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Has Grown Into A Holiday Tradition In Commerce
Over the years, Holiday travels for Commerce
basketball players have basically meant the distance it takes
to get from home to the old gym on Lakeview Drive.
career-high effort sparks Jefferson comeback
Jefferson point guard Jarail Rakestraw
picked a great time to notch his career high Tuesday.
The sophomore drained eight 3-pointers en route to a 38-point
performance that saw him net his entire output without scoring
at all in the first quarter.
brings state dollars to county
Veteran legislator Jeanette Jamieson
serves county wellRep. Jeanette Jamieson has been described by
one of her colleagues as one of the most tenacious legislators
at the capitol.
Another fellow legislator at the state capitol says shes
always been an independent thinker who votes her conscience
and does whats best for her district.
Schaefer meets with county leaders
Property taxes, school funding and infrastructure
improvements among topics
Newly-elected Republican senator Nancy Schaefer, 50th district,
stopped by the Banks County courthouse Wednesday, December 22,
to discuss issues important to the county. Schaefer said she
was traveling to each of the eight counties in the district to
identify issues relevant to the area. Schaefer will represent
Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Stephens, Towns and
2004 A Year in
Top 5 headlines of the past 12 months
Tornado, political storm top the list
Ivan "the terrible" roared into Madison County in 2004,
with twisters spawned by that powerful hurricane ripping a path
of destroyed homes and government property.
Judge rules against
A Superior Court Judge recommended last
week that the county commissioners not fire three members of
the board of assessors: chairman John Bellew, Gerald Coutant
and John Mallonee.
Whether county commissioners follow that recommendation has yet to be seen.
The Jackson Herald
Telephone: (706) 367-5233
Fax: (706) 367-8056
NEWS / ADVERTISING
® Copyright 2005
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
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Crace resigns Thursday
Denied rumors Wednesday that move was coming
County manager Al Crace resigned in a called
Jackson County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday evening,
after denying on Wednesday morning that the move was coming.
The item was not on the agenda for the called BOC meeting. However
after all of the agenda items had been handled, Crace announced
his resignation and said Friday, Dec. 31, would be his last day
on the job.
When Crace was contacted on Wednesday morning by The Jackson
Herald and questioned about rumors that he was going to resign
and that Friday would be his last day as county manager, he denied
"I haven't resigned," he said Wednesday. "You
know, a lot of stuff goes around. I have not resigned."
When asked repeatedly if Friday would be his last day as county
manager, he said: "No, mam."
When the meeting began, BOC chairman Harold Fletcher said there
would be "no surprises" during the meeting. He was
apparently referring to a story in an "extra edition"
of The Jackson Herald that was on the newsstands Thursday afternoon
that referred to the rumors of Crace's resignation.
man in Southeast Asia when tsunami hits
John Bell survives
tragedy; but sees widespread destruction and death
A Jefferson man on a business trip to Thailand in Southeast
Asia found himself in the middle of the huge earthquake and tsunami
that has left more than 55,000 dead with thousands more still
John Bell, a long-time Jefferson High School science teacher
and former Commerce High School teacher, was in Patong, on Phuket
Island in Thailand, when the earthquake hit the area.
He survived, but saw widespread death and destruction around
him and lost his clothing, passport and some of his money. Bell,
husband of Pat Bell, contacted his family via e-mail to let them
know that he had survived.
"There were bodies everywhere, mostly old people, people
caught out in the open, on motorbikes, and it many cases in their
cars," he wrote in an e-mail to his family. "You should
see all the houses and boats that were literally crushed by the
tsumani. I was protected by a concrete building but what was
so weird was the tremendous noise and the speed at which it moved.
Even more weird to me was the palm trees in almost all cases
were not affected, they are still upright."
Bell said he survived the storm because he was on the third floor
of a hotel. He added that he is working with American Embassy
officials to get another passport and return home.
He added that temporary hospitals were set up throughout the
area for those who had been injured.
"People are dying from what we would not consider as a serious
wound just because of the lack of medical attention," he
said. "It's not the fault of the medical corps called in
but just that so many people are injured.
"There is a big fear of contaminated water and food since
all power is out and will be for months," he said. "Bodies
are floating all over the place where just yesterday the water
was as blue as could be and the sand was white, but no more."
Bell said he and others who were not injured were asked to assist
those who were during the days that followed the tragedy.
"The Thai government was very appreciative of foreigners
that were not killed helping out," he said. ""Needless
to say, it was a while before I slept. The American consul is
supposed to contact me to issue me another passport but with
all the destruction and death all around me, I really feel very
Bell said he expects the death toll to rise much higher.
"It almost has to," he added. "I saw what looked
like 400 bodies in the area where I was without going out of
a five-block area. People that were buried are still buried,
many on the streets and in the sand on the beaches, at least
when I left. Maybe by now those are being put into makeshift
Bell left Patong one day after the tsunami hit when he found
a driver to take him to Bangkok.
"That took 10 hours, but I think with everything taking
place and the adrenaline flowing so much, I do not really remember
most of the trip," he said. "When I got to some places
where there was less destruction, Thai people started coming
up to me and touching me or holding my hand. At first, I did
not know what for until one that spoke English said that I would
bring them 'chock dee,' which means good luck. Even at the hotel,
they would reach out to touch me and be close. I just smiled
and gently nodded."
surprises planned by BOC?
