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AUGUST 18, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
CHS, Trion Remember 2002 Slobber-Knocker
David “Moose” Bray has seen a lot the past two years as Commerce’s starting fullback.
He’s traded hits with stalwarts from Lincoln County and gone face head gear-to- head gear with the best that Hawkinsville has to offer.

Dragons hit the road Friday to face White County in opener
Jefferson head coach Bill Navas is excited about his team’s season opener Friday at White County, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have some headaches heading into the meeting.

Getting down to business
Panthers to be thrown into fire in opener
Jackson County to contend with athletic Cedar Shoals to start reg. season Friday
When you begin the season without having won a game in more than two seasons it would be nice to be able to schedule a Sister’s of the Poor-type team to help renew confidence.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
$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.

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.


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.

Our Time and Place:
A History of
Jackson County, Ga

A complete history of Jackson County, Georgia from 1796 to the present. Written in narrative style for easy reading. Includes material not found in other books about Jackson County.

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Traveling by horseback to Arizona

Stan Perdue, 47, Maysville, is shown with his horses, Apache, a 3-year-old Appaloosa, and Banjo, an 8-year-old paint, the day before he saddled them up for a 2,600-mile cross-country trip to Arizona. See this weeks Jackson Herald for the story.

WRECK OCCURS ON HWY. 332

The Georgia State Patrol says 19-year-old Sarah Ann Miller, Hoschton, was killed Thursday when her Toyota Corolla crossed the center line on Hwy. 332 and hit a truck.

Teenager dies in head-on collision
A 19-year-old Hoschton woman was killed Thursday, when state troopers say she crossed the center line of Hwy. 332 and hit a truck.
Sarah Ann Miller was killed around 1:15 p.m. after she hit a truck driven by Antonio Tyrone Dillard of Winder, according to troopers. The accident occurred just outside Hoschton city limits.
Dillard, 29, and a passenger in the International truck, 40-year-old Albert McKinney of Winder, were both injured and taken to the Barrow Community Hospital.
Troopers say no charges will be filed in the case.
Miller was a 2004 graduate of Jackson County Comprehensive High School.


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.
The majority of the additional $2.3 million will go toward new furniture and computer equipment for the new courthouse. It will be financed for three years.
Many of the items have already been purchased and paid for by the county from general funds. However, the county has used up most of its cash reserves over the last two years in building and furnishing the new courthouse and is now short on cash.
County leaders have reportedly said that no old furniture or equipment may be used in the new courthouse.
With the new loan and out-of-pocket expenses, the cost of the facility is now over $30 million.
The new $2.3 million lease was approved by the BOC Monday as part of its consent agenda and was not discussed in public by the board.


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.
But there is some evidence that the parties are starting to move closer to hammering out an agreement. In addition, county leaders said work was continuing on the Toyota roads despite the impass on long-term financing.
A group of some of the principal players involved in the issue met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the matter and to see if there was a way to break the political stalemate that has stymied the financing.
County manager Al Crace said Wednesday that he was “guardedly optimistic” that all those involved in the economic development projects would eventually come together and work out a solution to the impasse.
“I’m guardedly optimistic,” he said. “My office is in the middle. We’ve got construction projects and if we lose any construction time, we can’t make that up.”
Crace said that although the funding issues haven’t been resolved, the county was continuing to work on the Toyota roads and the Braselton parkway turning lane projects.
“Technically, we should stop them and wait on them getting the money straightened out,” Crace said. “(But) I think it’s a fair bet to keep the construction going. You only get so many days from April to November of good temperature and good weather.”
WANTING MORE INFORMATION
One of the key issues to be resolved in the financing for a complete package of detailed information about several road projects in Commerce. The IDA has said it would not agreed to fund those roads without some specific numbers based on engineering or other hard data and a specific timeline for project completion.
Monday night, the BOC attempted to get started on that information by hiring Precision Planning Inc. to review the economic development road package for costs, standards of construction and project time schedules. That action was approved by the BOC as part of the consent agenda and was not discussed during the meeting.
Crace said Wednesday that he thought Precision Planning could get some information together rather quickly.
“I think they can get us some initial answers,” he said. “I don’t think we will get any financing until we do (get some answers).”
The IDA said last week it was ready to proceed on financing $7.6 million in road projects for the Toyota project, but wanted to wait on more information for the other projects on the BOC financing list. In effect, the IDA wanted to split the bond issue into two packages.
But the BOC has reportedly taken a position that it would not pursue financing the Toyota roads if the IDA didn’t also agree to fund several other road projects in the same bond issue. In particular, BOC leaders have said they want three economic development roads in Commerce financed at the same time the Toyota roads are financed. Those roads have been pushed by Commerce city leaders and by commissioner Sammy Thomason.
In addition to the road projects, the BOC also wanted the IDA to finance the $1 million purchase and renovation of an old shopping center in Commerce for a campus for Lanier Tech.


