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FRONT PAGE - JULY 14, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA


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SCHOOLS

Uniform dress code to be studied at Jefferson
BOE voices support for idea and seeks community input
By Jana Adams
A letter sent by a group of parents in support of a uniform dress code for Jefferson City School students was just the push the Jefferson Board of Education needed to take the first steps in a direction it had already been leaning.
After reviewing the letter that encouraged the BOE to consider a school uniform dress code, the board agreed Tuesday for superintendent Dr. John Jackson to form a committee of parents, teachers and administrators to review the matter.
"More and more schools are turning to uniforms and I think it would behoove us to look at what would be involved," Dr. Jackson said.
BOE chairman Ronnie Hopkins pointed out that it would be important to get input and support from the community, parents, staff and administrators.
"We want this to be supported," he said. "We need to get past the misconception that 'uniform' brings - it would really just be similar attire, like khakis and a red, blue or white shirt. We have talked about this before and I really feel like it could be another piece of the puzzle to help students achieve at a higher level."
The use of school uniform dress codes has grown in popularity among public schools in recent years. Supporters of the idea say a uniform dress code levels the atmosphere in schools by taking away the element of competitive clothing and of students identifying in cliques based on how they are dressed.



County BOE chairman wants better teacher attendance
A discussion about increasing the amount paid to substitute teachers led Jackson County Board of Education chairman Barry Cronic to call for better teacher attendance in general.
Cronic said something needed to be done to improve the attendance record of teachers. He pointed out that he has no problem with teachers missing school if they are sick, but said he doesn't believe they should take all of their sick days if they are not needed. Cronic asked school leaders to compile attendance records for the schools and present them at next month's BOE meeting.
"There has got to be a way to get teachers in school to teach," Cronic said. "...I think we need to increase teachers' attendance like we do with our student attendance. I'm not afraid to look at the numbers."
As for the fee for substitute teachers, the BOE is considering raising the daily rate from $35 to $50. Superintendent Andy Byers said schools in neighboring counties are offering more money, which is hurting the Jackson County system.
"Our $35 is simply not attracting anybody any more," he said.

COMMUNITY


ALL-STAR ACTION
Nick Daly, a member of the Jackson County Team 2 (12 and under) all-stars is shown running it out for a base hit in a loss to Forsyth Team 1 on Thursday evening. All-star tournaments were held in Jackson County last week.



Chamber taking reservations for 'Taste of Jackson'
The Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce is now registering for the 1999 "Taste of Jackson County," which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, November 4, at the Commerce Civic Center. The deadline for reservations is October 25.
This year's event will again include a business showcase, where local industries and businesses will have booth displays to promote their products and services. The event will introduce a favorite recipe contest this year.
To reserve a display booth, the registration fee for chamber members is $125, and the non-member fee is $350. Display areas will be approximately nine feet by eight feet and will include one six-foot skirted table, one waste can and an identification sign. Additional skirted tables can be ordered for $20 each. Add $4 for booths needing an electrical outlet.
For more information, contact Elizabeth McDonald at the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce at: phone, 335-1896; fax, 335-3312; or send email to the chamber office at jacksoncountycofc@cwixmail.com
LOCAL NEWS

CWL action tabled by city
New position funding leads to flap over pay
Two meetings early this week failed to resolve a request for City of Jefferson funds to help pay for a new position at the Crawford W. Long Museum. In fact, the move apparently stirred up simmering conflicts on the Jefferson City Council, including allegations by one councilwoman that the town didn't have enough minority department heads.
At issue is a request from the Crawford W. Long Museum board for the city to pay one-third of the salary and benefits for a new position at the museum, roughly $20,000. A private benefactor has agreed to pay one-third of the cost for five years and the museum association has said it will pay the other one-third. Priscilla Daves, current chairman of the museum board, has reportedly agreed to take the position if funding is arranged. The slot would work with the museum and with other preservation and historical issues in the community.
But when the plan was laid before the city council Monday night, it received only lukewarm response with Mayor Byrd Bruce saying he was against the idea. Bruce said that such a position would be higher paying than any other city position even though other city employees had more seniority.
But Tom Bryan, who presented the plan to the council, said that the position wouldn't technically be a city employee, but rather an employee of the museum board. But Bryan did ask that the person be placed under the city's insurance plan since the museum doesn't have enough employees to provide its own program.
"We're asking the city for one-third of the salary as a gift to the museum, not as a city department head," said Bryan.
With no consensus, Councilman Steve Kinney suggested another meeting for the following night to discuss the details. Bruce said the council needed something in writing from the museum in order to take action.
But at Tuesday's follow-up meeting on the issue, tempers flared as the council argued over other personnel issues. Presiding in place of an absent Bruce, mayor pro tem Jack Seabolt pushed for a vote on the matter, saying that it was a good plan. But when Kinney said Bruce had earlier called and requested the matter be tabled, Seabolt said the mayor should have come to the meeting himself.
Meanwhile, councilwoman Marcia Moon said that she hadn't been notified about the issue earlier and complained that the position had already been filled without being advertised. Moon also pointed out that the city didn't have any minority department heads.
"We have a minimum of black and Hispanic workers," she said. "I say the city's departments should reflect the community. Our community does not have that many whites."
But Seabolt told Moon that she had indeed been notified about an earlier meeting on the museum issue, but had failed to show up. Another councilman said Moon never attends committee meetings about city business.
In the end, the council voted to table the matter 3-1 with Kinney, Moon and C.D. Kidd voting in favor of tabling and Seabolt voting against. Bosie Griffeth abstained.

