News from Madison County...

AUGUST 11, 2004


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
We do not need more bureaucracy
We do not need more bureaucracy! Yet that is exactly what the 9/11 commission is recommending. They are urging that the President and Congress establish an intelligence guru; one single authority to oversee the 15, that’s right, 15 federal intelligence agencies.

Zach Mitcham
A look at al Qaeda’s computers
Imagine that a computer was discovered in Iraq with emails from Saddam Hussein outlining a terror campaign against the U.S. — this would surely be big news.


SPORTS
Searching for starters
Coaches put personnel decisions under the microscope during scrimmage sessions
It’s a process that demands some painstaking multi-hour film sessions, but first-year Raider head coach Randell Owens said he and his staff are close to settling on starting lineups as Madison County’s opener looms a week from Friday.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

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.

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Kindergartners Breanna Elrod and Fuller Holloway were all smiles their first day of school at Ila Elementary in Windy Dalton’s classroom. School started at all county schools Aug. 5.

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.
Bellew collected 770 votes to Chip Chandler’s 714 in a very light turnout, winning with a margin of 54 votes.
Chandler’s strength came from his home area of Carlton. He carried Fork district by 88.8 percent and Paoli by 87.5 percent. Bellew carried the vote-heavy districts of Hull by 74 percent and Ila by 58.6 percent. Neither candidate appeared at the courthouse to observe the vote tally.
Meanwhile, in the District 5 board of education race, current board member John Mason was ousted by political newcomer Melissa Skipper by 163 to 150 in the non partisan election.
Only 1,580 voters visited the polls, out of 11,910 people registered to vote in Madison County, for a turnout of 13.3 percent.
The runoff election for the office of Judge of the Court of Appeals was postponed by order of the Supreme Court for the State of Georgia.
All votes cast for Judge of the Court of Appeals candidates, Debra Bernes or Mike Sheffield, were not counted or certified by the county election superintendent or the office of the Secretary of State.


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 IDA awarded both parts of the project, known as “Division A” and “Division B,” last Wednesday, Aug. 4, to Raco, a Virginia company, based on the recommendation of project engineer consultants Carter and Sloope.
But the IDA decided to rescind their decision after realizing a mistake had been made by Carter and Sloope in evaluating the low bidder for Division B.
In reviewing bids, the engineering firm failed to consider alternate bids using ductile iron piping in their recommendations to the IDA — going against language in the bid document which states “alternate bids will be considered,” something which was quickly pointed out by Maysville-based company Griffin Brothers, after receiving word of the contract award to Raco. (In the bid document, the IDA requested a “base bid” using PVC pipe as well as an “alternate bid” using ductile iron pipe for the project.)
IDA attorney Victor Johnson said Griffin officials threatened a lawsuit since their “alternate” bid for Division B came in at $1,123,857; approximately $8,000 lower than Raco’s “base” bid of $1,121,826.
Johnson said wording in the bid document specifically states “alternate bids will be considered” when establishing the low bidder for the project. He said state laws on accepting bids for such projects are very specific, stating that bids must be awarded to “the lowest responsible/responsive bidder.”
“This is a public works construction project, it’s unlawful to let out such a project without complying with (these) competitive bid award laws,” Johnson said.
Based on this, Johnson advised the council to rescind the bid award to Raco and award the second half of the project to the “true” low bidder, Griffin Brothers.
But Raco division manager Kris Penland and Don Holbrook, who were on hand for the meeting Tuesday, maintained that there was “no mistake” in the bid award and that the IDA should allow them to keep Division B, which is the larger portion of the project.
But after a 45-minute closed session to discuss “potential litigation,” the board voted unanimously to rescind their acceptance of Raco’s bid and then re-bid the Division B portion of the project, which will require a 30-day advertisement. The board tentatively set Friday, Sept. 10, at 9 a.m. for opening of those bids.
The re-bid process will allow Raco, Griffin, and any other contractors to make another bid on the project. Tom Sloope, of Carter and Sloope, said the bid document would be re-worded to eliminate confusion over how the low bidder will be determined.
If all goes well and a new contractor is chosen in September, IDA officials maintain that although they will lose the approximately 30-day leeway they had ahead of schedule, with no further setbacks, the project should still be able to be completed by the Feb. 4, 2005 deadline.
“DIVISION A” PROJECT STATUS
The upcoming water expansion project is an ambitious one that will not only provide water to an area off Hwy. 29 South where the underground water supply was contaminated by petroleum spills from Colonial Pipeline years ago; it is also set to link the water systems of Madico, Colbert, Danielsville and South Madison with approximately 12 miles of 12-inch water lines.
“Division A,” which was not affected in Tuesday’s meeting, will run water lines from Madico Industrial Park to Hwy. 29 along Colbert Grove Church Road and connect with the Danielsville water system on the Colbert-Danielsville Road. This phase of the project remains on schedule to begin in a few weeks, IDA members said, as Raco is the clear low bidder for this portion.
IDA executive director Marvin White said he expects the “A” portion to remain on or ahead of schedule for the required completion date of Feb. 4, 2005.
This date is specified by an “incentive clause” with the pipeline company which says Colonial will subtract $2,000 for every day the IDA fails to provide water to the contaminant zone beyond Feb. 4, 2005, with up to $120,000 being subtracted due to delays.
However, another potential problem for the IDA is that the only way to fill the new water lines in the contaminant area if Division B completion is delayed beyond Feb. 4 is by purchasing water from the city of Danielsville — something the city council has not officially agreed to do; they have only agreed to serve as a back-up water provider.
White said after the meeting that he plans to go back before the city council and ask for a written agreement to hook onto the water system for a short time until the second phase of the project can be completed.