Crace says only 'routine matters'
to be on agenda at Thursday's meeting
Is there a year-end surprise coming from the out-going Jackson
County Board of Commissioners?
A called meeting has been set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30,
with county leaders saying only "routine matters" will
be on the agenda.
The non-specific agenda, which was released Wednesday, Dec. 29,
lists the items as "year-end financial update" and
It will be the last meeting for out-going BOC chairman Harold
Fletcher and commissioners Sammy Thomason and Stacey Britt. Fletcher
and Thomason were defeated in the November election, while Britt
didn't seek re-election.
County manager Al Crace announced the called meeting on Tuesday
and said only "routine matters" would be on the agenda.
He also denied recent rumors that he would be resigning before
the end of the year and that Friday would be his last day on
"I haven't resigned," he said Wednesday. "You
know, a lot of stuff goes around. I have not resigned."
Newsmaker of the Year
RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING IN OLD JAIL
When it rains, it sometimes pours in the old Jackson
County jail. During 2004, Sheriff Stan Evans had to move inmates
out of the facility for a while after flooding caused by heavy
rains. But dealing with an old jail was just one of the issues
Evans faced in 2004. The sheriff also waged a successful re-election
bid, winning a fifth term in office by taking over 80 percent
of the vote. And he confronted county leaders about problems
in other public safety departments.
Stan Evans weathers political storms to win a sixth term in office
It was 1973 when the cult classic B movie Walking Tall
became a surprise hit at the box office. The movie was based
on the true story of a Tennessee sheriff who came back to his
home county and attempted to clean up a vast array of local corruption.
Audiences cheered when the lawman kicked-butt, and cried when
his wife was murdered.
For one teenager in Jackson County, the movie was an inspiration.
It had been just a few years since the local murder of a Jackson
County lawman, Floyd Hoard, by area bootleggers. And the stench
of other corruption in Jackson County still hung heavy in the
It all made an impression on the teenager.
A decade after the movie, Stan Evans, by then in his early 20s,
had gained an early dose of political experience by running for,
and winning the coroners seat. He was ready to make a move
toward his dream of walking tall in Jackson County.
In 1984, Evans ran for sheriff. It was a long-shot against an
But Evans won that election and became the youngest sheriff in
Georgia when he took office in 1985.
This weekend, Evans will begin his 20th year as sheriff, having
won re-election for the fifth time in 2004 with a huge margin
It may have been his last run for sheriff. Two years ago, he
suffered heart trouble and he has talked of retirement at the
end of 2008.
Then again, Evans may not be ready to give up the badge.
In 2004, Evans not only won re-election, but also waged war against
other high-and-mighty political forces in the county. Indeed,
during the past year Evans hasnt looked like a middle-aged
sheriff biding his time until retirement. If anything, he was
more aggressive than ever before.
Because of his historic fifth election victory and his high-profile
battles with other county departments in 2004, Sheriff Stan Evans
was Jackson Countys Newsmaker of the Year.
One of the key issues Sheriff Evans faced in 2004 was what to
do about an old, dilapidated jail. He has long pushed for a new
facility, but saw that idea dashed in 2003 when the county government
built a lavish new courthouse instead. With some $35 million
tied to that project, money for a new jail was all but non-existent.
Still, Evans made his case for a new jail before the county board
of commissioners early in 2004.
As long as were having the growth that we are having
and all these people coming in and all these houses being built,
were going to have problems, he told the BOC. Public
safety and schools are going to be the first two that are hit...Were
drowning. Studies and surveys are fine, but I need something
now. I know its a lot of money, but this problem hasnt
As if to make the point, heavy rains in February forced Evans
to shut down part of the jail and ship inmates to other facilities
across the state. County leaders acknowledged the problem, but
took little action beyond talking and providing some storage
Evans has also pushed the county for additional deputies to serve
a growing population. He was eventually given 16 new positions,
but in August that came into conflict when he learned that the
BOC wanted most of those positions to staff security at the new
courthouse and to show up as an expense in the sheriffs
Evans exploded at the idea that more security was being given
to court officials than to average citizens.
If we have to take them (the deputies) from the courthouse,
thats what well do, Evans said. My first
obligation is the protection of the citizens.
By the years end, county officials backed down and Evans
was allowed to keep the 16 additional staff members to serve
warrants and civil papers and other duties. Only one is assigned
to the courthouse on a full-time basis.
But the need for funding isnt over. Indeed, the outgoing
BOC didnt put any money into the 2005 budget to house overflow
inmates at other jails, an expense that is estimated to be $600,000
next year. It will fall to the new BOC to find those funds.
And it will fall to the new incoming BOC to find a way to build
a new jail. But with so much of the countys finances tied
up in the new courthouse, that wont be easy. Evans will
have to play a key leadership role in finding a solution to that
If the battles with the BOC over funding issues werent
enough in 2004, Evans also took on what he considered out-of-control
agencies within the county government.
