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NOVEMBER 17, 2004


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OPINIONS

Margie Richards
A ‘stinky situation’
As the political season has ended, I’ve found myself preoccupied with an onslaught of skunks.
And no, I’m not referring to our political candidates, either locally or nationally, I’m referring to the black and white fluffy rodents (members of the weasel family, in fact) who we’re most accustomed to seeing (and smelling) when they meet their fate in the highway, often leaving their pungent sulfuric odor behind as a final statement to the world.

Angela Gary
My ‘buddy’
We’re buddies. You’re a buddy, and I’m a buddy.” Every time my nephew says this, I have to laugh. It’s true. Kids really do say the funniest things.
Jake and I really are buddies. No one else can convince me to squeeze into a small playhouse and pretend to eat an egg he makes for me on a make-believe stove or go for endless rides on our tricycles. I’ve also watched his Barney and Wiggles tapes more times than you can imagine, read the same book five times in a row and joined him in doing the “happy dance.”


SPORTS
Leopards looking to fill the void left by ‘04 seniors
The Banks County Leopards are looking for key players to step into leadership roles.
A look back
happened in Blairsville.


News from
JACKSON COUNTY
Jefferson man charged in shooting step-grandfather
A 73-year-old Jefferson man is expected to make a full recovery after being shot in the head by his step-grandson Monday.
Sydney Pope was shot as he drove on Hwy. 11 with his step-grandson, Robert Thomas Johnson, 20, Jefferson. Pope was taken to an area hospital.

Arcade customers could lose water service
Political feud over service area could force county to turn off water
Some 411 residentS of Arcade could find themselves without water as the result of a bitter political fight in Jackson County.


News from
MADISON COUNTY
Special connections
for special parents
New support group forms for parents of special needs children
Pam Moore knows what it’s like to feel isolated while caring for a special needs child.

Early deadlines for next week
The Madison County Journal will have early deadlines for next week’s Thanksgiving issue.

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Homer, Georgia
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Fought in three wars

Edward Trammell was drafted into the military in March 1945. He fought in World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam before retiring in June 1972. He was among the veterans honored at the Veterans’ Day program held at Banks County Middle School on Thursday. See this week's Banks County News for more photos.

 Honoring those who served
BCMS recognizes area veterans at special program
The mood at the middle school was somber on Thursday as the students, faculty and citizens welcomed veterans of the armed forces of the United States of America for a special Veterans’ Day program.
Some came dressed in uniforms with rows of medals hanging over their hearts, others wore suits and ties, but all the men and women who came to the program had memories and stories of a different time.
The students packed into the gymnasium for the program seemed to know why they were there. They knew they were there to celebrate the patriots who protected the United States of America and its freedom.
A tearful keynote speaker, Henry Banks, Banks County magistrate judge, addressed the crowd.
“I am remembering my friends today, the ones who didn’t make it home, I think about them a lot today,” he said with tears in his eyes.
Banks served in the United States Navy during World War II. He also fought in the Korean War.
Banks told the crowd how amazed he was the first time he saw the ship that would take him to war.
“When I saw that ship, I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “It was the biggest thing I’d ever seen. They put 3,400 men on that boat and we set sail for Pearl Harbor.”
He said he looked out over the ocean and, as far as he could see in every direction, there were more ships. Two days later, the administration told the men they were headed to Japan for the second round of bombing.
“The morning we launched our planes for Tokyo, the sky was full of planes, you couldn’t believe it,” he said. “At 10 a.m., the Japanese planes started coming after us. The next day the Franklin was hit. I saw things that day I hope you never see. The Kamikaze planes started — we were fire from one end of the ship to the other. We burned for three days.”
Banks was released after the battle ended. A few years later, he received a letter in the mail telling him to report to South Carolina. It was the Korean War.
“We flew into Tokyo to board the ship,” he said. “We put the troops on the beach in Korea. The newspaper said no shots were fired that day. I’m telling you the truth — there were a lot of shots fired, my friends were blown up right there.”
After recanting some of the most memorable moments in his military career, Banks turned to the students.
“Stay in school and get a good education,” he said. “You are going to be the leaders of our country and you need to be a good American citizen.”
Banks was accompanied by over 40 other veterans, some active, some were retired. They were members of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. They were men and women, moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers. And on this day, their combat was honored by the school children. The chorus sang, the band played and Amber Collins read an original poem.
Banks County superintendent Chris Erwin said Thursday’s program was the most “emotionally charged” he’d ever been to.
“For over 200 years, people have been giving their lives for us,” he said. “Two hundred years ago, they were defending freedom in America and now they are defending freedom all over the world. I challenge you, as you grow up, to remember these folks and what they did, be proud to be an American.”
David Casciano, Vietnam veteran and middle school teacher, read a children’s book, “The Wall” by Eve Bunting. The book tells the story of a young boy and his father who travel to Washington, D.C., to locate the name of a fallen soldier on the memorial. It was the boy’s grandfather, whom he had never met. Gloria Gabriel said the book always makes her cry.
“The wall is made of black granite - it is reflective, you see the names of the people who died and you see yourself,” she described. “It says the people who died are reflected in you, what you are, they died to help you be who you are.”
The Homer American Legion Post 215 posted and retired the colors.


