News from Banks County...

SEPTEMBER 29, 2004


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
Classic Center offers top notch entertainment
When traveling, I always look forward to going to a Broadway play, concert or other cultural event. I have programs from all of the plays I have been to in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, Boston and other large cities.

Jana Mitcham
The historic site I go out of my way to avoid
I am interested in history and learning about historical sites, but I’ll admit it, there is one historical site — no make that two sites — in Charleston, S.C., that I will go out of my way, way out of my way, to avoid.

 


SPORTS
Leopards fall to Wildcats, 0-17
Leopards are scoreless in two consecutive games
The Leopards lost a difficult game Friday, September 24, to the Rabun County Wildcats. The score was 17-0.
For the second week in a row the Leopards were unable to put any points on the scoreboard. They were scoreless against Greater Atlanta Christian on September 18.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
BOC adopts $32 million budget
Millage rates set at 8.69 and 9.77
By again tapping into its dwindling reserve funds, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners added the annual lease payment on the new courthouse when it adopted its 2005 budget last week.
An earlier draft of the budget had omitted the $1.1 million lease payment.

County BOE term limit change to be on ballot
Voters in the Jackson County School System district will be asked when they go to the polls on Nov. 2 to consider changing the term limits for board of education members.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Fair continues through Saturday
The 56th annual Madison County Agricultural Fair will continue through Saturday at the Comer Lions Club Inc. Fair Grounds off Hwy. 22, Comer.
There are rides, shows, kiddieland, games, food and exhibits.
The fair opens nightly at 6 p.m., with a Saturday matinee from noon to 4 p.m.

Digesting the tax controversy
Year-long conflict leaves taxpayers in limbo
So how much of an increase will county property owners actually see in their tax bill this year?
Well, that’s like asking how much is X plus Y?
The equation is incomplete.

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Weekend festivities in Homer

Musket competition

During the Civil War, soldiers were expected to fire off three rounds in one minute. Not an easy task when you have three steps to go through with every shot. Lined up for the competition during the Heritage Days festival Saturday were 5th Georgia Company reenactors. They are: (L-R) Danny Vaughn, Commerce; Greg Deese, Augusta; and Michael Coke, 16, Thomson. Colonel Edward Coke, Thomson, timed the men. See this weeks Banks County News for more photographs from the festival.


Child abuse case numbers on the rise
92 cases investigated
The Banks County Department of Family and Children Services staff is seeing a marked increase in the number of reported cases of child abuse
Director Renota Free gave the sobering statistics at the recent board meeting. Some 31 reports of child abuse were reported in August, including six for physical abuse, three for sexual abuse, one emotional abuse and 21 for neglect. Six of the reports were screened out after initial investigations; seven cases were substantiated and opened; 13 were closed after case workers found no evidence to support the alleged abuse; and 17 cases remain pending further investigation by staff.
That left the staff with 48 on-going child abuse cases, bringing the total case load of 92 for August.
“We have three workers taking care of these 92 reports,” Free said. “We normally might have 15 to 18 new cases a month and eight or nine on-going as we work the families. This is extremely unusual to have 48 substantiated cases.”
The county now has custody of 17 children who have been placed in foster homes or with other family members.
In the economic services report, government support for food stamps is holding steady at $90,607 for 457 Banks County families.
Temporary assistance for needy families dropped slightly to $9,608 in August for 46 families.
Child care and employment services costs came in at $1,697, up from last month.
Free said there are 17 families still waiting to have children placed in day care. Currently, the state has a hold on funds and it is not clear when more money will be released for this service.
In other business, Free said she had been in contact with the state office about the new building, but there was no good news. The new facility approved three years ago would not “even be considered in the next two years.”
“While the state office shared our concerns and hardships, they cannot support any building project of fiscal years 2005 or 2006,” she said.
Board member Novella Simmons said she had read Governor Sonny Purdue had “found $200,000 and gave it to Hall County for spaying and neutering dogs and cats.”
“I don’t see how he can do that on one hand and on the other tell us we can’t get this new building done,” she said.
Free said Rep. Jeanette Jamieson has been in contact with state officials and plans a visit to the current facility.
That building was recently sold and the owner has leased it to DFACS.


