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NOVEMBER 3, 2004


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OPINIONS
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SPORTS
Trying To Find A Way
Tigers Minus Much Of Its Arsenal In First-Round Rematch With Trion
Commerce will start its postseason the same way it began its regular season — a home matchup with Trion, a smash-mouth outfit out of Northwest Georgia.

Both Jefferson squads headed to state meet Sat. in Carrollton
Yates sets new school record for girls at sectional, Blinn leads way for boys
When the GHSA state cross country meet takes place this Saturday in Carrollton, both the boys’ and girls’ squads from Jefferson will be there together for the first time in school history. The teams qualified for the event thanks to solid showings at last weekend’s state sectionals meet at Gainesville College.

Lady Panthers end season at state tourney
The Jackson County slow-pitch squad saw its season come to an end last Friday in Columbus. The team, which was one of two teams to qualify for the state tournament from its area, fell to Harrison and Sprayberry respectively and were eliminated.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Chapman, Hart get voters’ support
Galloway, Jamieson also win their races
Incumbent sheriff Charles Chapman (D) won in his re-election effort Tuesday against challenger Allen Venable with 60 percent of the vote.
Chapman took 3,311 votes, while Venable had 2,175. Chapman carried every precinct except for Anderson, which was close.

In Banks County, the race was closer with Jamieson taking 2,775 votes and Harden having 2,690.
In the State Senate 50 race, Nancy Schaefer (R) won with 32,525 votes, over Bob Stowe (D), who had 23,551 votes. This was with 91 percent of the precincts reporting. Schaefer also carried Banks County in a 3,554-1,850 vote.


News from
MADISON
COUNTY
Nash holds on to BOC chairman’s seat
Thomas, Pethel, Scoggins elected as commissioners; Watson re-elected as tax commissioner
Republicans dominate Madison County
Bush gets 73.6%
of county vote

Journal delivery to be late next week
Local mail delivery of The Madison County Journal will be one day later next week because of the Veteran’s Day holiday.

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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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 CELEBRATING A VICTORY

Jackson County Sheriff Stan Evans (R) celebrated his re-election during an lection night event Tuesday at The Dutch Petaler in Jefferson.

Evans, Bell grab runaway wins
Record set with 86% voter turnout
While the nation watched one of the closest presidential contests in history unfold Tuesday night, the three Jackson County races on the ballot proved to be one-sided yawners.
All three countywide races were won by the Republican candidates by 80 percent victory margins, making those races among the most lopsided results in the county’s history.
Overall, 86 percent of county voters turned out for the 2004 General Election, making Tuesday’s voting among the highest local turnout in history. A record 16,489 ballots were cast Tuesday in the county.
Not even long lines at polling precincts discouraged voters as many people waited for over two hours to cast their ballot. There was also a high turnout during the week-long advance voting, with almost 3,000 countians voting early.
Running for his sixth, and perhaps final term as Jackson County Sheriff, incumbent Stan Evans romped his Democratic opponent E.C. Brogan 12,723 to 3,143.
“I’m very grateful for the people’s confidence in our operation here,” Evans said Wednesday morning. “It’s not a one-man show. It’s a department-wide effort. We’re honored to be able to do the job. We had a great turnout and a great show of support yesterday. I think that is the greatest percentage we’ve ever gotten. It says a lot about our operation. It also says a lot about my opponent and his operation. We’re proud of it and thankful to the people.”
In the race for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Republican Pat Bell rolled over Democrat Roy Grubbs by 80 percent to 20 percent, or 12,677 to 3,125 votes. Bell carried all precincts in the county and statistically almost matched her stunning 84 percent defeat of incumbent Harold Fletcher in July’s Republican Primary.
“It’s time to for healing,” Bell said Wednesday morning. “It’s time to stop pointing fingers and get to work. It’s time to start working together.”
In the lower profile coroner’s race, incumbent Republican Keith Whitfield easily defeated Democratic challenger Sammy Qualls 12,467 to 3,078 votes.
OTHER RACES
In West Jackson, Terrel Gunter was elected to the District 4 seat on the fire department board. Marty Robinson received 678 votes and Edward Knopick had 253. In District 5, Elizabeth Ash was the winner with 978 votes. Joel Keith had 571 and Phil McDaniel had 445.
The Jackson County School System referendum on eliminating term limits for board of education members easily passed 7,315 to 3,505.
Like the rest of Georgia, Jackson County also supported President George Bush for reelection. Bush carried the county with 78 percent of the vote, 12,677 to John Kerry’s 3,496 votes.
In the District 47 State Senate race, incumbent Republican Ralph Hudgens easily defeated Democratic challenger Bill Healan in a 9,539 to 3,362 vote.
Also on the ballot was the 9th District U.S. Representative race, where incumbent Charlie Norwood (R) defeated Bob Ellis (D) in Jackson County and across the district.
In the U.S. Senate race, Johnny Isakson (R), defeated Denise L. Majette (D) and Allen Bukley (Libertarian) in the county and across the state.
Jackson County voters also joined those across the state in supporting marriage as being defined as between a man and woman, in a 13,530 to 2,596 vote.


