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This week's Herald

This week's Herald

This week's Herald



This was the scene Tuesday morning on Hwy. 124 as students hurt in a bus wreck were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The 16-year-old driver of the pickup truck was killed in the wreck.

One killed, others injured in school bus collision
A 16-year-old boy was killed and four others were injured when a pickup truck collided head-on with a Jackson County school bus early Tuesday morning. The driver of the pickup, Andrew Cowart, 16, Hoschton, died at the scene of the wreck. Another passenger in the truck, Jeremy Friedman, Hoschton, was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center in serious condition. Both were on their way to school at Jackson County Comprehensive High School. Three student passengers in the school bus were slightly injured and taken to area hospitals where they were reportedly treated and released.
The wreck happened around 7:55 a.m. on Hwy. 124 west of Jefferson, about three-fourths of a mile from the Jefferson-Winder highway intersection. An official with the Georgia State Patrol said Cowart crossed the center line and hit the bus head-on. The bus, heavily damaged by the impact, stopped when it started down a slight grade off the shoulder of the road. The students had to exit the bus from the rear.
School superintendent Andy Byers credited bus driver George Dailey with having prevented the bus from rolling by slowing it to 20 miles per hour by the point of impact.
Students not hurt in the accident were transported on another bus to West Jackson Middle School. The bus had traveled from the South Jackson area and was headed west on Hwy. 124 to the middle school when the wreck happened.
Dailey, who has worked for the county six years, said the students didn't panic and followed his instructions after the wreck occurred.
"Those kids were wonderful," he said. "As soon as the bus came to a stop, I started asking if anybody was hurt. They were just wonderful. Nobody got panicked. They did exactly what I told them to do. I got them off the bus and put them under a telephone pole all together."


Judges move toward 'panel system' for public defender
Action could cost the county $300,000
Piedmont Judicial Circuit Superior Court judges are preparing to ask that the Georgia Supreme Court approve a potentially expensive appointed panel indigent defense system for Jackson County.
The move comes after several weeks of controversy between the judges and the Jackson County Board of Commissioners over how much money should be allocated for indigent defense in the county. Currently, the county public defender, which is done by contract, costs less than $100,000 per year. But in July, the Superior Court judges asked the board to create a formal county public defender's department at a cost of $200,000 per year.
That request came after the Georgia Supreme Court changed the guidelines for indigent defense in March that lowered the caseload levels. In a move to get around that state mandate, the board agreed to turn down future state funding for indigent defense cases and fund the system only out of local funds.
But local judges said that would still require more public defenders than the county has agreed to fund. Thus, the judges have in turn asked law assistant Kevin Guidry to begin drafting a "local rule of court" for the Supreme Court to consider in establishing an appointed system. In an appointed system, the judges would establish a panel of lawyers to handle indigent cases and appoint them on a rotating basis. It is estimated that this system would cost the county $306,000 a year.
Guidry said he will first send the proposal to the local bar association to get input before sending it to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Guidry said that the statutes that govern indigent defense call for a public defender's office to be created by the Superior Court judges with the concurrence of the board of commissioners.
"If they don't concur, then all that is left is an appointed system," he said. "So, there won't be a public defender's office under a local court order. It will be a strictly appointed system."
There is some urgency to settling this matter as the contract for Donna Avans, the current public defender, ends at the end of this year. She said she doesn't want to serve again.

Bachtel to speak on growth Sept. 16
Doug Bachtel, a professor with the University of Georgia department of housing and consumer economics, will be the featured speaker at the kickoff of the "Year 2000 breakfast series."
The breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, at the Galilee Christian Church family life center in Jefferson. Bachtel will address the issues and trends facing Jackson County and surrounding areas.
MainStreet Newspapers and the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the breakfast.


Local SAT results below state average
College prep numbers dip
By Tim Thomas
SAT scores in all three Jackson County school systems fell below the state average this year, although students taking the college prep curriculum scored above the state average.
While still below the state average, overall scores for students at Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Commerce High School rose over the previous year's results. Scores at Jefferson High School fell for the second year in a row, to 959 overall from 998 last year and 1,007 in 1997.
JCCHS seniors showed the most improvement in overall scores, at 939 compared with 917 last year. Jackson County also had the smallest drop in college prep student scores at 976, slightly below last year's 985.
Commerce seniors' scores improved slightly, up to 930 from 924 last year. But the school's college prep average fell sharply, to 986 from 1,029 a year ago.
Jefferson was the only school whose average fell this year, though seniors there still posted the highest average of the three systems. The overall average was down 39 points from last year's 998, to 959. Jefferson also had the largest decline in college prep scores, falling 49 points, from 1,037 to 988.
Jefferson City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Jackson was at a loss concerning the drop in scores.
"I wish I had a simple solution," he said. "The same teachers taught that group that taught the group before. It is a concern that certainly isn't going to go unnoticed. If there is a hint of a trend starting, it will become a major issue."
Both state and national averages were virtually unchanged, as Georgia SAT scores were still well below the national average. The state average rose one point, to 969, while the national average was off a point at 1,016.

The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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