News from Banks County...

OCTOBER 20, 2004


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OPINIONS
Angela Gary
Plenty of talented actors in county
I love theater and am always delighted to see Banks Countians on the stage when I go to local productions in nearby Commerce. Banks Countians are involved in both the Cold Sassy Players and the Renegade Players.

Shar Porier
Fahrenheit 9/11
What a documentary!
After seeing it, I can understand how it came away with the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
It’s one of the most moving films I’ve seen.


SPORTS
Underdog Panthers prepare to visit first-place Salem
Seminoles boast 28 seniors, bevy of backs for Panthers to contend with
If there were any teams in Region 8-AAAA still not convinced that the Jackson County football program has made some dramatic progress in the past year, those skeptics were likely turned into believers with a glance at the region scoreboard last Friday night.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Man booted from business over Evans sign
A Jackson County man who worked part-time for a tenant in the Jefferson Real Deals complex was reportedly kicked out of the business last week by a Jefferson policeman because he had a sign in his car supporting incumbent sheriff Stan Evans. He was subsequently fired from working at the business.

Chairman candidates tackle budget, courthouse issues
Mistrust in county government also a prime topicI
f there are a few things that Pat Bell and Roy Grubbs - candidates for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners - agree on, it's that county leaders are spending too much money and citizens don't trust their current elected county leaders.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
What lies Beneath
A look at pipelines, problems, politics in Madison Co. and beyond
Little goats run in their fenced-in pen off Colonial Drive in Madison County, oblivious to the vast pipelines just a few feet below them — lines that carry millions of gallons of fuel to jetliners, factories and families from Texas to New Jersey.

Burdette files suit against county
Local developer Gerry Burdette has filed suit against the Madison County Board of Commissioners for the group’s August denial of his proposed subdivision on 45 acres on Sanders Road.
Burdette sought a rezoning from A-1 to R-1 for a planned 30 to 35 lot subdivision, but his request was unanimously denied by the county commissioners.

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The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
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POLITICAL FORUM HELD

Michael Harden, a candidate for the District 28 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, is shown speaking at a political forum Tuesday night in Homer. He is facing incumbent Rep. Jeanette Jamieson, shown to his left. Also shown are: (L-R) Allen Venable and Charles Chapman, candidates in the sheriff’s race, and Gene Hart, a candidate for chairman of the board of commissioners. Hart is facing Kenneth Brady, who didn’t attend the forum.