Pendergrass plant now hiring for ‘key jobs’
TACG to fill hourly positions in 2005
One of the largest industries to come to Jackson County is now looking to hire employees for its “key jobs.”
TD Automotive Compressor Georgia, LLC (TACG) — which is 65 percent owned by Toyota Industries North America, Inc. and 35 percent owned by Denso International America, Inc.— is looking to fill several professional jobs at its new Pendergrass plant.
The jobs call for production managers, IT (information technology) professionals and other supervising positions.
Pepe Cummings, president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, said the jobs are “fairly significant salaried positions.”
TACG is exclusively using the Georgia Department of Labor to fill the positions at the $100 million plant. The department of labor has applications available and will conduct initial screenings for TACG.
The company, which manufactures automotive air-conditioning compressor units, will also use the Quick Start training program at Lanier Technical College to train its new employees. Officials plan to observe a training program in Michigan this weekend and then develop a similar local training program.
“This is the biggest initial project that Lanier Technical College has been involved with in almost 30 years,” said Russell Vandiver, vice president of economic development for Lanier Tech. “Biggest from the standpoint of initial investment, biggest in the standpoint in the number of employees that will be hired — and so, it’s a major deal for Jackson County.”
TACG and Lanier Tech officials have been working on a training program for several months, he added.
The Quick Start program partners with technical colleges and four university-system programs in Georgia to help companies train their employees. Locally, the Quick Start program has also been used by Caterpillar, Havertys and Tractor Supply Company.
Stephen E. Sestina, senior manager of corporate services for Michigan Automotive Compressor, Inc., said TACG plans to hire 30 people for the salaried positions by March 2005 and begin interviewing for an estimated 110 hourly positions in June 2005 to start work in August. By 2006, the company hopes to employ 300 people.
And despite what the rumor mill may say about high-priced salaries and benefits, Sestina said TACG hasn’t determined those factors yet.
“We will do a comprehensive survey, and from that survey, we’ll make a determination of the wages and benefits that we’ll offer,” he said. That survey will begin in 2005 — once a human resources manager is hired, he added.
TACG officials believe the North Jackson plant will follow a similar path for hiring employees as its sister air compressor plant in Michigan. That facility opened in 1989 and now has 880 employees, Sestina said.
Plans for the TACG plant call for a 344,000 square-foot facility that will produce 2 million units a year by 2010. The air-conditioning compressor units will be produced for car manufacturers in North America, especially in the southern United States. TACG officials say they choose the Pendergrass site because of its proximity to a growing number of automobile manufacturers moving to the South.
Illinois-based Toyota Industries North America, Inc. is the North American headquarters for Toyota Industries Corporation. Japan-based TICO is a total equipment manufacturer with expanding ventures in vehicles, engines, electronics and textile machinery.
Michigan-based DIAM is the North American headquarters for Denso Corporation, headquartered in Japan. Denso is a manufacturer of advanced technology, systems and components. The company’s customers include all the world’s major auto manufacturers and employs 95,000 people in 31 countries.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the TACG plant in Pendergrass was held in early October. The company, which was established in July 2004, is expected to begin operations in December 2005.
“We’d like to thank the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, Lanier Technical College, the department of labor, and all of the very nice people that have made us feel very welcomed here in Jackson County. We really look forward to relocating here,” Sestina said.
For more information about jobs, call the Georgia Department of Labor office in Athens, at (706) 583-2550, or the Gainesville office, at (770) 535-5484. The department of labor’s website is www.dol.state.ga.us.