Proposed subdivision topic of discussion in Lula
Lula residents voiced their concerns about a proposed 120-lot subdivision during a public hearing held Monday night before the city council meeting.
Tim Boleman and Phil Boleman, of Boleman Properties LLC, proposed a subdivision to be located on 62 acres at Railroad Avenue and Hampton Street. The property is currently zoned R-1 residential. T. Boleman wants the property re-zoned to Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow for smaller lot sizes and a large common area. T. Boleman said lot sizes average at 1.9 lots per acre. Under PUD zoning, the maximum allowed is 5.5 lots per acre.
Originally, Boleman submitted a plan for a 122-lot subdivision with no green space. His revised plan calls for 21 acres of green space, which he says will be used by residents for recreation. Included in the recreation area would be a rustic pavilion with a BBQ pit and possibly a pool. The planned green space runs along a creek and provides a buffer from an adjoining farm.
“A full one-third of the property is green space,” he said. It is really unique, I think, to have that much space for residents.”
Councilman Larry Shuler asked Boleman how he plans to divide the lots.
“How are you going to get 120 homes on 40 acres, that’s less than .5 acres per house?”
Boleman replied: “You can’t have it both ways, green space and large lots.”
SPEAKS IN OPPOSITION
The first to speak in opposition of the development was adjoining property owner Eddie Hickman.
“The Griffin-Hickman farm is buffered by that subdivision, he said. “We have a working farm and we have to have a working farm. There are odors coming from the farm; horses, cows, pigs and chickens and I don’t want to hear any complaints.”
Hickman said he didn’t see how the houses would fit on the lots designed.
“I don’t see the math,” he said. “Forty-one acres for 120 houses and that doesn’t include roads. I don’t see individual houses, I see duplexes or hotels.”
Greg Caudell, adjoining property owner, shared Hickman’s concerns of nuisance lawsuits.
“He talks about a rustic building for cookouts, how is that going to go over with a chicken farm right next to it?” he questioned.
Others were concerned about infrastructure strain, sewage and roads as well as tax increases.
Harold Ivey prepared figures supplied by the Banks County Board of Education and the Banks County tax assessors. His findings are: 119 houses with an appraised value of $120,000 equals a tax revenue of $1,070 per house based on 40 percent of the appraised value. Federal statistics show that each household had an average of two children in school at a cost of $5,100 per child every year for education in Banks County schools. After federal and state funds, the cost to the county would be $1,980 per child or $3,960 per household. He equated the tax deficit per household at $2,890.
“These are just the statistics I got,” he said after delivering the information. “I just want everybody to know what this small of a lot size will do for taxes, 41 acres, three houses an acre, you’re looking at quarter acre lots.”
Kirk Adams was the first to question the council on sewage capacity.
“I am a lifetime resident of Lula,” he began. “My concern is sewage capacity. One-hundred-twenty homes in an area, the math may work out, but as citizens we see different.”
Adams said there is a smell associated with sewage in the summer and that the current system is already over loaded.
Bob Miller said he is also concerned about the impact to the sewer system. He asked if an additional sewer pump station would have to be installed just for this development.
Lula mayor Milton Turner said sewage would be pumped to the Belton station, which will have to be upgraded. Turner said the developer, Boleman Properties, would be responsible for paying for the upgrades.
Avery White said the roads are already in bad shape and with the extra traffic they’d only get worse.
“Almost a year now after paving Railroad Avenue and there are manholes in there, you have to dodge them when you drive and if you meet another car you have to stop and take turns,” he said. “If you are going to put this kind of development in there, we need to look at that road and sewage before we add demands on the city of Lula.”
T. Boleman said he would develop the subdivision in three phases to limit the stress on the sewer system. He said the first phase wouldn’t begin construction for at least one year.
Environmental concerns associated with the creek running through the property were addressed by Mere Barbee.
“My concern is the stream, I want to know how close it will be,” she said.
T. Boleman replied that the EPD requires 25 feet. He said in his plan, the buffer is 100 to 150 feet.
In other business, infrastructure items discussed by the council include the following:
•engineering and bid coordination funding was approved for the three-phase water system supply project. The three phase project is projected to take five years to complete. Phase 1 includes ground water improvements estimated at $2,000. Phase 1 is currently underway. Phase 2 encompasses a single pressure water system. A 300,000 gallon elevated water tank, along with utilizing the north tank, will deliver equalized water pressure to all Lula residents instead of varied pressure which is delivered currently. After an evaluation, the city council decided to abandon old tanks instead of using money already approved to clean them. The preliminary cost of phase 2 is $514,236. The project is expected to take six months to complete. Phase 3 is a five year project that calls for complete pipe replacement in the city. The estimated cost is $378,000.
•the council approved an additional $10,578 to be used for additional road repair in the city. Among the roads to be repaired are Chatahoochee, Cobb, West Athens Street, Toombs Street and Pine Street. The council already approved $17,000 in funding for the project. City manager Dennis Bergan said the additional funding for the project will come from a $33,000 check the city received from Hall County for tax inequities. The council approved the funding, but said the project will not exceed $27,994. Work is scheduled to start next week.
•Mary Crawford, a Lula business owner, told the council she has been having problems with her sewer service. Crawford currently shares a sewer line with two residential properties. Three weeks ago, the lines started backing up, she said. She wanted to know how she could have her own line installed for her business. “I never use the minimum amount of water and I want to know why I can’t get my own line,” she said. The council said she could have her line run, at her expense. Bergan said the city cannot run lines on private property. The council agreed to waive the tap-on fee for Crawford.

