News from Jackson County...

DECEMBER 15, 2004

Jackson County

Jackson County
Jackson County

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Lady Tigers Top Athens Academy; Have ‘Learning Experience’ Against Hebron
In the span of 48 hours this past weekend, the Commerce Lady Tigers won game it would like to remember and endured a game it would rather forget as their first offical region game awaits this weekend.

Doing the Jingle Jam
WHAT: ‘Mountain Dew Jingle Jam’ Christmas Tournament WHEN: Dec. 18-21 WHERE: Jackson Co. GYM
Jackson County will host the inaugural Mountain Dew Jingle Jam Christmas Tournament Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, December 18 through 21.

Dragon wrestlers to compete on national platform
After big weekend tournament, JHS grapplers to trek to New Orleans for national tourney
If wrestling against the best Georgia has to offer weren’t enough, the Jefferson grapplers will soon be taking on some of the nation’s top stalwarts.

News from
Gillsville town hall to open in former downtown store
The members of the Gillsville City Council will soon have a new home, albeit only temporary.
At last week’s meeting, council members discussed setting up shop in an old historic building, locally known as “Mrs. Ruby’s store.”

Baldwin approves annexation of Habersham Airport Industrial Park
The Baldwin City Council approved a request Monday from the Habersham County Industrial Development Authority to annex a 6.73-acre tract located in the Habersham Airport Industrial Park.

News from
Tax bills won’t be mailed in 2004
As digest delay continues, hearing on BOC’s
effort to oust three assessors set for Thurs.
Don’t expect a property tax bill mixed in with your Christmas cards. And no, you won’t get it by the time the big ball drops in New York on New Year’s Eve.

Luminarias set for Sat.
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.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056


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MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
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Four-year-old Jacob Pressely, Pendergrass, tells Santa what he wants for Christmas. Santa visited Pendergrass on Saturday night — the second weekend that he stopped by the city to visit children at city hall. Pressely gave Santa some chocolate after their conversation.

Sheriff’s office pulls out of 911 dispatch system
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office pulled out of the county 911 system this week following the reinstatement of an employee to the department’s radio dispatch.
Sheriff Stan Evans made the decision to withdraw from the 911 system after Kathy Brogan was reinstated to her former position as a 911 dispatcher. Brogan, the wife of Evan’s opponent in November’s General Election, had been reassigned to other duties within the department earlier this year because of tensions surrounding the election between her husband, Gene Brogan, and Sheriff Evans.
Mr. Brogan is also an employee of the county government as head of the county’s marshal’s service. Last month, the JCSO impounded the vehicles of that department saying the marshal’s service should not have portrayed itself as law enforcement officials. The county subsequently agreed to remove police flashing lights and weapons from the cars.
The move to reinstate Mrs. Brogan as a 911 dispatcher came at the direction of county manager Al Crace.
Crace said Tuesday that he instructed that Mrs. Brogan be shifted back to a dispatch position after the county received a letter from Mrs. Brogan’s attorney, Wyc Orr, demanding her reinstatement. He added that Mrs. Brogan had signed a statement agreeing to serve in a “professional manner.”
Evans said he was informed by EMS director Bill Hogan on Tuesday, that his request that Mrs. Brogan not be re-assigned as a 911 dispatcher was not honored.
Evans subsequently withdrew the JCSO from the system. The sheriff’s office will now take over the dispatching and receiving of all non-emergency calls. Emergency calls should still go to 911.
“Our first obligation is to the safety of our officers out there doing their jobs, this is first and foremost in our operation,” Evans said. “Secondly, is our commitment to the citizens of Jackson County to provide the best service possible. This move will enhance both.”
Evans said the move comes after differences in the operations of the 911 center between himself and county authorities.
Evans is also concerned about the Georgia Crime Information Center link being located at the 911 center. He added that the sheriff is responsible for its operation.
“The sheriff is responsible for its secure operation in the 911 operations center and the sheriff’s office is the largest user of the 911 system within Jackson County,” Evans said. “The sheriff’s office will not operate under current conditions and will not be held hostage by any situation orchestrated by those who wish for anything but the best for our officers and the citizens of Jackson County.”
Those who need non-emergency assistance from the sheriff’s office may call the JCSO at (706) 367-8718.

