News from Jackson County...

NOVEMBER 24, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Wrestlers Hope To Build On Nucleus Of State Qualifiers
With the Commerce Tiger Wrestling team due to report for its first day of practice Monday, Coach Joe Hames isn’t exactly sure what to expect.
“It’s hard to say. I’ll probably have 15-16 come out,” Hames said.

Tip-Off tournament play continues this week at JHS
Both Turkey and basketball will not be in short supply this week in Jefferson.
Jefferson High School will continue to host the Tabo’s Tip-Off Tournament this week through Saturday. Set to play are all 16 teams that competed last weekend in opening round play. In the girls’ semifinals, Jefferson plays Oconee County and Buford will take on Franklin County.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Turkey shows up at Homer residence
Turkey time
When a large bird showed up at Bobby and Miriam Blackwell’s home in Homer, they thought he was a buzzard. They later discovered it was a turkey.
Mrs. Blackwell said she shooed him away from their garden the first time she saw him. He was picking beans.

Armed robbery reported at Banks Crossing
The Chevron Station located at Banks Crossing was robbed at gunpoint Saturday night by a man wearing a ski mask. The perpetrator made off with $300 from the register.
At approximately 9:40 p.m. on November 20, a man described as six-feet-tall with a medium build walked into the gas station on Hwy. 441. The attendant, who was the only person in the store at the time, said the man was wearing a ski mask, gloves, a dark blue jacket and blue jeans.


News from
MADISON
COUNTY
Reasons for Thanks
Hull-Sanford Elementary School students talk about why they’re grateful
Hull-Sanford first graders, like kids all over the county, were contemplating the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays Monday afternoon while they drew, colored and wrote stories about all the things they have to be thankful for.

Luminarias set for Dec. 18
The 20th annual Madison County Luminarias and Live Nativity will be held Saturday, Dec. 18, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Booger Hill and Moon’s Grove roads in Danielsville.

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Flu shot season

HUNDREDS LINE UP FOR FLU SHOTS MONDAY
Hundreds of people braved the rainy weather Monday morning and lined up at the Jefferson clinic of the Jackson County Health Department to get a flu shot. Some said they arrived early and had been waiting for three hours. Tickets with numbers on them had been given out, and by 10 a.m. – an hour after the vaccinations were scheduled to begin — well over 200 numbers had been given out. Across the county at the Commerce clinic, a line also formed out the door and down the sidewalk. Jackson County had 670 flu shots available to split between the two clinics, with only those in “high risk” categories able to participate in the first-come, first-served vaccinations.

Water board takes defiant stand in Arcade dispute
County water leaders took a defiant stand Monday night, saying they wouldn’t “be intimidated” by efforts to undermine the system’s service territory.
In a 3-2 vote, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority approved a resolution to “make its water and sewer facilities available to the public within Jackson county, including municipalities located inside and outside Jackson County....without regard to any service delivery agreement entered into pursuant to House Bill 489...”
The action was in direct opposition to efforts by Arcade to create a service territory in and around that town. In effect, the water authority’s stand means that it will continue to serve its 411 existing customers in Arcade and it will pursue new customers within that area without first consulting Arcade leaders.
LOANS, GRANTS IN QUESTION
While the water authority will apparently be able to continue to run lines and provide service in the Arcade area, it may not be able to get new loans or grants to fund future projects in that area. And while the City of Arcade would qualify for such loans, it does not have a source of water to sell, unless it becomes a middle-man and resells water coming from the county. And given the politics involved, that is unlikely to happen.
“If Arcade wants to buy the water from us, we have the option of deciding whether or not we want to sell Arcade water,” said authority attorney Julius Hulsey.
All of that could force developers in the area to bypass Arcade and deal directly with the water authority despite Arcade technically having a service area.
“We’ve got more power than what they think.” said Hulsey. “...We are going to do what we are authorized to do, which is put water and sever wherever the heck we decide to do it, limited only by the availability of funds.”
County manager Al Crace also said last week that the language in the new version of HB 489 doesn’t exclude the water authority from Arcade.
“Arcade will have a shared service water distribution district for the territory of the City of Arcade,” Crace said. “Arcade recognizes the Jackson County government through the JCWSA shares the service district for their current water distribution service.”
NOT A PARTY
Hulsey said that the water authority is not a party to the House Bill 489 agreement recently signed by the board of commissioners and all nine towns and the authority doesn’t have to abide by it. He also added that the authority’s legislation gives it the authority to place lines in any area of the county, as long as funds are available.
“This is much ado about nothing,” Hulsey said about HB 489. “This doesn’t mean they (Arcade) have exclusive control of their boundaries ... Our law says we can provide water and sewer services within and without the county and within and without any municipality in any county. We aren’t going to be intimidated by any of these people.”
DAVID QUESTIONS VOTE
Voting in favor of the motion were Warren Walker, Hunter Bicknell and Phillis Holland. Voting against it were Wanda David and Saverne Rucker-Varnum.
David repeatedly said she didn’t see the purpose of the motion and questioned whether it was being done to “make headlines” for the newspaper. She added that she is “uncomfortable” with the motion because it ignores the House Bill 489 agreement approved by the county and all nine towns.
“I’m a little uncomfortable to say we are going to do things without regard to the service delivery agreement,” she said. “It’s like saying we are going to ignore all the cities that participated in those agreements...I just don’t understand our purpose in doing this.”
Walker said: “Our purpose is to clarify that we are still independent.”
Hulsey said the action doesn’t mean that the authority is working against any of the municipalities. He said the town leaders were misled by county leaders during the House Bill 489 negotiations.
“It doesn’t mean the authority is working against anyone,” Hulsey said. “It is simply a statement to the municipalities that they need to be aware that if we are not party to an agreement, we are not bound by it... If we remain silent, we are agreeing with that. You need to make a public statement to let these municipalities know the correct legal posture of the authority.”


