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.
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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."
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.