News from Madison County...

OCTOBER 20, 2004


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
Candidates show Halloween spirit of trying to spook us
Halloween is rapidly approaching. The season when we are told to be afraid, be very afraid. The two major presidential candidates have gotten into the spirit of the season. Each of them is trying to frighten us into voting against the other.

Zach Mitcham
The petroleum picture
A main vein of the U.S. petroleum supply runs through this county, a fact that we just don’t think about very much since it’s buried beneath us.


SPORTS
Lady Raiders cross country team wins MainStreet race
Madison County girls outlegged other long distance runners at the MainStreet Newspapers Invitational last week in Jackson County.
Debbie Ebalobo captured first place in the event with a time of 23:35. Other Lady Raider runners were Danielle Baker, 26:39, fifth; Michelle Wyatt, 27:14, sixth; Kyleah Young, 27:19, seventh; and Lindy Cole, 27:22, eighth.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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.

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.


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.

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The Madison County Journal
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MCHS Homecoming Queen

Latoya Cobbs is crowned Madison County High School’s “2004 Homecoming Queen” during halftime of the Friday night Raider football game against Salem as her father, Bobby Edwards, watches.
See this weeks Madison County Journal for more Homecoming pictures.


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.
The interstates may be the most distinguished vein network of the American economy, but it’s the out-of-sight petroleum pipelines, buried several feet in the ground, that are this country’s lifeblood, this nation’s fiscal intravenous system, supplying the quick-stop service stations with gas for our cars.
Some Madison County residents can remember the loud booms of decades ago when earth was moved and that vein network of pipeline was introduced to this county in a route that curled around the mountains and up the east coast.
In fact, there are three major pipelines that run through Madison County — two petroleum: Colonial Pipeline Company and Plantation Pipe Line Company; and one natural gas: Williams Transco Gas Pipeline.
But the fact that this rural Georgia county is a link in the nation’s fuel transportation chain is easily overlooked. Naturally, what happens in the dirt below is not obviously relevant to busy lives above.
So homes and businesses are located near those lines. And life goes on. And many people give those lines no more thought than the little goats in their pen on Colonial Drive.
Unless something goes wrong.
CONTAMINATED WATER
It’s been 10 years since Madison County discovered that something had indeed gone wrong with well water in the Colbert Grove Church Road area south of Danielsville.
While Jed Clampett found his fictional fortune with “Texas tea,” the blue collar community of Colbert Grove met the very real evil cousin of black gold: “Benzene.”
Benzene is a liquid that is “clear, slightly sweet smelling and highly combustible,” according to the Benzene Information Center on the web (www.benzeneinfocenter.com). It’s frequently used in manufacturing rubber, paint, plastics, resins, drugs, pesticides, synthetics and other products.
Benzene can be found in automobile exhaust, hazardous waste areas, cigarette smoke, paint fumes — even condoms. It usually enters the body in one of three ways: skin contact, consumption of tainted water or food, or inhalation.
“Benzene is everywhere,” said Sharon Wilbur, an environmental health scientist for the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, Division of Toxicology in Atlanta. “You’re exposed to benzene. I’m exposed. So to try to determine low level exposure from a specific source is difficult.”
Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke is “probably the largest exposure pathway,” said Wilbur, adding that people are also exposed to benzene while sitting in traffic.
The effects of exposure vary depending on how much is taken in and over how long a period of time. Short-term exposure to benzene can cause a person to become confused or sleepy. But long-term exposure to the contaminant can lead to serious health problems, such as “Acute Myeloid Leukemia,” a type of cancer that affects the blood; “Secondary Aplastic Anemia; and damage to the reproductive system.
A petroleum spill in a water supply is the type of incident that can lead to long-term exposure. And while determining the root source of benzene exposure in an individual provides numerous challenges, establishing the source of contamination in the Colbert Grove water supply is easier to determine.
It’s Colonial Pipeline.
COLONIAL IN
MADISON COUNTY
The Atlanta-based petroleum transport company has two pipelines that run through Madison County. These pipelines are 36 and 40 inches in diameter and are made of steel — the 36-inch line was installed in 1963, the 40-inch line in 1979.
Fuel in these lines gets sped up at 69 “booster stations” along the Texas to New Jersey route. And one of those booster stations is a fenced-in facility at the top of a hill at the end of a narrow dirt road off Colbert Grove Church Road just south of Danielsville.
That petroleum moves about three to five miles an hour and takes some “14 to 24 days for a batch to get from Houston, Texas, to the New York harbor,” according to Colonial’s website. The company transports 38 different grades of gasoline, seven grades of kerosene, 16 grades of home heating oil and one grade of “transmix.”