SPLOST vote may be on Nov. 2 ballot
City officials asked to consider projects; rec and fire leaders lobby for a bigger share
A planned Nov. 2 SPLOST vote may soon begin taking shape. A meeting between county and city officials has been set for Aug. 26 to discuss what formula to use in doling out sales tax funds and what projects would be covered.
One of the key items likely to be on the SPLOST are funds slated to pay the county’s debt on the new courthouse. The courthouse debt is likely to use 20-25 percent of the SPLOST funds, which are expected to bring in $6 million per year.
In past years, a major part of the SPLOST has been used to fund the building of the county’s water system. That, however, is expected to be a low priority on the upcoming vote.
County manager Al Crace told officials of the county’s nine municipalities at a joint roundtable meeting on Thursday that they will be officially notified soon of the county’s intent to place a SPLOST vote on the Nov. 2 ballot. He said an election must be called by early October.
RECREATION, FIRE LEADERS
Leaders with the county recreation department and fire association appeared before the board of commissioners Monday night to ask for a portion of the sales tax.
The recreation department is receiving 3.5 percent of the current SPLOST. Monday night, leaders asked for 25 percent.
John Derochers spoke on behalf of the recreation department.
“SPLOST is coming up,” he said. “We want to put our hand in the kitty.”
Derochers said participation in the youth programs offered by the recreation department have increased by 60 percent since 2000. Some 6,700 youth ages 4 to 17 participate in the programs each year.
Derochers said the county needs to add 291 acres for recreation use by 2006 and another 80 acres by 2011 to keep up with the growth.
James Lyle and Doug Waters spoke on behalf of the fire departments. Some 1.5 percent of the current SPLOST is allocated for the fire complex and the firefighters asked it to be increased to 7.5 to 10 percent for the next round of funding.
The current SPLOST will bring in approximately $500,000 for the fire training complex, which is under what was projected. It will take an estimated $2 million to complete the complex.


Clerk of Court offices moving
The Jackson County Clerk of Court offices will be closed Friday and Monday to move into their home at the new county courthouse. The office will reopen Tuesday.
North Avenue, the street beside of the old courthouse in downtown Jefferson, will be closed Friday to load vehicles with files from the clerk’s office.
The probate court, district attorney’s office, sheriff’s office security, public defender, state court officials, magistrate judge and juvenile judge are already in place at the new facility and their offices are open to the public.
Plans call for the September term of court to be held at the new courthouse. The county has also notified Jefferson and Commerce officials that municipal court may be held in the new facility. It will be available beginning Oct. 1.
The Jackson County courthouse will serve as the host county for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, which includes Banks and Barrow. The board of commissioners agreed to this action at its meeting on Monday.
The address at the courthouse is 5000 Jackson Parkway, Jefferson.
VOTER REGISTRAR’S OFFICE
The voter registrar’s office is still in the old courthouse, but plans are to move it to the old health clinic/district attorney’s office at 260 Lee Street in Jefferson, next to the post office. The BOC agreed Monday to notify the U.S. Justice Department of this proposed change.
There have been no definite plans made for the use of the old courthouse or the State Courtroom in the Administrative Building.


