News from Banks County...

OCTOBER 27, 2004

Banks County

Banks County
Banks County

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Rochelle Beckstine
Junk in Cherokee pollutes reservation’s good name
I visited the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina on Sunday. The only part of the trip I enjoyed was visiting a Cherokee Indian village constructed as it would have been 200 years ago.

Zach Mitcham
The petroleum picture
We fill up. We go where we need to go. We all have so many things to do.
But if you really stop and think about it. That stuff we put in our cars so that we can live our lives how we want to, well, there’s a lot beneath the surface there.

Blanked again
Banks County Leopards fall to East Hall Vikings, 35-0, in final home game m,
It was senior night in Homer Friday and Leopard seniors on the field stole the show. Seniors Otis Rylee, Bradley Angel, John Payne, Nick McKenzie and Cody Williams all put forth impressive efforts on the field.

News from
Voters are lining up
Three county races on the ballot
Voters in Jackson County were already lined up this week for early balloting in one of the most talked about election years in history.
Drawn by a hotly-contested presidential race between Republican President George W. Bush and challenger Democrat John Kerry, a large turnout of voters is expected for early voting the rest of this week and on election day next Tuesday.

Walker resigns
Water chairman steps down following ‘racial’ remark flak
The chairman of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority resigned Friday at a meeting he called for that purpose. Warren Walker resigned his position – but not from the authority – in the aftermath of a “racial” remark he made following Wednesday’s meeting that led new member Saverne Rucker Varnum to vacate the building.

News from
It’s Time to Choose
Historic Election of 2004 includes several local seats up for grabs
Voter turnout at 850 as of Wed. morning
It’s finally time for all finger pointing to turn to the touch screen.
In fact, voters are already inserting their electronic ballots into the computers at the county complex this week, getting their Georgia Peach “I voted” stickers before the official election day arrives Tuesday.

Local leaders say Freeport
necessary to bring business to county
County leaders are encouraging citizens to vote “yes” on part two and three of the Freeport initiative on the ballot Nov. 2.
Chamber of Commerce officials say Freeport is important because it encourages expansion of existing businesses and attracts new businesses and tax revenues from these businesses will in turn help pay for classrooms, roads and fire stations.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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Lip-smacking good

Four-year-old Hunter Cochran enjoyed the chicken dinner at the annual Farm Bureau banquet held recently at Banks County High School. See this weeks Banks County News for additional photos and story.


Election 2004
Three local races on the ballot for Tuesday
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballot on two key local races, as well as the presidential race.
In the sheriff’s race, incumbent Charles Chapman (D) is facing former sheriff Allen Venable (R).
In the race for chairman of the Banks County Board of Commissioners, incumbent Kenneth Brady (D) is facing challenger Gene Hart (R).
The only other local race is coroner, where Billy Poole (D) is facing Henry Gallaway (R). Incumbent Tommy Herbert is not seeking re-election.
In Senate 28 on the Georgia House of Representatives, incumbent Jeanette Jamieson (D) is pitted against Michael Harden (D). In the District 50 seat on the Georgia Senate, Nancy Schaefer (R) is running against Bob Stowe (D).
In Maysville, the mayor’s race and the Ward 3 council seat will be on the ballot. Those running for mayor are incumbent Richard Presley, Catherine Daniel and Jerry Baker. Those running for Ward 3 include incumbent Andy Martin, Richard Parr and Rebecca McNeely.
On the national scene, voters will be deciding between George W. Bush/Dick Cheney (R) or John F. Kerry/John Edwards (D).
Also on the ballot is the 9th District U.S. Representative race, where incumbent Charlie Norwood (R) is facing Bob Ellis (D).
In the U.S. Senate race, Johnny Isakson (R), Denise L. Majette (D) and Allen Bukley (Liberatarian) are on the ballot.
Two state races will be on the ballot. Three candidates, incumbent Robert “Bobby Baker Jr. (R), Mac Barber (D) and Jalynn Ynn Hudnall (L) are in the Georgia Public Service Commission race.
Three candidates, Debra Barnes, Howard Mead and Mike Sheffield, are running for judge of the Court of Appeals.
Voters will also be asked to decide two constitutional amendments. They are:
•Shall the constitution be amended so as to provide that this state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman?
•Shall the constitution be amended so as to provide that the supreme court shall have jurisdiction and authority to answer questions of law from any state appellate or federal district or appellate court?