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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.
Burdette’s attorney, Victor Johnson, said the denial was unreasonable.
“The present zoning of the subject property is arbitrary and capricious and has no rational basis, is not reasonably related to the public interest and constitutes an abuse of discretion which unreasonably restricts the development of the subject property,” wrote Johnson in the suit’s complaint.
Burdette’s proposed lot sizes of three-quarters of an acre were deemed too small by the BOC, which asked Burdette at the August meeting if he would agree to increase lot sizes to two acres, the minimum lot size currently allowed for the property.
Burdette, a BOC-appointed member of the county industrial authority, told commissioners that he would increase the lot size to one acre, but maintained that an increase to two acres wouldn’t be financially feasible. And he said the BOC should look at the big picture, contending that even though the development is in a medium density zone under the land use plan, the proposed subdivision is really in the county’s high-growth area. He told the board that the area between Hwy. 29 and Hwy. 106 in southern Madison County is “ideal for residential development.”
Those who opposed the rezoning said there is “already an excess of available lots” nearby and that adding new homes will only worsen traffic problems.
In his complaint, Johnson wrote that the BOC has “already approved applications for rezoning of other similar properties to R-1 classification with .75-acre lots.” And he listed five examples.
“Therefore, refusal of the defendants to permit zoning of the subject property as requested has violated plaintiff’s rights to equal protection under the United States Constitution and Constitution of the state of Georgia,” wrote Johnson.
COUNTY ZONING ORDINANCE
UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
The suit is also challenging the Madison County Zoning Ordinance, contending that the 1993 passage of the ordinance did not meet advertising guidelines required by law.
“A notice of the Dec. 14, 1993 hearing stating the time, place and purpose of the hearing was not published within a newspaper of general circulation within the territorial boundaries of Madison County at least 15 but not more than 45 days prior to the date of the hearing,” wrote Johnson. “...Therefore, the zoning ordinance does not comply with the minimum requirements for procedural due process, and its enactment is therefore unconstitutional and the ordinance and any amendments thereto should be declared void.”
Burdette is asking the court to require the board of commissioners to rezone the property to R-1 in a reasonable amount of time, or in the alternative, to declare the entire county zoning ordinance void because of improper advertising in 1993.

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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.


MainStreet real estate guide inside
This issue of The Madison County Journal 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 viewable online at www.mainstreetnews.com.
“We developed this product for the purpose of reaching local homebuyers,” said Scott Buffington, advertising director for MainStreet Newspapers. “Many real estate professionals tell us that as much as 50-60% 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.


Flu shots not yet available at county health dept.
The Madison County Board of Health announced Monday that the Madison County Health Department does not have flu vaccine at this time.
“The situation continues to evolve, and we are not sure when or if we will receive flu vaccine, or how many doses we may receive if we get it,” said Wesley Nash, chairman of the Madison County Board of Health and chairman of the county commissioners. “We are waiting to find out. The good news is that there is no reported flu in our community at this time, so there is no urgency to get the shot. Even getting it as late as December usually gives you plenty of time for protection.”
If and when available, flu shots will cost $18 or less. The vaccine will be reserved for people who are at the highest risk for serious flu complications, following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
•People ages 65 or older
•Children ages 6 to 23 months
•Adults and children with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, cancer or HIV/AIDS.
•Women who will be pregnant during flu season
•Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
•Children ages 6 months to 18 years who are on chronic aspirin therapy
•Healthcare workers involved in direct patient care
•Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under age 6 months.
The latest flu vaccine information will be posted at www.publichealthathens.com and will be available on the Public Health Information Line, 1-800-4PD-HELP.
“Please do not call the health department to ask about flu shots. Our staff has been overwhelmed by the phone calls,” Nash said. “When we get the vaccine, we will announce flu shot availability well in advance through the local media.”