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 FRONT PAGE - JUNE 30, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GEORGIA

LOCAL POLITICS

Recall halted
Pierce sues Mattox for alleged libel, slander

BY ZACH MITCHAM
Attempts to force a third Madison County commissioner from office this year ran into a roadblock this week, while recall leader, Jerry Mattox, faces a libel suit.
Madison County Superior Court Judge George Bryant issued a temporary restraining order on those seeking the recall of District 3 commissioner Patsy Pierce Tuesday afternoon, while calling for a hearing at 9:30 a.m., Aug. 19, in Madison County Superior Court for both sides to argue the issue.
The restraining order is also directed to county elections superintendent Donald "Hoppy" Royston, whose duty as the elections officer includes reviewing names on any recall application or petition.
Bryant issued the order after meeting with Pierce's lawyer, Jeff Rothman, Tuesday. Rothman argued that the basis of the recall effort - three alleged open meetings violations of the Madison County Board of Commissioners in 1997 - was not legally sufficient grounds for a recall.
"He (Bryant) agreed that this nonsense about the meetings wasn't sufficient," said Rothman.
The recall application against Pierce includes allegations that Pierce participated in illegal board discussions about the county policies on probation, hiring and whether county employees should wear helmets on certain county equipment.
"The application does not state with clarity and specificity and with reasonable particularity the grounds for recall..." said Rothman in his written argument to Bryant. "The matters alleged in the application for recall are not true."
According to Georgia law, governing bodies may meet in private to discuss specific employees but not broad personnel policy matters.
While the recall effort has hit the skids, at least temporarily, Pierce is seeking compensation from Mattox for alleged libel and slander.
"(Mattox) has embarked on a malicious, reckless, deliberate and irresponsible campaign to defame and vilify (Pierce) by uttering and otherwise publishing false statements about (Pierce) both professionally and personally," wrote Rothman. "...Mattox's campaign against (her) is calculated to injure (Pierce's) reputation and expose her to public hatred, contempt and ridicule....Mattox should be required to pay actual and punitive damages to (Pierce).
Rothman has issued a letter to Mattox, asking the recall committee chairman to "retract all false statements" made against Pierce.
The attorney maintains a Mattox flier promoting the recall effort included a number of falsehoods, such as allegations that Pierce had "illegally cost the county $50,000 in attorney's fees."
Mattox had no comment Wednesday morning about the restraining order or libel suit.
"I have not had an opportunity to speak with my attorney yet, so I have nothing to say," said Mattox.
But Mattox did tell the Journal Monday that he felt "fairly confident" the recall committee would have the required 633 signatures needed to force a recall vote.

LOCAL POLITICS


SIGN DEFACED
Jerry Mattox, chairman of a committee to recall Patsy Pierce, stands next to a recall sign that was defaced sometime Sunday night.
Pierce recall signs defaced
BY MARGIE RICHARDS
Signs encouraging District 3 voters to put their signatures on a petition calling for the removal of their commissioner, Patsy Pierce, were apparently tampered with sometime Sunday night.
The District 3 Recall Committee, chaired by Jerry Mattox, is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons involved in defacing three of six signs put up by the committee to encourage constituents to sign a recall petition.
Mattox said he received calls early Monday morning that some of the signs had been tampered with.
The large signs, posted at various points around District 3, had the name "Patsy Pierce" covered over with the name "Jerry Mattox" on a large strip of plyboard painted green with Mattox's name stenciled in white letters.
"Someone screwed and then glued the boards onto the signs," Mattox said, adding, "This is a completely criminal act....if they were going to do this, they might as well have destroyed the signs."
Mattox theorizes that the culprits were hesitant to damage the other three signs because they are located on private property, including one on Hwy. 72 next to Pierce's property.
The damaged signs were located across from Diamond Hill Grocery, on Piedmont Road and on Glenn Carrie Road.
As to who might have damaged the signs, Mattox had no comment, except to say that "it's got to be a Patsy Pierce supporter."
Pierce said she had no idea who had tampered with the signs, saying that she would never stoop to the level of vandalizing a sign.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he (Mattox) did it," said Pierce.
The recall committee filed an incident report with the sheriff's department on Monday morning, according to Mattox.
Mattox and a volunteer, Rufus McElroy, husband of the recall committee's treasurer, Frances McElroy, began removing the boards bearing Mattox's name from the signs on Monday afternoon.
NEWS SHORTS
Danielsville council gives agenda for July 8 meeting
The Danielsville City Council will meet Thursday, July 8 at 7 p.m.
Agenda items include:
·stop-sign ordinance.
·annex Marc Perry into the city limits of Danielsville.
·introduce sign ordinance for E-911.
·resolution to renew sewer loan with Bank of Danielsville.
·introduce amendment to land development ordinance.
·AFLAC Accidental insurance optional for employees and council members.


