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 FRONT PAGE - AUGUST 11, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

COMMUNITY

53 homes may be in path of highway
DOT does not have list of those who could be affected
BY ZACH MITCHAM
As many as 53 Madison County households and 11 commercial establishments may be forced to move to make way for a Danielsville bypass and Hwy. 29 road-widening project slated for construction in 2006.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials met with local government and utility representatives Friday in the DOT's Office of Environment/Location in Atlanta to discuss plans for the bypass and Hwy. 29 improvement project, which will include establishing four lanes from Hwy. 106 to north of Danielsville.
Scott Tolar, computer/location engineer with the DOT, told those on hand that 35 houses, 18 mobile homes and 11 commercial buildings may fall in the path of the proposed highway project. However, he stressed that those numbers are not set in stone, saying that the figures represent a "worst-case scenario."

Asked for a list of those who may be affected, Tolar said the DOT does not have the names of the property owners who may be in the path.
"It's in such a preliminary stage that we don't have that," said Tolar, adding that the number of homes affected is subject to change.
Jerry Hobbs, location engineer supervisor for the DOT, said "minimizing dislocation" is a "prime control of where we put this thing."
The DOT, which will construct the project in two phases, won't finalize the route of the bypass and highway expansion for quite some time. Tolar said the proposed route may face minor adjustments now that the DOT has met with government and utility representatives. The highway path may be "tweaked" again after two public meetings for citizens to voice their concerns. No date has been set for either meeting. Tolar said the first public meeting will be held sometime within the next year or two. Local newspapers will run notices of those meetings and signs will be placed along roadsides. But those who may be in the path of the project should not expect a letter from the DOT informing them of the meetings.
Once public input has been received and route plans have been finalized, the DOT will offer a "fair market value" to property owners in the path of the project. The DOT plans to secure rights of way for the estimated $30 million project in 2002.
WHY WEST?
Some local officials have said the bypass won't do nearly as much good on the west side of town as the east, where it could help relieve school traffic.
But Hobbs said the DOT studied both routes and found that the west side was a much better option. A west-side bypass will cost less, handle more traffic and keep traffic bound for I-85 out of downtown Danielsville.
"Twice as many would use it on the west than the east," said Hobbs of the bypass. "And if you put it on the east you're going to make everybody go right through town to go to I-85."
According to Tolar, 75 percent of the improved portion of Hwy. 29 will be on new land.
"Most of the existing (Hwy. 29) roadway is substandard," said Tolar.
Hobbs said portions of Hwy. 29 that are not included in the expansion project will probably be county maintained.
Board of commissioners chairman Wesley Nash and county clerk Morris Fortson were the only Madison County government representatives on hand Friday. Nash urged the DOT officials to keep in mind that traffic will increase soon around the Dogsboro intersection as an elementary school opens nearby and new businesses locate in the area.


OTHER NEWS

Scogin wants policy changed on legal fees
BY ZACH MITCHAM
New commissioner Bruce Scogin says he is fed up with taxpayers footing the bill for legal squabbles between county officials. Now he wants to change the county's policy on legal fees to prevent lawyers from feasting off the public's money.
But amending the policy in a way that's legal and fair to everyone will take an attorney's expertise.
The Madison County commissioners agreed Monday to have county attorney John McArthur review the county policy on legal expenditures. McArthur will then present the board with options on amending the guidelines.
As it stands, any county official involved in a legal action related to his or her job may bill the county for attorney's fees up to $125 an hour. That person does not need board approval before retaining an attorney. Likewise, commissioners can sue each other at the county's expense. One such dispute, which still lingers as a court issue between two officials, cost the county over $35,000 last year.
Scogin proposed that the county's policy be changed to require that any lawyer hired at the county's expense be approved by the commissioners.
"I don't get a good feeling that every other penny (besides attorney's fees) has to be approved by the board," said Scogin.
While others on the board agreed that something needs to be done, exactly what action is appropriate is a matter for debate.
Commissioners Patsy Pierce and Nelson Nash warned Scogin that his proposed amendment could backfire, perhaps leaving someone without representation if three commissioners teamed up against that person.
Commissioner Nash said he also feels board members are entitled to legal protection, saying no commissioner should be forced to fork out hefty fees for legal defense.
"With as many lawsuits as there are floating around here, I want something to protect myself," said Nash, who added that commissioners have been wrestling with the legal fee issue for seven years. "This job doesn't pay me enough to hire a $125-an-hour lawyer."
Commissioner Bill Taylor said there have been "too many lawsuits," but he didn't support Scogin's proposal. He added that whatever is done needs to be for the good of Madison County and not lawyers.



Journal to hold photo contest
Do you have a great photograph from your vacation? If so, share it with our readers and maybe win some money in this year's Madison County Journal photo contest. The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26.
Amateur photographers who live in Madison County may send in their favorite travel and vacation photos taken this year. Winning photographs will be published in a future issue of the newspaper.
There will be two categories: scenic views and people. A first through third prize will be given in each category. The monetary awards will be as follows: $50, first place; $35, second place; and $25, third place.
Photos must have been made during 1999. No more than one entry per photographer, please. The name of the photographer, the date and location where it was made and the names of everyone in the photo should be included.
Photos should be mailed to: Photo Contest, The Madison County Journal, P.O. Box 658, Danielsville, Ga., 30633. They may also be dropped off at The Madison County Journal office off Hwy. 29 in Danielsville across from the county government complex. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the photos will be returned. Photos may also be picked up at the Journal office after the contest ends.


The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056
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