News from Banks County...

AUGUST 18, 2004


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OPINIONS

Kerri Testement
Impact fees should be used to help schools
It’s a shame when new subdivisions are making our school hallways exceedingly overcrowded and new developments won’t help pay for a remedy.

Angela Gary
Relaxing in paradise
Blue-green water for as far as you can see...A huge hammock surrounded by palm trees...A steady breeze cooling things off as the soothing sound of the waves hitting the shore calms my nerves.


SPORTS
Leopards open season Friday
Banks County to visit Lexington and the Oglethorpe County Patriots
Banks County is looking to open the season with a win against a team they defeated 50-14 in the opener last year. The game will be held in Lexington Friday, August 20, at 7:30 p.m.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC approves more debt for courthouse
$2.3 million added to ACCG lease
The total cost of the new Jackson County courthouse continues to grow.
The board of commissioners approved a $2.3 million “supplemental lease” with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia at its meeting Monday. The BOC already has a 30-year, $25 million lease agreement with the ACCG for the new courthouse.

Talks continue on IDA funding for road projects
The county board of commissioners and industrial development authority were still at an impasse this week over financing for the two overdue Toyota roads and several other economic development road projects in the county.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Plans rejected
The county planning and zoning board told a local developer they didn’t like the idea of his plan to place a major three-quarter acre lot subdivision in an area slated for larger tracts on the county’s current land use map.

Authority discusses water project bidding complications
Madison County Industrial Authority members met in closed session Monday night to discuss threatened litigation in connection to bidding procedures on a major water project. But the group took no action after the closed meeting.

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Liked Max

Japanese 4-H Club exchange student Daichi Chiba (R), 12, found the McMahan’s family dog, Max, a fun playmate. Chiba, who lives in Yokohama, Japan, bunked with Cody McMahan, 12, for the past month and learned about farm life. Seethis weeks Banks County News for the story and more photos.


$3.2 million jail built with SPLOST funds
Open house set for Saturday
Sheriff Charles Chapman will open the doors to the $3.2 million jail Saturday, August 21, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for Banks County citizens to tour the new facility, before prisoners are housed there.
“It is a nice facility, the citizens of Banks County should come and view this facility,” said Chapman. “It was built by SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) so we hope to have a good turnout for open house.”
The new jail, located across the new 441 bypass on Thompson Street, is equipped to house 60 inmates. Both male and female prisoners can be kept in the same facility since the building is divided into “pods.”
No date is set for the final move of the Banks County Sheriff’s Office.
“We hope it is soon,” Chapman said. “We will move as soon as we can.”
Chapman said it could take as long as six weeks after the open house to move into the new jail. He said there is a lot of employee training that still needs to take place before the new jail can be operated.
Due to the large amount of electrical work on the new building, final inspections of the electrical wiring and heating and air conditioning units will continue throughout the week, according to Chapman.
The administrative side of the building has been completely furnished with furniture built by the department of corrections. Funding for the furniture came from a cash bond forfeiture of $40,000 that was released over two years ago. New computers that Chapman said the department “badly needed” were also purchased with money from the forfeiture.
No decision has been made by county commissioners on what to do with the old jail once the building is vacant. Although, commission chairman Kenneth Brady said funding was set aside in the budget for renovations on the buildings.
“We are trying to get it remodeled and use it for county offices,” Brady said. “We are getting overcrowded here at the courthouse, it would be sort of a quick fix.”
He also mentioned allotting a cell, where inmates used to be housed, to departments for additional storage.
“It would be in a controlled climate and would be locked up by the department,” he said.

Planners to meet Sept. 7
The Banks County Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the courthouse in Homer.
Items on the agenda include:
•a conditional use application from National Wireless Construction to build a telecommunications tower at the intersection of Partain Road and Bruce Kesler Road.
•a conditional use application from Lightnin’ RV Sales and Service LLC for a recreational vehicle sales facility at 30600 Highway 441 South.
•a conditional use application from Robert Evans for a bait and tackle shop at 137 Beaulah Lane.
•a conditional use application from Tim Farmer for a shop to house plumbing vehicles on Hickory Flat Drive.
•a conditional use application from Bruce L. Oye for a home based business at 1520 Grove Level Road.
•a rezoning application for Cynthia Farmer to rezone 121 acres on Hickory Flat Drive from ARR, Agricultural, Rural-Residential to CAD, Commercial Agricultural District.
•a rezoning application for Tim Brooks to rezone 159 acres on Hebron Road from ARR, Agricultural, Rural-Residential to R-1, Single Family Residential.


