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FRONT PAGE - SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

Jefferson firm ready
for Nevada rocket launch

Employees at Hybrid Dynamics Aerospace clapped and cheered Monday morning as they raised a 25-foot rocket outside their rural Jefferson facility. After months of ground-testing and construction, the large silver rocket will be the firm's first flight test of a unique propulsion system that could someday put satellites into orbit at a much lower cost than today's technology.
The rocket and its ground launch system are now on their way to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for a scheduled launch this weekend. The hybrid motor system is expected to push the rocket to above 50,000 feet altitude. Parachutes will bring the rocket back to the ground so that the firm can examine components of the propulsion system.
Hybrid Dynamics is owned by Aloise McNichols, Jefferson, who is president of the firm. Drew Prentice, Nicholson, is vice president of research and development, and Carl McNichols, Jefferson, is vice president of external affairs.
The company has done some work for both civilian and military departments, but the hybrid propulsion system is being funded by the firm itself. The Black Rock test flight is part of the company's long-range sounding rocket program to develop and build low-cost rocket motors to deploy a variety of research items into the earth's atmosphere and perhaps into orbit.



STANDING TALL
Employees of Hybrid Dynamics Aerospace Corporation stand in the shadow of the firm's 25-foot tall rocket Monday morning. Shown here are: (front, left to right) Noll Herrington, principal welder, Cindi Estep, administrative manager, Aloise McNichols, president and owner, Drew Prentice, vice president of research and development, Tony Greathouse, information systems manager; (second row) David McKinney, principal machinist, Troy Tise, lead man/machinist, Carl McNichols, vice president of external affairs, and Ric Collins, shop superintendent; (third row) Mickey Stephenson, machinist, and Mike Young, machinist.

Local motels filling up as Floyd moves toward land
Jackson County may be a long way from the coast, but it is feeling the effects of Hurricane Floyd anyway. As people flee the coastal areas of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, local motels have filled up with people seeking shelter. Most local hotels are booked up through Sunday night.
Media reports indicate that hotels as far away as Alabama have filled up as state officials began evacuating communities in the path of Floyd. A category 4 hurricane, Floyd is said to be one of the largest storms in recent history. The evacuation of the coastal areas is said to be the largest peacetime evacuation in the nation's history.
Floyd is predicted to come ashore around Wilmington, N.C., sometime Thursday.


Summertime 'snow' upsets Braselton cable customers
BY ADAM FOUCHE
Despite extreme summertime heat, unwanted "snow" has been in abundance for some Braselton residents.
Customers of Benchmark Cable came before the Braselton City Council Monday night complaining of poor customer service, poor cable reception and unwanted digital cable service.
"Every time I try to watch a ballgame I can't see the station because of the snow," said resident Otis McNeal. "And they won't answer the phone when you call. They must leave it off the hook."
The complaints resulted in councilman H.B. Braselton's motion that Benchmark Cable's franchise be terminated unless the company solves the problems discussed at Monday's meeting and continues to offer the current 60 or so analog channels for the next two years without a digital box, unless the customer requests the box. The motion also gives city attorney Greg Blount the power to negotiate with Benchmark to work out the problems. It was approved unanimously.
"A lady from your company insulted me and hung up on me," H.B. Braselton told representatives of Benchmark. "I want to know why everything went haywire when y'all (Benchmark) bought the system."
Benchmark Cable took over cable service in Braselton earlier this year when they bought out Genesis Cable. Since then, customers say service has been unacceptable and complaints have gone unanswered. Similar complaints about the firm have echoed in neighboring Barrow County.
"They have pushed this down our throat and said we have to take what they give us or have nothing at all," said McNeal. "When Genesis had the cable there was no problem. Now sometimes it's good, but mostly it's bad."
"Every time I try to watch a channel it says 'one moment please' on the screen," Gail O'Neal, another resident, said. "I'm not paying for 'one moment please.' They should compensate us for the inconvenience."
Dennis Mackey, region general manager for Benchmark, said the problems were a product of upgrading the system.
Mackey added that a new technical engineer had been hired to help iron out the customers' problems. As for the complaints of poor customer service, Mackey said courtesy training programs had been implemented and more staff had been added to handle calls from customers.
Customer service and reception, though, were not the only complaints.
"I want to know why we should have to pay extra now for digital boxes when digital cable service won't be available until 2004," said Richard Mayberry.
Mackey said the boxes enabled Benchmark to offer several more channels, including pay-per-view and music channels. He also said the boxes help cut down on theft of cable services, since the boxes were necessary to descramble cable signals.
But the potential for better service with digital cable wasn't enough to satisfy part of the city council.
"Why change to digital now?" H.B. Braselton asked. "Why can't we keep what we have and not go digital?"
Mayor H.E. Braselton said: "Why pay for something we don't want? I don't want the digital box."
Dean Ott, a technical representative from Benchmark, said the upgrades were necessary for Benchmark to stay competitive with other providers.
"It's like the progression from eight-track to cassette," he said. "Technology changes and we must stay competitive with satellite services."
Mackey added that even after total digital service is in place, the lower programming tier consisting of about 25 channels would remain available without a digital box.
"The lower tier will never be scrambled, but we have to keep going with the digital upgrades," Mackey said. "It's part of our business plan and I can't change that."


