News from Madison County...

OCTOBER 6, 2004


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
Beware of the liberal ‘rumormongers’
Somebody started a rumor. That rumor has spread like wildfire over the Internet and talk radio. The rumor is that the Bush administration is planning to reinstate the draft.

Jana Mitcham
The historic sites 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
Madison County upends defending region champions with late score
Touchdown, two-point conversion lift upstart Raiders to big win
Yes, it was one touchdown, one two-point conversion, one win. But it was so much more than that, too.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

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.

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The Madison County Journal
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GETTING AN EARLY START

Special needs pre-school teacher Diane Alford works with her small classroom of 3 and 4 year olds. Alford’s classroom is just one component of the services offered for children with developmental delays.


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.
Her small classroom of three and four year olds is one of the components of the special needs preschool division of Madison County Schools, which provides a variety of services to children with any type of development delay.
For Alford’s students, the highly structured classroom provides social interaction and lots of hands-on teaching.
Alford has five students in the class this year and says there is generally never more than eight. In addition to herself there are two assistants who work with the children. Each class lasts half a day, Monday through Thursday, and there are also afternoon classes.
But not all children diagnosed with developmental delays will attend the classroom at Comer.
“It all depends on what’s decided on (by parents and the school system) once a child’s needs have been determined,” Alford said.
For example, some children may continue to attend a private day care or preschool, or even HeadStart. Teachers or speech therapists can visit a child there for therapy and assistance.
Other children may receive services at their homes and still others are brought by their families to the special education office in Colbert for speech or other therapy.
Once a child is evaluated and determined to have a developmental delay, an individual plan is tailored to fit that child’s needs, Alford emphasized.
And Alford knows the effects of early intervention personally; her now 27 year old daughter Amanda has cerebral palsy and Alford became interested in teaching special education pre-schoolers after witnessing how early childhood programs helped her own child.
“And there’s a lot more (services) available now than there was back then,” Alford said.
“I really enjoy the little ones because you can make such a difference with them at that age,” Alford said.
Program coordinator Mary Wildes couldn’t agree more.
For her, it’s all about early intervention before kindergarten, which she says can make all the difference in a child’s life.
HOW TO GET HELP
Children become students of the preschool in a variety of ways. Many are referred by parents or by a physician who spots a potential problem, whether it’s speech, hearing, motor skills, or learning.
Another important tool in identifying problems early are the free annual countywide screenings for children as young as six months to age five.
Wildes and Alford encourage parents to bring their babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers to the screening, whether or not they have been diagnosed with a particular problem. At the screening a variety of tests are conducted to determine if a child has a problem that could hinder their learning and development.
The next preschool developmental screening is set for Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Danielsville Elementary School. Food and drinks are provided as well as activities for siblings.
Wildes asks that parents bring their children to the school at the following times so that she and her staff can give each one their full attention.
Those with last names beginning with A to I should arrive between 4 to 5 p.m.; those with J to R should arrive between 5 and 6 p.m. and those with S to Z should arrive between 6 and 7 p.m. Parents may bring their child at any time between 4 and 7 if the assigned time is not convenient for them.
This program is called Child Find and is sponsored by the school system and assisted by the University of Georgia College of Education as an academic community service activity.
Although the program has been around for a number of years, Wildes says she feels a lot of parents still don’t know about it.
“Early intervention is very powerful, often children who receive this early care don’t need to continue in special education courses once they’re in school,” she said.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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. All candidates for contested races in the county have been invited to participate. Each candidate will be given time for a short statement of their platform and the audience will have the opportunity to submit questions for candidates response. All interested voters are invited to attend.


Registrars see flurry at voter deadline
But 2004 total of registered voters in county lower than four years ago
George W. Bush or John Kerry? Wesley Nash or John Bellew?
Many Madison County residents want to be able to weigh in on local, state and national elections Nov. 2.
So 100 county residents signed up to vote Monday on the last day to register for the upcoming general election, according to the county registrar’s office. Registrar’s officials said that between 500 and 600 people have registered to vote since July, though an exact total was not available as of Tuesday afternoon.
Madison County’s total number of registered voters is approximately 12,500, down from the 12,900 registered voters in 2000. The registrar’s office said the decline can be attributed to a couple of factors: 1.) people moving out of the county, 2.) voters are dropped from eligible voter lists if they have gone for two general election periods, eight years, without participating in any elections. Because of prolonged inactivity, a number of people were dropped off Madison County’s list earlier this year.
According to an Associated Press report Tuesday, in Georgia, 371,376 new voters registered between Sept. 2003 and the end of last month.


