News from Jackson County...

DECEMBER 22, 2004


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OPINIONS
Jackson County opinion page


SPORTS
Breaking On A High Note
Tigers Best Banks Before Holiday Hiatus
Commerce lost the game that counted for region positioning but won the one that counted in the pride column over the weekend.

Continuing to turn heads
Victories over No. 10 Social Circle, Oconee Co. improve Lady Dragons to 10-0 this season
If No. 3 Jefferson is going to drop a game this season before the new year begins, it will have to happen next week during the Sweet South Classic. That’s all that remains on the schedule before 2005.

Growing pains
Lady Panthers drop two of three during tournament
The Jackson County girls’ basketball squad is finding out what head coach Chad Pittman knew all along heading into this season — experience matters.


News from
BANKS COUNTY
Henry Banks retires as magistrate judge
After 16 years on the bench, 78-year-old Banks County magistrate judge Henry Banks decided it was time to retire.
In honor of those long years of service, friends and family gathered Friday to wish him well at a reception in the courthouse. Public officials who worked with him over the years spoke on his service to the county.

DFACS begins new protocol
Many times referrals are made to the Banks County Department of Family and Children Services that really do not require a full-scale investigation.


News from
MADISON
COUNTY
No subdivision on Madison St.?
Planners recommend ‘no’ to development; BOC to consider issue Tuesday
The planning commission sided with the neighborhood Tuesday night against a developer’s request for a rezoning of 42 acres on Madison Street just outside the city limits of Danielsville.

IDA sees plans for 145-home development
Authority agrees to provide water if Colbert-Danielsville Road subdivision is approved in 2005
The county industrial development authority (IDA) reviewed a “composite sketch plat” of the proposed “Lions Ranch Subdivision” Monday.

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The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
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READY FOR CHRISTMAS

This house on Old Pendergrass Road, Jefferson, is decked out for the Christmas season. The house, which is located near The Preserve at Jefferson, features countless lights and several “mini” displays on the property.

Arcade mega-project ‘not in the best interest,’ says RDC
But report is advisory only
A three-member committee of the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center decided after a one-hour hearing Tuesday afternoon that a proposed large-scale residential development in Arcade would not be in the best interest of the state.
But the report is only advisory in nature and carries little legal weight. The RDC is required to complete a regional impact study of any residential subdivision with more than 125 homes.
The next step will be for the Quad Cities Planning Commission to take action on the project when it meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18, at the Jefferson clubhouse. After that group makes its recommendation, the matter will go before the Arcade City Council for final action.
The project, which would be the largest residential development in the history of Jackson County and one of the largest in Northeast Georgia, calls for a 2,400-home development on the old 4W Farm, along Hwy. 129 South near Arcade.
The mega-development also calls for 400,000 square feet of commercial space on the 1,320 acres.
To do the project, the developers, Brand Partners LP of Gwinnett County, are wanting to have the property annexed into the City of Arcade under a high-density zoning designation. The area is currently in unincorporated Jackson County and calls for low-density development.
Arcade officials have strongly pursued the project in recent months. In the process, the city pushed for its own water and sewerage service area, a move that met with disdain by the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, which currently serves the area.
Because of that controversy, the state recently rejected the county’s shared services documents.
TUESDAY’S MEETING
At Tuesday’s RDC hearing in Athens, Madison city manager David Nunn, Elberton city manager Scott Wilson and Watkinsville mayor Jim Luken reviewed the comments from area government agencies, including the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the Jackson County Board of Education. RDC staff member Chris Ulmer is overseeing the committee and compiling the recommendations.
Among the concerns discussed by the committee were watershed quality and quantity, intergovernmental agreements, traffic volume, the impact on the school system, public safety issues, water and sewer service and fire hydrants. The committee also noted the need for a traffic study and hydrology study.
“Based on the information we have, this is not in the best interest of the state,” Nunn said.
Ulmer also pointed out that the proposal is inconsistent with Jackson County’s land use map, which designates the area as “rural places.” These areas have one acre and larger lots.
Watkins said he has “great concerns” about the water and sewer service to be provided. Ulmer said the developer is planning a private sewer system and wells for the water. Watkins said no details are given and they should be because this is such a “huge project.”
Watkins also pointed out that the development would drastically change Arcade since it would triple the population. He added that the city would need an engineer, administrator and additional staff members.
“They will demand a lot of services,” he said of the new residents in the town.