Cochran indicted for Warren murder
The alleged triggerman in the Dec. 8, 1998, killing of Kimberly Warren was indicted this week by the Jackson County grand jury on malice murder charges. Emory Wayne Cochran may face the death penalty if convicted of the shooting, which took place near the Warren home in North Jackson.
Earlier this year, Sheryl Ann Gossitt was convicted in the murder as well. The two were allegedly burglarizing the rural Warren home when Mrs. Warren returned home. Seeing a suspicious vehicle, Mrs. Warren followed the car up a small dirt road where she was stopped and allegedly shot by Cochran.
District attorney Tim Madison said that the trial likely wouldn't be set for another 12-18 months.


Doug Bachtel to speak Thurs. A.M.
Dr. 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 at the Galilee Christian Church family life center in Jefferson. Bachtel will address the issues and trends facing Jackson County and surrounding areas. His presentation will provide a blueprint of the issues which all parts of the county can address in planning for the future, according to officials.
The breakfast will include grits, sausage, ham, fruits, scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, juice and coffee.
MainStreet Newspapers and the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the breakfast.


Seventh K class added at JES
By Jana Adams
A seventh kindergarten class began this week at Jefferson Elementary School after the Jefferson Board of Education voted Thursday to hire another teacher to relieve the overflow in existing classrooms.
Jean Conner, a veteran teacher from Vidalia, was hired by the board for the class, which will be held in a mobile unit. It will be made up of students pulled from the already existing kindergarten classes to lower class sizes.
In other action, the board hired Myra Cash, Tina Gee, Tabitha McElreath and Gina Stanley as paraprofessionals to work with students in the more crowded classes at JES. The BOE also hired Curtis Hester and Janet Kimsey as JES custodians and Mendy Webb as JES cafeteria monitor.
Superintendent Dr. John Jackson told the board members that enrollment, as of Thursday, was already up to 1,406, and that it would be up to 1,410 within a few days as new students were expected.
"And we have no reason to think we won't pick up students throughout the year," he added. "We passed the projected enrollment for this year in July."
CONSTRUCTION TALKS
While Dr. Jackson reported that renovation work at Jefferson High School is continuing, and that all students should be back in regular classrooms by the end of October, the board is planning renovation and construction at JES and Jefferson Middle School due to population growth.
The board met two weeks ago for a work session to discuss facility additions and will hold two more work sessions next week to hear proposals from architects. The board will meet with architects from Southern A&E and The Facility Group at 5:30 p.m. Monday, September 20, and again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 21.



The Jackson Herald - Jefferson, Georgia
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