Candidates face off at forum
Banks voters test candidates on issues Tues.
More than 100 residents of Banks County came out Tuesday night to a political forum in Homer to questions candidates in the Nov. 2 election on the issues they believe are relevant to the county.
Those participating were:
•Coroner: Billy Poole, Democrat, and Henry Gallaway, Republican.
•Sheriff: incumbent Charles Chapman, Democrat, and Allen Venable, Republican.
•Chairman, board of commissioners: Gene Hart, Republican. Incumbent Kenneth Brady did not attend.
•28th District House of Representatives seat: incumbent Jeanette Jamieson, Democrat, and Michael Harden, Republican.
•50th District State Senate: Bob Stowe, Democrat. Republican Nancy Schaefer didn’t attend.
BOC RACE
Hart said he expects there to be growth coming and that Martin’s Bridge Road at I-85 will be one area of focus that the county will need to address.
“We have to work to bring growth here to the county,” he said. “It’s going to happen and we need to be ready for it. In all honesty, we’re going to have to spend some money in order to get quality industry here...We need jobs for our residents so they can raise their kids and have a decent wage. Banks Crossing is great, but those types of jobs are not enough to sustain a family.”
He added that he wants to keep Banks County rural.
“I have a small farm and I love it,” he said. “We can develop a plan that includes industry and still retain our farms. I think it can be managed.”
To keep homeowners from funding that growth, he said industry and a strong economic base of industry and commercial businesses would be needed to allow for controlled growth.
“We can control taxes with smart growth,” he said. “I believe we can get help through state and federal funding to get things going.”
Hart said he feels up to the job of handling the business of the county because he has worked in the private sector and has learned how to manage people and budgets.
SHERIFF’S RACE
Chapman said he understands the cost of maintaining the sheriff’s department while dealing with expansion of the force, which grows as the county does. He said he tries to get the most out of every dollar.
As for questions on the crime rate in the county, gang-related activities and sex crimes, Chapman said: “We have investigated and prosecuted many offenders. The sex offenders are listed in the newspaper as a requirement of the state. Anyone convicted of such an offense has to report to the sheriff’s office.
“I have always looked for better ways to serve our people with a reasonable cost. We have made Banks County a lot safer. If you look at our arrest and conviction rate, we’re doing well. We get up and go to work everyday to do something more to serve our community.”
On a question on hiring minorities and women, he said he has an open door policy.
“There have been females on the force,” he said. “There are a few females jailers and women on staff. There is nothing preventing minorities from seeking employment with the sheriff’s department. We have a lot of good deputies. We have three certified deputies who have gone through training so that we can instruct in-house.”
Chapman said that there have been instances of gang-related activities, but that they have come from adjoining areas.
Venable was asked about truancy and what he would do to prevent it.
“Education is one of the highest priorities,” he said. “Every child should be in school. They have no future without an education.”
He also said he had no problem with forming an auxiliary force of volunteers to assist with parades and sporting events.
On crime and management, Venable said: “There would be no crime too small or too large to investigate. I would not have three deputies on the scene of one accident. I would make sure deputies stay in their districts unless they were needed as back-up.”
Venable served a previous term as sheriff of Banks County and said he had learned a lot from that experience.
“I learned a lot of lessons while I was in office,” he said. “I made some mistakes and will make some mistakes again. I want to make Banks County a safer place for all the citizens.”
Venable also said he saw no evidence gang activity within the county, but does suspect there may be some interaction with other gangs.
HOUSE RACE
In response to a question on growth, Rep. Jamieson said: “It’s obvious to everyone that growth is coming to Banks County. We have to deal with the issues of providing sewer and water. Infrastructure is important to growth. One of the major issues I see is protecting the county from surrounding municipalities. Banks Crossing is vital to the economy of Banks County. We need that sales tax to help relieve the burden of property tax.”
Jamieson is a strong supporter of education and said that she supports technical and adult education programs.
Questions also touched on religion and the Ten Commandments.
“I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, so I believe in the 10 Commandments,” she said. “I’ve said many times that we should spend more time following them than talking about them.”
When asked her opinion on opening the national forests to commercial interests ,she said she was adamantly opposed to the idea. She said the taxpayers own the national parks and they should be left alone.
Harden said he has a strong belief in his religion and in family values.
“In talking with people door-to-door, I find that people want a representative that will stand up for family values,” he said. “The people I have spoken with said their family values are not for sale.”
He told the audience that family values “are the core of who we are.”
“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
He said he is pro-life and believed that the references to God should remain on U.S. currency and in the Pledge.
He also said he expects to have a Republican-controlled house and that he would be capable of “working both sides of the aisle.”
On opening up state lands to commercial use, Harden said he is in favor of support to the national parks. He said the doors and gates should be open and that everyone should be allowed to use them.
Harden also said his experience working with Charlie Norwood would help him as representative. He said he assisted with Norwood’s campaign and worked out of his Augusta office. He added that Norwood took him to Washington, D.C., a few times.
SENATE RACE
Stowe said it is important to build an economic base to bring more money into Banks County.
“If there is something I can do as state senator to help Banks County, I’ll do it,” he said. “I will help find the funding to assist in projects.
As for tort reform, he said he knows everyone is experiencing the high cost of health care. In Georgia, he said there should be more competition in insurance plans. Frivolous lawsuits need to be dealt with, he added. One if his goals, if elected, would be to bring all the parties to the table for discussion.
He also believs that there needs to be affordable health care for all Georgia’s children and everyone, in genral.
“I’m dedicate to insuring that all our residents have access to good care,” he said. “We have to work together on a lot of things. Get beyond political parties. There has to be communication and cooperation between the two. The first thing I would do is to start to build those relationships. I will do what’s best for Banks County. I’m about people, not parties.”
Stowe said he was very interested in serving on committees for education, since he had been an educator for 30 years.
“One of the main reaosn I’m running is because one half of our tax momey is spent on education,” he said.
He is against school vouchers and believes taxpayer money should go to public schools.
“Another area I feel is important, is agriculture,” he said. “I have many friends in the agriculture business. Too much emphasis is placed on the southern part of the state and not enough on our farmers in north Georgia. They are not represented and I will work for them.”
CORONER’S RACE
Poole said one of the most important positions of the county is the coroner. It takes compassion and understanding to deal with family members, he added. Though he has no experinec in the medical field, he said he would be able to “extend a helping hand in a time of need.”
Poole said his grandfather had been a coroner, as well as other family members.
Gallaway said his reason for running was to help the preople in Banks County who have lost a family member and treat them with respect and understanding. He said he had been asked to run over the past eight years and after considering it, chose to run this year. He has no medical experience, but feels he can do a good job comforting family members.
The Banks County of Commerce sponsored the forum. Bill Ford, pastor of Homer Presbyterian Church, and Angela Gary, editor of The Banks County News, served as moderators. Questions from the audience were screened by a panel comprised of Bev Thompson, Pat Westmoreland and Grant Reed. Chamber president Tammy Kennedy was master of ceremonies.