Maysville elects new mayor
Baker named mayor, McNeely for Ward 3
The City of Maysville will have a new mayor and Ward 3 councilman as of Jan. 1.
In the city election on Tuesday, Jerry Baker defeated incumbent Richard Presley with a 199-158 vote. A third candidate, Catherine Daniel, had 113 votes.
In Ward 3, it was a very tight race with Rebecca McNeely winning by only two votes. She had 43 votes, while incumbent Andy Martin had 41 votes. Richard Parr had 15 votes.
There will not be a run-off as the city charter calls for the top vote-getter to be declared the winner.


15.7 approved for development roads
After months of wrangling between the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority and the board of commissioners, the IDA agreed last week to issue $15.7 million in bonds to cover the cost of 14 industrial development projects. The BOC also approved the deal at a called meeting last week.
Most of the projects involve road building or improvements along the I-85 corridor designed to open land for industrial development. Leading the list of projects is $5 million slated for road projects to serve the new Toyota plant near Pendergrass. Those roads, which are already under construction, will also open additional industrial land for development.
Also making the cut was $1.5 million for Bana Road near Commerce. That road had been discussed at length by the IDA at several meetings before it was included in the final package.
The one non-road project on the list is $1.6 million for the old Bi-Lo building in Commerce where Lanier Tech has set up a branch campus. The BOC purchased the building earlier this year.
While the nearly $16 million in bonds is the largest single package for such projects in the county’s history, it is far less than was first sought by the BOC. In February, the BOC asked for over $20 million in bond funds for the projects. But the IDA balked at that plan, saying the county had not compiled sufficient data and cost estimates to support such a need.
Once engineering cost estimates were on the table, it was clear that the BOC has greatly overestimated the amount of funding needed for the projects.
The IDA also insisted that it’s board also have some control over the disbursement of the funds to insure that the money went only to the projects on the list and that they would not be diverted to cover other county expenses.


Impact fees or not?
Topic contentious for Jefferson committee
A Jefferson impact fee committee is apparently at odds with the direction of the city council in putting such a fee in place. And the committee is also upset because they believe that a consultant used by the city in studying the issue is apparently biased in favor of the town adopting such impact taxes.
An impact fee, or tax, is an additional amount added to the cost of new construction. An earlier draft proposal from Jefferson’s consultants on the project, Bill Ross Sr. and Bill Ross Jr., indicated that such a tax could add as much as $2,700 to the cost of a new home.
Generally, impact fees are viewed as a tax on “newcomers” who many public officials believe are driving up the cost of local governments. But impact taxes are limited in how they can be used.
If Jefferson approves the use of impact taxes, it will be the first government in Jackson County to put the fees in place. While not officially adopting the idea yet, city leaders have been quietly supporting the concept for months. In July, Jefferson voters approved $5.25 million in bond debt for new recreation facilities. City leaders said they wanted to at least in part pay for that debt through impact taxes.
‘MANY UNKNOWNS’
But while city officials may be in support of the plan, members of a citizens’ committee appointed by the council to study the idea urged the council to use caution before implementing impact fees in the city.
Three members of the committee, Alex Bryan, John Buchanan and Steve Law, as well as Pepe Cummings, who had previously been on the committee but resigned, spoke at Monday’s council meeting.
“We feel there are many unknowns and risks in starting an impact fee program,” Bryan said. “While recognizing that at this point in time of the city’s growth, additional tax money is needed, we encourage caution...We encourage you to take the time to understand all ramifications and consequences. Then, seek some answers and fully debate all of the issues and concepts before implementing the tax.”
DISAGREES WITH
CONSULTANTS
Bryan also pointed out that the town’s consultants on the project and the committee had two different views on impact fees.
“We feel strongly that impact fees should be viewed as a tax, Ross and Associates do not,” Bryan said. “Taxes tend to have a detrimental affect on the economy. The tax should be a fair tax that is in line with other municipalities that are in close proximity to Jefferson.”
Bryan also questioned the “openness” of Ross Jr. in sharing the concerns of the committee.
“The committee understands the concept of impact fees and how these fees can be used to supplement revenue for capital projects,” Bryan said. “We feel that Ross and Associates are competent and have the experience to implement an impact fee proposal for the City of Jefferson. We have, however, strong reservations about the openness of consultant, Bill Ross Jr., to not only discuss differing viewpoints regarding key issues, but also to, at the very least, present those ideas to the mayor and council for consideration.”
The committee members also said there was a “potential conflict of interest” with the consultants.
“The reason for this concern is that while Ross and Associates has no further contractual obligations with the city, impact fees have to be tracked, monitored and accounted for very precisely, which is usually done with firms like Ross,” Bryan said.
But Ross said he had no long-term stake in whether the program is implemented in the city.
“We have no continuing expectations,” he said. “We will ease you into this, but we’re not sitting around counting our dollars.”
Ross also spoke in positive terms on impact fees and their purpose in providing funds to cities and counties to pay for services needed due to growth.
“It costs the city money to pay for improvements necessary to handle that growth,” he said. “This is not news to anybody. The impact fee program offers you a different way to pay for some of that cost.”