Arcade ‘mega-development’ proposal stirs up criticism
Rezoning hearing postponed to Jan. 18
It will now be January before the first step to annex and rezone 1,300 acres into Arcade for a 2,400-home development will take place.
Meanwhile, the Jackson County School System and several other governments have raised objections to or concerns about the project in a regional impact study report.
A meeting of the Quad Cities Planning Commission, which was to have heard the rezoning proposal on Dec. 21, was canceled this week. A hearing before the QCPC is the first step in having the property rezoned and annexed into Arcade. The next meeting of the QCPC will be January 18.
After that group makes its recommendation, the matter will go before the Arcade City Council for final action.
One of the considerations to be presented before the QCPC will be a report from the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center on the project’s regional impact. That report is currently being compiled as the RDC receives comments from other area government agencies.
The project, which would be the largest residential development in the history of Jackson County and one of the largest in Northeast Georgia, would be on the old 4W Farm along Hwy. 129 South near Arcade.
Arcade officials want to annex the land for the development, taking it out of lower-density zoning in the county and rezoning it as a planned community which allows high-density housing.
The mega-development calls for 2,440 housing units and 400,000 sq. ft. of commercial space on 1,320 acres. The developers are Brand Partners LP of Gwinnett County.
While the project apparently has the support of many Arcade officials, it has met with a cool reception by leaders of the Jackson County School System and several other local governments.
School superintendent Andy Byers, Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell and Athens-Clarke County planning officials and Jackson County planning officials all presented concerns or opposition to the plans in comments presented to the RDC.
“The project, in combination with all other proposed and approved housing developments, places enormous strains on the capability of the Jackson County Board of Education to meet the classroom and space demands,” Byers wrote. “Not only must classrooms be built, but staff must be employed, materials and supplies purchased and transportation must be provided. This development alone will require approximately 12 additional buses.”
Maxwell also said he was concerned about the impact the project would have on the school system. He estimates that it would bring an additional 1,100 new students to the system.
“School taxes are too high now,” he said. “How would this be handled without new burdens to the property owners. 1,100 new students would need three schools just for them.”
Brad Griffin, director of the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, said his government was concerned about the impact the project might have on the Bear Creek Reservoir and on plans to withdraw water from that system.
“Staff has some concern that if the proposed development plans to use water available from the Bear Creek Reservoir, the amount of water used should not exceed the amount allotted to the jurisdictions in which the proposed project is to be located,” Griffin said in his comments to the RDC.
He also said Athens-Clarke County was concerned about potential erosion and sedimentation in the nearby rivers and streams that feed into the reservoir and Athens-Clarke County.
Another concern about the proposed project is that it would dramatically change Jackson County’s land use plan for the area.
County planner Chris Brink presented comments to the RDC on behalf of the Jackson County government. He addressed concerns that it would negatively impact the county’s land use plan, which was recently updated.
“During recent long range planning efforts by the county (revision of county’s future land use plan and associated future land use map), a project of this size was anticipated,” he wrote. “However, the provision of sewer was not anticipated. Within unincorporated Jackson County, the property on which this project is located is designated ‘residential growth’ and ‘gateway corridor,’ allowing such a project. However, the ‘residential growth character area is reserved for areas where public water is available but public sewer is not planned for or anticipated. With the provision of public sewer to this portion of the county, all planned development patterns for the entire southern portion of Jackson County will be altered, thereby negating nearly two and half years of future land use planning, which culminated with the revision of the county’s future lad use plan and associated future land use plan. If this project, is approved, the county government will need to retool the future land use plans for this area of the county.”
Along with questions being raised about the project, at least one agency spoke in favor of the plans.
Guy Herring, director of the QCPC, stated in his report that the project would have a positive impact on the area. The Arcade City government is a memer of the QCPC and that agency will be part of the formal hearing process for the rezoning and annexation.
“Great opportunity for smart growth in Arcade,” he wrote. “Economic development opportunity as well.”

Water service area confusion nixes DCA document
Battle over Arcade water territory again looming
The fight over control of water services around Arcade is once again on the political front-burner .
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs notified the county and its nine towns this week that the service delivery strategy for the county does not meet state guidelines, primarily because of the Arcade issue.
That means that a final settlement of the matter will probably fall beyond Jan. 1, 2005, and into the hands of a new board of county commissioners. And that could dramatically change the political dynamics of a proposed Arcade water service area.
The county’s service delivery strategy is a state-mandated plan which is supposed to prevent the overlapping of services in a county. In the plan, the various service areas by local governments are supposed to be outlined to DCA on maps.
But it was the lack of such maps that is apparently at the core of DCA’s refusal to sign-off on the county’s plans.
In its letter to the county government and various towns, the DCA said maps for wastewater collection, wastewater treatment, water distribution, and water supply, treatment and transmission were not included in the county’s service strategy report.
In addition, the DCA also cited confusion over a proposed shared water service territory for Arcade. That shared area was created this fall by the county in response to demands by Arcade officials that the town be given its own water service area.
That move met with strong objections from the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, which said taking service territory away could endanger the financial viability of its system.
The county, along with all nine towns, eventually agreed to allow Arcade to “share” a water distribution territory with the county water authority.
The county water authority responded by saying its charter allows it to build water lines and sell water anywhere in Jackson County and that it would ignore any deal created by the service delivery strategy report.
In its letter, the DCA pointed to the confusion over the proposed “shared” Arcade water service territory.
“Since a water distribution service area map was not included with the copy of the Strategy submitted to DCA, it cannot be determined if these two providers have overlapping or duplicative service areas,” said the letter.
The DCA letter went on to say that if Arcade and the county water authority were to have an overlapping area, “an explanation for this arrangement must be prepared as part of this service agreement. Such an explanation should include any overriding benefits or insurmountable problems that support establishing or continuing such an arrangement.”
The dispute over who will provide water service to the Arcade area came to the surface after a group of Gwinnett County developers presented a plan for a large 2,400 home development that is to be annexed into Arcade (see other story.)
Arcade wants the service area for that project and believes water services will generate income for the small town. However, the county water authority already has main trunk lines running through the property and has said it will not cede its right to be the provider of water services to the development.

