicki Martin, will join the staff at the elementary school. Martin served as a long-term substitute teacher at the school last year.
“We’re really excited; no shuttle buses, no trailers,” Bertrang said. “This year, we are going to work on attendance, reading comprehension and implementing learning FOCUS.”
Parents driving third grade students to school should drop students off in the front of the school, where buses used to park. All trailers have been moved out of the parking lot.
Open house will be held at the elementary school from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 12.
Rick Townsend, upper elementary school principal, said attendance this year is down from the past two years. Last year, the school had 390 students, two years ago they had 420, this year they are expecting 375.
School begins for students in fourth and fifth grades at 7:50 a.m., they will be released at 3:05 p.m. Students are considered tardy at 8 a.m.
Upper elementary school students will share facilities with the middle school students for the next two years (see separate story).
“We are dedicating a lot of time to academics this year,” Townsend said.
The upper elementary school will have two 50 minute math sessions and two 50 minute reading sessions of academic instruction this year.
Parents driving children to the new middle and upper elementary school, located on Thompson Street, will turn into the second entrance to the school and follow the direction arrows painted on the lanes.
Open house will be held at the new middle school and upper MIDDLE SCHOOL
Although students are still being enrolled daily, Gloria Gabriel, middle school principal, said 650 students are already enrolled at the school.
Open house will be held at the new middle school from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. (See separate story for more information on the new middle school).
“We want to remind everybody the Banks County Sheriff’s Office will be working as much as we can to work with the school traffic,” said Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman. “We ask that everyone leave home in plenty of time to get where they are going.”
Chapman said until the bypass opens and Thompson Street is straightened, morning and afternoon traffic will be hectic around Thompson Street.
“Until people get trained, we are going to be doing all we can to help the traffic on Thompson Street,” he said. “We want to encourage everyone to be careful, traffic will be heavy and the volume of traffic will be hard to deal with.”


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County gets funds for adult learning center
Banks County is the recipient of a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for the development of an adult learning center.
A letter signed by Governor Sonny Perdue explaining the award came to board of commission chairman Kenneth Brady on August 4. The application completed earlier this year was the third application the county has prepared over the past several years for the block grant.
This time, the county included only the learning center on the proposal and agreed to match $20,000 in funding. A $10,000 county contribution was required by the grant, but Banks County decided to double the amount to show the state it is committed to the learning center.
“It was good for the grant to show we were matching funds of $20,000,” said Michael Fischer, administrative officer. “I think it is part of what helped us to get selected.”
Fischer will attend a recipients workshop on September 16-17 to collect the check and acquire additional information on the grant.
The proposed site for the new building is located off Thompson Street behind the county health department. Fischer said construction is likely to begin after the first of the year. No blueprints have been drawn yet.

Fourth through eighth graders at new middle school
Old facility being renovated for an elementary school
All students in grades four through eight will attend the new Banks County Middle School for the next two years. Principals Gloria Gabriel and Rick Townsend are working together to make combining the upper elementary and middle schools comfortable for students, teachers and staff.
“We are trying to maintain our own identity,” Townsend said about the upper elementary school sharing facilities with the middle school for the next two years while renovations are taking place at the old middle school.
When the renovations are complete, the old middle school will house students in grades three through five.
BCMS principal Gabriel said: “We are running the school together as far as the children are concerned.”
Gabriel and Townsend, who is the upper elementary school principal, have united the two schools by coordinating the dress code together and sharing other management duties.
In-school-suspension will be combined in one classroom and a combined office will serve all students in the school, a change over the dual system employed in years’ past.
Parents will check students in and out in the administrative office, located at the front of the building, for both schools. Principals hope combining the procedures will streamline operations and cut down on confusion. Phones will be answered “Banks County Middle School” and will then be routed to the appropriate office.
“It’s a wonderful surprise,” Gabriel said about the new school. “Things are falling into place. The people here with Charles Black Construction have been wonderful to work with.”
The school’s construction cost of $8.8 million was paid for by the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) revenues.
“I am so glad Banks County citizens had the foresight to vote for a SPLOST and provide these kinds of facilities for the children,” Gabriel said. “It speaks to these people that they are willing to do this for the children. Banks County has done an extremely good job planning.”
The current SPLOST will be up for a vote again in 2007.
“I’m excited, glad to be here,” Townsend remarked. “The kids will benefit from the new building.”
Middle schoolers, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, will have top of the line band facilities, including practice rooms and a new instructor, Teresa Daque. Upper elementary school students, fourth and fifth graders, have a separate music room for instruction.
This year, sixth graders will be allowed to try-out for all competitive sports.