 


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‘Run-down property’ sparks ordinance discussion
Eileen Hickman came before the Lula City Council for the second time Monday night to discuss property she said is neglected by owner Susie Pierce.
Two mobile homes placed on a piece of property in front of Hickman’s home are infested with rats and snakes, have holes in the floors and doors are always open, according to Hickman.
“They are a health hazard,” she said. “Everytime someone moves into them it gets worse.”
City council members said they are powerless to do anything about the situation.
“We sent a 10-day command letter, but from what I’ve seen it is not likely we will hear back from her,” said city manager Dennis Bergan. “The creation of the Municipal Court will allow enforcement for public safety and a nuisance ordinance will put teeth in it.”
He said the council does not have the authority to take any action.
Councilman Mordecai Wilson said the nuisance ordinance will help clean up the city.
“You have hard-headed people who won’t do nothing, no matter what you do, until you make them,” he said.
City mayor Milton Turner said the city may be able to do something about the power. According to Hickman, electricity is run to one of the homes by using an extension cord plugged into a meter box that is then run to working outlets in the house.
“It’s an electrician’s nightmare,” she said.
The council had the first reading of a nuisance ordinance that the council hopes to adopt at its December meeting. The city also had a first reading of an ordinance establishing a Municipal Court for the city. Turner said the court needs to be established to provide for a vehicle for punishment for violating the nucissance ordinance.
Also discussed at the meeting:
In other business at the meeting:
•the council had the first reading of a council compensation ordinance that compensates councilmembers for additional meetings attended. Currently, councilmembers are paid $50 each month for attendance at the regular meeting. The new ordinance, effective when the new term takes office January 2006, will pay members $50 for attendance at work sessions and called meetings.
•the council agreed to allow Complete Water Services LLC conduct water permitting services and well and sewer pond maintance for a cost of $500 a month.
•the council had the second reading and adopted a FEMA flood ordinance which allows the city to collect relief aid in the event of a flood.
•the council accepted recommendations from the employee relations committee which included the adoption of a new holiday schedule, adding one full-time employee to the administrative staff and adopting an employee handbook of policies and procedures.
•the council announced that Dennis Bergan will now have the authority to issue building permits and grading permits for erosion and sediment control.
•council members were reminded to attend training on February 19 and 20.
•the council tabled a discussion on reviewing the theft of services procedures, which applies to water and sewage service from the city.
•it was announced that a public hearing to discuss wastewater permitting will be held on December 13 at 6 p.m. A Direct Regional Impact Study has been completed.
•the council decided to replace the pump at the Hammett Street waste water pump station at an estamated cost of $157,000.
•Bergan announced a new program that could earn Lula $200,000 in grants for infastructure and historical improvements. A group called Team Georgia will give a presentation at the Decemeber council meeting.


Early deadlines for next week
The Banks County News will have early deadlines for next week’s Thanksgiving issue.
The deadline for news and advertising will be at noon on Friday, instead of on Monday.
The paper is being printed one day ahead of schedule due to the Thanksgiving holiday. It will be on the news stands Tuesday night and delivered in the mail on Wednesday.
The Banks County News office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25-26.


Tax assessors fined $14,665
The Banks County Board of Tax Assessors was fined by the State Department of Revenue for the second year in a row for falling below the 40 percent assessment ratio allowed by the state, according to Banks County tax assessor Connie Garrison.
Banks County’s ratio is 33 percent. The last time residential properties in the county were evaluated was 1999. A revaluation is expected for the 2005 tax year.
The board also discussed several tax exemption items at the November meeting, held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10.
EXEMPTION ITEMS
Among the exemption items discussed were:
•Nancy Sims, board member, said an application for a 2003 homestead exemption filed by a resident would be turned over to the board of equalization for review. Sims said the citizen applied for the exemption on October 29, which is past the June 1 deadline. She said the application was not denied, it was turned in late.
•Garrison said one property owner in the county was asking for an arbitration board because the party disagrees with the return value on the property. Usually, disagreements are handled with the board of commissioners, but if a resident wishes to pay for an arbitration board the matter may be handled that way.
•the board agreed to send letters to countians who applied for conservation land use tax exemptions. Letters will be sent to those applicants who have been approved and denied.

 

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The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056
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