GOVERNMENT
Christmas in July?
$5 million in requests top 'wish lists' of county departments
BY ANGELA GARY
A new ambulance station, 20 new patrol cars, two new sheriff's investigator positions, computer equipment and heavy machinery for the road department are at the top of the "wish lists" recently turned in to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners by the department heads.
The BOC heard from department heads during three days of budget hearings with the total new requests topping $5 million. The commissioners will review the requests before approving any new equipment or employee positions.
BOC chairman Jerry Waddell pointed out during the hearings that the tax digest is expected to be flat, which means the county won't have a lot of extra revenue to work with. The only other source of revenue would come from increasing property taxes.
County leaders hope to have a preliminary budget ready by August 6.
The largest request came from the road department where department head Sam McClure asked for more than $4 million in new equipment. Among his requests are 12 mowers and tractors, nine crew cab trucks, four pick-up trucks, five dump trucks, two slope mowers, a paving spreader, a roller, grading equipment and a hydroseeder.
The commissioners asked McClure to speak with representatives of auction companies about selling the current equipment and using the proceeds to purchase the needed items. He also prioritized his list of requests with the crew cabs, pick-up trucks and dump trucks topping the list.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
The sheriff's department is requesting 20 new patrol cars and $30,000 in communication equipment. The department currently has 40 patrol cars, but many need replacing, Sheriff Stan Evans said.
EMS/911
EMS director Dwain Smith requested an additional ambulance station. He said the only cost would be three new employees with the ambulance to rotate between the Nicholson and South Jackson fire departments. Ambulance stations are already in place in Commerce, Jefferson and West Jackson.
"All we're trying to do is cut down on the number of road miles from the station to the patient," Smith said. "The way we are growing, we are hurting...We're trying to cut down on the response time."
Smith also asked for one "remount" for an ambulance and a rescue truck for the Jefferson unit.
911 director David Murphy requested more than $30,000 in new equipment, including a Motorolo spectra tax receiver (radio equipment), a laptop computer and chairs.
SUPERIOR COURT
Superior Court Judge David Motes said he and the other two judges, T. Penn McWhorter and Bob Adamson, are asking for a county public defender's office. In the past, the county has contracted with a lawyer to provide these services. Donna Avans, who has served as the county's public defender for several years, has said that she will not serve again next year.
Motes said a county-funded public defender's office would cost approximately $200,000 a year and would include four employees-a public defender, a public defender's assistant, an investigator and a secretary. The county would also have to provide office space.
SOLID WASTE
Solid waste superintendent Tom Page is asking for funds for improvements to the county transfer station and to construct one or two more compactor sites. He was asked to submit a specific cost for these projects before any decision is made.
CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE
The BOC discussed overtime pay for the Jackson County Correctional Institute with warden Joe Dalton. Some of the overtime comes when staff members are on vacation or out sick. This department is different from some in the county in that a replacement must come in and work when anyone is out. The warden asked if employees could be paid to not take vacation days but commissioners said this would not be fair to other county employees. The commissioners did agree to add a lump sum to the budget to handle pay for those filling in during vacation time.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Planning and development director David Clabo said his department needs two new positions-a planner and a planning technician. Clabo said the planner would handle site visits and zoning matters. The commissioners discussed whether implementing impact fees would help offset the cost of these new positions. Clabo agreed to look into this further and report back to the BOC.
CLERK OF COURT
Clerk of court Reba Parks asked for a text scanner, which is used with property deed work, and two more employees. She said the additional help is needed due to the increase in real estate transactions.
"In real estate, it has gone from 900 deeds a month to 1,200 deeds a month," she said. "One person can't do it."
Waddell said that the number of court cases has declined and that people who handled those duties could assist with real estate. Parks pointed out that these employees are already handling other duties for the clerk's office.
TAX COMMISSIONER
Tax commissioner Don Elrod asked for three computer scanners and a new employee. He said the new employee is needed due to the increase in tag sales and other duties handled by his office.
AIRPORT AUTHORITY
Jackson County Airport Authority chairman Andy Byers asked the BOC to consider allocating one half of county property tax revenue, minus the $14,500 yearly county supplement from aircraft and commercial development at the airport be budgeted back to the authority for improvements at the facility. The county agreed to look into how much money this would involve before making a commitment.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Joyce Lord of the Jackson County Health Department asked the county for a $43,918 subsidy. She said this is what is needed to balance the department's $695,000 budget. The other revenue for the health department comes from fees charged and the state.
The county has cut its subsidy to the health department for two years due to the surplus of funds it had in the bank. But Lord said these funds have been depleted. She was asked to provide bank statements and other financial documents before a decision is reached on her request.


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