News from Jackson County...

OCTOBER 6, 2004

Jackson County

Jackson County
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A Late Post-Season Push?
CHS Has “Must-Win” Scenarios To Close Out Regular Season
The objective is not hard from here on out if the Tiger softball team wants to keep alive its hopes of playing on into late October.
Four spots to the state sectionals tournament, which starts Oct. 22, are available. Two region games remain for Commerce. As of Monday, the Tigers were in fifth place in the region standings.

Dragons hope to bounce back at Towns County
Despite a heartbreaking loss last week to No. 9 Athens Academy, the Jefferson football team is not out of the Region 8-A title race. But they need to take care of business this Friday night at Towns County. A victory in Hiawassee would wrap up a third-consecutive playoff appearance since Jefferson head coach Bill Navas arrived on campus in 2002.

Panther trailblazers finish in top three
The Jackson County cross country team continued its push through the regular season at Banks County over the weekend.
The boys’ team fared the better of the two teams competing Saturday, with the Panthers finishing in third place in the six-team meet. Jackson County’s 98 points trailed only Lumpkin County (40) and first place North Hall (21) on the day.

News from
Man found murdered in Commerce home
Two arrested, authorities seek two more suspects
Two people have been arrested in the murder of a Commerce man and authorities are seeking two more suspects.
Paul Rucker, 64, Commerce, was beaten to death and suffered several severe blows to his head, according to Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman. He was found in his home Wednesday, Sept. 29.

GBI is seeking help in identifying bank robber
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Banks County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington Police Department in Wilkes County and the Augusta office of the FBI are seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect in two recent bank robberies in Banks County and Washington. An artist’s sketch of the suspect has been released.

News from
Early Intervention
Special needs pre-school teacher Diane Alford sees first-hand every week how identifying learning problems early on can make a difference in children’s lives.
Alford teaches a special needs pre-school class at Comer Elementary four days a week.

Candidates’ forum set for Tuesday
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce will host a political forum on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school theatre.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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Those participating in the groundbreaking include: (L-R) Yoshio Fujiwara, Yoshimitsu Ogihara, Mitsuo Matsushita, George Hisaeda, Shozo Nakayama, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Scott Martin, Barbara McDaniel and Masafumi Kato. Not shown: Hikaru Sugi. Chamber president Pepe Cummings is shown in the background at the podium to the left.

