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FRONT PAGE - SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 - HOMER, GA

Friendly water fight

Jessica Gravitt, 7, of Lula and Briana Crawford, 4, of Buford cool off with a friendly water fight at the Banks County Festival held over the weekend.

CRIME

One suspect in custody following armed robbery at Homer Regions Bank
A Nicholson teenager has been arrested and charged with armed robbery at Regions Bank in Homer.
Daniel Gaines, 17, was captured as he ran down Trotter Street in Homer with a bag containing an undisclosed amount of money, according to Banks County sheriff Charles Chapman.
A second subject is being sought in connection with the robbery, although a warrant had not been issued as of Wednesday morning.
Banks County deputies are also investigating a bomb threat at the middle school which could be linked to the armed robbery.
"We feel like that was used as a diversion to get us up to the middle school," explained Chapman.
It was just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday when two white males entered the bank wearing ski masks and carrying handguns. They went to the teller and demanded money. One of the suspects yelled "I will shoot you," according to witnesses. Once a paper bag was filled with cash, the suspects fled the scene on foot, Chapman said.
Minutes later, the suspects were spotted running down Trotter Street. That is when deputy Lisa Worley jumped out of her vehicle and began pursuing Gaines on foot.
"I got out of the vehicle, drew my weapon and put him on the ground," Worley explained. "I told him to drop everything and put his hands where I could see them."
Once on the ground, Gaines was held until sergeant Rodney Watts arrived and cuffed the suspect.
The canine unit from Lee Arrendale State Prison was called to the scene and a search was made of the area for the second suspect, but he was not found. A small gray car was seen speeding off near the American Legion building shortly after the incident, according to Chapman. A blue bank bag that was also taken in the robbery was found empty late Tuesday afternoon on Grove Level Road.
The incident is under investigation by the Banks County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


Qualifying under way through Friday in cities
Two people have qualified so far for city council seats in Baldwin and in Lula.
In Baldwin, Post 1 incumbent John Thomas and Post 3 incumbent Mitchell Gailey have qualified for re-election. As of Tuesday afternoon, no one had qualifyied for Post 2, which is currently held by Jeff Bohannon.
The fee is $25 and candidates have until 4:30 on Friday to qualify.
In Lula, incumbent Lamb Griffin and challenger Mordecai Wilson have qualified in Ward 5. No one has qualified in Ward 1, currently held by Randy Worley, or Ward 4, currently held by Perry Bridgeman.
The fee is $18 and candidates had until 4:30 on Wednesday to qualify.
Qualifying began in the city of Alto on Wednesday. Seats up for grabs include Mayor Jack King; Post 1, Tim Tankersley; Post 2, Carolyn Cabe; Post 3, Miriam Sosebee; and Post 4, vacant.
Candidates have until Friday at 4:30 to qualify in Alto. Candidates may qualify at the city halls.