Niekro to speak Tues. to chamber
Atlanta Braves pitching legend Phil Niekro will speak at a Tuesday, Nov. 30, luncheon meeting held by the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Women In Business. The event begins at 11:30 at Jackson EMC, Jefferson, with the meal at noon.
Tickets are $15 for members of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce with reservations and $20 at the door for members. Tickets for guests or non-members are $25. Call Linda Foster at 335-1896 or e-mail the chamber at jcmembers@alltel.net for reservations. The deadline for registration is Friday, Nov. 26.
During a 24-year career with perhaps the worst team in baseball, Niekro used a knuckleball to earn a lifetime record of 319-274 and twice led the National League in wins. In 1969, “Knucksie” won 23 games, pitched 21 complete games and had a 2.57 earned run average. He was named to the National League All-Star team twice and Aug. 5, 1973, he tossed a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. He later managed the women’s Colorado Silver Bullets softball team.


Maysville again has highest property tax rates
Once again, residents of the Jackson County half of Maysville, who will pay a total of 35.528 mills, claim the distinction of having the highest property rates in the county.
All jurisdictions pay a county ad valorem tax and a school tax, though there are three different school taxes matching the three school systems in the county. Residents of municipalities pay a slightly higher county tax rate than residents of the unincorporated areas of the county. Other taxes include school bond taxes for every tax district except Commerce, fire district taxes (except in Commerce and Jefferson where those costs are part of the city taxes) and a quarter mill of state taxes. Of the municipalities, only Maysville, Jefferson and Commerce levy property taxes.


Tree lighting planned Sat. in Nicholson
The City of Nicholson will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, at city hall.
The event will include the singing of Christmas carols, and coffee and hot chocolate will be served. This will be an outside event, and the public is invited to attend and bring their own chairs.
“Please join us for a night of fun and fellowship,” city leaders say.


Herald office to be closed on Thanksgiving
The Jackson Herald office will be closed Thursday of this week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The office will open on its regular schedule at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.


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Commerce Still Has Lowest Tax Rates
Once again, Commerce residents are paying property taxes at a lower rate than anyone in Jackson County.
The combined total rate of 27.82 mills is 2.6 mills less than paid by property owners in any of the county’s eight other municipalities, and a mill and a half lower than any unincorporated area of Jackson County except for a tiny part of unincorporated area around Jeffer-son, which pays at the rate of 28.25 mills.
And, like last year, residents of the Jackson County half of Maysville, who will pay a total of 35.528 mills, claim the distinction of having the highest property rates in the county.
Commerce’s tax rate actually went down by seven-tenths of a percent. A three-quarter-mill drop in its school tax rate more than offset an increase of .44 mill in the city maintenance and operation tax.
All jurisdictions pay a county ad valorem tax and a school tax, though there are three different school taxes matching the three school systems in the county. Residents of municipalities pay a slightly higher county tax rate than residents of the unincorporated areas of the county. Other taxes include school bond taxes for every tax district except Commerce, fire district taxes (except in Commerce and Jefferson where those costs are part of the city taxes) and a quarter mill of state taxes. Of the municipalities, only Maysville, Jefferson and Com-merce levy property taxes.
“That certainly is no surprise to me,” said Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. in regard to having the lowest rates. “We’ve worked to keep our taxes down. The Commerce Board of Education deserves a lot of credit because their cut in the tax rate enabled the city to actually lower the total tax rate. Also, we have some of the cheapest utilities in the county.”
The city-owned utilities, particularly natural gas and electricity, provide the bulk of the funds to operate the city. The city council increased its tax rate for operations by .44 mills this year due to a tight budget heavy in capital costs.



 

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