Bushville voting precinct changed
The Bushville location for voting has been moved from the old fire station near I-85 and Hwy. 441 to the new fire station at Banks Crossing, located at 613 Industrial Park Boulevard.
To reach this location, turn between Tanger I and Regions Bank onto Industrial Boulevard and go approximately one mile to the last building on the left. Notices have been mailed to the voters in the Bushville district advising of this change.
The change is effective with the General Election on Nov. 2.

Advance voting is under way
Advance voting is under way this week and voters are allowed to cast a ballot for the Nov. 2 General Election.
Voting will be allowed from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.

Liquor sales on Baldwin’s ballot
A liquor by the drink referendum will go before the citizens of Baldwin on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
The “Yes” or “No” vote must be cast at the Baldwin City Hall, according to officials. It is the only Baldwin precinct that will have the ballots.

New elementary school plans are taking shape
A new elementary school is slated to open in Banks County in 2006.
Administrators for the Banks County School System are moving in the direction of a four-school system, with the
plans to be in place by 2006 with the completion of a new elementary school.
The state standard in Georgia is a four-school model for school systems; primary school, grades Pre-K to second grade; elementary school, grades three to five; middle school, grades six through eight; and a high school, grades nine through 12.
Douglas Breaux of Robertson, Loia, Roof Architects and Engineers, presented plans for an updated school in Banks County to members of the Banks County Board of Education at a meeting held Thursday, October 21. The design was developed by Breaux, but a committee of principals, teachers, BOE members and community volunteers voiced opinions about how they would like to see the new school look before plans were presented to the BOE Thursday.
Breaux described the exterior of the building as “traditional, classic architecture.” To pay tribute to the old middle school, which also served as a high school, concrete medallions will be installed in the buildings facade flanking the front entrance, one will read 2006 - the buildings expected completion year, the other will read 1956, the year the original building was constructed.
The plan calls for major demolition and renovation of the old middle school for a new elementary school. The plan calls for the demolition of the existing school with the exception of the cafeteria, media center and gymnasium which will undergo minor renovations until additional funds become available for more improvements.
“A student spends 90 percent of their time in a classroom and I want to put them in an as up-to-date facility as possible,” said Banks County superintendent Chris Erwin.
Thirty-nine classrooms will be built on the site with enough room for 700 students. Classrooms will be constructed in quads, with four rooms connecting in each section. Each classroom is 750 square feet, which is above the state minimum. Hallways are 10 to 12 feet wide depending on location. Ceilings are nine to 10 feet high. Skylights will be installed to provide natural lighting in interior classrooms, windows will maximize light in the exterior classrooms. Art and music rooms are also in the plan. Four special education suites are built into the design.
Like the newly completed middle school, the elementary school will have a secure entrance. Parents, visitors and students entering the building during school hours will have to enter through the main office.
Transportation changes are also planned for the site. Plans call for the relocation of the driveway, the installation of a decel lane, a wider road for bus traffic and a bus canopy.
“There is a lot more planning for this project than building on a new site,” Erwin said. “But, I like this site, it’s proven - for 50 years.”
A rough estimate of the building cost is $4 million, but Erwin said the cost will depend mostly on how much special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) money remains after the final bills for the middle school and expansion at the primary school have been calculated. The construction of the school will be paid for using SPLOST money only.
“This is a bonus, we didn’t expect SPLOST to fund this too,” said BOE member Johnny Williams.
After having the plans approved by the state, officials hope to move forward with the project before January 1, 2005. The estimated construction time is 16 months.
An extended, long-term, plan to accommodate additional growth allows for eight additional classrooms, a new cafeteria and additional restrooms to be added to the building.
Thomas Wiley, project manager for the new Banks County Middle School, was present for the presentation of the new school plans. BOE members used the meeting to discuss an additional project with the Charles Black Construction employee. Erwin asked Wiley about moving security lights in the high school parking lot to avoid any additional accidents. They discussed moving only the exterior lights and installing curbs around the interior lights.
Charles Black Construction funded the two-day BOE planning session held in Sautee.
The board of education held a two-day planning session/ called meeting Wednesday, October 20, and Thursday, October 21, to discuss several items, including the following:
•the system mission, testing goals
•Georgia accountability (AYP), learning focus overview
•continuous improvement plan (see related story)
•board ethics/ community leadership vs. running the schools
•goals-needs-accomplishments (see related story)
•approval of one personnel action: hiring John Lyons for a system wide technology position.