BUILDERS CONCERNED
Buchanan, a developer who has built several residential projects in Jefferson, questioned how current residents of the town would feel if they decide to purchase a new house in the city and have to pay an impact fee.
“I am concerned about how the builder/developer community will receive this added cost of doing business in Jefferson,” he said. “Personally, I think it will adversely affect the new home market. I am also very concerned about the effect it will have on economic development in the city. Sure, a large company coming in can have the fee wavered, but how would the medium-sized businesses? These small businesses, including ‘mom and pops,’ are the backbone of our business community. How are they going to view this additional cost?”
Cummings, who is also president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, said that while he was not speaking on behalf of the chamber, he had some concerns about the use of impact fees. He said impact fees have been “impossible to make work” in other areas of the state and that he had polled officials in Newton, Coweta and Cherokee counties and received negative comments on how their impact fee programs are working.
Cummings said one official told him that if impact fees are approved in Jefferson, there will be no speculative development in the community.
“We want to be a help to Jefferson to put in place an impact fee program that works and serves the city,” he said.

PROPOSED USE
If approved by the city council, impact fees could be used to fund fire protection, the police department, the library and recreation parks. Ross’ report included details on how much these services will need to be expanded by 2025 and an estimated cost.
Based upon the latest population and employment forecasts, by the year 2025, the City of Jefferson will be called upon to invest about $27 million in capital improvements for public safety (fire protection and police department), library and park services, according to Ross.
The study found that a new library with an additional 15,000 square feet will be needed, at a cost of $1.8 million, and 23,297 new books or library materials, at a cost of $480,502.
As for fire services, Ross estimates that the city will need three additional stations: Southwest station, North station and Northwest station. Each station would have 7,000 square feet and cost $1.2 million. In addition to the $4.7 million for new facilities, the report calls for seven new vehicles, at a cost of $2.1 million.
The projections call for an additional 8,000 square feet for police facilities, at a cost of $1.4 million, by 2025. This would be added in three phases: 3,500 square feet to be added in 2013; 3,000 square feet in 2020; and 1,500 square feet in 2024.
The impact fees can also be used to fund recreation plans. The proposal calls for paying the annual bond debt payment with impact fee revenue. This ranges from $355,500 to $499,500 each year.
But Bryan questioned the accuracy of these “levels of service” found in the Ross report, saying they may be inflated.
“Are the two new fire stations and recently purchased equipment barely adequate, or are the facilities adequate for the present and into some point in time in the future?” he asked. “If so, the calculation used seems to be inflated. The submitted proposal suggests $325,000 in new dollars needed for new equipment each and every year until 2025!”
The committee also questioned whether the level of service for recreation was determined through impact fee methodology, or whether the city is “ backing into the fee to pay for an architectural design that was submitted based on a 99-acre park.”