Baldwin seeks federal funds for storm damage
City officials asking for $17,000
The City of Baldwin is seeking $17,000 in federal funds for storm damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
The federal emergency management agency declared several counties in Northeast Georgia, including Banks and Habersham, as disaster areas allowing the towns, cities and counties to apply for disaster relief.
Baldwin fire chief Joe Roy told city council members this week that in an almost 24-hour span, Ivan’s 60 mile per hour wind gusts and 10 inches of rain cost the city $17,738 in overtime as employees worked on tree and debris removal and damage to city property.
Roy and public works director Scott Baum compiled a list of infrastructure problems that incurred as well as the work orders that came in to city hall.
Firefighters and road crews worked over 20 downed trees on power lines that created road hazards and four others involving damage to homes in the city.
When the power went out in a large portion of the city and Habersham County, the wastewater treatment plant and water plant were knocked out as well. An automatic back-up generator at the wastewater plant kicked in and kept it on line. Things at the water plant, where water is pumped from the Chattahoochee, didn’t go as well. Debris in the water and heavy sedimentation from storm water runoff caused the intake pump to clog when power was restored.
Rescue teams also responded to several emergency calls and one accident during the storm.
Street crews were dispatched to roads that had been damaged due to the heavy rainfall. One sinkhole on Heartwood Way was reported.
Five paid and four volunteer firefighters were called in that evening, as were two men from the street department, three men from the water department, two wastewater treatment plant operators and two water plant operators. The cost for the overtime, a figured by Roy and Baum, totaled $3,497.
The cost for tree removal was over $12,000. Damage to city property came to $1,776. And that was just in Habersham County.
In Banks County, Baldwin crews were dispatched to the heavily hit area of Wofford Creek where a dozen trees bought down power lines.
“We made our way in to check on the residents,” he said. “It was tough, but I had to be sure everyone was safe. On the side roads, Wofford Creek Lane and Wofford Creek Trail, we found several trees down and cleared them out the best we could.”
Roy said they also cleared trees from Highway 105, Wheeler Circle and Nix Road.
He explained that he had passed on preliminary figures for work done in Banks County to emergency management and E-911 director Diedra Moore. Banks County had just been declared a disaster area as of Monday and so could apply for storm recovery costs.
Councilman Robert Bohannon suggested the council discuss equipment needs for emergencies and how to get it when needed.
Roy said two additional chain saws would have helped and could also be used during winter for damage from ice storms.
“We also could use some large tarps to cover structural damage to homes,” he said. “In such situations, people need all the help we can give them. It’s just like using tarps when we fight fire in a home. If the fire is contained to one room, we cover the furniture to prevent water damage if we can. This is no different. We cover the roofs to prevent further damage. We would, of course, have to retrieve them.”
He also suggested a four-wheel drive vehicle for patient transport when an ambulance cannot get to the home. The stretcher could be placed on the four-wheel drive thus saving time and any further endangerment of the patient.
Bohannon suggested the council talk with owners of local equipment rental supply companies to get their help by opening up during such emergencies.
In other business, Roy asked the council to allow him to amend the budget to reflect the sale of used air packs that were surplused after the department received a $74,000 federal grant from Homeland Security to purchase new turnout gear and air-packs.
Roy sold four air packs to a volunteer unit for $6,000. He asked that he be allowed to use that money for lettering and striping and a generator for the used rescue truck recently purchased with special local option sales tax money, additional rescue harnesses, egress packs, helmets, hoods, gloves and boots.
He said he found a possible source for the generator at a cost of $2,000.
The council did not take action on his request and will discuss it at the next work session scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 7.
Other agenda items also tabled for discussion at the work session were the proposed18-percent increase in sewer rates and the annexation of two lots totaling 3.86 acres on Banks Highland Drive.

 

 


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Banks SAT scores below state average
Banks County students taking the SAT during the last school year fell slightly below the state average.
Students in Banks County averaged a 959 total score, while the state average was 987. Banks County students averaged a score of 475 in math and 484 in verbal.
In 2003, Banks County averaged a 960, with a score of 477 in math and 483 in verbal. The state average in 2003 was 960.
Beginning in Spring 2005, students across the nation will be taking a new version of the SAT. It will contain a new writing section that will include multiple-choice questions involving grammar and usage, as well as an essay question. The current verbal section will be renamed Critical Reading and will no longer include analogies. It will, however, include more short reading passages. The math section will be expanded to include more Algebra II, while eliminating quantitative comparisons.
According to the college board, “the new SAT will improve the alignment of the test with current curriculum and institutional practices in high school and college. By including a [writing section], the new SAT will help colleges make better admissions and placement decisions.”


Autumn Leaf Festival ahead this weekend
The annual Maysville Autumn Leaf Festival will be held Friday through Sunday, with an “ole timey country fair” as the theme. The weekend’s events will include a “Battle of the Bands” on Friday night and a street dance on Saturday night. A parade will be held Saturday morning.
Craft vendors will have their wares available throughout the three-day festival. Comedian Billy Holeman will perform at various times throughout the weekend and in-between bands on Sunday.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday
•Noon – festival opens
•5:30 p.m. – “Battle of the Bands” begins. Dance all evening to the different bands competing for cash prizes.
•7 p.m. — hayride begins
Saturday
•9 a.m. — festival opens
•10 a.m. — parade
11 a.m. — opening ceremonies, MAR-JAC chicken cook-off; trivia contest all day with $5 prizes
•Noon — Commerce School of Dance
•12:30 p.m. — Banks County cheerleaders
•12:30-2 p.m. — cake walk
•1 p.m. — “Herbie the Love Bug”
•2 p.m. — Akido of Commerce
•2:30 p.m. — Akido of Commerce Gymnastics
•3 p.m. — pie-eating contest
•3:30 p.m. — hula hoop contest
•4 p.m. — pumpkin painting contest
•5 p.m. — cake walk
•7 p.m. — hayride, street dance
•8 p.m. — rifle raffle
Sunday
•Noon-5 p.m. — Gospel and bluegrass bands perform all day, including: Midnight Praise, Heavenly Expressions, McAllister Sisters and Crystal River Bluegrass Band.


Liquor sales?
Vote on ballot in Baldwin
A ‘liquor-by-the-drink” referendum will go before the citizens of Baldwin on Tuesday, November 2.
The ‘Yes” or “No” vote must be cast at Baldwin city hall, said Mayor Mark Reed, since it is the only Baldwin precinct that will have the ballots.