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Mess’ Aside, City’s New
Sewer Plant In Operation
Commerce’s new $8.2 million sewer plant is in operation, although construction continues on site and probably will until spring.
The city and Winter Construction Company diverted flow Nov. 17, said Mike Jones, superintendent.
“It’s been a mess since then. It’s been rough,” Jones added.
The Commerce plant operators have had to work around both the weather and the contractors. Most recently, that has meant trudging through deep mud after heavy rains. Once the project is done, Jones and other workers will have a pair of golf carts to drive around the sprawling facility on fresh asphalt. Until then, they’ll use foot power and do the best they can when rains turn several acres of dirt into a mud hell hole.
One of the current problems is that due to construction, the plant cannot process solids, so they’re being stockpiled until the time when they can be processed.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Every day of work brings Winter closer to completing the project. In time, all of the pumps and electronics will be installed, the 92,000-pound generator will be on site, the new administration building will be completed and the mud will have been replaced by asphalt driveways and sod.
“It’s going to be a nice plant. It is a nice plant,” Jones corrected.
He pointed out that the plant is already producing effluent that meets the city permit.
“Not the permit we’re under now, but the new permit,” Jones notes.
The new plant comes with a new state permit enabling the city to treat 2.01 million gallons per day, twice the current capacity to far stricter standards than before. According to Jones, the plant is actually capable of treating much more than the permit allows.
While the old plant used chlorine, the new one uses ultraviolet lights to treat the wastes.

Festival of Luminaries’ ahead Thurs.
An American Cancer Society “Festival of Luminaries” will be held in downtown Jefferson and at the First Baptist Church of Commerce at 6 p.m. Thursday, December 16.
Hundreds of candles will be lit, each a tribute to a cancer patient, in honor of a survivor or in memory of a loved one. The evening will also include Christmas singing and a visit by Santa.
Student break begins Friday
Jackson County and Jefferson City students will begin their winter break Friday, and will return to school after the start of the new year on Tuesday, January 4.
Teachers in both school systems will have an in-service day on Friday and again on Monday, January 3.

Reba Parks retiring after 31 years of service to county
After 31 years serving Jackson County, clerk of courts Reba Parks is spending her last few weeks in office before retirement juggling property transactions, grand jury proceedings and other court proceedings.
The work load has increased tremendously since she began work as deputy clerk of courts working for Billy Elder, who she says “taught me everything I know.” The staff has more than tripled since those early days due to the growth in the county.
One of the last big projects for Parks was overseeing the move of the clerk of courts office from the old courthouse to the new, much larger, facility. It was a tremendous undertaking and she is all settled in the new facility, with less than one month to go before she officially retires.
On Thursday afternoon, almost 200 people gathered in the jury assembly room of the new courthouse to congratulate Parks on her retirement and honor her for her years of service to the county. Among those attending were the clerks of court from Barrow, Clarke and Banks counties and retired clerks from Barrow and Columbia counties.
“Today is Reba Parks’ day,” board of commission chairman Harold Fletcher said at the reception. “She has devoted her adult life to serve the people of Jackson County. She is one of the best in the state...She has earned her retirement. She’s a conscientious and very dedicated person.”
She was presented with the antique wood desk that she used for many years in the old courthouse. It had a huge red ribbon around it.
“On behalf of the citizens of Jackson County, thanks for your service,” Fletcher said. “We wish you the best of your luck in your retirement.”
Parks said: “Thank you all so much for coming out. You don’t know how much I’ve enjoyed working with you all.”
Parks spent 18 years as deputy clerk. She has served as clerk of courts for 13 years, running unopposed each election season.
In her office Tuesday morning, Parks said she is looking forward to retirement, but has no immediate plans.
“I am looking forward to it, but I’m really going to miss it,” she said. ‘I know I will...It’s a very interesting job.”
She may work part-time and even mentioned serving as a bailiff in the courthouse as something she would find interesting. She also will keep busy with her family, which includes two daughters, Laura and Lou Ann, and four grandchildren.
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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