DA’s debate over reimbursement finally settled
After three months of discussion, the Banks County Development Authority set guidelines for reimbursement procedures at its meeting Thursday, August 12.
A mileage reimbursement request was submitted to the DA for miles incurred when Banks County Board of Commissioner Pat Westmoreland attended a development authority training session. Westmoreland traveled 140 miles for the course. He was paid $50.40 for his travels. Westmoreland was present at Thursday’s meeting and told the board he wouldn’t have paid it, if he were in their shoes.
“If I had been on the DA, I wouldn’t have paid it, even without the procedures,” he said. “You didn’t pay the registration fee. I did not submit that request to you. The truth should be out in the open.”
Westmoreland said he didn’t hold any grudges towards the DA and it was not necessary to worry that the commissioners would cut any of their funding.
The new guidelines, proposed by DA members Wayne Abernathy and Dennis Brown, are as follows: lunches will be reimbursed at $15 per person; any travel past 25 miles will be reimbursed at .30 cents per mile, the same rate the county pays; travel expenses for anyone outside of the DA must be approved by the board and the request must be included on the meeting’s agenda five days prior to the meeting. The DA unanimously voted to approve the reimbursement standards.
Also at the meeting, the DA discussed the property located on Hwy. 441. Sam McDuffie suggesting posting a sign on the property that will inform those driving by that the property is available and that assembling the property for sale is a possibility. DA chairman Jack Banks suggested McDuffie look into the price of a sign. The board agreed and approved a motion to have McDuffie research the sign. The board will discuss the cost over the phone, according to Banks. Banks said Georgia Electric is pursuing potential businesses that would locate in the Banks Crossing area. The board discussed paying a commission for real estate agents that bring buyers to the area. Banks said the board would feel obligated to do so.
“Why would we be obligated?,” Horace Campbell, board member and attorney, questioned.
Banks said the group just wanted to get the word out.
In other business, the DA discussed the recent development of opening the Park Road contract up for bids.

 


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Lula to begin maintenance on water system
The Lula City Council voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting in favor of several items aimed at clearing up some of the city’s water quality problems.
City manager Dennis Bergin said the four water tanks, which may be 50 years old, in the city need to be cleaned and sanitized to remove mineral residue, such as iron and magnesium.
Bergin gave the council a proposed price of $1,950 per tank for the process, which involves removing the tanks, sandblasting interiors, sanitizing and reinstalling.
During the process, the contractor will also determine each tank’s structural integrity.
Each tank will have to sit empty for 24 hours during the sanitizing process, he explained. Then, it may take up to a day to refill the tanks which range in capacity from 80,000 gallons to 120,000.
The tanks will then be certified and photographed according to environmental protection division requirements.
Mayor Milton Turner said he thought it had been eight years since the tanks were cleaned.
The council hopes the clean-up will help with iron residue in the city’s water system which has some residents unhappy.
City residents will be notified when the process begins so they can prepare for the low water pressure as each tank is taken off line one at a time.
When that is complete, the council may also look at replacing the four miles of old, galvanized water lines that serve parts of the growing city.
Use of chemicals, particularly chlorine, said Bergin, can cause magnesium to collect on the inner lining of the pipes. During times of low water pressure, as some areas of the city experience from time to time, the sediment comes loose when pressure is restored.
To maintain a constant pressure throughout the city system, Bergin suggested another aboveground tank and is doing a feasibility study to present to the council next month.
“Right now, we have two systems in the city,” Bergin said. “One is high pressure and one is low pressure. It shouldn’t be that way. As the city continues to grow, the systems work against each other. If one goes down, it pulls the other one down. We need to be able to maintain one constant pressure in the water service area.”
Estimates for the new tank may be as high as $560,000, but partial funding may be acquired through state or federal grant sources.
In the meantime, the city wells, which could also be a source of the “brown water,” will be closely monitored for detection of the minerals.
He also pointed out that when residents empty their hot water heaters the minerals can be dislodged from the lining.
Bergin told the council that the minerals were not harmful.
Identifying the source will cost the city $6,800 for a six- to eight-week engineering analysis to develop a program that may involve adding filters to certain wells or boosting chlorine. It may be that Lula will have to discontinue using a well if it proves to be a source of the problem.