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 FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 11, 1999 - COMMERCE, GA


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COMMUNITY

City Water Restrictions To Continue
With no rain in sight and temperatures forecast for the low 90s, the city of Commerce plans to continue its water restrictions.
Imposed two weeks ago, the restrictions prohibit outside water use from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily.
"We're maintaining the levels in our water tanks for good supply," said City Manager Clarence Bryant.
The city water plant is operating at capacity, pumping an average of 2.2 million gallons a day and operating 24 hours a day.
Meanwhile, Bryant reports that the water level at the city's reservoir on the Grove River has fallen.
"Two weeks ago, it was full. It's almost below the spillway now. There's nothing much coming in on the upper side, I guess," he said.
The restrictions have worked very well so far. They were set in place because levels in the tanks were getting so low that the water system would have been unable to service a major fire.
"The public has been very receptive. They have cooperated graciously with us and we appreciate that," the city manager said. "We don't want to empty a tank and then have to try to refill it. We can't increase the flow into town. If we let the tanks get too far down, there's not enough time to refill them with demand pulling water out at the same time."
Meanwhile, the city will open bids at 2 p.m. Sept. 2 on construction that will more than double the plant's capacity.
"We'll have some excess water to sell," he predicted.



Jackson County May Review Water Rates
JEFFERSON -- The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority is selling a lot of water these days, but it's losing money in the process. That could change when the authority holds its regular August meeting Thursday night at 7:00.
The problem is that the county system is selling more water than ever at a time when it must purchase the most expensive water.
Superintendent Paul Mims reported that Wayne Poultry Company began buying about 300,000 gallons daily from the county system about two weeks ago ­ about the same time Commerce reduced by nearly 40 percent the amount of water it will sell each day to the county system.
Commerce, facing a demand higher than its ability to produce, instituted restrictions on the outdoor use of water and cut Jackson County's daily purchase from 500,000 gallons per day to 350,000 gallons.
The city water has been the primary source for Jackson County customers, and will be until the Bear Creek Reservoir is completed sometime in 2001. The water authority's backup water supplier is Athens-Clarke County, but its contract with Athens-Clarke institutes heavy penalties if the county purchases more than its allotment.
That increase in the cost means Jackson County isn't making anything selling water from Athens-Clarke to its local customers.
"Actually, it costs us a little bit," said Mims. On Monday, the authority purchased more than 400,000 gallons from Athens-Clarke.
The Jackson County system called on its users to cut back voluntarily on outdoor use of water.
"Thursday night it will probably get a little stronger," said Mims, who indicated that it was possible that the authority would develop a rate structure that would be dictated by what the county pays for water.
GOVERNMENT

Council Closes Doors To Discuss Manager
The Commerce City Council spent 48 minutes in a closed-to-the-public session Monday night discussing the performance of City Manager Clarence Bryant.
The session was called by Councilman Bob Sosebee, and after about five minutes, Bryant was asked to leave the room. The city manager was recalled into the meeting 25 minutes later, and 15 minutes after that, the session ended.
"There was a lot of discussion, but no action, as such, was taken," Mayor Charles Hardy reported.
Hardy said after the meeting that the subject was about "miscommunications, basically."
"Everybody got to say what they wanted to say. We resolved everything, the whole council was agreeable. Everything's fine."
The mayor said part of the discussion involved the need to have an annual evaluation of Bryant.
"We will come up with an evaluation form," he said. "We have used our retreats kind of as an evaluation, but there has been no formal evaluation since the first or second year he was here."



A 14 Percent Partner
Commerce Indicates HB 489 Formula To Be Guide On City-County Ventures
The Commerce City Council let it be known Monday night that the city intends to abide strictly by the provisions of House Bill 489 ­ at least when it comes to fees assessed Commerce for activities in which the whole county participates.
The issue was a request by Helen Buffington, a member of the board of directors of Peace Place, the battered women's shelter for the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, for $10,000 to help finance the shelter.
According to Mayor Charles Hardy, Winder was asked for $10,000 and Barrow County for $14,000. Jackson County has also been approached for funds, as have other municipalities in the county.
"This is another House Bill 489 matter," Hardy told the council. "If the county is going to give $10,000, we ought to give 14 percent."
That figure is based on Commerce's population relative to the rest of the county.
"I think the county needs to understand we're going to give 14 percent of what they give," the mayor stated. "If they (Peace Place) want $30,000 out of the county, the county's going to have to give the lion's share."
The council voted to table action on the request until it sees what Jackson County contributes.
Hardy stressed that he was in no way opposed to funding Peace Place.
"I am very much in favor of it," he said. "Our county should support it."
House Bill 489 is the state legislation requiring local governments to work together to avoid duplications of service. Jackson County and its municipalities have signed a variety of agreements stipulating who provides what services where and how combined services are funded.
In another issue related to HB 489, on a motion by Archie Chaney, the council elected City Manager Clarence Bryant to the "library task force" being created to resolve the issue of funding for the libraries in the county. While there are several municipal libraries and no county library, non-municipal residents utilize those libraries. Unable to resolve exactly how the county should participate in funding those facilities under the HB 489 mandate, the county and the cities agreed to a task force to make recommendations to the county commissioners.
In other matters:
·Bryant reported that the city's water restrictions appear to be working. The city is selling 2.2 million gallons of water per day, but is able to keep the level of water in its tanks at a safe level.
·Also on the subject of water, the council briefly discussed problems with the unauthorized removal of water, usually in tanker trucks, from city hydrants. Normally, the city will sell water to contractors and others, but during the current restrictions, no sales will be permitted. Anyone observing someone removing water from a city hydrant is asked to contact the police by calling 911.
·Bryant also reported that the city is rebuilding the sidewalk on the west side of Pine Street. It plans to next replace the sidewalk on Oak Street, then repair bad sections along South Broad Street. He also said he and the city engineering firm are working on a grant application to fund a sidewalk from downtown to the elementary school.
·The city manager updated the council on improvements in the city electrical system, including the switching of a south side circuit this (Wednesday) morning, which was necessated by a power outage in the Smallwood Drive, Waterworks Road area for about three hours.

The Commerce News - Commerce, Georgia
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