In November, the sheriffs office impounded the vehicles
of the county marshals department, a department led by
the political opponent he had soundly defeated at the ballot
box earlier in the month.
Evans said hed complained for months about the marshals
department pretending to be law enforcement officers, but no
action by county leaders had been taken to correct the problem.
Im not contending that the county doesnt need
an enforcement agency for its zoning ordinances, Evans
said. I feel like they do. But I dont feel they ought
to be wearing guns and badges and have blue lights and be carrying
So Evans took matters into his own hands by impounding the marshals
vehicles. That got the attention of county leaders, who agreed
to take out police lights and weapons from the vehicles.
And then just two weeks ago, Evans withdrew the sheriffs
office from the countys 911 dispatch system. The move came
after the wife of his former political opponent was reassigned
as a dispatcher over Evans objections.
Evans read the move as an effort to get back at him for having
embarrassed county leaders with Novembers car impounding.
If so, they miscalculated his response.
The sheriffs 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, he said.
Over the years, Evans has become perhaps the most respected government
official in Jackson County. And that influence spreads far beyond
just the sheriffs office.
Other politicians and community leaders often seek his advice.
His counsel on just about any issue carries weight. And he is
known for an ability to read the mood of county citizens on just
about any issue, from school-related referendums to growth and
The ability to read political tea leaves has generated support
for Evans to seek other political seats, both at the county and
state level. And if this does prove to be his last term as sheriff,
its not to say he would fade from the political arena forever.
One of those other positions might prove tempting.
That Evans would someday play such a powerful role in county
politics perhaps wasnt clear to many in 1985, when the
then newly-elected sheriff said he just wanted to see justice
Being a sheriff is a job where I can get a lot out of life,
he said shortly after being elected in 1985. Seeing justice
done is a rewarding feeling that youre not sure
justice is being done is a challenge.
Evans continues to face challenges in the public arena and no
doubt will face new ones in the coming four years.
But whatever happens, his legacy as a sheriff who walked
tall in Jackson County appears to be secure.
Previous Newsmakers of the Year
2003 Concerned Citizens of Jackson County
2002 Scott Martin
2001 Emil Beshara
2000 Jerry Waddell
1999 Scott Tolbert
1998 Richard Cathey
1997 Pat Bell
1996 Citizens United for a Better Jackson County
1995 Ronnie Hopkins, Andy Byers
1994 Jerry Waddell
1993 Charles Segars
1992 Bill Mahaffey
1991 Sandy Beem
1990 Henry Robinson
Parts & Service
Stores & Outlets
Say Yes To Rezoning
For First Mixed-Use Development
The Commerce Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night
to recommend that the city council rezone 266 acres between old
U.S. 441 and the U.S. 441 bypass north of town for the citys
first mixed-use development.
The city council, which meets Monday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in
the Peach Room of the Commerce Civic Center, is expected to accept
In giving Atlanta developer David Chattham and his Commerce 441
LLC the rezonings it sought a combination of R-2, R-4
and C-2, the planning commission included a host of conditions
and restrictions aimed at setting a precedent for any future
For example, the motion recommending approval of the rezonings
noted that all mixed-use developments must have a minimum of
45 percent commercial development (the Chattham project has about
48 percent), no more than 12 percent developed for townhouses,
no more than 29 percent devoted to single-family detached dwellings
and no less than 20 percent set aside as greenspace.
The rezonings include:
137.7 acres changed from A-F and M-2 to C-2 for commercial
use. That will include a 20-acre shopping center and 40 out-parcels.
31.9 acres from A-F and M-2 to R-4 for the construction
of 250 townhouses of a minimum size of 1,100 square feet.
75.2 acres rezoned from A-F and M-2 to R-2 for the construction
of 255 single-family houses.
In recommending those rezonings, the planning commission is also
recommending waivers of lot-size requirements, allowing higher
density housing than the citys zoning ordinance allows
in R-2 and R-4, a concession made to get the heavy percentage
of commercial property.
Houses will be small half of them will be 1,350 heated
square feet and the other half 1,450 heated square feet
another concession to both Chatthams reputation for quality
developments and the high percentage of commercial property in
The motion also carried restrictions regarding construction materials
allowed for the housing units, a vegetative buffer between the
commercial properties and residential, a requirement for a homeowners
association, and the storage of boats, trailers, trampolines
and other materials out of site from the street.
The seven-page motion was prepared in advance by Chairman Greg
Perry. Joe Leffew made the motion to accept it as presented,
with minor corrections.
The planning commission also voted to recommend approval of a
request from Greg Simmons to rezone from R-3 to C-2 2.8 acres
on W.E. King Road to build a commercial shop, and proposed that
the citys zoning ordinance for R1-E property be amended
to accept wording similar to the Jackson County ordinance, which
would allow private stables and horses.
The planning commission voted to recommend that Thomas W. Rogers
request to rezone 1.121 acres on Waterworks Road from R-1 to
R-2 be denied.
Rogers said dividing the property into two lots would improve
it; the planning commission saw the move as an attempt by Rogers
to get more rental income by replacing or enlarging a 500-square-foot
I would hope it would be a good investment, but it would
also look better for the community, Rogers said.