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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.


County approves contract for construction of new health dept.
Madison County commissioners approved a contract Monday with Garland Construction Inc. for $918,000 for the construction of a new Madison County Health Department.
The project is being funded with $500,000 in grant money, $200,000 from the Board of Health and a $250,000 lease by the county commissioners.
The new building will go on Hwy. 98 between the sheriff’s department and the EMS station.
No construction schedule was given Monday.
TAX COMPLAINT
In other business Monday, citizen Waymon Dove told commissioners that he is upset with his property tax assessment notice, pointing out that his property increased in value by $55,000. He said appraisals are “high on poor people and people on a fixed income.” Dove added that many in the county are blaming the commissioners for the increase in assessment values.
While county property owners received assessment notices from the assessor’s department this summer, their actual tax bills for 2004 won’t be issued until later this year (after the tax-levying boards — the county commissioners, the school board and the industrial authority — set their millage rates).
County attorney Mike Pruett informed Dove that all Madison County property owners have the right to appeal any assessment that they feel is not fair, first with the Board of Assessor’s, then with the Board of Equalization and finally with the county Superior Court, if necessary.
TAX REFUND
In a separate matter, the board agreed to refund Kirk and Trudy McClesky for $1,407 in overpayments in recent years for property taxes. Their assessments have included value attached to property they don’t actually own. For instance, Mr. McClesky noted that their home had been valued for a 14,000-square foot basement they don’t have.
MEETING WITH
VETERINARIANS
The commissioners agreed to meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 24, in the county government complex with local veterinarians who say services offered by the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter are cutting into their business. The group will also meet that night with a local ballpark operator who says the county recreation department is competing with his business in an unfair way.
INSURANCE STEADIES
After facing steep insurance rate hikes in recent years, county commissioners renewed their property, casualty and general liability insurance with St. Paul with only a slight increase in their premium. The renewal carries a premium increase of $5,800, from approximately $293,000 to $298,000, due to the addition of 10 county vehicles over the past year. The policy includes $12,000 in “terrorist insurance,” meaning the county government would be insured if a terrorist attacked the county.
PERSONNEL MATTERS
Dawn Black received a promotion and a raise to the planning and zoning office. Rita Wammock and Lamar Dalton received promotions and raises in the tax assessor’s office after completing training. Following the approval of promotions, commissioner Bruce Scogin asked chief appraiser Rebecca Duncan how many appraisers are in the assessor’s office. Duncan said there are two “appraiser 1s,” one “appraiser 2,” an “appraiser 3” and a clerk in the office.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.