Airport Authority wants bond money
The Jackson County Airport Authority is scrambling to find a way to fund $1.5 million in projects at the county facility.
The authority had believed that the projects would be funded through the county industrial development authority, but that is questionable following controversy over the bond package.
The airport authority discussed the financing for almost one hour at its meeting Thursday night, but didn’t make any decisions on how the projects would be funded. The board decided to take a “wait and see approach” until the matter is settled.
“We’re going to wait and see what shakes out,” authority chairman Jud Trapnell said.
The funding of at least one airport project, the facility for Emory Flight, has a deadline and the county has already signed an agreement with the company. The cost of the Emory Flight Building is $675,000, with an additional $150,000 in associated costs such as piping and fencing.
Authority member Bill Harber pointed out that the county has a “contractual obligation” with Emory Flight to do this project.
“The lease has been signed,” he said.
Also to be funded with the bond money was two T-hangars with 10 spaces each. The total cost for this project is estimated at $675,000.
Authority member David Varnadoe asked what revenue the authority would be receiving from the projects. Trapnell said Emory Flight would be paying $2,000 a month in rent, in addition to purchasing fuel. He added that the hangars would also bring in rent money and that the county has already received 30 pre-applications for the space.
Harber questioned whether the money would go directly to the authority or in the county’s general fund.
Trapnell agreed to discuss these financing questions with county finance director John Hulsey and county manager Al Crace.
The authority also discussed the importance of continuing the improvements at the airport in an effort to attract corporate jets.
“This county is growing,” Varnadoe said. “In order to create a tax base, we need industry. We need to attract corporate jets. They will create jobs for us. It’s very important that we get our airline online.”
The next meeting of the authority will be a work session set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the 911 conference room, behind the Administrative Building in Jefferson. The next regular meeting of the authority, which meets quarterly, will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, at the 911 conference room.


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Commerce City Bid To Relocate Gas Line In Under Budget
City Can Reduce Borrowing By
$500,000 City Manager Reports
The city of Commerce got some good news last week.
The low bid for the relocation of natural gas lines between the bypass and the Clarke County line came in substantially under budget.
City Manager Clarence Bryant said Hodge Enterprises submitted the low bid of $2,104,612.
“That was actually pretty good. It came in a good bit under what we estimated,” Bryant said. While he noted that estimates were pretty much based on a worst-case scenario, the bid means that the city “will have to borrow a half million less than we thought we were going to borrow.”
Three bids were opened last Wednesday. A lot of the numbers were based on per-unit prices, which the city’s engineering firm used over the weekend to calculate the dollar prices.
King Pipeline, with a bid of $2,168,747 was the second-lowest bidder, while Southern Pipeline Co. came in at $2,821,445.
With engineering, contingencies and other figures added in, the total cost of the project is now estimated at about $3.1 million.
“We hope to come out less than three (million),” Bryant said. “That includes the plastic line too, not just the steel line.”
“We are going back to the DOT now that we have some numbers to see if we can get some help from the new commissioner,” Bryant indicated. “ He’s the only guy in five years we haven’t talked to.”
The Department of Transportation ordered the gas lines moved because of the U.S. 441 widening project, which is scheduled to begin this fiscal year. The city has tried unsuccessfully for years to get the DOT to assume some of the cost.


Impact study called for subdivisions
Several proposals calling for large subdivisions totaling 700 houses have been submitted to state officials for review as “developments of regional impact.”
Since early August, four projects have been presented to the Jackson County Planning and Development Department for the DRI process.
The largest of the four projects calls for 245 lots on 366 acres on Guy Cooper Road, less than a mile from the Hall County line.
Clarkesville-based HP Land LLC is proposing that the Guy Cooper Road subdivision will be served with septic tanks, according to plans.
W. Wayne Frazier, Jefferson, is proposing a 171-lot subdivision on Jefferson River Road. The property is owned by Elizabeth I. Frazier.
The proposed Frazier Tract doesn’t meet the county’s future land use plan and would require an amendment to the future land use plan in October, according to plans. Water is slated to come from the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority with septic tanks serving the houses.
“Ermain Park” is an estimated $22 million project that will include 142 lots on 142 acres along the upper side of Sheep Pasture Road west of Waterworks Road near Commerce.
Diamond Development, Jefferson, will have to seek an amendment to the county’s future land use plan in October for the project to happen. Plans show that the development would be served by the JCWSA and have septic tanks.
The final request comes from Bill Hightower of Apalachee Oaks, LLC, Hoschton.
Plans call for a 142-lot subdivision on 72 acres on Wehunt Road near Hoschton. The project is consistent with the county’s future land use plan and wouldn’t require an amendment to the plan, according to plans.
The JCWSA is expected to provide water and sewage to the estimated $28 million project, dubbed “Apalachee Oaks.”