Banks BOE gets tough grades from citizens
BY DREW BRANTLEY
For many parents and students in the Banks County school system, new regulations and a new school year have not spelled out quite as easily as A-B-C.
At last Thursday's work session and again at Monday night's regular Banks County Board of Education meeting, citizens crowded the meeting room, keeping board members and administrators at the chalkboard for more than two hours each night.
Complaints ranged from equipping special education classrooms to scheduling for teachers and students, as well as the system's new dress code and book bag regulations.
Banks County High School seniors Bree Whitlock and Eugene Campbell started off Monday night's meeting by questioning why an academic elective Human Anatomy class had been dropped two weeks into the semester because only 14 people had enrolled.
"We were told that teachers were needed to teach other classes," Whitlock said. "But there were three other classes with fewer than 15 students. If we've got six (high school) teachers coming back and forth to the middle school, it seems to boil down to the fact that we need more teachers."
BCHS principal Jan Bertrang said an increase of 50 students after the start of the school year forced a change in the schedule.
"Today we have right at 600 students," Bertrang said. "When we made the master schedule, we had 558 students. It broke my heart to (drop the human anatomy class), but we had to move teachers around. We have only one physics class offered and several students needed that to get their academic diploma. There was no way we could add 50 students to the schedule and not make some changes."
Whitlock said that eight members of her now-defunct class needed a science elective to get an academic degree with distinction.
Bertrang said that although other classes, such as psychology could be taken to meet the distinction quota in science, she would make including Human Anatomy a priority for the second semester. She added that course may be blocked for two hours in the second term for a full semester's credit.
BCHS student Haley Crumley weighed in with a complaint over the dress code, which spawned discussion for the next hour of the meeting.
"Last week, I had my shirt tucked in with a belt on. No shorts, no sleeveless shirts, just like this. What's wrong with this?" H. Crumley asked, showing off her outfit. "Nothing? I got detention."
Students' first violation of the dress code warrants detention during fastbreak, a brief free time that follows second period.
Parents and other students riddled the board with questions about how the new regulations keep weapons out.
"I understand your whole point of this being an issue of safety," parent Traci Alexander said. "But you're not addressing it as a safety issue. You're playing fashion patrol in the hallways. You're stopping children and jerking their shirts up and saying, 'can I see your belt?' It's ridiculous."
Other parents wanted to know what making students wear belts did to improve safety.
"Who gives you the right to say that he has to wear a belt to start with," Kenny Crumley said. "A belt could be one of the worst weapons there. I don't see where it's anybody's privilege to tell my kid or nobody else that he's got to wear a belt to school as long as his britches are up where they should be."
More issues were raised over the requirement to use mesh book bags this year.
"From the length of this room you can't tell a mesh book bag from any other one," K. Crumley said. "If you want to hide anything in there, you can. And you didn't think about the parents with a lot of kids that had to go out and buy them expensive book bags. That wasn't right. I don't care what you say, that wasn't right to make them take on that burden. They get free lunches but then have to go out and pay $30 and $40 apiece for these stupid book bags that they already had good ones from the year before. I don't agree with that."
Parent Susan Creasy said that forcing her to buy mesh book bags has put an avoidable burden on her.
"I have always bought more expensive waterproof book bags," Creasy said. "When my kids get off the bus they have to walk half a mile to my house. I can't protect their school books, their homework, their projects - anything that would normally be in that waterproof book bag that I would prefer to purchase. I don't think I should be held accountable for damage done to school property when it's being transported in the book bag that I'm being told I have to buy for my children."
Campbell said all the new regulations have taken the emphasis off learning.
"I've loved my whole high school experience, I don't think there's been too many dull moments," Campbell said. "But this year everybody's worrying about little things that don't matter instead of focusing on what kids are going to do after they leave the system."
Bertrang said a meeting on the dress code would be set up in the next few weeks.
"We'll put our plans on a meeting to re-evaluate the dress code along with the grade reports which will be sent home in a couple of weeks," Bertrang said.
Band director Becky Smith also came before the board Thursday to ask that her schedule be shifted to give her more concentrated planning time. Of her 69 minutes of planning, 17 come before school starts, and a 30-minute block includes her lunch and travel time from the new high school to the middle school.
Assistant superintendent Debbie White said Monday that some temporary arrangements had been made to free up some time for Smith.
White added that several teachers have similar or more stringent binds on their planning time. She added that more efforts would be made to relax schedules next semester.
Parent Tammy Harrison spoke to the board Thursday about how her son's special education classroom not being equipped with computer and other media technology.
Special education director Carolyne Aikens said that a computer had been put in the classroom and would share software with another classroom until other programs were needed.
Aikens added that the department would be purchasing 11 computers for special education classrooms in all four schools from federal money, which had been allocated for supplies.
"I gave the teachers a choice, and they elected to use their supply money for new computers," Aikens said. "They said they would spend money out of their own pockets for supplies if they had to."
Another parent asked why audio textbooks had not been delivered for her son to use that had been requested before school started. The check stub and fax confirmation were produced at Thursday's work session which showed the order had been placed Aug. 17. The books were delivered to the school Monday, according to superintendent Dock Sisk.



The Banks County News - Homer, Georgia
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