Axing the assessors?
BOC files lengthy complaint Monday, asks judge to rule whether there is sufficient grounds to terminate 3 of 4 tax board members
Madison County commissioners want to fire three of the four members of the county board of assessors, but they have to make sure the terminations are legal under Georgia law first.
So the BOC filed a lengthy complaint against the assessors Monday in Superior Court, asking for a recommendation from a judge on whether there is sufficient grounds for dismissal.
Judge John Bailey will consider the case. But whether his ruling will come before or after the Nov. 2 general elections is not clear. (The judge could not be reached for comment before press time.)
The BOC seeks to oust current board of assessors chairman John Bellew, along with board members Gerald Coutant and John Mallonee. The commissioners are not seeking the dismissal of their newest appointee to the board, Samantha Garland.
The complaint against the tax board is the latest development in a year-long conflict between the commissioners and the tax assessors. The controversy is a focal issue in the current county commission chairman’s race, in which Bellew is challenging incumbent Wesley Nash.
In their complaint, the commissioners claim that the three tax board members have “failed to perform their duties and requirements and meet the qualifications imposed upon them by law in numerous respects...”
THE ALLEGATIONS
The complaint spells out seven charges against the three tax board members:
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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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.


Rezoning approved for Spratlin Mill development
A rezoning for a residential development on Spratlin Mill Road was approved by county commissioners Thursday night, but questions remain concerning possible county water to the development.
The BOC unanimously approved three related requests by Morris Bullock to rezone approximately 25 acres of property currently zoned R-R (rural residential) and A-1(agricultural) to R-1 for a proposed major subdivision.
The proposed subdivision, called Colonial Spratlin Mill, calls for 20 to 25 lots averaging nine-tenths of an acre in size to be organized around a common greenspace and fashioned after the style of Colonial Williamsburg.
Bullock is seeking county water for the development, saying he would prefer not to develop a community well system if possible.
County leaders have told Bullock that grant funding could be used to help fund the line to the development, but no grants have been approved for such a purpose.
“I want to work this out,” said Bullock, who said water will probably need to be available by next spring. “I hope grants can be a part of this.”
OTHER ZONING MATTERS
In other zoning matters Thursday night:
•The BOC approved a request by Chris Williams, representing owner Reggie Ingram, to rezone a 9.6-acre parcel on Reggie Ingram Road from A-1 (agricultural) to RR (rural residential, two-acre minimum) in order to subdivide it into two lots.
•The board approved a request by Aubrey Thomason, representing owners Gamey and Maxine Shields, to rezone a two acre portion of a 16.36-acre parcel on Providence Church Road from A-1 to R-R in order to sell an existing manufactured home on the property.
•A request by Wiley Slayton for owner Shirley Slayton to rezone 2.16 acres of a 10.4-acre tract on Hwy. 29 from A-1 to R-1 was denied because the applicants weren’t present at the meeting.
•The board approved a preliminary platt for Phil Munro for Jacobs Field Subdivision on Garnett Ward Road.


Madison Co. still near the top in ag industry
Madison County is still among the state’s leading farming counties, according to the recently-released 2002 Census of Agriculture.
The census shows that the county has 763 farms, with an average size of 100 acres. The market value of production was $123 million in 2002 with crop sales accounting for $1.5 million and livestock and poultry sales accounting for $121.6 million.
Madison County ranked fourth in the state for value of livestock, poultry and their products sold in 2002. It ranked 153rd out of 3,070 counties in the United States, which puts Madison County in the top five of all counties. The value of cattle and calves sold ranked 10th in the state, with cattle and calf inventory ranking fifth.
The 2002 Census of Agriculture is available online at www.usda.gov/nass/