Groundbreaking event
Toyota holds groundbreaking for $100 million industry
Gov. Perdue is among speakers
Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke at the ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday morning on the site of the $100 million TD Automotive Compressor Georgia (formerly MACI/Toyota) development in Jackson County.
State and local officials, as well as numerous officials from the Japan-based company were on hand for the celebration of the start of construction at the site.
“I have never seen a better groundbreaking ceremony than you have here today,” the governor said. “I almost hate to disturb the ground.”
TD Automotive Compressor Georgia, which is owned by Toyota Industries Corporation and Denso Corporation, will locate on 152 acres at Valentine Farms in North Jackson. The site is located on Wayne Poultry Road, Toy Wright Road and Possum Creek Road.
The groundbreaking was held inside a large white tent on the site. Outside, tractors were lined up on the red dirt behind the tent. Construction is expected to begin immediately and the facility is slated to be open in December 2005. The company will initially employ 130 people.
More than 100 people attended the one-hour groundbreaking ceremony, including county commissioner Tony Beatty, Pendergrass Mayor Monk Tolbert, Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner and Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell. Other county officials included: Warren Walker, chairman of the county water authority; Dr. Jon Milford, Jim Shaw and John Buchanan, IDA members; Andy Byers, county school superintendent. Chamber of Commerce president Pepe Cummings served as the master of ceremonies.
BOC chairman Harold Fletcher was not present, but he was apparently expected as a chair with his name on it was in place in the audience, along with other county and state leaders.
Sen. Ralph Hudgens, Sen. Casey Cagle and Mike Beatty of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs were among the state officials in attendance.
The governor thanked the company for locating in Georgia and providing more jobs to the state.
“One of my top priorities as Governor is to create jobs for Georgia families and this is another example of that,” he said.
He also spoke on his visit to the company’s facilities in Japan.
“As I visited with Denso and Toyota Industries Corporation in Japan, I was amazed and fascinated with the technology and their efficiency. I am so honored that you all are bringing that technology, that efficiency and that productivity to Georgia. I know that you will find the work force that will utilize that and make you very proud of the decision you made to locate here.”
The governor also spoke on the local leadership that led the company to locating in Jackson County.
“Thank you, Jackson County, for being ready for this kind of investment,” he said. “...This is a great partnership. I want to commend all of the leaders for pursuing aggressively this kind of business for your community...Local leadership is the key to these kinds of things.”
It was two years ago that the announcement was made that the Toyota plant would locate in Jackson County. The governor referred to that in his comments.
“The longer the time it takes to be built, the better it will be,” he said. “This will be a great factory here.”
Jackson County Industrial Development Authority chairman Scott Martin also spoke on the time line of the project, which began four years ago when county officials first met with representatives of the company.
“I met with a team of individuals considering Jackson County for their new business venture,” he said. “At the time, we didn’t know who the company was or exactly what they planned to manufacture. But their professionalism and honest approach to business demonstrated that they were a world class company.
“Today, we celebrate the fact that they chose Jackson County as their home. We are very fortunate to have this company locate in our community. We are confident that they will provide an example of world class manufacturing and corporate citizenship that the people of Jackson County will benefit from for many years to come.”
Shozo Nakayama, Toyota Industries Corporation executive vice president, spoke of the history of the company, which opened in 1989 in Michigan (Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc.), and manufactures air compressors which are supplied to a variety of car manufacturers. In 2003, the company produced 18 million units.
“Here in North America, we have sold seven million units,” he said. “...In the future, the market in North America will expand more and more.”
George Hisaeda, consulate general of Japan, said it was one of his proudest moments in his position to join in the groundbreaking ceremony. He also spoke on the 30-year relationship Japanese companies have had with Georgia. He credited this to “the generosity of the local community and good old Southern hospitality.”
Mitsuo Matsushita, Denso International America Inc., spoke on the relationship between his company and Toyota. They have a 13-year history together and have 28 companies, employing 14,000 people in the United States.
Company, state and local officials took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking which was held underneath the large white tent. A box with sand in it was in front of the podium, which is where the officials lined up.
“This is the most orchestrated groundbreaking I’ve ever seen,” the governor laughingly said as he put on white gloves and a hard hat for the groundbreaking. The officials all had silver shovels with large white and red ribbons on them.
Those participating in the groundbreaking were: Mr. Nakayama; Gov. Perdue; Martin; Hisaeda; Barbara McDaniel, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America; Masafumi Kato, Toyota Industries Corporation; Matsushita; Hikaru Sugi, Denso Corporation; Yoshimitsh Ogihara, Toyota Industries North America Inc; and Yoshio Fujiwara, Shimizu Corporation.
The ceremony also included the exchange of gifts. The governor presented Nakayama with a music box that plays “Georgia on My Mind.” Martin presented Nakayama with a piece of local art, a North Georgia “face jug.” Nakayama presented the governor and county with framed artwork.
Following the reception, a luncheon was held at Chateau Elan.

IDA still seeks info on roads
Schedule, ‘true costs’ not given in Crace’s presentation Friday
After waiting for more than one month to get answers and hearing a two-hour presentation from county manager Al Crace Friday, members of the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority still don’t have the answers they are seeking on the proposed $20 million bond financing for road projects.
The IDA members want to know the time line for the road work, as well as a cost for each project.
“I’m more confused now than when I came,” IDA chairman Scott Martin said at the end of Crace’s presentation. “I don’t understand what the roads cost.”
Crace presented a 38-page report on the seven road projects and three sewer projects. Details on each project where given but there was no work schedule given. While costs were included, there were three approximate costs given for each project. The IDA members said they want the “true costs” for each project.
“This authority wants to know what the real cost is, period,” Martin said.
Martin also asked about the possibility of applying for Georgia Department of Transportation funds for some of the projects. Crace said this would be a possibility and that county leaders should develop a plan and meet with DOT officials.
“You will get something and it will be worthwhile,” Crace said.
The IDA will meet again at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 25, with Crace to get the “true costs” for the projects, as well as a priority list and schedule.
The road projects include: Valentine Industrial Parkway (formerly Concord Road)/Possum Creek Road extension; Braselton Parkway, Steven B. Tanger Boulevard extension, Steve Reynolds Boulevard Phase II, Bana Road, Zion Church Road relocation and Wayne Poultry Road upgrade.
The Concord Road project is one that IDA members agree is crucial to be funded as soon as possible as it paves the way for the Toyota/MACI project. Road superintendent Larry Guthrie said it would take two to two and half months to complete the road.
The sewer projects include: Crooked Creek Outfall, Edwards Creek Outfall and Gravelly Creek/Edward Creek Sewer.
The board of commissioners is also proposing that the bonds cover the !.6 million Lanier Tech project. The county purchased the former Bilo Center in Commerce to be used by Lanier Tech. The BOC has already paid for this, but wants to be reimbursed with the bond funds.
In other business at the meeting, John Buchanan was named as vice chairman.
The IDA also held a closed session to discuss real estate acquisition. No action was taken when the meeting was opened to the public.

