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More punches fly in District 3 recall battle
Mattox files suit against Pierce
Jerry Mattox returned Patsy Pierce's legal punch with one of his own last week, taking action to strengthen a recall effort against Pierce while filing his own libel suit against the District 3 commissioner.
The latest legal battle follows Pierce's filing of a libel suit against Mattox on June 29. That same day, Judge George Bryant put a temporary halt on the District 3 recall effort, calling for a 9:30 a.m. Aug. 19 hearing in Madison County Superior Court for the two sides to argue their cases.
But Mattox, chairman of the District 3 recall effort, and his attorney, Chester Dettlinger, are requesting that the recall hearing be moved outside of Madison County, saying that recall matters should be tried in a neutral venue. Dettlinger also alleges in his motion for a change of venue that Bryant may be biased against the recall effort, which is based on three alleged open meetings violations of the Madison County Board of Commissioners in 1997.
Mattox's suit is based on Pierce's comments to local newspapers in which she said Mattox may have defaced his own recall signs in order to get attention. A Pierce flier, posted on a public bulletin board in the county administrative offices, is also offered as proof by Mattox of the commissioner's attempts to defame him.
"Should Mrs. Pierce be allowed to get away with abusing the power of her office and the power of the courts against me, there will be no one immune from the same kind of unjust treatment," said Mattox in a letter to the Journal this week (Page 5A). "Left unchallenged, Mrs. Pierce, and others to follow, will feel emboldened to use the taxpayers' money to attack any citizen."
Pierce had no comment Monday on Mattox's countersuit against her. But her attorney, Jeff Rothman, has maintained that Mattox, not Pierce, is the one guilty of malicious behavior.
"(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 in the suit filed against Mattox. "...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)."
With his latest action, Mattox intends to make Pierce - along with former commissioners Ken Clark and Jack Fortson - reimburse the county for approximately $51,000 in legal fees. He is also asking that the clock be restarted on efforts to gather signatures for the District 3 recall effort. He asks that all costs of his action be paid for by Pierce, Clark and Fortson and that Pierce reimburse the county for approximately $20 in telephone bills from her home.
Mattox claimed recently that Pierce was using her county-funded fax line for personal reasons, but the board of commissioners agreed to cover the costs of those bills incurred over a 16-month period. The calls in question were made by Pierce's son, who was arranging training sessions for the Hull Volunteer Fire Department. The board agreed that such use of the line was reasonable.

Family time
DFACS director steps down after 25 years to enjoy being a grandparent
Elizabeth Holloway wants her first grandchild, Luke, to remember her, among other things, making green beans for supper and changing his diapers.
So after almost 25 years of serving as county director of the Madison County Department of Family and Childrens Services, Holloway seems content with her decision to leave the job at the end of this month.


"All three of my children were born during my working years, two after we moved to Madison County," Holloway said, adding that she is looking forward to being able to slow down and enjoy just being a grandparent to Luke, who was born this past April.
Her face lights up when speaking of him and she refers to becoming a grandmother as a "wonderfully positive experience."
She and husband Bill, an information specialist for Oliver Rubber Company, moved to Madison County in 1972. They have three grown children: Eden Gillespie (Luke's mother), Buck and Larkin.
Holloway accepted the position of local county director in January of 1975 and has seen many changes since that time, one of the latest being welfare reform.
The staff at the Danielsville office now numbers 23. It was less than 10 in 1975.
Along with staff growth, Holloway says that the department's service delivery system has grown as the county itself has grown. Although the job has often been a challenging one, she says it has been "a pleasure to work with neighbors and friends who are involved in various aspects of bettering our community."
"I'm especially looking forward now to becoming involved in the community in ways I've not been able to involve myself in the past," Holloway said, adding that this means in particular her church, Erastus Christian, which she and her family have attended since moving to the county.
Born as Elizabeth Ray in Bibb County, Holloway graduated from Georgia Southern College before accepting her first position as a caseworker in Economic Support Services at the local DFACS office in her home county.
She then attended graduate school at the University of Georgia, where she obtained her master's degree in social work. From there, she accepted another DFACS position as child welfare representative, covering the northeast Georgia area from Athens to Augusta before being selected as the local DFACS county director.
Holloway is appreciative of her staff, and the DFACS board members she has worked with over the years, many of whom are also good friends.
The board presented Holloway with a plaque of appreciation Monday for her years of service to the department.