New laws on school violence to become effective July 1
A comprehensive new law, recommended by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to target school violence in Georgia, will go into effect July 1.
Senate Bill 74 will require every public school in the state to develop and implement a wide-ranging safety plan to address acts of violence, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, hazardous materials and radiological incidents.
"School violence has become a very real issue in Georgia, which is among the top ten states in the nation for violent death in the school setting," said GEMA Director Gary W. McConnell. "This new law will enable GEMA to continue its work with local school systems and public safety personnel to find ways to prevent these incidents, and be better prepared to respond to them effectively when they occur."
McConnell said the emergency plans are to be drawn up based on input from teachers and school personnel, community leaders, local law enforcement, fire service and other public safety officials, and emergency management agencies, as well as students, and parents or guardians. Private schools are not required to have safety plans, but GEMA strongly encourages them to develop and implement a plan at their discretion.
The new law also requires GEMA to develop a model safety plan as a guide for local schools, and to provide training and technical assistance to public school systems to develop these plans. It allows GEMA to perform the same service for private schools, at their request.
The training and technical assistance includes crisis response team development, site surveys and safety audits, crisis management planning, exercise design, safe school planning, emergency operations planning, search and seizure, bomb threat management and model school safety plans.
COMMUNITY

Star spangled day
Colbert's July 4th celebration set for Sat.
Colbert will hold its 30th annual July 4 celebration this Saturday. This will also be Colbert's centennial year, which will be the theme of the celebration.
The town of Five Forks was chartered in 1899. The name was changed to Colbert in 1909 when one of its prominent citizens, Mr. James Fletcher Colbert, made a donation to the city.
Town leaders say this year's celebration promises to be one of the city's biggest and best. This year, the grand marshals of the parade will be citizens in the community 80 years old or older. The Colbert Canna Run starts at 7:30 a.m. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and will last for approximately one hour. Speaking and presentations begin at 11:15 a.m. This year's speakers will be Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond and Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise. The arts and crafts exhibition opens at 8 a.m.
There will be continuous entertainment on the stage beginning at noon. This year's entertainment will include gospel, bluegrass, jazz, country and comedy.
Pork barbecue and stew will be served at 11:30 a.m. There will be a horseshoe tournament, rides, games, climbing wall and other activities for young and old.
The Jacob Eberhart Cabin, the Colbert Museum in the depot and the Red Caboose will be open to the public. There will be other types of food concessions available.



Commissioner claims chairman Nash violating judge's orders
BY ZACH MITCHAM
Commissioner Patsy Pierce took legal action against Wesley Nash Tuesday, claiming that the BOC chairman has not followed a judge's order from a September ruling against him.
The District 3 commissioner and her attorney Jeff Rothman of Athens filed a contempt order with the Madison County Superior Court Tuesday, maintaining that Nash has acted unlawfully in several ways in recent months.
Pierce contends that Nash has continued to hire county employees without board approval and that he has refused to comply with courthouse security measures adopted by the commission, while giving others the authority to violate security rules. She maintains that the chairman broke a court order by failing to submit a security plan to the commissioners within 45 days of a judge's ruling. Pierce also asserts that Nash has violated a judge's ruling by failing to turn over to the commissioners any materials he possesses in relation to his former position as county treasurer.
She is asking that Nash appear before a judge and show why he should not be punished by the court. Pierce is also requesting that Nash pay her attorney's fees and litigation costs.
Pierce, along with former commissioners Ken Clark and Jack Fortson, won a suit over Nash last year. The three contended that Nash was abusing his power of office in a number of ways. Monroe judge Marvin Sorrells agreed with the commissioners, issuing seven directives to the chairman, including commands that Nash abide by county security policies, submit his own plan for a courthouse security policy, hire county employees only with board approval, no longer serve as "county treasurer" and turn over all materials to the board related to that function. Sorrells' ruling was recently upheld on appeal.
"He has had plenty of time to follow the court order," said Pierce.
Nash said Pierce's allegations have no merit. He said he has followed the law and that Pierce is "poking at a dead carcass to raise a stink."
"I've gone out of my way to stay straight," said Nash. "...I want to get on with county business."
Nash, who had not seen the contempt order against him Tuesday, said he is following each of the directives.
About alleged illegal hirings, Nash said: "They're going to have to show me the specifics. Who have I hired illegally?"
Nash said the only instances since the court ruling against him of hiring without prior approval from the board were at the county farm. The chairman said those hirings took place without board approval because the commissioners had given road department head Charles Temple the authority to hire people without running the move by the board first.
Concerning possible security violations, Nash said he has followed the county's security policy and submitted his own security plan to sheriff Clayton Lowe.
The chairman has been criticized in recent weeks by some who maintain that Nash broke the county's security policy, loaning a key to the government complex to Jerry Mattox to hold a Republican Party meeting, a meeting that turned heated when Mattox refused admission to some.
Nash said there was no breach of security rules. He said there is a signup sheet for any group wanting a key to hold a function in the government complex and that the Republican Party gained no special treatment from him with access to the building.
"We don't discriminate," said Nash. "Even the Ku Klux Klan could meet (in the government complex) if they wanted to."
Regarding his alleged refusal to turn over documents related to his former position as county treasurer, Nash said: "I've turned over everything. What does she (Pierce) want? My pen? The hand I sign with?"

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