Two countians charged in Commerce murder
Apparent motive was robbery, Banks County sheriff says
Two Jackson County residents have been arrested in the murder of a Commerce man and authorities are seeking two more suspects.
Paul Rucker, 64, Commerce, was beaten to death and suffered several severe blows to his head, according to Banks County Sheriff Charles Chapman. He was found in his home Wednesday, Sept. 29.
“He had apparently received several blows to the head,” Chapman said.
Those arrested for felony murder include: Carla Joan Simmons, 22, Commerce, and Donald Andrew Murphy Jr., 19, Arcade. An arrest warrant for felony murder has been issued for Torrell McGarrett Young, 32, Athens. Chapman said a fourth suspect is also being sought in the murder.
Chapman said Rucker, who lived alone, was found by his brother, who had been trying to get in touch with him all day. His brother went to his Rucker Road residence Wednesday evening and knocked on the door. When no one answered, he went inside and found Rucker on the floor of the bedroom.
Chapman said the murder is believed to have occurred late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
“Investigators were on the scene during the night Wednesday and most of the next day,” Chapman said. “Later in the week, there were some people interviewed by authorities. Good information was given which was a help to law enforcement. It led to the arrest of the two people in custody now...We worked day and night and all through the weekend.”
Chapman said the suspects didn’t know Rucker, but they had been to his residence on Monday night with an acquaintance of the victim. The sheriff added that robbery appears to have been the motive.
“The apparent motive for this happening was robbery,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what was taken. It’s not sure how much money Mr. Rucker had. That was the real reason. they went...It was probably money to get dope, that’s what we figure.”
The investigation is on-going and the sheriff’s department is being assisted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

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Commerce Eyes 3-City Combined
Municipal Court
With Jefferson, Pendergrass, Municipal Court Would Be Held In New Courthouse
Commerce officials are talking with city officials in Jefferson and Pendergrass about holding a combined municipal court in the new Jackson County Courthouse.
That item will be on the agenda when the city council meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Peach Room of the Commerce Civic Center.
City leaders have long sought a better place than the public safety complex to hold their twice-monthly court, where often those awaiting hearings before Judge Billy Chandler have to stand outside in the cold or rain.
City Manager Clarence Bryant told the council at its Monday work session that the prospect of combining for a night of municipal court is “extremely possible.”
The city police would provide security in the courtroom, but the participating governments would have to share the cost of hiring two deputies to provide front-door security.
“There is nothing in the city charter to prevent us from going out of the city to hold court,” Bryant said.
Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. proposed a “little add-on” to court fines as a means of covering the increased costs.
“It makes a lot of sense,” said Ward 4 Councilman Bob Sosebee. “We’ve got this facility. We may as well get some use out of it.”
If the details can be worked out, Bryant said, it would mean that City Court would move from Tuesday nights to Monday nights.
Otherwise, the council faces a light agenda. Among the items it expects to handle are the recommendations of the Commerce Planning Commission on rezoning issues.
The council will likely approve five rezonings for annexation. Four of those are for residential lots and the fifth is 3.05 acres at the intersection of Georgia 59 and U.S. 441, for a farm and garden supply company.
The sixth issue is the rezoning request by the Sierra Group to put 134 houses on half-acre lots on an 85-acre tract on White Hill School Road. The planning commission recommended that the request be denied, but at least one council member wants to send the matter back to the planning commission to see if the developer will change the plan to an R-1 development, which provides for bigger lots.
One of the factors that resulted in the planning commission’s recommendation for denial was the use of “open space” planning, which enabled the developer to cluster the houses on smaller lots in exchange for leaving 40 percent of the tract open.
Other business on the agenda for Monday includes:
•approval of new “interruptible” gas contracts for J.M. Huber Corp, Louisiana-Pacific and the Gold Kist feed mill raising the per-unit price of gas by a small amount to help finance the U.S. 441 gas line relocation project. The council had previously approved a similar rate increase for all other customers.
•the appointment of Dr. Clark Hill to fill the unexpired term of Karen Stout on the Downtown Development Authority.
•an amendment to the federal Transportation Enhancement grant that last year built sidewalks around the city school system to use leftover funds to pay for curb and gutter work on the south end of Lakeview Drive and on Minish Drive.
•the approval of an $18,260 change order for the wastewater treatment plant. Because a previous change order gave the city a $6,000 credit, the net cost overrun is $12,378, but officials expect the project to come in under budget because costs for grading and rock removal will be less than anticipated.