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Privatize? BOC hears from company that wants to manage county's water system
County officials heard from a man Monday who said his company could put a county water system on the fast track to success.
Jerry Shaifer, president of Great Southeast Utility Co., addressed the Madison County Board of Commissioners, urging the group to consider a partnership with his company. But the board made no decision Monday on how to manage the county's water services.
Great Southeast, which maintains 50 water systems, already provides water to 700 customers in Colbert as well as 2,000 customers in the Madison County area. Colbert officials have been pleased with the services and mayor John Waggoner recently requested that the board of commissioners meet with a Great Southeast representative to discuss the pros and cons of teaming up with a private business.
Shaifer told the board that the county could own its own water system, while giving Great Southeast control over operation of that system.
He said a private/public setup is a good arrangement, since government entities can qualify for grants and low-cost loans, while a private company has the expertise and resources needed for a quality system.
Shaifer presented a simple chart to the board, showing revenues quickly equaling, then passing startup costs.
"We can make this profitable early," he said.
Shaifer said the county would reap a number of benefits from a contract with Great Southeast, such as improving the county's tax base.
"The county will get a broader water system, operated well and according to pre-set standards," he said.
Shaifer said he foresees higher costs for water services in years to come due to a federal push on states to improve water quality, but he maintained that Great Southeast is committed to fair costs for its customers.
"A water system should never be an economic burden to citizens," said Shaifer. "...We would like to set up a system that is neither a burden to your citizens or your county."
The board is currently considering ways to manage a water system in the Hull/Dogsboro area, a system that some hope will serve as a springboard for a countywide system. The south Madison County system is expected to help spark commercial growth in the Dogsboro area, while providing water to a new county elementary school slated to open in the fall of 2000.
While an arrangement with a private company is being discussed for that system, other setups are being talked about as well, such as forming a county water department, creating a county water authority, leaving water management duties with the county industrial authority or contracting with an existing municipal system in the county.
In other business, the board:
·approved by a 3-2 vote plans for a 22-lot subdivision on Spratlin Mill Road. Commissioners Bill Taylor, Nelson Nash and Patsy Pierce voted in favor of approving the plans, while new commissioners Melvin Drake and Bruce Scogin opposed the move. One lot required a variance from the group since the road frontage of 60 feet on that lot fell below the county-mandated 125 feet.
·approved a request from Raymond Boswell to rezone 2.89 acres on Hwy. 106 from rural residential to business. Bill Fleming, who represented Boswell, said a convenience store is being considered for the front portion of the tract.
·agreed to rescind a vote to place a portable classroom between the county library and senior center on Hwy. 98 for the Adult Literacy Center. The library board, which had not been consulted before the BOC's decision to locate the trailer there, said the move would harm the character of the library and get in the way of possible library expansions. The commissioners agreed to allow chairman Wesley Nash to seek grant funds to renovate the old Presbyterian church in Danielsville for a new home for the Adult Literacy Center.
·tabled a decision on a service contract for a transfer station generator.
·heard from EMS director Dwayne Patton, who asked if donations made from county citizens to the ambulance service could go into the department's budget. County attorney John McArthur said that, according to county policy, any donations to a county department must go into the county's general fund.
·approved a computer system for the probate court.
The board also met last Wednesday to discuss purchasing two power generators for the county's transmission towers. With only one bid submitted for the project, the commissioners agreed by a 3-2 vote on July 12 to seek more bids. Commissioners Nelson Nash and Patsy Pierce voted to award a contract to Marc Perry, the only bidder, but Bill Taylor, Melvin Drake and Bruce Scogin voted to re-bid the project. The group held a special called meeting for about one hour last week and agreed by another 3-2 vote to uphold the decision to seek more bids.


(Above) Gary Christy, 13, and Jason Christy, 11, from Pennsylvania, enjoy the waterfall at Watson's Mill Park Sunday.
(Left) Clint Barksdale, 3, Luke Sims, 5, and Dixie Sims, 2, cool off in a private pool in Comer Sunday.
Photo by Zach Mitcham

Country neighbors:Two Shiloh families share their love of gardening with each other
Faye Nash, like her neighbors Andrew and Joyce Adams, enjoys every minute of being home since her retirement, and more importantly, being outside in her flower, herb and vegetable garden.
Although the summer heat and humidity put a damper on many outside activities, these neighbors in the Shiloh Community of Madison County still manage to enjoy their respective outdoor gardens and each other.
Nash and her husband, Ellis, have been neighbors with the Adamses in this quiet rural community for more than 25 years. And unlike most folks nowadays, the Nash and Adams families do a lot more than wave at each other in passing.
"We visit each other often," Joyce Adams said, adding that, among other things, they often exchange gardening tips with each other.
Nash agrees, adding that the couples have even been camping, fishing and on vacation together over the years.
Nash says she has enjoyed gardening all of her life and much prefers being outside to being inside. She admits to being much more of a homebody than her husband, who although in his early 70s, still works part-time for Russell Research and loves to travel.
She has lived in Shiloh all her life, and she and Ellis purchased land next door to her homeplace in 1960. Her mother still lives in the home she was reared in.
Each year Nash adds something new to her garden. She experiments with different varieties and types of flowers and shrubs, learning what grows best where. Trees and shrubs provide plenty of fruit for canning and drying.
One unique idea for drying apples that she has shared with the Adamses is to first dry the apples she picks in her commercial dehydrator, then place them in an old pickup truck in back of her home, where the sun and heat inside it make the dried fruit crispy.
"That's her apple-drying truck," husband Ellis laughs, pointing to the old truck in the garden.
Nash loves flowers so much, she even plants them among her vegetables and herbs which she uses for cooking.
The Adamses' yard is also filled with good things to eat, both fruit and vegetables.
Andrew Adams spends many hours since his retirement outside tending his many fruit-bearing plants and trees, such as blueberry, scuppernong, fig and apple, to name a few. In fact, he has two gardens: one he plants in the spring and the other, near an old spring, which he calls his "late garden."
Mr. Adams has developed quite a reputation for the various species and colors of sunflowers growing in profusion in the garden and yard, many of them "volunteers" that come back year after year.
"I love to sit out on the porch in the early morning and watch the wild canaries come to feed on the sunflower seeds," Mrs. Adams said.
Around an old spring in front of their house, visitors can be treated to a taste of pure cold spring water out of an old-fashioned gourd dipper, while around the "spring house," ferns and other plants requiring moisture and shade grow profusely.
Mr. Adams found the source of the spring, then spent many hours digging out around it to allow the fresh cold water to come up in a solid stream. Adams said that he has found an old wash pot, ash, and other items used for washing clothes near the spring, which, like their home, is on part of an old estate, known locally as "Dink Swamp," since the land lies so low. Adams said ladies used to come from miles around to wash their families clothing at the site in front of their home, building fires under wash pots and scrubbing the clothes on rocks.
An old barn, circa the late 1940's, sits near the spring, built from the scraps of a log house that stood on the site of their current home.

The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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