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Saturday is time to ‘fall back’ by changing clocks
Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, Oct. 31.
Everyone is reminded to change their clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.
The time officially changes at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Baldwin tables 155-lot subdivision rezoning
Attorney questions application,
points out ‘technical problems’
The Baldwin City Council tabled a rezoning request Monday night that would change a planned subdivision on Charlie Davis Road from a mobile home development to stick- built homes.
Developers Steve Parks and Jack Waldrip, who applied for the rezoning as Sterling Properties, are asking that the property on Charlie Davis Road be rezoned from R-2 to R-3. The current zoning would allow 159 mobile homes to be placed on the property. The developers are seeking the change in order to place 155 stick-built homes on the site.
Attorney Chan Caudell spoke on behalf of Dean and Casey Swinson and said there are several technical problems with the application, including the actual owner of the property not being listed on the application, no letter of intent being included, Habersham County officials not being notified of the proposed zoning change and no plan for erosion control being submitted. He also said a traffic study is needed before the development proceeds, and he questioned whether the filing fee had been paid.
“With a project of this magnitude, we think you should cross every T and dot every I and make sure everything is done correctly,” Caudell said. “An adequate and informed zoning decision can’t be met until those conditions are met...Why have a zoning ordinance “
Several other people spoke in opposition to the development, with the traffic impact on the road and safety conditions being their main focus.
“It’s definitely an unsafe road,” said Mark Brown. “...The safety issue hasn’t even been addressed...It’s already dangerous as it is. This will have a dramatic impact.”
Joe Sperandeo said: “It will change our way of life. It will affect what we do. It is unacceptable.”
Adjacent property owner Joe Goss said he approves of the change and would rather stick-built homes be located on the property than mobile homes. He said the change would be an upgrade of the use of the property.
The request was tabled in order for the council to look into the “procedural issues” addressed by Caudell. Baldwin attorney David Syfan recommended that the council take this action.
“Correct it up front and then make the zoning decision based on the merits,” Syfan said.
Syfan added that some of the things requested, including the traffic study, aren’t required by the town’s code. He added that they are issues the council could look into in the future.
In other business, the council:
•agreed in a 4-1 vote to adjust the water bill of Jackie Batson, who complained about his bill being much higher than usual. Robert Bohannon voted against this, while Mitchell Gailey, Beverly Holcomb, Jeff Bohannon and Ray Holcomb voted in favor of it.
•approved an increase in the millage rate for city residents living in Habersham County from 5.25 mills to 8 mills. This was also a 4-1 vote, with Gailey voting in opposition and the other council members voting in favor of the increase. This was the second reading on this millage rate increase. The action will become final after a third reading and hearing is held. This will be held at the Nov. 8 council meeting. After this vote, tax bills will be mailed. Baldwin residents living in Banks County do not pay property tax. Their city taxes are rolled back to zero due to the local option sales tax (LOST) funds that are collected by the county and dispersed according to population to the municipalities.
•held the first reading on a request from the Dokter Estate to rezone 7.66 acres on Wilmingham Avenue from R-1 to central business district. Plans call for commercial, retail buildings to be located on the front of the property and nine rental units on the back side.
•agreed to hold a work session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to “purge” the city voter list in preparation for Tuesday’s election.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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