News from Madison County...

OCTOBER 27, 2004


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillispie
‘Fix’ for voting system sets up potential chaos
I am afraid that we have set ourselves up for an election fiasco that will make Florida’s pregnant chads look like a school yard game. In an effort to “fix” the election system in America, our inept politicians have been rushed into ill advised changes that will really mess things up. It is called the “Help America Vote Act of 2000.”

Zach Mitcham
Here’s hoping for no Florida fiasco for us
It’s the wee morning hours of election night, take your pick: Wesley Nash has beaten John Bellew by three votes or Bellew has beaten Nash by that margin.
Whoa, we need a recount.
So how does a recount play out on these new election machines?


SPORTS
It’s good!!!
Freshman lifts MCHS to victory, winning season
The stat sheet had its usual suspects. There was Jamey Rice refusing to go down, finding the end zone in the game’s waning moments. There was Chaz Perry picking off two Rockdale passes and greeting a receiver with a Ronnie Lott hit on a key third down. There was Metric Shivers blazing down the sideline after a late interception.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
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).

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.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
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.

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EARLY VOTER

Poll workers Florene Jenkins (L) and Peggy Freeman assist voter Doris Fowler (standing) Tuesday at the Madison County Government Complex. Early voting is taking place all this week at the complex from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pollers said turnout for the early voting process has been good, with approximately 850 people voting as of 9 a.m. Wednesday.


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.
As of Wednesday morning, 850 out of Madison County’s 12,500 registered voters had cast their ballots in the county, helping making monumental decisions at every level of government. Of course, nationally, all eyes are on the Presidential race between George Bush/Dick Cheney and John Kerry/John Edwards.
Meanwhile, locally, attention is on the county commission chairman’s race, where two-term incumbent Republican Wesley Nash is being challenged by Democrat John Bellew, the county’s chairman of the board of tax assessors. The two candidates have been on opposite sides of a year-long conflict over the performance of the tax assessor’s office.
Also on the ballot are three races for district commissioners’ seats. In District 1, incumbent Democrat Bill Taylor is being challenged by Republican Stanley Thomas. In District 2, incumbent Democrat Johnny Fitzpatrick is facing Republican John Pethel Sr. And in District 4, Democrat Mike Sales and Republican John Scoggins are running for the seat left open by current commissioner Melvin Drake, who lost in the Democratic primary for the BOC chairman’s seat.
In the tax commissioner’s race, incumbent Louise Watson, a Democrat, is being challenged by a current employee in the tax commissioner’s office, Kathy Stamps, a Republican.
In the State Senate District 46 race, which includes the Hull precinct, Republican incumbent Brian Kemp is being challenged by Democrat Becky Vaughn.
In the State Senate District 47 election, which includes all of Madison County except the Hull precinct, incumbent Republican Ralph Hudgens is being challenged by Democrat Bill Healan.
In the U.S. Senate race, Johnny Isakson, a Republican, is facing Denise Majette, a Democrat, and Libertarian Allen Buckley. Incumbent ninth district U.S. Congressman Charlie Norwood, a Republican, is being challenged by Bob Ellis, a Democrat.
Also on the ballot, incumbent public service commissioner Robert Baker Jr., a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Mac Barber and Libertarian Jalynn Hudnall.
In the non-partisan race for Judge of Court of Appeals of Georgia, candidates include: Debra Bernes, Howard Mead and Mike Sheffield.
DANIELSVILLE COUNCIL
ELECTION
Also on tap for Tuesday, Danielsville will hold a city-wide election for council seat four, with councilman Stanley Watson’s seat up for grabs between contenders Janice Merk and Calvin Broom. Watson is not seeking re-election. City residents registered to vote may do so between 7 a.m and 7 p.m. at city hall.
RUNNING UNOPPOSED
Several local incumbents are running unopposed in the general election, including Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Robert Lavender, who defeated Chris NeSmith in the Democratic primary this summer; Clerk of Court Michelle Strickland; Sheriff Clayton Lowe; District 3 county commissioner Mike Youngblood; District 5 county commissioner Bruce Scogin; surveyor James R. Smith; and coroner Michelle Cleveland.
Local state House representatives, Democrat Alan Powell, District 29, and Republican Tom McCall, District 30, are not facing opposition. (District 29 includes the Collins, Harrison, Ila, Mill and Poca precincts, while District 30 includes Colbert, Comer, Danielsville, Fork, Hull, Paoli and Pittman precincts.)
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
The 2004 ballot also includes constitutional amendments for Georgia voters to say “yes” or “no” on whether “this state shall recognize marriage as only the union of man and woman.” Voters will also choose yes or no on whether the state constitution should be amended so that the “Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction and authority to answer questions of law from any state appellate or federal district or appellate court.”