Development Authority seeks advice on attracting business
The Banks County Development Authority met with Carylye Cox, former Hall County city manager, Thursday to get advice on bringing businesses to the county.
Cox said the county needs to decide first if the community wants the business to locate in the area.
“You have to make the decision, some kinds of businesses are not good for your community,” he said. “It is a community decision.”
If the county decides the business is beneficial for the community, the DA can play a role in making the area more competitive, Cox said.
“In today’s market, the development authority can play a key role in locating businesses,” he said. “Most businesses are looking for financial incentives, it is not uncommon that they would want the land for free and you may owe several thousand dollars for it.”
The DA has to determine how to compete with other areas for the business. Cox asked: “How do we become competitive with other areas when we don’t have any money?”
Cox explained ways for the DA to create bonds that alleviate the locating business from paying for the property, including an industrial revenue bond. Under this type of bond agreement, Cox suggested the DA work with the local government to set up an agreement where the company can come in and take the property and the DA would hold the title to the land. The taxes would be structured so that the DA would keep half of the taxes until the property is paid for, turning the other half over to the county. According to Cox, Georgia law exempts properties owned by the DA from paying property taxes.
“In my opinion, that is not good for the county,” he said.
When issuing industrial revenue bonds and phantom bonds, which are bonds structured through the DA to allow businesses to pay cash for property and improvements but still have the tax exemptions, the county and the DA are not liable for the bonds, the company is, he added.
“The authority is only the vehicle so the company pays no state and no local taxes,” Cox said.
Businesses locating in the area can offer other assets to the county, like jobs. Cox said if a business locates and asks for a 50 percent tax cut, the county still has the benefit of the jobs. But, he warns the DA should always build in penalties if the locating business doesn’t achieve what they promise, like the number of jobs.
“You always have to protect yourself,” he said.
Development Authority member Sam McDuffie asked Cox what the appropriate type of business for Banks County would be. Cox said a cost-benefit analysis would need to be done and the community would need to decide based on its value system.
“Some of us have looked at our surrounding area and said someone needs to be on board that has the knowledge,” said Jack Banks, DA chairman. “We have a commercial area (Banks Crossing) and would like to keep it there and leave the rest rural.”
Cox asked if the board wants the I-85 corridor running down every street. Banks said, “no, we don’t.”
“It’s not just an immediate decision, but a long-term view for your community,” Cox said. “When large tracts of land start selling to people, you don’t know it will be too late.”
Cox said the DA can acquire state and federal funding to purchase land, build water and sewer lines, and other infrastructure developments. He then suggested the DA build spec buildings and sell the land and buildings in lots to businesses at a mark-up to recover the investment.
“All it takes is the willingness of the DA and the county to make it happen,” he said. “You have an area that is going to change.”
DA member Wayne Abernathy, who worked with Cox when he located a business in Hall County several years ago, received a $400,000 grant for his business through the efforts of Cox.
Abernathy asked Cox to bill the DA for the consulting, which lasted over an hour. Cox said there would be no charge.
DA members Terrence Dale and Jimmy Morrison were absent.
Also at the meeting:
•McDuffie told the board the sign to be placed on the property owned by the DA on Hwy. 441 will cost $225. The sign will have a drawing of the property plus the adjoining property owned. Campbell asked if the board should ask the county for an extension on the land, which ends in December. McDuffie said: “I think if we have activity, they’ll be willing to extend.”
•members stated the two-lane road extension to Industrial Park Road is nearing completion.
•the board approved a bill from Southern Outdoors for $92.95 for grassing a lot between the new fire department and the new location of Bo’s Linen Service.
•Shar Porier, representing the chamber of commerce, said Georgia Trend magazine would be spotlighting Banks County in its January issue, but the county had to sell an undisclosed amount of money in advertising with the magazine for the feature to run. Porier suggested the DA might advertise the land they have for sale and asked for any additional suggestions on areas of the county to spotlight. The DA thought a half-page ad might cost $5,000 and decided to table the discussion until they had further information.
•the board met behind closed doors for 40 minutes to discuss the acquisition of real estate. Porier and Carole Ciriacks, Department of Economic Development, remained in the room.