Jefferson schools deal with state curriculum changes
The phasing in of new state curriculum changes have school systems throughout Georgia striving to adapt, and Jefferson schools are no different. At its December 9 meeting, the Jefferson Board of Education met and discussed the changes, with much of the talk regarding the new standards taking a cautiously optimistic tone.
While many believe the phasing in of the new curriculum will eventually be a good thing in the long run, doing so will not be without some tough decisions to be made in the near future.
Associate superintendent Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, oversees much of what goes on instructionally within the system.
“The big word here is we have an issue,” she said. “There will be a budget impact, not just here, but across the state.”
Gibney-Sherman spent much of the meeting briefing board members on what the next few years will be like in order to phase in the new curriculum, known as the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS).
Touted as a “world class curriculum for Georgia’s schools,” the new curriculum will take the place of the now old Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) which many educators have a history and familiarity with.
Essentially, the state’s curriculum is a guideline for instruction that helps teachers, students and parents know what topics must be covered and mastered for a particular course. It is also important because it is aligned with state standardized testing of students.
Specifically for Jefferson, Gibney-Sherman noted how textbook adoption for various subjects will be affected. Because of the timeline for phasing in the curriculum, the adoption of textbooks, which is done in seven-year increments, could become tricky in certain grades.
“It’s kind of a messy story. There’s a lot of puzzle pieces with each one of these disciplines as we go in,” Gibney-Sherman said.
One of the harder aspects of the phasing in of GPS is that teachers are having to be trained and familiarized with the new standards at a quick pace.
“This is not casual, what’s going on,” she said. “This is hard...it’s not a bad thing that’s happening, it’s just too fast.”
UNDERSTANDING
THE GPS
The GPS came about following months of work by educators that involved looking at high-performing states such as Michigan, Texas and North Carolina and even other countries such as Japan.
The standards can essentially be broken down into four major components. Foremost are new content standards that will state the purpose and direction the content is to take. They are generally followed by elements that identify specific learning goals associated with the standard. Next is what’s known as suggested tasks. These tasks are keyed to the relevant standards, and are suggested tasks that demonstrate to teachers what students should know and be able to do during or by the end of a given course. Third, there are samples of student work. Examples of successful student work are included to specify what it takes to meet the standard and to enable both teachers and students to see what meeting the standard looks like. Lastly, teacher commentary is used to “open the pathways” of communication between students and their classroom teacher.
According to Gibney-Sherman, teachers in the Jefferson city school system are continuing to be trained in the new standards and she is optimistic about the future.
“It’s a good positive curricular change that’s taking place, but it will take focus,” she said. “We’re doing the best we can to make this as stressless as we can (on the teachers). This professional learning is very serious and we need it. We’ve got to find time for our teachers to get this information so they can teach our kids.”