Planning commission approves rezoning request
County planners gave the thumbs-up to a rezoning request Tuesday, opening the door for a new Hwy. 106 business.
The Madison County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval for a request by Raymond Boswell, represented by Bill Fleeman, to rezone 2.89 acres on the corner of Hwy. 106 and the Commerce-Neese Road from R-R (rural residential, two acre minimum) to B-2 (business).
Fleeman said that Boswell wants to split the tract up into two lots, with the front lot facing Hwy. 106 to serve as a body shop or other similar business. The other lot is being considered as a site for mini warehouses.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners will consider Boswell's request at its Monday meeting.
The zoning board also recommended that a proposed easement off of Hwy. 72 (a state road) to the back lot be redrawn to allow access off the Commerce-Neese Road (county maintained) instead so Boswell will not have to have his plans approved by the Department of Transportation as well.
According to zoning administrator Lee Sutton, a new requirement by the DOT requires that any plans for the division of land bordering a state highway be submitted to the state for approval.
"This is something new that we have to deal with in our process," commission member and acting chairperson Pat Mahoney said.
In another matter, the board voted to refund the unused portion of an application fee by Tommy Flowers after he withdrew a request for a conditional use permit for a personal care home on Winns Lake Road "due to a family hardship."
Flowers had requested the refund in a letter to the board.

DOT plans meeting
The Georgia Department of Transportation will be holding regional public meetings regarding the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The plan covers DOT transportation projects for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002.
The Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center (RDC) will be working with the Department of Transportation offices to gain the widest possible involvement of the public in the development of the STIP. The Northeast Georgia region includes Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Jasper, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe and Walton counties.
Besides learning about specific projects in the Northeast Georgia region, there will be an opportunity to discuss the STIP process and the impacts of recent changes in the distribution of DOT efforts statewide.
The next meeting will be held August 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the DOT District 1 office, 2505 Athens Highway, SE, U.S. 129 South, Gainesville.

Hybl gears up for PGA tour event
The list of accomplishments just keeps piling up for Madison County's Ryan Hybl.
The MCHS student, who has already proven to be a dominant force in the ranks of the junior golf world, will be entering some new territory as the highly rated golfer will soon be able to add playing in a PGA tour event to his already outstanding resume.
Hybl, who claimed the Georgia 8-AAA state championship with a 69 at Dalton Country Club back in May, will test his luck against the best golfers in the world as he will be playing in the Hartford Open in Hartford, Conn., which kicks off on Thursday, July 29.
Hybl got the opportunity to participate in the pro event by way of an exemption rule the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) grants to its "Player of the Year." Because Hybl was awarded "Co-player of the Year" honors a year ago, the golf standout was given an invitation to a professional tournament, allowing him the chance to drive, chip and putt against some of the game's best.
And according to the MCHS rising senior, the experience will be a fun one that could also test his wits.
"I'm going to be nervous," said Hybl with a laugh. "But I'm looking to go have fun and looking for the experience. And hopefully I can go over there and play some good golf."
Hybl will arrive in Hartford on Sunday after competing in the Optimist Tournament down in West Palm Beach, Fla., which concludes Friday, July 23. He will then play a practice round the next day, followed by another practice round on Tuesday when he will be paired with 21-year-old Georgia Tech standout Matt Kuchar, who has already had his share of experience playing in pro tournaments as an amateur.
Despite the fact that Hybl will be given the chance to tee it up with the pros, the golfer's summer has already been an eventful and successful one as Hybl has earned three top 10 finishes in the four events he has participated in thus far.
Hybl kicked off his summer schedule with a ninth-place showing in the Pizza Hut Southern Junior Golf Tournament in Pensacola, Fla., followed by a fourth-place finish in the AJGA Hargrave Junior Golf Tournament, where he fired 71-72-72 in the event. Hybl then posted a seventh-place finish in the Rolex Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio, where he fired 71-72-74-70 in the four-day tourney, followed by an eleventh-place finish down in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Ashworth Tournament, where he posted scores of 73-75-71.
Even though the summer has had its successes, Hybl slipped from his number one perch in the junior golf ratings as Texas's Hunter Mayhan currently holds the top spot in the nation.
"I really haven't dropped that much," said Hybl, who is currently ranked number two in the country. "But Hunter Mayhan has played really, really good the past year and a half now. He's really racked up a lot of points."
Hybl also believes that his short game is currently the biggest hindrance to his golf game and feels that improvement in that area could take some strokes off his scores.
"I haven't been putting very well and I haven't been chipping very well," said Hybl. "My short game has been struggling a lot. If I could putt and chip a lot better it would save so many strokes. You don't have to be that great of a ball striker to really score well. If you can putt well, you can do a lot of things."
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The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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