Local real estate guide is inside
This issue of The Banks County News includes the inaugural edition of a new, local real estate guide, MainStreet Homes. The initial distribution of this guide will be over 24,000 copies, 19,000 of which will go out as paid circulation in The Jackson Herald, The Commerce News, The Banks County News and The Madison County Journal. It will be published in this newspaper on the third Wednesday of each month, will be available at local businesses and will also be online at www.mainstreetnews.com.
“We developed this product for the purpose of reaching local home-buyers,” said Scott Buffington, advertising director for MainStreet Newspapers. “Many real estate professionals tell us that as much as 50 to 60 percent of their home-buying prospects are local people that already live in this community. People who are wanting to move into larger homes for expanding families or to relocate to a neighboring town because of jobs or schools. We realize that there are several good real estate guides in northeast Georgia but this is the first that focuses primarily on Banks, Jackson and Madison counties.”
Sales and production of MainStreet Homes is being handled by publishers Andy and Susan Forde. They can be reached at (770) 480-9227.

 


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Baldwin receives grant
$140,515 to aid with industry infrastructure
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson has announced a grant in the amount of $140,515 has been awarded to the City of Baldwin.
The EIP grant will assist in improvement to infrastructure meeting Glen Rae Technologies needs as they increase their local investment by $2 million, and the creation of 50 new jobs.
“Helping local industry is the best way to bring good jobs to our community,” said Jamieson. “Everyone benefits from improved infrastructure and it also helps attract new businesses to relocate in Baldwin. I would like to thank all of those involved in this important effort.”


BOE to meet in Sautee
The Banks County Board of Education will hold two called meetings this week at Lucille’s Inn, 964 Rabun Road, Sautee.
The called meetings will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 20-21.
The Wednesday session will last until 8 p.m. Items on the agenda include: system mission/testing goals, Georgia Accountability (AYP) learning focus overview, continuous improvement plan, board ethics/community leadership vs. running the schools, goals-needs-accomplishments and a closed session for personnel.
Thursday’s session will last until 1 p.m. Items on the agenda include eBoard training and SPLOST 11 projects.