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.

Part 2 of the initiative deals with the inventory of finished goods manufactured and states: “Shall 100% of the value of the following type of property be exempt from ad valorem taxation in Madison County: inventory of finished goods manufactured or produced within this state in the ordinary course of the taxpayer’s manufacturing or production business when held by the original manufacturer or producer of such finished goods, as described in O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-48.2(b)(2).
Part three of the initiative deals with the inventory of finished goods held for shipment outside state and states: “Shall 100% of the value of the following type of property be exempt from ad valorem taxation in Madison County: inventory of finished goods which, on Jan. 1, are stored in a warehouse, dock, or wharf, whether public or private, and which are destined for shipment to a final destination outside this state and inventory of finished goods which are shipped into this state from outside this state and stored for transshipment to a final destination outside this state, as described in O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-48.2(b)(3)”
“Business expansion and new businesses will help off-set property taxes for residents,” a Chamber press release states. “Therefore, the tax burden is not carried primarily by our residents. Existing and new businesses will share the property tax responsibility....vote ‘yes’ for the future of Madison County.”
Commissioners Bill Taylor and Bruce Scogin spoke up at Monday night’s BOC meeting, saying that they hope voters will approve the Freeport measures.

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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.


BOC to review local legislation at first of the year
County commissioners agreed Monday night to review the county’s local legislation once the next four-year term of commissioners takes the table in January.
BOC member Bruce Scogin said at Monday’s meeting that he changed his mind on one of his proposed changes in local legislation concerning the hiring and firing of the county clerk, saying that he felt the chairman of the commissioners should retain his authority over the hiring and firing of the county clerk.
Previously, Scogin said he felt the board should oversee the position, but he said he changed his mind after talking with people and realizing that a chairman and a clerk should have a “trust and a bond to do what they need to do.”
However, Scogin said he felt the chairman should not have the authority to fire other employees without the board’s consent and without a way for the BOC to reverse his action.
“We don’t need anyone with that sort of authority over employees,” said Scogin.
Scogin said the main reason he brought up changing local legislation is that parts of the county codes are out of line with state law and that the BOC needs to make sure that any such discrepancies are corrected.
“My position is that it (the local legislation) needs to be brought into compliance with state law,” said Scogin.
For instance, the District 5 commissioner pointed to one local law that requires all board members to be present to have a legally closed BOC meeting. State law allows a closed meeting with a quorum. He noted that the discrepancy could put the BOC in a bind if, for instance, it needed to take quick action on a land matter. (Under state law, commissioners can meet in private to discuss real estate, litigation and specific personnel.)
Commissioner Mike Youngblood agreed that the local legislation needs revisions, noting that he has some changes of his own to suggest.
REC FIELD RENTAL ISSUE
In a separate matter Monday, the board heard a lengthy presentation from George Bush — not the president — representing Jim Escoe, owner of Lone Oak Field in Colbert.
Escoe has said that the recreation department is unfairly competing with his business by offering the rental of recreation fields for fees lower than what he can afford to offer. He said taxpayer money is used to maintain those fields and that he can’t compete with government-funded facilities.
“Why do I care if the Madison County Recreation Department rents softball fields to a promoter for a profit-making activity?” asked Bush, reading a prepared statement for Escoe. “Because when they decided to do that, they put my ballfield out of business.”
Bill Chandler, vice-chairman of the recreation board, said the recreation department has rented out fields for years. He said the recreation department is not out to make a profit, but to provide quality services to adults and kids alike.
“Let me state to you that our (rec) board has no ulterior motives,” said Chandler. “...I regret that Mr. Escoe feels the way he does. That was not our intention.”
The recreation fields have been rented more frequently in 2004 than in previous years, with Thomas Wood renting fields 19 out of the 20 total rentals this year.
Chandler said he felt Mr. Escoe’s conflict was not with the recreation department but with Mr. Wood.
Commissioner Youngblood agreed and said that Escoe and Wood need to work out their differences and keep the recreation department out of it.

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