Planners approve 20-lot subdivision
Project located in South Jackson on Savage Road
The Jackson County Planning Commission recommended approval on Thursday for a 20-lot subdivision in South Jackson — despite protests from neighbors who said that the project would impact the area.
Georgia Land & Erosion, LLC, requested that 20.135 acres on Savage Road be rezoned from A-2 to R-1 for a single-family development.
Mark Tolbert, a representative for the company, told the planners that the development will include 20 percent of greenspace near an existing pond. Nineteen lots are planned for the project and a house is already located on the property, he added.
“This is what I deem a ‘mini-development,’” Tolbert said, while adding that other subdivisions are planned in the area. The property is located less than one-fourth of a mile from Barrow, Oconee and Athens-Clarke counties.
Jane Burger, who owns 77 acres next to the proposed development, told the planners that high-density subdivisions are not needed for the area.
“We purchased the land so we can enjoy the rural area,” she added.
Burger said the area is rural in nature and is located “smack” in the middle of hunting grounds.
“This is simply not a good idea for people moving into these houses,” she said.
Michael Burger said 120 houses have already been approved for the area and those new houses will impact South Jackson Elementary School.
“I think that the 120 houses going up in the area are plenty,” he said.
Tolbert said that while he doesn’t have a remedy for the growing student population in Jackson County, he would like to attend a growth summit that county school system superintendent Andy Byers is planning with county and city leaders in January.
“I have some suggestions to help when that forum comes out,” Tolbert said.
The property is owned by W.H. “Bill” Ruff and Grace Ruff, Savage Road, and the county’s future land use plan calls for residential growth.
The planners added a condition that one-story houses must have at least 1,800 square-feet of heated space and 2,000 square-feet of heated space for two-story houses.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will vote on the request on Monday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m., at the new courthouse.
OTHER BUSINESS
In other business, the Jackson County Planning Commission:
•approved a request by Wanda Mahaffey to rezone a one-acre tract and a .805-acre tract, both located on Mark Dodd Road, from A-2 to R-1 to build a log home.
•approved a request by Bullard Land Planning to rezone approximately 12 acres on Millstone Trail Extension from A-2 to R-1 for an additional 12 lots to the Millstone Crossing subdivision.
•tabled a request by Mary Cooley to rezone approximately six acres on Jefferson Road, next to South Jackson Elementary School, from A-2 to CRC for a proposed business. Cooley said she plans to build a fitness training business on the site. The planners decided to table the request for one month, until Cooley and an adjacent property owner settle an easement issue.
•approved a request by James McElroy to rezone approximately seven acres on Hwy. 330 from A-2 to M-H for locating a single-family residential home. A mobile home and another house are already located on the property. Planner Tim Cornelison abstained from the vote, while Joe Cook, Tom Smith and Don Segraves voted to approve.
•approved a special use permit for Nextel Communications to locate a cell tower at 3497 Brockton Road. A company representative told the planners that Nextel and three additional cell phone providers may be located on the tower. Donald Jones, a nearby resident, said the cell tower is needed for the Brockton Road area. The planners added a condition to the request that should the cell tower become inactive for six months, it must be removed by Nextel.


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441 Project To Be Completed At Snell’s Pace
It turns out that the E.R. Snell Co., Snellville, will build both sections of the U.S. 441 widening project between Clarke County and Commerce.
E.R. Snell was awarded a $21.6 million contract for the seven-mile section from the Clarke County line to the center of Nicholson earlier this fall. It received notice of the award of a $19 million contract for the 5.26-mile section between Georgia 335 in Nicholson to the bypass in Commerce last week.
The project involves widening the highway to four lanes with a divided median. Construction is expected to take three years, weather permitting.
Grading is expected to begin on the north phase next spring; it could start on the south section this winter.
According to the DOT, construction will begin with the grading of the “new” lanes, which means there will be little disruption to motorists. Once the new lanes are built, traffic will be shifted onto them, so the contractor can upgrade the existing lanes.
Harold Linnenkohl, DOT commissioner, warns motorists to be mindful of work zone safety as construction begins.
“Too many motorists and construction workers are killed or injured each year in work zone accidents,” he said. “As this construction gets under way, I would like to remind drivers to pay close attention to the signage when approaching a work zone.”


Herald office to be closed Fri.
The Jackson Herald office will be closed Friday, Dec. 24, in honor of the Christmas holiday.
The office will open on its regular schedule at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 27.


New board of commissioners to meet Jan. 6
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will hold a called meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, in the jury assembly room in the courthouse.
It will be the first meeting with BOC chairman-elect Pat Bell presiding. It will also be the first meeting for new commissioners Jody Thompson and Tom Crow.
The regular January meeting of the board of commissioners will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, at the new Jackson County courthouse.


 mainstreetnews.com
The Jackson Herald
Jefferson, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056
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