Advance voting allowed next week in Homer
Advance voting will be under way next week and voters will be allowed to cast a ballot for the Nov. 2 General Election.
Voting will be allowed from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the voter registrar’s office, located in the courthouse in downtown Homer. Voters do not have to give a reason as to why they want to vote early.
ABSENTEE VOTING
Voters who meet the criteria to cast an absentee ballot may do so at any time. Absentee ballots can be cast at the voter registra’s office between regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The criteria for casting an absentee ballot include the voter: will be out of the precinct on the day of the election, Nov. 2; is a constant care-giver; is over age 75; is an elected official; is disabled; will be observing a religious holiday on Nov. 2; is in the military; or is a public safety officer.


Check Internet to find out your polling location
Voters who aren’t sure where their polling location is can find it by going to www.sos.state.ga.us on the Internet.
Voters may put in their name and birthday to find their assigned polling location.
Voters may also call a toll free number, 1-888-265-1115, to find out their polling location.


Lula resident asks council to move on beer, wine sales
Popphan says action needed to bring grocery store to town
Lula resident Winford Popphan appealed to the city council Monday night to take a vote on permitting beer and wine sales in the city. He said this needs to be done so that a grocery store will locate in the town.
At the September meeting, councilmen Mordecai Wilson and Clyde Moore moved to form a committee to study the economics and set regulations for licensing package sales.
Their two votes were countered by two opposition votes cast by Lamb Griffin and Vicky Chambers. Larry Shuler abstained and Mayor Milton Turner refused to break the tie. So, the motion died.
“I want to know what the council is intending to do about getting us a grocery store,” Popphan said. “Last council meeting, you wouldn’t even vote to discuss the possibility of beer and wine sales in a grocery store. We can’t get a store to come here without allowing sales of beer and wine. I don’t know of any reason that the City of Lula could not authorize the sales for a grocery store.
“It’s not that I’m interested in buying beer or wine, but I am interested in a grocery store, so I don’t have to drive to Cornelia. I can’t think of one good reason why the council would not take a vote.”
Popphan said he was not asking the council for a decision, just an answer.
“You keep adding subdivisions and more and more people,” he argued, “but you’re not adding any more industry. You’re not adding more services for these people. You, as council members, were elected by the people and you have a responsibility to make decisions to have the services. Why you wouldn’t even consider it is what puzzles me.
“I don’t know if it’s religious beliefs or what. But, religious feelings have nothing to do with running the city. Religion doesn’t belong in city business.”
Shuler told Popphan he estimated the city was losing over half-a-million dollars in revenue from just the existing convenience stores in the city.
Shuler continued: “One of our council members had gotten together with some people and called all the church people in here that night. I’m not mentioning any name, but I know who it was. That’s the reason I didn’t vote for it or against it. I mean no disrespect to anybody for it. I thought it was done under-handed and so I didn’t vote.”
Popphan replied: “I disagree with that. I want you to know I go to church because I want some spiritual guidance. But, that has nothing to do with your responsibilities as council members. You cannot bring your religion into city business. You can’t do that. It’s against the law. That’s against my rights and every other person’s rights. You can’t take it into the school and you can’t bring it into the city council meetings.
“Don’t get me wrong, now. I love the City of Lula. I don’t care if nobody ever buys any beer or wine. I just don’t want somebody sitting up there allowing their personal feelings to stop the progress in the city.”
Councilwoman Vicky Chambers told Popphan she appreciated his comments, but took issue with the necessity of allowing package sales to attract grocery stores. She pointed out that there was an Ingle’s in White County that did not sell beer and wine.
Popphan said he did not believe that Ingle’s would come to Lula now without being able to sell beer and wine.
Turner told Popphan that the council had recognized the need for a decision, but it may not happen until the city is approached by an interested chain.