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Biggest ‘Taste Of Jackson’ Is Thursday
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce’s 12th annual Taste of Jackson-Business Showcase will be its biggest yet.
Scheduled for Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 in the Harmony Grove Room of the Commerce Civic Center, the event is sold out for the first time.
The annual event uses the food and beverage offerings of local restaurants and caterers – there are 15 this year – to attract hundreds of guests who get the opportunity to browse among the booths of area businesses and non-profit organizations to learn what products or services they offer.
Admission is $5, for which the purchaser gets a chance for door prizes, a canvas tote bag for carrying the items given away by virtually every business, and the right to sample the food offered by the restaurants and caterers. In addition, more than 80 other prizes worth $50 to $100 will be given away in drawings sponsored by individual businesses.
“Please keep in mind that this is a business function and children must be accompanied by an adult,” said Linda Foster, director of member services.
Food vendors include Anthony’s Cafe and Gallery, the Carriage House Restaurant, Common Road Bakery, Cracker Barrel Restaurants, Denny’s, Lee Epting Catering, Mayfield Dairies, Mission Foods, Pam’s Catering, Sherm’s Famous Wings and More, Smoking Po Boys, Sonny’s Bar-B-Q, The Byrd House, Taste of Country Restaurant and Subway of Commerce.


Herald delivery to be late next week
Local mail delivery of The Jackson Herald will be one day later next week because of the Veterans’ Day holiday.
The post offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 11, in observance of the holiday. This means that the Nov. 10 issue of the paper will be delivered in the mail on Friday instead of Thursday.
The papers will be on the news stands on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 10, on the normal schedule.


Jefferson’s proposed budget up 7%
Millage rate to stay at 6.49 mills
Jefferson taxpayers probably won’t see a hike in their general city taxes this fall despite a $300,000 growth in the city budget for 2005.
The Jefferson City Council discussed the proposed 2005 budget and millage rate at a work session Monday night. Final action is expected at a called meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the city clubhouse.
Jefferson officials expect to keep the town’s millage rate at 6.59 mills for a proposed $4.8 million budget. That budget is up seven percent from the 2004 budget of $4.5 million.
One key change in the budget is that the city has removed the planning and development department from the general fund and will make that into a separate budget later this year. The 2004 planning and development budget was $185,900, but the current year-to-date income for that department has topped $302,500.
MUSEUM/HOMETOWN PROGRAMS DISCUSSED
One budget area discussed at Monday’s meeting was the Better Hometown/Downtown Development budget, which is proposed at $94,274, and the Crawford W. Long Museum budget, which is proposed at $86,800.
Last year, the two departments were combined and budgeted at a total $103,662. Several council members questioned the size of staffing proposed for the two departments, a full-time director and part-time employee for the Better Hometown program and a full-time director, full-time employee and part-time employee for the museum.
Currently, the director of the museum and the Better Hometown program is one combined position.
Councilman Philip Thompson said the town “better see some return on the investment” because of what is budgeted for the departments.
Mayor Jim Joiner said the Better Hometown/Downtown Development and museum work is more than one director can handle.
There was also some discussion on the total number of employees to serve these two departments. City manager David Clabo was asked to look into that issue and report on it before final action is taken on the budget.
REVENUE HIGHLIGHTS
Among the highlights of the city income are:
• The bulk of the city’s projected income for 2005 will come from taxes. Some $3.4 million of the $4.8 million budget will come from various tax sources, including $1.5 million from property taxes and $631,800 from sales taxes. Electric franchise fee taxes will bring in $395,000.
• Although not officially approved yet (see related story), the city is budgeting $50,000 in income from impact fees.
• City court fines are expected to bring in $520,000 in income to the city for 2005.
EXPENSE HIGHLIGHTS
Among the highlights of the city expenses are:
• The Jefferson Police Department is the city’s largest department at $1.49 million for 2005. The budget proposal includes an increase in the starting salary for police department employees, going from $11.33 per hour to $14 per hour. The budget also calls for salary adjustments for current officers so that their salaries will be in line with the new hires.
• The city public works department budget will approach the $1 million mark in 2005 with a budget of $975,000.
• The city fire department budget tops $500,000 in 2005 for the first time. The fire budget is $519,600 for the year. The proposal includes funds for two additional firemen for two days per week and money for physicals. The budget also includes $19,000 to replace aging turn-out gear.
• The recreation department is budgeted to grow by 45 percent in 2005 with a budget of $383,000. Most of the increase is for salaries and equipment. The proposal incudes one more full-time employee and two seasonal part-time employees.
• Key debt service for the city in 2005 will be a $178,500 note payment for the city civic center, a $59,700 note payment for the recreation complex and $80,000 in payments for various other city debt service.

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