The Banks
County News


Israeli students helping out at New salem UMC

Some students from Beitsahour near Bethlehem, Israel, helped dig trenches for plumbing work at the site of the rebuilding of New Salem United Methodist Church. The students and their families worked on the site from Saturday until Wednesday.

Group from Palestine
helps rebuild church
In a gesture of good will, members of a student dancing group from the town of Beitsahour near Bethlehem, Israel, helped dig trenches for plumbing at the site of the rebuilding of New Salem United Methodist Church on Hwy. 59 in Banks County.
The group was, in a way, repaying U.S. missionaries for their years of service to the Middle East.
"This is the first time in history that Palestinians have come as missionaries to help rebuild a U.S. church," said Elias Rishmawi, an adult with the group. "We are very proud to be able to do this. Missionaries have been coming from the U.S. to our home for years."
The group, consisting of 33 adults and children, includes 15 student dancers who call themselves the "Dancers from the Shepherd's field." New Salem pastor Luis Ortiz said the group worked from Saturday to noon on Wednesday, digging plumbing trenches as well as the trenches for the outside walls. He also said he was happy the group was helping.
"This is a blessing," Ortiz said. "We appreciate their help."
The Palestinian group donated their time and labor to help in the rebuilding effort. According to Ortiz, most of the labor for the rest of the rebuilding process has also been donated, and the church will only have to furnish the materials.
New Salem United Methodist Church was destroyed in a December 31, 1998, blaze set by arsonists. Banks County firefighter Capt. Loy Williams was killed in the fire.

BOC approves $6.4 million budget
The Banks County Board of Commissioners approved a $6.4 million budget for fiscal year 2000, a 12 percent increase from the current budget.
The BOC approved the budget Friday at a called meeting. The sheriff's department and jail take up the lion's share of expenditures with a budget of $1 million. Roads and bridges take up close to the same amount with a $994,403 budget. The emergency medical service has the third largest expenditure at just over $600,000.
Property and sales tax make up the bulk of revenues for nearly $3.8 million. The board projects general taxes at a level of $2.3 million. Sales tax revenues are estimated at $1.6 million. The millage rate will be set later this year after the tax digest is released.


Banks County, Maysville work out fire dept. deal
Maysville's fire department will continue to cover unincorporated areas within five miles of its station after an agreement reached Friday at the board of commissioners meeting.
Under the current agreement reached one year ago, Maysville's fire department will cover the areas around the city to increase protection for property owners and cut the risk of duplicating services.
There were some concerns that having Banks County firefighters drive into the city of Maysville past the city fire department might conflict with a state law requiring counties and municipalities to not provide overlapping services.
The agreement, which was made by the BOC last July, has Banks County paying the Maysville Fire Department $7,500 a year. No payment had been made on the agreement this year, but the present board agreed to pay for the first six months of this year, as well as the next six months of the year. The agreement will be reevaluated at the end of the year, chairman James Dumas said.


Committee continues to revamp subdivision ordinances
Two steps forward and one step back is exactly how the revision of Banks County's zoning ordinances going.
The citizen's committee that is currently working on rewriting Banks County's zoning ordinances met Monday night, mostly going back and redoing work already completed on the subdivision ordinances.
"We need to get done with the subdivision ordinances," said board of commissioners chairman James Dumas. "We got almost through the subdivision ordinances then we dropped back to the front of them."
At the group's previous meeting, members decided to strike a portion of the subdivision ordinances, that allows for a community water system. But at the meeting Monday, that portion was added back to the ordinances so Dumas and attorney Randall Frost could look into current state laws governing community water systems.
Harold Ivey suggested community water systems be eliminated completely.
"I think we should get rid of it," Ivey said.
The group also decided to eliminate oxidation ponds as a sanitary sewage system.
Under paving, the seasonal limitations requiring paving be done between May 1 and October 1 were removed. The committee also decided to require compaction tests in accordance with state specifications for paving roads in subdivisions.
Frost agreed to review the variances sections of the subdivision ordinances and make recommendations on any necessary changes at the group's next meeting.
All decisions by the citizen's committee must be recommended to the planning commission for approval before heading on to the board of commissioners for the final say-so.


Fireworks planned Sunday
in Homer

The skies will light up in Banks County Sunday with the annual fireworks display.
The Homer Fire Department will host the fireworks display on Sunday, July 4, at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Hwy. 51 across from the Banks County Primary School.
The event is sponsored through donations from Banks County residents, merchants and the town of Homer. Everyone is invited to attend and there is no charge, leaders say.

News office to be closed Fri.
The Banks County News office in Homer will be closed Friday in observance of the July 4 holiday.
The office will be open during its regular office hours on Monday, July 5.
The deadline for news and advertising will not change due to the holiday.

Homer reviews environmental districts
The Homer zoning committee got its first look at the environmental conservation districts during a meeting last Thursday.
These are state mandates which were put in place to protect drinking water. While the city of Homer does not have any ground water recharge areas, the council will have to adopt the Water Supply Watershed Protection District and the Wetlands Protection District, according to Tom O'Bryant of the Georgia Mountains Regional Development Center.
"You can decide what goes into zoning districts but this is one thing that you do not have much of a choice on," explained O'Bryant. "You would have to adopt this whether you have zoning or not."
Under the Water Supply Watershed Protection, property owners will be required to keep a natural buffer of 100 feet on both sides of the stream within seven miles and a 50-foot buffer seven miles further. A natural buffer of 150 feet will also be required for the boundary of any existing or future water supply reservoir.
"This will affect almost all creeks and streams in Homer and beyond," O'Bryant said.
The water source in question is the proposed Banks County reservoir which is to be built off the Hudson River at the county-owned Windmill Farms property.

Man to receive death penalty for Maysville murder
A man charged in a double murder at Pleasant Acres Subdivision in Maysville was found guilty and sentenced to death last week.
A Walton County jury found Donnie Lance guilty in the murder of his ex-wife, Joy Love Lance, and her boyfriend, Dwight "Butch" Wood Jr., on Nov. 7, 1997. The murder occured in Jackson County but was moved to Walton County due to pre-trial publicity.
Jurors deliberated for more than four hours before reaching a verdict on Wednesday, June 23. The jury deliberated for one and a half more hours before sentencing Lance to the death penalty. He has 30 days to file an appeal in the case.

Board of Commissioners to make upgrades to 911 center
For the looming millennium and for several years beyond, the Banks County Board of Commissioners will make upgrades to the 911 center. The present system is not protected against the computer glitches expected when the year 2000 comes.
Motorola, the current supplier of the 911 service, and Gunby, another supplier, each made presentations at the commissioners' work session Friday morning to give information on the necessary upgrades and the installation of a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system that would improve 911 service for the county. Each new proposed system would also have Phase I capabilities to have a readable phone number from any cell phone calls made. Each new system would also be compatible with Microsoft's Windows NT programs, to improve compatibility with other computers in the office, according to both communication representatives.
John Smith, Gunby's representative, presented a system that would have components that are fully redundant in case of a failure in part of the system. He said a similar system had recently been installed for the Madison County 911. The projected cost of the new Gunby system was set at $321,000 and included a CAD system.

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

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